Jesus Is Known In The Breaking Of Bread (A Communion Message)

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On the last chapter of the Gospel of Luke, Luke 24, the blessed physician tells us what happened “on the first day, very early in the morning” (Luke 24:1), on the third day following Jesus’ death and burial. The women did not find the soldiers who were guarding the Tomb of Jesus – they were not there. The women found “the stone rolled away from the grave” (Luke 24:2). Two shining Witnesses at the Tomb speak to the women:

Luke 24:5-7 Why seek ye the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, 7 saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.

Luke tells us that the women run back to where the disciples are, and tell them what the Witnesses said. Then we come to verse 13.

Two Witnesses told the women to tell the disciples that Jesus was risen from the grave. But two other witnesses to our Lord’s death – they do not believe what they hear. So they head back to their home in Emmaus. Let’s read:

Luke 24:13-14 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.

Unbelief Blinds Us To Jesus

These two do not believe that Jesus rose from the dead. We know this before we read any farther. In a moment one of the two, Cleopas, will tell us that he and his companion heard the testimony of the women who came from the empty tomb (see verse 23). Had Cleopas and his companion believed the testimony of the women, had they believed that Jesus was risen from the grave, they nonetheless would have lingered in Jerusalem. But they do not linger. The Passover has ended. They are going home.

Luke 24:15-16 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. 16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.

As Cleopas and his companion head the threescore (60) furlongs – about a seven mile journey back to Emmaus, Jesus joins them on the journey. Yet the Bible says in verse 16,

their eyes were holden that they should not know him

Word Study The word translated “HOLDEN” is the Greek κρατέω kratéō, {pronounced krat-eh’-o}. The word means “to be ruled over, to be mastered by, to gain possession of”. The same word is used in Matthew 14:3 when King Herod SEIZED John the Baptist, and cast him into prison. Their eyes were imprisoned, held hostage, or mastered by something. What was that something?

It was unbelief.

The devil uses unbelief to keep us from seeing Jesus. 2 Corinthians 4:4 tells us that the devil, “ the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” Cleopas and his companion had hoped that Jesus would overthrow Rome. But He died on that Cross. How does Cleopas know Jesus died? From his companion.

I was studying on who this unnamed companion was who with Cleopas, when I came across a study by Dr. James M. Boice, who used to do “The Bible Study Hour” on the radio. Dr. Boice noted:

“… one of the disciples was called Cleopas. Moreover, if you will then use any good concordance of the words occurring in the New Testament and look up the word “Cleopas,” you will find a second mention of his name in another account of the Resurrection. The reference is John 19:25. There we read, “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene.” It is true that John spells the name a bit differently. But the spelling of names often varied in antiquity, and here the two names undoubtedly refer to the same person.”

Cleopas’ companion is his wife. She was at the foot of the Cross with Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of Jesus. She saw Jesus suffering. She saw Jesus as His heart was pierced with a soldier’s spear, and blood and water poured out (John 19:34). She was probably there when Joseph of Arimathæa and Nicodemus took the body of our Lord down from the Cross (John 19:38). She may have been one who helped prepare our Lord’s body. She saw the slashes, the exposed bone, the white, bloodless corpse. Cleopas’ wife tells him all about what she saw. Though both have heard the message of the Two Shining Witnesses, they do not believe.

Unbelief blinds their eyes.
Unbelief robs them of joy.
Unbelief is a thief!

John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Jesus did not come to free Israel from Rome. He came to free Israel from satan and sin and destructive ways. Jesus Christ came to give us the abundant life that God created us for. He did not come to give us temporary blessings. He came to fix our brokenness, our hurt, our suffering forever. He came to bring us to God.

1 Peter 3:18 … Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

Jesus Is Near When We Are Low

We live in world filled with suffering. We need God in our lives. When we suffer, Christ comes to us. He came to Cleopas and his wife as they mourned the death of Jesus, walking on the Emmaus Road.

Luke 24:17 {Jesus} said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?

Jesus knows why they are sad. Jesus knows your hearts. He knows what you think, what you feel. He knows why you are sad. “Jesus knew what was in man” (John 2:25). Jesus always knows what we are thinking (Luke 6:8). He asks so that they will voice their disbelief to God. Jesus Christ is God, God in the flesh.

Luke 24:18-21 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? 19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. 21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.

Cleopas and his wife thought that Jesus was only a PROPHET mighty in deed (vs 19). Though Cleopas had followed the life of Jesus, to Him Jesus was but “Jesus of Nazareth”. The title “Jesus of Nazareth” is used only 17 times in the Scripture, and in each use it focuses on our Lord’s humanity. When Jesus died on Calvary, the Titular or Sign that Pilate ordered hung over Jesus’ head was:

John 19:19 … JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS

I have searched the Scriptures, and have only found one instance when Jesus called Himself “Jesus of Nazareth”, and that was when He knocked Paul down on the Damascus Road (Acts 22:8). Cleopas saw Jesus as the son of man, but not as the Son of God. He goes on to say:

Luke 24:22-24 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulcher; 23 and when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. 24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulcher, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.

Cleopas and his wife did not believe the witness of the women who went to the Tomb. Jesus chastises them both, saying:

Luke 24:25-27 O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26 ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? 27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

Word Study Jesus called Cleopas and his wife “FOOLS”, the Greek ἀνόητος anóētos, {pronounced an-o’-ay-tos}, which is better translated “UNWISE”. The word “FOOL” is usually the Greek μωρός mōros, and speaks of an unbeliever (see Matthew 5:22). Jesus tells them “The Messiah had to suffer these things”. Jesus then takes the Scripture – at this time the Old Testament text – and shows how His first Coming is found all throughout the Bible.

Jesus is the Seed of the Woman in Genesis 3:15, the One Who will crush satan’s head. In Exodus, Jesus is the Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7), and the Pillar of Fire and Pillar of Cloud in Exodus 13:21-22. In Numbers, Jesus is the Rock in the wilderness by which God’s people were refreshed (1 Corinthians 10:4). In Deuteronomy Jesus is the Righteous God, the Definer of God’s Law and God’s Truth. In Joshua, Jesus is the King of Kings, the Leader of Heaven’s Host. Jesus is, in some way, in every Book of Scripture.

It takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes for a healthy person to walk 7 miles. During that walk, Jesus opened the Scriptures for Cleopas and his wife. Jesus expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself. What a fantastic Bible class that must have been! Oh Beloved, when God opens the Scripture to us, He opens our eyes and opens our understanding. Let’s read on:

Hold On To Jesus

Luke 24:28-29 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and {Jesus} made as though he would have gone further. 29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.

Word Study Cleopas and his wife “CONSTRAINED” Jesus, the Greek παραβιάζομαι parabiázomai, {pronounced par-ab-ee-ad’-zom-ahee}. This is a very strong word which means “to compel by employing force”. They grabbed hold of Jesus and would not let Him go. This is a beautiful picture of genuine faith. Genuine faith reaches out in desperation, seizing God. Jesus told His disciples:

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

When life begins to tear you down, when it seems as if there is no respite from the darkness, reach out and seize Jesus by faith. Cleopas and his wife did not truly understand that this is Jesus just yet, but as He share the Scripture with them, they felt the power of God.

Beloved, you will find Jesus in the Scripture. When you open the Book and seek the Lord, you will find Him – or He will find you. Jesus stands ready to enter your homes, to bless you, to be a part of your churches. Has He not said:

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Too many Churches – like the Church at Laodicea – have locked Jesus out of the services. Let’s invite Him in. No, let’s COMPEL Him to come in. Let us seize Him by faith, and never let Him go. Let us, as Jacob did, wrestle the Lord beyond the pain (Genesis 32:22-32; Hosea 12:4). Let us not wander about, sad and scared, but let us hold on to Jesus. Let us be as bold as Jacob was when he grabbed the Lord, saying:

I will not let thee go, except thou bless me” (Genesis 32:26)

Luke 24:30-32 And it came to pass, as {Jesus} sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. 32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

James M. Boice said:

the opening of the scriptures, the opening of the eyes, and the opening of the understanding, are three great blessings that we should all desire of the resurrected Lord. Because when the Bible is opened and we see the Lord Jesus Christ as He is interpreted to us by the divine operation of the Spirit, we will never be the same again”.

The end of the story we read today is so sweet. We read:

Luke 22:33-35 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, 34 saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. 35 And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.

Believers know Jesus in the breaking of bread. As we come to the Lord’s Table I ask, Do YOU know Him? Do you know Jesus as both Savior and Lord? Not just as Jesus of Nazareth, but as Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. May God open your eyes and open your hearts to Jesus this very day. Through His Word and His Spirit, Amen and Amen!

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An “I” Exam

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Romans 1:13-17 Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. 14 I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. 15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

The Apostle Paul wanted to go and share his faith with the Church at Rome. His reason for coming was that he might “have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles”. What defined Paul’s life was not his wants, desires, or feelings. What defined his life was how he should please the Lord Who saved him.

Paul was not always this way. There was a time when Paul was Saul, and his life revolved around pleasing himself and others. This is not to pick at Paul – we are all born this way. Why? Because it is part and parcel of the original sin, the sin that plunged humanity into the darkness of wasted life. The Bible tells us that God created man, and then God created the animals. Man is not an animal. This is the dialogue that satan has taught the world. Humanity is a higher creation than animals. The Bible says:

Genesis 1:26-27 … God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Humanity is not an animal. Darwinian Evolutionary Theory (Charles Darwin was a failed minister of the Gospel) teaches that humans are “primates”, descendants of the apes. The Bible says that humans are distinct creations of God. We are made in the “image” צֶלֶם {tselem} and “likeness” דְּמוּת {demuwth} of “God” אֱלֹהִים {‘elohiym}. We are modeled after our Creator. The animals are not. We were made representative figures of God. He made us like Him to rule the earth and the animal kingdom. We were made to draw near to God, and to please God in how we were stewards of what He gave us. Yet Adam failed. He bought into satan’s lie, and instead of pleasing God, pleased himself. Adam ate of the forbidden tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because he bought into the lie:

God is keeping you from a blessing. When you eat this fruit you will be just like Elohiym. You will then be able to determine both good and evil” (my paraphrase of Genesis 3:5)

Since that day humanity has bought into the lie that “we can be gods”. The idols that we worship are ourselves. I was watching a commercial the other day that said, “Do you have HIV? Just keep being YOU, and take ___”. The ___ was the name of a medicine that helps combat HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Do you know what guarantees you will NEVER get a sexually transmitted disease? Listen to God. Heed His warnings against sexual sin. Wait until you are ready to commit to marriage before you enjoy yourself sexually.

American secular society is overwhelmingly “I” driven. People no longer go to Church to study God (called “Theology”), but pack into Churches to study Meology. How can “I” be blessed? How can “I” prosper? How can “I” be relieved from suffering? Everything is “I” oriented. When I was a child, we determined the “gender” of a person by the sexual organs they were born with. Today we determine “gender” by “how I feel”. If I feel like a woman, then what I think trumps what anyone else thinks. I am my own god. If I want to be married, I can marry whoever agrees to marry me regardless of genitalia. I am my own god. I must be me!

Lawlessness is flaunted. Why? Because I matter more than anyone else. If I do not like who was elected President, then I can go around saying “Not my President!” This is not a thing ties to just one party in our country, but to every political party. Law as well as respect have gone out the door to the trash heap, because we each are our own gods and goddesses.

Yet, it seems, no one is happy!

Suicide rates are up, even among Christians. Following the god of I is slowly killing our country. Beloved, we all need to get back to God. We don’t need to follow Adam’s path. We are made in the image of God, but we are not gods, and never will be.

I was reading an article by Jennifer Duncan called What Paul Never Prayed For”. She made this very insightful remark:

The churches Paul planted immediately became counter-cultural, and each young church he writes to was going through difficult times. Ephesus was surrounded by witchcraft; Philippi faced daily persecution; Galatia was full of false teachers who were enforcing a legalistic doctrine; and the church in Corinth was dealing with members who were steeped in sexual immorality. Each congregation faced major issues, but the apostle never prays that God would change their circumstances. He never prays that God would rescue them out of their hardships. ”

When Adam was given a choice, rather than do his job (cultivating the Garden) he sought to improve his lot. Making Eden about himself, he lost Eden and a wonderful relationship with God. In contrast, the Apostle Paul kept focusing on how he might please the God Who saved him. Where we are in life is where God has allowed us to be.

In our focal text today we will study three I AM statements of the Apostle Paul. These statements not only apply to Paul’s life, but should apply to every believer’s life.

Christians Are Created And Given A Stewardship,
An Obligation

God created Adam to tend the Garden. He failed. God creates Christians to tends His Garden, that is, to build His Kingdom. Read with me:

Romans 1:14 I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.

Word Study The Apostle considered himself to be an οφειλετης, opheiletes, (pronounced of-i-let’-ace), an ower or someone who is indebted to another, a steward. His stewardship was to the Greeks {the wise}, and to the Barbarians {the unwise}.

Every Christian, saved by the Grace of God, has been given a stewardship from God. As we were added to the Kingdom through the sharing of the Gospel, we are to share the good news of salvation by faith in Christ to others.

We are not responsible for the Growing WEEDS,
but we are responsible to plant the
SEEDS.

We were saved heeding the same message that the Philippian Jailer heard. It was at Philippi that Paul and Silas were sharing the Gospel of Christ, when the devil started to attack their ministry. The devil will always attack you if you serve Jesus. Serve yourself, he will give you more opportunities to do so. Serve Jesus, and he will plague you like a tick on a dog. The Apostle Paul and Silas withstood the attacks for several days, until Paul invoked the name of Christ to rebuke that devil. What happened? Paul and Silas were falsely accused, and cast into prison at Philippi.

Did Paul and Silas grumble? Did they allow their circumstances to blind them to the Presence of God? Absolutely not! Their feet in stocks, and bloody stripes from the whip on their backs (Acts 16:23-24), Paul and Silas PRAYED and SANG PRAISES UNTO GOD (Acts 16:25). They did not pray to be released, but praised God for where they were. They saw this jailing as an opportunity to plant more Gospel seed for Jesus Christ our Lord. They praised and prayed until midnight (Acts 16:25), when the jail was shaken, and everyone was loosed from their bands and chains. When the warden came and found the prison broken so that the prisoners could escape, he:

Acts 16:27-31 … drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. 29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

What would you have done if unjustly jailed, after being beaten? Probably most of us would have ran away, becoming fugitives rather than stay one more minute in that horrible prison. Yet this would not please God! We who believe were saved on purpose, and given purpose. Jesus told His disciples after rising from the grave:

Luke 24:46-47 {it was necessary for} Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

There were men (and perhaps women) in that jail that needed to hear about Jesus Christ. The warden himself needed to hear about Christ. Paul and Silas did not see their jailing as an inconvenience or a hindering of their ministry. No, they saw it as an OPPORTUNITY. Our God saves us, then tells us as He tells the Church of Philadelphia:

Revelation 3:8 behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

Christians are STEWARDS of the Gospel. We are DEBTORS. We are not to modify the Gospel, but to present it as it is, and trust God for the results. The Gospel is always REPENT and BELIEVE. That is what Jesus preached.

Mark 1:14-15 Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

The Messiah has come. Stop being your own god. Reject that, and follow the God of the Scripture. Follow Jesus Christ.

The Gospel proclaimed never excuses or normalizes Meology, but says “Turn from Meology to God, Theology. Come follow Jesus!”

The legendary C.H. Spurgeon stated: … let me tell you that if you have a peace to-day which enables you to be at peace with your sins as well as with God, that peace is a false peace. Unless you hate sin of every sort, with all your heart, you are not a child of God, you are not reconciled to God by the death of his Son. You will not be perfect; I cannot expect you will live without sin, but if you are a Christian you will hate the very sin into which you have been betrayed, and hate yourself because you should have grieved your Savior thus. But if you love sin, the love of the Father is not in you. Be you who you may, or what you may, — minister, deacon, elder, professor, or non-professor — the love of sin is utterly inconsistent with the love of Christ. Take that home, and remember it.”

I am not saying – repeat NOT SAYING – that you need to clean yourself up before you come to Jesus. The word “Repent” means to look Christ-ward rather than self-ward. If you come to Christ, then Christ will change your heart. Listen to me:

You do not go to hell for sexual sin.
You do not go to hell for murder.
You do not go to hell for rape.
You do not go to hell for greed.
You do not go to hell for ____.

You go to hell for refusing to come to Jesus, refusing to acknowledge Him as your Lord and rest in Him as your Savior. That which the Great Fisherman, Jesus Christ, catches, He also CLEANS. The Lord is able to save ALL people, to cleanse ALL people who believe in Him. Praise the Lord, the Bible promises:

Romans 5:5 and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us.

Dr. Charles Stanley noted that there are four questions every believer should ask the Lord daily:

What Do YOU Want Me To Do, Lord?
How Do YOU Want Me To Act?
When Do You Want Me To Act?
How Can I Best Represent You?

Beloved, if you are saved by faith in Christ, you are obligated to serve Christ. Not the world, not your friends, but Christ!

Every Christian, Like Paul, Must Be Ready

Romans 1:15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.

Though Paul was imprisoned, and it did not seem like he was going to get an opportunity to preach in Rome, he nonetheless was prepared to do so. He did not allow his circumstances to keep him from preparing to sow the Gospel seed.

In my devotions this morning I was reading from Dr. David Jeremiah. He quoted:

2 Timothy 4:3-6 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. 6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

The world does not want to hear the Gospel, but has “itching ears” that wants to be tickled with light and airy preaching. Paul warned Timothy against doing that. Dr. Jeremiah went on to relay the story of a South Korean Christian, Jae Kang Im. While Jae was getting his hair cut:

his stylist, Sun-ah, started talking about her troubles in life, especially the pain of growing up in an alcoholic and abusive home. Im wanted to share the Gospel with her, but wasn’t sure how to go about it. Suddenly he felt a sharp pain to his ear. The stylist had sliced into it, and the blood flowed in streams. The staff wanted to call paramedics, but Im reassured them he’d be fine. He told the stylist the pain with his ear was nothing compared to what she had experienced in her life, and she began to weep. Im left and tended to his ear, but that evening he returned just before the shop closed. He found Sun-ah and shared his testimony. He told her about Jesus, and the woman was wonderfully saved. “I thank God for using my ear to save one soul,” he said.”

Many people, even Christians, if cut while in the Barber’s seat would complain bitterly and fuss at the offender. Many people, even Christians, would have complained if they were unjustly jailed. Yet the Apostle Paul stayed ready to tell others about Jesus.

Why are so many Christians anxious about telling others of Christ? Could it be because we have one foot in the world, and one foot in Christ’s Kingdom? As Christians, we are to live out a daily reality that we are to be connected to Christ. We must start our day, acknowledging Jesus. Jesus must have as much of us as possible this day. We must abide in Him. Jesus said:

John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the Vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in ME.

The secret of power with God is the surrendered life. The Apostle said, as much as in me is. Give God as much of you as you can give every day. This was the secret of Billy Graham’s success in ministry. Adrian Rogers quoted Billy Graham, who said:

I surrendered my will to the living God revealed in the Scripture. I knelt before the opened Bible and said, ‘Lord, many things in this Book I do not understand, but Thou hast said the just shall live by faith. All I have, I have received by faith. Here and now by faith, I accept the Bible as Thy Word. I take it all. I take it without reservations. Where there are things I cannot understand, I will reserve judgment until I receive more light. If this pleases Thee, give me authority as I proclaim Thy Word, and through that authority convict me of sin and turn sinners to the Savior.

When Billy preached, his favorite statement was “the Bible says”. Billy gave Jesus all of his life, not the leftovers. We must, as believers, strive to give the Lord all of us. He must occupy as much of our attention and service as possible. We must reject the word of the world, and turn fully to the Word of God! Remember, it was the word of the serpent that said “You will not die if you eat of it, but you will become gods and goddesses!” But it was the Word of God that spoke the truth. The Bible, the Word of God, always speaks the truth. To be blessed of God the Christian is called to uphold what God has said, not what man has said. Remember:

2 Corinthians 2:17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

God is watching us. Are you ready?

Every Christian, Like Paul, Must Be Unashamed

Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Word Study The word translated “POWER” in our above text is the Greek δύναμις dýnamis, {pronounced doo’-nam-is}, which means “mighty work, miraculous, power residing in a thing by virtue of it’s nature”.

The Christian way of life is a supernatural way of life. The day that you accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, the day you said “I believe” to His promises, on that very day you were saved. A Christian is not a worldling, not the same as an unbeliever. We no longer walk in darkness, but have the “light of life” (John 8:12). The Bible says:

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

We cannot compromise with the world and expect to live a life pleasing to the Lord. We as Christians are saved from lives of helpless servitude to sin. God indwells us. The whole world lies in wickedness (1 John 5:19), for it has been deceived by Satan (Revelation 12:9). Nevertheless, Jesus is …

1 John 2:2 … the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

As we were saved, dear Christians, God can save others. The Gospel, the Good News of Christ has POWER, saving POWER. Do not mock the Word of God by thinking that other things are more important than this Gospel.

People need the Lord.

I will end with this quote from Church father Jonathan Edwards:

“The enjoyment of [God] is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams. But God is the ocean.”

Let us rest in Him. Let us be faithful in serving Him. Let us not be as Adam, but as Paul. Those who do not stand with Christ and His Word are not genuinely Christian. Has not the Lord said:

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

May God through His Holy Spirit and His Word touch our hearts today, making us more Christ driven. Amen and Amen.

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Why Is Baptism Such A Big Deal?

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1 Peter 3:18-22 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20 which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 22 who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

We were going to do a baptism this week, but because the candidate is under self-quarantine until his Covid-19 test comes back, we will attempt to do it next Sunday. But since baptism is on my heart, I thought I’d address why we baptize believers in Christ the way we do.

Let’s Define Baptism

The word “baptism” (along with its variant baptize, baptized, baptisms) occurs some 98 times in the King James text. The Greek word for “baptism” is

βάπτισμα báptisma, {pronounced bap’-tis-mah} as seen in our focal text. Other variants are βαπτισμός baptismós, {pronounced bap-tis-mos’} and βαπτίζω baptízō, {pronounced bap-tid’-zo}. In every case of it’s use, the word “baptize” when used as the Christian ordinance means “to immerse, to submerge, to wash”. When “baptize” is used of a trial, it’s meaning is “to completely immerse in trouble”. Jesus used this form when He discussed His “Cup”, something we studied just a few weeks ago. Do you remember this sermon?

Matthew 20:20-22 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshiping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. 21 And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. 22 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?

Jesus was baptized at the beginning of His earthly ministry by John the Baptist, but this is not the baptism he is speaking of in Matthew’s text. The baptism Jesus speaks of with James and John was His baptism in our sin while He hung on Calvary. As He hung there, bleeding, dying, He would drink the Cup of suffering, and bear the baptism of our sins. He would be so immersed in our judgment that, at one point, Our Lord will cry out:

Matthew 27:46 Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

The baptism He suffered on Calvary would make payment for your sins and mine. This is why we can be saved. We are not saved by our works, but by believing in Jesus, by trusting Him and His finished work on the Cross. The Scripture says:

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

And in Titus 3:5-6 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior;

Because Jesus underwent the baptism of God’s judgment on sin, when we believe on Him, His righteousness is placed on us. The Apostle declared:

Galatians 2:16 … a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

No animal sacrifice, no good deed, no action will make us right with God. Jesus Christ as both our High Priest and our Sacrifice for sin “offered up Himself for us” (Hebrews 7:27). Jesus Christ promises those who believe on Him a unique standing with God, a standing that cannot be purchased and cannot be earned. The Apostle tells us in another place:

1 Peter 1:18-19 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:

The Baptism of the Cross brings every believer in Christ to God.

1 Peter 3:18-22 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

Jesus Christ, Who was and has always been “just” or “right before God”, for Jesus Christ IS GOD
(see Revelation 1:5-8).

The “Just” Jesus suffered for the sins of the Unjust you and I. Why? So that He might bring us to God. We are Children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26). Our status is changed,

from LOST to FOUND
from DARKNESS to LIGHT
from children of Adam to Children of God
from strangers with God to Saints in Christ

We talked about Jesus’ baptism in the punishment of God, but let’s talk about our Lord’s water baptism. Jesus Christ Himself was baptized in water before He ever began His earthly ministry. When Jesus first went to John the Baptist (so called because he immersed people in the river Jordan) to be baptized we read:

Matthew 3:13-17 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 14 But John {refused} him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 15 And Jesus answering said unto him, {allow} it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him. 16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17 and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Jesus – right after being tested of the devil in the wilderness – goes to John the Baptist to be baptized. John initially refuses, because, he said “I am not worthy to tie Jesus’ shoes” (see Mark 1:7). But Jesus said “Do it now. We must FULFILL ALL RIGHTEOUSNESS”. Baptism is a ceremonial washing that can be traced back to the Old Covenant Priesthood. When the Priests in Israel were consecrated, the Scripture says:

Leviticus 8:5-6 … Moses said unto the congregation, This is the thing which the Lord commanded to be done. 6 And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water.

The Jewish Priests were ceremonially baptized or immersed in water when they were consecrated to God. I found on the “Jews For Jesus” site this quote:

The Soncino Talmud states: “As your forefathers entered into the Covenant only by circumcision, immersion and the sprinkling of the blood, so shall they [the proselytes] enter the Covenant only by circumcision, immersion and the sprinkling of the blood” (Keritot 9a).”

Why was Jesus baptized in water? It was because He is our High Priest, and was being consecrated as our High Priest (see Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 3:1; Hebrews 4:14). Why are we baptized in water? It is because we are priests unto God, dear Christian. We are baptized to consecrate us, just as Jesus was consecrated. The Christian as a priest before God is clearly marked in Scripture. For instance:

Revelation 1:5-6 … Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 and hath made us kings and priests unto God

1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:

How was Jesus baptized? By immersion.

Matthew 3:16-17 … Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17 and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased

In another place we read:

Mark 1:9-11 Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. 10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: 11 and there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Immersion in water did not “save” Jesus, any more than immersion in water “saves” us. Baptism does not save a person – only faith in Christ does this. But if you are saved, then you will obediently “fulfill all righteousness” just as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ did. Peter tells us of water baptism:

1 Peter 3:20-22 …. God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 22 who is gone into heaven…

Peter ties water baptism into Noah’s Ark. Eight souls were saved by water. Noah and his family were obedient to God. For 120 years they worked on building an Ark. At the end of the 120 years they got on the Ark, and as water (a symbol of God’s judgment) began to fill and flood the land, Noah and his family floated above the water. Baptism as a symbolic ordinance (an order from God) makes water a symbol of judgment, and of death. When the candidate (a saved believer in Christ) goes down into the water, this symbolizes we died with Christ. We are lowered into the grave! But the candidate does not stay in the water. We are resurrected with Christ – the grave cannot hold Him or us. We COME UP out of the water. Death has no hold on us.

Coming up out of the water, we are symbolizing that we are believer priests, with Jesus Christ as our High Priest. We are re-born, children of God by faith in Christ!

Baptism Is The First Work The Christian Does For God

Though no Christian is saved by works, once a Christian is saved they are called of God to work. Works do not save you, but if you’re saved, you’ll work. When Jesus was baptized, only then did the Holy Spirit descend on Him, and the Father say “This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased”. Baptism is the very first act of obedience that a Christian is called to do. Our Lord Jesus commanded baptism for all believers:

Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

When Peter preached his first message on the Day of Pentecost (a sermon that led 3000 people to Christ), he told them:

Acts 2:38 … Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Peter preached faith in Christ and repentance unto salvation – but also commanded water baptism, just as Jesus commanded. Water baptism does not save you, but if you are saved, you should be baptized.

When Philip the Evangelist found “a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians” reading in the Book of Isaiah, Philip told him about Jesus Christ as they rode together. The Bible says:

Acts 8:36-39 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. 39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

Did you notice that it was the Eunuch that suggested he be baptized, not Philip? Philip would not baptize the Eunuch until he professed his faith in Jesus Christ. Once the Eunuch professed Christ as his Savior, they went DOWN INTO THE WATER where he was baptized. When they came UP OUT OF THE WATER Philip was led to other areas of ministry – but the Eunuch returned to Ethiopia with the joy of his salvation. And who can forget the man named Cornelius, a Gentile Centurion to whom Peter preached?

Acts 10:44-48 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

The Centurion and his household believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, and were saved. The Holy Spirit fell on them. And right after their salvation, Peter had them baptized in water.

Baptism does not save you. But once you are saved, believer, you should be baptized. Baptism is …

1 Peter 3:21 … the answer of a good conscience toward God …

In another place, the Apostle tells us that:

Baptism Identifies Us With Christ Jesus

The Apostle writes in Romans 6:1-11 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 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. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9 knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Water Baptism is an outward expression of an inward truth. Some people have always taught (wrongly, I might add) that “we are saved by grace, so we can freely live any way we want to”. Many do not use these exact words, but their lives show it. They call themselves “Christian” on Sunday, but walk as Children of Adam on Monday. Beloved, this is not scriptural. Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid! The Christian is a saved creature. As Jesus died for our sins and went into the grave, we go down into the water, symbolizing the old “me” died with Christ. Our “old man” is placed in the grave. As Jesus Christ rose from the grave, we are brought out of the water, rising from the grave. We now are to walk in newness of life. Our “body of sin was destroyed”. We now walk with Jesus. We come up out of the grave. Death has no dominion over Jesus. We come out of the water, showing that the grave has no hold on us. We are immortal because of what our Lord Jesus Christ did for us.

A believer is generally only baptized once. We died with Jesus once, and live with Him now forever. There have been times when I have baptized people who had been baptized before. They were baptized the first time not as believers in Christ, but because their friends, or their parents, or someone other than God called them to do it. It happens. I try to emphasize to all that I baptize that, “If you believe with all your heart on Jesus, you may be baptized”. If you are lost and without Christ, all water baptism does is make you a wet unbeliever. Baptism will not save you. Faith in Christ will save you.

Illustrate I read a book one time where a warrior asked that the pastor baptize all of him but his right hand. When asked why, the warrior stated, “Because I want to be able to kill my enemy with my sword hand. It can go to hell – but I want the rest of me to go to Heaven. Beloved, it doesn’t work that way. Baptism is an act of obedience to Christ’s commands (Matthew 28:19-20; John 14:15, 21). But if you have not received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior by faith, then the act means nothing to God. Baptism is important only to the genuine Christ follower because it is a public profession of your faith in Him:

Matthew 10:32-33 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

The North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptists summarizes baptism this way:

Scripture reveals that baptism involves four things.

  1. The right person: a believer
  2. The right reasons: obedience and declaration of your faith
  3. The right method: immersion
  4. The right authority: a local New Testament Church (Acts 2:41-47)

The essentials of baptism are:

  1. Believe in Jesus for salvation
  2. Make your commitment public
  3. Request to be baptized by immersion

May God touch your hearts with His Spirit and His Word. May others read this, and come to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. Amen and Amen!

Posted in 1 Peter, Sermons Preached | Tagged ,

What Shall I Do To Inherit Eternal Life?

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God had put a parable on my heart to preach this week, a parable found in Luke chapter 10. This parable has often been called “The Parable Of The Good Samaritan”. That’s a bad title because of the word “Good”. Our Lord Jesus said in:

Matthew 19:17 … there is none good but One, that is, God … (see also Mark 10:18)

Good” is a word we like to over use. When someone dies, the pastor says “He was a GOOD man” or “She was a GOOD woman”. There are none that are good when compared to God. An oft quoted text is:

Romans 3:10-12 as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Jesus never called this Samaritan “good”, though Jesus uses this Samaritan to describe what loving your neighbor is all about. Let’s look at our text.

What Can I Do To Inherit Eternal Life?

Luke 10:25-28 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted {Jesus}, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? 27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. 28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

A LAWYER came to Jesus with a question, a question that many people have asked. His question was:

Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

What can I DO to inherit eternal life? What he is asking is “How can I live forever?” or “How can I get to Heaven?” It might surprise you to know that WE ALL LIVE FOREVER. The Bible tells us that when God created mankind, that He made humanity like He is:

Genesis 1:26 … God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion

Every human shares the same trait, regardless as to our color. We are made in the image of God.

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

Everyone lives forever. All lives matter, because all lives are made in God’s image and likeness. Our souls are eternal. Lives are so precious that God has said:

Genesis 9:6 Whoso sheddeth {human} blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man{kind}.

Every life has eternal value, for it is in God’s image. The life that rejects God will find itself in a terrible place one day, a place where those who revolt against their Creator goes. It is a place that Jesus spoke of in Luke 16, about a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. Lazarus loved the Lord, but the rich man loved himself. When both the rich man and Lazarus died, that is, they left their earthly bodies, Lazarus was comforted. But what of the rich man?

Luke 16:22-23 … the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments

Oh, we all have eternal life, insofar as consciousness goes. Our souls cannot be destroyed. What this Lawyer is referring to when he says “eternal life” is that he wants to leave this life, and enter the Presence of God in eternity. What he is asking Jesus is “how can I, once I leave this life by death, go into the Presence of God, and not into eternal damnation?” It’s a good question. Notice who asks the question. It is A LAWYER.

Now LAWYERS in Jesus’ day were not Lawyers like Jerry Bridenbaugh is a Lawyer. The Lawyers in Jesus’ day were experts in the Law of God, the Torah. They knew what God’s Bible said. They studied it diligently, just as Jerry studies case histories and past judicial renderings. The Lawyer asks this question, not because he is sincerely seeking the truth. No, the Bible says:

Luke 10:25 a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted {Jesus}

Word Study The word TEMPTED in the Greek ἐκπειράζω ekpeirázō, {pronounced ek-pi-rad’-zo}, which means “to put to the test”. This man had studied the Law of God his whole life. Now here is this fellow Jesus, a hillbilly from a no named place called Nazareth. As he asks the question, I can see the smile tugging at his lips. He is an expert on the Law – this Rube won’t have a clue! He’s going to show up Jesus.

Beloved, you can’t show up Jesus. Though Jesus appears to be a hick from Nazareth, Jesus is much, much more. It is a mystery as to how God became man, perfect man, but this is what the Scripture teaches. We are told in:

1 Timothy 3:16 without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

Jesus Christ is fully Man and fully God. The Apostle said,

Colossians 2:9 in {Jesus} dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

Oh Beloved, the Word of God was made flesh and dwelt amongst us (John 1:14). The Jesus Who stands before this Lawyer wrote the Word of God through His Prophets. This Jesus Christ knows the Law, for He directed the pens that wrote it. You cannot confuse an Author over the Book that He Himself wrote. Jesus wrote the Bible. Jesus is:

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

The Lawyer wants to test God, the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord. But notice how Jesus responds. Jesus doesn’t blast this man out of the room with His knowledge. The man knows the Law (or so he thinks he does), so Jesus replies:

Luke 10:26…What is written in the law? how readest thou?

You have studied the Law – well, you answer the question. What does the Law of God declare? Beloved, God gave us the Law as a mirror to teach us that we are NOT GOOD and DESPERATELY NEED GOD. That’s what the Law does. The Apostle tells us:

Galatians 3:10-14 … as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in ALL things which are written in the book of the law to do them. 11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. 13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

God gave us His Law because of our sins against Him (Galatians 3:19). The Law mandated blood sacrifices to cover sins temporarily. The Law was not given to justify or make us right with God. No, Beloved, we all need the Savior. The Apostle went on the say:

Galatians 3:21-23 if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. 22 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 …

This Lawyer thought he was right with God because he knew the Law. So Jesus asks the man, “What have YOU (you expert) READ IN THE LAW?” The man replies:

Luke 10:27 … Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.

The Lawyer recited the Great Commandment, drawn from the Shema that God gave Israel in:

Deuteronomy 6:5 … thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

God expects your heart, your soul, your physical strength and everything you do to be devoted to Him. God wants ALL of you. That is the first Great Commandment. God told His Old Covenant people:

Deuteronomy 10:12 … what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul

The Lawyer also quotes from …

Leviticus 19:18 … thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord…

Jesus told the Lawyer (vs 28) “Thou hast answered right”. If you expect to spend eternity with God, and not in hell, then this is what God requires by His Law. You see, Heaven is a place of love. Not love as the world defines it, but love as God defines it. Heaven is a place where God is not an add on to your day. I hear so many people say, “When I get to Heaven, the first person I’m going to see is my wife (or) my grandma (or) my son (or) ___”. Many people think that Heaven will be like earth, where humans are the center of all things, and God but a periodic distraction. That’s not true. When John the Revelator looked into Heaven, what did he see? Well, he heard God, and then he saw God:

Revelation 21:3-4 Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears

Heaven is all about God. In Heaven we will not have me-ology, but Theology. The center of Heaven is God. The light of Heaven is God. The street of Heaven leads to God’s Throne. Heaven is about being in God’s Presence.

Who Is My Neighbor?

The Lawyer feels like he has Heaven guaranteed. He feels like He’s loving God with all he has. But he hasn’t. You see, if you love God, you will love your neighbor. If you love the God that you cannot see, you will love the person created in the image of God that you can see. We read:

Luke 10:29 But {the Lawyer}, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor?

The late R.C. Sproul wrote in his book “What Do The Parables Mean?”:

“… when you’re in discussions of theology or debating certain issues with others, you often hear them say “What do you mean by this?” They want you to define your terms. … The Jews at that time … had a narrow definition of who one’s neighbor was. For them, it would be a fellow Jew … people who were outside of the nation of Israel were considered outside of the neighborhood of God. And of all those outside the Jewish neighborhood, the MOST DESPISED WERE THE SAMARITANS” (emphasis mine).

The Jews hated the Romans for conquering Israel (though they were conquered as a discipline from God for not loving Him). But the Jews really hated the Samaritans. When Israel wandered away from God, the Lord sent the armies of Assyria into Israel to punish His people (722 B.C.). The Assyrians, after conquering Israel, moved many of the Jews to Assyria, and put many Assyrians in the houses that were vacated by the Jews. Over time the Jews who remained in Israel intermarried with the Assyrians, and produced a race of half Jews and half Gentiles. These were the Samaritans.

The hated Samaritans built their own Temple on Mount Gerizim, and had their own Bible. This in itself infuriated the Jews. How dare they do this? Just the day before this moment Jesus Himself had trouble with the Samaritans. We read:

Luke 9:51-56 And it came to pass, when the time was come that {Jesus} should be received up, {Jesus} steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, 52 and sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. 53 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as {Elijah} did? 55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. 56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.

Jesus was going to pass through Samaria, spend the night there, then go on to Jerusalem for the Passover. The Samaritans had their own Passover and their own Temple, and wanted Jesus to stay with them. But Jesus had to go to Jerusalem. Jesus Christ is the Passover Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29). He would celebrate Passover one last time with His disciples, and then He Himself would on die on Calvary for our sins.

Jesus shall save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).

Jesus died on Calvary for you and I. He died for the Samaritans, and died for the Jews. Jesus died for the white, black, red, and yellow person. Jesus died for the most crude and godless of people, but He also died for the self righteous and the morally superior. Jesus had to go to Jerusalem.

The Samaritans didn’t like it. The Jews were their enemies. They refused to receive Jesus, and told Him to keep on moving.

This incensed Jesus’ disciples.

Luke 9:54-56 … {James and John}said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as {Elijah} did? 55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. 56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.

Jesus did not come to destroy the Samaritans. He came to save whosoever will receive Him.

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

Oh no! God did not become human to kill off other humans. Jesus came to reach whosoever will. There will come a time when God will bring fire on the earth, and judge sinners who reject Him. But at this time God is reaching out to whosoever will via His Son. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. (1 John 4:9). Oh, Beloved. Praise God for His infinite patience.

Though the Samaritans rebuked and rejected Jesus the day before, Jesus now answers the Lawyer’s question “Who is my neighbor?” with this parable. Let’s read and break out the parable:

Luke 10:30 A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead

Jesus does not define “the CERTAIN MAN”. He doesn’t tell us if this man is Jew or Gentile. He doesn’t tell us what color this man is. We also don’t know why he is traveling. Perhaps the man is a traveling salesman, or perhaps a homeless person. We don’t know. We do know this, the man passes through Jericho. This is the New Testament Jericho, a place about seventeen miles from Jerusalem. You learned last week that Jericho is a tax center where tax collectors gather. People go to Jericho to pay their taxes – and the people have money! This is a prime place for thieves. This man is traveling alone, something that was patently unwise. The man is being foolhardy – and he suffers for it.

This man loses everything BUT his life. But wait – here comes help!

Luke 10:31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

The priest sees the man laying there on the side of the road … and passes by on the other side. When I first read this, I thought “how horrible to be a priest – a man who represents God to man – and to ignore a person laying in a ditch!” But as I studied this I realized that it was not a lack of compassion that caused to priest to do what he did. In the Law we are taught:

Numbers 19:11 He that toucheth the dead body of any man shall be unclean seven days.

The man looked to be dead. He wasn’t moving, and was probably unconscious from the beating he was given. The priest – perhaps on the way to the Passover – did not want to be defiled and be unable to do his office. He passed by the man.

Luke 10:32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.

A Levite was consecrated to do God’s work, and Levites were often teachers. He did not want to be defiled by a dead body either! So he passes on by.

Luke 10:33-24 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34 and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

The Samaritan – a race of hated people – had compassion on the man. He not only stopped and checked to see if the man was dead, but he treated the man’s wounds. The Samaritan rode up on a donkey, but now puts the hurt man on donkey while he walks. The Samaritan leads his donkey and the wounded man to the nearest inn so he could let the man rest. I want this to sink in:

The Samaritan didn’t just say “I’ll pray for you”. He went out of his way to minister, in love, to this fallen man. This man may have been a Jew, and perhaps as a Jew hated the Samaritan. The Samaritan looked beyond the hatred, and saw the man as one “in God’s image”.

The man couldn’t walk – he couldn’t talk. It is possible that the man stayed in an unconscious state while the Samaritan ministered to him. There is no evidence that the man ever thanked – or even spoke – to the Samaritan. The Samaritan spent the night with the wounded man. We read:

Luke 10:35 And on the morrow when {the Samaritan} departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

The Samaritan not only took care of the wounded man, but gave enough for the innkeeper to minister to him in his absence. He showed love to this man who probably was someone who hated him. Jesus ends the parable simply with a question:

Luke 10:36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves?

Who is the “neighbor”? Was it the Priest or the Levite who knew the Law of God, or the Samaritan who knew the value of life? The Lawyer answered, “The Samaritan that shewed mercy to the wounded man”. Jesus replies simply,

Luke 10:37 … Go, and do thou likewise.

Do you wish to inherit eternal life? Do you wish to be with Jesus for all eternity? Then you must see others as God sees them. Every life is precious. Every life is a gift from God. Every life deserves the mercy of God.

Are You A Child Of God By Faith In Christ?

The parable of the traveling Samaritan is not just a picture of two men, but a picture of every person who is saved by faith in Christ. We, like the “certain man” in this parable, have all done foolish things. We have traveled into bad places, and put ourselves at risk by bad practices. Thieves have attacked us, and beaten and robbed us. The devil and his gang have sidelined us with temptations, foolish temptations, that have drawn us into bad places. These thieves have set upon us, and beaten us, robbed us, and left us half dead.

We laid in the ditch of life.

Religion came in the form of the priest and the Levite. It offered “good works” to help us. Good works cannot help a person half dead – and we are all half dead without Jesus. Oh Beloved,

Titus 3:3-7 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. 4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; 7 that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

We laid in a ditch, half dead. Then Jesus came along. The Jesus we once cursed, He stopped and offered us a hand. He picked us up, and put us in His place, while He took our place. And He told the Father, “Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.” Jesus bore our sin debt, saving us, so that we could live for Him in this fallen and hurting world.

If you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, if you have been loved and restored to life by His love, then you will have a heart that wants to follow God with your ALL.We love Him, because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). Jesus got us out of the ditch. We are to help others get out of the ditch. As we have been loved, let us love.

Do you know my Jesus? If you do not, oh Beloved, today would be a great day to “call upon the name of the Lord, and be saved”.

Romans 10:9-13 if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Amen and Amen. May God’s Word, and His Holy Spirit, draw you to His embrace and salvation this very day.

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

What Is My Purpose In Christ

Photo by Michael Heuser on Unsplash

Last week we started our study of Romans, covering the first few verses of chapter 1. Tonight we’re going to focus on the question:

What Is My Purpose In Christ?”

In my devotional reading this morning, I was in R.C. Sproul’s (pronounced sprõwal) book “What Do Jesus’ Parables Mean?”, when I came across this interesting statement. Dr. Sproul wrote:

Years ago I gave an exam to a college class. At least five students said, “Professor, I’m sorry, I’m not very well prepared for this examination. But I hope you won’t hold it against me, because I want you to know my heart is filled with love for the Lord Jesus, and I try to do what I can. In fact, last week, instead of studying, I was busily involved in outreach, and as a result, I didn’t do so well on this test.” I said, “You seem to have a good grasp of the doctrine of justification by faith, and I want you to know that as far as the Kingdom of God is concerned, the only way you’ll ever be justified is by faith alone. But in this classroom it’s justification by works alone. I’m glad that you love Jesus, but I hope that you love Hi enough to be more diligent stewards of your time here in college, and start studying for your tests, and using the abilities that He’s given you.”

Dr Sproul went on to say, “There was this idea – and I’ve found it widespread throughout evangelical Christianity – that all you need is a loving and warm heart, and since justification is not by works, as Christians we don’t have to work. But how can anyone read the Gospels and not see the emphasis that our Lord put on productivity, or fruits?”

God calls every Christian to salvation by faith alone in Christ alone. But once saved, we are a Kingdom of God people. We follow our Master, and obey His commands.

Though we will focus on Romans 1:6-11 tonight, let’s read the text up to it to give us our context:

Romans 1:1-5 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, 2 (which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) 3 concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: 5 by whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:

Now for our focal text:

Romans 1:6-11 among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: 7 to all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. 8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; 10 making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;

Let’s break down our focal text, starting with:

The Christian Is A “Called” Person

Romans 1:6 …. among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:

Word Study The word translated “CALLED” is not the word I expected it to be. I thought it would be the word καλέω kaléō, (pronounced kal-eh’-o), the word usually used when someone calls your name. When I was a young boy my mamma would call out, “David”, and I’d come running. That would be kaléō. Jesus kaléō(ed) James and John in Matthew 4:21. He spoke their names aloud, bidding them to follow Him. The word kaléō is also used for “named”. Joseph kaléō(ed) the child that Mary had JESUS (Matthew 1:21, 25).

Word StudyThe word used in our text today is actually κλητός klētós, klay-tos’, which means to “be INVITED or APPOINTED”. The Christian is a person who has been invited to a wonderful, new relationship with God. The Christian way of life is a relational way of life. Prior to Christ we founded our relationship in the world. When Jesus called and invited us, He invited us to come out of the lost world, and into His Kingdom. Jesus invited us out of the darkness, and into His light. One of my favorite Evangelists Billy Graham said:

Christ is calling Christians today to cleansing, to dedication, to consecration, and to full surrender. It will make the difference between success and failure in our spiritual lives. It will make the difference between being helped and helping others. It will make a difference in our habits, in our prayer life, in our Bible reading, in our giving, in our testimony, and in our church membership. This is the Christian’s hour of decision!

Christians, we are invited into a glorious and growing relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. We are called into daily intimacy with Jesus. We are not called to be just Sunday morning Christians, but every day followers of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ emphasized our relationship to Himself in …

John 15:5-7 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

We are invited into a intimate, ATTACHED union with Jesus Christ. The power and life that runs through Christ as the vine, runs through us as the branches. If the branch becomes detached from the vine, what happens to it? It dries up, and becomes fodder only fit for burning. When we draw away from Christ, we dry up, and become the pawns of the world. Beloved, this must not be. Christ has invited us into a …

Hebrews 10:20 … new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh

We who are Christians love Jesus, because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). The Father loved us so much that the scripture says:

John 3:16-17 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.

God loved us and gave Himself for us before we ever loved Him. When we “were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for us”(Romans 5:6). While “we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”. (Romans 5:8). God’s lovepurposefully sought us out and invited us into His family. On the day that webelieved on the Lord Jesus Christ and were saved (Acts 16:31) we were called to be members of His Kingdom.

The Christian is a person who is called – appointed – given purpose. You have been called to salvation by God. You answered that call by repenting or turning away from your old way of life and by turning to God in faith through Jesus. Faith in Jesus Christ has multiple effects on our lives. We are not only washed from sin, and made blameless (Philippians 2:15; 1 Corinthians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:23) because Jesus took our blame, but as citizens of His Kingdom we are given new purpose in this present life. The Bible says:

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

We are invited to salvation not just to coast to Heaven on gossamer wings, but we are invited to salvation and made kings and priests UNTO GOD AND HIS FATHER. We are Kings and Priests because of Jesus. We are called to live purposefully in Him.

The Christian Is Not Just INVITED,
But We Are LOVED

Romans 1:6-7 among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: 7 to all that be in Rome, beloved of God …

Word Study The Christian is ἀγαπητός θεός agapētos theos, one much loved and highly esteemed, favored of God. In the Old Testament the Hebrew word for “Beloved” is יָדִידyediyd. God often called Israel His “Beloved” (see Deuteronomy 33:12; Jeremiah 11:15). The phrase “Beloved” is often used in The Song of Solomon for newlyweds, who express their deep affection for one another. The word “Beloved” is particularly interesting because God the Father used it to address Jesus Christ our Lord:

Matthew 3:17 {the Father said}This is My BELOVED (agapētos) Son, in Whom I am well pleased

and at the Mount of Transfiguration, the Father said of Christ:

Matthew 17:5 This is my beloved (agapētos) Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

The Father called His Only Begotten Son agapētos, “Beloved”. Almighty God spoke through the Prophet Isaiah of the Coming Messiah, the Beloved of God (Isaiah 42:1). Matthew quoted the Prophet, using agapētos for Jesus:

Matthew 12:18 Behold my servant {Jesus}, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles.

Israel is God’s Beloved. Jesus Christ is God’s Beloved. God now calls you “Beloved” because you have believed on and received His Son as Lord and Savior. You are loved because of the relationship you have with Christ! You are Beloved. You are Beloved when joined together with other Beloveds, other believers in Christ.

Romans 1:7 … to ALL that be in Rome, beloved of God

The letter to the Romans was not addressed to just one person, but to the Church that was at Rome. The Church that Jesus Christ gave Himself for is “Beloved”.

H.B. London says, “God loves you as though you were the only one in all the world to love – and that makes you a very important person.”. That is so true – Goddoes love you with a focused and intense love. God is passionate about you. But Beloved, God wants you to be passionate about Him. As the Beloved of God Jesus sought to do the Father’s will in all things. Our Lord said:

John 4:34 I come not to do My will, but the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.

TheBeloved Sonalways seeks to do the Father’s will.In the same way, the Beloved Christian and the Beloved Church seeks to do …

Galatians 2:20 … the will of Him that loved us and gave himself for us.

The Beloved willalwaysseek todo the will of the Father. We are to live our faith passionately for the Lord Jesus. Our lives should make an impact on the world around us. The Apostle said of the Roman believers:

Romans 1:8 … First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.

Paul thanked our God because the Roman Church had kept a faithful witness before the whole world. When the Church lives for the world, it blends in with the world. When the Church, like Christ, lives to please God, then our faith will be spoken of throughout the world. The Church at Rome was acting like the Beloved of God. They were living their lives for Jesus. Compare this praise from the great Apostle to the pitiful performance shown by the Church at Corinth:

1 Corinthians 5:1 It is reported commonly [that there is] fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.

The Apostle praised God through Christ for the Church at Rome, but for the Church of Corinth he expressed shocked outrage.“How dare you tolerate such athing? Do you not know that even the unbelievingGentile world doesn’t do what you people are doing! Ason taking his father’s wife, committing incest with his own mother.”

How would Christ rate the life you are living today? Would He brag on you, or chastise you? Are our lives reflecting the life of Jesus Christ?

The Rome in which these Christians were living in is much like America today. Secularism had taken over that nation. Sexual sin was rampant. Every type of fornication was not only allowed, but encouraged. Rome housed a pantheon of gods and goddesses, and even Caesar was, at one point, consider a god. Rome was disintegrating from the inside out, and Christians were made the targets of persecution. Fox’s Book of Martyr’s notes:

The first persecution of the Church took place in the year 67, under Nero, the sixth emperor of Rome. … {Nero} ordered the city of Rome should be set on fire … This dreadful conflagration continued nine days; when Nero, finding that his conduct was greatly blamed, and a severe odium cast upon him, determined to lay the whole upon the Christians, at once to excuse himself, and have an opportunity of glutting his sight with new cruelties. This was the occasion of the first persecution; and the barbarities exercised on the Christians were such as even excited the commiseration of the Romans themselves.

The Church of the falling Roman Empire, though persecuted by Rome, focused on being the Beloved of God. Rather than add to the darkness, the Church did as Jesus said in …

Matthew 5:43-44 “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”

The way of the world is “hit me, I’ll hit you”. The Way of the Beloved is “do bad to me, I will bless you”. This is what it means to imitate God (Ephesians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 11:1). If each believer could focus on the reality that we are The Beloved of God, how the Church would make adifference in our present Roman Society! America today is like Rome of yesterday. Every man follows his own gods or goddesses, and focus devotion to Christ and Christ alone is not tolerated in our present society. Theworld does not mind the false teaching that Jesus is a god amongst other gods, yet the world violent rejects Jesus as …

John 14:6 the Way, the Truth, and the Life – no man comes unto the Father but by Him.

The Christian Is INVITED, BELOVED,
And SET APART

Romans 1:7 … to all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

You are not only called to be the Beloved of God , and you are also called to be Saints. The word saint is literally the Greek word ἅγιος hágios, {pronounced hag’-ee-os}, which means to be a holy thing; to be set apart religiously or morally; to be consecrated to God. You are the Beloved of God. God set you apart to be used by Him and Him alone. John MacArthur notes:

The term saint in the word of God is simply defined right here in 1 Corinthians, chapter 1, verse 2. If you’ll look at it, we’ll just begin by examining that term. “Under the church of God which is at Corinth; to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.” Now, there you have the term saint used to define those who are sanctified in Christ, who call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Anyone made holy in Christ, anyone calling upon His name, that is, any believer, any true Christian, is a saint. You have the right to that title. In fact, the next time you introduce yourself, you can simply say, “It’s nice to meet you. I’m Saint John,” and that ought to start a good conversation. I have been made righteous. I have been made holy. I have been declared just, by God Himself, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. That’s a saint.”

The “Saint” knows that he or she are just passing through this world. We are set apart by God through the death and resurrection of Christ. We are called out of this world to live for Jesus. Jesus made this plain in His High Priestly prayer for the Church. He said:

John 17:9-11 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. 10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. 11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

The Saint is to walk in union with God, to seek the same union that our Lord Jesus Christ had. Jesus continued His prayer …

John 17:13-19 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil {one}. 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. 18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

The Saint, like Jesus, is sent by God INTO the world, to share the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. But the Saint is not to blend in with the world. We are called to blend in with God, to cling to His Word. The foundation of the Christian way of life is the writings of the Apostles and the Prophets. The Scripture says:

Ephesians 2:20 {the Church or gathering of believers is} … built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone…

Our FOUNDATION, dear Christian, is not what the world says, feels, or believes, but is what the Bible (the Apostles and Prophets) teaches. This will certainly not makes us “friends of the world”, but I hasten to remind you what the Scripture says:

James 4:4 … know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

This is what has caused much of the problems we see in America today. As the old saying goes, “you are what you eat”. What are you feeding your soul? Too many who profess to be believers in Christ spend little time reading the Word of God, the Bible – but hours every day in front of a secular driven television. What are you feeding your soul? Beloved, you are called to be Saints, set apart for God’s use.

Do you pray daily? Do you start and end your day in prayer? The Psalmist said:

Psalms 5:3 My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.

Psalms 55:17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.

Are you praying? Are you reading His Word? Do you know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? If you do not, today would be a wonderful day to call upon the name of the Lord. The Bible promises:

Romans 10:6-13 … the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) 7 or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) 8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Salvation brings with it a glorious new life in God. Do you know that life? Do you enjoy His pretense daily? If not, become a child of God by faith in Christ today. Find your purpose in Christ Jesus our Lord. May God bless you richly with His Word, through His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Romans, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , ,

The Zacchaeus Effect

Photo by Jed Villejo on Unsplash

To Be Saved, You Must Receive Jesus Christ
As Both Lamb And Lord

Last week I preached from Matthew 20 about the Cup of Christ. Jesus is headed toward Jerusalem, not just to celebrate the Passover, but to BE the Passover. Jesus drank the cup of judgment so that we who believe in Him can be saved. The Scripture says:

1 Corinthians 5:7 … Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us …

Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God Who gave Himself for us. The disciples did not understand. Many today are just as confused. Jesus Christ had to die on Calvary, making payment for our sins, so that we – if we believe in Him – can one day be members of Heaven. Heaven is NOT the default home of every person. Heaven is God’s home, and God is holy. God is holy. God is holy!

Psalm 99:9 Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the Lord our God is holy.

Our God is of purer eyes than to behold evil. Our God cannot look on iniquity (Habakkuk 1:13).

Sin has always been a barrier between God and His creation.

Isaiah 59:2 but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that GOD will not hear.

This is why Jesus had to die. Jesus is the Bridge between God and Man. God incarnate, He came from Heaven, and was made flesh to dwell among us (John 1:14). He lived among us. He kept the Law of God complete and perfectly … no sin was found in Him.

Jesus, God become man, became sin on the Cross, and was punished as a sinner in my place and yours. He did this to raise us up to God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Last week I promised you a sermon from this text:

Matthew 20:29 And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him.

I told you that there was another sermon within this sermon. Jesus and His disciples departed from Jericho, and a great multitude followed them.

Something significant happened in Jericho, significant enough to cause a great multitude to follow Jesus.

The “Jericho” in our text today is not the same Jericho that Joshua marched around (Joshua 6:1-27). Remember Joshua? In their first battle, God told Israel to march around Jericho, once a day for six days, then seven times on the seventh day. You remember that Jericho? It was the first battle that Israel fought in Canaan. God fought for them … and the walls of that Jericho fell down.

There Is A Man In Jericho That Has Built Walls Around His Life. This Man Needs Jesus!

Jesus is going to Jericho to save a sinner in need. Jesus will not have to march around this man daily for six days. This man is miserable. He knows he is in need. He has riches, but no joy, for he has no Jesus!

The Jericho Jesus enters is a place where Tax Collectors gathered, a place where taxes were paid to Rome.

Matthew, an ex-tax collector, does not record
what happens in Jericho. Please turn to Luke 19.

Luke 19:1-2 And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. 2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchæus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.

Jesus knows your heartaches. He sees your scars. Zacchaeus was a rich, scarred man. He needed Jesus – and Jesus came to him.

Word Study We can learn a lot of Zacchaeus just by studying his name. When Zacchaeus was born, his parents had high hopes for him. The name “Zacchaeus” in the Hebrew means “pure, clean, justified, one who is righteous”. His parents wanted Zacchaeus to grow up and be a great believer in God. Yet his path was different from what his parents wanted. His parents did their best to lead their son to the Lord, but he strayed. If you have a child you love who has strayed, remember the promise of God:

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

Word Study Zacchaeus, like many of us, got off course of his parents training. The Bible says that Zacchaeus “is chief among the publicans”. The “publican” was a tax collector. If there was ever a group of people hated by the Israelite, it was the tax collector. Tax collectors (“public” officials or “publicans”) were hated because they often over-charged on people’s taxes, and pocketed the excess. Tax collectors were wealthy, while their customers starved. Tax collectors were known as crooks, but also known as traitors to Israel. The money the tax collectors took were used to fund the Roman Army, the same military that dominated Israel and robbed her of freedom. Zacchaeus is not just a tax collector, he is a “chief tax collector” ( Greek ἀρχιτελώνης architelṓnēs, {pronounced ar-khee-tel-o’-nace}), a Tax Commissioner over the District of Jericho. The only way you could get this juicy job was to be well connected among the Romans, or else to purchase the job by bribing Roman officials.

If tax collectors were hated, Zacchaeus was the most hated among the hated. He was rich. Zacchaeus got rich by taking advantage of others. The Bible says:

Proverbs 21:6 The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death.

To rob others in order to fill your own pockets is to invite the judgment of God. Wealth is not in and of itself sinful, unless you worship your wealth as your god. The Bible says “the LOVE OF MONEY is the ROOT OF ALL EVIL” (1 Timothy 6:10). Zacchaeus pursued wealth at the expense of his countrymen. He was rich with money, but poor in friends and faith.

Broken People Need The Lord Jesus!

Luke 19:3 … And Zacchaeus sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.

Broken people need the Lord. When people share their pain with us who are Christ followers, the best thing we can do for them is bring them to Jesus. Jesus loves the broken and the broken hearted. Zacchaeus sought to see Jesus, Who He was. Our text tells us that two things stood in Zacchaeus’ way:

  1. The crowd kept Zacchaeus from Jesus. So often broken people let those around them hinder them from coming to Jesus. In our sermon last week we talked about two blind men who called out to Jesus for help (Matthew 20:30). The crowd began to tell them to hush up. They refused to be hindered by the crowd. They yelled LOUDER (the Greek word is “crayzo” – like crazy men) until they got the Lord’s attention. They needed Jesus.

Sometimes the broken are afraid of what their peers will say about them. Oh, how often have we let pride stand in our way, keeping us from Jesus. We want to blend in with the crowd. James warned (James 4:4), “Do you not know that friendship with the world will make you the enemy of God?” (my paraphrase). The world is bound in spiritual darkness.

Sometimes we hang out with the wrong crowd. The Apostle said in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be misled. Bad company will corrupt good morals” (my paraphrase). Often the crowd will block us from Jesus. But Beloved, if we want to be blessed, we need to ignore the crowd, ignore our pride, and run to Jesus. Has He not promised:

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

There is no better place to be, than in the arms of Jesus. Do not let the crowd hinder you from learning of Him, of Who He is! Jesus wants us to come to Him like little children, for He said:

Matthew 19:14 … for of such {little children} is the Kingdom of Heaven {populated}

  1. Sometimes our own limitations keep us from Jesus. Zacchaeus was “small of stature”. He was limited by his birth. Had he been taller, he could have gotten a glimpse of Jesus over the heads of the crowd. Over the years I have asked many to come to Jesus, to surrender their lives to Him to be blessed. Yet sometimes people remark, “I am unworthy – I am small of stature”. Beloved, we are all unworthy. None of us deserve Jesus. The Bible tells us that:

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

I have quoted this verse many times to audiences in four states, and have always pointed out “ALL have sinned”. All means all. We are all unworthy. We are all unable. We are all lacking when compared to God. But God knows this – this is why He sent Jesus to us. It was just today, as I worked on this sermon, that the second part of that text struck me ….

Romans 3:23 AND COME SHORT of the glory of God

Like Zacchaeus, we are ALL too short to meet God face to face. We are all unworthy.

So many people miss out on blessing because they think they are tall enough to please God … but they are too short. How will we fix this? Well, how did Zacchaeus fix his limitations? How did he get past the barrier of the crowd, and the barrier of his limitations?

Luke 19:4 … And (Zacchaeus) ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.

Zacchaeus put away his pride, Got Away From The Crowd, and Climbed A Tree!

Proverbs 16:18 tells us that Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit {גֹּבַהּ gôbahh, (pronounced go’-bah)}, that is, a high or arrogant spirit before a fall.

Zacchaeus had every human right to be proud. He was, after all, a Tax Commissioner. He had many men working for him. He could have just went about his own way, trusting in his own abilities and his own rightness, and he would have met eternal damnation. Zacchaeus RAN to a place where Jesus could find him.

Jeremiah 17:7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.

Zacchaeus put himself in the path of Jesus by climbing a tree. Oh, that Adam had CLIMBED A TREE instead of EATING FROM A TREE (Genesis 2:16-17)!

It was a tree that caused humanity to fall into sin. But it was through a tree that God would save humanity. God gave a law, and Adam failed that law. But God sent His Son Jesus Christ to this earth for us. The Bible says …

Galatians 3:12-14 the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. 13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Jesus bore our curse hanging on a Tree, the Cross of Calvary. The Apostle tells us:

1 Peter 2:23-25 {Jesus}, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus. Where did he run? To a tree. If you want to see Jesus, you need to run to the Tree of Calvary. You need to climb that Tree, and die with Jesus on that Cross. Identify with Him. Declare with the Apostle:

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

Meet Jesus At The Tree, And He Will Abide With You

Luke 19:5-6 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchæus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. 6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.

Oh how wonderful it was the day I ran to the tree! When Jesus looked up, there I was. Come down, Zacchaeus … I MUST ABIDE at thy house. When we meet Jesus where He is, surrendering our pride, Jesus comes to our house. He says,

I MUST ABIDE

The word translated “ABIDE” is the Greek μένω ménō, (pronounced men’-o), which means “to remain at or tarry with”. Jesus was not just coming for a visit. He was coming to dwell in Zacchaeus’ heart. It is God’s will that:

Ephesians 3:17 Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith

Jesus was not just going to visit. He was coming to Zacchaeus’ home, to his heart, and was going to stay with him by faith. Jesus said “I MUST ABIDE”. The Bible promises that our God is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9):

Romans 10:12-13 … the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Zacchaeus needed Jesus. He called upon the name of the Lord. Maybe not out loud, but from his heart. The Bible says that:

Luke 19:6 {Zacchaeus} received him joyfully

Zacchaeus RECEIVED Jesus with joy in his heart. The Bible tells us that:

John 1:10-13 {Jesus} was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Zacchaeus was saved that very moment. But then there are those who think they are righteous without the Tree. They are mentioned next.

Luke 19:7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.

Word Study This is an amusing but somewhat tragic text. The text is amusing because the word translated “MURMURED” comes from a root word which is from the buzzing of bees (διαγογγύζω (diagongyzō)). There were buzzes all around Jesus from the indignant and self righteous people in the crowd. These people were probably Scribes and Pharisees, as this was not the first time they “buzzed among themselves” over Jesus being with sinners.

Luke 15:2 … the Pharisees and Scribes murmured (buzzed among themselves), saying, this man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

Jesus told them then that there is …

Luke 15:7 … Joy shall be in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

Oh, so often the self righteous murmur when the “bad people” come to Jesus! “Jesus, why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners? (Luke 5:30). Jesus is quick to point out:

Luke 5:31 They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. 32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Beloved, self righteousness is one of the greatest of all sins. God says of the self righteous that:

Isaiah 65:2-3, 5 I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts; 3 a people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face… 5 which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.

Jesus told these Pharisees and Scribes,

Matthew 21:31 the Tax Collectors and the Prostitutes go into the Kingdom of God before you (my paraphrase)

Oh Beloved, do not let self righteousness well up in your hearts. We all, like Zacchaeus, must run to the Tree of Calvary. We must acknowledge our brokenness. We must see Jesus. When we do, Jesus will come home with us. He will live in our hearts, and change our lives.

The Saved Live For Jesus

Those who are saved by grace, live as Children of Light, Children of God. We are not saved by our works. The Bible says:

Titus 3:5-6 … not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior;

Once saved by faith in a magnificent Jesus, we then begin to live for Him. The proof of your salvation is in how you live your life after you have been saved. The Pharisees and Scribes SAID they were saved. But what followed their salvation? The stepbrother of our Lord Jesus said:

James 2:17-20 … faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

When you meet Jesus, it transforms your life. The blind who met Jesus went away seeing. The lepers who met Jesus went away cleansed. The crippled who met Jesus walked away on two good feet. The deaf who met Jesus went away, hearing the birds in the trees for the first time in their lives. The dead who met Jesus rose up, and lived again. Beloved, if you have met Jesus, it will change your life. Look at Zacchaeus! Witness his changed life:

Luke 19:8 And Zacchæus stood, and said unto the Lord…

Notice that first of all Zacchaeus stood up for Jesus. Zacchaeus addressed Jesus as “Lord”. Did not Jesus say:

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

If you claim to be a Christian, but will not stand up for Jesus, then you are assuredly not where you need to be spiritually. Zacchaeus told the Lord:

Luke 19:8 … Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.

When a person is saved by faith in Christ, they are saved from the heart outward!

Zacchaeus gave away half of his riches to the poor, a clear sign that he was changed. A rich lost person loves their riches. Zacchaeus loved the Lord Jesus. The Bible says:

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

When you give as you should, God will bless you. Zacchaeus no longer worshiped money. He now worshiped the Lord. He also promised to return all that he had previously gotten by “false accusation”. This was how the tax collectors got rich – they lied to people, and over charged them. Zacchaeus said that, as he had been taking by over charging, he would restore by over giving. After he said this our Lord said:

Luke 19:9-10 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Are you saved by faith in Christ? If you are not, today would be a wonderful day to follow Zacchaeus’ example. Put away your self righteousness. Get away from the crowd that is this world. Run to the Tree. Climb that Tree, for there you will see Jesus – and Jesus will see you!

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

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

The Burning Bush

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to Exodus 3. We’re going to look at a familiar story, and hopefully gain insight into God’s Word. I wasn’t going to preach on this text tonight, but God wouldn’t let it go. I was going to go to Romans 12 – but God said “Go to Exodus 3”.

Moses Is A Key Influencer In The Scripture

Let’s talk about Moses before we read our Exodus 3 text. The Bible has much to say about Moses. In the Gospel of John we are told that:

John 1:15-17 John bare witness of {Jesus}, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me {this Jesus} is preferred before me: for he was before me. 16 And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

God used Moses to bring the Law of Israel – but Moses, like all believers, was saved by faith. The Bible tells us that the purpose of the Law was to convict us, and teach us of our inability to be right before God in our own power. The Bible says:

Galatians 3:21-27 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. 22 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.

God brought the Law to Israel after Israel repeatedly rejected the Grace of God. God gave the Law to Israel through Moses – but that doesn’t mean that Moses was saved by the Law. No. Moses was saved by faith in Jesus Christ, just as we all are saved by faith in Jesus Christ.

Grace Is Undeserved, And Moses Is A Product Of Grace

Before we see Moses at the Burning Bush, we need to see Moses’ beginning. Moses’ parents were Israelite slaves, possessed by Egypt and by Pharaoh. Their lives were bitter with hard bondage (Exodus 1:14), and even their children were not their own. Pharaoh commanded that:

Exodus 1:22 … Every {Israelite} son that is born ye shall cast into the river

The make children of the Israelis were to killed outright. This is as horrible as a “partial birth abortion” is today. The child born healthy was to be discarded as so much refuse. Moses was supposed to die. Yet his mother loved him. His father loved him. Born to Levite parents, Moses should be drowned at birth. But Moses’ mother hid him as long as she could, till he was about 3 months old (Exodus 2:1). The Bible says,

Exodus 2:3 when {Moses mother} could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with {tar} and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the {reeds} by the river’s brink.

I often pictured Moses floating down the river into the hands of Pharaoh’s daughter – yet this is not what the Bible tells us. Moses was put in a basket, waterproofed with tar and pitch, and placed among the reeds at the edge of the water. The Pharaoh’s daughter finds little Moses among the reeds. The Bible says that when Pharaoh’s daughter …

Exodus 2:6-9 … opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews’ children. 7 Then said his sister to Pharaoh’s daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee? 8 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child’s mother. 9 And Pharaoh’s daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages.

Moses should have died in the river. His mother should have taken him down, and cast him in the river, just as the Pharaoh commanded. She did cast him into the river – though she put him in a sealed basket first. What caused Pharaoh’s daughter to find Moses and have compassion on the child? God did. God did. The Bible says:

Proverbs 21:1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.

God had a plan for Moses’ life. God has a plan for your life. Every day of life that you have is a grace gift from God. You breathe at the blessing of God. Your life belongs to God. The Bible tells us that:

Exodus 2:10 …. the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.

Moses was named by the Pharaoh’s daughter. She called him מֹשֶׁה Môsheh, {pronounced mo-sheh’}, which means “one drawn out” or “delivered”. Moses was “delivered” from death, but it was not the Princess that saved him. It was God. It was the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord delivered Moses so that He could use Moses to deliver others. The Psalmist said:

2 Samuel 22:2-7 The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; 3 the God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my savior; thou savest me from violence. 4 I will call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. 5 When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly men made me afraid; 6 the sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me; 7 in my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears.

When Moses is about 40 years old, he knows that he is adopted, and visits his family. The first martyr of the Church, the Deacon Stephen, said of Moses:

Acts 7:23-29 … when {Moses} was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. 24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: 25 for he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not. 26 And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? 27 But he that did his neighbor wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? 28 Wilt thou kill me, as thou didst the Egyptian yesterday? 29 Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Midian, where he begat two sons.

Moses spent the first 40 years of his life in the household of Egypt. Had he kept quiet, he would have probably been in a position of great authority one day. Moses decided to defend one of the Israelis when he saw a task master punishing him. Moses did not rely on God, but relied on his own strength. In so doing, he killed a man, and ended up being on Pharaoh’s hit list. The Bible tells us:

Exodus 2:15 when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.

Moses was 40 years old when he ran away from Pharaoh. The Deacon Stephen tells us in:

Acts 7:30 And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount {Sinai/ Horeb} an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush.

Eighty Year Old Moses Is Before The Burning Bush

In our lives – especially in America – we want things fast. Yet God works in His own time. God has a plan for Moses’ life, just as He has a plan for your life. But when? So often I find myself impatient with God. I want things fast – right now. Moses is now 80 years old, an aging Shepherd. He sees a sight. The Bible says:

Exodus 3:1-3 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. 2 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.

Moses sees a burning bush that is not burning up. The Bible tells us that:

Deuteronomy 4:24 … the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.

Our God is a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 9:3; Hebrews 12:29). This bush is burning – but why isn’t it being consumed? The bush is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. God came into the world to save us. God took upon Himself flesh. The Bible says:

John 1:14 …. the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Our God, the blessed Jesus Christ, entered this world to make payment for our sins. He came to be the bridge between God and man. The Bible says:

Hebrews 2:9 … we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

The bush is wood, and wood should burn. When Noah got off the Ark, the first thing that dear old man did was:

Genesis 8:20 … Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

The Burnt Offering was a “clean” animal, killed and laid on a bed of wood. The wood was lit, and the sacrifice burned up. This was symbolic of the judgment of God on sin. When the Law would be given to Moses, God would have Israel institute a series of sacrifices. These sacrifices would be performed to cover sin, because God said:

Hebrews 9:22 … all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

Every animal sacrifice was offered up on a burning altar, the fire provided by wood. Moses had lived 40 years in Jethro’s family, the priest of Midian. He was well acquainted with animal sacrifices because of his wife’s family. When animals were sacrificed to male atonement for sin, their flesh burned up, along with the wood of the fire. But now here is a bush burning – and it is not being burned up!

Exodus 3:3 Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt…

The bush is burning, but it is not consumed. Jesus Christ died on the Cross for our sins – but He did not die forever. The Bible tells us that He died, crying out under the weight of our sin. Why did He die? The Scripture says:

Hebrews 9:27-28 … it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: 28 so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

Jesus died in the flame of judgment, but rose from the grave. Our sins are paid for because, burning, He did not burn up. Suffering death, He conquered death. Jesus is in this burning bush. It is Jesus Who calls out to Moses. We read:

Exodus 3:4 … And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.

Jesus did not call Moses name out at first. He presented the burning bush. He put an event in Moses life, and waited to see if Moses would turn toward it. When Moses turned, the Lord spoke from the bush. Jesus called him twice. Moses, Moses. Why did God call Moses’ name twice? Because God doesn’t give up on us. Moses has been 80 years away from Egypt. Jesus is calling Moses to Himself, and sends Moses back to Egypt to do His will. Has Jesus called your name? Have you believed on Him for salvation? They He has something He wants you to do. You are called to obedience, to follow the Lord in faith who called you. You are not called to be like the world, but to follow the Lord Jesus. The Bible tells us of Moses:

Hebrews 11:24-27 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; 25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; 26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. 27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

Moses had a choice in his life. He could have stayed in Egypt, stayed in the palace, and ended up dying, having a great funeral. The pyramids are the gravestones of the Pharaohs. Moses could have had his own pyramid. He could have ended up a mummy in Egypt, buried and forgotten. But Moses saw Jesus.

Moses was willing to bear the reproach of Jesus. Beloved, if you love Jesus and live for Him, you will be reproached for doing so. You have a choice: you can stay in Egypt, or you can live for Jesus. You can heed the burning bush, or you can ignore the call of God and pass on by. You can follow the glory of this world, or follow the burning bush. Moses heard the call of Jesus!

To Be Saved, Go To Jesus With Empty Hands

Exodus 3:5 And {the Lord} said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.

I have often wondered about this statement. Why “take off your shoes”? Some have suggested that Moses’ shoes were dirty. Well, the burning bush was rooted in dirt. Dirt is all around that shining plant. Why would dirty feet be preferable to dirty shoes? As I prayed over this, God spoke to my heart.

Shoes are man made.
They may be made out of leather,
But they are nonetheless man made.

You cannot come to Jesus with anything man made. Moses is coming to the burning bush, the bush that represents Jesus. You cannot be saved – nor approach God – with anything man made. It is the sinless Jesus that makes us right before God. The Scripture says:

1 John 3:5 And ye know that {Jesus} was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.

In the wilderness of Midian, Moses was serving his wife’s father. Now he has turned to Jesus. This is the Christian way, to …

1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 {turn} to God from idols to serve the living and true God; 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

To be holy, Moses had to take off his shoes – not his clothes! The shoes are what carried him to the burning bush. Nothing man made can carry you to God. The shoes have to come off. The man made works have to come off. The human good works must come off. The man made self righteousness must come off. The Scripture declares:

Titus 3:3-7 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. 4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; 7 that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Moses killed a man by works, and did no good toward himself or Israel. Now he must approach Christ without works, without shoes on his feet. Only he can come. Blessed is the one unto whom God imputeth righteousness, without works (Romans 4:6). The faith that saves, saves when it rests on the Word of the Lord. Bildad the Shuhite rightly told Job:

Job 25:4-6 How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman? 5 Behold even to the moon, and it shineth not; yea, the stars are not pure in his sight. 6 How much less man, that is a worm? and the son of man, which is a worm?

No. No. Take off your shoes to come to God. Go to Him barefooted, without anything man made. You need Jesus. We all need Jesus. Jesus spoke from the burning bush:

Exodus 3:6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.

Now Jesus tells Moses what He tells all His Children. He says:

Exodus 3:7-10 And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; 8 and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

Once we are saved, we are saved to serve the Lord. We serve His purpose, His calling. We tell others of Jesus. We tell them that He is calling a people to Himself, a people obedient unto Him. When Moses was told what God wanted him to do, he responded:

Exodus 3:11-12 And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? 12 And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.

Who am I to go and tell others about Jesus? Who are you to tell others about Jesus? I want you to notice how the Lord answered Moses’ question “Who am I?”. He didn’t console Moses. He didn’t pat Moses on his back, and say, “You’re not that bad!” Oh no. God’s answer is “CERTAINLY I will be with you”. Beloved, we serve God in an age just as terrible as the age Moses was in. America has fallen under the weight of sin. It is something that neither you nor I can fix.

But God can fix it. Jesus can fix it. Jesus calls us to the burning bush, to come to Him in faith, with nothing man made in our request. We are nothing. We are nothing. But oh, Jesus is everything! Jesus Christ came and died to be the Savior of His people:

Matthew 1:21 … His name {is} Jesus: for HE SHALL SAVE HIS PEOPLE from their sins

Are you one of His people? Did you come to the burning bush barefooted, and are you now willing to follow Him, to obey His command? If so, know that Jesus …

John 4:42 IS INDEED the Christ, the SAVIOR OF THE WORLD

Jesus came to be the Savior of ALL men, especially of those THAT BELIEVE (1 Timothy 4:10). As the Apostle said,

1 John 4:14 … we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.

Who am I to go to Pharaoh? Who am I to go and tell others? I am no one. But I am a no one that is known by the One, the Jesus Christ, God’s only Begotten Son. I am no one, but He is the Someone Who can save Everyone. So let us go. Let us tell others what He said. Didn’t He tell us? He has told us who are saved like Moses was saved,

Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Jesus is with us. Do not be afraid, just follow Him Who saved you. May God through His Spirit and His Word feed and strengthen you this very day. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Exodus, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , ,

The Servant Of The Lord

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Romans 1:1-7 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called [to be] an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (2) (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) (3) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; (4) And declared [to be] the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: (5) By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: (6) Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: (7) To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called [to be] saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Several many years ago Rick Warren wrote a book called Purpose Driven Life: What On Earth Am I Here For? Many criticized it in the Evangelical Community as “Christianity Light”. You may not have liked the book (I enjoyed it), but it did ask a good question. “What on earth am I here for?” Writer Mark Twain said it another way:

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why.

Why are you here? Too many people think they are on earth just to please themselves. You may be one of these people. If pleasing yourself is your goal, you will soon grow weary of life. If making money is your goal, you are going to find life to be quite tedious. People pursue various things as gods:

Money
Sex
Power
Fame

Before meeting the Lord Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul was called Saul – and he pursued religious power. Saul of Tarsus was of the Tribe of Benjamin. His mother was Jewish, and his father a Roman citizen. This gave Saul dual citizenship. He was both a Jew as well as a Roman (see Acts 22:25-29). Saul was the youngest member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, the ruling Council of Elders in Israel. It is interesting that one of the meanings of the name “Saul”, according to Hitchcock’s Bible Dictionary, means “Death”. Saul was present at the stoning to death of the first martyr of the Church, a Deacon named Stephen. The Bible says:

Acts 7:57-58 {the Pharisees} cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon {Stephen} with one accord, 58 and cast him out of the city, and stoned him {with stones}: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.

This young man named Saul, a powerful man with dual citizenship, thought it was his purpose in life to rid the world of the followers of Christ. Saul wasn’t satisfied with one killing. He thought this new cult called “Christians” was bad for Israel. So he went to the High Priest. We read:

Acts 9:1-2 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, (2) And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

Saul became a bounty hunter for Christians. He was a Christian killer, and avenging angel of the Jewish Sanhedrin … then Saul met Jesus on the Damascus Road. Jesus knocked Saul down on the Damascus Road, calling to him:

Acts 9:4-5 Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest…

From that moment on Saul became what he once hated. He became a Christ follower. Outside of Jesus Christ, Saul was probably the most influential man in the early Church. Of the New Testament, the Apostle John wrote 5 books of Scripture. A Gentile doctor named Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke and Acts. Peter and James wrote books bearing their names. But Saul of Tarsus – known as Paul among the Gentiles, wrote 13 letters. Paul was the reason that Luke became a Christian.

Saul, who became Paul, discovered the true reason he had been placed on this earth. It was not to follow after money, power, or sex. It was to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice how Paul identifies himself:

Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,

Let’s break down this statement.

The Christian Is A Separated Person

separated unto the gospel of God

The word “SEPARATED” is the Greek ἀφορίζω aphorízō, {pronounced af-or-id’-zo}, which means “to mark off from others by boundaries, to limit, to separate”. The Christian, born again by faith in Christ, is part of a set apart people. Jesus described how we are to be different in:

Matthew 25:31-40 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Jesus distinguished His “Sheep” from the “goats” as those who were actively compassionate toward others in need. The sheep

Fed the hungry
Gave drink to the thirsty
Befriended the stranger
Clothed the naked
Lifted up the sick and imprisoned

All these things are done in the name of and for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who are separated from the world by Jesus have compassionate hearts toward those in need. The Christian is separated unto the Gospel. It is our calling to share Christ as Lord and Savior with whosoever will. We are no longer products of the darkness of sin, but are to walk in the light with Christ. We stand, lovingly stand, in the truths of God’s Scripture.

Separated unto the Gospel does not mean that we compromise the Word of God. We believe, as Jesus believed, that God’s Word is Truth (John 17:17). We believe that it is faith in Christ alone that saves the soul. We know that we will be hated by the darkness, for we are to stand in the Light. Jesus said of His followers:

Luke 6:22-23 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. 23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.

The world believes that our final destination is determined by a set of scales. Your good works are weighed against your evil works. If your good works outweigh your evil works, then you shall enter Heaven. But this is not what the Scripture teaches.

Romans 1:1b-5 … separated unto the gospel of God, 2 (which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) 3 concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: 5 by whom we have received grace

The Gospel that saves, this Gospel that is revealed in Jesus Christ, has been the Gospel that God has spoken of from the very beginning of human history. When Adam plunged humanity into sin, how was his sin covered? God had to cover his sin. The Scripture says:

Genesis 3:21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

God killed an innocent, shedding it’s blood, and made coats of skins to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness. This was the first sacrifice. The wages of sin is death, just as God promised (Genesis 2:17; Romans 6:23). God introduced animal sacrifice to make payment for sin. Adam passed this knowledge down to his children. Cain killed Abel because Abel brought the correct sacrifice to God, whereas Cain did not. The Bible says:

Genesis 4:4-7 Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 5 but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. 6 And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

Rather than repent, and make sacrifice – a blood sacrifice – for sin, Cain spilled the blood of his brother. The first murder was over bad religion. God demanded the sacrifice of blood to cover sin. When Israel wanted the death angel to “pass over” their home, God told them to sacrifice a lamb without spot or blemish. The Lord told them to take the blood of that innocent lamb, and mark their homes with it. Why?

Exodus 12:13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.

When God gave the Law to Israel, a primary component of that Law was that of animal sacrifice. The animal sacrifice foreshadowed what would one day come to humanity. We are told in,

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

The Law was a foreshadowing of the coming of Jesus Christ. What animal sacrifices did was teach us that we cannot cover our sins with our works of righteousness. No, God must cover our sins. Jesus Christ came – God Incarnate – to be the covering for our sins. The Scripture from Genesis to Malachi foreshadowed the coming of Jesus. God becoming perfect Man, Jesus kept the Law of God perfectly. There was no sin in Him. The Scripture tells us:

Hebrews 9:12-15 … neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood {Jesus} entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

It is the Blood of Jesus Christ, shed on Calvary, that sets us apart from the world. The Pharisees in Jesus’ day rejected Him as Savior, choosing instead to seek rightness with God through their keeping of His Law. Jesus told these Pharisees:

Matthew 23:33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

Every sacrifice in the Old Testament was a foreshadowing of what would one day happen in Jesus. When Abel offered his sacrifice, the Bible says:

Hebrews 11:4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous

The works of the Law – the sacrifice of animals – could never save us. But Jesus Christ is the Mediator of the New Covenant … that speaketh better things than that of Abel. Do not refuse the Lord Who speaks to you! How shall we escape if we turn away from Him that speaks from Heaven (Hebrews 12:24-25)?

The Christian is separated from the world by the Blood of Christ. The Christian is separated from the world by new birth. The Christian is separated from the world by a new and living lifestyle.

Beloved, if we are saved by faith, THEN we will work, in love, for Him Who saved us.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

We who have received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord are different from the lost of this world. We now belong to God’s Family, God’s Kingdom. We are separate in heart because of His Spirit Who indwells us.

The Christian Is Not Only Separate, But Has A Specific Purpose From God

Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle

Every Christian that is indeed a Christian has a general calling to tell others of Christ. But we also have specific callings. We are called and gifted by God to work together with other believers in the Church that belongs to Jesus.

The Apostle Paul was given the gift of apostleship. The gift of apostleship was a foundational gift in the early Church. The Scripture says:

Ephesians 2:18-22 for through {Jesus} we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

We come to God through Jesus Christ, through faith in Him. We have the Spirit of God because of our relationship with Jesus. The Spirit indwells us, and empowers us, giving us access with God the Father. The Blood of Christ purchased our salvation, and our adoption. We are NO MORE strangers and foreigners, which is what we were before Christ. Now that we have received Him by faith, we are fellow citizens with the Saints, and of the household of God. We no longer belong to this world – we are on assignment in it.

Notice the phrase “built upon the FOUNDATION of the apostles and prophets”. The Christian is led by God to bind together with other Christians. God gives us specific callings as Christians, giftings of the Holy Spirit. We use our gifts together with other believers to bless, and to be blessed. The gifts of apostle and prophet were foundational to the Church. The Apostles and Prophets wrote Scripture. It is the Scripture, the Word of God, that guides, grows, and gives power to the Church. Believers are placed together to work, together, for the glory of God. The Bible says:

1 Corinthians 12:4-12 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. 12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

The Church is not a brick and wood building. It is a people, gathered together, serving one another while working together for Christ’s glory on this earth. It is a BODY with MANY MEMBERS. The Church cannot exist without purpose driven Christians coming together, using their gifts, to bless the Body and bring light into the world. God separates a believer by His Gospel, and then calls that person to service within the body of the Church.

The Apostle Paul was both called and appointed. Every Christian is called and appointed.

Romans 1:5-6 for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: 6 among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:

You, dear Christian, have a function – a duty – a gifting – a calling. Grow in Grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ so that you can find your place in the Body! Your salvation was purchased at a great price: it cost Jesus everything He had!

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

1 Corinthians 7:22-23 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.

I do not know who will win the Presidential election. Regardless as to who it is, we as Christians, followers of Christ, will need to walk in obedience an in unity, sharing the love and Gospel of Christ to this present America. No politician will ever fix what ails America. Only Jesus can. Only Jesus can. Let us live together for Him.

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

Posted in Romans, Sermons Preached | Tagged , ,

Heed God’s Word God’s Way (Part 2)

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Turn with me in your Bibles to 2 Chronicles 19.

Last week we discussed the need for Godly leadership in a nation. This week Amy Coney Barrett was appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States amid the howls and cries of foul from those on the opposing political party. Frankly, I praise God for her appointment. The Bible says:

Proverbs 14:34 Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people

I am not surprised that darkness is upset that a Christian woman was put on the Supreme Court. I just praise God that it happened. Pray for Justice Barrett, and all of our Supreme Court. We need our nation to turn back from the evil that it has normalized these last 50 or so years!

To summarize what we learned last week, we talked about the good King of Southern Israel (Judah) Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat (whose name means “The Lord is Judge”) honored God. The Bible says that

{Jehoshaphat} walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto {the false gods of the Canaanites}” (2 Chronicles 17:3).

Because “his heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 17:6), the Lord brought stability and good economy to his nation. There was peace all around Judah – none dared attack them, because “the fear of the Lord fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were around Judah” (2 Chronicles 17:10). The Bible says:

1 Samuel 2:30 … them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.

and again, Psalm 147:11 The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.

Then Jehoshaphat made a foolish decision. He decided to join Judah with Northern Israel (called merely Israel), to band together with King Ahab (2 Chronicles 18:1). Ahab of Israel was a very wicked king. He was the great, great, great, great, great grandson of Jeroboam, the man who led the ten northern tribes in revolt against King Rehoboam, Solomon’s son.

Jehoshaphat agreed to go with Ahab and make war against Ramoth-gilead, even though God’s prophet Micaiah warned them not to do so (see 1 Kings 22:17).

Because of Jehoshaphat’s foolishness, he nearly died that day. But for the grace of God he would have died. Ahab did die that day, just as the Prophet decreed. The Bible says:

1 Kings 22:37-38 {King Ahab} died, and was brought to Samaria; and they buried the king in Samaria. 38 And one washed the chariot in the pool of Samaria; and the dogs licked up his blood; and they washed his armor; according unto the word of the Lord which he spake.

God’s people are to love and be kind to all. But God’s people, His children by faith in Christ, are not to intimately bind ourselves together with unbelievers. God tells us:

2 Corinthians 6:16-18 what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

Let’s continue where we were last week.

Jehoshaphat Returned Home To God

2 Chronicles 19:1 Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned to his house in peace to Jerusalem.

Let’s start with Jehoshaphat the king of Judah RETURNED. The word rendered “RETURNED” is the Qal Imperfect of שׁוּב shûwb, (pronounced shoob). The word can be used in a physical sense, Jehoshaphat physically returned to his house. It can also be used in the spiritual sense, meaning Jehoshaphat repented and returned to where he belonged. The same word is used in verse 4,

2 Chronicles 19:4 … Jehoshaphat dwelt at Jerusalem: and he went out again through the people from Beer-sheba to mount Ephraim, and brought them back {שׁוּב shûwb} unto the Lord God of their fathers.

As a believer in God, Jehoshaphat had no business binding himself with a lost person like Ahab.

When Jehoshaphat returned back to his home he was met by Jehu the son of Hanani. Jehu’s father Hanani chastised good King Asa of Judah, Jehoshaphats father, for doing the same thing that Jehoshaphat did. Jehoshaphat made an alliance with apostate Northern Israel. Asa, his father, made an alliance with Syria. Jehu asks Jehoshaphat:

2 Chronicles 19:2 Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? therefore is wrath upon thee
from before the Lord.

What Jehu asks Jehoshaphat is very applicable to our world today. I know many Christians and many Christian Churches that consider themselves Social Justice Warriors. They have banded themselves to organizations and people who are lost and without Christ. I do believe in justice – BIBLICAL justice. To do the right that God has said is right in His Word. Beloved, if you are a proud, card carrying SJW (Social Justice Warrior), I suspect Jehu’s words to Jehoshaphat also apply to YOU. Jehu {whose name means, “Himself Who Exists”} asks us:

  1. Why did you help the wicked? The saved believer is not to pitch in with the unbeliever, endorsing their godless activities. We are to tell them about faith in Christ Jesus. We are to bless them that curse us, and do good to them that despitefully use us (Matthew 5:44). Yes, we should feed the poor, and uplift the downtrodden. But we are not to be part and parcel of their godless antics. King Solomon wrote:

Proverbs 1:10-11, 15 My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. 11 If they say, Come with us … 15 my son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path:

You have all heard, I am sure, of the baker and the florist that were persecuted and prosecuted for not providing their services to support same sex marriage ceremonies. The baker, Jack Phillips, had to take his case all the way to the Supreme Court. The justices, in a 7-2 decision, said the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed impermissible hostility toward religion when it declared Phillips violated the state’s anti-discrimination law.

The florist, Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers in the city of Richland (200 miles southeast of Seattle), was ordered by the state of Washington to provide floral arrangements for same-sex marriages, just as she does for traditional marriages. The Supreme Court threw out the Washington State Supreme Court’s ruling, and sent the case back to the lower courts.

I have heard Christian pastors say that Phillips and Stutzman perhaps should have provided to the gay marriages, just as they provide to traditional marriages.

Myself, I think we as Christians need to be very careful and prayerful about doing this. If you begin to compromise your Bible based convictions in order to “reach others”, you may find yourself in the same mess Jehoshaphat found himself in. The Apostle warns us in:

Ephesians 5:6-12 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them. 8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.

You will make others mad at you when you walk with Christ. Beloved, it is better for man to be mad at you, rather than your Heavenly Father be angered! Live your life for Jesus! Jehu also asked:

  1. Why do you love those who hate the Lord? I believe that the Christian should show love to everyone. But King Ahab hated God with a passion. He stood against Elijah, and was instrumental in emotionally destroying that dear saint. Ahab not only condoned idolatry, but spent immense funds to build temples to false gods. Ahab made Baal worship the state religion of Northern Israel. The handwriting was on the wall for Ahab and Northern Israel. You can only stand against God when you stand with the God haters! The Psalmist David writes:

Psalm 139:21-22 Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? 22 I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.

The word means “loathe,” so that we may read the text, “Do not I loathe those that rise up against thee?” … This is how the word is translated, for example, in Ezekiel 20:43: “and ye shall loathe yourselves in your sight for all your evils that ye have committed.” To loathe someone is to regard him as disgusting and to abhor him. …

Is this right? Is this Christian?” you ask. We must let the Psalmist himself answer the question. The Psalmist shows that, in taking this attitude of hatred, he is perfectly confident that he is right with God, that he is pleasing to God. He is criticized today for being unspiritual here. But he breathes the confidence that his spiritual condition is good. For the confession that he hates some men appears in a question that he asks of the Lord: “Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee?” He asks this question of the Lord as a man who is sure that Lord will find this praiseworthy in him. In the very next breath, he invites the Lord to search him, whether there be any evil way in him. He is supremely confident that in hating the wicked he has the full approval of the Lord. …

Beyond all doubt, Scripture here teaches that hatred of the wicked by the child of God is part of his holy life in the Spirit and not some gross iniquity. Therefore, one who cannot present himself before the Lord as hating those who hate God is in the wrong and displeases God. He has a serious defect in his spiritual life. The trouble is that so many fail to acknowledge that God hates some men. Hatred of another is condemned as such, because men believe that God loves all men and hates no man. But hatred as such cannot be condemned as evil, for God hates—God hates some men. Romans 9:13 teaches that God hated Esau. Psalm 5:5 teaches that God hates “all workers of iniquity.” God’s hatred of some men is clearly brought out in the verses that precede our text. Verse 19 says, “Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God.” This is the most extreme expression of hatred: God will kill them, not only temporally but also eternally. God loathes them and wills their destruction. … These are persons who hate God. They loathe God and will God’s destruction. As much as in them lies, they try to accomplish His destruction also. They rise up against God, according to the text, that is, they go to war against Him as enemies. How do they do this? The preceding verse shows: “For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain.” They blaspheme God, curse and swear, oppose His truth and worship. Especially do they despise and attack His Christ and the gospel of Christ. The text uses the covenant name of God, Jehovah. These men hate Jehovah as He is revealed in Jesus. They rise up against God by violence against their neighbors. Not only do they break the first table of the law but they also break the second table. Verse 19 calls them “bloody men.” They are violent rebels against the authority of their parents, of the state and of the employer. They are cruel deserters of wives and children. They are thieves and robbers. They are slanderers and backbiters—they have bloody tongues. In short, they are men, women and children who do not believe or obey the law. They are the wicked, the impenitent wicked.”

  1. Why bring Yahweh’s wrath on yourself and on Judah? When you bind yourself to someone who stands in opposition to God, you paint a target on your back. We are to keep idolaters like Ahab at arm’s length, we are not to embrace them or join with them. God says of those who hate Him:

Deuteronomy 7:9-10 Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; 10 and repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face.

Jehoshaphat was nearly killed on the battlefield. He foolishly agreed to wear Ahab’s clothing, and the enemy chased him to kill him, believing Jehoshaphat to be Ahab. But God in His grace protected Jehoshaphat. Jehu tells the now wiser King:

2 Chronicles 19:3 Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God.

The King took away the groves, that is, he actively destroyed placed where idolatry was performed. Jehoshaphat also prepared his heart to seek God. He repented.

Repenting, Jehoshaphat Now Seeks To Please
The Lord And Not Man

2 Chronicles 19:4-6 And Jehoshaphat dwelt at Jerusalem: and he went out again through the people from Beer-sheba to mount Ephraim, and brought them back unto the Lord God of their fathers.

5 And he set judges in the land throughout all the fenced cities of Judah, city by city, 6 and said to the judges, Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment. 7 Wherefore now let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.

Jehoshaphat lived in Jerusalem, but spent much of his time traveling throughout his kingdom, telling his people to repent and return to the God of Scripture. He appointed judges and reminded them that ye judge not for man, but for the Lord. The judges were not to show respect of persons, that is, they were to treat every case that came before their courts impartially, and without favoritism. Like Moses, Jehoshaphat told these judges:

Deuteronomy 1:17 Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s …

Jehoshaphat warned the judges to avoid the taking of bribes.

2 Chronicles 19:8-10 Moreover in Jerusalem did Jehoshaphat set of the Levites, and of the priests, and of the chief of the fathers of Israel, for the judgment of the Lord, and for controversies, when they returned to Jerusalem. 9 And he charged them, saying, Thus shall ye do in the fear of the Lord, faithfully, and with a perfect heart. 10 And what cause soever shall come to you of your brethren that dwell in their cities, between blood and blood, between law and commandment, statutes and judgments, ye shall even warn them that they trespass not against the Lord, and so wrath come upon you, and upon your brethren: this do, and ye shall not trespass. 11 And, behold, Amariah the chief priest is over you in all matters of the Lord; and Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, the ruler of the house of Judah, for all the king’s matters: also the Levites shall be officers before you. Deal courageously, and the Lord shall be with the good.

If the judges are faithful to honor God and to make righteous judgments, they would themselves avoid the wrath of God. Furthermore, God promised to be with and protect those who honors Him.

A Nation That Draws Near To God In Peace Time,
Will Be Protected By God In War

2 Chronicles 20:1-2 It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle. 2 Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazon-tamar, which is En-gedi.

Moab and Ammon, along with others came against Judah to overthrow the nation. The Ammonites were the descendants of Ben-ammi, who was the son of Lot (Abraham’s nephew) and Lot’s younger daughter (Genesis 19:38). The Moabites descended from Moab, the son of Lot and his older daughter (Genesis 19:37). These nations were, in fact, cousins to the Jews. Banded together, they became an unconquerable foe. At least, Jehoshaphat and Judah could not handle them! What does Jehoshaphat do? Does he panic? Does he run away? No. Now Jehoshaphat is afraid – but he doesn’t panic. He heeds the word of Psalmist to Yahweh:

Psalm 56:3 What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.

The Christian should never slip into hopelessness. When all is against us, let us put our eyes on the God Who saved us, and saves us still!

2 Chronicles 20:3-4 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

Jehoshaphat made himself focus on God. He moved his nation to focus on God. Let’s take a look at His prayer:

2 Chronicles 20:6-12 O Lord God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee? 7 Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever? 8 And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying, 9 If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help. 10 And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not; 11 behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit. 12 O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.

What a beautiful prayer! How did God respond to Jehoshaphat and Judah? He told them:

2 Chronicles 20:15-17 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. 16 To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you.

God promised to fight the battle for His people. Did He? Absolutely! Read the rest of the chapter. The Bible says that God caused the enemy to fight among themselves, so much so that they utterly destroyed themselves before Jehoshaphat and Judah took the battlefield. Judah named the place where their enemies were defeated the valley of Berachah (vs 26), or the valley of blessings. When we follow the Lord our God, He promises to bless us and protect us from our enemies. Beloved, are you following Him? Are you serving the Lord our God? Have you given your lives to Him? If not, I beg you, turn and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior today. Begin to read His Word, and support His Kingdom on this earth. Do not miss the blessings of this life – the blessings of a life with our Heavenly Father.

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

Posted in 2 Chronicles, Sermons Preached | Tagged ,

Mem – The Washing Of The Word

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Turn with me in your Bibles to Psalm 119. As you’re turning, let me talk about this wonderful chapter in God’s Hymnbook.

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. The Psalm is divided into 22 section, each section using one of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Each section is comprised of eight verses, and each verse in that section begins with the Hebrew letter that heads that section. Tonight we’ll be looking at the 13th letter of the Hebrew Alphabet, Mem מ, also spelled Meem, Meme, or Mim. We will go with Mem since this is in our King James text. The Jewish learning site Chabad.org gives us some interesting things about the Hebrew Mem:

The word mem stands for mayim, which means water. Water constitutes a vital element in our lives: a human being is largely composed of water and the majority of the earth is covered with it.”

Water is essential for humans, in fact, for all life on the earth. We drink it, bathe in it, swim in it, and are born in it. Water is frozen to cool our drinks, and boiled to make our tea and coffee. Water cleanses, shapes, and molds. All humans are born in water, inside our mother’s womb. When a person is saved by faith in Christ, that believer is baptized or immersed in water as a testimony of their transformation. The first miracle ever recorded that our Jesus did was to change six pots of water into wine. Jesus promised to give “living water” (John 4:10) to those who believe on Him. He said:

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

When Jesus prophesied of the coming of the Holy Spirit, He illustrated the Spirit as water:

John 7:38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. {but this spake He of the Spirit …

When Jesus wanted to illustrate the Christian way of life, He poured water into a basin, and washed His disciples feet (John 13:5). After Jesus died on the Cross, His death was confirmed when His executioner,

John 19:34 … one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.

Water is so valuable. Is it little wonder that God uses it to illustrate His Holy Word, the Scripture. You should be at Mem now, or

Psalm 119:97-104 O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. 98 Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. 99 I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts. 101 I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word. 102 I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me. 103 How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.

When the Psalmist speaks of God’s Law, he is referring to the Scripture, the Holy Bible. God’s Word is God’s Law. What God has said is right is right. What God has said is wrong, is wrong. God’s Word was given to man to guide us in the path of life.

God’s Word establishes what is truth. Jesus prayed for the Church,

John 17:17 Sanctify {your Church} through thy truth: thy word is truth.

There is a battle going on, right now, for the soul of America. This battle is over what is and is not truth. God’s Word is truth. What God has said is true, is true. Yet not all believe this. Progressivism has crept into the Church, and has twisted the Word of God until it resembles the Word of Man or the Word of satan. This is what the devil did in the Garden of Eden. God told Adam,

Genesis 2:17 of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

The instruction was very clear. What God said was black and white law. There is not confusion in it. When you eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you will SURELY die. Not maybe, not sometimes, not possibly, but SURELY. But the devil, that Old Serpent (Revelation 12:9), slithered into the Garden and contradicted God. “Has God really said you can’t eat of every tree in this Garden” (Genesis 3:1)? Oh no!

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

Oh no! God is trying to deprive you of joy. He is restricting you from what will make you happy. Go ahead and eat. What’s the harm? Enjoy what is before you – you have the right.

The first question found in the Bible questions the Word of God. It is this Word that created all things. It is this Word that placed humanity in a perfect place. There were no questions in creation. God spoke in love, and blessing came forth.

When we begin to question God’s Word, we lose the blessings that God would have us enjoy. The Word of God sets that which is normal, based on the Creator Who made us. The Law of God does not deprive us. It blesses us. It gives us peace and prosperity.

Psalm 119:97 O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.

What does your mind dwell on? The devil is constantly trying to hijack our minds. In America, he has doubled down on human sexuality, bringing confusion all across our nation. I was watching a show that I like called NCIS. My wife and I have bought the DVDs, and enjoy most of the shows. They are pretty clean, with little cursing and nudity. But the devil has got into it as well. The show we watched last night had a young Marine murdered. As the NCIS team questioned people to try and find out who did the murder, they question a young, weeping black man. The lead investigator, Gibbs, asked the young man, “Who was this Marine to you?” The young man, pitifully crying, said with tears in his voice,

He was my husband”

Webster’s 1913 Dictionary defined the word “husband”:

n. 1. The male head of a household; one who orders the economy of a

family.

4. A married man; a man who has a wife; – the correlative to wife.

The husband and wife are one person in law. – Blackstone.

5. The male of a pair of animals.

The word “husband” has been redefined in American society by using the word in contexts such as I described above. Humans are creatures with feelings, and feelings drive our actions. The LGBTQ+ movement has redefined human sexuality to where your gender is fluid. In other words, you choose your sexual orientation, or no orientation at all. A site maintained by K W Counselling Services, defines LGBTQ+ as “all of the communities included in the “LGBTTTQQIAA”. Are you confused? I am. The ways that people define themselves sexually today are – and here are just a few ways: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, 2/ Two Spirit, Intersex, Asexual, Pansexual, Agender, Bigender, and Pangender. As people have drifted away from the Scripture, the Holy Bible, as a society we have drifted into sexual confusion. There are those who are quick to point out that Jesus never spoke on human sexuality. Yet this is not true. Jesus was asked about Biblical marriage one day. Here is His response:

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

Any normative reading of the text makes it clear that Jesus considered marriage to be male and female. Saying “have you not READ”, Jesus was using, as His authority, the written Word of God in the Book of Genesis. I not means want to vilify or judge anyone. What you do privately is no business of mine. But neither I nor you are free to twist the Law of God, His written Word, in order to make our feelings better. The Psalmist tells us that the Word of God is to be focused on, and taken into our lives as truths.

The word of the world confuses. The Word of God establishes order and stability.

Psalm 119:98 Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.

We are called, as God’s people, to follow the Lord Who saved us. What has He commanded?

2 Corinthians 6:16-18 and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

God’s children by faith in Christ are to heed His Word. Jesus told us that we must not just HEAR His Word, but we must also DO His Word.

Matthew 7:24-27 …. 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.

To hear God’s Word and not do it, it makes no change in your life nor in your situation. I have had people come to me for counseling. I open up the Word of God, and show them what the Scripture says they must DO. Those who DO as God said, those live blessed lives. Those who DO NOT DO as God says, their lives are confused, and peace never finds them.

Psalm 119:99-102 I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts. 101 I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word. 102 I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me.

The Psalmist describes the Word of God in four ways:

  1. Thy TESTIMONIES, the Hebrew עֵדוּתʻêdûwth, {pronounced ay-dooth}. This refers to something that God has witnesses and bears out as truth. I was not there to see creation being formed, and neither have you. But God testifies as to what happened, for He was the first cause as well as the witness of it. The Psalmist meditates on what God witnesses to us. When death looms near, meditate on what God has told you of Heaven. Do not let fear grasp you, but read of Heaven in God’s Word. 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind”.
  2. Thy PRECEPTS. The Hebrew פִּקּוּדpiqqûwd, {pronounced pik-kood’}, this word means “a mandate or directive, a command”. What God has said is right, this we are to do, regardless as to how we feel.
  3. Thy WORD. The Hebrew דָּבָר dâbâr, {pronounced daw-baw’}, it refers to what God has said to us, through the Apostles and Prophets, to us as His children. We are to walk in the way that He says, otherwise we will stumble in the darkness as the world does. Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path”.
  4. Thy JUDGMENTS. The Hebrew מִשְׁפָּט mishpâṭ, {pronounced mish-pawt’}, this word means “the verdict or decrees that God has made, determining right from wrong, good from evil, truth from untruth”.

The believer in Christ is to walk daily with God, heeding that which God has affirmed. This is the only way to peace in this life.

Psalm 119:103 How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

The word translated “sweet” in our text is the Niphal Perfect of the Hebrew MALATS (מלץ pronounced maw-lats’), which means not only “sweet”, but also “agreeable, pleasant, and smooth”. This Hebrew word is only found one time in all of Holy Scripture, here in this wonderful Psalm. The Word of God is uniquely sweet. It is unlike anything else in all of God’s creation.

When we speak of the Heroes of our faith, the great Believers, they all had one thing in common: To them, the Word of God was SWEET.

You cannot tell if something is sweet or bitter just by looking at it. You must experience sweetness. It must come in through your senses. Taste goes beyond a mere head knowledge. The taste of sweetness is an internal experience. The great Commentator, Matthew Henry, wrote:

a good man carries his Bible with him, if not in his hands, yet in his head and in his heart. By meditation on God’s testimonies we understand more than our teachers, when we understand our own hearts. …. The soul has its tastes as well as the body.”

God wants us to taste His Word. To turn from tasting man’s word, satan’s word, the world’s word – and to turn to God’s Word. We are commanded by the Apostle to…

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

You can let the devil and the world shape your mind, or you can let God shape your mind. When you take in the Word of God, and taste it spiritually, you will find it to be sweeter than honey! Taste is intimate – something you must do for yourself. I can put something in my mouth and tell you how sweet it is, but you will never know – intimately know – how sweet it is until you taste it yourself.

Because of Adam’s sin, people are born into this world physically alive, but spiritually dead. The Scripture says that we were all…

Colossians 2:13 … dead in your sins …

If the Word of God is not sweet in your mouth, then it may be that you are yet dead in your sins and in desperate need of Christ! What good is honey in a dead man’s mouth? Put honey in a dead man’s mouth and ask him how it tastes! He cannot taste its sweetness, for he is separate from the land of the living. Make the dead man alive, and then let him taste that which is sweeter than honey! We were all spiritually dead before we came to Jesus. The Bible was a dead book, and bitter like vinegar. But after Christ came into my life … oh, how much sweeter God’s Word is!

I remember watching an old movie called Spencer’s Mountain (1963), which was what the series “The Walton’s” was based on. At one point in the movie the Dean of a local College asked Clay Spencer what he had against pastors and the Church. Spencer replied “Because everything I’m for, they’re against. They’re against smoking and drinking and kissing and cussing, and I’m for all those things”. The actor perfectly illustrates the spiritual death that all non-Christians are under. Jesus said it another way:

John 3:19-21 … this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

This world needs Jesus. America needs Jesus. We need to continue to proclaim the Gospel of salvation to whosoever will, so that others may be saved and come to treasure God’s Word. Judgment is coming! God has declared:

Ezekiel 18:4 … the soul that sinneth, it shall die …

If the Word of God is not sweet to you, dear friend, then you need to meet the Jesus of the Bible. When you are saved by faith in Him, your eyes will be opened, and your spiritual taste buds will be brought to life. Jesus Christ tasted death for us, so we can taste the joys of Heaven and of God’s Word. The Bible tells us:

Hebrews 2:9-11 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. 10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,

If you are a Christian, you love the Word of God. To you it is sweeter than honey to your taste, and getting sweeter every day. The Christian finds no food sweeter than God’s Word. Man’s Word is convoluted, poisoned, and confusing. God’s Word is sweet. God’s Word is sweet, for it washes away sin. To hear the world speak, sin is only a spot or a dalliance instead of a mortal disease. God’s sweet Word tells me otherwise.

Psalm 119:104 Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.

It is time for Christians everywhere to return to God’s Word, and to live for Him. America is in a terrible place spiritually. Let us live for Jesus, reading His Word daily. Let us meditate upon the Scripture. Let us turn off the television, and turn to the Book of Books.

Let us get back to the Bible. May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit! Amen and Amen!

Posted in Psalms, Sermons Preached | Tagged ,

What’s In It For Me? Red Letters #49

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Matthew 19:27-30 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? 28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. 30 But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

Let’s take a moment and pay attention to Peter’s words:

Matthew 19:27 ….. Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?

To put Peter’s words into modern lingo, he asked, “What’s in it for ME?”. Jesus, we have given up everything to follow You. Now, what are YOU going to do for US?

It is so easy for this mentality to creep into our lives. As a pastor of a small Church I have often had people call or visit, considering whether they wanted to be members here or not. They walk around the facilities, looking at our child care areas. “What’s in it for me?” They come in this building, and look over the song books and pews. “What’s in it for me?” Many times Churches become like businesses, catering to this type of mentality. I hear people say, “We need to build, so we can attract the younger crowd”. There’s a lot of truth in this, but nonetheless, is this pleasing to God? I think we need to build, to grow, to expand our outreach. But we need to tread very lightly lest we begin to cater to the “what’s in it for me” crowd.

We are called “CHRISTians” because CHRIST is supposed to be the center of all we do. I am not to be the center. You are not to be the center. Jesus is to be the center. I have heard people say, “If we do foot washing at this Church, the other Churches will mock us, and the young people won’t want to come”. I have heard people say, “I don’t want to be baptized because I’LL look foolish. Baptism is for children.” And yet, was not our Lord Jesus baptized before He began His earthly ministry? When Jesus presented Himself to John the Baptist, John said, and I paraphrase Matthew 3:13-17:

Jesus came to be baptized by John. John refused at first, saying, Jesus YOU need to baptize ME, not I, You. Jesus said, You must baptize Me NOW, for this fulfills all righteousness. When Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit of God descended on Him like a dove. The Heavenly Father spoke. THIS is My Beloved Son, In WHOM I am WELL pleased.”

Had Jesus put Himself FIRST, the Spirit would have never descended, and the Father would never have spoken. Jesus never asked “What’s in it for Me?” Jesus just came and did as the Father asked. Jesus taught His people, His Christians, to do as God asked. To put ourselves LAST, not first.

Yet pride lurks in the hearts of every person. We must constantly be on the lookout for the “What’s in it for me?” mentality. In our chapter today we read:

Matthew 19:2 … great multitudes followed Jesus; and He healed them there

God does love us. God sent His Son for us. But Beloved, God can only save us when we make HIM the center of our lives. Life is not about ME, but about JESUS. It is about what GOD has said in His Word. People have always tried to add things and thoughts to the Gospel that God never put there.

When Christianity becomes ME focused, it is not CHRISTianity, but MYSELFianity. A Biblical, saving faith trusts not in me or my wants, but in God and His wants. It is the Kingdom of GOD that I am a part of, not the Kingdom of ME.

Pastor John Stott once said, “Christ is the center of Christianity; all else is circumference.” It is so very true that God loves us, and gave His Son for us. As the Apostle said:

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.

God wants us to live victorious, confident, and comfortable lives in Him. But the key is the words “in Him”. God gave us salvation through Christ so that we would be freed from the narcissism of sin. We are no longer possessions of the devil. We are no longer chained to hell by our passions. We belong to God. He loves us, and we love Him.

Narcissism is incompatible with the Christian faith. What did Jesus say the two greatest commandments are? Listen to this conversation:

Matthew 22:36-40 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

What is the greatest commandment? Love God with your ALL. God is to have ALL of you. All of your emotions. All of your desires. All. What is the second greatest commandment? Love your neighbor as you love yourself. These two principles are very far from narcissism.

To Get To Heaven, I Need To Be Like A Child

Matthew 19:13-15 Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, {Allow the} little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. 15 And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.

Who will be in Heaven one day? Will it be the know it alls, or the elite, or the sharp ones? No. It will be those who come to Jesus. It will be those willing to be where Jesus is.

Parents began to bring little children to Jesus, and the disciples tried to prevent this. I don’t believe the children were disrupting services. I don’t believe there was one child in that bunch who “ran the family”. I believe these children were loved, and disciplined by their parents. If you don’t discipline your child, you teach your child narcissism. If your child is the CENTER of your family, you are failing as a parent. The child needs to be taught that the world does NOT revolve around them. Otherwise they grow up to be Antifa anarchists, or BLM radicals destroying private property!

These children were brought to Jesus, and Jesus blessed them. But note what Jesus said:

vs 14 of such is the kingdom of heaven

Heaven will be populated by those who could be LED TO JESUS. Heaven will be filled by those who made CHRIST the center of their lives. Right after this, a man comes to Jesus:

Matthew 19:16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

Now this looks like a straight forward question. But the King James text does not give the inflection that the original language does. The parallel text of Luke 18:18 tells us that this man is a ruler. He is a person of power. He thinks much of himself. He says, “what GOOD THING shall I DO that I may have eternal life?”. This man believes himself to be self righteous, self sufficient. Jesus tells the man:

Matthew 19:17 … Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God

You can get several great truths out of this when you read it. First of all, the man addressed Jesus not as “Christ”, but “Good MASTER”, ἀγαθός agathos διδάσκαλος didaskalos, literally “Good Teacher”. To this man Jesus was JUST a Teacher. Jesus tells him rather succinctly,

If I’m just a TEACHER to you, then I’m not GOOD.
Only God is GOOD.”

Jesus is THE Christ, the Messiah, God become flesh. What did John say?

1 John 4:1-3 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist

The spirit of antichrist is on this young man. John went on to say:

1 John 4:14-16 the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

Jesus Christ is God in the flesh (John 1:14)
Jesus Christ is our greatest Treasure (Matthew 13:44)
Jesus Christ is the only way to God (John 14:6)
Jesus Christ has all authority in Heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18-20)
God made all things through Christ (John 1:3)
Jesus Christ holds all things together (Colossians 1:17)

Jesus is the Manifest Member of the Godhead, come to save us from our sins. He is not just “Good Teacher”. If He is just man,m then He is not good.
No one is good, but God!

This man asks “What GOOD thing can I do, that I may have eternal life?” Beloved, if there are none good, but God, then the answer is there is nothing GOOD you can do. You need God. You need Christ. But you are hopelessly and helplessly lost. But Jesus was speaking to a man that I have often encountered in ministry. You know the type. The person who will not listen to you. The person who has made up their mind, and knows that they are right, no matter what is said. The stubborn, prideful person. That’s who this man was. I heard this at the Pastor’s Retreat earlier this month:

You might be a Pastor if you had a dream that while you were speaking, no one was listening. And then you realized it wasn’t a dream.

I’ve been there. Jesus has been there. We’ve all been there. So Jesus continues on. This man is puffed up with pride, and not going to listen. Jesus continues:

Matthew 19:17-19 …. if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, 19 Honor thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

Jesus quotes the Law of God, the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth commandments. The man is quick to respond.

Matthew 19:20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?

Oh, how he puffed up with pride. He was like the Pharisee in the parable Jesus told us:

Luke 18:10-14 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

This young man was on his way to hell. Hell will not be filled with rapists, child molesters, murders, and liars. The bulk of hell will not be populated with Stalins, Hitlers, or Klansmen. Yes, many will be there of that sort, but I believe the bulk of hell will be “good people”, people who felt they didn’t need Jesus Christ to get to Heaven. Hell will be filled with people who refused to bend the knee to the Lord.

This man was proud of himself. “What do I lack, Jesus? I am so GOOD!” Then Jesus hits him with a bombshell:

Matthew 19:21-22 If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

The young man defined himself as the center of the universe. His stuff was all gathered around him, like the vessels of the Temple were gathered around the altar of God. Jesus said:

Sell all that stuff that defines you.
Stop letting YOU be the center of the universe.
Give what you have to those in need.
Come, and follow Me!

The young man went away sad, for he had GREAT POSSESSIONS. He was the center of His universe. Jesus said:

Matthew 19:23-26 Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? 26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

You do not have to have a bunch of money in the bank to be “rich”. You are “rich” when you gather to yourself stuff, without regard to others. You are “rich” when you have all you need, and yet want more. I have talked to men with a million dollars in the bank, and asked, “Is there anything I can get you?” They reply, “Another million would be nice”. Greed. Narcissism. Self centeredness.

Back to Peter’s question, “What’s in it for me?” Jesus said:

Matthew 19:28-30 … Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. 30 But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

What you give up for Jesus, you will see in return in glory. But if you focus on being first in this life, you will lose everything. Only God is good. You need the blessing of God in order to get into Heaven.

Right after Jesus says, the first shall be last; and the last shall be first, He explains what this means in a parable. Look in the next chapter. You see, chapter divisions are not in the original text of Scripture. They were added by translators to aid in finding the Word of Life. So look at chapter 20. We read:

Matthew 20:1 … FOR the kingdom of heaven is like …

Do you see the word FOR. It links what Jesus said in chapter 19 to what He now says. Do you want to go to Heaven? Then here is what Heaven is like. Here is what you’ll see in Heaven, and it will be radically different from anything you have ever seen. It will not be like this earth, where everyone puts themselves first. Oh no. That’s not Heaven. If that’s how you are, you won’t like Heaven.

If you are ME CENTERED, you will NEVER like HEAVEN!

Matthew 20:1-2 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard. 2 And when he had agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

The Lord our God is the Householder, the owner of Heaven’s Vineyards. He went out at 6 am to hire laborers – LABORERS. Do you see that word? LABORERS. There are a lot of people who come and “give their lives” to Jesus, and want to live on the welfare roster of the Church.

If you are saved, you are saved by grace to
WORK for God.

What does the Scripture say?

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

You are called of God to be a worker together with Christ (2 Corinthians 6:1). We are to be mature, thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2 Timothy 3:16-17). This man went out at 6 am and hired laborers. He promised them a penny a day.

Matthew 20:3-7 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? 7 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.

The Lord our God, the Householder in this parable, hires workers at the 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 11th hours. When God calls us to salvation, He has called us to salvation at different stages of our lives. Some are called when very young, others at older ages. God even calls to salvation those who are at the 11th hour, very late in life. The Householder paid whatever He felt was right. Now the end of the day comes. We read:

Matthew 20:8-12 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the laborers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. 9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. 10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. 11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, 12 saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.

The Householder gave each worker, whether they came into His vineyard later or earlier, the same penny a day. The ones who had been there all day began to complain. But we were with You longer. We worked through the heat of the day. Yet YOU made them EQUAL to us!

Preach! Their complaint is that the Householder isn’t FAIR. Beloved, GOD is not FAIR. Thank GOD our GOD is not fair. It isn’t fair that Jesus had to die for your sins and mine. It isn’t fair that He had to bear my hell so I could inherit His Heaven. No, God isn’t fair. Thank God that He isn’t!

The Householder – our God – responds:

Matthew 20:13-16 … Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? 14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? 16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

God has the right to do with His Heaven as He will. Those called into Heaven at the 11th hour receive the same glory and joy of Heaven as those who received Christ in the morning. So, do you know Jesus? Have you received His call, and hold to Him as both Lord and Savior? If not, today would be a glorious day to meet Him.

Those whom come to Christ will one day be equally paid for what they give up. What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, but lose his own soul (Mark 8:36)? The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.

Make sure you put Jesus first, or Beloved, you won’t last.

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

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

First Cry From A Bloody Pulpit

Photo by Thanti Nguyen on Unsplash

Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

This is Jesus’ first cry from the Cross of Calvary. It is not recorded anywhere in the Scripture but here in the Book of Luke. Jesus has been beaten, flogged with razor tipped whips. He has been forced to the Cross. His dignity has been stripped from Him, along with His clothes. But look at His first cry from this bloody Cross. He doesn’t cry out in pain. Peter said,

Reviled, He reviled not again. Suffering, Jesus did not threaten those who hurt Him. Jesus committed Himself to the Father, for He judges righteously (my paraphrase of 1 Peter 2:23). Listen to His words:

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”

You, like myself, have probably been at time misjudged or betrayed by a friend. We do not like this, and often bear scars in our hearts from the betrayal. Yet Jesus does not rail against the seeming injustice of what He is going through. No, He pleads FOR US. He prays FOR THOSE WHO HURT HIM.

Jesus Christ had to die to bring us to God.

The Way Of The World Is To Be Self Focused

When Jesus preached His first sermon, He preached it to His greatest enemy, Lucifer, also called satan and the devil.

Where did satan come from? He was created of God to be an archangel. The beauty and power that Lucifer had, he had from the Grace of God. If you have talent, if you have beauty, if you have life, you have it of God. You are not better than others. You have been blessed. Lucifer – his name means “Shining One” – was greatly blessed of God. God said of Lucifer through the Prophet:

You, O Lucifer, are an anointed Angel that oversees Heaven. I put you in your place. I gave you charge over the other angels. I, the Lord Your God, made you perfect … but you found iniquity (my paraphrase of Ezekiel 28:14-15)

Lucifer was put in a perfect place, but wanted more. He was given the keys to Heaven, but wanted the Throne of God. When Lucifer was cast out of Heaven, his first mission was to bring humanity into his ways. “Eve, neither you nor Adam will die if you eat that which is forbidden. Oh no! God knows that when you eat of this fruit, you will be like Him, Triune, eternal, knowing good and evil” (see Genesis 3:1-5). Eve ate, and Adam ate. What is the result?

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:

But God was not satisfied with this. He could have destroyed all things, but would not. So God sent His Only Son:

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

The devil taught Adam that the way forward was to do as he did. Seize control. Take the Throne of God. He tried to get Jesus our Lord to do the same thing.

Taken into the wilderness by the Spirit of God, satan tempted our Master (Matthew 4:1-11), just as he tempts us. In each of the three temptations, satan tried to get Jesus to put Jesus first. This is what we do, and what we are tempted to do every day, to put OURSELVES first.

Hungry, the devil tempted Jesus to feed Himself by turning stones into bread. Abandoned, the devil tried to get Jesus to tempt God by testing Him.
Exalted, the devil tempted Jesus to worship another god.

With each temptation Jesus rebuked satan. He refused to put Himself first, to follow Adam’s lead.

Hungry, Jesus preferred the Word of God. “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4).

Abandoned, Jesus would not anger His Father. “ It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” (Matthew 4:7).

Exalted, Jesus would only worship the Lord our God. “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. (Matthew 4:10)”.

You May Think You Are Living, But If You Are Not Following God, You Are Following The Devil

Leaving the wilderness, Jesus went out and preached to all …

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

Repent. Stop mimicking satan, and
turn to the God Who created you.
Follow Him!

As Jesus preached and healed, multitudes of people followed Him (Matthew 4:25). Jesus went up into a high mountain and preached what we call “The Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5,6, & 7), the longest sermon our Lord ever preached. Multitudes heard Jesus as He preached the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1).

At the beginning of His ministry, multitudes followed Jesus. Why? Because He healed them. Because He fed them. Because they thought that Jesus would overthrow Rome, and return Israel to it’s former power. But a people without God are a people in bondage.

Lucifer lost Heaven when he exalted himself over God.
Adam lost Eden when he exalted himself over God.
Israel lost her autonomy when she exalted herself over God.
America is being robbed of it’s freedom because
we exalt ourselves over God.

When it became clear that Jesus was not going to be a shortcut to restoration of Israel, the multitudes that once FOLLOWED Jesus now CONDEMNS Jesus.

Luke 23:1 … the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar, saying that he himself is Christ a King.

Jesus was not perverting the nation. He was calling the nation back to God. Jesus was innocent of what they charge Him with. There was no sin, no lawlessness in Jesus. When Pilate came to judge Jesus, we read:

Luke 23:13-17 And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14 said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: 15 no, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him. 16 I will therefore chastise him, and release him. 17 (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.)

Why is Jesus being accused? From the devil’s perspective, Jesus is being accused because He would not support the narcissism that satan loved. Jesus lived to please the Father. Jesus lived to do as the Godhead called Him to do. Neither Pilate the Governor, nor Herod the Roman designated King of Israel found fault with Jesus. “There is nothing worthy of death in Him”. Jesus Christ was without sin. The Bible says,

Romans 6:23 … the wages of sin is death

It is sin and selfishness

that brought death, destruction, disease, and the devil into the world.

It is sin and selfishness

that brought forth thorns and thistles (Genesis 3:18).

It is sin and selfishness

that brought pain into what should be the joy of child birth (Genesis 3:16).

It is sin and selfishness

that caused God to turn His face from us (Isaiah 59:2).

For every misery we have in this blessed world, it can all be traced back to sin and selfishness.

Jesus stands before Pilate. I find no sin in this Man. Herod found no reason the kill this Man. Jesus was innocent. Jesus is, as John the Baptist said,

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

Pilate did not know this. Herod did not know this. “None of the princes of this world knew {this}: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8). Jesus was, to them, no more than a “carpenter’s Son” (Matthew 13:55). Jesus was an innocent Man. Both Herod and Pilate, Gentiles, knew that He was without sin.

Luke 23:18-19 …{the multitude} cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas: 19 (who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.)

It was the multitude, following satan, that commanded Jesus’ death. But it was the Godhead – Father, Son, and Spirit – that orchestrated His death.

Jesus, Who was loved of the Father “before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24), was “foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:20) “to put away sin by His self-sacrifice”.

Barabbas the murderer was released, and Jesus, the Innocent Lamb, was sacrificed. We who are sinners are released when we call on Jesus, recognizing Him as the payment for our sins. When we surrender ourselves to Him, He surrenders His death to us.

The first cry from the Cross was Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. But the night before at Gethsemane, our Jesus prayed three times

Matthew 26:39 O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

There was no other way that we could be saved. Jesus had to die for our sins. Three times Jesus asked for another way, and the Father willed His death. I find it interesting – and I do not believe it to be a coincidence – that Pilate asked the people three times to let Jesus go.

Luke 23:22-23 {Pilate} said unto them the THIRD TIME, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go. 23 And they {pressured Pilate} with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified.

There was no sin in Jesus. Jesus came to be our payment for sins in the eyes of God Almighty. Had Jesus had sin in Him, His death would have made little difference to the world. Had Jesus Christ been a sinner like the rest of us are, then His Blood would have been absolutely valueless. It would have been like another animal sacrifice. Yet Jesus Christ was absolutely without sin.

1 John 3:5 … And ye know that {Jesus} was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.

The Lamb must be without spot or blemish. The Sacrifice cannot have spot or blemish (Numbers 19:2; 28:3, 9, 11). If Jesus were a sinner like us, He could no more pay for our sins than I or you could. It is the:

Hebrews 9:14 … blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

It is not our works that save us, but the works of Christ upon the Cross. We are redeemed from this fallen world to serve a Living God.

1 Peter 1:18-19 … 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:

Jesus Christ is without spot or blemish. He is Perfect, as Perfect as God become Man can be. He is from above, and we are from below (John 8:23). “Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world(John 8:23). Our Jesus was without sin.

Our Jesus Was Crucified In A Hell On Earth
Called Calvarius

Luke 23:32-33 And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death. 33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.

Word Study Calvary”. What an interesting word. This is the only place where “Calvary” is found in the King James. The word rendered “Calvary” is actually the Greek κρανίον, from which we get our word “cranium” or skull. Jesus was crucified at κρανίον, the place of the Skull.

The Jews called this place Γολγοθᾶ “Golgotha”, which also meant “A place of a skull” (see Matthew 27:33; Mark 15:22; John 19:17). The word “Calvary” entered the King James because the translators referred to William Tyndale’s translation of this passage – and Tyndale used “Calvary” in his rendering of Luke 23:33, borrowing it from the Latin Vulgate.

Place Of The Skull” Was “Golgotha” To The Jews, But Calvarius To The Gentiles.

Calvarius was a horrible place outside of Jerusalem. It was a place where lepers were banished. A place where Rome executed criminals, and left their bodies to decompose. This was a place where Israel, when she was not ruled by Rome, stoned those who broke the Law of God. It was on the other side of the wall that was around the Holy City. It was outside the camp (Numbers 15:36). It was outside the gate of the city. The Sin Offering was burned with fire “outside the camp” (Exodus 29:14). Calvarius was where justice was meted out for both Jews and Gentiles.

PREACH When man wanted to work his way to God, our Creator had Moses scale Mount Sinai to receive the Law on stone tablets. But when God wanted to save mankind, He sent His Son Jesus from Mount Zion to a place the Romans called Calvarius and the Jews called Golgotha.

Calvarius is a hopeless place. The Stepson of a Carpenter, I am sure Jesus helped Joseph drive nails as a young boy. The Stepson of a Carpenter, the Son of God now has nails driven into His flesh. In His earthly ministry Jesus often healed lepers, lepers who were banished to Calvarius, in obedience to the Law of God.

Leviticus 13:46 All the days wherein the plague (of leprosy) shall be in him, he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; WITHOUT THE CAMP shall his habitation be.

Jesus healed many lepers, restored many to their homes, bringing them in from without the camp back into the city by cleansing them. But now Jesus, this innocent and righteous man, He hangs in Calvarius. Jesus used to use this place to illustrate hell and eternal judgment. Calvarius was a place where bones were littered about, and fires constantly burned to keep the decay from the city. As Jesus once taught His disciples, pointing to this place as a place that illustrates eternal damnation, He told us:

Luke 12:4-5 I say unto you, my friends, be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: fear Him {God}, which after He hath killed, hath power to cast into hell; Yea, I say unto you, Fear HIM!

Is there a hell? Yes, just as sure as there is a Heaven. Jesus preached of Hell to His disciples. Our God is a just God, a Holy God, and Heaven is a holy and wonderfully righteous place. It will not be religious people who occupy Heaven, but people who are redeemed, righteous in the eyes of God. There is a hell just as there was a Calvarius, a place where justice is finally met. Hell is the spiritual equivalent of Calvarius.

Why is our Jesus, innocent Jesus, on a cross in this “Place of the Skull”, this hell on earth?

Because Jesus Is Making Payment For Our Sins

Luke 23:34-38 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. 35 And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. 36 And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, 37 and saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself. 38 And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

People say, “I’m not a sinner”. No? Look at your life. Look at those around the Cross of Calvarius.

Look at the soldiers, kneeling at His feet. They are not there to worship Jesus. No. The Bible says:

Luke 23:34 And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

They part His clothing, and cast dice for it. Jesus is on the hill of Golgotha, the hill of punishment, making payment for their sins. But the soldiers, dotted with Christ’s blood, are unconcerned. A poor man’s clothing is more to them than what Christ is doing. Oh, do not be too quick to judge these men, for many of us are the same. We love things more than God. We love stuff, more than the Creator. What shall it profit a person, if you gain the whole world, but lose your own soul (Mark 8:36)? These soldiers have no eyes for Christ. He is no more to them than the thieves on either side. They just want His clothing. They just want His stuff.

Luke 23:35 And the people stood beholding.

Word Study The word “BEHOLDING” is the Greek theōréō, {pronounced theh-o-reh’-o}. If you think of the word, it is close to the English THEATER. That’s what it means. The people were watching Jesus, being entertained. They were spectators. They were watching Jesus, unconcerned over His suffering, entertained by His suffering and bleeding. Jesus was not dying to be an attraction. The Bible says:

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

He is dying not to entertain, but to save. He is dying so that we can stand in God’s Heaven, and walk in His Presence every day.

Luke 23:35 … And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.

Jesus could not save Himself, if He was going to save us. “It pleased the Eternal God to bruise Him for us; the Father put Jesus to grief. Jesus’ soul was an offering for sin” (my paraphrase of Isaiah 53:10).

Jesus cannot save Himself, because we cannot save ourselves. He dies, so that we might live.

Are you a child of God by faith in Christ?

Our Lord Jesus died a lonely death outside the camp and outside the gate for us. Would you be saved? Then you must go outside the camp and outside the gate to the Cross of Christ. So many lose eternity because they are too PROUD to come to Jesus. “What will my friends think? What will others around me say about me?” Beloved, that is of little concern. We are told in …

Hebrews 13:12-15 Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. 13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. 14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. 15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

You will not find salvation from sin and eternal life following the pattern of this world. You will not find the glory of God’s presence in your daily lives unless you go with Jesus outside the gate. Put away your pride. Give yourselves to Him Who loves you this very day. Do not wait, nor hesitate. You, like I, am a sinner. Let us run to Him Who says,

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!

May God draw you into union with Him this very day. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Luke, Sermons Preached | Tagged , ,

Heed God’s Word And God’s Way

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Many people do not read the Old Testament because it often seems confusing. It can be confusing. However, there are great truths in the Old Testament that relate directly to our modern day lives. One of the stories that relate to us today is the story of King Jehoshaphat, King Ahab, and a prophet named Micaiah, the son of Imla.

King Jehoshaphat

King Jehoshaphat was a good king who ruled over Judah. The Bible says of Jehoshaphat:

2 Chronicles 17:3-4 …. the Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim; 4 but sought to the Lord God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel.

Jehoshaphat walked” in the ways of his ancestor King David. He did not worship false gods, here literally called “Baal”. Baal was the supreme male god of the Phoenicians and the Canaanites. When Solomon, King David’s son, first dedicated the Temple in 2 Chronicles 7, the Bible tells us:

2 Chronicles 7:12-14 the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. 13 If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; {my note … could this be the Coronavirus, this “pestilence”?} 14 if my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

God told His people – and us who profess to be Christian – to humble ourselves, to pray, to seek HIS face. Not the false gods and goddesses of our land, but the Lord of Scripture. But this is not where God left it. He said that His people are to “turn from their wicked ways”. Beloved, the Bible declares:

Romans 6:23 … the wages of sin is death

Blessing will not come to the land until God’s people do as He says. Jehoshaphat did as God said. Jehoshaphat walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto {Baal}. Jehoshaphat sought to the Lord God of his father, and walked in his commandments. Jehoshaphat honored the God of the Bible, and God blessed his life.

2 Chronicles 17:5-6 Therefore the Lord stablished the kingdom in his hand; and all Judah brought to Jehoshaphat presents; and he had riches and honour in abundance. 6 And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord: moreover he took away the high places and groves out of Judah.

Jesus tells us in …

Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Blessings come when we follow God. Jehoshaphat followed God. His heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord. He did not halfheartedly follow God, but enjoyed following the Lord. Jehoshaphat removed the altars to the false gods and goddesses that were in the land. He also sent out teachers into the land to tell the people about the Lord. We are told:

2 Chronicles 17:9 they taught in Judah, and had the book of the law of the Lord with them, and went about throughout all the cities of Judah, and taught the people.

What was the result of this? There was peace in the land. As the people drew near to God through His Word, God drew near to them. The Bible says:

2 Chronicles 17:10 the fear of the Lord fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, so that they made no war against Jehoshaphat.

There was prosperity in the land because the leadership of Judah loved God. Cities were built. Businesses flourished. The military of that land became great (2 Chronicles 17:12-13). But then Jehoshaphat messed up.

King Ahab

2 Chronicles 18:1 Now Jehoshaphat had riches and honour in abundance, and joined affinity with Ahab.

Jehoshaphat had all that he needed. There was peace in the land. He and his people had riches, and honor in abundance. There was no one going to make war with Judah, because Judah was protected by God. But then Jehoshaphat joined forces with Ahab. Who was Ahab?

Ahab was the King of Israel, the ten northern tribes. When Solomon died, his son Rehoboam over taxed the northern tribes. They revolted against the Throne of David, and made their own nation, a second Israel. As a separate nation they called Jeroboam to be their King. Jeroboam was the great, great, great, great, great grandfather of Ahab. The Bible tells us …

1 Kings 16:30-33 Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him. 31 And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. 32 And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. 33 And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.

Ahab would lead Israel far away from God. He worshiped the false god Baal, and commanded this to be the state religion. Elijah told Ahab:

1 Kings 18:18 … I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim.

Ahab sent his prophets of Baal to Mount Carmel to challenge Elijah and the God of the Scripture. Elijah called fire down from Heaven, calling upon God in prayer, saying:

1 Kings 18:36-39 … Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. 37 Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.

The 450 prophets of Baal who stood against Elijah were executed that day. Yet Ahab did not repent. He continued in the worship of Baal, continued to reject the God of Scripture.

Jehoshaphat had no reason to join forces with this evil king – but he did. Oh Beloved, God tells His people:

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

God’s children are to be in the world, but not of the world. Jehoshaphat should have known better. I do not know why he did it, but he joined forces – actually making a treaty – with Ahab. Ahab wanted to attack and conquer the Aramean held city of Ramoth-gilead. When Ahab asked Jehoshaphat to go with him to Ramoth-gilead, Jehoshaphat, as a believer, told Ahab:

2 Chronicles 18:4 … Enquire, I pray thee, at the word of the Lord to day.

He wanted Ahab to ask a godly prophet what the Lord’s will was before he committed to following Ahab. Ahab called his false prophets, asking them:

2 Chronicles 18:5 … Shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for God will deliver it into the king’s hand.

These false prophets were not in tune with God. They were only saying what they thought Ahab wanted to hear. However,

2 Chronicles 18:6 … Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides, that we might enquire of him?

Jehoshaphat was not impressed with the large number of false prophets. He just wanted to hear what God said through JUST ONE prophet of the true God.

The Prophet Micaiah, The Son Of Imlah

2 Chronicles 18:7 … the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, by whom we may enquire of the Lord: but I hate him; for he never prophesied good unto me, but always evil: the same is Micaiah the son of Imla. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so.

J. Vernon McGee once said:

Someone has said that a man is not really known by his friends. Rather, he is known by his enemies. Every man ought to make sure that he has the right enemies. The best compliment that could be paid to Micaiah was for Ahab to say, ‘I hate him.'””

That is so true. When you stand for the Lord, you will make enemies. Jesus said to us:

John 15:18-20 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

In our world today there are many false prophets who will tell you what you want to hear. But they will not tell you what God has said. Ahab was mad at Micaiah because he didn’t tell him what he wanted to hear. People are often mad at Bible teachers and preachers because they do not tickle their ears. The Apostle warned Timothy:

2 Timothy 4:2-4 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

To endorse a lie as the truth is not only to mislead people, but you can possible draw people to destruction. Ahab had his select false prophets who only told him what he wanted to hear. But he hated Micaiah, for Micaiah told him what GOD wanted him to hear.

Are You Of The 400? Or Micaiah?

Beloved, when you tell others that God endorses other than male/ Female marriages, you have become one of the 400 Ahab listened to. When you declare that sexual infidelity prior to marriage is perfectly fine, you have become one of the 400 Ahab listened to. When you begin to preach evolution, believing that man evolved from apes, but was never created by God from the dust of the ground, you are one of the 400 that Ahab listened to. When you declare abortion is acceptable to the God Who made us, you have become one of the 400 that Ahab listened to. Ahab didn’t want to hear the Biblical truth. Ahab didn’t want to hear the Word of the Lord. Ahab just wanted to hear what would support his feelings, his desires, his wants.

But then they call for Micaiah. The messenger that Ahab sent to Micaiah said:

2 Chronicles 18:12 … Behold, the words of the prophets declare good to the king with one assent; let thy word therefore, I pray thee, be like one of theirs, and speak thou good.

Now the pressure is on Micaiah. There are 400 false prophets talking to both Ahab and Jehoshaphat. Micaiah is the lone prophet of God. What will he do? Well, Micaiahis actually one of the four disciples of Elijah (J. D., Eisenstein, Otzar Midrashim, vol.1 (New York: Noble, 1915), p. 173. Hupat Etivahu, part four, number 47). I believe Micaiah had been there when Elijah stood against the 450 prophets of Baal. Now he is confronted with 400 prophets of Baal, and a very wicked King Ahab. What will he do? Micaiah tells the messenger:

2 Chronicles 18:13 … As the Lord liveth, even what my God saith, that will I speak..

As the Lord liveth” is the Hebrew יְהֹוָה Yahweh חַי chay, {pronounced khah’-ee}, which is a play on words. He says “As the Ever Living, Always Living God says, that I will speak”. His attention is not fixed on what others think of him. His attention is not fixed on popular opinion, or majority rule. Micaiah was going to preach what God told him to preach, regardless as to the outcome. The world needs preachers and teachers like this, people who are not afraid of speaking the Word of God. Micaiah comes to where Ahab and Jehoshaphat are, and Ahab asks Micaiah:

2 Chronicles 18:14 … Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I forbear?

Micaiah knew what Ahab wanted to hear, so he told Jehoshaphat sarcastically answers him:

2 Chronicles 18:14 … Go ye up, and prosper, and they shall be delivered into your hand.

When Jehoshaphat pressed Micaiah for the truth, he said:

2 Chronicles 18:16 … I did see all Israel scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd: and the Lord said, These have no master; let them return therefore every man to his house in peace.

Ahab said, “Did I not tell thee that he would not prophesy good unto me, but evil?” 2 Chronicles 18:17. Ahab thought that Elijah and Micaiah were his enemies, but they were not. The Bible tells us that we are to be:

Ephesians 4:15 …. speaking the truth in love

The Prophet, Pastor, or Teacher of God is obligated to speak the Word of God. The hearer can then hear and repent, or sulk and hate the messenger. God’s will will be done! Micaiah continues with:

2 Chronicles 18:18-22 … Therefore hear the word of the Lord; I saw the Lord sitting upon his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left. 19 And the Lord said, Who shall entice Ahab king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? And one spake saying after this manner, and another saying after that manner. 20 Then there came out a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will entice him. And the Lord said unto him, Wherewith? 21 And he said, I will go out, and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And the Lord said, Thou shalt entice him, and thou shalt also prevail: go out, and do even so. 22 Now therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken {destruction} against thee.

This is a very interesting text of Scripture. Because Ahab rejected the Word of God, first from Elijah, then from Micaiah, God gave him over to lying spirits. God will reach out and try to lead people into the way of Christ. But if people continue to resist, then God give them over. He backs up and says, “All right – you wanted it – here it is!”. We see the same thing in:

Romans 1:21-28 when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

God tells us what is the truth. When we refuse to hear it, and reject His Word repeatedly, then God backs away. Ahab was planting and had been planting the seeds of his own destruction. When you reject the way of God, you walk a path to destruction. God is in control. God is always true. What He tells us to do, He tells us from a heart of love and care.

Ahab refused to repent. He told his servants:

2 Chronicles 18:26-27 … Put this fellow {Micaiah} in the prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I return in peace. 27 And Micaiah said, If thou certainly return in peace, then hath not the Lord spoken by me.

King Ahab does not heed Micaiah, but had him imprisoned. And what of King Jehoshaphat? We read:

2 Chronicles 18:28 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth-gilead.

The believing King Jehoshaphat is unequally yoked with King Ahab – and they both lead their people to battle. God has already determined the destruction of Ahab. Jehoshaphat almost got killed himself because of his foolishness. The Bible says that:

2 Chronicles 18:31-32 … Jehoshaphat cried out, and the Lord helped him; and God moved them to depart from him. 32 For it came to pass, that, when the captains of the chariots perceived that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back again from pursuing him.

Ahab died that day on the battlefield. An archer fired an arrow in the air, and it ended up in the weakest part of Ahab’s armor. It was the grace of God that Jehoshaphat was not killed.

Beloved, follow the Lord. Christians, do not unequally yoke yourselves with unbelievers. Heed the Word of God. Do what He tells you to do. Do not believe that you can keep one foot in the world and one foot in God’s Kingdom. When Jehoshaphat got back to Jerusalem:

2 Chronicles 19:2-3 …. Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord. 3 Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God.

God hold His followers accountable. The stepbrother of Christ put it this eway:

James 4:4 … know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

You and I are called to be ambassadors for Christ. We are called to be light in the Lord. We are to both love, and follow our God. We are never to enter into an intimate relationship with the lost. Live your lives, not like Ahab, nor like Ahab’s 400, but like Micaiah.

All glory to God in the highest! Amen and Amen!

Posted in 2 Chronicles, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , ,

Receive Ye One Another

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Romans 15:7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.

There is nothing more disturbing to me than what the political process has become in America. When we listen to the politicians, we do not hear civility, but mudslinging and rudeness. I despise it. I was raised in a civil household. My parents taught me to respect others. Yet it seems we live in a day of terrible disrespect, and of evil actions to one another.

When God spoke to the Roman Church, He was speaking to a diverse group of people from several different backgrounds. In the society of that day, the Jews despised the Romans, because Rome had overthrown Israel. The Romans despised the Jews as a defeated people. Yet within the Church there was both Romans as well as Jews.

God does not want His Church to be like the lost world. The Church is a city of light. Jesus said of His people:

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

The Scripture says that we are to be …

Colossians 1:12-14 giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

The world is a kingdom of darkness. It’s dark prince, satan, rules this world through fallen creatures and the powers of sin and death. But we who are Christ’s are IN this dark world, but not OF this dark world.

The Church Is IN But Never OF

In our text today we are told:

Romans 15:7 Wherefore RECEIVE ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.

Word Study The word translated RECEIVE is the Greek προσλαμβάνω proslambánō, {pronounced pros-lam-ban’-o}, which means “to take to oneself, to welcome, to embrace that which is given”. Some translations use the word “accept”, but I do not think that is a good rendering of this word. In Matthew 16:22 the word proslambánō is used when Jesus told Peter that He was going to be crucified. In that text we read:

Matthew 16:22 Then Peter took {proslambánō} {Jesus}, and began to rebuke {Jesus}, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.

To render the word as “accept” makes no sense. Peter was not accepting what Jesus said. Peter was incorrectly rebuking the Lord. But nonetheless Peter EMBRACED Jesus. Peter proslambánō – hugged Jesus to himself. Now Jesus rebuked Peter for his action that day (you can read the context yourself). But Peter did not accept what Jesus was saying … though he nevertheless EMBRACED our Lord. He loved Jesus, and did not want Jesus to die (see also Mark 8:32). Or consider the use of proslambánō in the ministry of the Evangelist Apollo, a contemporary of Paul. The Bible says that …

Acts 18:26 {Apollos the Evangelist} began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took {proslambánō} him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.

Apollos was a sincere, God called Evangelist. He was “an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures” (Acts 18:24). But Aquila and Priscilla were disciples of the Apostle Paul (Acts 18:1-4), who had often stayed in their home. As a matter of fact, Paul had often preached in their home, which was where a small Church met (Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:19}. When Aquila and Priscilla heard Apollos preach, they heard him preach some things wrong (can you believe it? Preachers are sometimes wrong:). Anyway, they EMBRACED or WELCOMED Apollos after his preaching in the Synagogue at Ephesus, but corrected his errors by “expounding unto Apollo the Way of God MORE PERFECTLY”.

Aquila and Priscilla did not agree with Apollos – but they welcomed him, and lovingly corrected him.

When the Apostle tells us to “receive ye one another”, he is telling us to lovingly welcome one another. We are to care for our brothers and sisters in Christ. And yet, we are NOT to allow the errors of the world to flourish in our midst. The Church is a lighthouse in a world of darkness. The Church is NOT to be like the world. The Church is to be like Christ. The Bible is very specific on these points. The world is lost, and exists in darkness, in the grasp of satan and under the influence of sin. But the Church belongs to Jesus. If you are saved by faith in Christ then the Bible commands you:

Romans 12:1-5 I beseech you therefore, BRETHREN, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

The Church is one body in CHRIST. We are bound together by faith and practice to Christ.

Christ was baptized, we are baptized.
Christ believed the Scripture, we believe the Scripture.
Christ reached out to sinners, we reach out to sinners.
Christ pursued holiness, we pursue holiness.
Christ lived to serve the Father, we live to serve the Father.
Christ rebuked sin, we rebuke sin.
Christ loved the unlovely, but hated the sin;
We love the unlovely, but hate sin.
Christ gave Himself to destroy sin, we give ourselves to destroy sin.

I could go on and on. The Church is Jesus’ body, and He is the head. Why did Jesus die?

Galatians 1:4 … our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father

The Church is a body of believers, delivered from this world by the blood of Jesus Christ. We are to be friendly to sinners, but haters of sin. The late Evangelist Billy Graham stated:

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

The Bible also teaches that the Christian will face opposition in the world. “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution,” said the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:12. Just as Christ’s life with all its love, concern and selflessness was a rebuke to the cosmos of His time, so our lives with Christ abiding in us today bring about criticism, opposition and persecution from those who cannot comprehend the mystery of God’s redemptive grace.

The Bible teaches that we are not to be discouraged by this belligerence. We are to consider it evidence that we are identified with Christ. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:11-12).”

It shocks me that there are professing Christians in every denomination, and even in Catholicism, that believes sexual relations before marriage and abortion is fine. The Christian is called of God to stand up and speak out against that which the Bible defines is “sin”.

The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).
The gift of God is eternal life through
Jesus Christ our LORD.

The Church – with its many believers in Christ – is under the direction and guidance of Jesus Christ our Lord. The Church is never to justify sinfulness. We are to point others to Christ, to believe on Jesus, and be received by Jesus Who gave Himself for us all. When a person comes to Christ seeking salvation, they overcome the devil and sin by the Blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony (Revelation 12:11). The Church never concedes to evil, to sin, to darkness. Light must shine. It cannot be light if it does not shine. When we are saved, what are we to do? The Bible says:

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

We love all around us. But we do not accept into the fellowship as a part of the Church any who wallow in sin. Come out from amng them, and be ye separate. Do not touch the unclean thing, and I will receive you. Does this mean the Christian never sins? No, not at all. But

.. when we sin, and are convicted of our sin, or are corrected by a brother or sister in Christ, as Aquila and Priscilla corrected Apollos, then we repent of our sin and confess it in the name of Jesus (1 John 1:8-10).

How do we determine what is, and is not, sin? How did Jesus determine right and wrong? “It is written”. What did Jesus tell the devil when tempted in the wilderness?

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 rebuked those in the Temple, chasing out the moneychangers, the defilers of God’s house, what did our Lord say?

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 submitted to the death of the Cross, what did our Lord say?

Matthew 26:24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him…

The Bible tells us what is right, and what is wrong. We do not heed opinion polls, peer pressure, or popular vote. We do not go by feelings. We go by what our God has said, and recorded in this grand old Book we call the Bible. The phrase “it is written” is peppered all through the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus referred to the Scripture. The Apostles referred to the Scripture. We can do no less.

What do we do if a professing brother or sister is in an act that the Bible says is sinful? The Bible gives us clear direction. In 1 Corinthians 5 a young man was in a sexual relationship with his stepmother. The Church at Corinth justified this activity rather than rebuking it. The Apostle Paul said:

1 Corinthians 5:1-7 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. 2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4 in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us…

The Christian is “unleavened” because Jesus Christ died for our sins. We do not welcome sin into our congregation. The sinner is loved, but Christ is shared with them. If a brother or a sister descends into sin, the Church members are not to welcome their sin. The Apostle is even more specific:

1 Corinthians 5:11-13 I have written unto you NOT TO KEEP COMPANY, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

Those who are outside the Church, God judges. But within the flock we are never to condone sin. We are to lovingly correct our brothers and sisters when they step away from the Way of Christ. We are to hate the sin, but love the sinner. If the brother or sister repents, and forgoes the sin, putting it under the blood of Christ, they are welcomed back. But if not they are recognized as those who have fallen. They are released unto satan for the destruction of the flesh. They make their choice.

The Church Is Filled With Imperfects

Romans 15:7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.

When the Apostle says “WELCOME one another”, he is not saying to welcome sin. But he is telling us to welcome one another as imperfect creations, the workmanship of Christ (Ephesians 2:10). Dr Joe Pettigrew writes:

“In the early church, Jews and Gentiles despised each other. Each wanted the other to become like them. But Paul took the axe to the root of that tree: “For Christ Himself…reconciled both groups…by means of His death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.” (Ephesians 2:14–16) We certainly will disagree on many things, but the way we treat each other will reflect our love for our fellow man. Jesus is pretty clear about how we are to treat each other.”

A Church is a body of imperfect, but saved people. We are to love one another, just as Christ loved and still loves us. Sin is what God says is sin. But there are other things that are not sin. There are cultural differences. There are differences in tastes.

In the previous chapter the Apostle addresses a problem that occurred in the Church at Rome. He wrote:

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

Word Study The word translated RECEIVE is our old friend προσλαμβάνω proslambánō, {pronounced pros-lam-ban’-o}. Paul is talking of brothers and sisters in Christ. He says those who are WEAK or YOUNG IN THE FAITH – in their walk with Christ – we are to welcome them. But we are not to impose on them “doubtful disputations”. This is the Greek διαλογισμός διάκρισις dialogismos diakrisis. These are very interesting words. They both begin with DIA, meaning “of two types”. You could translate this as “two thinkings and two judgments”. The picture given here is of a person who is arguing with himself about what is right and wrong, a person confused. My Bible says that:

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

From the beginning of the Church, believers have often drifted into arguing about things of which the Bible sets no clear standards. Christians have argued about holidays, feasts, circumcision or no circumcision, and in our context, about food.

Rome was the center of pagan religion in the ancient world. The main gods and goddesses in Roman culture were Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, Zeus, Venus, Pluto, Diana, Mars, and Janus. There were more I know, but these were the top tier. Rome made sacrifices to these gods and goddesses, and as center for worship the animals sacrificed were countless! What to do with all this meat? The temples of the false gods and goddesses were not stupid. They sold sacrificed meat to the public at a very good price. And this caused a problem in the Church at Rome.

The Gentiles in the Church at Rome saw nothing wrong with eating these sacrificed meats. Food is food, and cheap is cheap. But then there were Jewish believers in the Church at Rome, and they believed that to eat anything not kosher was a sin. So now you have two factions, all fighting over food. What did the Lord tell us about food?

One day Peter was in prayer. Now Peter is a very Jewish Christian. As he prays, the Bible says:

Acts 10:9-16 …. Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: 10 and he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, 11 and saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: 12 wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. 14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. 15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.

God was going to send Peter to a Gentile Centurion named Cornelius. The Gentiles ate all manner of food.The Jews, however, ate only what God declared “clean” in the Old Testament. With this vision, God clarified what He had previously declared through Jesus Christ our Lord. When Jesus was told by the Pharisees that His disciples were eating unclean food because they were not washing their hands, our Lord said:

Matthew 15:10-11 … Hear, and understand: 11 not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

God removed the ceremonial laws when Christ came to this earth. Consequently, you as believers are free to eat any type of food. God has no provisions on us. The Gentile Christians were used to eating any and all foods, regardless as to whom it was sacrificed to. The Jewish Christians, however, were raised in a culture that taught them to eat only “clean” foods. So what is happening at Rome. Christians are arguing over things that are not sinful. We still do this today.

We argue over the “proper” type of singing in Church.
We argue over the color of the walls.
We argue over pews or chairs.
We argue over versions of the Bible.
We argue over whether women should wear pants or skirts.
We argue over hair length for men and women.
We argue over tattoos and ear rings.
We argue over what days are the Sabbath.
We argue over tobacco and alcohol use.

The Apostle tells the Church that – when we receive someone into our fellowship – we are not to trot out things that are matters of opinion and treat these things as if they are sin. The Word of God and the leading of God the Holy Spirit is the final determining factors. Every Christian belongs to Jesus. The Apostle said:

Romans 14:4-10 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. 5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. 6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. 7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. 8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. 10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

If a thing is a sin, then there should be very clear Scripture that shows it to be a sin. There are certain things that I personally do not like. Yet this does not make what I don’t like a sin. The Scripture determines sin. The ceremonial portions of the Law are gone. The Law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. But now that Christ has come, the ceremonial laws do not apply

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

But what of the Jewish believer? The Apostle gave a very clear direction in this. He said:

Romans 14:15-19 if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. 16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of: 17 for the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. 18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. 19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

There are many things that fall into what I call “gray areas”. On these things, if it brings disharmony in the body of Christ, even though it is lawful for me to do it, I must not. The highest Law that the Christian follows is the Law of love. Jesus commands us:

John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

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

To the world Jesus says, (Matthew 7:12) “all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Simply put, if you don’t want it done to you, don’t do it to others. This is the general law for all of civilization. But for the Christian, the Law is much greater. Love one another, as Jesus loves you. Again, our focal text:

Romans 15:7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.

Jesus welcomes us into the Family of God. Jesus tolerates our daily failures. Jesus does not come down hard on us every time we mess up – and we all mess up plenty. Jesus never considered Himself first, but put us first. The Bible tells us to put our brothers and sisters in Christ first. To love those who do things that we don’t like. Now again, IF THE SCRIPTURE SAYS IT IS SIN, IT IS SIN. Period. But there are other things that are gray areas. To these areas, we avoid doing it in the presence of our easily offended brothers and sisters. The Apostle put it this way:

Romans 14:21-22 … It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. 22 Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God.

Consider the life of Christ, and imitate Him. Reject and correct sin. But in areas of preference and feelings, if it hurtss the faith of others, have it to yourself. Do it at home, in privacy, before God. But do not cause your brother or sister in Christ to stumble over something not clearly a sin.

May God touch your hearts with His Word!

Posted in Romans, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , ,

Joseph’s Bones

Jacob's Bones
Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

Genesis 50:14-26 And Joseph returned into Egypt, he, and his brethren, and all that went up with him to bury his father, after he had buried his father. 15 And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him. 16 And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying, 17 So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him. 18 And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants. 19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? 20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. 21 Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them. 22 And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father’s house: and Joseph lived an hundred and ten years. 23 And Joseph saw Ephraim’s children of the third generation: the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were brought up upon Joseph’s knees. 24 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. 25 And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. 26 So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

The Book Of Genesis Begins With A Disobedient
Believer, And Closes With An Obedient Believer

I love the Book of Genesis. It shows us the pattern to follow for blessing, and the path to travel to cursing. Genesis begins with blessing, as God creates all things. But it moves to cursing when man rejects God, and chooses his own path.

The Apostle sums up the first part of human history by saying,

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

Throughout Genesis, we see those who dishonor God and follow Him to blessing. But the Book ends with a positive example, A man by the name of Joseph. A man who, though tried, nearly as much as Job was tried, kept his eyes on the Lord Jesus. Beloved,

Trials can make you BITTER, but if you are in Christ,
trials should make you BETTER.

Joseph was the youngest son of Jacob, who would one day become Israel.

Genesis 37:3-5 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colors. 4 And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, THEY HATED HIM, AND COULD NOT SPEAK PEACEABLY UNTO HIM. 5 And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.

Joseph was PREFERRED over his brothers by his daddy, Jacob. When a parent prefers one child over another, this can lead to bullying in the family. Jacob was bullied. They COULD NOT speak peaceably unto Joseph. Not WOULD not, but COULD not. Bad parenting makes good bullying. Being bullied, Joseph looked to God. I have heard it said that…

God lives at the end of Desperation Street.

Being bullied makes you desperate. Joseph hid himself in God, so much so that God began to speak to him in visions. God gave Joseph a dream in which it appeared he would rule over his brothers. In verse 9 we are told Joseph dreamed another dream, and in this dream his entire family was going to bow down to him. God promised Joseph he would be lifted up. Joseph lifted God up, and God would lift Joseph up!

Before there was Scripture, God spoke to His people in dreams.

  • God came to Abraham in a dream, saying “Do not be afraid. I am a shield to you, and your reward will be great” (Genesis 15:1)
  • God came to Israel (Jacob) in a dream, calling “Jacob, Jacob” (Genesis 46:2)
  • Pharaoh would later in our story have a dream (Genesis 41:1-7), a dream that would bless both Jacob and Israel.

There are 21 dreams recorded in the Bible, and 10 of these happen in the Book of Genesis.

Being bullied, Joseph did not turn to drugs or suicide. Joseph refused depression and despair. Joseph looked up. When you seek God, you will find God (Jeremiah 29:13).Joseph sought God.

If We Are With Jesus, Trials Will End In Blessing

God has a plan for your life. Your life should not be mediocre. You should not be a victim. You were not made to be bullied. You were not designed to be the servant of satan. God made you to walk with Him daily.

Illustrate As I left the Post Office the other day, a lady cried out to me, begging for gas money. I pulled out my wallet, and headed toward her. I handed her some cash, and like a volcano she immediately erupted. Her emotions were like 50 wild cats in a 1 pound bag. She professed to be a Christian, but immediately began to rail against God. God had abandoned her. There were no Churches open. Everywhere she looked, she found only condemnation and vitriol. As she said this, she paid little attention to the cash I put in her hand. This woman was thoroughly broken by life. I asked if I could pray for her, and she immediately bowed her head. As I prayed, I asked that God give her comfort … but she was too bitter. Her cup was filled to the brim with bitterness.

Bitterness! What a horrible fruit bitterness brings. Bitterness defiles you.

Hebrews 12:14-15 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any ROOT OF BITTERNESS springing up trouble you, and thereby many be DEFILED …

LOOKING DILIGENTLY. Look not at the trial, but at the Lord Who saved you. When Joseph was afflicted, he looked toward God. Joseph focused on the promise that God made him. He did not focus on the hurt, but on the Healer.

Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness… be put away from you

As humans, we often focus on what we do NOT have, rather than the good we have. Joseph’s brothers did not have the love of their father, so they took it out on Joseph.

Genesis 37:18-20 when {Joseph’s brothers saw him} afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him. 19 And they said one to another, Behold, this DREAMER cometh. 20 Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.

If Joseph’s brother Reuben had not objected, Joseph would have been killed right then. Instead of killing Joseph, they cast him into a pit, and then sold him to slave traders headed toward Egypt.

Genesis 37:36 … the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh’s, and captain of the guard.

Just Like That, Joseph Went From The PAMPERING Of Jacob To The PIT, and from The PIT to POTIPHAR

Through all these life changes, Joseph clung to the PROMISE that God made him. Listen, dearly Beloved:

Are CIRCUMSTANCES your god, or is GOD your God?

Where your head is, is where your emotions will be. Joseph kept on loving the Lord. Joseph rejected bitterness and trusted God. His life radically changed, but his spirit remained the same. God saves, but only in the fullness of HIS time (Galatians 4:4; Ephesians 1:10). Had Joseph let bitterness take him, we would have never read these words.

Genesis 39:2-4 the LORD WAS WITH JOSEPH, and he was a PROSPEROUS man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. 3 And his master saw that THE LORD WAS WITH HIM, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. 4 And JOSEPH FOUND GRACE in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.

I have known many who have gone from a joyous life to cancer, or Alzheimer’s, or a stroke, who allowed bitterness to take them. Whatever prison you may have been cast into, look upward. Trust God! The God Who saved you, He saves you still. Avoid the gall of bitterness.

Illustrate In the early Church, Apostles Peter and John were going about, sharing the Word of God to all who would hear. One man, merely called “Simon”, was converted under the preaching of Philip. We read:

Acts 8:12-13 when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.

Simon was a saved man – at least outwardly. But as Simon followed the Apostles and watched how they operated in the power of God the Holy Spirit, Simon “offered the Apostles money, saying, give me also this power” (Acts 8:18-19). Peter’s reply was very harsh. He said:

Acts 8:20-23 … Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. 21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. 22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. 23 For I perceive that THOU ART IN THE GALL OF BITTERNESS, AND IN THE BOND OF INIQUITY.

The “gall of bitterness, and the bond of iniquity” has no place in the Christ follower. Cast it away. Let God be your portion.

Psalm 73:26 God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

Joseph was willing to wait on the Lord (Psalm 27:14; 37:34; Proverbs 20:22). God has promised that Joseph would one day be in the palace.

Genesis 39:7-9 it came to pass after these things, that {Potiphar’s} wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. 8 But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; 9 there is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?

The Devil Watches Us How often are we tempted to circumvent the plan of God? The devil watches us, just as he watched our Lord Jesus Christ, and waits for opportunities to try and tempt us from God’s best. Potiphar’s wife set her mind on taking Joseph as more than a servant. Yet Joseph kept the promise of God ever before him. It was not God’s best for Joseph to fall into sexual sin. Of course, Potiphar’s wife was not happy with this. She lied about Joseph to her husband, telling him that Joseph accosted her. Joseph was imprisoned (Genesis 39:20) on trumped up charges.

There is nothing more hurtful than to be wrongfully accused, and punished for something you never did.

Joseph has gone from Pampering, to Pit, to Potiphar, and now he is in Prison. Can you guess where God is?

Genesis 39:21-23 But THE LORD WAS WITH JOSEPH, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22 And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. 23 The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper.

There is a song Reba McEntire sings, “You Never Gave Up On Me”. I like to sing these words to my God:

You never gave up on me
Oh, You never gave up on me
I’m here where I was always meant to be
I never gave up, ’cause Lord, You never gave up on me

Our God is so good! He never gives up on us. We must look upward to Him!

1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

I am told that Joseph spent this last stint in prison for about 13 years. Joseph was in Prison because of a lie, but God was still in control. The prison would be used by God to put Joseph on the Throne. God is in control.

While in prison the King’s Butler and Baker were also imprisoned alongside of Joseph. Joseph got to meet them because God blessed Joseph. the warden made Joseph his number 2 man, an assistant in running the prison.

Genesis 40:5-6 … {the butler and the baker} dreamed a dream both of them, each man his dream in one night, each man according to the interpretation of his dream, the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, which were bound in the prison. 6 And Joseph came in unto them in the morning, and looked upon them, and, behold, they were sad.

A person who has enjoyed the grace of God has a tender heart. Joseph was not focused on the bars that imprisoned him, but on loving those around him. These two men were sad. Concerned, Joseph asks them why they are sad. “We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it” (Genesis 40:8). Joseph was not bothered with this. He said:

Genesis 40:8 … Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you.

When you have a daily relationship with God, the Lord communes with you. Joseph listened to both men’s dreams. When Joseph interpreted the two men’s dreams, he foretold that the Butler would be restored to his old position (Genesis 40:13), but the Baker would be hanged (Genesis 40:19). The Butler promised that he would speak to the King on Joseph’s behalf, but “the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgot him”. It was not time for the trial to end. Two more years passed, then Pharaoh had two dreams.

Genesis 41:8 … it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh.

When none could interpret the dreams, the Butler remembered Joseph. He told Pharaoh about Joseph, and the King sent for him. Pharaoh told Joseph:

Genesis 41:15 … I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it.

Please listen to Joseph’s response. He says:

Genesis 41:16 … It is NOT IN ME: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.

The saved live to glorify God!

Pharaoh told Joseph about seven fat cows, and how the seven fat cows were eaten up by seven thin cows. He told of one seven eared corn stalk, and how another stalk with seven withered ears came up and ate the seven good ears (Genesis 41:18-24). Joseph told Pharaoh:

Genesis 41:28-36 … What God is about to do he sheweth unto Pharaoh. 29 Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt: 30 and there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land; 31 and the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine following; for it shall be very grievous. 32 And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass. 33 Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years. 35 And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. 36 And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine.

Joseph Goes From Pampering, To Pit, To Potiphar, To Prison. Now He Moves Into The Palace.

The King will promote Joseph to the second highest seat in the land. Joseph would spearhead the collection of grain in preparation for the seven years of drought and starvation. Everything works out exactly as God said.

There is one more temptation left for Joseph to overcome. That which started Joseph’s journey was the hatred of his brothers. Joseph leads Egypt through the seven years of plenty. When the seven years of drought come, Jacob would send his sons to Egypt to seek food from a Joseph he thought was dead.

When Joseph’s brothers stood before him, they did not recognize Joseph. Like the Egyptians, he had an Egyptian name (Zaphnath-paaneah see Genesis 41:45). Joseph was shaved, like the Egyptians shaved themselves (Genesis 41:14), and dressed like the Egyptians around him. Here are his brothers before him, bowing down to him just as God foretold.

Would Joseph go from Palace to Punishing his brothers, making them suffer as he suffered?

Beloved, vengeance belongs to God. The Bible says:

Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather GIVE PLACE UNTO WRATH: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

When his brothers stand before him, Joseph does not avenge himself against them.

Genesis 45:3-5 I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence. 4 And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. 5 Now therefore BE NOT GRIEVED, NOR ANGRY WITH YOURSELVES, THAT YE SOLD ME HITHER: FOR GOD DID SEND ME BEFORE YOU TO PRESERVE LIFE.

Joseph refused to be petty, saying, “It was God Who sent me here before you, to preserve life”. Joseph saw the divine chain that brought him to where he needed to be for the glory of God. He was not angry at his brothers.

Genesis 45:8 … it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

Joseph reunited with his family. When Jacob died, Joseph and his family went back to Canaan to bury him (Genesis 50:13), then returned to Egypt. Joseph carried no grudge against his brothers. Joseph told his brothers:

Genesis 50:19-21 … Fear not: for AM I IN THE PLACE OF GOD? 20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. 21 Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.

Joseph took care of his family until, at 110 years old, he died. But Joseph told his brothers:

Genesis 50:24-26 … I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. 25 And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. 26 So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

Joseph wanted his brothers to keep his bones in Egypt, but to carry his bones to Canaan when the time was right. Joseph’s bones became a witness to the people of Israel, a witness long after his death. Israel would be afflicted in Egypt for many years following the death of Joseph. Throughout the afflictions, the Israelites remembered Joseph’s bones. When God raised up Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt many hundreds of years later, the Bible says:

Exodus 13:19 And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straightly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and YE SHALL CARRY UP MY BONES AWAY HENCE WITH YOU.

As Joshua led the children of Israel into the Promised Land, it was Joseph’s bones that went with them. His bones reminded Israel to trust the God Who saved them. Just as Joseph trusted the Lord Jesus even in the worst of times, God wants His people to trust and believe on Him.

After conquering the land, Joshua died and was buried at the age of 110 years old (Joshua 24:29) – the same age that Joseph was when he died. I do not believe this was a coincidence. Both Joseph and Joshua trusted God, no matter what the circumstances. They followed the Lord. Right after Joshua was buried, we read:

Joshua 24:32 And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.

How about YOUR bones? When you leave this life, what legacy will you leave behind for your posterity? Trust in the Lord. Follow Him with all your heart. Live a life of faith, so that when you leave this earth, your example will lead others to the Lord. If you do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, today is the day to give yourselves to Him. Commit to following Him daily, no matter where the streams of life may take you. For whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13)

May God bless you hearts with His Word. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Genesis, Sermons Preached | Tagged

Seven Things To Consider When Voting

I voted image
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Tennessee began it’s early voting today, October 14th. You have until October 14, 2020 to participate in early voting. Election Day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020. I thought as, I went to vote today, I would cover seven things every Christian needs to consider before voting.

  1. When you vote, make sure that you vote based on the direction of the Holy Bible. The Scripture is the truth that Christians follow. When Jesus prayed for His Church, He prayed:

John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

It is God’s Word that is a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our path (Psalm 110:105). Much of the secularization of America today has come about because the Church of Jesus Christ has not adhered to the Word of God. As believers in Christ, we are commanded to obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29). The great Apostle tells us:

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

What does your candidate believe? What does the Bible tell you is right and wrong? Does what your candidate believes line up with what you believe? Christians, if we elect godless people who have no respect for the Bible, then we will vote ourselves into a place of destruction. Let God’s Word guide you.

  1. Before you vote, seek God’s direction through prayer. The Bible commands us to:

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

Psalms 37:3, 5 Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

  1. Ask yourself what do the candidates believe on Constitutionally endorsed principles? Does the candidate truly believe in what our Constitution calls the first and second Amendments? Does he or she believe that,

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

Do not vote away your First Amendment privileges! It is the First Amendment that gives you the right to freely worship the Lord in both public and private settings. Does he or she believe that,

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Whether you own a gun or not, like guns or not, “the right OF THE PEOPLE to KEEP and BEAR ARMS shall not be infringed”. Why is this important? Because when England wanted to keep Americans in their place, one of the first things they did was outlaw guns among the colonists. The Tenth Amendment Center writes:

“Following the passage of the Intolerable Acts, the Massachusetts Government Act dissolved the provincial government in the state, and General Thomas Gage was appointed royal governor, all which inflamed tensions and prompted backlash from Americans who saw it as the Crown attempted to force their colonies into submission. … It was clear to the British that gun control measures would be necessary if they were to maintain their rule. Gage had only 2,000 troops in Boston, while there were thousands of armed men in Boston and more in the surrounding area.

One solution, Kopel writes, was to deprive the Americans of gunpowder. In September 1774, several hundred Redcoats raided a Charlestown powder house – where militias and merchants stored their gunpowder due to its volatile nature – and seized all but the powder belonging to the colonial government. … In October 1774 the Provincial Congress convened, with John Hancock acting as its president. The Congress adopted a resolution that condemned the military occupation of Boston and called on private citizens to arm themselves and engage in military drills. The Provincial Congress also appointed a Committee of Safety, giving it the power to call up the militia. “

It is the Second Amendment that gives American citizens the right to keep and bear arms, lest the government become tyrannical. The Second Amendment protects the other Amendments, that is, our freedom as American citizens.

  1. Ask yourself, What do the candidates believe on practical Christian application? Does the candidate view all life as sacred? Do they agree that God is the Designer of Life? Do they agree with the Scripture, that all people are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27)? Does the candidate have a policy to give welfare to the genuinely needy?

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

2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

  1. What is the track record of the candidate? If the candidate has previously been in office, what did he or she do while they were in office? Did he or she abuse their office, or were they guilty of malingering at the public expense? You are not voting for a pastor, but a politician. Whether the candidate is a professed Christian or not should not influence your vote. There are many who profess Christ, but do not live Christlike lives. As the Bible says:

James 2:17-19 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

  1. Bear in mind that Our God is ultimately in control. We are God’s instruments that He uses to bring about His plan.

Romans 13:1-4 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

  1. Finally, regardless as to who wins, commit yourself to pray for that individual. The Bible commands us to pray for our leaders. It is disheartening to hear people say, “He might be YOUR President, but he’s not MINE”. You are an American Christian. You live in this country. Whoever is elected is indeed YOUR President. As a citizen of America and as citizens of the Kingdom of God you are commanded to pray for your leaders.

1 Timothy 2:1-3 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior;

Your vote matters. Look up to God, and vote! May God bless you all this election year. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Sermons Preached | Tagged , , ,

The Christian View Of Politics

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I teach a men’s discipleship Bible study on Tuesday nights at our Church. As we come together, we fellowship, and study the Word of God. As part of our class we talk about things going on around us.

In our class last night, several of the men wanted to get home right after the Bible Study so they could watch the Presidential Debates. If you watched the debates (I didn’t), I was told that it was a – and I quote one news source – a “hot mess”. Again, I didn’t watch it. But as part of our study we are going through the Book of John, and the text we read are really appropriate to this time in American history. What we read was what occurred right after Lazarus was resurrected from the grave by Jesus. Let’s read this together:

John 11:44-53 And {Lazarus} that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. 46 But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.

47 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. 48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. 49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 50 nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. 51 And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; 52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. 53 Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.

Who Controls The Earth? Politicians? Or God?
I Believe God Is In Control – ALWAYS!

What you see in the text above is POLITICS. It has nothing to do with religion. The Lord Jesus Christ had upset the Sadducees, the Pharisees, the Herodians, and the Temple Officials. Jesus came preaching the truth of God. Nothing will gain you enemies than preaching the truth of God, the Scripture itself. The Pharisees and Sadducees were upset with Jesus because, at the beginning of His ministry, He entered into the Temple and removed all things that dishonored God. The Bible says that Jesus ..

John 2:15-16 made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; 16 and said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.

The Pharisees were upset by what our Lord did. They and the Sadducees were probably making money on the selling of sacrifices. When Jesus ran the money changers out, they asked Him:

John 2:18 … What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?

In other words, “By what authority are You doing what You just did”? Jesus’ answer (you can read it in John 2:19-21) did not satisfy them. From that point on in His earthly ministry, Jesus and the religious crowd were at odds with one another. They were constantly chasing after Jesus. They questioned His ministry, from A to Z. Jesus spoke the Word of God, carrying the message of the Father to the world. Jesus said, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). Yet the politicians continued to hate Jesus. Why? Because Jesus was genuinely concerned for the lost. They, in turn, were only concerned for themselves, and how they looked before the people.

Then Jesus resurrected His friend Lazarus from the grave. The politicians had been planning to destroy Jesus – but now they meet in earnest, plotting His death.

John 11:47-48 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. 48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.

The chief priest of the Temple gathered with the Pharisees, the religious conservatives of Jesus’ day. They called a meeting of “the Counsel”, the Jewish Supreme Court known as the Sanhedrin, or “The Seventy”. The question before the Court was not whether Jesus was true to the Scripture. No, the Bible had nothing to do with what they were planning. Instead they postulated a straw man argument. They said:

If Jesus continues without us doing something, then He will gather many who believe in Him. If enough believe in Him, the Romans will see this as an uprising against their authority. If that happens (and we know it will), then we will lose our jobs, and our nation will be destroyed!”

These people – politicians all – are looking for a reason to kill Jesus. They cannot find a reason in the Scripture. The Bible states that:

Deuteronomy 5:17 Thou shalt not kill {רָצַח râtsach, {pronounced raw-tsakh’, “do murder”}

When Noah and his family got off the Ark, the very first Law God gave humanity was:

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

The Sanhedrin had no Biblical reason to kill Jesus. Had Jesus committed a capital offense, then He could be tried and executed – but ONLY if there were two witnesses who saw Jesus do the offense. The Bible says:

Deuteronomy 19:15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

Jesus had done nothing worthy of capital punishment. The Scripture would not support killing this Man. So the politicians used a straw man argument against Jesus because, frankly, that is what Rotten Politics 101 teaches. With their “we’d better get rid of Jesus” argument on the table, the High Priest speaks up:

John 11:49-50 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 50 nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.

Rather than correct the discussion, Caiaphas joins in with the “kill Jesus” decision. Caiaphas says, “It is better for Jesus to die for the people – and this will save our nation Israel”. Caiaphas is not doing what High Priests should do. He should be interceding with God for the people. Instead, he has moved into the realm of politics in order to have Jesus killed. After all, Jesus is rocking the boat!

What is most extraordinary about our text today is what the Apostle writes next. We read:

John 11:51-52 And this spake {Caiaphas} not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; 52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.

Did you catch that? Caiaphas did NOT speak this of himself. When he spoke of Jesus dying for Israel, in fact, for all the people, Caiaphas was prophesying. If you study your Bible you’ll find out that prophecy is a gift given by God. The Bible says:

Romans 12:6 … Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;

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 Ghost.

1 Corinthians 12:7-10 … the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit … prophecy

Caiaphas is not a believer in Jesus Christ. He is a plotter against Christ, part of the conspiracy to murder the Messiah. And yet, God gives him a prophesy. He speaks as God moves him! That should tell you something.

Our God is in control. It is not the politicians that determine the fate of our nation, but our God.

As these politicians plot the murder of Christ, this is in accordance with God’s own will. The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ is …

Revelation 13:8 … the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

The politicians were plotting murder, but God knew that Jesus Christ had to die. It is only through Christ’s death that our sins are covered. The Bible tells us:

Romans 5:8-19 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.

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: 13 (for until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. 15 But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. For 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. 16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification. 17 For if 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.) 18 Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

God the Father sent His Son Jesus into the world to be our Messiah, our Savior from sin. Jesus had to die on Calvary. He had to go to that Cross, or else, we would never be forgiven. Sin is a trespass against an infinite and immortal being we call God. When you offend the Infinite, nothing you will ever do will correct that offense.

So Jesus went to Calvary to be the correction.
Jesus Christ, by dying for us, whited out our sins.
When we believe on Him, and receive Him as Lord and Savior,
we become the sons and daughters of God. Forgiven. Redeemed.

The politicians plotted against the Son of God, but Jesus came to be our Savior. He knew He was going to die. Jesus actually knew who was going to kill Him. The Bible tells us:

Mark 8:31 and {Jesus} began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

Mark 9:31 {Jesus} said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day.

Mark 10:33 {Jesus said} Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: 34 and they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.

Jesus knew. God knew. The only ones who did not know were the politicians. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 2:7-8 … we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8 which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

The politicians who plotted and planned and executed the betrayal of Christ had no idea they were doing God’s work. They thought they were protecting themselves. God is in control.

The Christian Responsibility In The Area Of Politics

Every election year for, I guess, the past 11,576 days, or 31.7 years, I have had to choose between two candidates, neither of which I particularly liked. The last politician I cared for was Ronald Reagan. You may not have liked him, but I did. I thought he was a good Christian man, though like all of somewhat flawed. Since Reagan left office on January 20, 1989, I have struggled every year at who I would vote for.

And yet I voted.

So many Christians I talk to have thrown up their hands, saying, “I’m just not going to vote”. That is certainly your decision. I never thought about this before, but I was reading the article Politics and Its Christian Discontents today, and really enjoyed it. David Deavel wrote:

Politics as we know it and civilization, on the other hand, with their complicated and morally messy details, were founded by Cain, who founded the first city in the land of Nod after being exiled from his family. Cities have organized government, social stratification, and a written language. They have more complex market systems and, generally speaking, more advanced technology and a more developed artistic and cultural world. Politics and civilization, you see, are the legacy of a killer.”

I never thought about that before. It was Cain who, on killing his brother Abel, went to the land of Nod. The Bible says:

Genesis 4:17 Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.

It was Cain who built the city, and named the city. Cities are organized governments. Cain was probably the first politician. Many Christians throughout the history of the Church have withdrawn themselves from politics, preferring to live in monasteries or closed communities. After all, doesn’t the Scripture say:

Philippians 3:20 … our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ:

The word translated CONVERSATION is the Greek πολίτευμα políteuma, {pronounced pol-it’-yoo-mah}, from where we get the word “politics”. The word literally means “our community, our citizenship, our commonwealth”. The Christian has dual citizenship. We are citizens of the countries we are in on this earth, but our most real citizenship is in Heaven, with Jesus Christ our Lord.

But does that mean we should not vote?

I don’t think so. The Bible tells us that Jesus wants us to be

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

When God saved us through faith in Christ, He left us on this earth to represent Him. Light does not stay enclosed, but shines so that all can see it. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:13 … Ye are the salt of the earth …

Light contained has no purpose. Salt in the shaker does nothing. As Christians we are called to have an impact on our world for Jesus. What better impact can we have than to VOTE? We need to VOTE. When Israel was carried away into captivity, exiled to Babylon, God told His people:

Jeremiah 29:5-7 … build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; 6 take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. 7 And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.

The old song says,

This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through;
My treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue;
The angels beckon me to Heaven’s open door,
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore!

It’s true that this earth is a place we are just passing through. But just as Israel was not going to stay in Babylon captivity forever, neither will we be on this earth forever. But while we’re here, we are to make homes here. We are to marry, and give in marriage. We are to contribute positively to the area we are in, no matter where that area is. We are to seek the peace of the city, of the nation, to pray unto the Lord for it.

Christians are to be in the world, but not OF it. Jesus prayed for His Church:

John 17:14-19 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil (one). 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. 18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

Christian, you are on mission for Jesus until the day He calls you home. You need to contribute. You need to vote.

But Who Should I Vote For? They Are All So Flawed!

I agree. I do not personally like any of the candidates that are running. And yet, I will vote. I will not tell you who to vote for, but I’ll tell you what I do. I pray and ask God Who I should vote for. Yes, they are all flawed. But God can use (and does use) flawed people.

God used a pagan Persian king called Artaxerxes I. Artaxerxes gave Ezra a letter, stating:

Ezra 7:12-13 Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace, and at such a time. 13 I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee.

In the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, Nehemiah, his cup bearer, asked:

Nehemiah 2:5-8 If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favor in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchers, that I may build it. 6 And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time. 7 Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah; 8 and a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.

This Persian King gave Nehemiah the authority and the funds to go back to Israel, and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. There are so many other examples in Scripture.

  • God gave Joseph the favor of the unbelieving King of Egypt, so that Joseph could save Israel, causing it to become a mighty nation.
  • God sent Daniel to Babylon. Daniel excelled, and was made the Prince of the Magi (Daniel 5:29) by unbelieving King Belshazzar. Daniel taught the Magi about the coming of Jesus Christ. Descendants of these Magi would come to see the Baby Jesus (Matthew 2:1).
  • Cyrus the King of Persia, though an unbeliever, rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem:

Ezra 1:1-2 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, 2 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.

God is in control! He is always in control. As we come to the election this year, let’s not be monks. Let’s vote. Before you vote, seek God’s face. Seek His direction. Whoever goes into the White House, will go in accordance to the will of God. The Apostle said”

Romans 13:1-2 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

God is in control. Pray. Seek God’s face. Then vote. Regardless as to who gets into office, pray for that individual daily. Pray for kings, and all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Let the light of Christ shine through all that you do. Vote! David Deavel wrote:

We will certainly not be able to create a Heaven on earth, but we are often able to put off the creation of little hells.”

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

Posted in John, Politics, Sermons Preached

Forgiveness and Unity

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Matthew 18:12-14 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? 13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

The Importance Of Christian Unity

It is so easy to misinterpret and misapply Scripture. We know that God says of His Bible that,

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

  • It is the Bible that gives us “doctrine”, truths by which we live.
  • It is the Bible that “corrects” us, keeping us in the Way of Christ.
  • It is the Bible that gives us “instruction in righteousness”, that is, in how to best live our lives so as to honor our Savior and Lord.
  • It is the Bible that makes us “perfect”, that is, “mature” in the eyes of God.
  • It is the Bible that equips us to do good works, works that GOD considers good.

This is why it’s so very important to read the Bible carefully. The text above has often been preached by well meaning Pastors as an evangelistic message, teaching us how we ought to “go out from the Church and tell others about Christ”. The principle preached is correct. We should go out from the Church and tell others about Christ. This is what the Great Commission teaches us. Didn’t Jesus say:

Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you …

Yes, we should go out and reach others for Christ. We are salt, but no good if we stay in the salt shaker. We are light, but no good to God nor anyone else if we are only light while in this building. The salt must go. The light must go. But our focal text has nothing to do with reaching the lost.

This text deals with Christian unity.

It’s very clear that it deals with Christian unity, a unified Church. First, what is Jesus speaking of? Who is lost? Jesus is speaking of a sheep. A SHEEP that went astray. The word “sheep” is used 189 times in the Bible. Many times it just refers to the animal, that baa, baa, baa sheep. Abel was a keeper of sheep (Genesis 4:2). Abraham had lots of sheep (Genesis 12:16). But sheep has another use in scripture. Sheep is a term used for the people of God, those saved by faith. You find this in the Old Testament:

Psalm 95:7 For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. …

Psalm 100:3 Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Before the Millennial Kingdom begins on the earth, Jesus said:

Matthew 25:31-34 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

It is the sheep on Christ’s right hand that will enter His Kingdom. But the goats on the left hand, what happens to them?

Matthew 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

When Jesus speaks of leaving the ninety and nine to reach out to the one sheep that strayed, and went “into the mountains”, He is speaking of a believer who wanders away from the Shepherd and the Church. This is not a lost person, but a saved person, a well intentioned believer who has allowed life to lead himself or herself astray. This is not a goat, but a sheep. The shepherd went after the one sheep. Why? We are told in:

Matthew 18:14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

Again, what does Jesus mean by “little ones”. Read your context.

Matthew 18:6 … one of these little ones which believe in me …

When one of the “sheep” gets away from the flock and the protection of the shepherd, the little one is susceptible to be eaten of wolves. The protection that a believer has is the Church, the gathering of like minded believers. As we come to this section of Scripture Jesus is emphasizing the importance of Christian unity and love. The Church must remain Christ focused, and must care for one another. It is not God’s will that any of you should perish. He wants you to live blessed lives in Him. God our Father wants you to be the light of the world, the City of God (Matthew 5:14). We cannot be light while there are divisions and fighting among us.

Jesus is ministering now in the shadow of the Cross. It will not be very long before Judas Iscariot betrays the Lord, and the disciples will scatter as the Master is taken. Jesus knows this is coming. He knows His earthly purpose will soon be fulfilled. As He speaks in the shadow of the Cross, He wants His Church to know the importance of unity in Him. There is safety in the Church. There is protection in the Church.

Conflict Resolution In The Church

A Church is a gathering of imperfect, but saved people, following Jesus Christ the Lord. Imperfect people often err. It happens. I have heard people get mad and leave their local Church because someone did something that hurt their feelings. It is a weak Christian that runs away from a problem, rather than resolving it the way Christ directs. Read with me:

Matthew 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

Jesus says “if thy BROTHER”. This is a brother in the faith, a fellow believer in Christ. If a fellow Christian trespass against thee, does something that offends you, then what are you to do? Does Jesus say?

Get on the phone and tell somebody else – preferably a lost person – about it”.

Does Jesus say?

Smile outwardly, but inwardly carry a grudge against that person”.

No, Jesus says, “Go to that brother or sister who offended you, and privately discuss it”. The hurt, though it may have occurred publicly, is to be resolved privately. “Tell him his fault between thee and him ALONE”. Don’t tell anybody else. Tell that person. Jesus said in ..

Luke 17:3-4 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. 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.

There is no limit on the number of times a brother or sister in Christ offends you and you must forgive them. If they hear you, and repent of what they did (yes, say “I’m sorry”), then you are to LET IT GO. Let go of the hurt. Let go of the slight. After all, how many times a day do we ourselves fail our Jesus? The Apostolic text says:

Colossians 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

Jesus forgives us repeatedly throughout the day when we fail Him. As He has forgiven us, we are to forgive those who offend us. When Jesus taught us the Lord’s Prayer – the model we are to follow when we pray – part of that prayer is:

Matthew 6:12 … forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

As we have been forgiven, we are to forgive. To drive this point home, Jesus said, following this Model Prayer:

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.

A failure to forgive someone is a breach of Grace. To harbor a grudge is to harm yourself. This active sin puts a wall between you and your Lord Jesus. God says:

Isaiah 59:2 … your iniquities have separated between you and your God,

and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

Forgiveness is not an optional thing, but a commanded thing. Why is this so important? Because the Church is a group of believers who are to WORK TOGETHER FOR CHRIST. The Body is one, and has many members (1 Corinthians 12:12). God sets the members in the Body as it pleases Him (1 Corinthians 12:18). And every member needs the other member. You have gifts given you by God that I do not have. When we unite as a Church, we stand together against the darkness. God has ordered that there be no division in the Body, but the members should care about one another (1 Corinthians 12:25). God has decreed:

Leviticus 19:17 … Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart

Ok, so you’ve went to your brother or sister who has offended you, and the conflict still exists. What is done then? Jesus said:

Matthew 18:16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

This is not a new thing that Jesus devised. Jesus took this from the Old Testament Law.

Deuteronomy 19:15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

If there is a breach, and the other brother is at fault and will not repent, then you are to take another believer with you and, together, speak to the wayward brother or sister. But what if they continue to repent?

Matthew 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

Those who will not make peace, in the end, are expelled from the Church. They are recognized as “heathen” and “publican”. That means the erring brother or sister is, at that point, treated as if they were lost (for they are).

You see, the only way that I know you’re saved is by your evident and outward behavior. The Apostolic text states:

1 John 4:20-21 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

The person who is saved will be loving of others, gracious to others, kind to others, forgiving of others. These are the fingerprints of God on the saved life. If a person stews in hatred, that person was lost anyway. The Church is called to recognize it when that person will not repent.

Why is unity so important in the Church? Because Jesus is in our midst only when we are together in Christian unity.

Matthew 18:18-20 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

The Church, bound together by Christian love, has been given a great deal of power by God. The Church has the power to bind, and to loose. Not because of our power, but because, when we gather together in love, loving Jesus, then Jesus is manifest in us. And there is nothing too great for Jesus to do.

Are There Any Loopholes In What Jesus Said To Do?

As Jesus finishes teaching these great truths, Peter comes to Him and asks the question in everyone’s mind. Don’t make fun of Peter. When God gives us a law, then it is in our human nature to look for “loopholes”. Like when we drive. When the speed limit says “70 MPH”, we often drive 75, because “it’s only five miles over the limit”. I heard a fellow one day talking, LOUDLY, about a ticket he got for going 5 miles over the speed limit. He said, “I can’t believe the cop gave me a ticket! I just can’t believe it! I’m going to take this to court. I was only – only – five miles over”. If he took it to court, I’m curious what the judge said. I think I know. I think he had to pay the ticket, and maybe a little more for stupidity. The word LIMIT means LIMIT. But we are human.

So Peter comes and asks the question we were all thinking:

Matthew 18:21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

“Lord, seven is a good number. That’s the number of completion. If my brother offends me seven times, can I hate him after that?” Jesus replied in a very interesting way:

Matthew 18:22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

Now why did Jesus choose “seventy times seven”? If you were a Jew, you would know this. When God gave Israel His Law, He gave them Shmita, or the Sabbatical Year. At the website My Jewish Learning we are told:

In the Shmita year, debts are to be forgiven, agricultural lands to lie fallow, private land holdings to become open to the commons, and staples such as food storage and perennial harvests to be freely redistributed and accessible to all.”

Every 7 years Israel was to have Shmita (see Exodus 23:10-11). Though Israel was given this Law, for 490 years or 70 times Israel refused to take Shmita. It was only after 490 years of disobedience that God punished His Israel, and placed them in 70 years of captivity by Babylon, and later Medo-Persia. That is 70 times 7. Jesus said, you are to forgive your brother, just as God forgave Israel, 70 x 7 or 490 years. Let me ask, how many of you sitting here today are 490 years old? No one, I’d guess.

As long as you live, you are to forgive the brother or sister who has offended you. Those who will not do so are LOST, not found. They are not of Christ’s Kingdom.

Jesus now speaks a pretty lengthy parable. This parable is only found in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus says:

Matthew 18:23-24 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.

The “King” in this parable is a reference to our Heavenly Father. The King is settling accounts with His servants (that’s we who believe in Jesus). One servant stands in front of the King. This servant owes ten thousand talents. Now, this is an astronomical amount of money. Six hundred talents was the Roman Tax levied on all of Southern Palestine. Ten thousand talents is over 16 times more than that tax. It was impossible for the man to repay this.

Matthew 18:25-27 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.

The man begged the King for Grace. And the King gave Grace. Rather than make the man pay what he owed, the King forgave him this tremendous debt. Beloved, if you are saved by faith in Christ, then you have been forgiven an immeasurable amount by God. Sin is an offense against God. Sin is a slight against the Immortal. And yet, for Christ’s sake, we have been forgiven.

The forgiven should themselves forgive. We have been forgiven much. We must forgive much.

Matthew 18:28-30 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. 29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.

The man did the opposite that was done to him. He should have been gracious. Instead, he had no grace in him. He not only cast his poor servant into prison, but humiliated him by grabbing him by the throat. But word gets around.

Matthew 18:31-34 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. 32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: 33 shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? 34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.

The King reversed his earlier decision. The evil and ungracious servant was “delivered to the tormentors”. What does this mean? I don’t know, but I don’t want to find out! I think that God surrenders the ungracious believers to something that causes them pain until they repent. Again, I don’t know exactly what that it. But I do know, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31).

Jesus brings the parable home. He ends with:

Matthew 18:35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

We are to forgive – FROM THE HEART – anyone who offends who is a brother or a sister in Christ. Always. No loopholes. It is the unified Church that can bring light back to America. Let us work together for Jesus, loving Him and loving one another. May God bless our hearts with this His Word. Amen and Amen.

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

We Have The Mind of Christ

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1 Corinthians 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

The Apostle is making two statements here, two statements that seem to contradict one another. In his first statement he asks:

who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him?

Let’s look at this statement first.

The Mind Of God Is Infinitely Unknowable

God is infinite in knowledge and wisdom. This is what makes God, God. The Apostle writes:

Romans 11:33-36 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! (34) For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor? (35) Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? (36) For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

God, by definition, is unknowable. We know portions of Him as He has revealed in His Word. But if God were knowable, then God would cease being God. We can learn humans.

I have been married 42 years now (I think I got the number right) to a beautiful woman named Sherry. When we were first married we knew little of one another. We had a few fights in our early years as we got to know one another. But today she and I can almost read one another’s minds. It’s eerie at times. If you men would turn off the television and get to know your wives, you would learn and grow with them!

You cannot know God the same way you can learn to know your spouse. God is infinite. God knows all things. He knows EVERYTHING. Of Him, and to Him, and through Him are all things. God knows everything – and we can’t be God’s counselor. We often try to be His counselor, but it’s like a 2 year old trying to tell a parent something. Our God is infinite. Consider the immensity of God:

Isaiah 40:12-15 Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? (13) Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counselor hath taught him? (14) With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding? (15) Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.

As humans, we often question, foolishly question, God. If you played chess with God He would always win, for He would know the move you were going to make before you ever set up the board. If you went fishing with God you would always catch a boatload, for He knows where the fish are and what they’re biting on. Remember this Bible story?

John 21:3-7 Simon Peter saith unto {the other disciples}, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. 4 But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. 5 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. 6 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. 7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. ..

The fish cannot hide from Jesus, the Son of God. Our God knows. No matter what happens to us in our lives, our God knows. Our God controls all things. Our God is, well, GOD! We cannot hide anything from God, for God knows both what you are thinking and who you are.

As humans we often wear masks – not coronavirus masks but masks to hide ourselves. We are hypocrites.

We hide our weaknesses, and smile through the pain, hoping to fool those around us.

But you can’t fool God!

1 Samuel 16:7 …. man looketh on the outward, appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

God knows what you’re thinking, and knows what you’re going to have for lunch today – or a thousand days from now. There is no mystery with God – He knows all! So when Paul asks “Who has known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct Him?” the answer to this question is “No one! No one can tell God anything, nor counsel Him, for He knows all things from the beginning to the end, and from the end to the beginning. God alone is God.”

God knows how everything fits together. As we go this life, we have highs and lows. We get surprised, and often hurt, by life. Yet nothing is a surprise to God. God says:

Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

We are not gods in thoughts nor in abilities. We often cannot control the things that happen around us. The trials, the catastrophes, the deaths, the diseases that have come on America, I believe much of it is a punishment from Almighty God. Read Psalm 2:1-7, and think of what God has said in light of what is happening in America today. If you applied Psalm 2:1-7 to America today, you could read …

The Mainstream Media outlets rage, and Hollywood proposes vain and foolish things. The wealthy politicians sit together plotting against the Lord God and His Children, saying, “Let us throw away the truths of that old Bible, and cast off every law that God has established.” The Lord God Who sits in the Heavens laughs. The Lord God views them as nothing. Then shall He speak to them in His wrath, pouring out wild fires, and the Coronavirus, and Hurricanes, and floods. Our God shall vex them in His sore displeasure. Our God reigns! God has set His King upon the Holy Hill of Zion, Jesus Christ our Lord. Our God reigns!”

Beloved, I do not mean to add to or take away from God’s Scripture (Revelation 22:18-19), and I would not. I love my Lord too much to do so. But if you believe America is in a good place with the social justice warriors trying to take over the courts, and riots being justified by elected politicians as “just political protests”, then you are not in the Spirit. Just the other day I heard a woman chastise a CVS Pharmacy employee for calling the police on two black shoplifters. That is insanity – but insanity has gripped our nation. Why? Because we have gotten away from God.

The children are driving the bus, and can’t see over the dashboard!

We must, as God’s Church, and God’s nation, return to God and His Scripture. God knows best. His ways are best. Progressivism but another form of idolatry that is destroying our nation!

The Christ Follower Is Called To The Mind Of Christ

1 Corinthians 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But WE have the mind of Christ.

The Bible says “WE have the mind of Christ”. Who has the mind of Christ? The Bible says WE. Well, who is WE?

The Mind Of Christ Is Not Found In Worldly Wisdom

First of all, the WE does not refer to THE WORLD’S WISDOM. It is NOT found in Progressive rhetoric, nor in Social Justice Concepts, or in the philosophies taught by colleges and universities.

1 Corinthians 2:4-7 And my speech and my preaching was NOT with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to naught: 7 but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

The Apostle says the mind of Christ is NOT WITH ENTICING WORDS OF MAN’S WISDOM. In many Churches today the Pastor pushes a self help program or a power of positive thinking program as the solution to what ails you. That is not what will fix you. That is not what will fix America. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 1:17-20 Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. 18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

The mind of Christ is not mud slinging, which is all we hear today on television. The mind of Christ is not lawlessness. The mind of Christ is not feelings. Beloved, God doesn’t care what you feel. I’m going to say this again – God doesn’t care what you FEEL! The world says:

Follow Your Heart
Do What Makes You Happy
Find Your Best Life
Just Do You

The mind of Christ is the opposite of what the world says. The mind of Christ is the Cross. The mind of Christ is not the flesh, but the Cross. When Jesus knew it was time to go to Calvary, the Scripture says:

Luke 9:51-53 And it came to pass, when the time was come that {Jesus} should be received up {that is, die on Calvary}, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, 52 and sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. 53 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.

The Bible says that Jesus “set His Face” (Greek στηρίζω stērízō, {pronounced stay-rid’-zo}) or better “turned resolutely to go to Jerusalem”. Jesus did not feel like going to Jerusalem to die for our sins. But Jesus Christ knew that He had to go to Jerusalem to die for our sins. The Bible tells us that our flesh (our “feels” or feelings) wars against the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-17). The mind of Christ was to heed God’s Word, and to go to Calvary for your sins and mine.

And I am so thankful that he did so.

So it is also with the Christian. The world shirks pain, runs from pain, is willing to do anything – ANYTHING – to avoid pain. But this is not the mind of Christ. The mind of Christ is the Cross. This why Jesus said:

Luke 9:22-24 The Son of man {that’s Jesus Christ, our Messiah} must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day {that’s Calvary} 23 And {Jesus} said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.

The wisdom of this world is “do anything, make government however big it needs to be … just don’t let me suffer”. The mind of Christ is “go to Calvary. As I went to Calvary and died for YOU, YOU go to Calvary and die for ME”.

The world considers this to be foolishness, but this is the way of salvation. God surrendered to our needs, and we surrender to God’s desires. Like Jesus surrendered Himself for us, we surrender ourselves. This is the mind of Christ. The madness that the philosophies of the world has unleashed upon our nation like Antifa and the Marxist BLM groups, these bring destruction. The mind of Christ does the opposite. We read in verse 7:

we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory

The mind of Christ – the Cross of Calvary – was ordained by God for OUR GLORY. It blesses us. It saves us. It raises us from the status of sinner, and makes us into Sons of God. It makes us into Saints! Oh praise God for that Old Rugged Cross!

‘Twas a life filled with aimless desperation

Without hope walked the shell of a man;

Then a hand with a nail print stretched downward,

Just one touch then a new life began.

And the old rugged cross made the difference

In a life bound for heartache and defeat;

I will praise Him forever and ever

For the cross made the difference for me.

The Mind of Christ Is Not Found In Political Power

WE have the mind of Christ. Beloved, the WE does not refer to Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Socialist, Communist, or Marxist. It does not even refer to Independent. What does the Apostolic text say?

1 Corinthians 2:8-9 {the wisdom of God} which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

Who was it that had Jesus Christ crucified? It was the politicians. Politicians on thrones. Politician behind pulpits. Politicians who were religious people. The Scribes and Pharisees suggested the Cross of Calvary, but it was the Sadducees and Herodians who, along with the Romans, carried it out. It was the darkness that tried to kill the light.

The irony of it all is that the Cross was ordained by God from before the foundation of the world. The Apostolic text states:

1 Peter 1:18-20 …. 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

Politicians crucified Jesus – but they did so not knowing that they were being used by God to accomplish His purpose. Before God created the earth, before the first family was made, before the first nation ever became a nation, God the Father ordained His Son to die for our sins. When we receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we recognize that the Jesus Who has been loved of God from before the foundation of the world (John 17:24), was sacrificed by sinful men at the will of God the Father.

Beloved, the Christian saved by faith in Christ, the Christ Who died for sinners, that is the One Who has the mind of Christ. God gave His Son for us, so that we could be sons and daughters of God. God gave His Son for us “to bring many sons to glory”. Jesus Christ is:

Revelation 13:8 … the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Hebrews 9:24-26 … Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: 25 nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; 26 for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

Politicians cannot fix what ails our country. God can use politicians, just as He used Caiaphas the High Priest, Herod the King, and Pilate the Governor of Jerusalem to nail Christ to the Cross of Calvary. Oh yes, God can use the unbeliever to do His will, for God’s will is supreme. But the mind of Christ will not be found amongst politicians, unless that politician is a genuine Christian.

The Mind of Christ Comes To The
Spirit Indwelt Christian

1 Corinthians 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we {who believe} have the mind of Christ.

Word Study The word translated “HAVE” is the Present Active Indicative of the Greek ἔχω échō, {pronounced ekh’-o}, which means “to have and hold”. We who are Christians have and hold the mind of Christ. How do we have this? Read with me:

1 Corinthians 2:11-13 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

At the point of salvation – the day you believed on the Lord Jesus Christ – God imparted His Holy Spirit to you. The Calvary you claim as yours covers your sins. Because your sins are covered, God Himself is able to come to you, and indwell you.

Every Christian has received the Spirit of God. How do I know this? Because it is promised by Jesus. Jesus told His disciples (and us) that:

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

When Christ went to the Cross of Calvary, He made a permanent covering for our sins. “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered” (Psalm 32:1). Jesus Christ is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus Christ had no sin. But on Calvary, He took upon Himself our sins. We are told in

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

The vessel is cleansed by the Blood of Jesus Christ, and can now be indwelt by the Spirit.

The Spirit was not given to man while Christ walked the earth. He came but temporarily, and always left afterward. But when Christ – once and for all – paid the penalty of sin, this opened the door for the Spirit to come.

The Spirit is the promise of God unto you. The Spirit comes to teach us the mind of Christ. Jesus said:

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

The Spirit testifies of Christ. It is the Spirit of God Who gives us the mind of Christ. He does this through the precious Word of God, the Bible. The Spirit of Christ guides us into the truths of Scripture (John 16:13). Beloved,

Romans 8:8-11 they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

There are many who say “I am a Christian”, and yet are not, in truth, Christians. If you are a Christian the Spirit of God indwells you. If you are a Christian in name only, the Bible calls you a natural man. You are not supernatural, but natural. You are still Adam’s Child. Read the Apostolic Text:

1 Corinthians 2:14-15 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

Whether you are “natural” or “supernatural” is what will determine where your final destination is. If you belong to Jesus the bad times will come – but Jesus will see you through them.

I love the life story of Corrie Ten Boom. Corrie watched her entire family die in Ravensbrook concentration camp during World War II. In her book The Hiding Place, Corrie told about a conversation she had with her sister Betsy. Corrie asked Betsy, “How can we live in such a place?” Betsy replied, “{God has} given us the answer! Before we asked, as He always does! In the Bible this morning. Where was it? Read that part again!’ Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus. ‘That’s it, Corrie! That’s His answer. “Give thanks in all circumstances!” That’s what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!’ I stared at her; then around me at the dark, foul-aired room. ‘Such as?’ I said.“The fleas, Corrie. Remember to thank God for the fleas”. Corrie though her sister was crazy, but she thanked God for the fleas anyway. Corrie and Betsy started a Bible study in their barracks, and the guards never disturbed them. This was strange, because the German guards often raped and molested pretty women. Yet they never came into Corrie’s barracks. Do you know why? Corrie later found out that it was because of the fleas – the guards were afraid of catching the fleas!

Our God is awesome! Do you know Him? Have you received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Does your life reflect your profession? If not, come to Jesus. Come into His open arms. He loves you, you know, and will bless you if you will give your lives to Him.

If you do know Him, Beloved, pick up the Book every day. Read it. Ask the Spirit within to guide you in applying it’s truths. And pray that God will make you more like Jesus every day. You are the hope of America. Be the light of Christ. In Jesus name I pray. Amen and Amen.

Posted in 1 Corinthians, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Come To Jesus, Or Go To Hell

Photo by Simon Alibert on Unsplash

Matthew 18:3-11 and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. 6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. 7 Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh! 8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. 9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. 10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. 11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.

We Are To Be Responsible For Our Own Lives

In order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven – the place that God calls home – you must be “converted, and become as little children”. The word rendered “converted” is the Greek στρέφω stréphō, (pronounced stref’-o), which means “to turn yourself around, to turn back from where you were headed, to turn your self from one course of conduct to another”. The word requires that a person take responsibility for their own lives. To recognize the direction you are going in, and, like a child, turn to Jesus Christ and allow Him to take your hand, and lead you in another direction.

We live in a day of diminished personal responsibility. The narrative of the world is that “It’s not MY fault, but SOMEONE ELSE is the reason I am the way I am”. Blame shifting and finger pointing are all in vogue today. Yet this is nothing new. When God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden, He told Adam:

Genesis 2:16 … 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 was responsible for NOT eating of this one tree. The Bible says “the LORD God COMMANDED THE MAN”. יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהִים YAHWEH ‘Elohiym, the Triune and Eternal I AM, told just the man to not eat of this fruit. Eve was never told this. And yet, when Eve …

Genesis 3:6 … took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Sin entered into the world. When God questioned Adam as to why he ate of the fruit, Adam’s reply was to deflect his sin by saying:

Genesis 3:12 … The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

It wasn’t MY fault, God. It was THAT WOMAN’S fault. Yeah, THAT WOMAN that YOU GAVE ME. It was she who sinned (and Lord, I think You had a little hand in this, too!” The blame game. Adam blamed Eve. Eve blamed the snake. The snake had no one to blame.

Jesus calls each and every one of us to personal responsibility.

When Christ speaks of eternity, He always addresses personal responsibility. You alone are responsible for your life, and your eternal life.

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

We are called to HUMBLE OURSELVES as LITTLE CHILDREN. To come before God our Father and take accountability for our own lives. The Bible makes it clear that the Most Supreme Court of God does not judge a person based upon what someone else did, but Gods judges us on the basis of what WE did. The Scripture says:

Galatians 6:3-5 …. if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. 4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For every man shall bear his own burden.

Each and every person shall stand before God one day, and give an account for OUR OWN life. The things that we do in this life will echo throughout eternity. You cannot take anything physical with you when you depart planet Earth for the Kingdom of Heaven, but you will carry something spiritual with you.

Galatians 6:7-8 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Every action, every thing you do in this life, is a seed planted that will effect the future of those around you, and your own eternal future. Each person will, in eternity, be responsible for their own actions. The Prophet said it this way:

Jeremiah 31:29-30 In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. 30 But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.

You are responsible for your own iniquity, your own decisions. God will not blame another for what you failed to do. God will judge sin. God always judges sin. He said in Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 18:4-13 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die. 5 But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right, 6 and hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his neighbor’s wife, neither hath come near to a menstruous woman, 7 and hath not oppressed any, but hath restored to the debtor his pledge, hath spoiled none by violence, hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment; 8 he that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true judgment between man and man, 9 hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord God. 10 If he beget a son that is a robber, a shedder of blood, and that doeth the like to any one of these things, 11 and that doeth not any of those duties, but even hath eaten upon the mountains, and defiled his neighbor’s wife, 12 hath oppressed the poor and needy, hath spoiled by violence, hath not restored the pledge, and hath lifted up his eyes to the idols, hath committed abomination, 13 hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: shall he then live? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him.

In our day rioters are rioting because someone did something to them, therefore their rioting is to be excused. Beloved, this is not supported by Jesus.

Jesus said humble yourself as this little child. Jesus calls us to follow Him as little children, believing in Him, doing what He said do. We are to be responsible for our own lives. God never judges another for what you, yourselves have done. It is God’s Law – and God is just – Who says:

Deuteronomy 24:16 The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.

I Watch My Life Because God Watches My Life

God watches over His Children. You are to become as little Children in following Jesus. But what should you do if you are harmed, offended, diminished by the actions of another? Jesus said:

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

God takes care of His little children. If you are a child of God by faith in Christ then, rest assured, there is coming a day when God will avenge your enemies. When John the Revelator looked into Heaven, he saw:

Revelation 6:9-10 … under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10 and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

God will avenge His people Whom He loves.

Little child, little Christian, leave vengeance to your God. If you belong to Jesus, rest in Jesus, trust Jesus. Continue to tell others about the glorious salvation you have in Christ by faith. The Apostle said:

Romans 12:17-21 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

As our Master turned the other cheek when hit, we ourselves are to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39). Rather than seek retribution against that which the unbeliever does, the child of Christ:

Matthew 5:44-45 … Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

God will avenge the evil done to you. Do not take vengeance, but follow our Master’s example and command. Jesus said:

Matthew 18:7 Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh!

The world is going to be offended by the Christ Child following the Word of God. This is going to happen. You, as Christians, are light in the midst of darkness. This is going to happen. Jesus said:

John 15:18-21 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.

The world will hate the Christian, living for the Savior. Why? Because the world is yet in darkness. It does not know the Heavenly Father as He is. You see, the world promotes the Heavenly Father as “A God of Nothing But Love”. The world takes passages like:

1 John 4:8, 16 … God is love …

It is true that God is love. God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son (John 3:16). But God is also holy.

Psalm 99:9 … the LORD our God is holy.

And God is just and righteous:

Isaiah 61:8 … I the Lord love judgment

Psalm 33:4-5 the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done in truth. He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.

God is righteous, and holy, and just. God is the standard of truth, and judges all those who do not meet His standard. Beloved,

If You Go To Hell, It Is Your Fault!

In America, personal responsibility is no longer in vogue, and neither is the Biblical truth of hell and eternal punishment. Yet hell is a real place. Jesus said:

Matthew 18:8-9 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. 9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

It is your hands that do sin, your feet that lead you to sin, and your eyes that cause you to mull over the possibility of sin. Jesus is not commending self mutilation here, but is using a powerful analogy to explain how terrible hell is. Jesus used similar language when He spoke His Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 5:29-30 … if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

Sin is an offense against an immense and eternal God. Those who leave this life with their sins uncovered shall never enter into God’s Heaven. Some people today believe that Jesus, on dying on the Cross, secured salvation for every person who has ever been born, whether they believe in Him or not. Yet the Scripture does not teach this. Jesus told Nicodemus:

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

The text is very clear. To make it clearer, I remind you of the words of our Lord Who told the religious Scribes and Pharisees:

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.

In Jesus is life, eternal life (John 17:3). In Jesus was life (John 1:4). When you come to Christ and receive Him as Lord and Savior, the sins that are on your account are transferred to Christ’s account. The Bible says:

1 Peter 2:24 {our Lord Jesus} … committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29). When you receive Christ as Lord and Savior, your sins are covered because of what Jesus did for you on the Cross. It is not God’s desire that ANYONE end up in hell. The Lord taught that hell was originally designed to be a place for fallen angels to inhabit. Jesus said that hell is …

Matthew 25:41 … everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels

Hell is a place to be feared. It is a place that those who reject Jesus Christ as Savior will go to in the next life. Jesus said that hell is so horrifying that it would be better to willingly sacrifice a body part, than to be cast into such a place.

Hell is not a place of annihilation. It is a place of eternal punishment. It is Jesus who has the keys to hell and death (Revelation 1:18). Jesus said that He would send forth angels to gather up …

Matthew 13:41-42 … all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Jesus made His viewpoint on hell clear when He spoke of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16. In that story Jesus said of the thoughtless and heartless rich man:

Luke 16:22-24 … the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

The rich man in hell was unrepentant as to his previous lifestyle. He treated Lazarus as a servant, not a child of God. The rich man died, but being cast into flames he did not burn up. Instead, we see he is in torment, suffering. Hell is a place where those …

Revelation 20:15 … whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

The horror of hell is not just that there is suffering in it, but in that the suffering never ends. C.H. Spurgeon noted:

In hell there is no hope. The dammed have not even the hope of dying–the hope of being annihilated. They are forever–forever–forever lost! On every chain in hell, there is written ‘forever.’ In the fires there, blaze out the words, ‘forever.’ Above their heads, they read, ‘forever.’ Their eyes are galled and their hearts are pained with the thought that it is ‘forever.’”

Leslie Schmucker, writing in the article “The Uncomfortable Subject Jesus Addressed More Than Anyone Else” (see the Gospel Coalition):

Jesus doesn’t only reference hell, he describes it in great detail. He says it is a place of eternal torment (Luke 16:23), of unquenchable fire (Mark 9:43), where the worm does not die (Mark 9:48), where people will gnash their teeth in anguish and regret (Matt. 13:42), and from which there is no return, even to warn loved ones (Luke 16:19–31). He calls hell a place of “outer darkness” (Matt. 25:30), comparing it to “Gehenna” (Matt. 10:28), which was a trash dump outside the walls of Jerusalem where rubbish was burned and maggots abounded.”

The sad thing about hell is the regret that those will experience for all eternity. “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:12). There is no indication in Scripture that people will be given a second chance at redemption upon leaving this life. I have heard people say:

I don’t believe a truly good God would send anyone to hell”.

Would a good judge sentence someone who committed a crime to imprisonment? Of course they would. In fact, a good judge MUST sentence the guilty to imprisonment. God sends no one to hell, but offers all an escape from it.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

God would have all to repent, to be converted as little children, to come to Jesus by faith. God gives us a choice, and we are responsible for the choice we make.

Matthew 19:11…. the Son of man is come to save that which
was lost.

God became man, incarnate, so that He could seek out and save the lost. Our Jesus left the 90 and 9 in Heaven, and came to earth for the lost souls. It is not God’s will that anyone go to hell. And yet, Beloved, this is a reality that anyone without Christ will face one sad day.

That is your choice. Will you receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? Will you live a life surrendered to Him? What you do with your life is your choice, and your responsibility. Do not delay. If you are not saved, call upon Jesus’ name this very day.

I’d love to see you all in Heaven one day!

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

Posted in Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached

Preaching Christ Crucified

Photo by Wonderlane on Unsplash

1 Corinthians 1:22-24 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

Are You Living The Life God Designed You To Live?

As humans, we spend many precious hours – even days – doing things that really don’t matter all that much. Though I love technology, and use my computers, my I-pad, DSL lines and WIFI connectivity,

I believe the devil and his demons are doing their level best to keep our minds and our activities on the mundane, the vain and useless.

If the devil can keep our young people and, might I say, you?, staring at a phone screen, you will miss out on the best that life has to offer. So often I see parents and grand parents with beautiful families, families they ignore while they stare at social media and get indignant over memes.

Go outside, and look around. Everywhere you look there is evidence of God’s grand design. It’s in the Fall leaves. It’s in every blade of grass, every butterfly, every cloud, every star in the sky. It reminds me of the scripture,

Psalm 33:6 By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

It was God, not evolution or chance, that made the earth and all that is in it. It is God Who spoke, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3), and “there was light”. It is God Who framed the earth, Who separated the atmosphere from the waters, Who established the dry lands.

The devil wants us to live mundane lives. God wants us to live miraculous lives, joyous lives, peaceful lives.

There is power in the life that can say …

Psalm 121:2 My help cometh from the Lord, {Who} made heaven and earth.

It is God Who made all things. The Bible specifically says it was God the Son, the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus Christ, who made all things. If you have received Christ as Lord and Savior, then the Bible says:

Colossians 1:13-17 … {God the Father} hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 {Jesus Christ} is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

It is Jesus – the Jesus Who “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same {Jesus} was in the beginning with God {the Godhead}. All things were made BY HIM and FOR HIM, and without Him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1-3). Jesus Christ is the Maker of Heaven and earth. He is the Maker of Adam and Eve, the Maker of us all.

Because we, as a nation, have drifted from the Biblical truths, we have drifted from the God Who made us. We all need God. We all need His forgiveness and mercy. We need Jesus Christ.

He Who breathed the breath of life into Adam, we need Him to breathe the breath of eternal life in each one of us. Oh, how America needs to come to Jesus.

And yet, so many procrastinate. They withhold allegiance to Christ. Feeling the call of God, they linger, and question. They harden their hearts. The Bible says:

Proverbs 28:14 … he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.

Just last Sunday as I preached to you, a good man and a good friend, John Riley, sat on the back row listening. Little did I know this would be the last time I would speak to John. John is a good Christian man, and I believe he is now with the Lord. A member of a Methodist church, he many times popped in to visit us. Now he is before the Lord, leaving this life at the call of the Master. John knew where his final destination was – do you? If you do not, do not hesitate. Do not harden your hearts.

If You Keep Waiting For A Sign,
You’ll Miss God’s Heaven

The Apostle Paul spoke to a wide audience of people while he walked this earth. He loved the Jews, and sought to preach Christ to them even when they tried to kill him. He writes:

1 Corinthians 1:22 For the Jews require a sign …

It doesn’t matter how good the preacher is – if you harden your heart to God’s call, you will not be saved. The Jews hardened their hearts, even when the preacher was Jesus. The Bible says that Jesus came unto His own people, but His own people would not receive Him (John 1:11). Israel had long waited for the Messiah. Now He is here, and they would not receive Him. Why not? Why wouldn’t they receive Him? Because they wanted a “sign”. They told Jesus …

Matthew 12:38 … “Master, we would see a sign from thee.

The word translated “sign” is the Greek σημεῖον sēmeîon, (pronounced say-mi’-on), which means something miraculous that shows a person is of God. Jesus had shown the scribes and Pharisees many different signs, proofs that He is the Messiah, the Son of God. In verse 22 of the same chapter in Matthew we read that someone brought unto Jesus:

Matthew 12:22-24 … one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. 23 And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.

The problem with the Jews was NOT that they had no signs from Christ that He is the Messiah. Jesus reached out to them. Jesus reaches out to you. And yet, many harden their hearts against God, just as the Jews did. They ..

Ephesians 4:18 …. {had} the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:

How many times did Jesus give the Jews a sign? Here’s just a few cases from the Scripture:

  • Jesus changed water into wine (John 2:1-11). Not grape juice into wine, but water into wine. This shows He has absolute control over the elements.
  • Jesus cured a nobleman’s son in Cana of Galilee (John 4:46-47).
  • Jesus called out a great haul of fish for His disciples (Luke 5:1-11).
  • Jesus cast out unclean spirits (Mark 1:23-28).
  • Jesus healed lepers (Mark 1:40-45).
  • Jesus raised people from the dead (Luke 7:11-18).
  • Jesus stilled the storm and waves (Matthew 8:23-27).

When John the Baptist asked Jesus, “Are You the Messiah, or should we expect another?”. The Bible says:

Luke 7:21-23 …. in that same hour {Jesus} cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. 22 Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. 23 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

There were ample signs that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, and yet the Pharisees continued to ask for a sign. Jesus refused them.

The Jews – like many today – say “I’ll surrender to Jesus when I see a sign”. How many signs do you need?

Our nation is falling to pieces. Politically we are a train wreck. Families are in shambles. Children are raised by single parents, often without the slightest bit of Biblical discipline. Young people have been sent to colleges, and taught Marxism and violent political activism. The heart is desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). It needs the control of God.

When you say to God, “Give me a sign, and I’ll believe on Jesus, and receive Him as Lord and Savior”, God’s response is just this:

Matthew 12:39-42 … An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah: 40 for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and, behold, a greater than Jonah is here. 42 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.

God has given all the signs He is going to give. His thumbprint is on all of creation. He sent His Son to die for you and I. Jesus died on Calvary, suffering terribly for your sins and mine. We know He was dead. His death and its witness is recorded in:

John 19:34 … with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. 35 And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.

When a body dies, the blood cells separate from the plasma. Jesus Christ was dead on that Cross. He died making payment for our sins. And yet, though Christ died for our sins, Jesus rose again on the third day. There were many who witnessed the resurrection of our Lord:

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

Many people saw the resurrected Savior, our Lord Jesus. These people acknowledged the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, even though many were martyred for what they professed. Do you wish a sign that Jesus is Who He says He is? Then receive Him by faith. Beloved, there are many who have discovered that all who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13).

James 4:14 … what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

Do not hesitate to call upon the name of the Lord Jesus. He will save you. You are not promised another day to believe. Do not put it off any longer!

If You Keep Waiting For The World’s Approval,
You’ll Miss God’s Heaven

The Jewish mindset is to put off coming to Christ until “God gives me a sign”. The Gentile mindset is to put off coming to Christ
“Because I may look foolish and unwise”.

1 Corinthians 1:22 … the Greeks seek after wisdom

What do others say? What do my peers say? What do the scientists say? These wise people seek the approval of the world before coming to Christ – and come up with the most astounding ideas in order to cover their unbelief. God addresses the unbeliever, saying:

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

The atheist touts his wisdom, saying, “We have evolved from goo into complex living beings. All that we are is but an accident of nature, a chance being.” Sadly, the wisdom of the world dehumanizes us. How else can you explain those who would abort a human life by vivisection, by chemical burning, and then turn around and sell that baby’s body parts for experimentation. Yes, this happens.

If humanity developed by accident, then that which is good and right is determined by the consensus of the people. If the people decide – by majority rule – that an action is right and proper, then there is no real moral truth. I once had an individual ask me,

Why would you be against a mother aborting a child that had Downs Syndrome, Muscular Dystrophy, or some other limiting factor that would make them less than other children?”

My response was quite simple. I replied,

For the same reason I do not advocate the death and dismemberment of senior adults in Nursing Homes, or adults who are no longer contributing to our society. Life, for me, has value because God says that it does. When we begin devaluing life at it’s beginning, it is not long before every life – even your own – can be devalued.”

The Greeks were well known for their pursuit of worldly wisdom. Yet worldly wisdom does not build a stable, moral citizenship. God has said:

1 Corinthians 1:19-21 … I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

Our America is disintegrating. How do we fix it. We don’t – but God can. We need to come to God in Christ. The Bible says:

Proverbs 16:6 … By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.

When people depart from the Biblical truths handed down to us by our Creator through His Prophets and Apostles, it isn’t long before the nation decays. In America we are definitely in the midst of an absolute moral decay.

Proverbs 10:27 … The fear of the Lord prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.

Proverbs 14:27 … The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.

God loves America – it is time for America to love God. We need to hear His call, to cease hardening our hearts, to give ourselves to Jesus Christ. The Bible says:

1 Timothy 2:3-5 … this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; 4 who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

God gave His Son to this world so that all could be saved. The way to salvation is to come surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is:

Luke 2:32 … a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

How do we grow in wisdom? We learn more about Jesus. We study His Word and His truths. Listen Beloved, if you know little of Christ, you will never be wise. The Scripture says:

Colossians 3:16-17 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

It is the Word of Christ, the Holy Scripture, that brings knowledge and wisdom. Though all the world call me a hater, homophobic, misogynist, deplorable, or whatever, I choose to seek out my Lord’s will through His Scripture. The Bible tells us that the Christian was once foolish, and is still considered foolish by the world. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 1:27-31 … God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are: 29 that no flesh should glory in his presence. 30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

We need to get back to the Cross.

It Is Through The Cross We Are Saved And Secured

1 Corinthians 1:23-25 but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

A mamma tucked her little girl in for the night. The child asked “Mommy, will you bring me a glass of water? I’m thirsty!” The mother replied, “No honey, you’ve had enough water. Go to sleep”. The mother went and laid down to sleep. Just as she was about asleep the child cried out to her mamma. “Mommy, will you get me a glass of water? I’m thirsty!” The mother, exasperated, yelled back to her child. “If you ask for water one more time, I’m going to spank you!” A moment passed, then the child said “Mommy, when you get up to spank me, will you get me a glass of water?”

This little girl knew what she needed, and was willing to suffer a spanking to get what she desperately wanted. How about you? Are you thirsty? Jesus said:

John 7:37-38 Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

If we would come thirsty to our Lord and Savior, He will satisfy our needs. Jesus Christ died on Calvary to be the covering for our sins. Christianity is not a DIY (Do It Yourself) religion. Christianity is a faith that relies on the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. The Bible tells us that God the Father …

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

Jesus Christ bore the payment of our sins on His own body. The Prophet writes:

Isaiah 53:4-6 Surely {Christ} hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. {5} But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. {6} All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Though Jesus suffered in our place, never once did He cry against the injustice of it all. It was all of justice. We are all sinners, lost and undone, unable to pay for the evil we have done and continue to do. Jesus Christ …

Isaiah 53:7-9 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.

It pleased God the Father to save us by bruising His Only Begotten Son.

Isaiah 53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, …

The devil despises the Cross of Christ. He despises the Gospel of the Shed Blood of Jesus. When the early preachers were caught by Satan’s henchmen they were beaten – then warned – to cease preaching Christ crucified. “Do not speak in the Name of Jesus!” (Acts 5:40). What did the disciples do? They departed from the council, and preached Christ all the more in the Temple and in every place. “They ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:42). We preach Christ crucified for this is the only thing that will change a life, the only thing that will save a soul.

Are you saved by faith in Christ? Not an empty faith, but a life changing, Christ centered faith? If you are saved by faith in Christ, you are to live out your life by faith in Christ. Live for Him. This is the greatest witness you can give to the world.

In the Book of Acts, the Holy Spirit sent Philip the Evangelist to an Ethiopian Eunuch to explain Christ in the Book of Isaiah (Acts 8:26). The Ethiopian was reading from Isaiah 53:7, and Philip explained how the text related to Jesus Christ. That dear man was saved that day. God can save anyone if they will but look to Jesus.

One snowy Sunday, January 6th, 1850, a young 15 year old boy was under conviction, and felt that he needed to find someone who could help him. He had listened to many sermons, but had never been moved to turn fully to Christ. The young man came into a Primitive Methodist facility where just a few people were gathered. The Pastor had not made it to Church that day, but one of the old Deacons had. That grand old man read from Isaiah:

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.

The young man would later testify, “… when I heard that word, Look!, what a charming word it seemed to me. Oh I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away. That happy day when I found the Savior and learned to cling to His dear feet was a day never to be forgotten by me. An obscure child, unknown, unheard of, I listened to the Word of God; and that precious text led me to the Cross of Christ.” This young man would grow up to be C.H. Spurgeon, one of the greatest preachers of all time.

This is the peace and contentment that the Christian has. Do you have this in your life? If not, come to Jesus Christ, and receive Him as Lord and Savior. Surrender your life to Him, and He will give you true life, a blessed life, eternal life. May Christ Jesus touch you through His Word and His Spirit this very day. Amen and Amen!

Posted in 1 Corinthians, Sermons Preached | Tagged ,

Which Kingdom Do You Belong To?

Photo by Nils Nedel on Unsplash

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

What is the greatest threat that faces America today?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Loves Everyone, And Proves it In Christ

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

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

Matthew 16:21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

And again,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew 17:23 … they were exceeding sorry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Galatians 4:4-7 … when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

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

Philippians 2:12-16 … work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 16 holding forth the word of life

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

Value In The Kingdom Of God

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

Matthew 18:1-4 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? 2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Our Lord Jesus loved children. He said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Child Of God, You Belong To Jesus!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speak To The Mountain

Photo by Kalen Emsley on Unsplash

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

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

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

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

The Backstory: The King Came To Jerusalem

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

Mark 11:22 … Have faith in God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have Faith In God!

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

Forsaking
All
I
Trust
Him

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

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

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

James 4:1-4 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. 4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

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

Do We Speak To The Mountain In Faith?

Jesus said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What did the Hebrew children do? We are told in

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God told a frightened Moses:

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

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

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

1 John 5:4-5 … For {whosoever} is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Central to the Christian faith is the MUST of Sacrifice.

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

We Cannot Be Saved Apart from The Sacrifice of Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Israel repented. The Bible says:

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

Moses prayed – and God blessed. He said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is God Himself become human flesh. We are told in …

John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

When the Father speaks of Jesus, He says …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Son Of Man Was Sacrificed
So We Could Be Saved

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

1 John 1:5-9 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

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

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

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

John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name ..

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

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

Philippians 2:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

1 John 3:1-2 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

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

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

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

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

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

There Is A Way

Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash

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

Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Father Always Knows Best!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Apostle reminds us as Christians:

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

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

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

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

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

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

If You Are RIGHTeous, You Walk RIGHT With God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Proverbs, Sermons Preached | Tagged , ,

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

Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 …. God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. 11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s look at our text.

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

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

Paul was not pleased with Corinth. He wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

Love is a door that swings outward, blessing others.

That is the Way of the Master.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 22:19 this do in remembrance of Me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John 11:11-14 … Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. 12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. 14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.

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

Posted in 1 Corinthians, Communion, Sermons Preached

Wisdom Is From God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where Is Wisdom To Be Found?

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

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

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

Genesis 1:26-27 … God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

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

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

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

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

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

Our God is awesome!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wisdom Is Found In God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When We Do What God Says, We Are Indeed Wise

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

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

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

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

The fear of the Lord, THAT is WISDOM.

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

Posted in Job, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , ,

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

Photo by Jerry Zhang on Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When Jesus went up Mount Hermon the Bible says:

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

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

Hebrews 10:4, 9-14 … it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 9 then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God {My Father}. {God} taketh away the first {covenant, the Law of works}, that he may establish the second {covenant, the Grace of Jesus Christ}. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

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

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

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

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

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

Are you at Mark 9:14? Let’s read it:

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

God Is Not The Author Of Confusion

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

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

Jesus speaks first to the Scribes, the Bible scholars.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Too Often Rely Upon Ourselves, And Not The Lord

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is finished! (John 19:30)

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

Oh, how we need to cry out to Jesus!

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

Jesus addresses this man, saying:

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

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

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

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

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

Can you rest on Jesus? The Bible says,

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

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

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

Jesus tells the man:

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

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

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

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

The man is at a place of absolute surrender.

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

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

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

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

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

A Private Word With Christ’s Disciples

The message today ends with these words:

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

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

Apathy is, in many ways, worse than Atheism.

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

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

We must come to Jesus Christ!

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

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

The Mob And The Rule Of Law

Photo by Florian Olivo on Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christians Are Never to Be Part Of The Mob

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When Mobs Are Formed,
They Usually Have An Ulterior Motive

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

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

And Demetrius is upset over it!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elected Officials Must Disarm The Mob

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romans 13:1-4 … Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

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

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

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

Godliness With Contentment

Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does God Tell You To Seek
HAPPINESS Or HOLINESS?

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

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

Godliness And Happiness Are Tied Together

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monetary Gain Will Not Bring Happiness

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Timothy 6:6-10 … godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 12:16-21 The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17 and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in 1 Timothy, Sermons Preached | Tagged , ,

The Keys Of The Kingdom Of Heaven

Photo by Jason D on Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus Died For Us All, Even Sinful Peter

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

Matthew 16:21-23 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. 22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. 23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what did Jesus mean when He told Peter,

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

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

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

upon this rock I WILL build my Church”

Not “I am building”, but “I will build”. Just like the Church is still future, the keys to be given are still future. There is something that must happen before the Church can be. At this time in history the Temple is still standing. People are still making animal sacrifices, waiting for the Messiah. The Messiah has come, The Christ, the Son of the Living God. But something else must happen. Christ must go to the Cross of Calvary, making payment for our sins.Once the disciples heard the great truth that Jesus ALONE is THE Christ {Messiah}, THE Son of the Living God, the Bible says:

Matthew 16:21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

Jesus MUST go to Jerusalem. He MUST suffer under the hand of the religious establishment. He MUST be killed. He MUST lay His life down, and MUST rise again on the third day. The Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29) must die for us. Sin is no trifle before God. Sin is an offense against an Eternal Being, the God Who made all things. Born into this world of sin, born of parents who are sinners, we are the offspring of Adam, sinners all. The Apostle said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romans 8:9-11 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romans 10:9-11 …. if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

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

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

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

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

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

If You Are Saved, Share The Keys With Others

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

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

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

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

Beloved, the choice is yours.

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

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

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

Faithful Sayings Of Paul

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

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

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

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

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

1. Jesus Christ Came To Save Sinners

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

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

John 1:1-4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

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

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

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

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

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

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you a sinner? Then turn to Jesus. “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19). Jesus came for you, no matter what sin you committed. He came to save you, just as He saved me. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

profane and old wives’ fables

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

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

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

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

Godliness is actually devotion to God IN ACTION.

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

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

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

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

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

Philippians 2:12-13 … work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Apostle told the Corinthian believers:

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

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

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

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

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

Titus 3:4-8 But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; 7 that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strange Fire And The Priesthood

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

All Christians Are Priests Before God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Peter 2:5-9 … ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in {Zion} a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious … 9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light ..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nadab And Abihu Took STRANGE Fire
To The Altar Of Incense

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

Word Study What is “Strange Fire”? The late Dr. R.C. Sproul notes, “What is ‘unauthorized fire’, or, as it is rendered in other translations, ‘profane fire’ or ‘strange fire’? … the word profane comes from the Latin profanus, which literally means ‘outside the Temple’.”

As we have seen, Nadab and Abihu were supposed to take coals from the Brazen Altar, and these coals (representing the cleansing of Christ’s Calvary) gave them access to God. Instead, they took STRANGE fire to light the incense. They took fire from without the Tabernacle, man made fire, not God given fire.

You may say, “Well, what’s the difference? Fire is fire, and any old fire can light the Altar of Incense.” Here’s the difference. There’s a little phrase that comes right after the strange fire is mentioned. The little phrase is:

which he {God} commanded them not

When the Lamb without spot or blemish was slain, and burned on the Brazen Altar, the fire (representing the Judgment of God on sin) devoured the sacrifice and not the people. When coals from the Brazen Altar were used to light the Altar of Incense, God heard the prayers of His people. But when the Priests skipped the Brazen Altar and went straight to the Altar of Incense, they were standing before God, unholy in His sight. God explained their sin quite simply:

Leviticus 10:3 I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified.

God blesses His Priests when they set Him apart and treat Him with respect. We live in a day where people have little respect for the Lord. Many of Christ’s Priests (that’s you, Christian) are living their lives based on feelings and not on what God has said. When anyone tries to approach God, the Holy God, the wonderful God Who saves us based on our own merit, then we will not be blessed.

In America today we are too flippant as Christians in serving our God. We need to heed the Scripture. We need to approach our Heavenly Father through the Brazen Altar, through the Blood of Jesus Christ. This is what will bless! This is what will put wings on our prayers.

Once you understand the relationship of the Brazen Altar to the Altar of Incense, then you live your lives ever thankful for what Jesus Christ did for us. I have often read a passage in Isaiah, never quite understanding it until today. The text is found in:

Isaiah 6:1-4 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. 4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.

This is a beautiful picture of Heaven that Isaiah was allowed to see. Was he overjoyed? No, he was frightened nearly to death. Isaiah cried out:

Isaiah 6:5-8 … Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. 6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7 and he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. 8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

When Isaiah saw our God, and compared himself to the absolute holiness of our God, he cried out in fear and repentance. Then notice an angel took a coal from the altar. This is what the Brazen Altar represents, what is fulfilled in Calvary. The angel touched Isaiah’s lips with this coal, symbolic of the Altar of Incense. Your sins, being paid for, now give you access to God. You now can approach Him in prayer and fellowship. But you must have the coal on the lips. You must have God’s coal on the Altar!

God’s Church, and God’s New Covenant Priesthood, must approach the Father through the sacrifice of the Son. It is because of Jesus that we have access to God. The coals of Christ’s death cover our sins, and make us clean before God. As the Apostle said:

2 Corinthians 5:21 For {God the Father} hath made {Jesus} to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in {Jesus}.

The Churches that are dying today are composed of believer-priests who are offering strange fire to God. They are bypassing Calvary, and going straight to God in the Holy of Holies. The message God gives us all is:

Leviticus 10:3 … I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified….

We entered salvation and Christ’s Kingdom by repentance and turning to Jesus Christ. We live our daily lives, in God’s Presence, the exact same way. We honor His Word over “feelings” and above “peer pressure”. Our God is an awesome God, and His people will obey Him if they wish to be blessed.

May God touch your hearts with His Word and through His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Sermons Preached | Tagged , , ,

Who Is Jesus To You?

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Matthew 16:13-18 When Jesus came into the coasts of Cæsarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? 14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, {Elijah}; and others, {Jeremiah}, or one of the prophets. 15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art THE Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Who is Jesus to you? This is perhaps the most important question you can ever ask yourself, for the answer will change the direction of your life.

Are You Following Jesus, Or An Idol?

Matthew 16:13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Cæsarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

Let’s notice first of all where Jesus was. He was in the coasts of Cæsarea Philippi. Mark tells us in:

Mark 8:27 Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Cæsarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am?

Jesus was actually heading into the various villages and towns that made up Cæsarea Philippi. This area is only mentioned twice in the Bible (see above), but it’s an interesting area. First, the area is Gentile territory. No Jews went into the area because of the idolatry that was so prevalent there. Cæsarea Philippi was the location of the cave of Pan, the Pagan god of sexual pleasure. Ryan Fraser wrote an article for the Jackson Sun called Caesarea Philippi: The Gates of Hades. In the article he recounted his trip to Israel, and his visit to this area. Describing the “Cave of Pan”, Ryan wrote:

To the pagan mind, the cave at Caesarea Philippi created a gate to the underworld (Hades), where fertility gods took up residence during the winter. People committed detestable acts to worship these false gods. Caesarea Philippi’s location was especially unique because it stood at the base of a cliff where spring water flowed. At one time, the water ran directly from the mouth of a cave set in the bottom of the cliff.”

The Pagans made sacrifices to idols at the mouth of this cave called “The Gates of Hades”. You ask me, “What significance does this have to this sermon”? Read again what Jesus told Peter upon his confession of Jesus:

Matthew 16:18 I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Word Study The words translated “GATES OF HELL” is in the Greek πύλη πύλη ᾅδης {pylē hadēs}, The Gates of Hades. Jesus was, I believe, standing in front of this Pagan site of idolatry. The Gentile inhabitants of Cæsarea Philippi believed that this cave was the entrance into the underworld, the other side of the veil. They believed the gods received people into the Pagan heaven through this portal. When Peter told Jesus:

Matthew 16:16 Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Jesus told Peter that the great truth Peter boldly spoke is the means by which Jesus builds His Church. The pagan belief systems represented by that cave called “The Gates of Hell/ Hades” will not prevail against Christ’s Church.

Is Jesus Just Another “John The Baptist”?

Many people today have many ideas as to Who Jesus is. If you ask people “Who do you think Jesus is?”, you will get a variety of answers. People in America today are familiar with the name “Jesus Christ”. If you ask them the same question Jesus asked His disciples:

Matthew 16:13 … Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am?

You will get a variety of answers, even in the local Churches. Jesus’ disciples told Jesus:

Matthew 16:14 … Some say that thou art John the Baptist

A lot of people today believe this about Jesus. Jesus is a great spiritual leader. Jesus is no different than John the Baptist (the forerunner of Christ) or Mahatma Gandhi. When Gandhi was asked why he did not embrace Christianity, he replied:

“…to be a good Hindu also meant that I would be a good Christian. There is no need for me to join your creed to be a believer in the beauty of the teachings of Jesus or try to follow His example.”

A United Methodist preacher Dr E. Stanley Jones wrote in his book “Mahatma Gandhi: An Interpretation”:

On the day that Mahatma Gandhi was killed, I arrived in Delhi just an hour and a quarter before the tragedy … {it was} the greatest tragedy since the Son of God died on the cross.”

I am sure Dr. Jones spoke sincerely, but he fell into the same trap many fall into. You see, many people see Jesus as just a great man, another John the Baptist. They see His death as a tragedy, contrary to what Jesus said. Gandhi was murdered by an assassin. Jesus, on the other hand, laid His life down for us. He said:

John 10:17-18 … I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. …

When John the Baptist was murdered by Herod (Matthew 14:10; Mark 6:27), this was not a death he chose. If John were given the option, I’m sure he would have chosen to live. But Jesus – both knowingly and willingly – laid His life down for our salvation. Jesus Christ is not just a great man, but He is God Incarnate. The Apostle said:

Philippians 2:6-11 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

John the Baptist was an exceptional man, a man that God blessed. But John the Baptist, like Mahatma Gandhi, was but a man. Jesus Christ is God Incarnate. He is the Living Word of God become flesh.

John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Jesus Christ made all things. He is the beginning and end of all things. Jesus calls Himself:

Revelation 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

It is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, Who is the God of Scripture. This same God said in:

Isaiah 44:6 Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.

There is but One God Who is “the First and the Last”. This wondrous God created everything that you see. We are told in:

Isaiah 44:12-13 Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last. 13 Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together.

John the Baptist was a great prophet. According to Jesus, he was the greatest prophet who ever lived. Jesus said,

Matthew 11:11 … Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist …

Yes, John was great. John was a great leader, and hoards of Jews went into the wilderness to seek out John. But John was but a mortal. Jesus Christ is eternal God become flesh. Jesus Christ is the One of Whom the Father said:

Matthew 3:17 … This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

And to remove all doubt the Father reiterated again:

Matthew 17:5 … This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

The Father did not call John the Baptist, or Gandhi, or any other religious leader throughout human history “My Beloved Son”. Jesus only holds this distinction. The Father said, “Hear ye HIM”. Jesus is the sole representative from the Trinity, the manifest Member of the Godhead.

To say that “Jesus is another John the Baptist” is actually blasphemy. Jesus Christ is God. To make God into a man is misleading, and blasphemous. John was great, but Jesus is infinitely greater!

Is Jesus Just Another “Great Prophet”?

Returning to Jesus’ question:

Matthew 16:13 ..Whom do men say that
I, the Son of man, am?

The disciples had not only heard that Jesus was John the Baptist, but …

Matthew 16:14 … Some say that thou art … Elijah; and others, {Jeremiah}, or one of the prophets.

What is wrong with this? Jesus, when He visited His hometown of Nazareth, referred to Himself as a Prophet. He said:

Matthew 13:57 …. A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and in his own house.

Jesus called Himself a Prophet. So isn’t Jesus just a great Prophet? No, Jesus is more than this. You can see this in how Jesus addresses Himself in the question. Again, Jesus asked,

Matthew 16:13 ..Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

Jesus called Himself “the Son of Man”. When we hear this phrase, it means nothing to us. To us it just sounds like Jesus is saying He’s a human. But the phrase “Son of man” has great emphasis in the writings of the Prophets. You see, from the time of Adam’s fall, and the destruction it wrought on all of humanity, God has promised that a Redeemer would one day come. On the very day that Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden, God told that old Serpent Lucifer (and Satan/ Lucifer was the serpent. See Revelation 12:9, 12:15, 20:2; 2 Corinthians 11:3):

Genesis 3:15 … I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

A Messiah would come Who would crush the devil’s head. This Messiah would be born of a woman, virgin born (Isaiah 7:14), a Holy Thing never before seen in creation, made by God the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35). But this “Son of man” would be much more than a normal human. When the Prophet Daniel saw the coming of the Messiah, he wrote:

Daniel 7:13-14 … I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

Every Rabbi, every Jew looked to the prophecies of the coming of the Messiah. They knew that one day the Messiah, THE Son of man, would come. This Messiah would be given:

Dominion, everlasting Dominion
Glory
The Eternal Kingdom of God
All People will worship Him

Jesus specifically named Himself the Son of Man. “And whom do people say that I, THE SON OF MAN, am”? Before the Messiah came, God allowed humanity to temporarily cover their sins via animal sacrifice. This was but a temporary covering, proved by the fact that Israel had to make these sacrifices over and over again. The writer of Hebrews clarifies this truth, saying:

Hebrews 10:1-10 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6 in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. … 9 then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

The Messiah – “The Son of man” – came from Heaven to take away our sins once and for all. No other human has the ability to give us a right standing with God. The Bible declares that “all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But ONLY the Son of Man, Jesus Christ our Lord, has power to bring about forgiveness of sins.

The Prophets spoke of the coming of the Son of Man.
Jesus Christ IS The Son of Man!

When Jesus came to Nazareth and

Matthew 9:2 … they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.

The Scribes and Pharisees thought, “This man blasphemes God!”. For Who can forgive sin but God? Sin is an offense against God, so only GOD can forgive sin. Jesus went on to say:

Matthew 9:6-8 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. 7 And he arose, and departed to his house. 8 But when the multitudes saw it, they marveled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.

The multitudes got it wrong. They thought, “Oh, God has given this man such power!” But God had not given Jesus this power. Jesus said, “I, the SON OF MAN, have POWER TO FORGIVE SIN”. No one else has power to do that. Only Jesus. Only the Messiah.

When the Pharisees accused Jesus’ disciples of violating the Sabbath Day, Jesus told them:

Matthew 12:8 … the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.

The Messiah, God in the flesh, is the One Who established the Sabbath Day. He Who made the rules is He Who can change the rules. When Christ rose from the grave on the Sabbath Day, His Church began to honor the Sabbath not on the 7th day, but on the Messiah’s resurrection day. Why? The SON OF MAN, the Messiah, is Lord of the Sabbath.

Jesus Christ can forgive sins because Jesus Christ is God our Messiah. But Jesus Christ can forgive sins because Jesus Christ our Messiah paid for our sins.

Mark 8:31 {Jesus} began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

As Messiah, Jesus Christ paid for our sins. He is …

John 1:29 … the Lamb of God, which taketh away
the sin of the world.

Jesus Christ is not another Great Prophet. He is the Messiah, the Only means by which a person can be saved. Jesus said:

John 3:13-17 … no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the SON OF MAN which is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him MIGHT be saved.

Knowing Jesus As The Christ Opens Heaven’s Gate

When Peter told Jesus, “You are THE Christ (Messiah), THE Son of the Living God”, Jesus replied:

Matthew 16:17-18 … Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

The knowledge that Jesus is the Messiah, the sole Savior sent from Heaven to this earth, is divinely imparted. God must speak it to your hearts. The knowledge that Christ is THE Messiah, and that there is NO OTHER MESSIAH, is what separates Christianity from the idols of this world like “The Gates of Hades”. There are many who PROFESS to be Christians. But Beloved, you are not a Christian if you cannot pass this litmus test. The Apostle James established this litmus test many years ago. He wrote:

1 John 2:22-23 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is THE Christ? He is Antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. 23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: [but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.

Whoever denies that Jesus is THE MESSIAH, the ONLY MEANS of salvation – this person is A LIAR. This person is ANTICHRIST, for this person has denied BOTH the Father and the Son. Whoever denies that Jesus is the ONLY WAY unto the Father is believing in a false, Pagan christ. John went on to say:

1 John 4:2-3 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of Antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

1 John 5:1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.

There is only one way unto God, and that way is by faith in Jesus Christ. You can only receive this knowledge when the Father opens your eyes to it. The solid foundation of the Church is this truth. Sadly, there are many Churches that have turned from this great truth to believe another Gospel. This little ‘g’ gospel tries to blend with the world so as to appease the world. But there is no salvation available through the other messiahs.

Peter’s profession of “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (verse 16) brings several great gifts from Jesus.

Matthew 16:18 …. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter

If you know Jesus as Messiah, then Jesus knows you. Jesus said “I know My sheep, and am known of mine” (John 10:14). Jesus knows you, dear believer. He knows your name. He knows your needs. He knows you!

Matthew 16:18 … upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

The Church of Christ is built on the solid truth that Jesus is THE Christ – there is no other. The false gods of this world are just that – false. Jesus Christ is the only way to peace with God (John 14:6).

Matthew 16:19 I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven…

Those who have the keys are those who have the right to enter in. We are saved and adopted into the family of God by faith in CHRIST Jesus. Salvation is only possible through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, how I pray that God’s Spirit lead you to Jesus Christ today. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Matthew, Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached | Tagged , , ,

Living On Purpose For Jesus

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Philippians 1:12-24 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; 13 so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; 14 and many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: 16 the one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: 17 but the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel. 18 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. 19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labor: yet what I shall choose I wot not. 23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: 24 nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

Who Are You Living For?

What are you living for? Some people are just marking time. They are not living – they are just surviving. Life is a gift from God, and every day should be lived on purpose with God.

I don’t believe that the year 2020 is an accident, or that it is a coincidence that the Covid-19 virus has consumed us as a nation this year. The numbers 20/20, separated with a slash, are a measure of vision. As a little child my vision – that is, my eyesight – was very poor. I am legally blind without my glasses. But with eyeglasses my sight is 20/20, which is clear and normal vision for a human.

The year 2020 has been a vision check for our nation. Too many people do not have 20/20 vision, and even more have poor spiritual vision. As this year began with the Coronavirus, we went into a shutdown in nearly every state. Suddenly people heard something they always knew. We all will one day cease to be on this earth. That is the nature of life. No one lives forever on this earth. No one. Those who are Christians believe what Jesus told us:

John 11:25-26 … Jesus said … I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Everyone physically dies. We have known this forever. But we do not place the truth in perspective in our lives. Everyone dies – but we think it will always be someone else. When we pass someone on the highway we are but 2 feet from death. If that person approaching you is texting and distracted, nothing stops them from coming into your lane and abruptly into your life. The Bible tells us:

Hebrews 9:27 … it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

We all have an appointment with death. We do not know when that is, but we know that it is coming. The writer of Hebrews went on to say:

Hebrews 9:28 … so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many …

Death is coming. Staying at home will not stop that. Death is inevitable. Hiding out in a basement will not correct that. We all have an appointment with death. However, if you have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, He has promised that your soul will continue on into eternity with Him.

Life Without Christ Is Not Life At All

Life with Christ is a daily challenge, but life without Christ is a life without purpose. The Apostle Paul was imprisoned for preaching the Gospel of Jesus. The world does not like the Gospel of Jesus. The worlds loves a modified gospel (little ‘g’) of jesus (little ‘j’), but not the true Gospel. The True Gospel says that we are to REPENT:

Acts 2:38 Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;

REPENT means to turn away from the world. BELIEVE means to turn toward Jesus. The Apostles preached to both Jews and Gentiles:

Acts 20:21 … repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Christ is a person who has been saved on purpose by God. A Christian is a person who has purpose because of God. The Christian is in the world, but not part of the world. The thought that a Christian can be saved, then go back to living his or her life without regard to the Lord, is utterly foreign to the Scripture. We who are Christians love everyone, and share the Gospel of Christ with everyone.

But we are not part of this world.

The stepbrother of Jesus wrote:

James 4:4 … know ye not that the friendship of the world is {to be the enemy of} God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

Christians are members of Christ’s Kingdom. We are citizens of Heaven FIRST and FOREMOST. We live for and in God, and to the glory of Christ. Jesus warned us that living as Christians would bring us the animosity of the world. Jesus said:

Luke 6:22 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.

This is the place that Paul was at. He had been living his life on purpose, serving the Kingdom of God while here on this earth. Every Christian is called to this place of service. We are to be “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Jesus saved us, and left us in this world so that we can lead others to Jesus. But doing this comes at a price.

Philippians 1:12-13 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; 13 so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;

Paul has been captured by the Roman Empire, and is on his way to meet with Caesar Nero. Paul was imprisoned between two guards, and headed toward a certain death. Death was coming, rapidly coming for Paul. But Paul was not complaining. Why? Because Paul realized that each day is a gift from God. Paul realized that he was at peace with God because of his faith in Christ. When Paul looked at his impending death he was not frightened, but exhilarated! He said:

the things which happened unto me have fallen out
rather unto the furtherance of the gospel

What were the “things” that Paul faced? He didn’t name them, but I can guarantee they were not good. Paul suffered. He suffered terribly. In another place Paul wrote:

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

Paul was not discouraged, but encouraged. His spiritual vision was 20/20. He was not focused on comfort and safety, but on glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul knew that living for Jesus would alienate him from the world he once knew, but he wanted others to enjoy the life in Christ that he had. Paul said, in effect:

There is a purpose in my bondage, and that that the Gospel of the Kingdom be spread throughout Rome”.

Was Paul going to be beheaded? Yes! But before he died, Paul would be able to spread of Christ in the innermost Palace of Rome. Gentiles who never heard of Jesus would hear of Him Who died for us all. Paul lived his life on mission for the Master. Beloved, we who are saved are to do the same. We are not to spend our days watching the television, dreading the boogie man we call the Coronavirus. No! The trials that have come on this country, on the Church, and on the Christian have come not because some leader, either Democratic or republican, failed to protect us. No! The trials that have come are here for the furtherance of the Gospel. The Apostle said:

Philippians 1:14-15 … and many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:

As Paul looked confidently to the Lord to fulfill His purpose in him, believers around Paul were emboldened by his example. Christian, others are watching you. Look up! Paul’s willingness to stand up for Christ even when the state was against him caused other preachers to stand up. Some of these preachers were false teachers whereas others were sincere lovers of the Lord. Nonetheless this did not discourage Paul. He said:

Philippians 1:16-18 … one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: 17 but the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel. 18 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.

Paul was not concerned of the motives of the other preachers. He was just happy and blessed that Jesus was being preached. God told Ananias when Paul was knocked down on the Damascus Road:

Acts 9:15 … Go thy way: for {Paul} is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 for I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

Philippians 1:19-21 I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain

God had a purpose for Paul’s life, just as He has a purpose for yours. Paul kept his eyes on the Lord, and on the purpose that God had for him.

The More You Live On Purpose For God,
The Less You Worry About Death

Illustrate Where is your focus? I have always been somewhat afraid of heights. This is interesting, because I am an Air Force retiree, and was often exposed to heights. Our electronic system had a piece of equipment that was in the tail section, some 40 feet off of the ground. To reach it, you had to use a B-21 lift, which was a hydraulic platform made of extruded steel. I always dreaded having to change out this part, as I had to be 40 feet in the air on a lift that wobbled and swayed in the breeze. Do you know how I got through it? I focused on the mission at hand, and rested in the assurance that the lift was more than adequate to keep me in the air.

Paul focused on the Christian mission. The Christian is to live FOR CHRIST. We who are saved belong to God.

1 Corinthians 6:20 … ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

We who are saved are the prized purchased possessions of God. The Holy Spirit of God lives in us. We are not our own. We are to live for the Lord Who saved us. If we live, we are Christ’s. But if we die, it is all good, for it is nothing but gain!

The purposeless life is the miserable life. The lock-downs that we have gone through with the Coronavirus have actually done more harm, than good. David Deavel a senior contributor the The Imaginative Conservative notes:

Dr. Mike deBoisblanc of John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, California, told reporters that suicide had vastly increased. “We’ve never seen numbers like this, in such a short period of time,” he said. “I mean we’ve seen a year’s worth of suicide attempts in the last four weeks.”[5] Two months later, in a webinar for the Buck Institute, CDC Director Robert Redfield told listeners that when it came to high school students, “We’re seeing, sadly, far greater suicides now than we are deaths from COVID. We’re seeing far greater deaths from drug overdose that are above excess that we had as background than we are seeing the deaths from COVID.”[6]

The Washington Post, one of the cheerleaders of shutdowns, reported in July that suspected overdoses jumped nationally by 18% in March, 29% in April, and 42% in May of this year. The Post noted that the reasons for the spike include not only the joblessness and isolation that were created but also the fact that “many treatment centers, drug courts and recovery programs have been forced to close or significantly scale back during shutdowns. With plunging revenue for services and little financial relief from the government, some now teeter on the brink of financial collapse.”[7] Economist Charles Steele has suggested the excess deaths this year due to suicide and overdose could be over 70,000.[8]”

{5} Amy Hollyfield, “Suicides on the rise amid stay-at-home order, Bay Area medical professionals say” (May 2020).

{6} COVID Webinar Series at https://www.buckinstitute.org/covid-webinar-series-transcript-robert-redfield-md/

{7} William Wan and Heather Long, “‘Cries for help’: Drug overdoses are soaring during the coronavirus pandemic,” The Washington Post (July 2020).

{8} Michael Austin, “Study: 111,000 Children Will Starve to Death Because of Economic Shutdowns,” The Western Journal (July 2020).

The Apostle did not spend his time worrying about what might be, but instead focused on what God promised. The Apostle John, martyred by exile to the Island of Patmos, declared:

1 John 2:22-25 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. 23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: [but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. 24 Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.

God promised those who received Christ as Savior and Lord that we have eternal life. The Apostle Paul told the disciple Titus:

Titus 1:2-3 … in hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; 3 but hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Savior;

What God has said is true, is true. Let us keep our focus on our Jesus, and our minds dwell on His purpose in us. King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived according to Scripture, said:

Ecclesiastes 7:1 A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.

We can all understand why a “good name” would be valuable. If people do not trust your character, you won’t get far in this life. But how can the day of one’s death be BETTER than the day of one’s birth? It is because, if you know the Lord Jesus as Savior, death is a promotion, not a demotion.

Philippians 1:22-24 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labor: yet what I shall choose I wot not. 23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: 24 nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

Paul was not concerned about dying. He actually couldn’t wait to get Heaven where our Lord is. Paul would have understood that old hymn we often insincerely sing:

This world is not my home

I’m just a-passing through

My treasures are laid up

Somewhere beyond the blue.

The angels beckon me

From heaven’s open door

And I can’t feel at home

In this world anymore.

Oh Lord, you know

I have no friend like you

If heaven’s not my home

Then Lord what will I do?

The angels beckon me

From heaven’s open door

And I can’t feel at home

In this world anymore.

When I was in the Air Force, the hardest assignment I ever had was to spend 14 months in Kunsan, Korea. It was hard because I had to be separated from my family that whole time. One thing kept me going throughout that tedious tour. My wife sent recordings every week, sounds from home. I kept my focus on home, until the day I was home.

Christian, where is your focus? Where is your home? The life you live now is so very temporal. “What is your life? It is a vapor, a fog that vanishes with the rising of the sun” (James 4:14). This life is fleeting. The next life is eternal. Keep your eyes on the eternal. Keep your eyes on Jesus. The Apostle ends with these words, and so do I:

Philippians 1:27-30 Only let your {way of life} be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28 and in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. 29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; 30 having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

Do not be afraid, Pilgrim. We are on the road home. Let us look to Jesus! May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Philippians, Sermons Preached | Tagged ,

Beware Of The Leaven Of …

Photo by Ingmar on Unsplash

Matthew 16:1-6 The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven. 2 He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. 3 And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? 4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet {Jonah}. And he left them, and departed. 5 And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. 6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

Mark 8:11-15 And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation. 13 And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side. 14 Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. 15 And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.

As I have said repeatedly, when we study the Gospels, it is best to look at parallel texts. Today we look at an incident in the life of Christ. Jesus had had a wonderful few days. He fed 5000 Jews with 5 loaves of bread, and 4000 Gentiles with 7 loaves of bread. At the end of this last miracle we read:

Matthew 15:37-39 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken {bread} that was left seven baskets full. 38 And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children. 39 And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala. (Mark calls this Dalmanutha, Mark 8:10)

Magdala was the home of a lady called Mary of Magdalene, out of whom Jesus cast seven demons (Luke 8:2). Jesus is well known in Magdala because of Mary and the other miracles that He has done in the power of the Spirit. No sooner than Jesus made landfall we read:

Matthew 16:1 The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.

A Wicked And Adulterous Generation Seeks A Sign

The Pharisees and Sadducees were continually asking Jesus – and the Apostles who continued to preach after His ascension – for a “sign”. These men had seen all the signs that they needed to see. Jesus had raised the dead, caused the cripple to walk and the deaf to hear. He gave sight to the blind. Jesus feed large groups of people – 5000 Jews and 4000 Gentiles – with just a tiny amount of bread. Jesus had proved Himself the Messiah, and boldly proclaimed:

John 6:35 … I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

The Sadducees and Pharisees demand to “show us a sign” is just a way of attempting to irritate Jesus, to cause Him to lose His temper and perhaps stumble spiritually. Unbelievers used these satanic tactics with the later Apostles. Paul wrote:

1 Corinthians 1:22-23 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

Neither Jesus nor the Apostles spent time producing “signs” for the Jews (the Pharisees and Sadducees). The Evangelist Mark tells us Jesus responded:

Mark 11:12 And {Jesus} sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.

Jesus “sighed” over their desire for a “sign”. Why? Because their hearts are hardened to the Gospel of salvation. They saw all the signs they needed to see. But the hardened heart cannot be reached. Jesus told them:

Matthew 16:2-4 {Jesus told them}…. When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. 3 And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? 4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet {Jonah}.

Word Study People see what they want to see. When it benefits them, or they think it benefits them, they will watch and learn. But if the sign requires a change of mentality or a change of behavior, the “wicked and adulterous” generation rejects the sign from God. Jesus called these Pharisees and Sadducees “wicked and adulterous”, the Greek πονηρός καί μοιχαλίς γενεά (ponēros kai moichalis genea), literally means “a people who seek to do wickedness and adultery, destroying marriages and homes”. Jesus called these people “hypocrites” because they were two faced. They pretended to be right before God, yet in their actions they sought out Satan and did their best to destroy society. When Jesus calls them ADULTERERS He heaps the greatest of condemnation on them.

Among the ancient Jews, adultery was viewed as a sin as grievous as murder, rape, or kidnapping. Adulterers were to be taken outside of the city and were to be stoned with stones until they were dead (Deuteronomy 22:23-24; Leviticus 20:10). Adultery, like murder, tears at the fabric of a civilization. It destroys the nation by destroying the family. As such, God viewed sexual sin of this nature as a heinous crime.

The farther a nation wanders from Biblical marriage, the farther that nation moves from God. When those who are suppose to lead the nation in righteousness no longer do righteousness, then the darkness gets greater and greater.

God watches a nation, and blesses it or
allows it to fall into its own curse.

Jeremiah 29:23 23 … because they have committed villainy in Israel, and have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives, and have spoken lying words in my name, which I have not commanded them; even I know, and am a witness, saith the Lord.

Hosea 4:2-3 By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood. 3 Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.

All around us we have evidence, “signs”, that there is a God Who made us. Jesus clearly presented Himself as Messiah, the One sent from glory to save His people from sin. But rather than see the sign, the Pharisees kept asking “show us a sign”. They were like Satan Who, tempting Jesus in the wilderness, said:

Matthew 4:6 If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Jesus refused to give Satan a “sign” that He was the Messiah, for God had already proved Him so at His baptism. Didn’t the Spirit of God descend upon Jesus like a Dove? Didn’t the Father speak from Heaven, saying,

Matthew 3:17 … This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Didn’t Jesus heal? Didn’t He teach the Word of God with power? Didn’t He prove Himself the Good Shepherd by giving and loving and doing? Yet these religious hypocrites demanded more, more, more. Jesus told them:

Matthew 16:4 … A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah.

This is the second time Jesus made this statement. Just a few days previously Jesus told the Scribes and Pharisees:

Matthew 12:39-40 … An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah: 40 for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Beware The Leaven

Jesus warns His followers, His Church, of becoming “leavened” by the world. We read:

Matthew 16:5-8 And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. 6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. 7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. 8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?

Jesus said “beware of the leaven of
the Pharisees and of the Sadducees”.
Mark adds “and of the leaven of Herod” (Mark 8:15).

When the disciples heard this, they thought that Jesus was talking about them being poor stewards. Jesus had just fed 4000+ Gentiles with 7 loaves of bread, and the disciples took up seven baskets of leftover bread after all were filled (Matthew 15:37). They did not bring but 1 loaf of bread with them, and felt guilty about their negligence. When Jesus said:

beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and
of the Sadducees (and of Herod)

they linked this statement to their failure in planning, in using the gifts that God gave them. Jesus chastised them, saying …

{vs 8} O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves,
because ye have brought no bread

Why did their minds focus on the bread? Because they were not focused on Jesus. They heard the word “leaven” and immediately their minds went to bread.

What is leaven, and what is it’s
significance in the Scripture?

Leaven is YEAST. It is used to ferment beers, but its most common use is in bread making. Leaven is added to bread to make it rise. A tiny amount of yeast mixed into a bread dough will cause the loaf to double in size. Once cooked, the yeast dies, but leaves behind both flavor as well a soft texture.

Early in Israel’s history God used leaven, or the lack thereof, to teach them about sin and righteousness. Only two places in scripture does God command Israel use leaven:

  • When the Peace Offering was given. The Peace Offering was given whenever God’s people wanted to praise Him for the peace they enjoyed with Him. The Peace Offering was the only sacrifice worshipers could eat. Leviticus 7:11-13 tells us,

    And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he shall offer unto the Lord. 12 If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fried. 13 Besides the cakes, he shall offer for his offering leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offerings.

    The unleavened bread represented the sinless life, whereas the leavened bread represented the sinful life. The Peace Offering emphasized that sinful man had peace with the Holy God because of his Grace. No leaven could be burned on the altar of God (Leviticus 2:4, 5, 11), but the leavened bread was shared among the people.

  • When the Feast Of Pentecost was celebrated. Lambs without spot or blemish were sacrificed to God. Two “wave loaves … shall be of fine flour, baked with leaven; they are the first fruits unto the Lord” (Leviticus 23:17). The lambs without blemish were sacrificed and burned, but the wave loaves were given to the priests. The Lamb was symbolic of Christ, Who has no sin. The wave loaves are symbolic of God’s Church, both Jew and Gentile, who are imperfect, marred by sin.

Leaven or yeast was often used in Scripture to signify sinfulness. Sin, like yeast, when imparted to a community, will spread and grow if not addressed. It is this image that the Apostle Paul shares with us, problems that He addressed in the early Church. In 1 Corinthians 5 the Apostle addresses unrestrained sexual sin in the Church.

1 Corinthians 5:1-2 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. 2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.

The Church’s attitude toward one of its members in sexual sin should be one of mourning, not celebration or acceptance. Sin is sin, and sexual sin is particularly grievous. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 6:18 (NKJV) Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.

Using the illustration of sin as leaven, the Apostle told the Corinthians,

1 Corinthians 5:6-8 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: 8 therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Just as leaven or yeast spreads throughout a bread dough, sin spreads throughout a people if is not restrained.

When Jesus said “Beware the Leaven of the Pharisees, and of the Sadducees, and of Herod”, He was not speaking of physical bread.
He was speaking of spiritual bread.

Jesus now illustrates this with the feeding of the 5000 Jews and the 4000 Gentiles:

Matthew 16:9-12 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? 12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

What Jesus said in our text above is almost exactly the same thing recorded in Mark 8:15-21. Jesus asked His disciples to:

remember the five loaves of the five thousand,
and how many baskets ye took up?

Notice that Jesus says absolutely nothing about the fish – only the bread. He asks basically about the leftovers. When Jesus was given five loaves of bread, and 5000+ were fed by Him, twelve baskets of leftover bread was taken up afterward. What does this tell us?

If you have a relationship with Jesus,
you will always have more than enough!

the seven loaves of the four thousand,
and how many baskets ye took up?

Again, our Lord took the little 7 loaves of bread, and not only fed 4000+ Gentiles, but had seven baskets of bread left over. Only when Jesus reminded them that a relationship with the Christ always blesses, always gives increase to our deficiencies, only when Jesus emphasized this we read:

Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the DOCTRINE
of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

Word Study The Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herods all have a singular “DOCTRINE” in common. What is “DOCTRINE”? The word “doctrine” is the Greek διδαχή didachḗ, {pronounced did-akh-ay’}, which means “the teachings or word of a certain group or person”. Jesus was telling His disciples:

  • Beware of the teaching of the Pharisees. The Pharisees teach that RELIGION is enough, that RELIGION will bring you into the place God wants you to be. The Pharisees taught a rigid observance of the Law of God, but rejected a daily relationship with Christ Jesus. How were the Pharisees? They were VERY HARD HEARTED toward the truths of God. They had little to no love for others, and focused on self righteousness. The God that made YOU, made that person NEXT TO YOU as well. Religion without Christ is not enough, but it produces a very mean creature. Jesus illustrated this in ..

Luke 18:9-14 {Jesus} spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

The Pharisee in the Temple was HIS OWN GOD. Note the phrase in verse 11, “he prayed thus WITH HIMSELF”. His prayers were not addressed to God, but toward those around him, and toward himself as he fed his pride. The Law of God …

Romans 7:12 … is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

It is good to keep God’s Law, to do what He says. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). When we do what God says, we do it with an eye toward pleasing Jesus Christ Who loved us, and gave Himself for us. We are ever mindful that we are creatures of Grace. We are saved because of Jesus. It is the relationship we have with Him that brings us into the family of God and into the gates of Heaven. The doctrine of the Pharisees – law without Christ – makes a very hard heart. That individual will care nothing for those around him.

  • Beware the teaching of the Sadducees. The Sadducees were anti-spiritual and very secular. They believed in the power of the human spirit, for they did not believe in the Holy Spirit.

Acts 23:8 … the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.

The Sadducees rejected the supernatural, and believed more in the power of the human spirit rather than the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Sadducees believed the only Heaven you would ever have would be on earth right now – so let’s live for today! Very materialistic, the Sadducees focused not on eternity, but on the here and now. The Sadducees might have written a book called “Your Best Life Now!”, because they did not believe in an afterlife. The belief of the Sadducee is found all throughout the Church today. Those who enjoy the leaven of the Sadducee aren’t really interested in telling others about Jesus Christ, because they – at heart – do not believe in eternity. Sadducees today go by many different titles. One group called “Social Justice Warriors” push for changes in the way that people are treated, but never focus on sharing Christ with the same people.

  • Beware the teaching of Herod (the Herodians). The Herodians believed in the power of politics to transform the human condition. Throughout scripture we often find the conservative Pharisees conspiring with the followers of Herod, the Herodians, to destroy Jesus:


Mark 3:6 And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy {Jesus}.

Mark 12:13 And they sent unto {Jesus} certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch {Jesus} in His words…

Herod was not a descendant of King David, but was an Idumean, or an Arab. When Jesus Christ came to this world, a Herod sent soldiers to Bethlehem to kill Him while He was but a baby. Throughout His ministry, Herod and his followers watched Jesus. They saw Him as a threat to Herod’s Throne, and waited for a time to destroy Him without causing riots in Jerusalem.

The Doctrine of Herod is politics, political aspirations, without Christ. There are many professing Christians today who expect the state to fix what ails America. Whether Republican, or Democrat, or Libertarian, or Independent, they expect a politician to clean up the morality of a nation. Beloved, it is not the government’s job to bring the light to our nation. It is God’s job.

The danger of the leaven of the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Herodians is that it teaches a type of Kingdom of God devoid of Christ and His Spirit. The Church is only “the Light of the world”,

Matthew 5:14 {Jesus said} Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

While Jesus Christ is in the Church:

John 8:12 … {Jesus said} I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

The Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians all sought a better world without Jesus Christ. There is no better world without Jesus. With Jesus, a little is much, because Jesus will make the little, much. Without Jesus it is not Christianity. Without His Word and His Presence, it is not the Kingdom of God. Jesus Christ must NEVER be excluded from our services, and our lives.

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit.

Posted in Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached | Tagged , ,

Standing Strong In Chaotic Times

Photo by Hasan Almasi on Unsplash

Psalm 123 Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens. 2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that he have mercy upon us. 3 Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us: for we are exceedingly filled with contempt. 4 Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud.

This Psalm – though small – has a lot to tell believers in the Bible living in America today. This small Psalm – just 4 verses long – is a prayer for deliverance from a believer who is emotionally spent. What has worn him down, and what is his solution – the solution that God speaks to his heart? He is overwhelmed with the unsaved and godless world around him. He is, as Larry Norman once said, A Stranger in A Strange World”.

#1 Believers In Scripture (Like Jesus) Will Suffer

Those who believe in and live according to Scripture like Jesus did, will always be persecuted by those who do not believe in and live according to the Scripture.

The world enjoys the darkness of sin (John 3:19; John 12:46). The Scripture shines light on the darkness.

Many people today love a type of scripture that teaches “all will be saved and go to Heaven”, but despises the Scripture that teaches obedience to the King of Heaven.

Many who profess “Jesus is my Savior” believe they are going to a Heavenly Kingdom one day, and yet refuse to live their lives under His Kingship here on the earth. Jesus and Heaven are for later. Now there is the earth. Now we can do as we please, for we are our own kings and queens. No one sets our standards but our peers, our social media “friends”.

Word Study This is what is taught. God forbid – in any age – that you believe the Scripture! This has always been the case. The writer of Psalm 123 says “we are EXCEEDINGLY FILLED with contempt”. What does he mean? The Hebrew for “EXCEEDINGLY FILLED” רַב rabשָׂבַע sâbaʻ {pronounced saw-bah’} means “we have had more than enough”. He repeats this phrase in verse 4:

Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud.

The Psalmist is saying “our SOULS are SATURATED with the SCORN and CONTEMPT of those around us, those who are FILLED WILL PRIDE but have no knowledge of God”.

We live an a society today where this nation – founded by Christians – is now anti-Christian. If you believe God’s Word is true and state this truth in any public place, you will be shouted down, mocked, and treated as evil.

So many Christians today have been so bullied by the pagan culture around us that they have compromised with evil, and keep silent rather than be rebuked. The Bible is said to be outmoded, and any who stand up for it’s truths are archaic and against progress.

Today even the state is getting involved in attacks against Christianity. The Supreme Court of the United States should be wholeheartedly endorsing the First Amendment, protecting the rights of Christians to worship. Instead even our Chief Justices have turned a blind eye to state terrorism of the Church. But this isn’t new.

In England prior to the colonization of America the state religion was Anglicanism, and Bible believing Christians who did not agree with the state owned Church of England were persecuted. William Penn, the eventual founder of Pennsylvania, was imprisoned in the Tower of London from 1668-1669, accused of “heresy”. His crime? He was a Quaker. His beliefs were not endorsed by the King nor his Church. Penn told the King:

If thou wouldst rule well, thou must rule for God, and to do that, thou must be ruled by Him. … Those who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants.”

Quakers were not allowed to worship in buildings. Locked out of his Church building by the state (does this sound familiar?), Penn preached in the street in front of the building. Penn was charged with “unlawful, tumultuous assembly that disturbed the king’s peace”. When William Penn was tried, the jury refused to declare him guilty. The Judge was furious, demanding …

a verdict that the court will accept, [or the jury itself] shall be locked up without meat, drink, fire, and tobacco. … We will have a verdict by the help of God or you will starve for it.”

After the jury refused to find William Penn guilty three more times, the Judge fined the jurors, and had them locked up. It is this incident that led William Penn and other believers to come to the Americas, seeking religious freedom.

Only a nation founded by Christians would have allowed competing religious views to have freedom of worship.

In Atheistic, Marxist, Hindi, and many Muslim countries today, Bible believing Christians are persecuted and often killed. From The Voice of the Martyrs:

When Poonam quietly left Hinduism in 2012, the Bible she obtained instantly became her most prized possession. The young Indian wife and mother of three secretly read God’s Word in her home each day, growing in her understanding of God’s love for her. But she feared that her husband would discover her new faith, and he soon did. After overhearing her praying a Christian prayer one day, he found her Bible and angrily tore it to pieces. “From today on you stop reading the Bible, and as long as you live in this house you better not pray!” he scolded. Poonam’s husband then beat her, eventually kicking her out of the house and refusing to let her see their young sons and daughter. Her Christian faith cost her everything.”

Jesus made it a point – His number 1 point – that those who are saved are now members of another, Higher Kingdom. Just as Jesus was at odds with those bound in sin and in state supported religion, He told us that we, too, would be persecuted. Listen to His words:

Matthew 10:22 … ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

John 15:18-19 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

1 John 3:13 … Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. 14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love …

Luke 6:22-23 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. 23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.

We who are Christians cling to the truths of the Word of God because our Master and Savior Jesus Christ held the Scripture in such high regard. Jesus quoted Scripture throughout His earthly ministry, saying “it is written”. In fact, the phrase “it is written” is found some 80 times throughout the Bible as the prophets referred to the Holy Bible scriptures. The Apostle, via the Scripture, commands the Christian to:

Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Our bodies do not belong to the darkness, but to the One Who saved us. We are purchased possessions of God, freed from sin and bound to His Will. We are called to live according to what our God and Savior says is right and righteous, to live as “living sacrifices”. The world will call this crazy, insane. The world will declare the Book we follow to be out dated, the tool of haters. But we love. We love God, and we love others. It is not love to endorse the slavery of sin nor the morality of darkness. Jesus Christ set us free, so we live valiantly, hopefully, looking to Him.

#2 Believers In Scripture (Like Jesus),
Look To Their Sovereign Father ALWAYS

To say that Psalm 123 is a “Psalm of Lament” is to mis-label it. Sorrow is not the main message of this Psalm. The title of this Psalm (along with 14 other small Psalms) is “A Song of Degrees”. My favorite preacher, C.H. Spurgeon, stated that these 15 Psalms …

were chanted by the Lord’s people as they went up to the temple. They are “Songs of the Goings Up;” so some read the word. Those who delight to spiritualize everything find here Ascents of the Soul, or language fitted to describe the rising of the heart from the deepest grief to the highest delight”.

Psalm 123 looks upward to God. It was said by God’s Old Testament believers as they went to their Church building, the Temple. Persecution of the believer is not mentioned until the end of the Psalm. Though fed up, the believer does not look at the persecutors or the haters, but we read:

Psalm 123:1 Unto Thee lift I up mine eyes, O Thou that dwellest in the heavens.

Note first of all the word “Eyes”, found four times in this little Psalm. The eyes of the persecuted are not focused on the persecutors. They are focused UPWARD. UNTO THEE lift I up mine eyes.

The Eyes Of The Christian Is On The Sovereign God

The believer in Scripture knows that our God is Sovereign, that He is in control of all things. The Bible says:

Psalm 2:2-4 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, 3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. 4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.

Our God is in Heaven, He does all that He pleases (Psalm 115:3). It is God Who made all things, and God Who controls all things.

Psalm 113:4-9 The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens. 5 Who is like unto the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high, 6 who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth! 7 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill; 8 that he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people. 9 He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the Lord.

Our God could squash all opposition to His people, and at times does so. But there are other times when our God – though He does not cause the hatred and the scorn – He allows it. “But why”, you might ask, “why would our God allow us to be attacked by the godless?”. Because our Lord desires the salvation of the world. He wants the world saved, for it to willingly turn to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. What did Jesus Christ our Lord tell us?

John 3:16-21 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

He that “believeth not in Christ is condemned ALREADY”. The smoke of hell clings to their souls. Their destination is not glory, where the Son of God will reign over His people. Their destination is damnation. This is why the Christ is forbidden to take vengeance, or to attack back those who attack Him. What did the Apostle write to the Roman Christians, even as he was in bondage for preaching the Gospel of salvation.

Romans 12:9-21 Let love be without {hypocrisy}. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another; 11 not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; {devoted to prayer}; 13 distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. … 17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

God allows evil to come to His Children so that others can see Christ Jesus in us. Jesus was persecuted, and loved anyway. We are persecuted, and love anyway. The ability to stand strong, looking unto our God in spite of persecution, is proof of our salvation. Jesus said:

Matthew 10:30-33 …. the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. 32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

You deny Jesus when you compromise what He holds dear in order to be well thought of by those in darkness. Salvation never comes to a soul without repentance. The Evidence Bible notes:

The Scriptures speak of “repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18). We turn from sin to the Savior. This is why Paul preached “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). The first public word Jesus preached was “repent” (Matthew 4:17). John the Baptist began his ministry the same way (Matthew 3:2). Jesus told His hearers that without repentance, they would perish (Luke 13:3). If belief is all that is necessary for salvation, then the logical conclusion is that one need never repent. However, the Bible tells us that a false convert “believes” and yet is not saved (Luke 8:13); he remains a “worker of iniquity.” Look at the warning of Scripture: “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth” (1 John 1:6). The Scriptures also say, “He that covers his sins shall not prosper, but whoso confesses and forsakes them [repentance] shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). Jesus said that there was joy in heaven over one sinner who “repents” (Luke 15:10).”

We who belong to God by faith in Christ look to Him, knowing that He watches over us. We live for the smile of our Sovereign God.

The Eyes Of The Christian Is On Our Heavenly Father

Psalm 123:1 Unto Thee lift I up mine eyes, O Thou that dwellest in the heavens.

When we who believe in the Scripture look up, we not only see a Sovereign God, but we see a Heavenly Father Who loves us. In the New Testament the Scripture says that believers in Christ are adopted by God – we are His Children. We read:

Galatians 4:4-7 … when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Heaven is our Home, and God our Father. We who have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are, in the words of Galatians 3:26, “all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus”. Because THE Son of God, Jesus Christ, shed His Blood on Calvary, we who have received Him are His adopted Children. We have a home waiting for us in Heaven, a “mansion” that Jesus is preparing for us (John 14:1-3) who believe that He is the ONLY WAY unto God (John 14:6). What has Christ given us?

Romans 8:14-17 … as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

As Jesus suffered, was persecuted, we will be persecuted. Yet this is not a discouragement, but a blessing. If we were of the darkness we would be at home in the darkness. But we belong to God our Father. He is:

Matthew 6:9 … Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

#3 Believers In Scripture (Like Jesus),
Are TOGETHER Members Of His Kingdom

Psalm 123:1-2 Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens. 2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that he have mercy upon us.

In verse 1 we see the speaker talking in the first person. I lift up my eyes”. But as we move to verse 2 we see the speaker talks not just for himself, but for a group. Our eyes wait upon the Lord our God”. Believers serve the Lord together in unity.

Since the pandemic we call the Coronavirus has hit America we have seen on social media quite often the statement:

The Church is not the building. The people are the Church”.

Many of those who post or proclaim this (and I do agree with it) are professing believers who refuse to come together with other believers to worship God. It is true that the Church is not a building. But it is also true that the Church is not one person. The Church is a community of like minded believers who gather together to worship the Lord.

Some Churches cannot afford buildings. Some Christians, living in area