The Identity Of The Church

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to Ephesians chapter 1. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1&2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians. As you turn, let’s review from last week.

Review And Introduction

Last week we studied in the Gospel of Matthew the words of Jesus:

Matthew 21:42-43 Jesus saith unto {the Scribes and Pharisees}, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes? 43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

The “Builders” of Israel were the Scribes and Pharisees. They adhered to and taught the Law of Moses to the people. But these “Builders” disparaged Jesus Christ, God’s Sent Messiah. The Scribes and Pharisees forgot that they were supposed to stand up for God and His Word. When “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14), the Scribes & Pharisees did not support the Messiah, but fought against Him.

Israel lost their stewardship of the Gospel. God moved the stewardship of His Kingdom to “a nation bringing forth the fruits of His kingdom”.
This nation is the Church.

The Church is a new nation – created by God – in which believers in Christ are granted citizenship and purpose greater than any human purpose. The Church – God’s nation – is

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

The God given Constitution of every Church is the Bible. The Bible is the foundation of our identity in Christ. The Prophets wrote of the coming Jesus. The Apostles wrote and witnessed the Jesus Who had come. And Jesus Christ is our chief Corner Stone.

Let Us Avoid The Errors And Know Our Purpose

When God raised up the Church, He did not bring another brand of Judaism in. In order to develop this new Nation whose allegiance is to God Almighty, God took a Pharisee who was well known to the ruling board of Pharisees. God knocked this man down on the Damascus Road, this Chief Pharisee named Saul, saying:

Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

Saul replied, “Who are You, Lord?”

And Jesus, the One Who was founding a new Nation of people called the Church, said “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. Get up, go into the city, and I will tell you what to do” (Acts 9:4-6). From that point, the resurrected Jesus sent a believer named Ananias to Saul. The Lord told Ananias:

Acts 9:15-16 Go thy way: for {Saul} 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.

God the Son gave Saul a higher purpose, and a new name. Saul – also known as Paul – began to go about telling others of Jesus. He did not just reach out to Israel as did Peter and the other Apostles, but Paul understood that God was bringing forth a new nation, a people united and focused on Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. In this nation of light, racism and misogyny has no hold. In this nation – governed by Christ – “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond or free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Paul writes to the Church – God’s nation – saying:

Ephesians 1:1-2 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul is an Apostle of Jesus Christ because God willed it. He is careful not to use his old, Jewish name as he writes the Church. Saul died on the Damascus Road, and was reborn as Paul, which is a Gentile name.

Word Study Paul uses two words to describe the citizens of God’s Kingdom, the Church. He calls them “saints” and “faithful”. The word “saints” is a spiritual word, whereas “faithful” is a practical word. The word “saints” is the Greek ἅγιος hágios, {pronounced hag’-ee-os}, which means “to be set apart or chosen out for God’s use”. If God has touched you and called you into His Church, then that which He has done on the inside will reflect on what you do outwardly. If you are a saint, saved by faith in Christ, then your fruit will reflect that salvation. If you are saved then you are no longer a bad tree. You are to bear good fruit for the One Who saved you.

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

Good Fruit Is Holy Fruit, Jesus Honoring Fruit:
We Are Planted In God’s Garden

Ephesians 1:3-6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

The Apostle is careful not to say that the Christian will be blessed, but rather we have been blessed. Before you were saved by faith in Christ you were a Child of Adam. You walked according to what you wanted to do. You lived your life according to darkness. The Lord called you out of darkness:

Acts 26:18 … to turn {you} from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that {you} may receive forgiveness of sins

The Christian is no longer a son of Adam, but is now a son of God. The Christian no longer lives for self, but for the smile of the Savior!

1 Peter 2:9 … 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:

We are a chosen people, set apart by God through Christ to be

Ephesians 1:4-5 holy and without blame before him in love: 5 having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will

The Christian is a saint – “holy”, set apart for God’s Kingdom. We as Christians are “without blame” before Almighty God. Why? Because Jesus Christ took our blame. Jesus Christ took our blame when He died on Calvary for our sins. We are told in another place:

Philippians 2:13-16 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

Because the Son of God died on Calvary for us,

1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

We are predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. On the day that you heard the Gospel of Salvation, and repented, turning to the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, God sent His Holy Spirit into the framework of your lives. We no longer are children of Adam because of the work of God in our lives. The Scripture says:

Romans 8:15-17 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. The Spirit {Himself} 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.

The Blood of Christ has paid for our sins. The Spirit of Christ has indwelt us, and marked us as Children of God. And one day we shall stand in glory with our Savior Jesus, and receive the fullness of our Adoption. It was “the good pleasure of God’s will” to do this.

I Am “Accepted” In The Beloved

Ephesians 1:6 to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

As believers, we are “accepted in the Beloved”. What does this mean? When our Jesus walked this earth, numerous times God the Father spoke, saying of Jesus:

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

Luke 9:35 This is my beloved Son: hear him.

In our world today, as in the ancient Roman world, it is popular to say “God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam”. But this is not what the Bible teaches. God told Israel in the Ten Commandments:

Exodus 20:2 You shall have no other gods before Me …

God declared that the worship of other gods was the same as worshiping demons. God told the Israelite who worshiped false gods that “they provoke Me to jealousy with abominations: they sacrifice the devils, not to God (Deuteronomy 32:16-17; Leviticus 17:7). When Jesus was tempted to worship Satan by Satan, our Lord responded:

Matthew 4:10 … Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

We are only made acceptable before God the Father “in the Beloved”. Because Jesus died for our sins, and His sacrifice was accepted by the Father, when we receive Him as Lord and Savior God looks at us and says, “I accept them for My Beloved’s sake”. Jesus Christ is “the Way, the truth, and the life – no one comes to the Father but by Him” (John 14:6). The early Church preached:

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Ephesians 1:7 in {Jesus} we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

Those who are saved “in the Beloved” are redeemed from condemnation from God and are purchased possessions not of Satan, but of God Himself. We are no longer slaves to this fallen world. We are members of Christ’s Kingdom, and prized possessions of God. The Bible says:

1 Corinthians 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

1 Corinthians 7:23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

God “bought” you with the Blood of Jesus Christ. You are His purchased possession. You do not belong to the devil any more! It’s like that old song we sing:

Redeemed—how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child, and forever, I am.
Redeemed, redeemed,

Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed, redeemed,
His child, and forever, I am.
Redeemed and so happy in Jesus,

No language my rapture can tell;
I know that the light of His presence
With me doth continually dwell.

Ephesians 1:8-10 wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

Think of Christ this way: He is God’s Vessel, God’s Bucket. God is gathering together in ONE vessel, in Christ, all that believe. The Old Testament Saint and the New Testament Saint are gathered into that vessel called Christ. This is God’s purchased and precious possession! God is continually drawing people into this Kingdom, His Kingdom. The Prophet wrote:

Daniel 2:44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

It is God the Father’s will that as many as will come into Christ’s Kingdom. The Kingdom of Christ will stand forever.

The Triune Godhead Brings The Christian
Into The Family

Ephesians 1:11-14 in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 that we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 in whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

In verse 3 we read how the Father and the Son worked together to bring the Christian into the Kingdom of God. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:”. The Son accomplished our Salvation, but the Father planned it. In these next verses we see that God the Holy Spirit SEALS us. The Christian is indwelt, marked by God, and preserved by the power of God.

It is the will of the Father that all be saved.
It is the sacrifice of the Son that insures our salvation.
It is the work of the Holy Spirit that secures our salvation.

The Bible says: John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

If you believe on the Son of God, the SPIRIT of God abides on you. But if you believe not on the Son of God, the WRATH of God abides on you. A person without Christ looks at God as an enigma, perhaps as a consuming fire. But the person who has received Christ as lord and Savior sees God not as a consuming fire, but as a Pillar of Fire, a Guide, a Protector, the Father. C.H. Spurgeon said:

Another man with unforgiven sin about him stands afar off and if he thinks of God at all it is as a consuming fire. But the forgiven Christian looking up to God, when he sees the mountains and the hills, and rolling streams and the roaring flood, he says “My Father made them all;” and he clasps hands with the Almighty across the infinite expanse that sunders man from his Maker. His heart flies up to God. He dwells near to Him, and he feels that he can talk to God as a man talketh with his Friend.”

We are saved from sin, and given destinies as Children of God. We are now free to lovingly serve within the Kingdom of God. As Paul finishes the introduction to this letter, He writes:

Ephesians 1:15-18 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 16 cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

God wants us to know our purpose in Him. We are not as we were before, but are Children of God, adopted of the Spirit, blood purchased possessions.

Though the Apostle was not with the believers in Ephesus, their loving nature toward one another had been spread abroad. The Apostle prayed that they would not lose their purpose, but would continue to love God and love one another as the Scripture commands.

You have an inheritance, and are an inheritance, if you belong to Jesus Christ by faith.

The reason that Jesus Christ became incarnate, entering this world through a virgin and a manger, was so He could bring…

Hebrews 2:10 .. many sons unto glory

He gave Himself for you, so that you could not only one day be brought into Heaven, but that through you God can bring Heaven to earth. The local Church fulfills the Law of God when it loves God with all its heart, and loves others as we wish to be loved. May God touch your hearts and “that you might know the hope of His calling”. God expects His people to be:

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

We who are saved by faith in Christ are saved to serve God, shining for Jesus in this dark and lost world. We are to look unto and to live for Jesus.

Ephesians 1:19-23 and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.

Jesus Christ now sits at the right hand of God the Father. He is above all things, all powers. He is the Head of His Church, and we are His Body – if we are indeed saved. We need to know and claim our identity – especially in these dark days of America. May God the Holy Spirit and His Word lead each one of us to “make our calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10). Amen and amen!

Posted in Ephesians, Sermons Preached | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Final Destination

Photo by Arūnas Naujokas on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to Luke 16.

We All Have A Final Destination

Several years ago there was a series of scary movies called “Final Destination”. In that movie, death stalked – and usually got – the characters. What made the movie interesting is that it made death out to be an entity, and evil being that chased and tried to destroy people. Death is not an entity. Death is a reality of life. It is human to be born, to live your life, then to die physically. When you die physically, your soul goes to another place, another state, another home. Death is not the cessation of life, but a door by which you enter another place. The Bible says:

Hebrews 9:27-28 And as 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

Everyone has an appointment that we must make. That appointment is the time of our physical death. Yet this physical death is not the end of life itself, but the transfer of our souls from this container we call a “body”, to another place. Jesus Christ died, bearing our sins on His body on the tree of Calvary, so that after our physical death we can go and be with God our Father. No one ever actually ceases to be. You cease to be HERE, but if you are a Christ follower, as Jesus said,

John 12:26 … where I am, there shall also my servant be …

When you leave this life, your soul will have a final destination, a final judgment. If you are in Christ your works shall be judged by Jesus. If you are NOT in Christ, your works shall be judged by God. Out west there is a tombstone, and on it the words:

Pause, stranger, when you pass me by,
For as you are, so once was I.
As I am now, so you will be,
Prepare to die, and follow me.

Next to this tombstone someone erected another sign that said:

To follow you I’m not content,
Until I know which way you went!

Luke 16:19-21 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

Does Jesus Know Your Name?

What did Jesus believe about Heaven and Hell? We’ll see that today in this message, direct from our Master’s lips. Jesus begins by telling us about two individuals. The first is “a certain rich man”, and the second a “certain beggar named Lazarus”. These two people were in two very different situations in life.

Luke 16:19 … There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day

The rich man was clothed in purple and fine linen. This was not the day of Walmart, nor of mass production. There were no Ritz Die companies. Back in these days purple was a color that could only be obtained by crushing a tiny sea snail known as Bolinus brandaris. The snail was harvested at only one place, the Phoenician city of Tyre – and it was so rare that it was worth it’s weight in gold.

Purple clothing was worn only by great dignitaries, politicians, lawyers, and kings. Fine linen was, again, exceedingly rare.

In the Old Testament Pharaoh raised up Joseph to be his right hand man, and “arrayed Joseph in vestures of fine linen” (Genesis 41:42). When God had Israel build the Tabernacle, it had “ten curtains of fine, twined linen” (Exodus 26:1). The High Priest wore a breastplate of judgment of fine, twined linen (Exodus 28:15). Fine linen is even used to describe the future Marriage Supper of the Lamb. We who are saved will be …

Revelation 19:8 … arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

Only the best and most influential people were clothed in Purple and fine linen. This rich man had everything. He “fared sumptuously every day”, eating only the best foods. This man had EVERYTHING,

EVERYTHING but a name. Jesus didn’t give him a name.

There are many people in our world today who are well known on television, through the news, through politics. If I mention the name “Steve Jobs” people immediately say, “Oh, the Founder of Apple”. If I say “Bill Gates”, you know he founded Microsoft. If I say “Bill Lee”, you know I’m speaking of the Governor of Tennessee. Oh, there are so many famous people, well known through television and media.

But does Jesus know them? Those famous people, perhaps famous and rich people, does Jesus know them? Jesus Christ is the Door of the Sheep. Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God that gave His life for us. He told us:

John 10:7-11 Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 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. 11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

So many people today are like this rich man. Jesus once asked a true and faithful question:

Matthew 16:26 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?

So many have sold their souls, like Esau, for a little lentil stew. So many have refused the narrow gate, choosing instead the wide and broad gate that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). Don’t get me wrong. It is not a sin to be rich. It is a sin to be rich, and yet never be known of God. This rich man had the whole world as his oyster, and yet he was unknown of God. How do we know this? Read your context:

Luke 16:20-21 there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

Jesus now introduces a man named Lazarus. Lazarus” is an interesting name. It means “assistance of God”. This man leaned on God every day, trusting the Lord for what he had. In our world today, if you had a choice to be POOR or RICH, most people would choose RICH. We all think that RICHES are better than poverty. Yet this is not true. Jesus preached:

Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

When Jesus was asked, “Are You the Messiah, or should we look for another”, our Lord replied:

Matthew 11:5-6 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

Poverty and want are often the best places to be if you want to be in the family of God. Want drives us into the arms of the Savior, whereas plenty often fogs our minds and teaches us to foolishly ignore God. Lazarus has no food, no fine clothes. In fact, our text tells us that:

Luke 16:21 … {Lazarus} desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table

Lazarus apparently stayed down with the dogs, at the foot of the rich man’s table. This man who had EVERYTHING refused to give more than the VERY LEAST to this poor, starving man. The rich man only loved himself. He devalued other humans. He treated other people as if they were objects to be used. He didn’t object to Lazarus being at the foot of his table … but he didn’t go out of his way to feed Lazarus, either. As Lazarus laid with the dogs, dogs that licked his wounds, the “certain rich man” ignored the groans from his lips and the sounds from his empty belly.

Jesus told His disciples one day:

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

The rich man was a worker of iniquity, a doer of evil. How was he thus? Because he saw Lazarus suffering and starving, and did nothing to help. He could have given Lazarus a seat at the table. He could have given Lazarus a job, a place to stay, a place to get himself cleaned up. Our Lord Jesus told us that the entirety of the Law of God is this:

Matthew 22:37-40 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.

Love is the fulfillment of the Law. Not just lip service, but actual love that lifts up, and encourages, and ministers. God often puts those in need in our path so that we can be the hands and feet of Christ. As we would be treated, we are to treat others.

The Rich Man And Lazarus Both Died

Luke 16:22-23 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: 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.

Both men died. The rich man had everything. When he died, he went unaccompanied to hell. He had no one around him, not even the so called “Grim Reaper”. He just died. But Lazarus, oh, how things changed for Lazarus. Lazarus was not welcomed at the table of the rich man. But Lazarus dies, and is carried by angels into Abraham’s bosom. Why did Jesus use this as an illustration?

The Bible teaches us that Abraham is not just the father of faith, but he is the pattern of the Christ follower. Jesus told the Scribes and Pharisees:

John 8:39, 42 If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. … 42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

When God spoke to Abraham,

Romans 4:3 … Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

James 2:23 … Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

Jesus told them “Father Abraham saw Me, and was glad” (John 8:58). When God called Abraham, Abraham, though a rich man himself, immediately followed God. He went where God said, when God said. The Bible tells us:

Galatians 3:9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.

If you have heard the call of God, and have answered Him by faith.
If you have let God’s Spirit put the love of God in your hearts.
If you love others, as you would be loved.
If you love God with your all.

Then you are Abraham’s seed. Like Lazarus, you have a final destination, where you will rest with Father Abraham and others like him. Lazarus was “assisted by God alone” in this life. When he died, he lifted up his eyes in the embrace of faith. But the rich man, he died, and lifted up his eyes in hell.

Proverbs 22:2 The rich and poor meet together: the LORD [is] the maker of them all

If you have riches, this is a gift from God. It was not given you so that you can spend it lavishly on yourself. It was given so that you can share with others. If you have poverty, this is a gift from God. Do not despair – seek God.

Hebrews 13:5-6 Let your {way of life} be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

The Lost Never Learn

Luke 16:22-23 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.

People believe that when they die, the automatically “rest in peace”. The Bible does not teach this. The rich man died, and in hell, he was in torments. He did not cease living – he ceased living in luxury. He was IN TORMENTS. Our Lord Jesus did not see the afterlife of the lost as a great place to be. In fact, Jesus said:

Matthew 5:29-30 And 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.

Our Lord Jesus saw hell as a horrible, torturous place. The final destination of the lost, the lake of fire (Revelation 20:13-14), is called “the second death”. Oh, how horrible that place! “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” (Revelation 14:10-11). It is a place that Jesus said “it is outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

People say, “How can a loving God do such a thing to anyone?” Beloved, it has to do with your divine design. You are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). If you reject Christ, then you bring upon yourself the judgment of God. It is not necessary, but foolish, to reject Jesus. Doesn’t the Scripture say:

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.

Note what the rich man’s first words from hell were:

Luke 16:24 the rich man … 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.

Did you notice the two things the rich man did? He called on Abraham, but not on God. He still doesn’t want anything to do with God. The rich man lived a life rejecting the Lord Jesus, and in eternity he continues on the same lost path. Note also he asked Abraham to command Lazarus to wait on him. Lazarus was but an object, a thing, while the rich man lived his earthly life. Nothing has changed. Lazarus is still just a piece of furniture to be used for his own comfort.

Luke 16:25-26 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.

There is a separation between hell and the place where Abraham is. You may not like it, but Jesus was very clear that Hell is a place of torment from which there is no reprieve. There is a great gulf fixed between Heaven and Hell, and no one can cross this gulf to relieve the sufferers of Hell. These people are in a fixed and eternal place, for they fixed their hearts and refused the Lord Who loved them. Hell is a place of everlasting fire.

Matthew 25:41-46 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 …

It was not a place that was designed for man, but for the devil and his fallen angels. The Lord doesn’t want you in Hell, but He will not force you into Heaven. Heaven wouldn’t be Heaven if you were forced there anyway! You have a choice, just as God has a choice. You choose your final destination now, while on this earth, by either receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior or rejecting God altogether. God wants all to be saved.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

The rich man continues pleading:

Luke 16:27-29 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: 28 for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.

The rich man would have Lazarus leave the glory of paradise, and return to his brothers homes, warning them of hell. Yet Abraham says, no, you had the witness of Scripture. The Bible testifies as to what is on the other side of glory. The Apostles witnessed the resurrected Jesus, and died for His testimony. The Apostle testifies:

1 Corinthians 15:3-6 …. 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;…

Abraham said “If they will not hear Moses and the Prophets (the testimony of the Scripture) they will not be persuaded, though one rose from the dead”. God has left us a witness to salvation in His Scripture. He has told us all about Heaven and Hell in this Word of God. You will either believe what God has said, or reject His Word. But there will be no second chance once you are in Hell. Hell is forever. Hell is your choice. Heaven is forever. Heaven is forever. Choose Heaven. Choose the Lord Jesus! Do not gain the whole world, but lose your own souls. Turn to Jesus. Receive Him as lord and Savior, while you yet may.

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

Posted in Luke, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Fear Of The Lord

Photo by Bradley Dunn on Unsplash

Psalm 111:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.

What is “The Fear of the Lord?”

To hear many popular preachers and televangelists today, there is no such thing as “The Fear of the Lord”. Many have preached that we should have no fear of God, for “God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Salvation is promoted as a free gift of God (which it is). After salvation, many say that God has absolutely no standards to follow, nor any expectations of His people. To say that this is false is an understatement. It is in outright lie from the pit of hell.

Salvation is a free gift from God, but it is only received when you give God ALL of you. It is much like a surgery. You go to the surgeon to be cured by cutting. You agree that this surgeon has your trust. You lay down, surrendering to the anesthesia, trusting that he will do what is best for your life. You will only be saved if you fully cast yourself into his hands. Period.

So it is with salvation.

  • Jesus offered the “gift of God” to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:10), but commanded that she “go get her husband first” (John 4:16).
  • It is “by grace we are saved through faith, and not that of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). However, once saved “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to DO GOOD WORKS”. The gift is freely given, but those who receive the gift are commanded to work for the Giver.
  • Peter directs “as every person hath received the gift of God, minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10). The gift is freely given, but once received is considered a stewardship from God.

The “cheap grace” preached in many Churches today is not the Grace that God shows in His Scripture. Thirty times in the Scripture we see the phrase “fear of the Lord”. The Prophet Job said:

Job 28:12, 23, 28 But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding? … 23 God understandeth the way thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof.28 And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.

And the Psalmist wrote:

Psalm 19:9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

And Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, declared:

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

Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

Proverbs 10:27 The fear of the Lord prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.

To “fear the Lord” is to love Him, and to do as He says. To have respect for Him. God told Israel:

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

In the New Testament, Our Lord 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.

To “fear the Lord” is to cherish His directives, to place Him above any other in your worship. Our Lord Jesus commanded that we fear the Lord. He said:

Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Once more, our focal text states:

Psalms 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of WISDOM:

The “Fear of the Lord” is the beginning – not of KNOWLEDGE – but of WISDOM. Knowledge is raw data. Wisdom is the ability to put knowledge into action. Many people have the head knowledge as to the immensity of God. The Scribes and Pharisees in Jesus’ day had a great deal of knowledge. However, they had no fear of God.

A person who fears God will treat God right, and treat those around them right.

A person who fears God will follow His commandments:

Matthew 22:37-40 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.

The Apostle John put it this way:

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.

We Fear God When We Treat Him As God

Psalm 111:1-2 Praise ye the Lord. I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation. 2 The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.

To many people God is but “the Big Man upstairs” that is acknowledged only when we have to. God is a spare tire, only pulled out when needed to get us going. Greg Morse, a pastor at Desiring God Ministries, notes:

We blaspheme God by depicting Him as a small planet orbiting us.”

God is not our Super-Servant. He is the Creator Who is worthy of all praise. He is the Bestower of Life, both eternal as well as temporal. When we fear God, we “praise Him with our whole heart”. We hold nothing back from Him, magnifying Him. We become like King David in 2 Samuel 6 when the Ark of God was returned to Jerusalem:

2 Samuel 6:14-16 David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. 15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet. 16 And as the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal Saul’s daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.

David loved our God more than He loved anyone else. He loved God so much that He cared little for what others thought of Him. This is the fear of the Lord. Jesus tells us:

Luke 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

God expects our all in praise. He wants all of our hearts. God does not want our left overs, our minimum, our least. He gave all of Himself for our Salvation, and expects us to give all of ourselves to Him. We are called to be like the unnamed woman at the home of Simon the Leper:

Mark 14:3 {Jesus} being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as {our Lord} sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.

Some in the group saw this intruding woman as a sinner. Others saw her as a person who wasted resources for no good reason. They murmured against her”. Yet her focus was not on the others in the room. Her focus was on her Jesus. She loved Him, and knew Him as both Savior and Lord. Jesus rebuked those who murmured against her, saying “Let her alone; why trouble ye her? She hath wrought a good work on Me” (Mark 14:6).

The works of God are great. This earth, and all that is in it, is created of God. Our God created the universe in which our little planet floats.

Psalm 147:4 {God} telleth the number of the stars: He calleth them all by their names

As the Apostle Paul preached, “in God we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). God is never far from any of us. He sees what we do daily. The Prophet Job said:

Job 34:21-22 {God’s} eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings. {22} There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves.

We Fear God By Respecting Him As He Is

Psalm 111:3-5 His work is honorable and glorious: and his righteousness endureth for ever. 4 He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the Lord is gracious and full of compassion. 5 He hath given meat unto them that fear him: he will ever be mindful of his covenant.

When you fear God, you acknowledge that His Word is ever truthful. “His righteousness endureth forever”. What God has said is true, remains true to all generations. What God has said is false, is still false, though all the world declare it good. Jesus prayed for His Church:

John 17:17 Sanctify them, {dear Father}, through thy truth: Thy Word is truth

What God has established as true and normal has never ceased to be true and normal. The Psalmist said:

Psalms 19:7-9 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

Psalms 119:9 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.

It is through God’s precepts that we gain understanding (Psalm 119:104). We fear God when we “lay aside all filthiness and overflowing evil, receiving with humility the Word of God, which is able to save our souls” (James 1:21). It is the Gospel of God that saves us, and the Word of God that directs us. “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.” (2 Corinthians 2:17).

We respect God’s Word because we know God is always faithful to His Word. We do not twist the Word of God to suit ourselves. We both HEAR and DO what God tells us.

Psalm 111:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.

Jesus demanded that we both HEAR and DO what He said. The person who HEARS the Word of God and then does not DO what is said is called by Jesus “foolish” (Matthew 7:26).Jesus did not teach us options, nor opinions, but commandments. He said:

Matthew 7:24-25 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.

We who believe in God – if we fear Him – will DO what He says. God promises to bless those who do what He says, and God keeps His promises. Do you wish to have a long and blessed life? Solomon tells us:

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.

Proverbs 19:23 The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.

Sin in the life of the believer hardens the heart and shortens the life span. Sin robs us of our heritage, the abundant life that God wants us to have. The Psalmist declared:

Psalm 34:8-10 O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. {9} O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. {10} The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.

If you are a “saint” of God, saved by faith in Jesus Christ, then know that God will care for you as you Biblically fear Him. “Whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because WE KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS, and DO THE THINGS THAT ARE PLEASING IN HIS SIGHT (1 John 3:22-23). We know that God is faithful, and will protect and guide us. But we must fear the Lord!

All Things Work Together For Good
For Those Who Fear God

Psalm 111:6-9 He hath shewed his people the power of his works, that he may give them the heritage of the heathen. 7 The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure. 8 They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness. 9 He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.

God saved Israel for a specific reason, and gave standards by which Israel was to operate. God saves us today in the same way. We are saved to walk with God, not against God. God is immense. God has a purpose for your life. If you’re saved by faith in Christ then everything – good and bad – is working together for your good. We don’talways understand what’s going on around us, but God does. We think that the world is out of control, but God is in control. God is either causing or allowing everything that happens to you and around you to make you – if you are a believer – into the image of His dear Son. Dear believer, you are predestinated – being made by God –

Romans 8:29 … to be conformed to the image of His Son

Let us live to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31), trusting Him, fearing Him as children would fear a father. He will never leave nor forsake us. Let us not do so unto Him. Now, more than ever, God is calling on His Church to stand up and stand in Him. May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Psalms, Sermons Preached | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Stone The Builders Rejected

Photo by Mike Petrucci on Unsplash

Matthew 21:42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?

What is our purpose? What is our goal?

Our text today comes at the end of a parable that Jesus spoke to the Chief Priests and Pharisees of His day. The Chief Priests and Pharisees were considered “the builders” of Israel. They weren’t actually the builders – God is the Builder.

Psalm 127:1 Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

God is the Builder of His Kingdom. God the Son now stands in front of the Chief Priests and the Pharisees, and as He stands there these people reject Him and plot against Him. Jesus speaks a parable to them, to show them that their focus is wrong. The Kingdom of God belongs to God, not to man. The fruit of the Kingdom of God belongs to God, not to us.

The Fruit Of The Kingdom Belongs To The Owner

Let’s talk about the parable before we discuss this text.

Matthew 21:33 Hear another parable …

Why does Jesus keep dealing with the Chief Priests and Pharisees? Why doesn’t He just tell these people to take a hike? Is Jesus just argumentative? Does Jesus just want to humiliate these people? No, I don’t believe that. I believe it is because

Jesus loves these people, and does not want
to give up on them
.

Though He will not justify their errors – He is always quick to point out their errors – Jesus keeps a dialogue going because He wants to reach their lost souls.

It is never a waste of time to share the Word of God. It is never an error to tell others the Words of Christ. “Hear another parable”, God the Son says. Jesus has time even for the most hardened. The writer of Hebrews said:

Hebrews 1:1-2 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

God speaks to us through His Son. He is speaking to the Pharisees and Priests because God wants them to repent, to return to where they belong. They believe that they are in charge of the Kingdom of God. Let me say that again, because it bears repeating.

The Chief Priests and Pharisees believe THEY own the
Kingdom of God! They don’t. God does.

They are wrong. There are people today in Churches all across America that believe “they own the Kingdom of God”. They are wrong. God owns the Kingdom of God. God owns it – not you or I. God owns our very bodies. He owns the air we breath. But Jesus speaks this parable, planting the seed, hoping they will repent (though they will not).

Before we read the parable, let’s describe the people the parable represents.

The HOUSEHOLDER Is Our Creator God
The VINEYARD Is The Kingdom of God
The HUSBANDMEN or GARDENERS Are Kingdom Workers
The SERVANTS Are The Kingdom Prophets & Preachers
The SON Is Jesus Christ

Understanding who the characters are, let’s read the parable.

Matthew 21:33 Hear another parable: There was a certain householder {this is Creator God}, which planted a vineyard {this is the Kingdom of God}, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen {these are the Gardeners or Kingdom Workers}, and went into a far country {that’s Heaven}:

It is God Who creates all things. It is God Who planted the vineyard. God started the vineyard in the Old Testament when He came to Abraham, telling that wonderful follower of God:

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

God said “I will make you … I will bless you … In YOU shall all the families of the earth be blessed because I will do this”. God called Abraham out, and saved Abraham by faith. Abraham, flawed as he was, kept looking to the Lord Jesus. Jesus said in another place to the Pharisees:

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

Abraham recognized God as the planter of the Vineyard. Abraham followed the Lord. What did God do with His Kingdom in Israel? He not only planted the Kingdom, but God

Matthew 21:33 … hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen

God hedged it. He removed the weeds from it, so that it could grow. God dug a winepress in it. It was a centerpiece of God’s Kingdom that the Messiah would come through it. The winepress was the place where the fruit of the vine was taken to be crushed.

Jesus Christ was placed in the winepress, Calvary itself, crushed by the wrath of God for our sins.

At the first Lord’s Table Jesus gave His disciples the Cup, saying:

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

Jesus went to the winepress for us, so that we do not have to face the wrath of God. He went to Calvary so that our sins could be forgiven, that His Kingdom could be established. The Lord also “built a tower”, or put a hedge of protection around His Kingdom. Then He “let it out to gardeners or workers” who were suppose to work for His Kingdom.

Matthew 21:34-35 … and when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants {the prophets and preachers} to the husbandmen {the workers in the Kingdom}, that they might receive the fruits of it. 35 And the {workers} took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.

As the Kingdom of God grew, the Owner of the Kingdom, our Creator God, expected fruit from the vineyard.

God expects Kingdom Praise, and Honor, and Glory.

God expects Thanksgiving from His people.

God expects obedience, and fidelity to the truth.

He sent the Prophets and Preachers to His Old Testament Kingdom we call Israel. When God sent Elijah, how was he received? Elijah said:

1 Kings 19:10 the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.

God’s Kingdom under Israel did not prosper, because the Pharisees and Priests believed it was THEIR Kingdom and not GOD’S Kingdom. The religious crowd took over the Kingdom. Jesus goes on to say:

Matthew 21:36-40 Again, he {God the Father} sent other servants {prophets and preachers} more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. 37 But last of all he sent unto them his son {this is Jesus Christ}, saying, They will reverence my son. 38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. 39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. 40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?

God waits. He tolerates the evil, because He wants as many as possible to come forth and be saved by faith in His Beloved Son Jesus Christ. The Apostle declared:

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 wants no one to be lost, so He tarries in judgment. But He will not wait forever. Jesus Christ came unto His own people, but His own people would not receive Him (John 1:11). When He first began ministering, Jesus told the people:

Matthew 15:24 … I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

The Father sent the Son to Israel. Jesus was born a Jew, from a virgin named Mary, in order to fulfill the prophesies of the Messiah. Jesus Christ came and clearly presented Himself as “the Way, the Truth, and the Life: No man comes to God the Father but by Him” (John 14:6). But they caught Him, and cast the Son of the Owner of the Vineyard out, and executed Him. Jesus asked them,

Matthew 21:40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?

When the Messiah is rejected, then there is no hope but the wrath of God being poured out. If we do not receive Christ as Lord and Savior, accepting Him in the Winepress of Calvary, then we ourselves will one day be in the winepress of God’s righteous judgment.

Isaiah 63:3-4 I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. 4 For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.

The Bible tells us that:

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 Pharisees and Priests refuse to believe in Christ. They refuse to believe because they have taken over the vineyard. It is no longer the Kingdom of God, but the Kingdom of man, of the Pharisees and Priests.

Jesus Is The Stone The Builders Rejected
And Rejected Even Today

Matthew 21:42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?

Jesus quotes:

Psalms 118:22-23 The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.

The “Builders” of Israel rejected the Son of God. Jesus is the God chosen Cornerstone of His Kingdom. Jesus Christ was sent of the Father to be the main pillar of His Kingdom. Gods prophesied of Jesus in …

Isaiah 28:16 therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not {be disturbed}.

Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone of the Kingdom of God. It was the Blood of Jesus that was being illustrated by the animal sacrifices and the offerings. Jesus Christ is in the Passover Lamb, for if He is received as Lord and Savior, then:

1 Corinthians 5:7 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.

When Peter and the Apostles would, following the resurrection of Christ, preach the Gospel before these same people, he would say:

Acts 4:8-12 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, 9 if we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; 10 be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11 This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone of God’s Kingdom. He died for it’s citizens. He rose again to lead and defend us. If you reject Jesus, then you have rejected the Kingdom of God. Jesus told the Pharisees and Priests:

Matthew 21:43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

The Kingdom of God divorced from Jesus Christ is no longer the Kingdom of God. Jesus is the main Focus of His Kingdom. When Christ is taken out of the program, it is no longer the Kingdom of God – it is something else. So God the Son tells these “Builders”,

You tried building the Kingdom without Christ the Cornerstone, So God will raise up other builders who will cherish the Son!”

Any nation, any people, any Church that has rejected Jesus Christ as the Cornerstone, it will be rejected of God. Jesus said:

Matthew 21:44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.

What can you do with a cornerstone? You can trip over it, and hurt yourself. You can let it fall on you, and hurt yourself. Or you can recognize it as the Cornerstone, and hide yourself in it’s structure.

Jesus Christ is the Chief Cornerstone of God’s Kingdom. You cannot enter God’s Kingdom without Jesus. Your name cannot be written in the Book of Life if you do not acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior. Israel thought that it was their own goodness that brought them into the Kingdom of God. It wasn’t. It was Jesus. God blessed Israel because of Jesus, because Jesus would come from Israel. The Apostle Paul said:

Romans 9:30-33 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. 31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone; 33 as it is written, Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of ofoffense: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

The Chief Priests and Pharisees thought that entrance into the Kingdom of God was through the door of the Law. It wasn’t. Entrance into the Kingdom of God is through the door that is Christ (John 10:7). Jesus said:

John 10:9 I am the door: by Me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

Jesus was a Rock of Offense to the religious leaders in Jerusalem – but to those who believed in Him, He is the foundation of a blessed and beautiful life.

Romans 14:17-18 … 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.

The Church that is Christ’s Church cannot be defeated. Why? Because it is:

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

Jesus is the Chief Corner Stone. Jesus is our Master and Lord. Everything we do is for the glory of God the Father in Christ our Lord. We who are His Church celebrate Him. I close with the words of the Apostle:

1 Peter 2:4-8 To {Jesus} coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 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. 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. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

We who are saved are “lively stones” because Jesus Christ bore the winepress of God’s wrath. Dying for our sins, He rose from the grave. He is the Chief Cornerstone of our faith. He is the Leader we look to, the Savior we follow.

So the choice, dear One, is yours. Jesus Christ is the King of the Kingdom of God. You yourselves need to decide whether you will receive Him as both Lord and Savior, or reject Him. He offers us no other alternative. Receive Him, and believe He gave Himself for your salvation. Receive Him, and follow Him daily as Savior and Lord. Or reject Him, and bear the consequences. I pray that you will come to Him fully this very day. May God the Holy Spirit and the Word of the Lord draw you this very day. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Faith Tried But True

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Psalm 73:26-28 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. 27 For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee. 28 But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works.

I have heard from many as to how discouraging 2020 has been. One of the things that has been most discouraging is not the virus itself, but the hypocrisy and hatred of the worldly. When it suited the talking heads on the network news channels and in Hollywood, it was perfectly fine to gather in large crowds, to sing and shout protests on bullhorns, to chant and even riot. But when it came to the gathering of the local Churches, many were shuttered by their governments, or if allowed to meet it was only with greater diminished capacity and an injunction against singing.

It is quite discouraging.
But God understands our discouragement.

Tonight we’re going to look at “A Psalm of Asaph”. Asaph was one of the Levites who directed the Choir in Israel under King David’s reign.

1 Chronicles 25:1 Moreover David and the captains of the host separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals …

When Churches are told that they cannot sing or worship God in song, this directly hinders the power of God’s Holy Spirit within the service. The Sons of Asaph “prophesied {preached} with harps, psalteries, and cymbals”. There were both stringed {harps and psalteries or zithers} as well as percussion {cymbals} instruments. When the Apostle encourages the Church to “be filled with the Spirit {of God}”, he goes on to say:

Ephesians 5:19-21 speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Music is an integral part of a Church worship service. It is by music that God softens the heart, and fires up the adoration of His people. The “Cantor” or worship leader was and is still considered just as important as the preacher of God’s Word.

Asaph, the worship leader, wrote this Psalm. The Psalm is broken into three parts.

  • In Part 1, {verses 1-12} Asaph unburdens his heart, expressing his discouragement over the ease by which the wicked live their lives.
  • In Part 2, {verses 13-20}Asaph begins to see the light, and to redirect his faith.
  • In Part 3, {verses 21-28} Asaph returns to full faith in God our Savior.

Let’s break this down, and apply it to our lives.

The Crisis Of Faith

Asaph begins with a simple truth:

Psalm 73:1 Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.

Truly, God HAS been good to America. We are {even with the excesses that many of the governors subjected their people to} the freest and most protected peoples on the planet. Regardless as to how bad the year has been for you, we must say:

Psalm 145:9 The Lord is good to ALL: and His tender mercies are over ALL His works .

God cannot help but be good, for “Good” is in the very nature of God. The Bible says:

Psalm 100:5 For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

God has been good to our nation. God has been good to our communities, to our churches. Asaph said,

even to such as are of a clean heart

This is not a reference to those who are “self righteous”, but to those who have given their hearts to the Lord Jesus. King David prayed:

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

The Bible says “the just or righteous shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38). When we realize our brokenness and come to Jesus Christ in faith, receiving Him as both Savior and Lord, God cleanses us, and brings us into His family. What a joy it is to be a Christian! Yes, God has been good to us. But Asaph continues:

Psalm 73:2-3 But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. 3 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

Asaph acknowledges that he nearly lost his faith. “My feet were ALMOST gone”. His walk with God was threatened because he focused on the apparent ease with which the wicked lived their lives. “I was envious at the foolish”. I watched a news anchor the other day called Don Lemon as he spoke about how unfair life was to the people of color. This from a man who is a millionaire! The foolish have everything: good health, full bank accounts, great health care. And yet so often the righteous seem to have nothing. I was talking to a dear lady the other day who said she could not pay the high price of insulin because of the idiotic “doughnut hole” provision in Medicare. Yet people like this newscaster and other talking heads complain bitterly, though they have all.

It is discouraging! Asaph continues:

Psalm 73:4-5 For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. 5 They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.

The world is so very unfair! Hugh Hefner made millions off of abusing and using women as sex objects, and yet he is celebrated when he dies. The wicked do not seem to suffer as do the rest of humanity.

Psalm 73:6-7 Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. 7 Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish.

They have all that they desire, and more so. They are prideful. They stand above the rest of us, mocking us, patronizing us.

Psalm 73:8-12 They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily. 9 They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth. 10 Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them. 11 And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High? 12 Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.

They are not afraid of God, and freely mock Him. Like the comedian Kathy Griffin who, upon winning an Emmy Award, said:

A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus. … This award is my god now.”

When you focus on the ungodly, and watch the evil around you that is seemingly unrestrained, it strains your faith. Asaph said “my feet were almost gone”. A man made religion will not stand the test of time. A man made faith – reliant totally upon my own efforts – will in time fall apart. Yet a God made faith, a faith founded in Jesus Christ, will stand even the assault of the wicked.

Psalm 94:16-18 Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity? 17 Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence. 18 When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O Lord, held me up.

It is natural, even normal, to have your faith challenged. But if it is challenged, it will stand the hardest knocks if God Himself is in it.

Genuine Faith, Though Tested, Will Return To God

Psalm 73:13-17 Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. 14 For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. 15 If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children. 16 When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; 17 until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.

The Jewish Study Bible notes: “There was no atheism in ancient times, only the notion that God lacked knowledge and power”. What is meant is that there are genuinely no true atheists. It is just that people, if they believe in God, believe Him to be as flawed and limited in ability and knowledge as we are. The lost think of God – if they think of Him at all – as an emergency brake that is only called upon when absolutely necessary. As Asaph focused on the lost, the evil who seemed to prosper while the righteous suffered, he began to question his faith. That is, he questioned his faith until he went into the sanctuary of God – then he understood their end.

When a Christian turns off the technology and opens the Bible, God opens His heart to us. When we take the time to meet with other believers in a house of worship, then we begin to see the truth. The truth is, God allows the wicked a certain amount of freedom, because He wants all to be saved. Just as Asaph questioned God over the freedom of the wicked, so did the Apostle Peter. He wrote:

2 Peter 3:3-10 knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6 whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7 but the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 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. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

God is not ignorant of what the wicked are doing. God knows – but tarries in judgment, waiting in graciousness that others might come to Christ. When God told Noah that he was going to flood the world, the Lord gave Noah 120 years to build an Ark. God tarried His hand of judgment – but then one day the end came. God does the same thing today. He waits, giving every person an opportunity to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. The Lord loves the Don Lemons. The Lord loves the Kathy Griffins. The Lord loves the lost, and came to this earth to seek out the lost for salvation. Jesus said:

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

We often forget that these mockers of God, these rich Hollywood fools, that they are just as loved by God as you and I are. The lost may have their riches – but their souls are bound to the service of darkness. We who are saved were once blinded by evil. But God tarried, and in time our eyes opened, and we saw Jesus. The Apostle Paul wrote:

Ephesians 5:5-11 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 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.

The unbeliever may mock and make fun of God now, but there is a judgment day coming. They think that they are on sure footing. They think that they can get away with the wickedness that they do. Asaph continues:

Psalm 73:18-20 Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. 19 How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors. 20 As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image.

They are in “slippery places”. They believe that the fat life that they are enjoying shall continue on into eternity. As Murderer James W. Rodgers stood in front of a Utah firing squad, he was asked “Do you have a final request?” He quipped, “Bring me a bullet proof vest”. The unbeliever thinks that they are in a good place, but those without Christ will one day have to suffer the Great White Throne Judgment of God. They will one day enter a lake of fire, from which there is no reprieve, no respite. It is a place of which Jesus said:

Mark 9:43-48 … if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 44 where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 46 where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: 48 where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

When We See Life Through God’s Eyes
We Are Not Petty In Our Faith

When we look at the evil around us and believe it to be winning, even becoming discouraged by it, we are looking with the wrong eyes. We need to look at all things through the eyes of God, from His perspective. Asaph said:

Psalm 73:21-22 Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. 22 So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.

Asaph says, “I was acting like an animal”. Animals have no moral sense, though we often attribute morality to our pets. Only humans are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) with a sense of morality. Asaph repents of questioning God, and return to full faith in Him. Asaph begins to do what we all should do when challenged by the culture of godlessness around us:

Psalm 73:23-24 Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. 24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.

God is continually with His children. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture” (Psalm 100:3). Our God is ever present, ever vigilant as He watches over us. He holds us by our right hand. The picture here is of a little child who is holding the Parent’s hand as they navigate a treacherous and crowded area. God is with His people. Jesus said:

Matthew 28:20 … lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world ..

The Apostle said:

Hebrews 13:5 Let your {way of life} be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

God is with His Children. He guides us by His Counsel. We who are Christ’s by faith are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. We have His Promise:

John 14:16-19 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.

We as believers in Christ have the greatest Possession possible: we are possessed and are possessors of God Himself. God indwells each and every one of us. The Bible says, “if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Romans 8:9). The day you received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is the day that God’s Spirit came upon you. God is in you, and will stay with you, dear believer. Once Asaph realized that he had received the greatest Gift possible, he no longer looks with envy at the lost. No, his heart soars heavenward!

Psalm 73:25-26 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. 26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

What a wonderful thing it is to have God as your portion FOREVER! There will be times in this life that we are all afflicted. But if God is with us, then who can be against us? The Apostle Paul, being afflicted, sought God that the affliction be lifted. But then God told Paul:

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 … My Grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness …

As long as God is with us, holding our right hand, guiding us, then all will be well at the end. Of the lost who reject the Lord Jesus we say:

Psalm 73:27 For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee.

In the end, the wicked who will not come to God by Christ shall perish. Their way is the way of destruction. God is the inheritance of His people. Asaph ends with:

Psalm 73:28 But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works.

The best place to be is near God. Let us draw near to Him in prayer daily. Let us draw near to Him through the reading and study of His Word, the Holy Bible. Let us draw near to God by doing that which He tells us. Jesus said:

John 8:51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.

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

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

Has your faith drifted? It is understandable. But rather than live in the drift, heed God’s Word. Do the things He tells you to do. Cling to Him as He clings to you. Tell others about Him. And, if you do not know Him as Lord and Savior, run into His arms today! May God through His Spirit touch your hearts and minds. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Psalms, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Guess Who Came To Dinner?

Photo by Nadia Valko on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to Luke 14.

Dr. Luke Tells Us About Dr. Jesus

Luke is an interesting Gospel. Luke himself was a physician who followed Jesus, our Great Physician.

Though there is some dispute, most commentaries recognize Luke as a Gentile, and not a Jew. Paul called Luke “the Beloved Physician” (Colossians 4:14), and was a “fellow laborer” (Philemon 24). Luke joined Paul in Troas, Asia Minor, during the Apostle’s second missionary journey (Acts 16:6-11). Luke was with the Apostle Paul as he neared execution in Rome. The Apostle wrote:

2 Timothy 4:11 Only Luke is with me….

Luke wrote about ¼ of the New Testament (Luke and Acts). Luke recorded events that the other Apostles shared with him.

As we come to Luke 14, we see Jesus at a meal that is mentioned nowhere else in the Scripture. What is interesting about the meal in that Jesus has been invited to the home of a chief Pharisee. The Pharisees hated Jesus. Why was Jesus at this meal? He wasn’t here because He crashed it, but because the Pharisees invited Him in order to find fault. Let’s read:

Luke 14:1-4 And it came to pass, as {Jesus} went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him. 2 And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy. 3 And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? 4 And they held their peace. …

As Jesus prepared to eat, the Bible says they watched him. Jesus has walked into a trap. The Pharisees invited Jesus to eat, but they also invited a man with dropsy to the same meal. In the earlier part of His ministry, Jesus entered the synagogue,

Mark 3:1-2 …. and thee was a man which had a withered hand. 2 And “they watched him”, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath day …

They watched Jesus. In the earlier healing on the Sabbath in the synagogue, Jesus asked the man with the withered hand to “Rise up, and stand forth in the midst {of the Pharisees}” (Luke 6:8). Jesus challenged the Pharisees, saying:

Luke 6:9 … I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?

The Pharisees, though they watched Jesus, refused to answer. This is because they missed the point.

The Entirety Of The Law Is LOVE

The problem with being a Pharisee or a Lawyer (forgive me, Jerry), is that you begin to think God is impressed with how well you follow rules. How well you follow rules does not impress God. Your heart impresses God. The Lord God told the Prophet Samuel one day:

1 Samuel 16:7 … the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

God looks on the heart. Do we love God? Do we love others around us. If as the Scripture says,

1 John 4:8, 16 … God is love …

then God expects to find love in our hearts when He looks at them. Why do we do the things we do? Why did the Pharisees invite Jesus to dinner? So they could hurt Him. So they could find fault. So they could trap Him. Not because they loved Him. Our Lord Jesus said:

Matthew 22:37-40 {the Great Commandment in the Law – the Main Point – is} 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.

Of the 783,137 words in the King James text of Scripture, all of these verses, commands, statutes, rules, orders, and observations can be distilled down into this: “Love God with all you have, and love whoever is near you the way you want to be loved”. That’s it! The Bible calls this “the Royal Law” (see James 2:8). Why? Because it is the Law by which God lives, and the Law that He expects His people to live by. The Apostle Paul put it this way:

Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

When Jesus came to the synagogue that day, no one paid the slightest bit of attention to the man with the withered hand. Everyone was checking their dress code, and checking whether they looked good enough for service. But Jesus walks in and sees someone in distress. A man with a withered hand.

The broken man has a choice.
He can heed Jesus, or heed the crowd.

Jesus then commanded the man with the withered hand to “Stretch forth thy hand.” (Luke 6:10). The man that was disabled had to respond to Jesus, to do as Jesus commanded, if he was going to be healed. He could have refused to comply. He could have went along with the crowd. But instead the man with the withered hand listened to Jesus. He reached out to the Master – and was healed.

Now fast forward to this “special” meal that Jesus has been invited to. Here is a man with dropsy, invited to dine with Jesus and the Pharisees and Lawyers. Dr. Bob Utley notes in his Bible Commentary:

Dropsy was a retention of fluid that resulted in swelling (the term is from the root for “water”). It usually was the result of other physical problems. It is only mentioned here in the New Testament, which is appropriate for a physician (see Colossians 4:14), although it is used by non-physicians in Greek literature. The rabbis said this disease was caused by serious sin, which may add to the drama of the moment.”

This man was miserable. Jesus asks, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day?”. If all the Law is fulfilled by “Love God with your all, and love the one near you the way you want to be loved”, then the answer is simple. YES! YES, it is fine to do good to others on the Sabbath.

But the Pharisees cannot answer. They refuse to answer. The them, God is all about rules and sacrifices and rituals. They do not remember when God chastised Israel, saying:

Matthew 15:8 … this people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me (see also Isaiah 29:13)

The Bible tells us that Jesus “took the man with dropsy, and healed him, and let him go. This man’s heart, his broken heart, reached out to Jesus – and the Lord healed him. The Messiah has the right, the obligation to do good on the Sabbath day.

Matthew 12:8 the Son of man {the Messiah} is Lord even of the sabbath day. (see also Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5)

The Man that these Pharisees have invited to eat with them is not just a Rabbi, He is God the Son. God is love. God hurts when we hurt. People are more important than animals. Jesus asked them:

Luke 14:5 … Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?

The human master of an animal would not leave that creature suffering all night long in a cold, miserable pit just because it was the Sabbath. How much less would God, Who is love, leave a person with a withered hand or the dropsy in the pit of suffering, just because it was the Sabbath? Of course, the Pharisees refuse to answer. They just sat watching Jesus, gathering anger and evidence that they would later use to demand Jesus be executed. But as they sat watching Jesus, Jesus sat watching them.

Jesus Is Watching The Watchers

Imagine this. Jesus is a Guest in a Chief Pharisees home. He was invited to trap Him, to betray Him. Yet Jesus does not do the politically correct. He loves, as God must love. Yet Jesus doesn’t turn a blind eye to what they are doing. We read:

Luke 14:7 … And {Jesus} put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms …

Word Study The phrase “the chief rooms” is the Greek πρωτοκλισία prōtoklisía, {pronounced pro-tok-lis-ee’-ah}, which means “the best reclining places”. When the Jews held dinner parties, they arranged their guests according to rank and prestige. The most important people had the best “rooms” or places to recline at while eating. The least important people had the least important “rooms” or places to recline at. Jesus had been invited to this Chief Pharisee’s home, but I can guarantee you that Jesus did not have the best seat in the house. No, He was placed in the lowest seat. Jesus marked how they chose out the chief rooms, the best seats. Jesus told His hosts:

Luke 14:8-11 When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honorable man than thou be bidden of him; 9 and he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. 10 But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. 11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

I can imagine these Pharisees and Lawyers squirming in their seats right now. Jesus loved people, all types of people. There is no one that Jesus does not love. But He loves us enough to tell us the truth. Though Jesus Himself is …

Revelation 19:13, 15 …King of Kings and Lord of Lords

Jesus Christ is the Child the Prophet Isaiah foresaw, the …

Isaiah 9:6-7 … Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace

Oh, how Jesus should have been placed in the chief seat. It is Jesus Who is …

Ephesians 1:20-21 … {seated at God the Father’s own} right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:

Jesus is not there at the Head, as He should be. He is disallowed. The Pharisees and Scribes were the builders of Israel. When they saw Jesus, they saw Him as unfit to be a part of that people. Jesus is the stone which the builders disallowed and rejected, He has become the Head of the Corner (Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17). The Pharisees were more concerned about their own prestige than they were the work of God. Jesus warned them about this prideful attitude. Pride destroys the work of God. Over and over the Scripture declares:

Proverbs 29:23 A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honor shall uphold the humble in spirit.

Isaiah 2:11 The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.

Isaiah 2:17 And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.

It is pride that locks people out of Heaven.
God will not dwell with the prideful!

Isaiah 57:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

God dwells with the humble but broken person. He cannot work with the prideful. God cannot lift up someone who thinks they are better than others. Our actions show the intents of our hearts. We are nothing, but Christ is everything. We are but dust, but Jesus the Creator Who can bless us, if we but surrender ourselves unto Him.

Having chastised the Pharisees for their pride at this meal, He now chastises them for their choice of guests. Those who were at this dinner party were the rich and famous, the movers and the shakers. They were well off. There were two at that party – Jesus and the man now healed of Dropsy – who did not fit the mold of the rest. Those others who had received their invitations, received them because they WERE important, and WOULD reciprocate to those who invited them. The Pharisees and Lawyers thought that their knowledge of the Law and their earth prestige would impress Heaven. This is not true.

Jesus told the Pharisees and Lawyers, “If you want to impress Heaven, your guest list is all wrong!”

Luke 14:12-14 Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbors; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. 13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: 14 and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.

Do good to others, regardless as to whether they do good to you or not. If you want to impress God, love like God loves. God does good to those who cannot pay Him back. Salvation is a free gift from God because it is impossible for us to repay it. Salvation comes about because God the Father sent His Son into this world to give his life for us.

There is no way to Heaven but by Jesus. The Bible declares:

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

It is only Jesus Who saves His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). It is “only Jesus” that we must believe on if we will have everlasting life (John 3:36). It is “only Jesus” that is the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no one comes unto the Father but by Him (John 14:6). The Bible is without debate on this point:

1 Timothy 2:5-6 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

1 John 5:11-12 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

Only Jesus. Only Jesus can save a soul. God offers Jesus to whosoever will. At this point, one of the Pharisees speaks up.

Won’t It Be Wonderful When We Get To Heaven!

Luke 14:15 And when one of them that sat at meat with {Jesus} heard these things, he said unto {Jesus}, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.

When the Pharisee said this, I suspect that all who were there thought they would be so blessed because they “kept the Law of God from my youth up” (Luke 18:21). They think to themselves, “I can pass the test with flying colors!” But Jesus knows their hearts – so He speaks another parable to explain HOW you get into the Kingdom of Heaven so that you can break bread there.

Luke 14:16-17 … A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: 17 and sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.

In this parable the certain man is God the Father. The servant is God the Son. When it was supper time, the meal was ready, the certain man (the Father) sent His servant (the Son) out to those who should have been ready – the Pharisees and Lawyers. These people have studied the Law. They knew what the prophetic signs were for the Coming Messiah. They had seen the miracles that Jesus as Messiah did. They had heard John the Baptist, the Messiah’s Herald, declare that Jesus is indeed the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29, 36). Our Lord Jesus came to Israel first, because He promised Israel first (Romans 1:16; 2:9; 2:10). Israel had the promise of God,

John 1:11-13 {Jesus} 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.

The Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53:1-9 is Jesus Christ. This Servant of God – God the Son – is sitting at the Chief Priest’s home. He invites all who will to come to the Kingdom of God.

Come; for all things are now ready”. But do they come? No. Jesus said:

Luke 14:18 … And they all with one consent began to make excuse.

They began to find reasons why they could not come to the feast.

Luke 14:18 The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.

What a weak excuse this is. Who buys land without first inspecting it? What this person is saying is, “My life is more important than YOU are, God. I hear your invitation, but I just can’t make it. My land is more important.”

Luke 14:19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.

Again, this is a very poor excuse. As the Pastor of Riverview, I often see people come up into our parking lot, test driving a new or a new/used car. I see them out there with the hood up. When I go out they tell me, “Preacher, we’re just checking out our truck before we buy it”. That’s fine, that’s fine. People always check out a vehicle before they buy it. Do you really think this person didn’t test drive these five yoke of oxen before he purchased them? No, not at all. What a lame excuse. This person just had no love for the host.

Luke 14:20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.

Why can’t you bring your wife with you? So many people say, “Well, I can’t come and love the Lord because of my wife, or my children, or …” Just fill in the blanks. The feast is ready. The One Who has the Key to Heaven bids you come. But you have other things much more important to do!

Luke 14:21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.

The Pharisees and the Lawyers would not come, but then Jesus reached out to the broken. He reached out to the poor, those ravaged by this world. He reached out to the maimed, the crippled, the spiritually blind. It is as the Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 1:26-29 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are: 29 that no flesh should glory in his presence.

The Son of God reached out – not to the best and the brightest – but to the broken. The broken came to the feast. They secured Jesus Christ as Lord and savior in their hearts.

Luke 14:22-23 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. 23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

What is necessary to come to the Kingdom of God? What will cause the blessings of God to fall on you, both now and into eternity? It is your willingness to answer the call of Christ Jesus. Will you surrender your lives to Him? Will you put Him first, and Heaven first – or will you cling to the temporary pleasures of this earth.

Jesus leaves the Chief Pharisees home, and GREAT MULTITUDES FOLLOW HIM. We read:

Luke 14:25-33 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

Beloved, Christ bids us all to Heaven, to the Kingdom Banquet. He has paid the price. He has secured the invitation for us. Will you come to Him? To be saved is to turn toward Jesus and lay your life down at His feet. As Dr. Bob Utley said:

The gospel is absolutely free, but it costs everything that we are and have (cf. Matthew 13:44-46).”

Dr. Thomas Constable states in his commentary:

Salvation guarantees heaven, but it also calls for complete commitment to Jesus, not to secure heaven but to express gratitude for heaven.”

God gives Himself for us when we give ourselves to Him. This is what salvation is. And this is what God calls whosoever will to. Oh Beloved, if you do not know the Lord Jesus as your personal Savior, today would be a wonderful; day to give your lives to Him. There is no life better than the life hid by God in Christ. I pray that God the Holy Spirit would lead you to Him this very day. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Luke, Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached | Tagged | Leave a comment

Spiritual Battle Needs Committed Warriors

Photo by James Newcombe on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to Luke 14. This morning we saw where Jesus had been invited to supper at the Chief Pharisees home. Now Jesus has left that home. He is headed to Jerusalem to give His life for our sins. Jesus is “all in” for our salvation. In the message tonight, Jesus addresses the commitment of the believer. These are words that you will rarely hear from the pulpits of America. But these are Christ’s Words, and true Words. Let’s read the section, then we’ll break it down.

Luke 14:25-33 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? 35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

As Jesus prepared to go to the Cross of Calvary, He understood the bigger picture. Jesus did not dumb down what He was saying to get more followers. Too many pastors have dumbed down the Gospel message in order to get large followings and big buildings.

The Gospel that Jesus preached never – NEVER – said that salvation was like a free sample at Sam’s Club. The Gospel that Jesus preached demanded commitment to God, commitment to His Son. The Gospel that saves demands wholehearted love to the Savior.

Several years ago I heard a preacher attempt to explain away this text. After all, if salvation is a free gift, then it expects nothing of you. So he began to say tell us that there are two levels of salvation. There is the first level where you are saved by faith in Christ – but don’t have to do anything afterwards. Then there is the second level where you go on to be a disciple of Christ. He explained that “you can be saved, but not a disciple”.

This is not what the Scripture teaches.

A “Disciple” is a student, a follower of Christ. The Apostle said in:

Ephesians 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children.

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

The First Word In Salvation Is “REPENT”
To “Repent” Is To Change Who Or What You Are Following

When Jesus started preaching following His baptism, He ALWAYS preached REPENTANCE. Here are just a few instances:

Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

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

Matthew 12:41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and, behold, a greater than Jonah is here.

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.

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

In order to be saved, the first thing that the convert to Christ must do is REPENT. To repent does not mean “to feel sorry for” yourself. I means to reorient your lifestyle – to choose to follow another. When you REPENT you stop trusting in the things and gods of this world, and cast yourselves upon Jesus.

As Jesus left the Chief Pharisees home, large crowds were following Him. We read:

Luke 14:25-26 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

All of these people who followed Jesus, followed for different reasons.

Some believed He was Messiah, and followed Him.
Others believed He would liberate Israel, and followed Him.
Some had infirmities they wanted healed, so they followed.
Others were just curious, and wanted to see something entertaining.

Jesus is in a position that many pastors I know would want to be in. I remember reading a book a few years ago where a certain pastor “opened for Bono”, and bragged about the large crowds. Many, many pastors and Churches would be thrilled to have packed services! But Jesus turns, and rather than encouraging the crowds throws a pitcher of cold water on it.

“If you come to Me, You must love Me much more than you love your closest relatives. You must MISEO, “Hate” those closest to you. I demand your fullest love!”

When Jesus uses the word “hate” here, He does not mean that we should despise those closest to us. Our God has never promoted hatred. In the Old Testament God said:

Leviticus 19:18 …. thou shalt LOVE thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.

We are to love people in proximity to ourselves. We are to be a people who do good. Jesus told us:

Matthew 5:43-48 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, LOVE your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

What Jesus IS saying is that our love for Him must be so much greater than the love we have for others, that in comparison it will seem that we “hate” those closest to us. God has always demanded that we love God Himself with our ALL.

Matthew 22:37-40 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 neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

When you come to Jesus to be saved, you are to MAKE GOD FIRST. What Jesus says must be more important to you than what your Facebook Friend says. What Jesus has commanded must be more valuable to you than what your parents think, or your siblings. In fact, salvation is only secured when Jesus Christ is the most loved and important person in your whole life. He is greater than your own life.

The genuine Christian is a person who has fallen in love with Jesus – and He is easy to love. Once we are saved by faith in Him we seek His voice, we love His presence, we adore Him for what He did for us on Calvary. We love Jesus first and foremost. We love God with our ALL. We were lost and undone, and able to bring ourselves to God. Jesus Christ died so that He might bring us to God. The Apostle said:

1 Peter 3:8-18 … Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: 9 not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. 10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11 let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? 14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 15 but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 16 having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. 17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. 18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

Jesus Christ died and rose again so that He might bring us to God. If you are saved, you are a child of God. This relationship means more to you than even your own life. You are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20) so that you can glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which belongs to God! As Christians “you are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19). You are a child of the King. You belong to the Kingdom of God!

The Child Of God, Saved By Faith, Bears His Cross

Luke 14:27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

Before I was saved, the Cross was a nice piece of jewelry worn around the neck.

The Heartlight Devotional notes: “Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it many years ago: “When Christ calls a man, he calls him to follow him to a cross and die.” Bonhoeffer paid that cost when he died at the hands of the Nazis in WWII. Our commitment to Christ isn’t a simple thing that happens just between our ears. Jesus warns us not to pretend to follow. He cautions us that our commitment must be heartfelt and soul-deep and that there is a cost that comes with following him. Jesus calls us to count the cost and then to follow him.”

Being saved can cost your relationships.
Being saved can cost your life.
Being saved means to carry the Cross.
The disciple of Christ – the saved person – carries the Cross daily.

When you “bear His Cross”, you are occupied with it daily. The Christian makes much of the Cross of Christ because it is the only means by which we can become children of God. Jesus was quite adamant about the Cross:

Matthew 10:38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

The Christian willingly carries the Cross of Christ daily. We are not compelled to do so. We cling to the Cross because it is by the Cross we are saved. Our sins were a barrier between us and God – our sins kept us from His presence. But Jesus Christ went to the Cross to give His life for ours. He did something for us that we could not do. No sinner can make make themselves right before God. But God can make us right before God. God did this through His Only Begotten Son.

Luke 9:23 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.

To the world, the Cross is no more than an ornament, a piece of jewelry. But to the Christian, the Cross is our pardon.

1 Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

Count The Cost, Because Jesus Calls You To Be All In

Luke 14:28-33 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

Contrary to much of the “easy believism” preaching of today, Jesus tells that crowd – and us – to “count the cost” of following Him. There is a cost in following Jesus. Let me give you a few point:

  • When you follow Jesus, you will no longer follow the world. When you say “yes” to Jesus, He, through the Spirit of God, will change your allegiances. The Bible says:

Colossians 1:10-14 that ye might 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 longsuffering 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:

When I gave my life to Jesus, I lost my old friends, my old ways, my old habits. Oh, I did not become perfect by any means. I still mess up. But my King is no longer peer pressure, but Him Who died for me on Calvary. My King is not to please others, but to please Him. The Bible chastises the Christian who lives to please the world, saying:

James 4:4-10 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. 5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? 6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. 9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

Christians are to be friendLY to everyone. We are to LOVE those around us. But we are nonetheless to STAND AGAINST the ways of darkness. It was sin and darkness that caused our Savior to go to Calvary. We do not justify sin. We do not condone sin. I am often bemused when I read about some Contemporary Christian artist who is asked,

“Do you believe that only those who believe in
Jesus Christ will go to Heaven?”

I have seen it time and time against. When asked that question, they hem and haw. They try to get around it with a non-commital “Well, I don’t make judgments”. Beloved, you are either a disciple of Christ or a disciple of the world. Only the disciple of Christ will be in Heaven one day. Did not our Lord say:

John 14:6 I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: No man cometh unto the Father BUT BY ME.

Did not the early Church preach:

Acts 4:10-12 be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

The world will never like the message of Christ – yet this is the message of salvation. The only door into Heaven is through faith in Jesus. Faith in Christ demands that you make a decision: You can follow the world, or you can follow Jesus. You cannot stand between two points: Jesus will not allw you to do so.

Beloved, Christ bids us all to Heaven, to the Kingdom Banquet. He has paid the price. He has secured the invitation for us. Will you come to Him? To be saved is to turn toward Jesus and lay your life down at His feet. As Dr. Bob Utley said:

The gospel is absolutely free, but it costs everything that we are and have (cf. Matthew 13:44-46).”

Dr. Thomas Constable states in his commentary:

Salvation guarantees heaven, but it also calls for complete commitment to Jesus, not to secure heaven but to express gratitude for heaven.”

God gives Himself for us when we give ourselves to Him. This is what salvation is. And this is what God calls whosoever will to. Oh Beloved, if you do not know the Lord Jesus as your personal Savior, today would be a wonderful; day to give your lives to Him. But there is one final thing we must discuss before I close this message.

The Christian Is To Be Salt

Luke 14:33-35 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? 35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

The Christian is called to be salt. Food without salt is tasteless. We bless society when we do as Jesus said – we stand firmly in faith following Him. I submit that one of the reason America has so fallen into darkness is because too few Christians have been salt. Beloved, America needs us to stand up and profess the truths that Christ professed. The Christian who does not believe Jesus Christ is Lord is probably not a Christian in the first place. The Bible says:

Romans 10:8-13 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 does not begin until you “confess with your mouth the LORD Jesus”, or as some versions read, “Jesus is Lord”. Is He Lord of your life? If not, then you are probably not saved. Those who are saved acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord.

Posted in Luke, Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A New Year’s Resolution From The Grand Old Book

Photo by Eric Rothermel on Unsplash

Soon we’ll be in a new year, 2021. I wondered what message I should preach on the brink of this new year. I know that, at the beginning of a new year, many make resolutions and promises as to how they will change their lives for the better. Do you wish to have a great new year? Dedicate yourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ. Surrender to Him Who gave Himself for you. Believe on Him for both salvation, and for a life well lived. Follow Him – for in Jesus there is power.

There are so many texts that address this wonderful resolution. One that pops the mind is that illustration Jesus gave to us:

John 15:1, 5 I am the True Vine, and My Father is the Gardener. 5 I am the Vine, and you 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 …

Resolve To Follow The Word Of God For Blessing

What a wonderful resolution it would be if each and every one of us sought out Jesus, looking to Him for salvation. What a wonderful change it would bring on us, on our communities, and on our nation. Apart from God, we can do nothing. But with Him, with that blessed Jesus, we bring forth much fruit.

Though I read in John, this is not the text we will take as a new year sermon. Instead we will turn to the Old Testament, to the Book of 1 Samuel. Samuel was a prophet of God. His mother was a godly, but broken woman. Hannah had a good husband, but was unable to bear a child to carry on his family name. So Hannah went to the Lord, and in prayer promised God that if He give her a child, then she would dedicate that child.

Life is a gift from God. When it seems that life has us down, it is better to look up, and to trust in the Lord Who loves you. Hannah looked up – and God heard her cry. Hannah was blessed with a son she named Samuel. Hannah did exactly as she promised. Once the child was old enough, she took Samuel to the Tabernacle,

1 Samuel 2:11 and the child {Samuel} did minister unto the Lord before Eli the priest.

Eli had two sons who did not know the Lord. 1 Samuel 2:12 says “the sons of Eli were the sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord”. Eli had one adopted son Samuel, who loved the Lord. But his natural born sons – heirs to the priesthood – were children of Belial, of the devil. Eli’s sons participated in the Tabernacle ceremonies, but dishonored God.

1 Samuel 2:17 … the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord: for men abhorred the offering of the Lord.

You will not honor the Lord if you do not know the Lord as Savior. Eli made excuses for his sons, and looked the other way. But God warned Eli through an unnamed Prophet:

1 Samuel 2:30 Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house {O Eli}, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me; for them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.

It is possible to be saved by faith in God, and yet, by your behavior, to drive God’s blessing far from you. God warned Eli:

1 Samuel 2:34-35 this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them. 35 And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever.

God cast down Hophni and Phinehas because they would not love Him nor honor Him. But God raised up another faithful priest in Samuel. When …

1 Samuel 3:10 … the Lord came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.

This should be the attitude of every Christian, born of God’s Spirit. “Speak Lord, for Your servant is listening”. This is the way to blessing. God told Samuel that Eli’s day was over, that God said:

1 Samuel 3:13 … I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.

When you know to do the good, but do not do it, then it is sin. There are sins of both COMMISSION and OMISSION. God expects His people to follow Him. Our Lord Jesus commands us:

Matthew 6:33 … seek ye first the kingdom of God,and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you

Trials will come your way. Make it a habit to follow the Lord. To seek Him in prayer. To discern His will through the Scripture, the Holy Bible. To hear God’s Word and not do it is to invite disaster. Jesus said:

Matthew 7:26-27 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 be blessed of God, we must be obedient to God. We must hear His Word. Samuel is listening to the Word of the Lord. He is living His life for God. But Israel, God’s people, are not listening to God. The Scripture says:

1 Samuel 3:1 … the Word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision.

Sometimes the King James text obscures the meaning of that text because of archaic language. “The Word of the Lord was precious” doesn’t mean that people treasured it, like they treasure gold, silver, or other monies. The Hebrew yâqâr, {pronounced yaw-kawr} can mean precious in that way. But it also means RARE. The Word of the Lord was RARE in those days. People were no longer focused on God’s Word. The Scripture was not quoted from the pulpits. The Word of Life was not lifted up in the public square. As a result, “there was no open vision”. The word translated “VISION” is the Hebrew châzôwn, (pronounced khaw-zone’), which means REVELATION. When you depart from heeding the Word of God, in time God quits trying to communicate with you. The people of Israel, like America today, moved farther and farther away from God.

If We Move Far Enough From God,
The Nation Will Be Cursed

1 Samuel 4:1-3 And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out against the Philistines to battle, and pitched beside Eben-ezer: and the Philistines pitched in Aphek. 2 And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men. 3 And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the Lord smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.

Samuel is speaking the Word of God to Israel, but no one is listening. The Bible tells us:

Hebrews 4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

You may hear the Word of God, but if you do not respond in faith, what you heard does not good at all. Israel went out to do battle against an old enemy, the Philistines. Israel had defeated the Philistines before. Certainly they could do so once more. But Israel presumed. The strength of a nation is it’s people listening to the Word of God. The Scripture says:

Psalm 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

We too often try to fight our battles in our own strength. We must not! We must look to the Lord. God has told His people to be …

Deuteronomy 6:15 … careful not to compromise with the idolaters of this land. You are not allowed to worship their gods, you are not allowed to adopt their ways. I the Lord your God saved you, and I Am a Jealous God … I alone will be worshiped

The power of a people or of a person is that you are walking with God, heeding His direction, seeking His guidance. Israel went to battle with the Philistines. What happened? They lost! Did Israel repent? No. They wondered why God didn’t bless them, then sent for the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark was a representation of God and His Grace. They said:

1 Samuel 4:3 Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.

SHILOH is a very interesting name. It is first found in Genesis 49, where Jacob made his final blessing on his children. In verse 10 Jacob told Judah:

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

Shiloh means “SENT”. So when the One Who was SENT comes, the Messiah, to Him shall the gathering of the people be. Jesus Christ is the Messiah SENT from God. He was prophesied of in Isaiah 9:6 and Isaiah 11:1-5. The Prophet Jeremiah spoke of the righteous Branch that would rise from David, called “The Lord our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:5-6). It is the Father Who sent the Son (John 5:23, 30, 36-37; 6:39, 44) as Messiah to make payment for our sins. When Shiloh came, “to Him shall the gathering of the people be”. Praise God, there shall come a day when Jesus will reign over all the earth. What a wonderful day that will be when:

Revelation 11:15 … The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

Oh, that Shiloh would come! When Joshua led Israel through the Promised Land, it was at Shiloh, we read:

Joshua 18:1 … the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them.

Obedience to God brings the blessings of God. Israel lost 4000 men in battle against the Philistines because they were not following the Word of God. So now they send to Shiloh, saying,

1 Samuel 4:3 … Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.

Here we have a beautiful picture of disobedience. Shiloh is a representation, an Old Testament shadow of the Lord Jesus Christ. Rather than repent, the commanders of Israel decided to separate the Ark of the Covenant from Shiloh. How many Churches today do the same thing. They put their trust in the rituals and in the furniture and in the beads and in the building – but Christ is not in it. Jesus Christ must be in the midst of our Churches if we are to be blessed. Religion is not just ritual – it is a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. We are members of His Kingdom. We are to lovingly follow Him.

Faithless hands bringing the Ark of the Covenant to the place of battle does nothing.

1 Samuel 4:5-8 And when the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again. 6 And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, What meaneth the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews? And they understood that the ark of the Lord was come into the camp. 7 And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore. 8 Woe unto us! who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? these are the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness.

Israel thought that they would be victorious now that the Ark was in the camp. The Philistines thought that they would be defeated because the Ark of the Covenant was in the camp. Both were wrong. Religion will not do it – God must be in it. False religion focuses on buildings, on rituals, on things, and not on the God of the Scripture. At the end of the day we read:

1 Samuel 4:11 … the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.

The Bible says:

Psalms 84:11-12 For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.{12} O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.

God is the Lord of Hosts. He controls the armies of Heaven, and controls the human heart. God is the Sun and Shield. Those who love Him shall never walk in darkness, nor shall they be unprotected. Had Israel stayed her heart on God she would never have suffered defeat at the hands of the Philistines. Her heart – her focus – was not on the Lord Who loved her, but on the things of this life. Things cannot bless you. Only God can bless you! Beloved,

Preach: You can sit in Church, and follow every ritual, hear every sermon – but if your heart is not in love with the Lord you will not be able to overcome the trials of this life.

Our God Is Not Like The Man Made Gods
– Our God LIVES!

When the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant, they thought, “Well, this is a God. Let’s put it in the same place we have our God!” We are told:

1 Samuel 5:2 When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon.

From that point on, God began to wreak havoc on the Philistines. The statue of their god Dagon was found, first on its face before the Ark of the Lord (1 Samuel 5:3), and then dismembered,

1 Samuel 5:4 And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him.

The false gods of this world are just that – they are false gods. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 135:15-18 The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. 16 They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; 17 they have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths. 18 They that make them are like unto them: so is every one that trusteth in them.

Not only did God curse the temple of Dagon, but He cursed the Philistines.

1 Samuel 5:6 … the hand of the Lord was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he destroyed them, and smote them with {tumors}, even Ashdod and the coasts thereof.

Having the Ark of the Covenant, a cross, a ritual, or any other thing rather than a relationship with God in Christ, will not bring blessing to you. God calls people everywhere to REPENT. Jesus said:

Luke 13:3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

A Christian is not someone whose name is on an earthly roll. A Christian is a sinner who has repented, turning from their old gods, and committing to follow the God of the Scripture. A Christian is not better than anyone elose. A Christian has heeded the Gospel:

Acts 3:19-21 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; {20} And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: {21} Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

Oh, that every person under the sound of my voice would repent, and receive Jesus as Lord and Savior! What a blessing that will be, dear ones. You cannot blend darkness and light, Dagon with Christ. We must come to Jesus Christ ion love and faith. We must heed the Psalmist:

Psalm 2:11-12 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. {12} Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

Kiss the Son”. Fall in love with Jesus. Put your trust in Him. He gave Himself for you, and calls you to His side. Come! Come, and be blessed.

The Ark Returns To Israel

Eventually God caused the Ark to return to Israel, where it belonged. Samuel told the people:

1 Samuel 7:3-4 If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines. 4 Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the Lord only.

Our country has become so secularized, so godless. What is our hope? It is to come back to the God of the Scripture, to love the Lord Jesus, to do the things that He has commanded us to do. When God’s people are focused on the Lord Who saved them, there is nothing that we cannot do.

Once Israel was restored to a right relationship with God, the Bible says:

1 Samuel 7:12 Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Eben-ezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.

Samuel set up a stone as a memorial to Israel’s commitment, calling the stone “Eben-ezer”. The name Eben-ezer is also an interesting word. The Hebrewאבן העזר, ‘eben ha‛ezer, {pronounced eh’-benhaw-e’-zer}, meaning “stone of the help”. This Rock symbolized the Lord Jesus Christ. We read in the New Testament from the Apostle Paul:

1 Corinthians 10:1-4 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

Once Israel confessed their sin before God the Bible says that Samuel took a Lamb and offered it for a burn offering whole before the Lord. Jesus Christ – the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29) – is the Source of our blessing. Let us keep our eyes upon Him. Let us love Him and magnify His Holy Name. Let us keep our hearts on the Mount of God where Christ reigns. Let us sing praises to Him:

Here I raise mine Eben-ezer;
Hither by thy help I’m come;
And I hope, by thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

God has promised that – though Israel was disobedient –that He would never utterly forsake her. That gives me great comfort. Who is able to keep me from falling? Jesus Christ. Our God …

Jude 24 is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy…

The source of our strength is not us, but in God. He is our Rock, our Savior, our Lord. We will cling to Him, trusting Him, no matter what may come. May God through His Holy Spirit and His Holy Word give you strength to commit to and follow Him this new year. Amen and Amen!

Posted in General | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Life Well Lived

Photo by Keith Martin on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to Luke Chapter 2.

Every Christmas we as Christians focus on the Baby Jesus in the manger, the Shepherds who came to see the Child, the Wise Men traveling to Bethlehem, a virgin named Mary and Joseph her betrothed. We think about the original Grinch, King Herod, who not only hated Jesus (though He was but a toddler), but was evil enough to order the assassination of all the children in Bethlehem. Yet God was faithful, is faithful, and will always be faithful.

While we focus on the various elements of the Christmas story, others focus on anything but that. Many contemplate and follow through on suicide, as the holiday season brings increased sadness to those who have lost loved ones to sickness and death. It is as Jesus warns us from His Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 6:19-23 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

The treasures we have on this earth, whether it be loved ones or things, these things die, rust, corrode, and are stolen. This is not where your focus should be. If your focus is on what you do not have, or what you have lost, then that darkness will flood your soul. It will rob you of the joy of life.

Our spiritual eyes need to be in the right place. We need to be

Hebrews 12:2 … looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith …

During Christmas, Mary and Joseph, the Angels of God, the Shepherds, the Wise Men, they are all looking at Jesus. Even Herod, that old devil, is looking at Jesus. Today we’re going to look beyond the birth of Jesus to a man and a woman – whose story is just as important as the others we spoke of.

Luke 2:25 … And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon…

The Bible speaks on many different people on many different continents. There are thousands of people mentioned in Scripture, but only, I am told, 1770 men and 93 women who are actually named. Simeon is one of the men named. The name “Simeon” is mentioned 50 times in 45 verses of Scripture. The first time Simeon is mentioned is in the book of Genesis (29:33) as one of the children of Leah and Jacob. When Leah bore Simeon, she said:

Genesis 29:33 … the LORD hath heard that I was hated

Simeon” (Hebrew שִׁמְעוֹן Shimʻôwn, shim-one’) means “has heard”. The Old Testament Simeon did not always listen to God as he should. When Israel entered the Promised Land, God had the tribe of Simeon “stand upon mount Gerizim to bless the people” (Deuteronomy 27:12) alongside the tribes of Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin. When you do what God says when God says it, you will be blessed of God!

BEHOLD, there was a man in Jerusalem,
whose name was SIMEON…

The Old Testament Simeon often failed to focus on the Lord. His is not an example we should follow. God says, BEHOLD this New Testament Simeon. This “Simeon” HEARS God. He has paid attention to what the Lord has told him. Beloved, as we enter the New Year, I beg you to hear me.

If you want to be blessed of God,
BE WHERE God tells you to be!

So many people will visit the Church “here a little and there a little”. They will read God’s Word “here a little and there a little”. They will seek God’s face in prayer “here a little and there a little”. Our God is not a Christmas meal leftover. Our God calls us to Christ to follow Him day by day. Not just as an afterthought – but we are called to walk with God daily. This is why Christ became Incarnate Baby, God became Man, Eternity cloaked Himself in Mortality, the Infinite became Finite for us. The Apostle said:

1 Peter 3:18 … Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God …

We are to live daily in Christ, walking in the Light of God. Beloved, if we do not commit to follow Jesus one step at a time, one day at a time, we need not expect blessings. What does Jesus expect of us? Has He not said:

Matthew 22:37, 39 … Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. … 39 Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

God commands of His people a whole, committed heart. We are to walk with Him Who saved us. Behold, Simeon! Here is our example.

  • Simeon was in the right PLACESPIRITUALLY. We read:

Luke 2:25 … Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.

Three words described the place where Simeon was spiritually. First, Simeon is “JUST”. This is the Greek δίκαιος díkaios, {pronounced dik’-ah-yos}, which means “to be upright, righteous, keeping the commandments of God”. Does this mean that Simeon was flawless? No! The Apostle tells us:

Romans 1:16-17 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 Old Testament saint was not saved by the works of the Law, but by faith in the Coming Christ. The New Testament saint is not saved by the works of the Law, but by faith in the Christ Who has come. Simeon was saved just as our Father Abraham was: Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6).

Galatians 3:11 … no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

Hebrews 10:38 … the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

Habakkuk 2:4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

Though Jesus had not yet gone to the Cross, God gave Simeon scripture to know that the Messiah would come. Simeon did not doubt God, but laid his life down at the feet of the Creator. Oh glorious day! The Scripture promises that:

John 1:12 … as many as received Jesus, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Simeon believed in God. Since he believed in God, Simeon was saved. Since Simeon was saved, we also see:

  • Simeon was in the right PLACEPHYSICALLY.

Luke 2:25 … Simeon; and the same man was just and devout

There are many who profess to be saved by faith, but in their works they deny Christ. The Apostle warned his Gentile disciple Titus about these people:

Titus 1:15-16 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. 16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

If you are truly JUSTIFIED, then you will naturally be DEVOUT. This is the Greek εὐλαβής eulabḗs, {pronounced yoo-lab-ace’}, which means “to reverence or bring glory to God”. The Pharisees stoned Saint Stephen to death for speaking the truth. After he died, devout {eulabḗs, “God fearing”} men carried Stephen to his burial (Acts 8:2).

Just” or “Justified” speaks to the inward faith in Christ that saves.
“Devout” or “Devoted” speaks to the fruit from the good tree.

What did our Lord say? Matthew 7:17 … every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

If you are saved, you will DO the things that God tells you to do. Simeon is in Jerusalem in the Temple courtyard. Why? The Bible says:

Luke 2:26-27 And it was revealed unto {Simeon} by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple…

Simeon believed on the Lord, and was saved. Once saved, Simeon began to follow the Lord. Simeon did not try and live his life for himself, but for the Lord.

Romans 14:7-9 … 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.

If you are saved by faith in Christ, you are citizens of HIS KINGDOM. We are to do as God the Son tells us to do. We are to “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16-26). We are called to devout lives, doing that which God has told us to do, and rejecting that which God has commanded us NOT to do.

Our faith is a “follow Jesus” proposition.

You are not saved by good works, but once saved you do good works. 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.

Simeon lived out his faith following the direction of God. He was led of the Spirit into the Temple. That’s where you find blessing: being where God Your Savior leads you!

  • Simeon was in the right PLACETEMPORALLY. Many times we lose blessings because we want God to do His work in our time. We want God to hurry up and do something, and when He doesn’t, we want to step in and contribute our own two cent’s worth. The Bible tells us:

Luke 2:25 …. Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel

Simeon was told by God to wait. I do not know how old Simeon is. The commentaries suggest that he is an old man, because the Bible says:

Luke 2:26 … it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

The Prophet Job – long before Simeon – got through the trials of life by focusing on the Messiah. Job said:

Job 19:25-27 For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26 and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: 27 whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.

Simeon did not know WHEN the Messiah would come – he just knew the promise and leadership of God. So day after day, Simeon patiently went to the Temple. As time passed many become faithless, believing that God has forgotten. But never forgets. What God promises, God will do.

Philippians 1:6 … he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

Galatians 6:9 … let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Simeon did not doubt God. Much like Noah who, for 120 years, built an Ark, Simeon was patient in his faith. He went daily to the Temple, waiting for the revelation of Jesus Christ. God will do as He has promised – trust Him!

Illustrate Oh Beloved, wait on the Lord. Heed His Word, and trust Him, though the clouds of the day might hide the Sun. Trust Him. Wait upon the Lord. Be where God tells you to be. How many times have we robbed ourselves of blessing because we were not busily looking for Jesus where Jesus would be. I do not look for flour in a tea bag. I do not look for sugar in the refrigerator aisle of the store. Look for Jesus in the places where Jesus must be. Jesus MUST be in the Temple. That Baby born MUST fulfill all the Law of God. We are told that Joseph and Mary were just and devout:

Luke 2:21-24 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they {Mary & Joseph} brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

Our Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law of God PERFECTLY. He had to do so, else He could not be “the Lamb of God Who taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29, 36). Had Mary and Joseph not taken Jesus to Jerusalem to be circumcised, then He coulds not be Israel’s Savior. Why? Because God told Abraham:

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

Simeon knew that the Christ would fulfill the Law. Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Romans 10:4). That little Baby in Mary’s arms is God Incarnate. He must fulfill the Law.

Simeon Knew Jesus The Christ

When Mary and Joseph came to the Temple, we see through this text their economic condition. The Bible says that they came to

Luke 2:24 …. offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

The Law actually says that following birth, the parents were to offer “a lamb OR a kid of the goats, OR two turtle doves, OR two young pigeons” (see Leviticus 12:6-8) are to be offered to God. The wealthier homes offered the lamb – but the less wealthy the turtledoves or pigeons. Though there is no indication that Mary and Joseph are poor, they certainly aren’t rich. There were probably many different families coming to the Temple to have their children circumcised this day. And yet Simeon went straight to Jesus. He knew the Lord. Didn’t Jesus say:

John 10:14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

Plucking Jesus from Mary’s arms, Simeon praises God, saying:

Luke 2:28-30 then took {Simeon, Jesus} up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: 30 for mine eyes have seen thy salvation,

One of the great benefits of living your life in God’s Kingdom is that death does not frighten you. Let the world live in fear of death! The Christian is promised of God:

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

John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

Holding the Lamb of God in his arms, Simeon now calls out to God, ready to come home. His words are echoed by the Apostle Paul who, headed toward Caesar, knew that his death was impending. Yet Paul says:

Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

If your treasure is on the earth, you will never want to go to Heaven. But if your treasure is Jesus Christ, death holds no fear for you. You are ready to go. Old time Pastor Alexander Maclaren said:

Simeon not only recognizes, but welcomes the approach of death.‘Thou lettest Thy servant depart in peace.’ Yes, there speaks a calm voice tranquilly accepting the permission. He feels no agitation, no fluster of any kind, but quietly slips away from his post. And the reason for that peaceful welcome of the end is ‘for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.’ That sight is the reason, first of all, for his being sure that the curfew had rung for him, and that the day’s work was done. But it is also the reason for the peacefulness of his departure. He went ‘in peace,’ because of what?Because the weary, blurred, old eyes had seen all that any man needs to see to be satisfied and blessed. Life could yield nothing more, though its length were doubled to this old man, than the sight of God’s salvation.”

Simeon now quotes

Luke 2:31-32 … which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32 a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Simeon did not just see Jesus as the Savior of Israel only – but of ALL PEOPLE, both Jew and Gentile. He quotes the prophecy of the Messiah in

Isaiah 42:6 I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;

This Jewish Baby named Jesus did not just come for Israel. He came for the Jew first, but also for the Gentiles (Romans 1:16; 2:9-10). After Jesus dies on the Cross of Calvary, He would tell His Jewish disciples:

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

The Gospel is to go into the whole world. As Paul and Barnabas go our with the Gospel, telling the Gentiles about Jesus, the stepbrother of Jesus, James, reminds the Church of Simeon’s words:

Acts 15:14-15 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. 15 And to this agree the words of the prophets …

The Gospel of Christ must go forth if the world is to be changed. As we come into 2021 let us resolve to share Christ with those around us. Let us, like Simeon, be born again by faith in Him. Let us be just, devoted, and waiting upon our Lord. The time is short – let us redeem the time we have left for Jesus. Let us examine ourselves, whether we be in the faith or not. Then let us live by faith, one day at a time, one step at a time, by Simeon’s example.

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

Posted in Luke, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

By What Authority Are You Doing This?

Photo by Adam Birkett on Unsplash

Matthew 21:23 And when {Jesus} was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?

The Lost But Religious Will Attack Jesus To The End

The Priests, Scribes, and Pharisees were very vocal opponents of Jesus’ ministry. At every point they would question Jesus. When Jesus reached out to the deplorable crowd they questioned His disciples:

Matthew 9:11 Why does your Master eat with tax collectors and other sinners? (my paraphrase=mp)

Jesus’ response (Matthew 9:12) was simply, “They that are well do not need a physician, but those that are sick”(mp). Jesus is the great Physician, God come to humanity to heal us! But this didn’t stop their questioning. In

Mark 7:5 Why don’t your disciples follow the traditions of the elders – they are eating bread with unwashed hands?(mp)

Luke 5:21 Who is this Man {Jesus}? He blasphemes God. Only God can forgive sin!(mp)

Matthew 12:2 Jesus, Why are Your disciples not following the Law of the Sabbath?(mp)

Over and over again, these enemies of the Cross verbally attacked Jesus. Earlier in the day the Priests and Scribes questioned Jesus as He rose into Jerusalem for the Passover. As the children cried out, “Hosanna to the Son of David”, these self righteous judges looked at Jesus, saying “Don’t You hear what they are saying?” (Matthew 21:16). Their implication was that Jesus – if He were truly a Prophet of God – would stop their praises. Jesus told them:

Luke 19:40 I tell you, if these people stopped their praises, the stones would cry out!(mp)

The Messiah had come. He is coming to fulfill the prophecies. He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Now the Lamb is teaching, not long before He goes to the Cross for your sins and mine. As Jesus is teaching in the Temple the Priests and Pharisees once more interupt the Master.

Matthew 21:23 … By WHAT authority doest thou these things? and WHO gave thee this authority?

This is the TEMPLE. Only the Priests were supposed to be teaching in the TEMPLE. Jesus, are You a Priest? Has some Priest we do not know of given You permission to teach in the place where only the Priests are to teach?

I want to point out that Jesus never told these people that these were bad questions. These are actually very good questions.

By what authority do You do these things?
Who gave You this authority?

The questions are good, but Jesus has already answered these questions many times throughout His ministry. If you refer to Mark chapters 2 and 3 you will see that the Pharisees often questioned Jesus’ authority. They questioned Jesus’ authority:

When He healed the man sick of palsy (Mark 2:6-7)
When Jesus never required His disciples to fast (Mark 2:18)
When Jesus healed on the Sabbath (Mark 3:6)
When Jesus did the miraculous (Mark 3:22)

Jesus’ authority had been well established at this point in His ministry. Even a well know leader by the name of Nicodemus came to Jesus and told Him:

John 3:1 … Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him

Jesus had authority. He proved it by His works. The Scribes and Pharisees saw Jesus perform, miracle after miracle. Our Lord Jesus “taught as One having authority” (Matthew 7:29; Mark 1:22). Jesus cast out demons, “for with authority commandeth He even thew unclean spirits, and they do obey Him” (Mark 1:27). The Bible even tells us that Jesus:

Luke 9:1 … called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.

Jesus not only had authority – He had authority to give away! Jesus has all power,

Matthew 28:18 … ALL POWER {ἐξουσία exousía, pronounced ex-oo-see’-ah, POWER or AUTHORITY} is given unto ME in Heaven and in earth

The Carnal Just Want To Attack Jesus

Carnal or lost people – particularly religious lost people – just want to attack the truth. “By what authority do you do this?” is not a bad question. “Who gave you this authority?” is a question worth asking. Had the Pharisees and Priests been sincere in their question, no doubt Jesus would have readily answered it. Jesus has answered their questions repeatedly- yet they would not hear. The same is true of many Americans today. God has told us things, truths that are immutable, and yet we do not want to hear. Rather than argue with an unhearing enemy, Jesus turned the tables on them. He asked:

Matthew 21:24-25 … Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?

Jesus often tripped up the hard of hearing by answering their questions with questions. This is a great technique to get people thinking. Jesus simply asked,

John’s Baptism – his ministry. Was it from God, or was it something people just dreamed up?”

If these self righteous judges truly wanted to know the source of Jesus’ authority, they would have readily answered that question. As the Apostle said, “we can do NOTHING against the truth, but FOR the truth” (2 Corinthians 13:8). Truth is truth.

Truth does not have to cloak itself in confusion and darkness.
Truth stands up and says “Look at Me”.
Lies eventually prove themselves to be lies.
There’s an old saying, “Truth will out”.
The facts will be made known in the end.

As soon as Jesus asks His question, the Priests and Pharisees begin to mentally stumble over themselves. Listen to their thought:

Matthew 21:25-26 … they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? 26 But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet.

These same Pharisees questioned John the Baptist when he began ministering on the Jordan River. The Bible says:

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

John responded to the question “By what authority are you doing this?” by quoting the Messianic Prophecy of Isaiah 40:3-5. John is the Herald of the Messiah. He would introduce the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and kickstart His public ministry. John was very clear that he himself was not the Christ, the Messiah, but the Messiah was coming. One day John looks up and sees Jesus coming to him to be baptized in water. John cries out:

John 1:29-34 Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. 31 And I knew him not: but that {Jesus} should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. 32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

The whole reason that John was baptizing people with water was so that he could introduce Jesus as the Messiah to Israel. “John, by what authority are you baptizing in the Jordan?” John was not bashful. “My authority comes of God. My authority is found in the Scripture. By commission is from the King of Kings. I am here to introduce Jesus!”

Now the Pharisees and priests question Jesus just as they questioned John. So Jesus questions them back. “Did John’s ministry come from Heaven – or was it just something John thought up to do?” The Pharisees are in a quandary. If they say, “John’s ministry was from Heaven”, then they know full well that Jesus would say, “Why didn’t you believe John? Didn’t John say I was the Messiah? If his ministry is from God, then My ministry is from God!” So they can’t say that! But if they say, “John’s ministry was just something he thought up”, then the people will tear them up.

The Pharisees and Priests will lose their Facebook Friends.
The Pharisees and Priests will be banned from Twitter!
They will lose their Instagram accounts!
And, horror or horrors, they might get thrown out of the Temple!

I hope you can recognize sarcasm when you read it … but it is the truth. These men were not interested in the truth. John was sent from God to bear witness for the Light that is Jesus (John 1:7).

John 3:19-20 … Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. Every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

They didn’t want to hear the truth – they just wanted to shut Jesus up so they could continue doing the wrong things they were doing. So we read:

Matthew 21:27 … And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.

Now we’re not done with this story, but I want to return to the good questions that these bad men asked.

That question is one I think we need to ask ourselves – especially in the social climate of America 2020.

By What Authority Are You Doing What You’re Doing? Who Gave You This Authority?

We who are saved by faith in Christ live in a dark world. We who are saved by faith in Christ are called of God to:

Ephesians 4:1 … walk worthy of the {calling} wherewith ye are called, 2 with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Colossians 1:10 … walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God

We are not supposed to follow the crowd. We are supposed to follow Jesus. We are commanded of God to,

Isaiah 2:5 … walk in the Light of the Lord …

1 John 1:7 … walk in the Light, as {Jesus} is in the Light …

Do you not know, dear Christ follower, that

1 John 1:5 … God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all …

Called from the kingdom of darkness into Christ’s marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9), we are to live our lives to the best of our abilities being like Jesus. He is the Son of God Who saved us. We are to be sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus (John 1:12; Romans 8:14; Philippians 2:15; 1 John 2:2).

  • We as sons of God are not to be racist. Racism looks at the outward skin of a person, and degrades, mocks, or devalues that person because of their color. Racism exists and is not exclusive to any color of person. But racism is incompatible with Christianity.

The Bible tells us that our God, the God Who created Heaven and earth and all that is in it, is

Deuteronomy 10:17 a God of gods and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty and a terrible, WHICH REGARDETH NOT PERSONS …

When God established Israel as a nation, He commanded that nation’s judges

Deuteronomy 16:19 … thou shalt not {twist} judgment, thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a {bribe}

Those placed in positions of authority in the land are to remember that they represent God, and God is no respecter of persons. God does not regard the rich as better than the poor (Job 34:19) – for both rich and poor are THE WORKS OF HIS HANDS. The Bible tells us over and over again that with God our Father:

Romans 2:9-11 … tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; 10 but glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: … there is no respect or persons with God.

Our God accepts no one based on their outward person” (Galatians 2:6). God did not develop the concept of race or racism. The word “race” is only found in Scripture when it refers to competitive runners. It is the old sin nature in us that looks at another person outwardly, and makes inward judgments as to their worth. Every person is of infinite worth to God. This is why Jesus Christ was born into the world a Jew to save all who will believe on Him.

As far as God is concerned, there are only two people groups on the earth that matter. There are those who are of the family of God by faith in Christ Jesus – and those who are NOT of the family of God by faith in Christ Jesus. Our God looks at the heart. The Scripture declares:

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.

Your color does not matter to God – but your heart does. When we look into Heaven, what do we see? The Bible says:

Revelation 7:9-12 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, 12 saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

If you despise your fellow man or woman because of color, Heaven will never be your home. If you teach racism in any form, and preach it to be true, you will never see the glory of Heaven. He or she that does wrong shall receive for the wrong that they have done (Colossians 3:25) – for God has no respect of persons. As Jesus’ stepbrother rightly said:

James 2:8-9 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: 9 but if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

By what authority do you do these things?
And who gave you this authority?

  • We as sons of God receive our authority from God’s Scripture. Throughout Jesus’ ministry when He was challenged, our Lord referred to the Scripture.

When the devil tempted Jesus to do evil, His reply was “It is written” (Matthew 4:4, 6, 10). When Jesus cast the money changers out of the Temple, His reasoning was “It is written” (Matthew 21:13). When betrayed by Judas Iscariot for 30 pieces of silver, Jesus said “It is written” (Matthew 26:24). When forsaken by every follower as He was turned over to Calvary, Jesus said “it is written” (Matthew 26:31). When Jesus called the Pharisees out as hypocrites, He said “It is written” (Mark 7:6). When Jesus endorsed the ministry of John the Baptist, He said “It is written” (Luke 7:27). When a lawyer came to Jesus and asked:

Luke 10:25-28 … 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 neighbour as thyself. 28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

When Jesus spoke His parables, “It is written” was often in them (Luke 20:17). In the last recorded prayer that Jesus prayed for His Church, He prayed to the Father that the Church would know the Scripture, so that we can answer the questions, “By what authority do you do these things? Who gave you this authority?”. Jesus prayed:

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. 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 Christian answer to “By what authority do you do these things?” is “By the authority of the Word of God”. The Christian answer to “Who gave you this authority?” is “The Triune God our Creator”. We live by the Word of God. Not by what the world says, but by what God has said – and has supplied us in His Scripture.

We Will Not Enter The Kingdom Of God
Apart From Doing God’s Word

Jesus told this religious delegation:

Matthew 21:28-32 But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. 29 He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. 30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. 31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.

It does not matter how religious you feel that you are. Have you repented of being your own God, and have you believed in Jesus? Good works apart from following Jesus will not get you into God’s Kingdom. If you are a son of God by faith in Jesus Christ, you will work in His vineyard. If not, you will not. But Jesus was not finished. Jesus had another “it is written” for these religious people. Read it:

Matthew 21:33-44 Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: 34 and when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. 35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. 37 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. 38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. 39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. 40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? 41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. 42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.

The “Householder” in this parable is God the Father. He is the Owner of the Vineyard. The “Householder’s Son” is Jesus Christ our Lord. The “husbandmen” or “gardeners” were the Priests, the Pharisees, and the Scribes. The gardeners were suppose to follow the Authority of the Owner of the Vineyard. They were suppose to reach the world for Him. To expand His Kingdom. Instead, the gardeners set up their own little kingdoms, ignoring the Kingdom of God. This was the state of the Old Testament Church we call Israel.

But God was faithful. He sent His Son into Israel first, to the very Temple and the very Gardeners that should have welcomed Him. But the Priests, the Pharisees, and the Scribes, they had formed their own little kingdom. It was not the Kingdom of God, but the Kingdom of Religion. When the Son came, He threatened their power.

So they had Jesus killed.

Yet Jesus is the Prophesied Cornerstone of God’s Kingdom (Psalm 118:22-23; Isaiah 28:16; Luke 20:17-18). Jesus has all authority, all power, all majesty. When we stand with Him we will be invincible. But if we stand against Him, He will do as He did with that Temple crowd. Jesus foretold, “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” (Matthew 21:43).

Beloved, we must get back to the Bible. We must live according to His authority, His power. We must stand with Peter, no matter how bizarre it becomes around us, and “obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29). This is the only way to victory. This is the only way to save our country. Let us stand in the Word of God, and with Jesus Christ our Lord.

May God the Holy Spirit and His Scripture guide our hearts for the glory of God, and the expansion of His Kingdom. Amen and Amen!

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

Keep Your Eyes On The Mission

God is awesome!
Photo by Davide Cantelli on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 13.

Every week as Riverview’s Pastor, I beg God our Father to give me a word from the Scripture for His people. And every week the Lord is faithful. Our God is faithful, by Whom we were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Corinthians 1:9). I am often faithless, sadly, but Our God abideth faithful – He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13). He entered into a covenant of Grace with me at the point I received the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior. Our God is not a man that He should lie, neither the Son of man, that He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? Or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19).

Power & Authority Belong To God

As I was seeking God as to what I needed to say tonight, I opened the Baptist and Reflector for December 16, 2020. This is our Tennessee Baptist newspaper. On the inside cover – page 2 – there is an article by editor Lonnie Wilkey entitled “TBMB leader challenges ERLC over language in amicus brief”. Now, I’m a country preacher. As I read this article I suspect I read it like many of my fellow Baptists did. I understand what a “amicus brief” is, though I do not understand why we as Baptists got involved with it in the first place. I’m not going to go into detail over this article. You can hunt it up on the internet – just punch the title I gave you into a search engine.

In a nutshell the article is about
POWER and AUTHORITY.

The ERLC (Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission), a Southern Baptist entity, filed a court document on behalf of the NAMB (North American Mission Board), a Southern Baptist entity. The verbiage in that legal document “included language namely the use of ‘hierarchy’, that misstates and misrepresents the historic non-connectionism, autonomous polity of Baptists, and incorrectly describes the hierarchical relationship between SBC entities and churches” (quote from Randy C. Davis). Randy goes on to write:

“We codify this structure in Article IV of the SBC Constitution to prevent a denominational hierarchy: ‘While independent and sovereign in its own sphere, the Convention does not claim and will never attempt to exercise any authority over any other Baptist body, whether church, auxiliary organization, associations or conventions’ (end quote)”.

If you are a Tennessee Baptist and read these articles, then you probably just glossed over it. It looks like a bunch of technical, doctoral language. Let me put it simply.

The local Church is led by Jesus Christ.
The Christian is led by God’s Word and God’s Spirit.
As Baptists, we do not chase after power.
We follow the power of God.
We promote the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.

What has destroyed more churches and more people has been a desire for power and authority.

This is what caused the fall of humanity from a perfect paradise into a perfect mess. That old devil Lucifer, an Archangel of God, decided he needed more power than what God gave him. In Isaiah we are told of his fall:

Isaiah 14:12-15 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

The five I will statements that Lucifer made have been sadly reflected throughout human history. Lucifer incarnated in the Garden of Eden as a serpent (Revelation 12:9), where he encouraged Adam through Eve to rebel against God’s command. By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned (Romans 5:12).

The devil that enticed our forefather Adam is the same devil that entices us all today.

It is a sign of genuine Christianity to reject the devil’s power grab, and to do that which God directs: to love God, and love others. We are not to be fighting for supremacy over one another. Power corrupts, and absolute power absolutely corrupts.

The United States of America was founded by our forefathers – many of whom were Christ followers – to be a place of liberty, not of power grabs. The man often called “The Father of our country”, George Washington, was not enamored of power. Once American independence was secured, General George Washington resigned his military commission at the State House in Annapolis, Maryland, December 23rd, 1783.

Today is the 237th anniversary of that resignation.

Resigning that commission, George returned to his home in Mount Vernon, Virginia, content to be a private citizen. He later participated in the 1787 Constitutional Convention (held in Philadelphia), and was unanimously elected to be the first President of the United States. George reluctantly accepted the position, and refused any position of kingship over our country. In 1797 George resigned as President, allowing others to take that place. A devout Christian, George knew the danger of power. He loved God, and loved his fellow man.

God does not want His people vying for power over one another. He wants us lovingly serving both God and others. Before going to the Cross our Lord Jesus washed His disciples feet, a job that servants would normally perform for their masters. Jesus said:

Matthew 20:25-26 … Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;

He went on to say, “I came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give my life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). God’s people are not to be fighting for power and dominion over one another. We are to love God, and love others – as GOD defines love.

You Are Not Impressing God If You Are Not Loving

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Do not think that your education will impress God our Father. You can be well learned. You can speak several different languages. A few years ago, I pastored a Church that had been pastored by a highly educated man. Several members made a point of telling me that he spoke 5 different languages. That is impressive! I barely speak English. Beloved, God is not impressed at your vast education, if what you have is not being used to love God and love others. You may be very talented. Yet if your talents are used selfishly, without loving those around you, God says that your talent are just so much noise.

You may have fantastic spiritual gifts. Beloved, if you have a spiritual gift, it is because God gave that to you. If you have the ability to preach, to teach, to minister, it is not because you are particularly good in yourself. It is because God has given you that gift. The Scripture tells us:

1 Corinthians 12:7-11 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit {with all}. 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.

If you can preach a great sermon, exposing many wonderful but hidden truths to your audience – but are not preaching from a love filled heart – You are NOTHING to God!

If you are a beautiful singer or song writer, a great musician, but that which is behind the music is self love and pride, it means nothing to the Creator. It is God’s command that we love.

Romans 13:10 … love is the fulfilling of the Law

The Apostle of Love, John, tells us that:

1 John 4:7, 12 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. … 12 If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

You can be a generous person. The Apostle says:

1 Corinthians 13:3 … though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

We will all stand before our Maker at a judgment day. The unbeliever will stand before a Great White Throne:

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

Those who stand before that terrible Great White Throne will go into the Lake of Fire, being tormented forever and ever (Revelation 20:15). Why will they go here? Because they did not love the Lord Jesus Christ, and would not receive Him as Lord and Savior. Jesus will say to them,

Matthew 7:23 … I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

If you do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior, then your name is not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. The Bible says of Heaven:

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

What is the mark of the lost person? This person loves only themselves. The lost person only loves others when it suits them to love others. Oh, how horrible lovelessness is! The unbeliever – damned by their works – condemned by their lovelessness toward Christ – are cast into the Lake of Fire.

But Beloved, the Christian is judged as well. We are judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ. The Bible is quite clear:

2 Corinthians 5:9-10 Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

We who are Christians labor for Jesus. We strive to please Him Who gave His life for us. We do this by loving others, by loving God. We honor Him in our works by doing what we do from loving hearts. We do not belong to the darkness. We are, dear Christians:

1 Peter 2:9-10 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.

We must love. We must love as God defines love.

Love Defined

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

  • What does love look like? Love is patient – here called “longsuffering”. To be “longsuffering” is to tolerate hurts inflicted by others, without immediately gratifying yourself by “getting them back”. Longsuffering is a characteristic of God.

Exodus 34:6 the Lord passed by before {Moses}, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,

Numbers 14:18 The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.

To be longsuffering does not mean to tolerate evil forever. God does not tolerate evil forever. But it does mean to “turn the other cheek”. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:38-41 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

Christians are not to go around with a chip on their shoulder. We are to be as God is with us. He saved us, knowing full well that we would fail Him. And yet He saved us, and loves us still.

  • Love is kind. Kindness is to put yourself in another person’s shoes. If you mess up, you want the person you messed up with to be kind. The Apostle said,

Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another;

  • Love does not envy. The word translated “ENVY” is the Greek ζηλόω zēlóō, {pronounced dzay-lo’-o}, which means “to covet or desire something that someone else has”. When we begin to covet what another person has, it is not long before we hurt ourselves or that other person in order to satisfy our desires. King David coveted Uriah’s wife Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11), and ended up having Uriah murdered. Though God forgave David, He told him:

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

Covetousness – a violation of God’s Tenth Commandment (Exodus 20:17) – destroys the fabric of a family, a community, and a nation. God tells His children:

Hebrews 13:5-6 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

The Old Testament priests were given no land when Canaan was divided up. God told Aaron and his family:

Numbers 18:20 … Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them: I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel.

We who are Christians are New Testament priests – God is our portion forever. “My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever” (Psalm 73:26).

1 Corinthians 13:5-6 … {love} doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

  • Love doesn’t act like it is lost. Love acts like God acts. You could take our above text and take out the word “Love” and put in it’s place “Jesus”. “Jesus” did not come to this earth seeking His own. Jesus came to minister, not to be ministered to. “Jesus” was never easily provoked. “Jesus” never thought evil of others – He made it a point to love the unlovely. “Jesus” never rejoiced at the sight of evil. As Jesus neared the time of His crucifixion, knowing He would be betrayed and shamed, the Bible says:

Luke 19:41-44 {Jesus} beheld the city, and wept over it, 42 saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. 43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, 44 and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.

Love Remains Forever

1 Corinthians 13:8-10 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

There will come a time, dear Christian, when we will be in eternity with Jesus. All the “stuff” that we thought was important will be long gone, cast into the landfill where all temporal things go. J. J. Heller sings a beautiful song called “Only Love Remains”. Part of the lyrics are:

Scenes of you come rushing through
You are breaking me down
So break me into pieces
That will grow in the ground
I know that I deserve to die
For the murder in my heart
So be gentle with me Jesus
As you tear me apart …
Teach me to be humble
Call me from the grave
Show me how to walk with you upon the waves
Breathe into my spirit
Breathe into my veins
Until only love remains

Vindictiveness will not win the world for Christ. Hatred will not bring in the Kingdom of God. We cannot fight fire with fire. We can only bring glory to God in this world by loving as Jesus loved. We do not rejoice in evil, nor do we justify it. We believe what God has said, and love Him first. We love others the way that God expects us to love. The Apostle ends with these words:

1 Corinthians 13:11-13 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Faith flies only when it’s wings are love. Put away anything that is not love. Love God with all that you have – and love others the way that God in Christ has loved you. May God the holy Spirit and His Word connect you to the Kingdom of God both now, and into eternity. Amen and Amen!

Posted in 1 Corinthians, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

And It Came To Pass

Photo by Cedric Froehlich on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to Luke chapter 2.

  1. I have heard people describe 2020 as “a dumpster fire”. One sign I saw said that 2020 was “like looking both ways before crossing the street, and getting hit by an airplane”. What made the year seem so tough was politician overreach in response to the Coronavirus, a run away media that threw fuel on the fire, a few bad police mistreating and shooting people, and the rioting and name calling that followed. I do not want to downplay the Coronavirus by any means. As of December 15th, 2020, there have been 301,000 deaths attributed to the Coronavirus. The hospitals are filled with sick people, the nursing homes locked down, and many states are entering more quarantines and business shut downs. I read the other say that some 100,000 restaurants in the U.S. will remain permanently closed because of shutdowns. I could go on and on, but I’d like to share something with you from the CDC, something you’ll never hear. Maybe this will give us a little perspective.

In 2018 the number of deaths in the U.S. were 2,839,205. Their causes?

Heart disease: 655,381
Cancer: 599,274
Accidental Deaths: 167,127
Respiratory disease: 159,486
Stroke: 147,810
Alzheimer’s disease: 122,019
Diabetes: 84,946
Influenza and Pneumonia: 59,120
Kidney diseases: 51,386
Suicides: 48,344

When you look at these numbers you can see that, though 2020 has been rough, every year is rough. It seems rougher this year because of media scaremongering. I certainly do not want to diminish the suffering that many have gone through because of this Coronavirus. But the CDC statistics on the 1918 Pandemic (H1N1 virus {flu}): “The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States.” This is twice the number of deaths attributed to the Coronavirus.

Is God Gone Away?

When bad things happen, people always ask “Where is God?” God is here. God is always here. But from the beginning of human history, death and disease have been with us. This is a result of Adam’s sin, not God’s fallibility. When humanity does that which God says we ought not do, we receive viruses, thorns, thistles, mosquitoes, and all the other icky things. We need to realize:

• We are fallen creatures living in a fallen world. King Solomon described human history this way:

Ecclesiastes 1:9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

• God is in control, even in the bad times. When Jesus entered this world, there was harshness all around Him and His earthly family. And yet, everything that happened, happened because God our Father orchestrated it to happen. God is in control. Let’s start reading:

Luke 2:1-7 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And ALL went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judæa, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Word Study Cæsar Augustus demanded that every person in the Roman Empire be counted. The King James says “all the world should be TAXED”. The word translated “TAXED” is the Greek ἀπογράφω apográphō, {pronounced ap-og-raf’-o}, which means “to enroll, enter into a register, to be recorded”. This same word is used in reference to the Book of Life:

Hebrews 12:23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written {apográphō} in heaven …

The purpose of the Roman Census was to count people. To fulfill the Roman order, every person had to return to their ancestral homes. Mary is of the lineage of David, so she must go with her husband, also of that same lineage.

Luke 2:3-5 And all went to be {counted}, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judæa, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 to be {counted} with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child …

Joseph and Mary’s lineage could be traced back to King David of Judah, and David’s “city {of birth}” is “Bethlehem”. In an article from the Religious News Service (December 23rd, 1995), Professor James F. Strange writes:

“They had to travel 90 miles to the city of Joseph’s ancestors: south along the flatlands of the Jordan River, then west over the hills surrounding Jerusalem, and on into Bethlehem. … It was a fairly grueling trip … In antiquity, the most we find people traveling is 20 miles a day. And this trip was very much uphill and downhill. It was not simple. … Joseph and Mary likely would have traveled only 10 miles a day because of Mary’s impending delivery. … the trip through the Judean desert would have taken place during the winter, when “it’s in the 30s during the day [and] rains like heck,” said Strange. “It’s nasty, miserable. And at night it would be freezing.””

During the trip, Joseph and Mary not only had to deal with her pregnancy, but also lions, bears, and wild boars. Bandits and Robbers were also common hazards. It was a very hard journey which would have taken up to a week and a half to complete.

God Is There, And In Control – ALWAYS

When we go through trials, we often ask “where is God while I am in this valley”. Where is God? He is where He always is. God is there. God is with us. And God is in control. Our God is greater than we can imagine. God says:

Isaiah 55:8-9 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.

Beloved, it was not Caesar that ordered Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem – it was GOD.

When God prophesied of the Coming of the Messiah into the world, He said:

Micah 5:2 But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

The One Who was to be born had been going forth from everlasting. Though Jesus would be born in Bethlehem, Jesus Christ as God the Son existed with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit from eternity past. He is the

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

Eternal God would take upon Himself humanity in Bethlehem. Jesus is the prophesied Son of David that God promised in:

2 Samuel 7:12-14 … I {God} will set up thy seed {,dear David,} after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build an house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. 14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. …

No one in their right mind would take such a horrible trip with a pregnant woman unless absolutely necessary. But it was necessary. Jesus had to be born in Bethlehem, because God said the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Later on when the Wise Men would come from Babylon to Jerusalem looking for Jesus,

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

Herod the puppet king of Israel would ask the chief priests and scribes as to where Christ (Messiah) would be born. They would tell him:

Matthew 2:5-6 … In Bethlehem of Judæa: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

The Bread Of God Must Be Born
In “The House Of Bread”

The name “Bethlehem” means “The House of Bread”. During His ministry, those who follow Jesus will ask Him, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?”. Jesus tells them:

John 6:29-35 This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. 30 They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? 31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. 32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. 34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. 35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

Jesus is the Bread of Life!

When Joseph and Mary get to Bethlehem – again, a hard journey on people in the best of health – did they find a cushiony bed and breakfast to stay at? No.

Luke 2:6-7 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Word Study The Bible tells us that Jesus was laid in a manger “because there was no room for them in the INN”. The word translated “INN” is the Greek κατάλυμα katályma, {pronounced kat-al’-oo-mah}, which means “guest room”. Many homes of that day kept their animals stabled on the first floor of their houses. The “guests” stayed on the upper floors. Because of the census, all of the regular rooms that people would have rented or stayed at were filled. Mary and Joseph had to occupy the lower room, a night time shelter for the family animals. Was this cruelty? Where was God in all this? God is still in control.

God Intended His Lamb To Be In A Manger

Jesus as a baby was cradled in a manger, this too being a fulfillment of prophecy. Many, many years before this, God went to Abraham and told that old saint:

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

This son is Abraham’s only begotten son. He has just had this child in his old age. Abraham was a hundred years old (Genesis 21:5) when Isaac was born. We do not know how much time passed from Isaac’s birth till the command of God, but we do know that Isaac was old enough to accompany his father and to carry the wood of the sacrifice.

Abraham does as God requests. On the third day (Genesis 22:4) Abraham and Isaac climb to the top of Mount Moriah (Genesis 22:2), the same place where Solomon would one day build the Temple of God (2 Chronicles 3:1). Once they built the altar, Isaac asks his father:

Genesis 22:7-8 … my father … 8 Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?

Abraham’s answer? Genesis 22:8 … My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering:

After Isaac willingly laid himself down on the altar, and Abraham went to sacrifice him, it was then that God stopped him. Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked (Genesis 22:13) … and there he found the lamb of God. Isaac did not die because “God provided Himself a lamb for a burnt offering”. Abraham named that place Jehovah-Jireh (Genesis 22:14), meaning “the Lord will provide”.

Why is Jesus Christ laid as a baby in a manger? God provided Himself a Lamb for the burnt offering”. Where else would you find a lamb, a sacrificial lamb, but in a manger? Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God. John the Baptist would later declare on seeing Jesus:

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

Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God, sent to take away the sin of the world. He is the replacement for the animal sacrifices that Israel made year after year. These sacrifices could not satisfy our Holy God – they were but shadows.

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

God will provide Himself a sacrifice for sin. That Child born on that holy night so long ago is the Lamb of God. He was see by the Prophet Isaiah:

Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

This precious Baby of Mary’s will grow up to be “the satisfactory payment for our sins, and not just for ours, but for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2, my paraphrase). Jesus Christ – the Lamb of God!

1 Peter 1:18-20 … ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you

It is God in that small baby, sent to redeem us. It is God willing to die for us. It is God alone Who is worthy to atone for sin. It is God you receive as Lord and Savior, causing your name to be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 13:8). All Heaven declares (Revelation 5:12) “Worthy is the Lamb Who was slain”. Jesus Christ is the sent Messiah (Luke 10:16; Mark 9:37; John 13:20). Jesus Christ is Shiloh prophesied, the One Sent of God:

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

Where better a Lamb to be than in a manger?

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

Jesus is the Lamb in the Throne of God in yonder Heaven (Revelation 22:3). Christ died for us! (Romans 5:8).

The Shepherds {Jews} See The Lamb Of God FIRST

Luke 2:8-14 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

These Shepherds are watching sheep – lambs – that one day will be used as sacrificial animals. Only the best of the lambs can be used to make payment for sins on the altar of God. These Shepherds can identify a lamb without blemish (Leviticus 1:3; Deuteronomy 15:21), prized as a sacrifice for sins. The Angel of God comes to these Shepherds first, for God promised the Messiah to the Jews FIRST. That which God has foreordained in Christ Jesus will replace the “dead works of the Law” (Hebrews 9:14) by “a NEW and LIVING WAY” (Hebrews 10:20). No longer will the people need to approach God through the Temple and the Blood Altar. This baby Lamb in that manger will establish the only Way unto God. The Angel tells the Shepherd:

Luke 2:10 Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people

In this past year we have seen more riots over perceived “racism”, statues torn down, “critical race theories” pushed forth. Do you want to see racism end? It will not end by legislation, but by faith in Jesus Christ. Racism is something that sinful humanity created. The Bible speaks nothing of “races”. The only times the word “race” is used in Scripture, it is in reference to competitive running. The Bible speaks of nations, of peoples. The Apostle Paul preached:

Acts 17:24-27 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25 neither is worshiped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26 and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

In humanity, God has made us all OF ONE BLOOD. We all bleed red. We are of ONE BLOOD, one race, the HUMAN race.

That Lamb of God in the Manger came to this earth through Mary to be the sole means of salvation for all people. There is no other way to peace with God. There is no other way to peace with other peoples. Jesus is…

Luke 2:10 a Savior, which is Christ the Lord

When you receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, His sacrifice on Calvary, His Blood, is the covering for your sins. It is through Jesus Christ that the insanity of sin is rejected. Beloved, all who are in Christ by faith are my brothers and my sisters. My family is not distinguished by outward color, but by inward faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Praise God!

Luke 2:14 … Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men

Hearing this good news, the Shepherds did not wait. The Bible says:

Luke 2:15-17 … the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

Do you want to see world peace? Then you must tell others about Jesus. Do you want to see racism die? Then you must tell others about Jesus. It is only this faith in Christ that changes the human heart.

Luke 2:18-20 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Do you know Him? Do you know the Jesus of Scripture? If you know Him, then you should be glorifying and praising God for this great gift of life. Jesus Christ came that you might have life, and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). The greatest gift that God could give you is His Son Jesus. The greatest gift you can receive this holiday season is Jesus. The greatest gift you can give to others is Jesus Christ. Oh Beloved, if you do not knows Him, repent and turn to Him today. I heard this the other day – I do not know where. But I agree with this.

“If Your Repentance Did Not Change Your Life, Then You Need To Repent Of Your Repentance”

Come to Jesus Christ today. Receive Him as Lord and Savior. Believe He is the Lamb of God Who died for you. Believe He is the Son of God Who gives you eternal life. He lives, so we live! May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit! Amen and Amen.

Posted in Christmas, Christmas Sermons, Luke, Sermons Preached | Tagged | Leave a comment

A Christmas Light

Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

Tonight we’ll be in two chapters of the Scripture. In the Old Testament, we’ll be in Isaiah chapter 42. In the New Testament, we’ll be in Matthew chapter 2.

In Isaiah chapter 42, God spoke through the Prophet concerning Jesus Christ our Lord. We read:

Isaiah 42:1-4 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. 2 He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. 3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. 4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.

We know that this is a prophecy of the Coming Jesus because, after Jesus healed the man with the withered hand, the Pharisees gathered and held a council as to how to destroy Jesus (Matthew 12:14). The Bible then quotes our Isaiah text:

Matthew 12:15-21 But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; 16 and charged them that they should not make him known: 17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by {Isaiah} the prophet, saying, 18 Behold my servant, 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. 19 He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. 20 A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. 21 And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.

When Jesus came, He came to bring the love of God and compassion to all He saw. This is why the text states “a bruised reed shall He not break, and a smoking flax shall He not quench”. In two places in our text we are told of the Messiah that:

vs 18 … he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles

vs 21 … in his name shall the Gentiles trust

Jesus The Messiah Would Also Come For The Gentiles

Isaiah 42:16 And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.

In Christ, God would reach out to save not just Israel, but all who will believe in Him. This is not the first time that God let Israel know that He wanted to save the Gentiles as well. Through the Prophet, the Lord said:

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

During this Christmas Season you will see “Nativity Scenes” in Churches and on lawns throughout the nation. In most nativity scenes you will see the Baby Jesus in a manger, Mary and Joseph, some shepherds, and three wise men. This seems to be the standard formula. Though the shepherds came to see the Baby Jesus, the Scripture says:

Luke 2:12, 16 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. … 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

The Shepherds saw, not the Wise Men, but Joseph, Mary, and the Baby Jesus in a manger. On the other hand, when the Wise Men came to see Jesus, He was NOT in a manger, NOR was Joseph there. We read:

Matthew 2:11 And when {the Wise Men} were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him …

The Wise Men only saw Mary and Jesus, and both were in a house. What is most interesting to me is that

Luke, a Gentile Physician, wrote about the Jewish Shepherds going to see Jesus in a manger. Matthew, a Jew and a Levite, wrote about the Wise Men who were Gentiles who went to see the young child Jesus in a house.

Both Jews and Gentiles saw the Messiah shortly after He came into the world. Though they did not see Him at the same time, the Jews saw Him first, and the Gentiles last. This is because the Gospel of salvation was offered:

Romans 1:16 … to the Jew FIRST, and also to the Greek {Héllēn, Gentiles}

God made promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well as to King David concerning the coming of the Messiah. Therefore it is no mystery why Jesus would be revealed to the Jew first. It was the Shepherds who would come to see Jesus in the manger. But the wise men would come some time later – and these were clearly Gentiles. They came because God promised Abraham:

Genesis 12:3 … in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

Jesus came for us all! Let’s focus on these “Wise Men”

Matthew 2:1-2 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

We do not know how many “Wise Men” came to see Jesus. We will later read that they bring three gifts, but the number of men is not mentioned in Scripture. These men come into the Capital City of Israel, the place where the Temple of God and the Priests were. They were coming according to the promise of God in Isaiah 42:16

Isaiah 42:16 … I will make darkness light before them

The Wise Men said,

we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him

These men are following a star, probably traveling at night. They called Jesus “The King of the Jews”. As they went through Jerusalem asking this question, word got back to King Herod the Great. Herod was an awful man. He was born in Idumea, south of Judah. Herod was King over Judea because the Roman Senate appointed him. He was therefore a puppet King, serving at the whim of Rome. When Herod heard the Wise Men were looking for “The King of the Jews”, this threatened him because he was suppose to be “King of the Jews”.

Matthew 2:3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

Herod was notorious for his cruelties. When Herod was troubled, all Jerusalem was troubled. An example of his cruelty was that, when he laid dying, he ordered the imprisonment of many Pharisees. He ordered that, once he died, these imprisoned Pharisees be crucified so that the day of his death would be marked by weeping!

Mark 2:4-6 And when {Herod} had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judæa: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

Herod asked the Chief Priests and Lawyers where the Messiah was prophesied to come from. They correctly referred to the prophecies of:

Micah 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

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

The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Discovering this, Herod calls the Wise Men to his palace:

Matthew 2:7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

Dr. Bob Utley notes in his commentary that “Herod was interested in the age of the child. Since it took the Magi many months to travel from Persia, Jesus was at least one or two years of age at this time.” Herod was not genuinely interested in the Messiah, other than to remove a threat to his throne.

Matthew 2:8 {Herod} sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

I have often wondered why Herod didn’t send an armed escort with the Wise Men to Bethlehem. I believe it is because God knew Herod’s heart, and knew that his intent was to ultimately kill Jesus. 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 is in control! He knew that Herod would have killed the young Jesus without a moment’s hesitation. God moved Herod’s heart to send the Wise Men on their way unhindered, thus allowing them to finish their mission. But God also insured that the Wise Men, as well as Joseph, Mary, and Jesus, would all escape Bethlehem before Herod realized it. The Father had a plan for Jesus, and that plan was not that a monster King kill His Son. No, His plan was to save the world through Jesus.

Galatians 4:4-5 … 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.

The Wise Men Worship The Lord Jesus

Matthew 2:9-11 … When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him…

They WORSHIPED Jesus. This is the Greek προσκυνέω proskynéō, {pronounced pros-koo-neh’-o}, which means to prostrate oneself in homage, to reverence or adore. These men came to worship the Messiah, Jesus Christ our Lord. The only One Who is supposed to be worshiped is God Himself. Jesus told the devil in the wilderness:

Matthew 4:10 … thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve …

No one is to be worshiped, no one but God. Jesus Christ, our Messiah, is God. Though this is the first time Jesus is worshiped, this is NOT the only time He is worshiped – and RECEIVED that worship.

The leper worshiped Jesus (Matthew 8:2)
A certain Ruler worshiped Jesus (Matthew 9:18)
The disciples worshiped Jesus (Matthew 14:33)
The Canaanite woman worshiped Jesus (Matthew 15:25)
The mother of James and John worshiped Jesus (Matthew 20:20)
The disciples worshiped the resurrected Jesus (Matthew 28:9,17)

Jesus Christ is worthy of all worship. He is to be adored, for He is the Door of salvation, the King of kings and Lord of lords. The Father told the Angels:

Hebrews 1:6 … let all the angels of God worship him.

As a part of their worship, the Wise Men gave “treasures” to Jesus.

Matthew 2:11-12 … and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

Again, tradition assumes that there are three Wise Men, because there are three gifts. Yet we do not know this. The gifts given to Jesus were very appropriate for the Messiah.

  • Gold has always been a precious metal. The Ark of the Covenant was overlaid with gold (Exodus 25:10-17). Once a year the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies in the Temple where the Ark was kept, and sprinkle the blood of a sacrificed animal onto the Mercy Seat on the lid of the Ark. This was to appease the wrath of God for the sins of His people (see Leviticus 16). From a practical standpoint, this gold would finance Joseph’s family as they fled to Egypt to avoid the wrath of King Herod.
  • Frankincense was obtained by making incisions in the bark of the trees of the genus Boswellia. The white resin or gum that was produced was mixed with (Exodus 30:34) “stacte, and onycha, and galbanum”. God told His people Israel to (Exodus 30:36-37) “beat some of it very small, and put of it before the testimony in the tabernacle of the congregation, where I will meet with thee: it shall be unto you most holy. And as for the perfume which thou shalt make, ye shall not make to yourselves according to the composition thereof: it shall be unto thee holy for the Lord.” Burned as an incense by the priests, it symbolized the prayers of Israel rising up to God. Jesus Christ is not only our Messiah, He is our High Priest (see Hebrews 8:1; 9:11, 24), representing us unto God.
  • Myrrh was obtained like frankincense was, by slashing the bark of trees. Frankincense came from the genus Boswellia, whereas Myrrh came from the flowering trees of the genus Commiphora, of the incense-tree family (Burseraceae). When later in life Jesus was crucified, He would be offered myrrh to drink (Mark 15:23) to stupefy Him, making His crucifixion easier. Jesus would refuse to drink that myrrh, bearing the full weight of our sins on His body on that terrible tree! After Jesus died on the Cross, Joseph of Arimathæa and Nicodemus would go to Pilate and get permission to take His body from that place. The Bible says in John 19:39-40 “{they} brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.”

Jesus Is Saved, And A Terrible Prophecy Is Fulfilled

Matthew 2:13-15 when {the Wise Men} were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. 14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: 15 and was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

Matthew tells us that Jesus’ family temporary exile in Egypt was a fulfillment of Hosea 11:1. But next we see the evil of Herod fully exposed. Realizing that he had been betrayed, Herod ordered that Bethlehem be attacked:

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

The Prophet Jeremiah foresaw this horrible massacre in:

Jeremiah 31:15 Thus saith the Lord; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; {Rachel} weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.

Why did God send His Son into the world? Because without Jesus, evil is unchecked. The life that rejects Christ as Lord and Savior can become as mean as Herod’s life was. Oh Beloved, this world needs Jesus. Oh Beloved, we all need Jesus. The Light of God led the Wise Men to Jesus. The Light of God beckons you to Jesus. If you do not know Him as Lord and Savior, I pray that this Christmas your focus is not on the presents under the tree … but the Presence of God Who died on the Tree. He gave Himself for you and for me. Trust Him. Believe He gave Himself for your sins. Obey the Gospel:

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.

May God touch your hearts with His Scripture, and His Holy Spirit. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Christmas, Christmas Sermons, Matthew, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Let This Mind Be In You

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

God wants His people, saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, to have the mind of Christ. We are to think like Jesus in a non-Jesus world. In another place the Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 2:16 … we have the mind of Christ

If all that Jesus Christ wanted to do is cover our sins, to save us from the wrath of God, He could have entered humanity as a full grown man. If salvation from sin was the only goal that God had for us, Jesus could have suddenly appeared at the Temple just prior to the crucifixion Passover. He could have surrendered to the Cross, being betrayed and executed on Calvary, all without being born in a manger. The Scripture says:

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

Praise God for the Cross. Without the Cross of Calvary we could not be saved. But God wanted to do more than just save us. He wanted to show us the mind of Christ, to teach us how a godly person should live. It was not only to fulfill prophecy that Christ was born in a manger in Bethlehem, and was raised in a nondescript town like Nazareth.

Jesus was born into humanity to show us what God
expects of His Children.

Just as every loving parent has expectations and standards that they want their children to meet, God, our most Loving Father, has expectations and standards He wants us to meet. Jesus was born in a manger, a lowly place, but did not grow up with a chip on His shoulder. So many people are born poor – I remember poor as a child – and then, because of this environment, turn to crime. Some people use their childhood as a reason to act out. But Jesus was born in the lowest of places, and yet, continued to fulfill His purpose in God.

Jesus came to this earth, being born of a virgin, to show how much God loves us. But then Jesus grew up among humanity, showing us all what God expects us to be. Jesus came so that we might have life – abundant life. God wants us to more than just exist.

You must COME TO JESUS if you would have the ETERNAL life
God wants to give you (John 5:40).
You must MODEL JESUS if you would have the BLESSED
life God wants to give you.

Did our Jesus not warn us:

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.

There is a thief that wants to rob you of the life God wants you to have. This thief is the devil, the evil one, called in Scripture “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). The greatest enemy to the Full Gospel of Christ, the one who seeks to rob us of the life that the True God wants to give us, is the devil and his dark systems of thought. When the Apostle called out the enemy of the Gospel, he spoke against the “god of this world”, saying:

2 Corinthians 4:3-5 …. if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.

The devil is in an all out battle to seize the minds of as many people as possible. He wants to nullify the power of the Gospel. The Bible says that,

As a person thinks in their heart, so that person is” (Proverbs 23:7)

Your Life In Christ Hangs On An IF

The unbeliever cannot know the blessed life that God has for those who believe in Jesus. The believer in Christ, however, has experienced His Grace. We have been in a low place, and God lifted us up. As God has done to YOU, YOU are to do to others. Read with me:

Philippians 2:1-2IF there be therefore any consolation in Christ, IF any comfort of love, IF any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, 2 Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

When telling us about the “mind of Christ”, the Apostle reminds the Christian what we experienced when we came to Jesus in faith. In the text the Apostle uses the word IF in three ways:

  • IF you, dear Christian, experienced CONSOLATION in Christ. The word “consolation” is the Greek παράκλησις paráklēsis, (pronounced par-ak’-lay-sis), which means “to come alongside and embrace so as to comfort”. When you came to Christ by faith, what did HE do for YOU? Did Jesus condemn you as a sinner, or did He come alongside you, and embrace you? I remember the day I was saved, how lost I was as I reached out to Jesus, how lonely life was. And as soon as I reached out, He reached out and grabbed my hand. He said, “David, I forgive you. David, I receive you. David, I adopt you into the Family of God”.
  • IF you, dear Christian, were COMFORTED by the love of God. Didn’t Jesus do the same for you, dear Christian?
  • IF you, dear Christian, were given the FELLOWSHIP of God. Didn’t Jesus not only love you in spite of yourself, but also send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit of God (John 14:16), to lift you up, and to abide with you forever? Didn’t Jesus bring to you the peace of God, which passeth all understanding(Philippians 4:7)? The genuine Christian has felt the embrace of God at the point of salvation, and numerous times throughout our walk with Christ.

It is the mind of Christ to elevate, to bless. It is the devil’s way to denigrate, to curse. It is the mind of Christ to unite in love. It is the devil’s way to tear apart, to cause division. It is the mind of Christ to forgive, to embrace.

Beloved, as you have received, so are you to give. We who are Christians are to be like minded (like Jesus’ mind), having the same love (that Jesus has), being of one accord (as Jesus is with the Father), of one mind (as Jesus is with the Godhead).

You as Christians have experienced the UNMERITED love of God in Christ. As we have received, so are we to give. What are the Great Commandments, according to Jesus?

Matthew 22:37-40 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.

When Jesus said On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets, He was emphasizing that THIS is what God our Creator intends us to be like. We are to love, fervently, passionately, as Christ loved and loves us. We are not to be like the world.

Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Word Study The word STRIFE, the Greek ἐριθεία eritheía, {pronounced er-ith-i’-ah} means to be partisan, electioneering, sneaking about politically, bringing divisiveness or factions. The word VAINGLORY, the Greek κενοδοξία kenodoxía, {pronounced ken-od-ox-ee’-ah}, means “to puff oneself up with empty pride”. A holy people following God cannot be arrogant, or self serving. The Christian, like Christ, needs to be constantly asking themselves:

How Can I Be a Practical Blessing To Others

Small minded “me first” people cannot do great things for God. Small minded “me first” people cannot be used of God. When God offered Israel the Promised Land, the people refused to go. They would rather protect themselves than live for God. The Lord’s response was, “Ok, then you’ll not go. You will wander 40 years until you die out, and your children shall go forth and be blessed”.

Philippians 2:4 Look not every man on his own things, BUT every man ALSO on the things of others.

God is not saying that we are not to take any time for ourselves. We should take time to feed and clothe ourselves. We should take time to rest ourselves. But do you see the words BUT and ALSO? Just as important as feeding ourselves is, it is important that we reach out, and do for others. If you have been blessed by Jesus Christ, by God the Holy Spirit, by the Heavenly Father, then you should strive to be a blessing to others.

Holiness Is The Pursuit Of Christ’s Mind

Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

The phrase “Let this mind be in you” can also be translated “Have this attitude in yourselves”, or “Have the same mindset”. THE CHRISTIAN IS INDWELT WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT. God is in you (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 6:19). The Christian’s objective in this life is to be like Jesus, to pursue the mind of Christ. We do this by REMOVING anything from our lives that is not of His Will. We are told in …

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

The Christian is called to a new life in Christ. The old hateful ways are to be taken off, like old, dirty clothes. When we sin, we confess our sin to the Lord, and are restored to a right walk with Christ.

We who are Christians do not give ourselves over to fear or foolishness, we give ourselves over to faith.

Illustrate I was talking to a fellow the other day who was worried that he had the Coronavirus. I told him, “You can go to the Maury Health Department. They have a drive through testing area – you don’t even need to get out of your car!” His reply first was to look at me with wide eyes, saying, “Have YOU been tested?” I told him, yes I have. It’s a simple test. Go get it. He replied “I heard they push the q-tip up your nose so far they hit your brain! I’m not going!” I assured him that this was not the case, as I and my wife had been through the test. He wouldn’t listen. He would rather sit and worry, rather than take the available help. This is NOT THE MIND OF CHRIST.

Dr. Joe Pettigrew recently illustrated how we can drift from the mind of Christ. He wrote:

The following article turned up in a newspaper: “A lady took my seat in church. She’s very nice… a good friend, in fact. I can sit anyplace; no big deal. My seat’s on the right as you enter the sanctuary. I can rest my arm on the end. It’s a good seat, but I wouldn’t raise a fuss about a seat… never hold a grudge. ACTUALLY, it was three months ago she took it and I really don’t know why. I’ve never done anything to her… never taken her seat. I SUPPOSE I’ll have to come an hour early to get my seat. She took it because it’s one of the best seats in the house. She’d no business taking it… and I’m not going to church two hours early to get what’s rightfully mine.”

As God’s children, dear Christians, we are not to let the devil hijack our thoughts. We are not to become his pawns. The Scripture reminds us:

2 Timothy 1:7 … God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. … God; 9 who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began

Illustrate It is easy to let our minds drift into bad territory. This can happen to the best of believers. The Priest Zacharias and his wife Elisabeth are very much part of the Christmas Story. You see, before Jesus Christ could come into humanity and be born of a virgin, God had to raise up a Herald who would go before Jesus. That Herald would be John the Baptist. John’s birth was just as carefully orchestrated by God as the birth of Jesus was. John would be born about 6 months ahead of the baby Jesus, and John would begin preaching about Jesus 6 months before our Lord was baptized in Jordan.

Zacharias and Elisabeth are John the Baptist’s parents.

Their story is very interesting. It is told in Luke 1:5-24. As Zacharias ministered in the Temple, serving at the altar of incense, the Bible says:

Luke 1:11-17 there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. 14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. 15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. 17 And he shall go before {the Messiah} in the spirit and power of {Elijah}, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Zacharias had been praying his whole life for a child. Now God promises to give him a child – and not just a child, but a John the Baptist. God told John thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. John received a great gift from God. Did he rejoice?

No, he doubted. Zacharias doubted the power of God.

He asked the Angel, “Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.” (Luke 1:18). Zacharias had lived in loss his whole life. Now hearing the promise of God, he could not receive it, but doubted. The Angel Gabriel replied:

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

God made Zacharias a promise, a promise that he should have been overjoyed with. Instead his mind was trapped into doubt and despair. The Angel took away Zacharias’ voice until the day that John was born.

The devil uses fear and doubt to rob us of blessing.
Reject him. Seek the Mind of Christ!

The Scripture tells us, as Christians, we are to be:

2 Corinthians 10:5 casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ

As goes our thoughts, so goes our life. Let us invite God into our minds. Let us turn off the television and the social networks, and open up our minds to the Word of God. Our God will transform us, if we but let Him (Romans 12:2).

Act Like Jesus To Think Like Jesus

Philippians 2:5-7 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

God showed us what a blessed life is in the life of Jesus Christ. Jesus is “in the form of God”. Jesus Christ has been and will always be God. He is

Our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13)

We are told in Colossians 2:9, “In Jesus dwells all the fullness of the Godhead in body form” (my paraphrase). Though Jesus Christ is Creator God (John 1:1-3, 14), He entered into this world “the form of a servant”. That little baby born in Bethlehem, was not born in a fine motel, but in a manger. His parents were not rich and powerful, but working class people. Jesus did not live in a big, notorious city like New York, New York. No, He grew up in a tiny place called Nazareth. He made Himself of no reputation. Jesus often said:

Matthew 20:26-28 whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27 and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28 even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

People, if you want to be happy you must do the things that Jesus has said to do. He told us:

John 13:15-17 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.

Jesus Christ lived a life of service – not to Himself – but to us, to others. He did good where ever He went. He gave His life for us. The Apostle said:

Philippians 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Jesus Christ came into this world – that baby in the manger – so that He could die for our sins. He gave Himself for us. Beloved, if He has given Himself for you, you are called of God to give yourself to others. The way to a happy life is a life of service. Not being served, but serving, doing, loving as Jesus loved. It is humility and loving service that impresses God. This is the lifestyle that is a polar opposite to that of the world.

Examine Yourselves: Are You Saved?

If you are saved, then you are saved to serve Jesus, to confess Him Lord. As the Apostle speaks of the life of Christ, and how we are to live like Jesus, he makes a very remarkable statement. He 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

The Apostle does not tell us to WORK FOR our own salvation. Salvation is something that no one can earn – it is a gift of God. There are so many wonderful verses that explain this:

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.

Ephesians 2:5 … (by Grace ye are saved)

Romans 4:16 … {salvation} is of faith, that it might be by grace …

Romans 11:6 … {salvation} is by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

The Bible gives this promise, that

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

When we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, we become sons of God. Following that moment in time we are commanded to obey Him Who saved us, to imitate Him, to “have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). This is what makes a difference in the world, is the Christian WORKING OUT their faith, not WORKING FOR their faith. It you are God’s child by faith in His Son, you have received precious promises from God. Live OUT your faith so that others might see it. Live OUT your faith with fear and trembling. What you, dear Christians, do is what will change the world. If you are saved, be like Jesus. When you fail, confess your sin to God. Get up, and be like Jesus. DO the things He said do, and you will be happy and blessed.

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

Posted in Philippians, Sermons Preached | Tagged | 2 Comments

What Love Is

Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to …

Luke 1:26-29 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

What does love look like? Everyone wants love. The bulk of most songs we hear deal with love, and relationships. Years ago when I was young, one of the groups I listened to called Foreigner did a song entitled “I Want To Know What Love Is”. In the chorus of that song the group said:

I want to know what love is, I want you to show me
I want to feel what love is, I know you can show me

There is Someone Who can show us what love is. We all need love, and need to love. We see what love is in the true story of our Lord Jesus Christ’s birth. Let’s look at this recounting one more time.

Luke 1:26-29 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

Love Fulfills It’s Promises

Every word is important in the Bible. We start out with “in the sixth month”. The “sixth month” is very important. In order for Christ to come, before He came His prophesied Herald would have to come. 700 years before this moment the Prophet said that the Herald would come:

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

The King of Kings, God Almighty, will write Himself into humanity. But the King must have a Herald. The Prophet Malachi also saw the Herald:

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

Six months prior to this moment, the Angel Gabriel comes to Zacharias and Elisabeth, and tells them that they will have this Herald. The same Gabriel now comes to Mary 6 months later to bring her good news. God’s Plans cannot be thwarted.

Isaiah 14:27 For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who shall {stop} it? And His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back.

God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son” (John 3:16). This Son was “foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:20) to come and dwell among us. The Apostle said:

Galatians 4:3-5 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: 4 but 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.

Love Reaches Out To The Lowly

The time for the sending of God’s Son had come. It was six months after Elisabeth became pregnant with John the Baptist. Gabriel did not go to Jerusalem, the Holy City. He did not go to a well known place, or a powerful place. When God came into the world, He would come “unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth”. Nazareth is not even mentioned in the Old Testament. Bethlehem is mentioned as the birthplace of the Messiah. But not Nazareth. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” is a question often on the lips of people (John 1:46). Nazareth was perhaps the least of all the towns in Israel. And yet, God sent Gabriel to Nazareth. Not to New York City. Not to New Jersey. To Nazareth. A humble place. The angel comes to a young virgin named Mary, engaged to an unknown carpenter working in Nazareth.

Luke 1:27-29 … the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

I find this very interesting. The Angel Gabriel tells Mary that she is highly favored. This is the Greek χαριτόω charitóō, {pronounced khar-ee-to’-o}, which means “to be given special honor”. The Lord God was going to bestow a special honor upon Mary. Blessed art thou among women. Mary would be given the greatest honor that a woman ever had. What I find most interesting is that Mary is not shocked at the Angel’s appearance. We are told, Mary was troubled AT HIS SAYING. She was not troubled at his appearance, but with what he said. Why was this? Because Mary was a believer, a person well acquainted with our Heavenly Father. What was it that her Father wanted her to do? The Angel continues:

Luke 1:30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found FAVOR with God.

Word Study The word translated FAVOR is the Greek χάρις cháris, {pronounced khar’-ece}. Mary had found GRACE. Grace is unmerited favor from God. Mary was saved by Grace, and it is Grace that now chooses her to be the vessel by which the Savior will come.

What is Nazareth to the world? Nothing!
Who is Mary to the world? Nobody!
Love Reaches Out To All!

When Jesus came, when …

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.

Grace is Heaven’s coin. Grace is God’s way. Mary loved the Lord. She was saved by Grace, and love Him by Grace. Now God in His Grace decides Mary would be the vessel by which He would “become flesh”. When we love God, and follow Him by Grace, He will call on us to show our love. The Angel tells Mary:

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

Mary is told “you shall conceive in your womb”. This is something Mary her self cannot do. No woman can “concieve in her womb”. She must have the donation of a man in order to conceive – that’s basic biology. But this child is different from any other child ever born. This child is JESUS. His name means “Yahweh our Savior”. Jesus’ birth is the fulfillment of the promise God made in the Garden of Eden. He told the serpent, that old devil:

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.

The “seed of the woman”, the Messiah, would come from a virgin birth. Jesus would “become flesh and dwell among us” (John 1:14) through the supernatural birth of Jesus. As the Prophet said:

Isaiah 7:14 … the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (meaning, God with us).

Jesus is “the Son of the Highest”. He is God the Son become flesh. The Angel says, “the Lord God shall give Him the Throne of His father David”. Jesus is from the lineage of King Davids. He is the fulfillment of the promise that God made to David,

1 Chronicles 17:11-14 it shall come to pass, when thy {O David} days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom. 12 He shall build me an house, and I will stablish his throne for ever. 13 I will be his father, and he shall be my son: and I will not take my mercy away from him, as I took it from him that was before thee: 14 but I will settle him in mine house and in my kingdom for ever: and his throne shall be established for evermore.

The Child that Mary would bear would be the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant! Jesus is “the Son of the Highests .. and of His Kingdom there shall be no end”. What a wonderful blessed truth this is. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords would enter humanity. He would enter through a lowly virgin, and be raised in a lowly place.

Mary does not doubt God, but she is curious. Again, I find this amazing. When Gabriel came to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, the Bible says:

Luke 1:12-13 … when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias…

Mary, on the other hand, is excited but curious. She asks a good question.

Love Does The Impossible

Luke 1:34 … How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

Mary knows her basic biology! She has never been intimate with any man, but is chaste, awaiting the consummation of her marriage. How can a virgin have a Child such as Jesus? The Angel tells her:

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

Among humanity, it is not possible for a woman to have a child without the seed of man. But God the Holy Spirit would bring a miracle in Mary. She would experience the power of God, for with God, nothing is impossible.

I want you to think about this. You are a young girl, perhaps just a teenager, who will soon be pregnant. You are not growing up in a permissive and liberal society like America. You are growing up in ancient Israel, under the harsh laws of the Torah. A young woman, pregnant, and without a husband, would certainly be ostracized. Mary’s family would probably disown her. Joseph would probably divorce her. She might have been run out of town. Yet her words were simply:

Luke 1:38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Mary does not know how God will do what He will do. She doesn’t know what is to come. But she trusts God, and is willing to be the “handmaid of the Lord”.

Mary does not doubt the Lord, but knows that her elderly cousin Elisabeth – well advanced in years – is with child. Elisabeth is carrying the Herald, and Mary the Son of God. So she doesn’t hesitate – she goes to Elisabeth’s home to help her out. I remember when Sherry was 6 months pregnant, and how hard it was for her to do the simplest of things. I had to help her. Mary goes to help Elisabeth.

Luke 1:39-45 Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; 40 and entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. 41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 42 and she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.

There is no indication in the Scripture that anyone – even the Angel Gabriel – told Elisabeth that Mary would be bearing the Messiah. The Angel has just told Mary about it. So Mary goes to Elisabeth’s home, and as soon as Mary enters the home, Elisabeth knows that Mary is carrying the Messiah. To those who tell me the Fetus is no life until it is born, I love to point out this text. The Fetus in Mary would have been in the earliest stages of development, and yet it was the Lord Jesus. And the baby John, still in his mother’s womb, jumped for joy at the presence of Mary and Jesus. The baby John jumped for joy, according to Elisabeth. Life is precious in the womb. Life is precious, even if still in the embryo stage, as Jesus no doubt was.

Love Is Not Self Centered, But God Centered

Mary has been told by the Angel Gabriel that she has been given exceptional favor from God. Mary now hears her cousin Elisabeth acknowledge her special place in God’s Plan. But Mary does not go all egotistical on us. She does not become puffed up with pride.

Mary praises God! She says:

Luke 1:46-47 … my soul doth magnify the Lord, 47 and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.

Mary does not boast on what she has. She boasts on God. There are some who believe that Mary had some special construction that made her sinless. Yet this is not true. The Bible says:

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

The Bible says that, compared to God,

Isaiah 64:6 … we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Mary knows that she is a sinner saved by Grace. She magnifies God. She says “my spirit hath rejoiced IN GOD MY SAVIOR”. If Mary were sinless, she would not require a savior. But she needs a Savior, as do we all. Since the Bible says:

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

Oh Beloved, “By MAN came DEATH” (1 Corinthians 15:21). So God now bypasses Man, fallen Man, and creates in Mary a sinless Man named Jesus. This child Mary would bear …

Hebrews 4:15 … was in all points tempted like as we are, yet WITHOUT SIN

This Child that Mary would bear will grow up to be the Sin Bearer. Because God loves us, He sent Jesus. The Bible says:

Hebrews 9:27-28 And as 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.

No, Mary was not sinless. She was a believer, one who looked unto God for salvation. Her Son will be the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. Mary does not magnify herself, but magnifies God.

Luke 1:48-50 For {God} hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

Mary speaks of her “low estate”, the Greek ταπείνωσις tapeínōsis, {pronounced tap-i’-no-sis}, which means “pitiful” or “vile”. The Apostle Paul used the same word when he spoke of the future resurrection of the saints, saying:

Philippians 3:21 {God} shall change our VILE {tapeínōsis} body, that it may be fashioned like unto His {Jesus’} glorious body …

Mary is not puffed up with what God has promised to her. She humbles herself before God, showing us that God chose the right vessel for the Christ’s birth. Our bodies are indeed VILE. But God in love will one day raise up His Children, and then we shall be VILE no more. Mary shows us the strength of humility. She is surrendered to the Lord, willing to do whatever God would require of her.

Oh Beloved, what a wonderful thing it is to surrender to the Love of God. The Apostle said that the secret of joy in this life is the surrendered life.

2 Corinthians 12:10 … when I am WEAK, then am I STRONG

God will do great things with us if we would but humble ourselves before Him.

God does not save a man standing up.
God saves a man kneeling.
God empowers a man willing.

God was able to do the impossible with Mary because she was willing and surrendered. God will do the impossible with anyone who is willing and surendered.

Dr. W.A. Criswell once said, “The Christian faith addresses itself to the need for regeneration—for the forgiveness of sins; for a new life, a new heart; a new way, a new day.” What God is doing in Mary is a new thing. What God will do in you is a new thing, if you will but turn to Him. Mary continues her beautiful prayer:

Luke 1:51-53 {God} hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. 53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

To those who are self-sufficient, proud, mighty, or arrogantly rich in the things of this world, God has nothing for you. God scatters the proud in the imagination of their hearts. God puts down the mighty from their seats. But if you are lowly, humble, willing, God will bless you. What does God say?

John 7:37 … If any {one} thirsts, let him come to Me and drink

Revelation 22:17 the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

To those who are thirsty, if you come to the Lord, He will quench your thirst. As Mary did, make yourself available to God even when what He asks doesn’t make sense. Like Peter’s boat filled with fish, sink in your own esteem as God blesses you. Be like the Baptist who said “He must increase but I must decrease” (John 3:30). The river called Pride has drowned more Christians than any other body of water. Put your pride away and do as God bids you to do. The root of false theology is found in putting my desires above God’s Will.

Luke 1:54-55 {God} hath {given help to} His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy; as He spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever.

God never changes. His love is never ending. He loves you, and has shown His love in the supernatural birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If you do not know Him as Savior, then I beg you, come to Him today. Do not delay. Surrender to His love. He is the very definition of love. May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Christmas Sermons, Luke, Sermons Preached | Leave a comment

God Is Our Refuge And Strength

Photo by Alwin Kroon on Unsplash

Psalm 46:1-2 To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth. 1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will not we fear ….

As I read through the Psalms, and even through the prayers of the patriarchs throughout our Bible, I am struck by the fact that no one starts out their prayers with, “God, I want”. Those old saints who knew best, knew that as humans we do not need more stuff. We also do not need more comfort. But we do need more of God.

The Most Successful And Blessed People
Are Those Who Want More Of God

Read through your Bibles. God met with Moses at the burning bush, commissioning him to go and tell Pharaoh “Let My People Go” (Exodus 3:1-10). God gave Moses the power to bring ten plagues upon Egypt. As Moses led Israel out of Egypt, God went before them in a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:22). God led Israel through the Red Sea (Exodus 14:13) as if on dry land. The Lord fed Israel manna, bread from heaven (Exodus 16:15). God told Moses to come up on Mount Sinai to receive His Law, written with God’s own hand (Exodus 31:18). After all these magnificent things, with even

Exodus 33:11 …. the Lord speaking to Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend

still Moses asked God

Exodus 33:18 … I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.

Moses did not want more stuff. He wanted more of God, to know more of God. And consider King David of Israel. God called David when he was but a shepherd (Psalm 78:70). God blessed David with victory after victory. God enabled David to kill Goliath (1 Samuel 17:4), and later in life promised David that the Messiah would come from his lineage (2 Samuel 7:13). Having had blessing after blessing, David prayed:

Psalm 25:4-5 Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. 5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.

It is God that we need. Not just on Sunday, but every day. Not just when we are in a valley, but up on the mountaintop. We need God because we are so terribly weak. At least, I am. I need Him more every single day that He grants me life.

We Are All Weak, But God Is Strong

Many times when we read the Psalms, we neglect to read the “Headers”. This Psalm starts with this header:

To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth.

This song is “to the chief Musician for the sons of Korah”. The sons of Korah were singers among the Levites, what we might call worship leaders. Korah himself was Moses’ nephew. He led a rebellion against Moses, trying to take over leadership of Israel (Numbers 16:1ff). God initially wanted to destroy all of Israel for this rebellion, but Moses prayed, and asked for Grace for Israel. God told Israel to separate themselves from the homes of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. Following this, God caused the earth to open up, and to swallow all those who stood in rebellion against Moses (Numbers 16:31-33). However, God did NOT kill the sons of Korah.

Numbers 26:11 Notwithstanding the children of Korah died not.

God did not destroy the innocent with the guilty, but, as He has said,

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.

Though their father behaved shamefully, the sons of Korah continued to sing to the glory of God. The musical note A Song upon Alamoth, according to Easton’s Bible Dictionary:

{this is} a musical term (1 Chronicles 15:20), denoting that the Psalm which bears this inscription (Psalm 46:1-11) was to be sung by soprano or female voices.”

I suspect the Psalm was sung this way because, in ancient Israel, most choirs were entirely of men. By making the Psalm to be sung only by women it emphasized that power in life does not come from human strength. It is God’s power that gives us the ability to prevail. The Lord spoke through the Prophet in another place, saying:

Jeremiah 17:5-7 Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. 6 For he shall be like the {bush} in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. 7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.

The strongest person is not the person who can lift the most, or endure the most. The strongest person is the one who knows the Lord, and knows to run to the Lord when tried.

Psalm 46:1 God is our REFUGE and STRENGTH, a very present help in trouble.

God is our REFUGE, the Hebrew מַחֲסֶה machăçeh, (pronounced makh-as-eh’), our “Shelter, Refuge, Place of Security”. The same word is used in:

Psalm 62:7 In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my REFUGE {machăçeh} is in God.

Psalm 73:28 But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my TRUST {machăçeh} in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.

Psalm 91:2 I will say of the LORD, He is my REFUGE {machăçeh} and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

Just as a refuge was a fortress, a tower, or a place of high walls, our God is a fortress, a tower, and a place of high walls. Resting in Him we have blessing and hope. God saved Israel because He loved her. He cast down entire nations in Israel’s defense. Will not God protect you, dear Christians, having shed the Blood of His own dear Son for your salvation?

We may be tried, but we are not to fret, fear, and foolishly worry over what is to come. We are a delivered and cherished people!

The Scripture says that God has

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

God did the greatest thing He could do for us at the point of our salvation. He gave His only Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins. Having saved us, we are to remember that we are precious to Him. Jesus Christ is God the Father’s BELOVED SON, in Whom He is well pleased (2 Peter 1:17). As Jesus gave Himself for you, you are also Beloved of God for His sake.

Our power is in God. Our strength is in Jesus.
Sometimes we forget this.

In 1 Chronicles 21 we see what happens when we forget our strength is not in us, but in our God to Whom we run. The Bible tells us that:

1 Chronicles 21:1 And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

It was the devil that whispered, “Hath God really said, you shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”. With that whisper came the fall of humanity into sin. Satan whispers in our ears, encouraging us to doubt God, or to inflate our own ego. David told his right hand man Joab:

Numbers 21:2 … Go, number Israel from Beer-sheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it.

Joab knew what was in the heart of David. David began to think that all the battles he had won were because of his own prowess, or because his army was bigger than anyone else’s army. Joab warned David:

Numbers 21:3 The Lord make his people an hundred times so many more as they be: but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?

I wish I had had a Joab to stand up and warn me all the times that I thought it was about ME, instead of being about God IN me. A Joab is a good friend who warns us when pride comes. As the Bible says:

Proverbs 11:2 When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.

Because David forgot that the blessings he had were from God, the Lord punished Israel (1 Chronicles 21:14-15) by killing 70,000 men. Let us not follow in King David’s footsteps, at least, not in this pride. As God told Zerubbabel:

Zechariah 4:6 Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.

When trials come in life, always remember “God is our refuge and strength,

a very present help in trouble”. Do not try to fix it before you run to God. Trust Him Who saved you. When Job, that dear old Saint, lost all that he had, he would not curse God and die as his evil wife suggested (Job 2:9). He ran to his Refuge and Strength, saying:

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.

Our God Is Never Far Away

Psalm 46:1-2 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Though King David messed up when he numbered Israel, his head was in the right place when he came upon Goliath. Israel was gathered together to do battle against Philistia at Shochoh, when the Philistines sent out their champion, Goliath. Goliath is described in 1 Samuel 17:4-7. The Bible tells us that the tip of his spear weighed 18 pounds. Goliath was about 9 feet tall – a giant of a man. He was powerful as well. His metal armor weighed 157 pounds.

As everyone else looked at Goliath and trembled, David looked at God Who was beside him and rested. When King Saul doubted David’s ability to defeat the giant, he said:

1 Samuel 17:37 … The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.

The Lord our God was near David when he was guarding the sheep at night. The God Who gave David the ability to stop the lion and the bear would surely saved David from a bear of a man! David trusted in God – and Goliath lost his head that very day. Beloved, our God is near.

Stop listening to the whispers of Satan. Stop believing his lies. If your heart is shriveled with fear, God cannot use you to change the world. Look at the God Who saved you – and believe that He saves you still!

When the Prophet Elijah stood before 450 false prophets, and all of Israel, he did not allow the numbers against him to influence what he believed. Elijah knew that God is near, and that God is able. He told the false prophets:

1 Kings 18:24 … call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.

God is near. God is near! He is not asleep at the wheel, but has promised “ I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee (Hebrews 13:5). Our Jesus has promised,

Matthew 28:20 …. lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

If God is with us – and He is – and God is greater than Anyone – and He is – then we need not fear.

Psalm 46:2-3 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. SELAH.

The Bible tells us not to fear. Some 365 times throughout Scripture we are told, “Fear Not”. When we fear, we are implying that God does not love us. But God does love us. The Apostle said:

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

When we fear, we forget the faithfulness of God. But our God is there. He is right in the middle of it all with us.

Do you see the word SELAH? The word means “REST”. When we are tried, we need to REALIZE our limitations, then RUN to the Lord Who loves us. Hiding in His love, we are to REST in His embrace. Trust God, trust the Lord Jesus in your trial. He will not forsake you.

Psalm 46:5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

God is with His people. He has promised this in so many different ways. Jesus told us:

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Someone once asked me, “Why do you go to Church?” My response is, “Because Jesus loves the Church. But also, because I need the fellowship of the others.” I just received a call from an unchurched family seeking “Christmas for her kids”. They have hit hard times. I receive calls like this frequently throughout the year, every year since I have been in ministry. People who have no concern for the Lord, and have been through valleys of despair.

Beloved, I need my Church family. I need others around me to remind me to look to Jesus when I am tried. I need the WE of the Scripture, the Church that Jesus so loves. The Apostle said:

Romans 8:31-39 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God is with us, if we are children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26).

Psalm 46:7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. SELAH.

In verse 3 we saw a SELAH, or “Rest”. Now in verse 7 we see a SELAH, or a “Rest”. The “Lord of Hosts” is with us – the God Who made all things, Who controls the angelic hosts, He is with us. REST. Rest in Him. God ends the Psalm with these wonderful words:

Psalm 46:10-11 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. 11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

We are not to fear. We are to glorify our God, to exalt Him, to lift Him up. Run to Him. Rest in Him. But do not fear. Our God is able! May He touch your hearts with His Spirit and His Word. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Psalms, Sermons Preached | Tagged | 1 Comment

Why Call Him “Jesus”?

Photo by Vaishakh pillai on Unsplash

Every year around this time we focus on the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. His birth is unique among the births of all other children from the beginning of time. The birth of Christ Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise God made to the devil in Genesis 3:15. The Lord promised the devil, that old serpent (Revelation 12:9; 20:2):

I will make you, you old serpent, and the woman enemies. Your seed and the seed of the woman will be enemies. The seed of the woman will crush your head – and you shall bruise His heel.” (my paraphrase of Genesis 3:15)

This “Seed of the Woman” is the Lord Jesus Christ. It is He Who was born of a virgin, fulfilling the prophecy of Scripture:

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

As the Christmas story goes, a Jewish Carpenter named Joseph discovered his wife to be Mary was pregnant – and they had not yet come together to consummate their marriage. Joseph decided to put his wife away – to give her a bill of divorce – but to do it privately. He did not want Mary harmed. As Joseph dreamed that night the Angel Gabriel came to him, saying:

Matthew 1:20-25 But while {Joseph} thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25 and knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

The Apostle Matthew quotes Isaiah 7:14 when he refers to the child that the virgin Mary is carrying. The Angel tells Joseph to name the coming Child “Jesus”. But then Matthew quotes Isaiah 7:14, telling us that the virgin born Child would be named Immanuel. So why didn’t Joseph name Jesus, “Immanuel”? Is this a discrepancy in the Scripture? No, not at all.

The short answer to the question is “Jesus” is our Lord’s human name, but “Immanuel” is one of our Lord’s
Divine Names.

Immanuel” Is Jesus’ Divine Name, But
“Jesus” Is Immanuel’s Human Name

In the Old Testament God describes Himself with a variety of names, each one meant to explain to us who and how God is.

Humans have only one name, though we may have nicknames by which we are known. God introduces Himself with many different names.

When God called Moses to follow Him, and to go to Pharaoh to present God’s demand, “Let My people go”, Moses asked God:

Genesis 3:13-14 … when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? 14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

God is “I AM”, always present, never ending. He has always existed, and will always exist. He is the Great and Eternal “I AM”. But this is not the only name God uses of Himself. God calls Himself:

  • ELOHIM (the Godhead): In the beginning ELOHIM created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1)
  • YAHWEH ELOHIM (the Lord God): … in the day that the LORD GOD made heaven and earth (Genesis 2:4)
  • EL SHADDAY (God Almighty): The Lord appeared to Abram and said unto him, I am EL SHADDAY (Genesis 17:1-2)
  • EL BETEL (the God of Bethel): … God said to me in a dream, Jacob … I am EL BETEL
  • YAHWEH MEKADDESH (the Lord Who Sanctifies): The Lord spoke to Moses … I am YAHWEH QADASH (Exodus 31:12-13)

I could continue on, but you see the point. God uses many different names for Himself to describe His power and authority to us.

The Bible also uses many different names for our
Messiah, Jesus Christ.

In addition to Immanuel (God with us), the Prophet said of Jesus:

  • As we studied this morning in Isaiah 9:6, “His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of peace. Isaiah gave not just Immanuel (God with us) as a Divine name for the Messiah, but four more names in this text. Each name describes the power and authority of our Lord Jesus.
  • When Gabriel went to the virgin Mary to tell her of her pregnancy and future child, he told her in Luke 1:31-32 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest. The Messiah’s human name is JESUS, but His divine name here is SON OF THE HIGHEST.
  • The Prophet Jeremiah saw the Messiah as “a King Who reigns wisely”. He went on to say “and this is the name by which He will be called: The LORD is our righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:6)
  • When John the Revelator introduces “Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth”, Jesus then describes Himself in 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. He uses two names to Divine names to describe Himself to us.

“Jesus” is the human name that our Lord was given, but He has taken to Himself many other Divine Names, each describing an aspect of His power and authority. But this brings me to a second question:

What Is The Significance Of The Name “Jesus”?

God is quite specific on naming the baby “Jesus”. He told Joseph:

Matthew 1:21 … thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

And God tells Mary:

Luke 1:31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

Why is Jesus called “Jesus”? We are told by Gabriel as he speaks to Joseph:

For He shall save His people from their sins”

The name “Jesus” is very interesting, because there is an Old Testament “Jesus” and a New Testament “Jesus”.

The name “Jesus” comes from the Greek Ἰησοῦς Iēsoûs, (pronounced ee-ay-sooce’). This would be the Gentile form of His Name. The same name in Hebrew would be יְהוֹשׁוּעַ Yᵉhôwshûwaʻ, (pronounced yeh-ho-shoo’-ah or the shortened form Yeshua), that is, Joshua (. For all intents and purposes “Jesus” is interchangeable with “Joshua”. To the Hebrew, Jesus would be “Joshua”. To the Gentile, Joshua would be “Jesus”. The names are paralleled. Now you understand why I said there is an Old Testament Jesus, and a New Testament Jesus.

Whether Joshua (Yeshua) or Jesus (Iēsous), the name means “Yahweh Is Salvation”

In the Old Testament God’s people were called Israel. To Israel came the Law.
When God sent Moses to Israel to secure their release, it was by faith Israel was saved. Israel had to do as God said, acting in faith, if they were to be blessed and released from bondage. The Blood of the Lamb was put on the entryway of their homes. By faith Israel killed the Lamb. By faith Israel marked their homes with Blood. It was the blood of the Lamb that saved Israel.

When Israel left Egypt, it was God’s intent to carry them through the Red Sea, through the Jordan, and into the land of Canaan. God had promised this land to Abraham and his descendants many years before:

Genesis 15:18 In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:

The Land of Canaan did not belong to the pagan people known as the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaims, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, or the Jebusites. God owns the land – all the land, regardless as to what human documents may say. The Scripture declares,

Psalm 24:1 The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

God headed Israel toward the Promised Land – but Israel did not have faith in God. They allowed what was going on in the land around them to influence their faith. They did not look up to God. Even Moses failed God in faith. When the Israelis murmured against God at a place called Meribah, Moses asked God what to do. God told Moses:

Numbers 20:8 Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.

Moses was but to speak to the Rock. The Bible tells us “This Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4). The Rock represented our Jesus Christ, resurrected from the Grave. Jesus told the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well:

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.

Our Lord Jesus gives Living Water – the Holy Spirit of God – to all who are thirsty. Jesus said:

John 7:38-39 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.)

Moses was to but speak to the Rock, to speak to Jesus, and living water would flow! Yet Moses struck the Rock, disobeying God. Because of this God told Moses, “You will not enter the Promised Land”.

To Enter The Promised Land, Believer,
You Must Follow Yeshua

When Moses – who represented the Law of God – failed to enter the Promised Land, who was his replacement to lead God’s people? It was Yeshua – Joshua. God made promises to Yeshua. He said:

Joshua 1:2-5 Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. 5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

God gave the Old Testament Joshua (Yeshua) a very simple rule for power and victory. Yeshua was told to go forth in faith, knowing by faith three things:

God will be with you,
God will not fail you,
God will not forsake you.

Israel was to follow the Old Testament Yeshua/ Joshua, as the Old Testament Yeshua/ Joshua followed God. God said, “Step out on faith – I am there for you. I will not fail you. I will not forsake you. Just follow Me”. Everywhere the Old Testament Yeshua/ Joshua went, there was victory. There was only one blemish on his record, and that was when sin came into the camp. In Joshua 7:1 God’s people took to themselves that which was forbidden – and the Israelis lost, terribly lost the battle of Ai. Once Joshua uncovered where the sin was, he eradicated the sin, and from that point on Israel was blessed. Every Jew knew the story of the Old Testament Joshua. The Old Testament Joshua/ Yeshua (Yahweh is our Savior) lived a wonderful life, and led Israel (God’s people) into victory after victory.

Joshua/ Yeshua was a national hero to Israel. Every school child learned of Joshua, and the greatness that Israel achieved under his leadership.

Sixty three years before Jesus became incarnate (in the flesh) through the virgin Mary, Jerusalem was put under siege by Roman General Pompey the Great. At the end of the siege Judea (Southern Israel) was incorporated into the Roman Empire. When Joseph discovered his wife Mary was with child, he and all of Israel had been in Roman bondage and occupation for 63+ years.

Imagine this: For your ENTIRE LIFE all you have known of Israel is that it is subjected to the Gentiles. You grew up hearing about Yeshua/ Joshua, and hearing about how Israel had once achieved greatness in Canaan because of faith in God. Joseph’s father Jacob told him all about Israel’s great past. Joseph’s grandfather Matthan told him all about Yeshua, and the wonderful days when Israel was great. Israel was great because Israel followed Yeshua/ Joshua as he followed God.

But now? Israel is under Roman Rule. It has been under Roman rule for 63 years. The Temple was not built by Israel, but was built by Herod, the puppet Governor of Jerusalem . It is a Gentile built and Gentile funded structure.

The days are darkest. Now Joseph discovers that his Mary is pregnant – and they have not even come together yet. Oh, how dark Joseph’s spirit had to be! Then Gabriel comes. In the blackest of night, the light of God shines brightly. Now listen to what the Angel says as if you were Joseph:

Matthew 1:20-25 … Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

What the New Testament, written in the Gentile language called “Greek”, we hear that the Baby to be born of Mary is JESUS. But what Joseph hears is in the Hebrew. God tells him, “You shall call His name YESHUA (Joshua): for He shall save His people from their sins”.

Imagine what Joseph is thinking. “Joshua – my Son is
going to be another Joshua!” This would hit him
like a ton of bricks!

Once You Understand The Significance Of The Name Of “Jesus/ Joshua”, You Understand More Of The Significance Of The Scripture

The Angel told Joseph:

Matthew 1:21 … thou shalt call his name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins.

Those who followed Joshua in the Old Testament were blessed. Those who stood against Joshua in the Old Testament were cursed. Those who follow Jesus, the New Testament Joshua, are blessed. Those who do not follow Jesus, the New Testament Joshua, are cursed. Our nation will never be blessed while we follow the ways of the “Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites”. We must follow Jesus, the New Testament Joshua. We must rest in Him.

To Be Blessed, You Must Follow Yeshua.
This Is Not Optional!

The Old Testament Joshua gave the people of God a limited blessing, a limited rest. Why? Because even though Joshua led Israel to successfully take the land of Canaan, Joshua could not change the hearts of the people. Joshua’s leadership – just like every politician that has ever existed – can only do so much with broken people. God must change the hearts. It was the hardened hearts of Israel that led them from victory to Roman captivity. It is the hardened heart of a people that keeps them from the blessings of God.

When Jesus began His ministry, and as God the Holy Spirit healed people through Jesus, excitement built up around Him. So many people saw Jesus – Yeshua – as another Joshua. They thought that Jesus came to lead them from Roman rule an into Israeli independence. In John 6, when Jesus fed above 5000 people with five barley loaves and 2 small fish (John 6:9), the Bible says:

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

Yeshua – the New Testament Joshua – fed above 5000 people with very little provisions. He would make a great King. So the crowd thought they could force Him to be their King, and as a mighty King, Yeshua could free Israel from Roman bondage. They thought that Jesus could bring peace into Israel just as they were. Beloved, the problem of humanity is not the environment. It is the human heart. It is the heart enslaved to sin.

It is the heart enslaved to sin that led Israel away from God time and time again. Our Lord Jesus Christ is indeed the King of Kings and Lord of Lords:

1 Timothy 6:13-16 I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; 14 that thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: 15 which in his times he shall shew, 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.

Our Jesus – Yeshua – is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. There will come a day when He will rule on this earth. But Jesus did not come the first time to conquer our enemies. When Pilate asked Jesus, “Are You a King?”, Jesus said:

John 18:36-37 … My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. 37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

Jesus Christ – Yeshua – was born into humanity to lead us from the devil’s lie, and into the truth and the Light of God our Savior. He came to save a people, that, whosoever believeth on Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16). Jesus came preaching the Kingdom. The Old Testament Joshua led a broken people into a Promised Land. The New Testament people came to change hearts, to turn us from the darkness and into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).

Turn with me in your Bibles to Hebrews 4. The Book of Hebrews is very interesting, because it shows how the Old Testament shadows are fulfilled in the New Testament Jesus. In Hebrews 4 the Author warns against doing what the Old Testament Jew did under Joshua’s leadership. God tells us:

Hebrews 4:8-12 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 11 Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. 12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

The word “Jesus” in verse 8 is a reference to the Old Testament Yeshua/ Joshua. Joshua could lead Israel to a temporary rest, a taking of the land of Canaan for a time. But after a time, Israel (God’s people), lost this rest because of sin in their hearts. They departed from God in their faith, and lost the blessings of Canaan. Israel lost the Promised Land because of sin. Yet the Hebrews text tells us,

There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God

Israel’s bondage under Rome was because of Israel’s sin. But this does not mean that God has abandoned His people. Absolutely not! There remains a rest for the people of God. That “rest” is in the New Testament Joshua – Jesus Christ our Lord. We “rest” in His Word. We trust in His provision. We know that He has conquered the world, and do not fear. How do we attain this rest? The Bible says:

Hebrews 4:11 Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief

We LABOR to enter into THAT REST. We struggle against ourselves, forcing ourselves to dwell on what Jesus has said, to do as the Master has commanded. This is the REST we LABOR to go into – our REST in Jesus. It is often a struggle. Even among the saved, there is a struggle. The devil, through media, television, and Internet, tells us to forsake the way of the Master and to follow the popular path. Beloved I tell you,

Matthew 7:13 … wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

It was the “wide gate” of public opinion that caused Israel to lose the Promised Land. But, as Jesus said:

Matthew 7:14 … strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

How do we govern our lives? Where do we place our minds? We place them on the Word of God. We both HEAR and DO what our God has told us. We must get back to the Word of God.

Hebrews 4:12 … the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword

God loves us, and wants only the best for us. If we will be victorious, let us give our hearts and minds to Jesus. Let us trust in what He said. Let us both HEAR and DO His good pleasure. This is the way to reclaim our land. This is the way we as God’s Church will lead America out of the horrid hole it has gotten itself into.

We need Jesus, and His Word, as Lord over our lives. Let us follow Him with all that we have. For Christ’s sake I pray. Amen and amen.

Posted in Christmas Sermons, Matthew, Sermons Preached | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Unto Us

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Turn with me to the Book of Isaiah, often called the Old Testament Gospel of Christ. If you’re looking for it, go to the middle of your Bible to Psalms, the Hebrew Hymnbook. From Psalms go to Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, ISAIAH. While you’re turning there, I want to talk about the state of our world in 2020.

If I remember 2020 for anything, it will not be for the Coronavirus (a world-wide pandemic), nor for who won or lost the Presidency. What will make 2020 stand out in my mind is the incredible divisiveness and pettiness that I have seen from all of America.

I am told a local Church near us had a “split” the other day over the wearing of “masks”. That’s foolish. How are you going to explain that to Jesus on judgment day? (And yes, even Christians will be judged).

People are fighting about masks. They are fighting about politics. They are tattling on one another at the bequest of the state. I have read of people turning in other people to law enforcement because they had “too many” over for a family Thanksgiving meal. The Bible teaches us that we are to love God and love our neighbor. The Apostle Paul settled an argument over what could and could not be eaten at a Church supper by saying:

If what I eat offends my brother in Christ, I will eat no flesh while the world stands. I do not want to hurt my brother!”
(my paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 8:13)

The arguments and division do not come from God.
They come from the devil and the darkness.
It hurts my heart when I see us in such confusion!

1 Corinthians 14:33 God is NOT the Author of Confusion,
but of Peace

Where confusion is, God is not. The Prophet Daniel – the man responsible for training the Magi (Wise Men) who went out to find the baby Jesus – prayed a great prayer. In that prayer he told God:

Daniel 9:7-9 O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day … 8 O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee. 9 To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him;

Beloved, our Lord Jesus said “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand” (Matthew 12:25).

We need to re-center ourselves – to get back to Christ.
Our communities need Christ.
Our Churches need Christ.

I asked God what I should preach this week, and as I prayed the content of Isaiah 9:6 came to my heart:

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

Let’s break this down, and apply it to our hearts.

Unto US A Child Is Born

In the first thirteen words of our text, the phrase “unto US” is repeated twice. What is this season we call “Christmas” about? It is what God did for US. He did not do it just for the Jew, nor for just one nation. The Apostle said:

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

God came in to humanity as a Jew, a Jew born of a virgin. But God did not come into humanity as a Jew just for the Jews. God came into humanity for the Jews FIRST because God keeps His promises.

God keeps His promises!

God promised King David – a Jew – that the Messiah would come from his lineage. Why? Because one day David was praying, thanking God for all the things that the Lord had blessed him with.

Have YOU thanked God for that which He has blessed YOU with today?

As David thanked God, he realized that he had a fine home, a palace to live in with Bathsheba his wife. And yet God had no home to stay in. David got under conviction. He told Nathan the Prophet, “I have a nice home. But God’s Ark – that which represents His Throne – it’s housed in a tent!” Nathan told David, “Follow your heart, for God is with you” (2 Samuel 7:1-3). That night God sent Nathan back to David, telling him:

2 Samuel 7:5 Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in? 6 Whereas I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle.

God never asked for a house. But He loved David for what was in his heart, and promised him:

2 Samuel 7:12-14 … I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build an house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. 14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son.

With those words God promised that He would send His Son through the line of David, a Jew. Jesus was born a Jew because David was a Jew, and God promised David an eternal Son and an eternal Throne. Unto us a child is born means that God will keep His promise to David. But Unto us a child is born does not mean that God just keeps His promises to the Jews. God keeps His promises to everyone.

We All Come From The Same Stock.

Before there were ever Jews, God made our first parents, Adam and Eve. God made Adam and Eve – the prototype human – after His image. The Bible says:

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

This is God’s design. People ask me, “Were Adam and Eve white, black, red, or yellow?” And my reply is, YES! Adam and Eve had the ability – based upon Divine Design – to be any color, and any skin and hair type. God made humanity with skin cells called melanocytes. Melanocytes produce a pigment called MELANIN. As one source notes, “The difference in skin color between lightly and darkly pigmented individuals is due to their level of melanocyte activity; it is not due to the number of melanocytes in their skin”.

We do not know what color our first parents, Adam and Eve, were. We do know that God told Adam and Eve to multiply, and fill the earth. Man began disobeying God early on, and settled in the land of Shinar (Genesis 11:1-9). Because they would not voluntarily do as God commanded, God confounded their language, that they would not understand one another’s speech. This caused humanity to spread.

When we speak of human melanin and what we call “race” – God does not even use that word in the Bible. Not for people. I looked it up. The word “race” is found four times in the King James, and each time it is used for running, not for color. When the Apostle Paul preached the Gospel at Athens, he said “of our God …

Acts 17:24-26 … God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25 neither is worshiped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26 and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth

Racism is evil. Racism in any form is evil. The God Who, in love, made Adam and Eve in His image. We are all offspring of that prototype. We are all of one blood. Though our disobedience at Babel scattered us, we are all of one race. We are the HUMAN race. Unto US a child is born.

Jesus died for the US. He died for the white, the black, the red, the yellow. Jesus Christ – Eternal God – would become humanity so that He could redeem humanity. Beloved, we are all born into this life sinners, corrupted because of our first parents. The Apostle Paul, himself a Jew, said:

Romans 3:9-12 What then? are we {Jews} better than {the Gentiles}? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; 10 as it is written, {here the Apostle quotes Psalm 53:1-3 & 14:1-3}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.

Racism is foolish because it assumes a particular outward color of a person determines their standing with God. God says, NO! You ALL are far from Me.

Romans 3:23 All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.

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

It was Babel and the Divine Design of the human body that caused people to scatter, and colors to begin to change. Disobedience to God brought confusion and death over all the world. Yet God promised that “unto US a Child is born”.

The devil brought and brings division. God the Father sent His Son to bring us together. The Apostle Paul, addressing racist and godless tendencies in the Church at Corinth, said:

2 Corinthians 5:14-19 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. 16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh:

I have read this text many times, but only today has it jumped out like a cobra after a meal! Christ Jesus – that Child born in Bethlehem – died for ALL. He did not die just for people like me, but for ALL people. Once you grasp that, the Apostle says, you are NOT to live for yourself, but for HIM Who died for all. That person you see, whether they be like you or not, Jesus Christ died for him. The Apostle said, and I paraphrase him:

Because Jesus died for ALL, we who are Christians know no one AFTER THE FLESH.

The color of a person should mean nothing at all to the right minded Christian. God loved that person of whatever color enough to shed His Son’s blood for him, as well as for you and I. The Apostle goes on to say:

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

What matters – or should matter – to the Church of Christ is whether or not a person is IN CHRIST – not what color of skin that person has. Unto US a Child is born.

Unto US A Son Is Given

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given …

The Child was BORN, but the SON was GIVEN. The Son of God was never born, but He Himself is eternal God, ever living, never ceasing. The Apostle John said of the Son of God:

John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Jesus Christ – the Eternal Word of God – WAS GOD. He was in the beginning with God. How much so? The Apostle says, ALL THINGS WERE MADE BY HIM. Jesus Christ is Creator God. We are told in:

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

It was Jesus Christ Who walked in the Garden of Eden. It was Jesus Christ Who formed Adam from the dust of the ground, and Eve from Adam’s rib. It was Jesus Christ Who walked in Eden that horrible day that Adam ate that which was forbidden. It was Jesus Christ Who cried out, “Adam, where are you?” It was Jesus Christ Who told the serpent of his future destruction, saying:

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.

It is Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son of God, who was GIVEN to cover the sins of all who will receive Him. It is this Jesus of Whom we are told:

Hebrews 1:1-6 God … 2 hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by {Jesus} also {God} made the worlds; 3 {Jesus} being the brightness of {God’s} glory, and the express image of {God’s} person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; 4 … 5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? 6 And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

When the Child was born, the Angel told Mary:

Luke 1:35 The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

This was God keeping His promise, the one made to the serpent in Genesis 3:15. Isaiah foretold this “seed of the woman” by saying:

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name {God with us}.

God would come to be with us through Mary. The Son of God is eternal, and has always been. But the Child born of that virgin Mary, God incarnate, is the Child born. The Son was given so that He might redeem His fallen world, the world hijacked by satan. But the Child was born to show the love that God has for every person. The Child was born so that God Himself could intervene in the confusion, and bring us back to Himself.

When the Son of God was born through Mary, He was born as the Son of Man to make payment for our sins. Born a Jew, He died for all. The horror of racism is that it covers up the great love and truth of the Gospel. God’s Son humbled Himself.

Jesus humbled Himself in Bethlehem, being born in a manger.
Jesus humbled Himself in family, being raised in Nazareth.

Jesus humbled Himself as He walked the earth. He had no home.
Just as God has no house, Jesus refused to buy property.
He wanted to save a people to Himself.
The Son of God humbled Himself to the Cross.

Philippians 2:5-11 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

When we receive the Son of God as Lord and Savior, we ourselves become children of God, all equal in standing. Though receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will not change my skin color, it should change how I regard other people’s skin color. Though receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will not change my Divinely Designed sexuality, it should change how I regard the opposite sex. The Apostle declared:

Galatians 3:26-29 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.

Receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior gives us power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name (John 1:12). There are no second class citizens in the Heaven that our God occupies. There are no second class Christians in the Kingdom of God. All people have value, a value not derived by skin color, but by faith in Jesus.

Jesus Christ came into the world to tear down the walls that people build around themselves because of sin and racism.

Ephesians 2:14 … {Jesus} is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

By being born and going to Calvary, Jesus tore down the barriers between us and God, and between us and others. We who are saved are to be “fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). Born again by faith in Christ, the Christian views the world with different eyes. All that we see have the potential to be son of God. All.

The Government Shall Be Upon His Shoulder

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

When a person is saved, that person receives Jesus not only as SAVIOR, but also as LORD. “The government shall be upon His shoulder”. Jesus is my King. Jesus is my Lord. Do not believe that you can be saved by faith in a half- Jesus. A half- Jesus will not save a whole, broken you. We are told in:

Hebrews 3:6 Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

When Jesus walked the earth, He had no house, He was as God in the Old Testament. He ascended unto Heaven, but has a house now upon this earth. That “house” is you, dear Christian. Christ is in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). A.W. Tozer wrote in his devotional:

No Christian believer should ever forget what the Bible says about the Person and the offices of the eternal Son, the Christ of God. “God hath made this same Jesus whom ye have crucified both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Jesus means Savior; Lord means Sovereign; Christ means Anointed One. The apostle Peter did not proclaim Jesus only as Savior; he preached to them Jesus as Lord and Christ and Savior, never dividing His Person or His offices. Remember, also, the declaration of Paul: “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, thou shalt be saved.” Three times in the passage to the Roman Christians telling how to be saved, Paul calls Jesus “Lord.” He says that faith in the Lord Jesus plus confession of that faith to the world brings salvation to us!”

The government is on His shoulders. Let me ask you:

Have you been hurt by racism, thoughtless people, ungodly actions?

Turn it over to Jesus!

After noting that the government is on His shoulder (Jesus is in charge of His people), this Child Born and Son Given is given FOUR titles:

Wonderful Counselor (there is no comma in the Hebrew)
Mighty God
Everlasting Father
Prince of Peace

FOUR is the number of REST in the Bible. The fourth commandment is to remember a day of rest. Have you been hurt by racism, favoritism, meanness? Tell it to Jesus, the Wonderful Counselor. Share the burden with Him Who loves you so. Do not seek vengeance – seek to be like a Child of God. Jesus was hurt by ungodly people, and yet turned the other cheek. Jesus commands us:

Matthew 5:44-45 I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Have you been denigrated? Devalued? Share the hurt with your Jesus. Give it to the Mighty God that He is. Let God fight your battles – you live for Him. You need not avenge yourselves. Hasn’t Jesus promised:

Romans 12:19-21 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.

Do good to those who do bad to you. Overcome evil not with more evil. Fire does not fight fire, but makes the blaze larger. I was often curious about the “heaping burning coals of fire on the enemy’s head” statement. In ancient times people used small, portable stoves to cook their meals. When the coals went out, they would carry the stove to a friends house, usually carrying the stove on their heads. A friend would given them a “heaping portion” of lit coals to carry home on their heads.

Do good, Beloved, when evil is done to you.

Let us live for Him Who gave so much for us. If you have seen Christ, you have seen the Everlasting Father. If you possess Christ, then you possess the Prince of Peace. Let us not play the devil’s game, burning our families, our communities, our churches, and our country down. If you have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, every day is another day headed home. If you do not know Him as Lord and Savior, He bids you come to Him today. He came for you! Will you go with our Jesus? May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit this very day. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Christmas, Christmas Sermons, Isaiah, Sermons Preached | Tagged | Leave a comment

Jesus Is The Christ

Photo by Tim Umphreys on Unsplash

What we call “The Christmas Story”, the conception and birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, is only found in two books of the New Testament. It is found in the Gospel of Matthew, a Jewish Tax Collector who became an Apostle of Jesus Christ. More of the Christmas Story is found in the Gospel of Luke, a “beloved Gentile Physician” (Colossians 4:14) who was a companion of the Apostle Paul. We’ll talk about Luke’s account this coming Sunday night at Riverview. So turn with me in your Bible to Matthew chapter 1.

Matthew 1:1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Matthew – a Levite – makes three claims about Jesus

  • First, Matthew says “Jesus is the Christ”, the Messiah that God promised to send to mankind in the Old Testament. Christ”, the Greek Christos, is not Jesus’ last name, but His function. Later on in the Book of Matthew as Jesus enters the coasts of Cæsarea Philippi, He asks His disciples,

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

Cæsarea Philippi was a well known seat of idolatry. The other disciples gave a variety of answers as to the popular concept of who Jesus was. It was Peter who declared:

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

Jesus affirmed that Peter had spoken truly – that He is, indeed, THE Christ. Jesus is the Messiah promised. When Jesus stood before the High Priest just before His crucifixion, the Priest demanded:

Matthew 26:63 … I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.

Jesus told the High Priest You said it yourself” (Matthew 26:63). The High Priest tore his clothing, saying, “This Man has spoken blasphemy”. The Jews knew that when the Messiah came, that He would be “God with us”, the Christ. Jesus is the One and Only Messiah, promised of God throughout the Old Testament.

  • Matthew also declared Jesus to be “the Son of David”. If Jesus is the Christ, then He MUST be the Son of David. God made a promise to King David in:

2 Samuel 7:12-14 And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. 14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son.

Messiah would come from the House of David. God promised this would happen in what we call the “Davidic Covenant”. David was to have a Son sit on his throne that would rule forever. When Jacob lay dying, he told Judah:

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

Shiloh” literally means “Him Who Is Sent”. Judah was to rule Israel (David was of the Tribe of Judah) until “Him Who Was Sent” – the Messiah – came. Throughout His ministry Jesus declared that He was the One sent as Messiah. He said in:

Luke 10:16 … he that despiseth Me despiseth Him {God} that sent me.

Mark 9:37 … whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.

John 13:20 … he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.

John 5:23 … He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

John 5:30 … I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

Jesus is the Christ, the Shiloh that Jacob foresaw. He is the Messiah sent for us all, if we would but receive Him.

  • Jesus is also the Son of Abraham. Why is this important? It is because God promised Abraham:

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

God told Abraham that “in thee shall ALL FAMILIES OF THE EARTH be blessed. The Messiah was not just coming to save the Jews. Jesus was coming to save whosoever will believe in Him. God prophesied of the Coming Messiah:

Isaiah 42:1,4 -7 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. … 4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law. 5 Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: 6 I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee,and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; 7 to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

To prove that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of David and Son of Abraham, Mark gives a genealogy of our Lord Jesus. When we read the genealogies in Scripture, I must confess, I often get sleepy. Yet Matthew quotes this genealogy to prove to Jesus meets the criteria of the Messiah. He starts Christ’s lineage in …

Matthew 1:2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judah and his brethren …

The genealogy continues unbroken to verse 6, where we read:

Matthew 1:6 and Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Uriah;

Matthew’s lineage of our Lord Jesus begins at Abraham, continues through David, and ends with:

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

Jesus is “called Christ”, designated the Messiah. His lineage traced through Joseph His stepfather qualifies Him to be the Messiah.

Joseph Was The Stepfather Of Jesus,
But Not His Father

Matthew 1:18 … Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise…

Word Study The word translated “birth” is the Greek γέννησις génnēsis, (pronounced ghen’-nay-sis). Yes, it means “birth”, but I find it interesting that the word sounds so much like Genesis. It is in the Book of Genesis that we see the creation of the world and the universe. We see the creation of mankind. We see Adam’s sin against God, and the loss of Eden. Throughout the Book of Genesis we see a list of people, some who did good, others who did badly. When you look at the Genealogy of Jesus presented by Matthew, every person mentioned is flawed. The Messiah did not come from a sinless line of people.

  • In verse 3 we see Tamar. Tamar was Judah’s daughter-in-law, who became pregnant by Judah (see Genesis 38).
  • In verse 5 we see Rahab, a Canaanite prostitute who hid the spies from the Canaanites when Israel entered Canaan (see Joshua 2:13; 6:17-25).
  • In verse 5 we see Ruth, a Moabitess (see Ruth 1). The Moabites were forbidden to enter the congregation of Israel (see Deuteronomy 23:2). Ruth, however, became a believer in the Lord – and became part of the lineage of Jesus.
  • In verse 6 we see David, not as King but as adulterer and murderer. He killed Uriah so that he could have Bathsheba, his wife.
  • In verse 10 we see Hezekiah, one of the five godly Kings of Israel. His son Manasseh would be the most evil king in all of Israel’s history (see 2 Kings 21:2-7)
  • In verse 13 we see Zerubbabel, the godly leader of the Jews in the second return from the Babylonian exile (see Ezra 1-6). When we come to Zerubbabel’s son Abiud, as well as his descendants to Joseph’s father Jacob are not mentioned anywhere else in the Scripture. They are obscure.

The genealogy is marked by sinful, fallible, broken, and unknown people. This is why the Messiah had to come into the world. From Adam’s sin until the coming of Christ mankind is marked by brokenness. Raymond E. Brown in his book An Introduction to the New Testament notes that the genealogy of Jesus is in three sets of fourteen:

Matthew 1:17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.

Brown notes that:

The first fourteen names are Patriarchs
The second fourteen names are Kings
The third fourteen names are Unknown or Obscure ancestors

Jesus’ Genesis Was Not Like Yours And Mine

The Messiah – though His lineage would be traced back to Abraham through Joseph – would not be Joseph’s child. He would be God’s Child. Read with me:

Matthew 1:18 -19 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.

The GENESIS of Jesus the Messiah would be different than any other birth. Throughout the lineage of Jesus children were conceived as they were always conceived, born as they were always born. All of these people – regardless as to whether they were Patriarchs, Princes, or Prostitutes – were all fallen people. They were all sinners. Even the best of them fell short of the glory of God. The Bible tells us that:

1 Corinthians 15:21-22 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Adam’s sin caused not just himself, but all of his progeny (that’s us) to fall into sin. We are born physically alive into this world, but spiritually dead. The Apostle tells us that:

Romans 5:12, 15 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 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.

The Christ came into this world differently than any other man had ever been born. Through man sin entered the world. Man passed sin to his progeny. God foretold the coming of the Messiah Who would break this cycle of death. The Messiah had to be a man – just as Scripture prophesied – but He had to be a man different from any other Man.

Joseph was “BETROTHED” to Mary. This was a legally binding Jewish custom. The period of betrothal lasted around a year prior to the full sexual consummation of the marriage. Joseph had paid the dowry expected of Mary’s parents, and both he and Mary entered into what we today would call an “engagement” period. Joseph had yet to consummate the marriage. Why the delay? Perhaps because he was preparing a place for his bride. I do not know, but know that both were to stay chaste during the betrothal. In Verse 18 we are told:

before they came together, {Mary} was found
with child of the Holy Ghost

God promised the serpent, that old Devil (see Revelation 12:9), in the Garden of Eden that his destruction would come of the seed of the woman:

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.

I am not a biology whiz, but even I know that women do not carry seed. Women bear eggs – men bear seed. The man joins with the woman, and impregnates her by sowing his seed on her egg. This is the way God made us to reproduce. But God told that old devil, the serpent “your head will be crushed by the seed of the woman”. This was the first prophecy of the Coming Messiah, the promise that He would come into the world differently from any other man before Him. The Messiah would be virgin born. Jesus Christ is the “Seed of the Woman” spoken of.

When Joseph found Mary to be pregnant, knowing that he himself was NOT the father (for he obeyed the covenant of marriage), he was put in a predicament. Had he accused Mary of infidelity before the High Priest, Mary would have stoned to death. The Law declared:

Deuteronomy 22:20-21 … if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: 21 then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.

Joseph was “a just man”. He wasn’t sinless – none of us but Jesus are. But he decided to “put Mary away privately”. Joseph went home to sleep on the matter. I can imagine him tossing and turning that night. Yet the Bible tells us:

Matthew 1:20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

The phrase “Angel of the Lord” appears 64 times in the Bible. Who is this “Angel”? In the Gospel of Luke, Zacharias is praying and fulfilling his priestly duties when

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

This angel goes on to tell Zacharias:

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

I suspect that this Angel of the Lord Who appeared to Joseph is the same Arch-Angel that appeared to Zacharias, John the Baptist’s father. Gabriel tells Joseph

Matthew 1:20 … fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost

The Messiah, our Jesus, is different than any other human born. When the Angel Gabriel goes to tell Mary about her pregnancy, Gabriel describes it this way:

Luke 1:35 The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

Word Study The fetal Jesus is described as a “Holy Thing” in the King James. This is the Greek ἅγιος hágios, {pronounced hag’-ee-os}, which means holy, consecrated, morally blameless. The Holy Spirit Who causes Mary’s pregnancy is called hágios pneuma. The word hágios is used of God. Our God is holy, holy, holy:

Isaiah 6:3 {the angels cry} Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

Revelation 4:8 {the angels rest not by day nor night, but cry out} Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.

That Child that Mary is carrying is holy, pure, without the stain of sin that afflicts us all. Jesus Christ is the second Adam. The first Adam, made of the dust of the ground, was made and named by God.

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

The father usually named the children. In the case of Jesus, Joseph will not name the Child. Joseph is not the father, but the stepfather, the surrogate parent. He is a good man, and a wonderful caretaker for his family. But he is not the father of Christ. God is the Father of the humanity of Christ. Gabriel relays to Joseph what he has been commanded:

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

Why “Jesus”? What Is The Significance Of His Name?

Why was “Jesus” named “Jesus”? What is the significance of His name? We have a clue in our focal text. Gabriel said:

Matthew 1:21 … thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins

Word Study The name “Jesus” in the Greek text is Ἰησοῦς Iēsoûs, (pronounced ee-ay-sooce’), which means “Yahweh is salvation”. The same name in the Hebrew – the native tongue of the Jew – isיְהוֹשׁוּעַ Yᵉhôwshûwaʻ, {pronounced yeh-ho-shoo’-ah}, which also means “Yahweh is salvation”. When Israel entered into the Promised Land of Canaan, it was Joshua the Son of Nun who led them:

Joshua 1:1-3 Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, 2 Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.

Moses died prior to entering the Promised Land because of sin in his life. Joshua (the Hebrew Yᵉhôwshûwaʻ, {pronounced yeh-ho-shoo’-ah}) led the Old Testament Israel into the Promised Land. The New Testament Joshua – Jesus – will lead His people into the Promised Land. This Jesus would be born to lead the New Covenant believer in power into the land of promise. Heaven is our home, and earth our pilgrimage. We belong to God because of Christ.

Thou shalt call His Name Yᵉhôwshûwaʻ” is what Joseph heard. And Yᵉhôwshûwaʻ – God our Savior – shall save His people from their sins. The Christmas Story begins with a promise from God. The Messiah – Jesus Christ our Lord – will save all who believe on Him from their sins. When God prophesied of the coming Messiah He told Israel:

Psalms 130:7-8 Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

This Child, this Messiah did not come just to cover our sins, but to save us from our sins. This Jesus …

Titus 2:14 … Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Jesus came to take broken humanity, to take us from that broken state and bring us into union with God. The Blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). Jesus is the satisfactory covering for our sins (1 John 2:1-2). He was manifested – brought into humanity through Mary – to take away our sins (1 John 3:5). To those who come unto Jesus the Christ they are to be new creatures in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17).

This Christmas, as you see the decorative lights often displayed in and around the homes, let us remember that God became Man so that He might bring Man to God. This baby that Mary is carrying will grow up to “wash us from our sins in His own Blood. He has made us who believe in Him kings and priests unto God and His Father: to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever” (Revelation 1:5-6).

If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, Beloved, call upon Him this very day. Whosoever calls upon the Name of the Lord Jesus shall be saved. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Christmas, Christmas Sermons, Matthew, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Salvation Is Of The Lord!

Photo by Milan Seitler on Unsplash

Many people today that profess to be “Christian” do not believe what their Bible says. Liberalism and Leftism has infiltrated the Church of Jesus Christ, teaching that this grand old Book is just a figment of a human’s imagination.

The devil’s trifecta, Darwinian Evolution, Critical Race Theory and Gender Fluidity has replaced the Biblical account of Adam and Eve and Divine Design.

People are afraid to proclaim that God made anything. People are accidents of nature, and life is cheap. To have a guaranteed full Church and a fat check, do not preach this Bible as God’s Book.

Beloved, I still believe the Book. I have to believe the Book, because Jesus believed the Book. Jesus said …

John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and {these Scriptures} testify of me.

When Jesus said this the New Testament had not yet been written. The “Scriptures” our Lord is speaking of is what we call “The Old Testament”. Jesus said that the Old Testament focused on two things: eternal life, and Jesus Himself. “The Scriptures testify of Me”. All of the Bible points to Jesus Christ, the Messiah. The Scriptures point to His love, His foretelling, His virgin birth, His earthly ministry, His horrible death on Calvary, His resurrection from the grave on the third day, His Church, and His second Coming. The Bible is about Jesus. Jesus would not have commanded us to “search the Scriptures” if He did not believe it to be true. Jesus extensively quoted the Old Testament while He walked on this earth. The Church proper is:

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

The APOSTLES wrote the New Testament, the PROPHETS the Old Testament. The CORNERSTONE of both Books is Jesus Christ.

It is not surprising that, when Jesus spoke of His impending death, burial, and resurrection, He would reference the Old Testament. One of His references was Jonah.

Jesus said in 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.

Word Study Modern people look at our Lord’s statement with doubt. Many have said, “There is no way a WHALE swallowed Jonah”.

I agree!

What the King James translates as “whale” is actually the Greek κῆτος κοιλία kētos koilía, (pronounced kay’-tos koy-lee’-ah), which means the belly of a huge fish. The Septuagint (according to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon) says “Matthew 12:40, from Jonah 2:1 where the Septuagint, κήτει μεγάλῳ for גָּדול דַּג.”. Jesus said it was a “the belly of a great fish”. This is exactly what the Book of Jonah tells us. Turn with me to

Jonah 1:17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

The Hebrew tells us that Jonah was in theמֵעֶה me`ah דָּג dag (pronounced may-aw’ dawg), in the belly of a great fish. How is this possible that a man can live in the belly of a great fish three days and nights? It is because God engineered the man, and God engineered the fish. God made both for a specific purpose, and God can do anything He wants to do.

Our God is a miracle making God.

I do not find the great fish incredulous. The God Who hung the stars in space can make a great fish that can swallow a man. Jesus believed it, and tied the story of Jonah to His death and burial. What amazes me is that God can use broken things – like Jonah, you, and I – to do His magnificent good!

Our Lord Loves Our Broken World,
And Sends The Broken Saved Out To Save It

Jonah 1:1-2 Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. 3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

The Bible tells us “the Word of the Lord came to Jonah, the son of Amittai”. Don’t gloss over any of this. God chose Jonah to go to Ninevah for Him, to proclaim the Gospel. Why did God choose Jonah? The text tells us that

Jonah was the son of Amittai, the prophet.

This is repeated in 2 Kings 14:25-27. Amittai was a prophet, and Jonah was a Preacher’s kid. Jonah grew up under the preaching of his father. He is like so many that tell me “I’ve been going to Church my whole life”. Jonah knew the heart of God. Jonah knew that God loves people. After all, people are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). And the Bible tells us that,

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 wants people to repent, to turn from following the false gods and goddesses, and to follow Him. God made us to follow Him. God tells Jonah to GO – this an Imperative – a command – “GO to Ninevah, the capital city of Assyria”. What is he to do?

vs 2 cry against it; for their wickedness is come up
before me

God is going to destroy Nineveh if the people do not repent. God destroyed the world by flood because of wickedness:

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

God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of wickedness:

Genesis 18:20-21 the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; 21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.

God will destroy Nineveh because of wickedness. Jonah, you go out and CRY AGAINST IT. Do not justify it’s darkness. Tell them I love them, but they must repent!

As God speaks to Jonah, He speaks to the Church today. “Arise …. Go …. Cry Against. These are Imperatives in the Hebrew text – they are not suggestions but are commands. Destruction is coming, but it can be averted. The nation must repent. They must stop, and heed God. You, like Jonah, stand in a place of the intercessor. A loving God will do what He does not want to do. If the cancer is not averted, the world will perish. Jonah, go right now. Tell them to repent. Don’t entertain them – tell them.

How did Jonah respond? He ran away. Jonah thought by running that he could get away from the Presence of the Lord. You cannot hide from God!

Hebrews 4:13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

Psalm 139 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”

Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh. Why? There were several reasons. When God came to Jonah, the Commentary Critical & Explanatory on the Whole Bible states:

this prophecy of Jonah was given at a time when Israel was at the lowest point of depression, when “there was not any shut up or left,” that is, confined or left at large, none to act as a helper for Israel”

Assyria was the enemy of Israel, and
Nineveh the capital city of the enemy.

So many Christians today want to take the “Benedictine Option”, to wall up themselves as if a monastery, to hide from the world. Yet this is not an option. If you are saved by faith in Christ, you are to LOVE GOD and LOVE OTHERS. Jesus commanded:

Matthew 5:44-45 I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Our Lord loves people. But when a people drift too far from Him, His love for the world will lead Him to destroy that which is cancerous, that He might save the whole. Jonah ran. Too many believers today run. No, you cannot run. There is no option to run!

If you run, God will find you. If you run, destruction will come upon you. Jonah must stand!

Jonah 1:4-7 … the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. 5 Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep. 6 So the ship-master came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not. 7 And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.

Proverbs 16:33 tells us The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord”. Jonah, you cannot hide. You must stand with Jesus.

Jonah 1:8-10 Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou? 9 And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land. 10 Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.

Jonah was honest, and I believe at heart a decent man. He just did not want to heed the Lord. But the Lord gave him no option to disobey. God does not expect you to be perfect, dear Christian, but He does expect you to be obedient. Jonah asked the men to throw him overboard. He was ready to die for his convictions.

But Jonah would not die, because Jesus had something He wanted Jonah to do!

Jonah 1:15-17 So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows. 17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Jesus was ready with the Great Fish! Did you read that? “The Lord HAD PREPARED a great fish to swallow up Jonah”. When God gives you something to do, there are two great truths that follow:

  • God will prepare the way so that you can do what He said.
  • You WILL do what God said!

The Belly Of The Fish Is A Blessing
If It Leads You To Walk With Jesus

When Jonah was called to go to Nineveh, he ran. He did not pray. He did not seek God’s direction. He ran in the opposite direction. But now, Jonah is in the Belly of Hell! He is in a bad spot because of disobedience. But this trial is a blessing, for it causes him to pray.

Jonah 2:1-9 Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly, 2 and said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. 3 For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. 4 Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. 5 The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. 6 I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God. 7 When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. 8 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. 9 But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.

Do you know why – many times – we find ourselves in the belly of hell? It is because we did not do as Jesus said. God uses trials as a mother who loves her child uses a switch. Jonah now prays “out of the belly of hell”. This is a great fish, the BELLY of a great fish. Stomach acids are churning around him. As a fisherman, I have enjoyed the smell of dead fish before. Imagine being locked up with that smell! Jonah prays. He said:

vs 2 I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me

As Jonah prays, he is actually quoting scripture. His words are from …

Psalms 120:1 … In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me.

Jonah prayed the Scripture back to God. Jonah quotes Psalm 18:4-6; Psalm 116:3-4, 18; Psalm 31:6; and Psalm 116:18. As a son of God Jonah prayed the Word of God back to it’s Author.

The exhale of prayer is most sweet when it is based on the daily inhale of the Word of God!

Jonah stopped running. Jonah repents. He promised the Lord that he would “pay that I have vowed”. If you are a child of God you owe Him allegiance. Jonah also is given a great truth, a truth that he ends his prayer with.

Salvation Is Of The Lord Jesus”

Jonah 2:9 … Salvation is of the Lord.

It is our Lord Jesus Who makes salvation possible. It is the Holy Spirit of God that must move the heart. It is the Kingdom of the Father that our Lord strives to fill. Salvation is of the Lord!

Jonah 3:1-4 … the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, 2 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. 3 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey. 4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.

Thank God for second chances! God gave Jonah a second chance. He tells Jonah, preach unto Nineveh the preaching that I bid thee. Jonah, you go and be My representative. You go and tell them what I tell you. Jonah is not responsible for the results. Jonah is just to share the message that God gives him. His words?

Jonah 3:4 …Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.

This is no feel good, soothing message, but God’s Word often isn’t. It was a simple message, delivered by a reluctant messenger. Yet it is God Who changes people. God takes the text, and moves the heart with it.

This sermon that Jonah preaches would have earned a FAIL in seminary or Bible college.

Here we see the miracle of the Book of Jonah. The miracle is not the big fish swallowing Jonah. The miracle is not that Jonah survived the swallowing of the great fish. The miracle is God moving the hearts of people. God, through Jonah’s simple message, worked in the hearts of the people. The Scripture says:

Jonah 3:5-10 So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. 6 For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: 8 but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. 9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? 10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

What would happen in our fallen country if as Christians we began to share Jesus – not our political party but JESUS – with others. Wouldn’t that be a blessing? Wouldn’t God move the hearts of Americans?

Beloved, The Hope Of The Nation Is Jesus Christ

In chapter one Jonah ran from God lest Nineveh be saved.

In chapter two Jonah ran to God in prayer, gaining release from the great fish.

In chapter three Jonah ran for God, telling Nineveh what God said.

But now in chapter four Jonah is upset with God.

Jonah 4:1-4 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. 2 And he prayed unto the Lord, and said, I pray thee, O Lord, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. 3 Therefore now, O Lord, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live. 4 Then said the Lord, Doest thou well to be angry?

How foolish this is! If you are saved, you ought to want others to experience the joy of salvation. What hatred it is to withhold Divine Salvation from any person! The Apostle said:

1 John 4:20 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?

The Bible says that “Jesus died for all” (2 Corinthians 5:15).

The Bible says that “Jesus tasted death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9).

The Bible says that “Jesus is the satisfactory payment for sin” (1 John 2:2). The Bible says that “God so loved the world” (John 3:16).

The Bible says Jesus “gave Himself a ransom for all people” (1 Timothy 2:3-6).

The heart right with God rejoices when others are saved. Jonah is foolish! God illustrates Joshua’s foolishness with a gourd. He causes a gourd to grow up to shade Jonah – then allows the gourd to be killed by a worm. When Jonah is angry over this the Lord tells him:

Jonah 4:10-11 Then said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not labored, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: 11 and should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

God wanted to save Nineveh because there were 120,000 children in that place (a child does not know their right hand from their left). God did not want to destroy the nation. When you do not witness, dear Christian, but instead focus on the gourds of life, you miss the bigger picture. That man that you do not tell about Jesus will not only die in his sins and go to hell, but his children may remain lost as well. That woman that you do not share Christ with may never be saved. If she is not saved, what of her children? What of the children? Let us not run from what God has called us to do, but to stand up for Him. The world needs Jesus. Everyone needs Jesus.

Let’s share Jesus with others as we enjoy the gift of life. Let’s tell them that Jesus Christ loves them so much, that He descended into the belly of hell for us. Oh what a great love this is! Oh, what a great love!

If you do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, I beg you, come to Him believing this very day. Only by faith in Christ can anyone be saved. Oh Lord, bless this message to the saving and revival of our nation. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Sermons Preached | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Three Witnesses For God

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Romans 1:16-22 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.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 because that, 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 …

Word Study Several times in our focal text tonight the Apostle uses the word “FOR”, the Greek conjunction γάρ gar. We see the word in verses 16, 17, 18, 19 & 20. The conjunction gar is used by the Apostle as if he were a Lawyer defending God in a courtroom, presenting evidence to the jury. You can render the word “for”, though in a judicial context you could use it’s stronger definition of “truly therefore” or “verily, as the case stands”.

Ancient Rome had and prescribed worship of many gods and goddesses. To name just a few, they had Jupiter (aka Zeus), the King of the gods; Juno (aka Hera), the queen of the gods; Minerva (aka Athena), goddess of wisdom and arts; Neptune (aka Poseidon), god of the sea; Venus (aka Aphrodite), the goddess of love; Mars (aka Ares), the god of war; Apollo, the god of light and music … I could continue on and on. Rome was a melting pot, just as is America. As people were conquered and brought into the Roman Empire, they were allowed to bring their gods and goddesses with them.

In Rome, just as in America today, there were “gods many, and lords many” (1 Corinthians 8:5). As the Apostle opened his letter to Rome (America), he wanted the Church at Rome to know that it had to resist and stand against all other gods and goddesses – that there is only One God, the God of Scripture. There is only One Messiah, Jesus Christ.

God warned His Old Covenant Church, Israel, against idolatry. God told His people:

Jeremiah 10:1, 3-5 Learn not the way of the heathen …. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. 4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. 5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.

The false gods and goddesses are but man made idols. They are fashioned by craftsmen, and shaped by imagination. These idols are “upright like a palm tree”, but cannot speak nor move. “They cannot do evil, nor can they do good”. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 115:3-8 … our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. 4 Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. 5 They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: 6 they have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: 7 they have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. 8 They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.

The idols look like gods or goddesses, but are nothing but a figment of man’s (and woman’s) imagination. People might ask, “What’s the harm in following the false god or goddess, the idol?” The Psalmist says:

They that make {idols} are like unto {idols}”

When you make and worship an idol, you waste your time, and your life. The idol has no power to stand with you in hard times. The idol has no power to lead you through the valleys. The most honest idolater I ever heard of was the mythical Conan the Barbarian, who believed in the god Crom, a god who did absolutely nothing for his followers. The God of the Bible is not imaginary, but real. He has left three witnesses that the Apostle focuses on for the Romans.

God Is Real, And Has Placed His First Witness
In Our Own Personal Creation

The Bible teaches us that God has made us in His image and in His likeness:

1 Corinthians 11:7 … a man indeed … is the image and glory of God:

Genesis 1:26-27 God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion27 So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them

Every person is made in the image of God. We were created to love by a loving and eternal God. We are His workmanship. The Prophet said:

Isaiah 64:8 But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.

We did not make God. God made us. He is the First Cause of all life. As our Maker, He has left His fingerprints on us. Our focal text states:

Romans 1:18-19 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

That which may be KNOWN of God is MANIFEST (or REVEALED) in them”. God has left His mark on our souls. Every person, from the time they reach an age where they can reason, knows that there is a God, a Creator of all that we see. God has given us all an internal witness that we are created beings. That internal witness is what we call “the conscience”. Every person is born with a conscience. We are born intuitively knowing what is right, and what is wrong. A child, playing with other children in the sandbox, intuitively knows it is wrong when another child comes up and takes his toy. Why? Because the knowledge that theft is wrong is imparted to the conscience of a person by the loving God Who created us.

The conscience – our sense of right and wrong – can be hardened or over-ridden. We see evidence of this in American life, and the loss of morality in our nation. What has largely caused this hardening and confusion of the conscience? Technology. Mass media. There was a day when Americans knew, by their conscience, what was right and what was wrong. It was wrong to steal, wrong to kill, wrong to sexually abuse someone. But television has hardened our conscience. We have seen so much bloody and sexually charged television that we no longer blush. Gone are the days when television hinted at what went on in the bedroom. Now all is opened up to see. What is the problem with this?

When people no longer blush, but have hardened their conscience to where right is wrong and wrong is right, then that nation is not far from destruction.

When God caused Israel to fall under the armed might of ancient Assyria, they stayed in captivity for 70 years. When God allowed Ezra to lead Israel back home to Jerusalem, the people, rather than learning from their suffering, returned to following the old gods and goddesses of Canaan. When Ezra heard this, the Bible says of Ezra:

Ezra 9:3-10 when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonished. 4 Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had been carried away; and I sat {astonished} until the evening sacrifice. 5 And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the Lord my God, 6 and said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens. 7 Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is this day. 8 And now for a little space grace hath been shewed from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage. 9 For we were bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem. 10 And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? for we have forsaken thy commandments

I wish I had time to preach all of this beautiful prayer that Ezra said, but I cannot right now. There are so many other things that God has placed upon my heart. I do want to note that Ezra used the word BLUSH in his prayer to God (see verse 6). The word BLUSH is only found three times in Scripture. Once in Ezra’s prayer – and twice in Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 6:15 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the Lord.

Jeremiah 8:12 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore shall they fall among them that fall: in the time of their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the Lord.

Both verses in Jeremiah are nearly identical. God tells His nation that – because they have hardened their hearts, and calloused their conscience so much that they NO LONGER BLUSH AT ABOMINATIONS, that God shall cause the nation to fall. Beloved, when Rome fell, it did not fall because it was destroyed from without. Rome fell because it was destroyed from within. It fell because immorality and abomination increased. The people no longer blushed. That is what God warns of in our focal text. Read it with me again:

Romans 1:18-19 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

People know what is right and wrong. Yet they have ignored their conscience, and hardened their hearts to do that which God has said is destructive. Oh, that God would raise up national leaders who would return our nation to it’s moral foundation! God gave the Ten Commandments to Israel on written tablets because they had so far drifted from Biblical morality while in Egyptian captivity. Yet these commandments are actually written in our hearts from our creation. We know what is right and what is wrong, but have allowed peer pressure and mass media to infiltrate our souls, hardening us to the right and wrong.

We need to turn off the television and computer, and put away the social media. We need to open the Bible, and return to the God Who lovingly made us.

The early Church wrestled with the false prophets and false gods. The Apostle prescribed to the Pastor Titus to resist the false gods and their narratives, and any who might bring false beliefs into the body of Christ:

Titus 1:13-15 … rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; 14 not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. 15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. 16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

No one is blessed when we harden our conscience against God (see 1 Timothy 4:1-2). What each citizen does will eventually determine the state of our nation. We must seek out the God Who lovingly made us. He has said:

Proverbs 8:17 I love them that love Me; and those that seek Me early, shall find Me

Creation Itself Is A Witness That A Loving God IS

The Apostle speaks of the CONSCIENCE of a person testifying to the Biblical God, and now speaks of CREATION as a witness to our God.

Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Word Study The invisible God Who is, is clearly seen from the creation of the world. For those who will look at creation, it is impossible not to understand that there must be a Chief Architect, a Chief Creator of all that we see. I like the King James phrase by the things that are made. This phrase is actually just one word in the Greek, the word ποίημα poíēma, {pronounced poy’-ay-mah}. Poíēma means “the workmanship of”.

The creation you see around you is no random act of chance – the interaction and balance of nature is so precise that it cannot be accidental, but architectural.

Mark Yakich, a professor of creative writing at Loyola University New Orleans, and editor of the New Orleans Review notes:

{the word} ‘Poem’ comes from the Greek poíēma, meaning a “thing made,” and a poet is defined in ancient terms as ‘a maker of things.’”

The Apostle uses the word poíēma – or “poem” – to describe the creation that is around us, and of which we are a part. In a poem words work together to bring out a grand idea. In creation, all of creation works together to bring out a grand idea. What is this idea? It is that a loving God made us. We are not accidents, not even what the late Bob Ross would have called “happy accidents”.

The creation you see around you was deliberately made by a Loving God, the God of the Scripture. When we look at creation, we often see horrible things that cloak the poem that God originally wrote. You see, when God made Adam and Eve, He placed them in a perfect Paradise. The weather was so perfect that they had no need even of clothing. Food hung in abundance from trees and vines. This was the poem God originally wrote. But man decided to put his hand to the pen. The Bible tells us that:

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:

Adam was given the authority – along with Eve – to dominate the earth for God. Adam chose instead to follow the serpent’s (the devil’s) lead. A loving pen created the poem of creation. Man got hold of the pen, and marred the picture. Our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln said:

I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how a man could look up into the heavens and say there is no God.”

Man often brings damage to the ruin of God’s poem. It is God Who creates life, Who gives the mother the joy and responsibility of bringing forth that wonderful creation we call “baby”. The Psalmist, when looking at his own body, said:

Psalm 139:13-14 For Thou {O Lord}, {have created my innermost parts}: Thou hast {wove} me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

I could point to many fascinating things in nature that are surely the works of God – from honey bee to humming bird to a huge elephant. Yet nothing is as fascinating as the human creation. Did you know that:

  • The average adult heart beats 72 times a minute; 100,000 times a day; 3,600,000 times a year; and 2.5 billion times during a lifetime. Though weighing only 11 ounces on average, a healthy heart pumps 2,000 gallons of blood through 60,000 miles of blood vessels each day.
  • In one square inch of skin there are 65 hairs, 9.5 million cells, 19 yards of blood vessels, 650 sweat glands, 78 yards of nerves with 19.5 thousand sensory cells at the ends of the nerve fibers.
  • Even the simplest human action – a smile or a frown – are very complex. You use around 43 muscles to frown, but only 17 muscles to smile.
  • Have you ever noticed your eyelids will shut when you sneeze? Try to keep your eyes on the road when you’re driving and sneeze. It’s impossible.
  • The human body is fascinating. In his book “Where Is God When It Hurts?” (page 15), Dr. Philip Yancey wrote: “The fingertip … can detect a mere 3 grams of pressure, but not until that pressure exceeds 300 grams will I be able to feel pain there! Why? … Fingertips must be incredibly sensitive to the slightest differences in touch.”

Evolutionary theory has been pushed through mass media and houses of education all around the world. Macro-evolution has been taught for years as settled science. Macro-evolution (not micro-evolution) teaches that mankind evolved from some primordial soup billions of years ago, through numerous stages, such as from cell, to fish, to land creature, to ape, to man. In the article “A World-famous Chemist Tells The Truth: There’s No Scientist Alive Today Who Understands Macro-evolution” we read:

Professor James M. Tour is one of the ten most cited chemists in the world. … He has authored or co-authored 489 scientific publications and his name is on 36 patents. Although he does not regard himself as an Intelligent Design theorist, Professor Tour, along with over 700 other scientists, took the courageous step back in 2001 of signing the Discovery Institute’s “A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism”, which read: “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

God’s response to those who question His creation of all that we see is very simple. He says:

Job 38:4-6 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. 5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? 6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;

I do not doubt the sincerity of the scientists who declare Darwinism to be true. But you can be sincere, and yet wrong. Creation is very clearly not an accident, but an intentional action by a loving Creator.

We have looked at the Conscience and Creation as witnesses to God. Creation and conscience are marred because of sin, because of mankind’s interference with God’s “Poem”.

The Clear & Final Witness Of God Is Jesus Christ

1 Corinthians 15:20-22 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Man can harden his conscience against God. The sin that is in nature because of Adam often gives a distorted view of the Creator. But there is One Clear Witness to the reality of God, and that Witness is Jesus Christ our Lord. God the Father sent His Son into this world for a specific reason.

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.

Jesus Christ came into the world – eternal God become perfect Man – to bring us to the God Who made us all. The Bible declares:

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

God sent His Son into the world to bring us to His side. He wants to restore us to what we lost through Adam. Jesus Christ came to make us right in the eyes of God. The blessed Scripture says:

1 John 4:9 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.

God gave His Son as His Witness – and His Messiah. When we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, believing that He is the Messiah that we must receive as Lord of our lives, then we come into union with the God Who is, the God Who created us. The Apostle says:

1 John 5:9-12 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. 10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. 11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

God made us in His image to walk with Him, to be with Him daily, hourly. Oh Beloved, what joy there is when a soul comes to God by faith in Christ! Life begins to make sense when Jesus Christ comes into your life. In our focal text the Apostle said clearly:

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.

When a person surrenders his or her life to Jesus, believing in Him for salvation, then God enters the framework of your daily life. Salvation is all of faith in Jesus Christ. Believe that He gave Himself for you, and bids you to come to Him this very day. The thief comes to kill and steal and destroy. Jesus Christ came so that we might have life, and have life more abundantly (John 10:10).

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

Posted in Romans, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

You’re Only Valuable When You’re Where You’re Supposed To Be

Photo by nikko macaspac on Unsplash

I want to start this sermon tonight with a title God has put on my heart. The title explains the sermon, and the teaching you’ll hear and, I hope, respond to. The title of this sermon is:

You’re Only Valuable When You’re Where You’re Supposed To Be

Turn with me in your Bibles to Luke 15. When you study the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), it is helpful to have a Gospel Parallel. You can usually find them online. The Gospel Parallel will show what is in each Gospel compared to the other Gospels. For instance, in Luke 15 my Gospel Parallel shows me that – of the three parables Jesus uses in Luke – only one of these parables is found in the other Gospels. This is the Parable of the Lost Sheep. The Parable of the Lost Sheep is found in Matthew 18:12-14 and in our text of Luke 15:4-7. But Matthew doesn’t tell us WHY Jesus spoke the parable. Luke does. In Matthew Jesus introduces the parable this way:

Matthew 18:11-14 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. 12 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.

But Luke adds more to this event. Are you at Luke 15 yet? Read with me:

Luke 15:1-2 Then drew near unto {Jesus} all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

Luke tells us that what caused Jesus to give the parable of the lost sheep was the murmuring complaint of the Pharisees and Scribes. Their complaint was simple. They were saying:

Jesus, You’re not where You’re supposed to be”

This was a problem throughout Christ’s ministry on the earth. When Jesus came into this world, Eternal God become mortal but Perfect Man – as the Angel told Mary:

Luke 1:35 … The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

The Eternal Son of God would step into the creation He made. He would do so because this is where Jesus was suppose to be.

Satan would move King Herod to kill Jesus at the very start by “killing all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men” (Matthew 2:16). Yet Herod would fail in his evil plot. Why? Because an angel would warn Joseph to take his family to Egypt, and stay there until told to return (Matthew 2:13-15).

Joseph moved his family to Egypt just as God said.

Joseph was where he was supposed to be.

Jesus grew up in Nazareth. At one point Mary and Joseph, joining a caravan, took the young Jesus to Jerusalem for a holy feast. At the end of the feast the caravan returned to Nazareth. It was then that Joseph and Mary realized Jesus was not with them. Hurriedly going back to Jerusalem they found Jesus in the Temple, teaching the Biblical Scholars the Law of God. When Mary chastised Jesus, the twelve year old replied:

Luke 2:49 … How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?

Jesus was where He was supposed to be.

When Jesus started His ministry at the age of 30 years old, He went to John the Baptist to be baptized in water. John initially refused to baptize Jesus, saying:

Matthew 3:14 … I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

Jesus replied simply, “{Do it now}: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.”

Jesus was where He was supposed to be.

Now Jesus is ministering, and the publicans and sinners DRAW NEAR to HIM.

Jesus is where He is suppose to be.

The publicans (tax collectors) are where they are suppose to be.

The sinners are where they are suppose to be.

Matthew 18:11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.

Jesus came to save the lost. The best place for lost people is to draw near to Jesus. Everyone needs Jesus. We need to draw near to Jesus. The best place to be is near Jesus.

But the Pharisees are murmuring, complaining. The Scribes are murmuring, complaining. Have you ever noticed that those who think themselves something and others as nothing are never where they are suppose to be. The Scribes and Pharisees are in a dangerous place. Self righteousness and a superior self esteem will always lead you AWAY from Christ instead of NEAR Him. The Bible says:

Proverbs 30:12 There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.

The Bible tells us that, in God’s eyes, all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Everyone needs to draw near to Jesus. Yet self righteousness pushes us away, to a place we ought not be. God said of the self righteous:

Isaiah 65:5 These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.

They are not where they are supposed to be. We need Jesus.

The Sheep Apart From The Shepherd Has No Value

Luke 15:3-7 And {Jesus} spake this parable unto them, saying, 4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? 5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. 7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

The place for the sheep to be is near the Shepherd. A sheep has no value if it is in the wrong place. A sheep has no natural defenses. It can only graze, and grow wool. By itself it has no value whatsoever. Yet God made every person with the potential for value. The Bible tells us that God made us all in His image and in His likeness (Genesis 1:27; Genesis 9:6). You all were made in the image of God. You were not made gods, but like God. God made you like Him so that you could draw near to Him, to be with Him. The Publicans and Sinners drew near to Jesus, and listened to what He had to say. The Scribes and Pharisee, though in the same room, pushed Jesus away and would not hear His words.

The sheep without the Shepherd has no value.

The sheep cannot shear itself.

The sheep cannot protect itself.

The sheep needs the Shepherd. When it cries, the Shepherd comes to it.

The Shepherd brings the sheep into the fold where there is blessing & safety.

As Jesus speaks this parable, He notices that the Pharisees and Scribes just don’t get it. They are busy comparing themselves against the “sinners” and “publicans”. They are wondering why Jesus would spend time with those people rather than be with them. God cannot help those who refuse to draw near to Christ. Oh, how God loves you and I! The Scripture commends us:

Hebrews 10:18-23 Now where {God’s} remission of {sins} is, there is no more offering for sin. 19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest {place} by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21 and having an high priest over the house of God; 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised😉

Oh, that every person would realize you’re only valuable when you’re where you’re supposed to be. You, dear lamb, belong in the arms of Jesus! But the Pharisees and Scribes would not hear, so Jesus told another parable – one only found in Luke:

The Coin Apart From The Consumer Has No Value

Luke 15:8-10 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? 9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbors together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. 10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

A woman has ten pieces of silver. Each piece has value, but only when it is in the hand of the woman. A lost coin is worth absolutely nothing of itself. When the woman loses the coin, she begins to seek for it. God seeks for us. When Adam and Eve fell away from God in the Garden of Eden the Bible says:

Genesis 3:7-9 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. 8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. 9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

Adam was given a command and a commission, but wandered away from both. Bringing sin into their lives I find it interesting that …

God did not hide Himself from Adam and his wife. Adam and his wife hid themselves from God.

They were not where they were supposed to be. Adam was made to walk with God. Eve was made to walk with God. They were made in God’s image. But now – like the coin – they hide themselves from where they are suppose to be. They try to fix themselves with fig leaves. Beloved, we cannot fix ourselves. The place we belong is in the Master’s hand!

Jesus Christ came to seek and save the lost coin, the lost soul (Luke 19:10). God does not want any to perish, but wants all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). He wants us to draw near to Jesus. Yet so many hide themselves from God. They believe themselves to be perfectly fine without God or His Church. So they draw away from God, just like the Pharisees and Scribes did. And they never find their value.

The Son Apart From The Father Has No Value

Still the Pharisees and Scribes do not get it. So now Jesus tells a final parable, a parable in two parts. Let’s look at part 1:

Luke 15:11-24 And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12 and the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. 14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. 15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19 and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23 and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: 24 for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

The first part of the parable deals with the younger son. The younger son comes to the Father and says:

Luke 15:12 and the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me..

What the younger son is asking for is his inheritance. Now an inheritance is not usually given until the parents die. What the young man is doing is telling his Father, “I wish you were dead”. He didn’t want to wait for his blessing. But I want you to notice that the Father does not argue with His son. Without a harsh word or the slightest rebuke we read:

Luke 15:12 {the Father} divided unto THEM his living.

The Father did not just give the younger son his inheritance, but also gave the older son his inheritance. In the ancient world the firstborn child was given a double portion (see Deuteronomy 21:17). The younger son was given a third of the estate, whereas the older was given the double portion.

This is so much like God our Father. The Bible speaks of God’s Grace in two ways: His SAVING grace, and His COMMON grace. Common grace is what the Father gives to everyone, regardless as to whether they honor Him or not. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:45 … your Father which is in heaven … maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

God our Father gives good and blessings to all on this earth – even if He is not acknowledged, and even if He is cursed. This is because God has made a covenant with the earth:

Genesis 8:22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

God gives blessing to all, because He wants all to be where they are supposed to be – near Jesus.

In the Ligonier Ministries Devotional entitled “Providence and Common Grace”, we read:

{Common} grace is what leaves all people without an excuse. No one can stand before the Lord on the last day and claim that they do not owe Him thanks, for God has given even the basest sinner the gift of life. That human beings made in His image ignore and reject Him even after being shown common grace shows us just how desperate our condition is apart from His special grace.”

The Father gives the younger a single portion, but the older a double portion. Why? Because when we stay close to Jesus, we are where we are suppose to be. We are doubly blessed!

The younger son takes his inheritance, and begins to squander all that he has.

Luke 15:13-16 … the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. 14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. 15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.

When we are not where we need to be, our lives fall into ruin. So many people have drifted away from God, squandering the talents and the blessings that God gave them. When I think of people like the late Michael Jackson, Robin Williams, Whitney Houston, Elvis Presley … I could name many more … who wandered far away from where they were suppose to be. Given great talent and abilities by God our Father they squandered what they had. Sadly, unlike the younger son in this story, they ended their journey on this earth in a bad place. It breaks my heart, but it more importantly, breaks the heart of God.

The young son, suffering in famine, and slaving in a miserable job that paid very little, finally came to himself.

Luke 15:17-19 … when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19 and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

Do you see what is different in this parable compared to the other two?

The Shepherd went to find the lost sheep.
The woman went to find the lost coin.

But the son must return to where he is supposed to be.

The child must go home.

The child realized his error. “I am no more worthy to be called Your son”. He has no value apart from his Father. He has lost everything – but is now in the best place he could be.

If God allows you to get into a desperate place, then praise God for it! If you realize that you’re only valuable when you are where you are supposed to be, then you will live life to the fullest. So many of you are in the wrong place. Like King David with Bathsheba, you are on a crash course. You must repent, and run to the arms of the Father.

Part 1 of the story has a happy ending. We read:

Luke 15:20-24 {The younger son} arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23 and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: 24 for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

What a beautiful ending! Had the story ended here, we would be greatly blessed. The younger son came back to his Father, and the Father decreed a celebration. As Jesus said earlier,

Luke 15:7 … joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth …

The younger son repented. He has value once more, for he is where he is suppose to be. But the story doesn’t end at this point. Jesus looks up, and sees that the Pharisees and Scribes still do not get it. It is because of the hardness of their hearts that Jesus does not pronounce “the end” at this point. Jesus now addresses the older son, the one who stayed with His Father.

Luke 15:25-28 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. 28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him.

The elder son was given the double portion of the inheritance. He came home, and heard music and dancing. Now, if you came home to your house and heard “music and dancing”, wouldn’t you go where the noise was and find out what was going on? But the older son didn’t do this. Why? Because he thought what made him valuable was HIMSELF. The older son is like the Pharisees and the Scribes. He stayed home with his Father. He kept working in the fields, maintaining His Father’s estate, because it ultimately would be HIS estate.

How DARE THEY have a party without ME?
Doesn’t the Father know HOW VALUABLE I AM?

Beloved, when we are where we are supposed to be, we will not be what the scripture calls “high minded”. The Kingdom of God does not stand because of me. The Kingdom of God stands because of God my Father. I have worth, and you have worth, but only when we draw both physically and spiritually close to Jesus. The Apostle warns:

Romans 12:3 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.

What we have, we have of God. The mind we have, we have of God. The Bible warns us:

Proverbs 16:18-19 Pride goeth before destruction, and an {lifted up} spirit before a fall. Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.

The sheep is only valuable under the eye of the Shepherd. The coin is only valuable in the hand of the Master. The son is only valuable under the embrace of the Father. When we walk apart from God through licentious liberality or self righteous conservatism, we are in the wrong place.

You only have value when you are where you are supposed to be!

Luke 15:29-32 {the older son} said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: 30 but as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. 31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. 32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

The older son robbed himself of the blessings of the fatted calf. If you are where you are supposed to be – in the presence of God in Christ – every day should be a celebration of life! No matter what valley we may go through, if we stay where we are supposed to be, then life is good. For the Christian who is indeed a Christian, each day is not a day spent of life. No! Each day is another step toward glory. Each day is another opportunity to walk alongside Jesus Christ, to be empowered in life through the Holy Spirit. As Jesus would later tell the Pharisees:

Luke 17:20-21 … The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

The Pharisees and Scribes are, like the older son, living in the home of the Father, but their hearts are far from Him. Though they stayed in the Temple, they were just as far away from God as was the younger son before he came home.

Beloved, where is your heart? Are you where you are suppose to be? If not, today would be a great day to get there. Little sheep, cry out to God until the Great Shepherd comes. Little coin, if you feel the Master’s hand, go with Him. Your value is in His hand, not hidden. Lost son, the Father awaits you to return to His side. There is joy only in the Family of God. The Psalmist rightly said:

Psalm 16:7-11 I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel: … 8 I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth:

my flesh also shall rest in hope. … 11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life:

in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Do not be like the Scribes and Pharisees. Draw near to Jesus. You’re only valuable when you’re where you are supposed to be. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Luke, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

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

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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!

Posted in Luke, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

An “I” Exam

Photo by mari lezhava on Unsplash

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.

Posted in Romans, Sermons Preached | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Why Is Baptism Such A Big Deal?

Photo by Elisey Vavulin on Unsplash

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 , | Leave a comment

What Shall I Do To Inherit Eternal Life?

Photo by Fernando @cferdo on Unsplash

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 , , , , , | Leave a comment

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 , , , , , | Leave a comment

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 , , | Leave a comment

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 , , , | Leave a comment

The Servant Of The Lord

Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

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 , , | Leave a comment

Heed God’s Word God’s Way (Part 2)

Photo by Fachy Marín on Unsplash

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 , | Leave a comment

Mem – The Washing Of The Word

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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 , | Leave a comment

What’s In It For Me? Red Letters #49

Photo by Henley Design Studio on Unsplash

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 , , , , | Leave a comment

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 , , | Leave a comment

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 , , , | Leave a comment

Receive Ye One Another

Welcome Here
Photo by Katie Moum on Unsplash

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