Be Filled With The Spirit

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Photo by Davide Cantelli on Unsplash

Ephesians 5:15-18 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

God is calling a people to Himself through Christ Jesus. God is calling a people to have an INTENTIONAL RELATIONSHIP with Him, not a RELIGION. A RELATIONSHIP.

Are You In A Relationship With Jesus –
Or In A Religion?

If you are in a RELATIONSHIP with Jesus it will effect your daily lives. Before I was married I dated other women. But now that I am married the Sherry this is the relationship I pursue and live by. The same is true of Jesus Christ.

Your “Walk” Or Manner Of Life Changes
If You Are In A Relationship With Jesus.

The Christian is called to walk “circumspectly”. When I first read this word I quite frankly didn’t know what it meant. So I looked it up. “Circumspectly” is the Greek adverb ἀκριβῶς akribōs, (pronounced ak-ree-boce’) which means:

to be careful or diligent, to walk (that is, live) in the right or correct way.

This text is addressed to Christians, saved by faith in Christ. We are commanded to walk in the right way, that is, live our lives the way that God wants us to live them. The Scripture then says we are not only to live our lives in the right way, but we are not to live as unbelievers do. You see, the word “fools” is a reference to the lost person. The Bible tells us that:

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

The “fool” is someone who lives their lives as if there is no God.
The “fool” wastes every day of their lives.
The “fool” – those who reject Christ – does not cherish life, but squanders it.
The “fool” wastes life by doping up, drinking up, partying down.
The “fool” puts more pleasure in stuff than in the God Who gives life.
The “fool” is someone who does not love the God of Scripture.

Life is so very precious. Life is the greatest gift you have been given. Do not squander it, but live following Jesus. The Christian way of life is a life that follows Jesus.

The Christian is never too busy to follow Jesus.
Walking with our Redeemer, we “Redeem the Time”.

If you are too busy to follow Jesus, then Beloved you are just too busy. Jesus calls busy people to follow Him – to put Him first. Our Lord Jesus called Simon and Andrew to follow Him:

Mark 1:14-18 … 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. 16 Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. 18 And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.

Work is a great thing – but your greatest work is to follow Jesus!

Jesus called James and John busy mending their nets (Mark 1:19-20).
Jesus called Matthew Levi working as a tax collector (Mark 2:14).

Too many people say “I will follow Jesus when I have more time – but now I’m busy. Maybe when I’m older I’ll follow Him.” Oh Beloved, redeem the time, for the days are evil. Jesus warned us to be careful to not let STUFF steal our time. He said:

Luke 12:15 … Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

Your stuff is just not that important. What is most important? Your life. Where is life? It is in following Jesus.

Matthew 16:24-26 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. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Be FILLED With The Spirit

Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

God wants to have all of your life. Several years ago I saw a bumper sticker that I put on my car. It’s not there now because I’m in a different vehicle. The bumper sticker said:

“God is my Co-Pilot”

That sounded good to a young Christian named David. But as I’ve studied the Scripture and lived my life I found out this bumper sticker theology is all wrong. You see, “God is my Co-Pilot” assumes that I am driving and controlling my life, and God is sitting in the right hand seat ready for me to call on anytime I need Him. In short, this assumes that God is lesser than I am, and that God is my Servant. But that is not what the Scripture teaches. The Scripture says:

be filled with the Spirit

Let God have ALL of you.
Let Him have ALL of your heart ALL the time.
“Religion” says “let’s get a little Jesus”.
The devil loves it when you have “a little jesus”!
The devil parties when you trade relationship for religion.

Let me tell you something about “religion”:
Everyone is “religious”.

Now you may not agree with me, but it is true. “Religion” is a belief in something that may or may not effect your life. Atheists believe in nothing – but that’s a belief. Politicians believe in the swill that they try to sell you. Everyone has a religion. The Bible tells us this.

1 Corinthians 8:5-6 … there be gods many, and lords many, But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

Did you know that the King James Version of Scripture has, I am told, 783,137 words in it’s text. Of the 783,137 words in the Bible the words “religion” or “religious” is only found 7 times. SEVEN TIMES! God is not calling us to “religion” but to a day by day walk with Him.

We are not to be filled with OURSELVES.
We are not to be filled with PRIDE.
We are not to be filled with FEAR.
Our focus is to be the LORD JESUS CHRIST!

Matthew 16:24 … If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Mark 8:34 … Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Luke 9:23 … If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

God gives us a new day every day to choose to take up our Cross and follow Jesus. The Cross that Jesus bore is a mark of unselfish love. Jesus did not have to die for us, but He did. Jesus did not have to give His life for us sinners, but He did. Even while suffering He carried His Cross to Calvary. While suffering, He was nailed to His Cross for you and I. He loved us with an infinite love, so much so that the Son of God gave His life for us. Beloved, if you are a Christian then you are a Christian because of Christ’s Cross. His Blood saved you. The Son of God loved you. Now YOU as SONS OF GOD are to walk through this life LOVING GOD FULLY. Again:

be filled with the Spirit

We are not told to be 50% percent filled with the Spirit and 50% us. No, we are called to complete devotion to Him Who loved us and gave His life for us. We are not told to be filled with the Spirit when it is convenient or comfortable. We are not called to be filled with the Spirit when it feels good, or when it is popular with the world. We are called to be wholly dependent on the Lord. We are called to be like the Apostle John who was often seen leaning into Jesus’ arms (John 13:23). If you love Him then you are called to let Him live through you, fully in you, all day, all the time.

You are not called to a religious moment or a religious act, but to a life of surrender to Christ.

What Does Jesus Call Us To Be?
We Are To Be Like Jesus.

What does a relationship with Christ look like? Our text is very specific.

  • We Are To Imitate Jesus In Sexual And Sensual Purity.

Ephesians 5:2-6 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor. 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that no whore monger, 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.

We who are saved by Christ’s grace – by the Blood of the Lamb – are to walk sexually and sensually submitted to the Savior. We avoid fornication (heterosexual sin), uncleanness (homosexual sin), and covetousness (greed). When we are filled with the Spirit – for the Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God …

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy {Spirit} 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.

You are God’s Child if God’s Son died for you. Jesus had many female disciples who followed Him, but our Lord never committed sexual sin with any of them. God’s children are to be filled with Christ’s Spirit. We are not to follow the ways of this fallen world.

  • We Are To Imitate Jesus In The Use Of Our Tongues.

Ephesians 5:4 … Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

The New American Standard text makes this much clearer. It reads:

.. there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.

Jesus always chose His words carefully. He did not REACT when attacked, but carefully ACTED so as to bring the maximum amount of glory to our God. God hears our words, dear Ones. Our Lord Jesus told us:

Matthew 12:36-37 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

What you say matters. What you put on a social network matters.

When I GRUMBLE, my life gets darker.
When I GOSSIP, I tear down and infect others.
When I am GREEDY it hurts my body and my spirit.

It is better to praise God, and thank Him for the things He has allowed me to have. My God has been exceptionally good to me. He did not have to save me, but He did. No matter how rough the road I travel I know God says:

Hebrews 13:5-6… I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

  • We Are To Imitate Jesus, Not The World.

Ephesians 5:8-12 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 cannot change the world being like the world.
You’ve got to be like Jesus.
You’ve got to give glory to the Heavenly Father.
He adopted you, He loves you, and you should love Him.

The believer in fellowship with Jesus will walk in goodness, righteousness, and truth. We are to walk as Children of Light. We are not self righteous, but God glorifying. We do not reject fellowship with the lost – but we refuse to be as the lost are. That’s what we are told in this text. Read it again:

Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them …

We are to fellowship with SINNERS,
But not with SIN.

Every Christian should love and treat others with love, even those who walk in darkness. Where did Jesus spend a large amount of His time? He sat and ate with sinners. Jesus was brutally criticized by the religious crowd for fellowshipping with sinners. He told the Pharisees:

Luke 7:34-35 The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! 35 But wisdom is justified of all her children.

God wants His people to love the lost, to reach out to them, to care for them, to show them what a Child of God looks like. We are not to be self righteous, but Christ righteous. Jesus Christ came to seek and save those who are lost (Luke 19:10), to save sinners, not righteous people (Matthew 9:13). Let us be like Jesus. We are NOT to approve of sinful behavior, but we ARE to love the sinner and encourage that lost soul to “come and see Jesus”. The Scripture says:

Matthew 9:9-10 And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. 10 And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.

Imitating Jesus Will Give Me Joy

Ephesians 5:18-21 … be filled with the Spirit; 19 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.

There is joy in following Jesus. Like that old song:

I have found His grace is all complete,

He supplieth every need;

While I sit and learn at Jesus’ feet,

I am free, yes, free indeed.

Refrain:

It is joy unspeakable and full of glory,

Full of glory, full of glory;

It is joy unspeakable and full of glory,

Oh, the half has never yet been told.

I have found the pleasure I once craved,

It is joy and peace within;

What a wondrous blessing, I am saved

From the awful gulf of sin.

I have found that hope so bright and clear,

Living in the realm of grace;

Oh, the Savior’s presence is so near,

I can see His smiling face.

I have found the joy no tongue can tell,

How its waves of glory roll;

It is like a great o’erflowing well,

Springing up within my soul.

Barney E. Warren, 1900 – in Public Domain

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

Scripture Our Teacher

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Psalm 19:8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.

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

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

Galatians 3:24 … the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

2 Peter 1:19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

I have been asked as a Pastor why I often preach out of the Old Testament. Many preachers skip over the Old Testament. This is why few people today know the great old stories of the Bible. When people hear “Old Testament” their eyes roll back in their head. “Let’s stay in the Gospels. Let’s stay with Jesus. Let’s ignore that “Old” stuff.”

But this is foolish, and limiting. The Bible that the early Church had was only the Old Testament. The New Testament that we have was not written until long after Christ ascended into Heaven. The whole New Testament did not come together for the Church until around 350 years after Christ rose from the grave. The King James text I’m reading tonight wasn’t published until the 1700’s. It is a fact that the Bible Jesus used was the Old Testament Scripture.

The Old Testament Scripture teaches of the coming of Jesus Christ. That which was written by the Prophets of that wonderful Old Testament were written to “lead us, like a school teacher, to Christ”. The Psalmist David declared it. The Apostle Paul said it. The Lord Jesus Christ confirmed it. The Old Testament declared Who Jesus Christ is, and taught us many wonderful truths about God.

There are two Testaments, two Covenants, but only One Bible and One God. The Scripture tells us:

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 ..

1 Corinthians 8:6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

In the Old Testament we see animals without spot or blemish sacrificed – a foretelling of “the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The Blood of Jesus Christ is all that cleanses us from sin (1 John 1:7). The Temple of Israel where all worshiped foretold the day when every believer would be a Temple inhabited by God (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19-20). The specialized priesthoods of Levi are replaced with the priesthood of the believer. Now every believer is a priest before God, and Jesus Christ our High Priest (1 Peter 2:3-9; Hebrews 10:12).

The Old Testament Scripture – God’s Law – leads us to Christ. Pastor John Piper writes:

when we are born again, God gives us a new heart and a new spirit, and the result is that the law of God written in Scripture is no longer offensive to us. We are no longer hostile to it like Paul says in Romans 8:7. We are not hostile to the word of God, but rather, we are submissive. We delight to do God’s commandments. It doesn’t mean that we know them all by heart, because they are written on our hearts. It doesn’t mean that. It means that, when we read them in the word, the inclination to do them is in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. This is a great work of the Holy Spirit, purchased by the blood of Christ called the new covenant.”

The Ark Of The Covenant Represents Jesus

 2 Samuel 6:1-9 Again, David gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. 2 And David arose, and went with all the people that were with him from Baale of Judah, to bring up from thence the ark of God, whose name is called by the name of the LORD of hosts that dwelleth between the cherubims. 3 And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah: and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart. 4 And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab which was at Gibeah, accompanying the ark of God: and Ahio went before the ark. 5 And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals. 6 And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. 7 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God. 8 And David was displeased, because the LORD had made a breach upon Uzzah: and he called the name of the place Perezuzzah to this day. 9 And David was afraid of the LORD that day, and said, How shall the ark of the LORD come to me?

As you read this morning the Ark of the Covenant was being brought to Israel by King David and the priests. The Ark of the Covenant was a box that God told Moses to construct. The Ark was to be composed of wood from the Shittah tree (see Exodus 25:10), a beautiful box crowned with a golden plate upon which two statues of angels made of gold we placed. The “mercy seat” was the place between the angels on this special box. The box was large enough to hold the two tablets of stone on which the Commandments were written. God told Israel that He would meet with His priests:

Exodus 25:22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony..

God would speak to Israel from the Ark.
I believe the Ark represented Jesus Christ.
God the Son said “There I will meet with thee”.
Jesus would speak with His people.

Hebrews 9:4 tells us that the Ark contained the golden pot that had manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant (Tablets of Stone that the Law was written on). The Ark of the Covenant represented the Messiah – the Lord Jesus Christ – to the Old Testament Saint. The Ark was carried by the Priests, high and lifted up, between two poles. It was carried reverently. Israel was to follow the Ark. When they entered the Promised Land God told the people:

Joshua 3:3 … When ye see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.

God’s people were to lift up the Ark. God’s people were to follow the Ark.
God’s people are to lift up Jesus.
God’s people are to follow Jesus!

Why do I think the Ark represented Jesus? Because …

1 The Ark contained the Law. Jesus Christ is the Fulfiller of the Law:

Romans 10:4 … Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

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

2 The Ark contained the manna from Heaven. Jesus Christ is the Manna or Bread of Heaven.

John 6:57-58 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. 58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

3 The Ark contained Aaron’s rod that budded (became alive again). Jesus Christ is the Ruler of those who are born again & eternal.

1 John 2:25 And this is the promise that {Jesus} hath promised us, even eternal life.

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.

How Did Israel Lose The Ark?

In our focal text we read:

2 Samuel 6:1-2 Again, David gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. 2 And David arose, and went with all the people that were with him from Baale of Judah, to bring up from thence the ark of God

King David is trying to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem. Why was David bringing the Ark to Jerusalem? Israel lost the Ark of the Covenant because they acted faithlessly. In 1 Samuel 4 the Bible tells us that Israel went out to battle the Philistines – the worldly Philistines. Israel was soundly defeated. Why?

They were not following the Ark of the Covenant.
They were not following Jesus.
Church, are WE following Jesus?

I am told I can do ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). And Jesus said:

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

Israel went to battle without Jesus Christ. The Church today tries to make a difference in the world without Christ. What happened to Israel?

1 Samuel 4:2 … Israel was smitten before the Philistines

Israel miserably lost. Beloved, God has not called us to get the maximum amount of butts in the seats of this Church. He has called us to be the Church, to be a following Church, following the Lord Jesus Christ, following our Ark of the Covenant!

After going forward without the General and Lord Who saved them now God’s Old Covenant Church has a bright idea.

1 Samuel 4:3 … 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.

Let’s bring Jesus in as an afterthought. Let’s make a mess then seek His face. How foolish, yet I myself have done this, and you probably have done so as well. This was when the Ark was lost. The Philistines not only defeated God’s people, but they took the Ark captive.

But they couldn’t hold the Ark, for God is stronger than the strongest enemy. In time the Philistines delivered the Ark back to Israel on a new cart (1 Samuel 6:7). The Ark was placed in the house of Abinadab and cared for by Eleazor his son for 20 years (1 Samuel 7:1-2). This explains why David was bringing the Ark back to Jerusalem. His intentions were good. He wanted to put the Ark back in the Tabernacle where it belonged.

Good Intentions Kill. Obedience To God Blesses.

David’s intentions were good. First, King David arranged a parade with all the best people:

2 Samuel 6:1 Again, David gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand.

Just as the Philistines did many years before David …

2 Samuel 6:3 … And they set the ark of God upon a new cart

The Ark is not leading the way, but is part of a great big parade, filled with pomp and circumstance.

2 Samuel 6:3-5 And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah: and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart. 4 And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab which was at Gibeah, accompanying the ark of God: and Ahio went before the ark. 5 And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals.

Everything was going well, then it didn’t. We read:

2 Samuel 6:6-8 And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. 7 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God. 8 And David was displeased, because the LORD had made a breach upon Uzzah: and he called the name of the place Perezuzzah to this day.

Then God rained on the parade. The wagon hit a hole in the road, the wagon upon which the Ark sat. The Ark was in danger of being cast out onto the ground so one of the priest – Uzzah – put out his hand to steady the Ark, to hold up the Ark. And Uzzah died.

Uzzah had good intentions. The King had good intentions. The parade was filled with those who had good intentions.

2 Samuel 6:9 David was afraid of the LORD that day, and said, How shall the ark of the LORD come to me?

How do we get Jesus back into the Church? How does the Ark get to Jerusalem? First of all, we the Church must look the the Word of God. God told Israel how the Ark of the Covenant was to be moved. It was not to be moved on a new cart. God told Israel that the Ark was to be covered,

Numbers 4:15 … after that, the sons of Kohath shall come to bear it: but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die. These things are the burden of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation.

The Ark was to be carried – high and lifted up – on poles by the sons of Kohath. Jesus Christ is to be high and lifted up by His people. We come into this place to worship and adore Him, not to put Him on a cart. We honor God when we do what He says. Jesus said:

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.

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

Three months later David has the priests move the Ark of the Covenant in the way that God said do it (1 Chronicles 15:12-15). God’s people sanctified or set themselves apart by focusing on God’s Word. What God has said, He commands. His commands are NOT OPTIONAL. Ever. Period.

We must follow Jesus. We must do what He says in His way and in His time. It does not matter what our opinion of the situation is. There are many Church denominations that are following the opinion of man. This denomination does this, that denomination does that. “Let’s get a vote, and let the majority rule. Beloved majority rule only counts if JESUS CHRIST is the MAJORITY. What has the Lord said for us to do? What has God written in His Word? What does our Heavenly Father think? This is found in the Scripture.

King David conferred with all the best people before moving the Ark (see 1 Chronicles 13:1-4). The Church voted, and what was decided on was approved by the majority. But at no time did anyone consult God, nor turn to His Word. And Uzzah died for it!

We must obey the Lord. We must get back to the Bible. We must consult God’s Word, and heed God’s Spirit. If we do, we will be blessed. If not, we can bring death on ourselves. Let us follow the Lord! In Christ’s name I pray. Amen!

Posted in Belong To God, Bible Study, Church, Sermons Preached | Tagged ,

Bitter Root, Bitter Fruit

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Photo by Anqi Lu on Unsplash

Hebrews 12:14-15 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

In the days before medicine had found a cure a certain man was bitten by a rabid dog. As a result the man contracted rabies, at that time a fatal and incurable disease. The Doctor told the man as solemnly as he could to “Get your affairs in order – there is nothing we can do”. The man asked for paper and pen, and began to write furiously. The good Doctor left, and came back a while later to find the man still writing. He said, “It’s good to see you working on your will.” The bitten man replied, “I’m not working on my will. This is a list of people I plan on biting before I die!”

A bitter heart cannot find happiness. The word “Bitter” comes from an Old English root which means “to bite”. Bitter people are those who have been hurt by others – perhaps even – they think – by God. They have allowed the pain of the hurt and the negative anger to ferment in their soul until they become spiteful, biteful people, caustic and sour. In our text the King James text uses two words to warn against the bitter heart:

Looking diligently

Do you see it in verse 15? This is actually one word in the Greek: ἐπισκοπέω episkopéō, (pronounced ep-ee-skop-eh’-o) which means to carefully and diligently watch or oversee so that it does not enter in, to beware, to look out for. The Apostle Peter used the same word when he warned the Pastors of the Church against false teachers, saying:

1 Peter 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind …

That phrase “taking the oversight” is the word episkopéō, (pronounced ep-ee-skop-eh’-o). Guard against the evil. Look out! Pastor A.W. Tozer said once that there are a number of words that will NOT be found in Heaven, words like “look out”. While we are on this earth we – even if we are saved – are creatures subject to failure. One of the most dangerous things that we can fall into is the bitter heart.

Bitterness Can Set In When We Get Our Eyes Off Of Jesus

We read at the beginning of our text:

Hebrews 12:1-3 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

Somebody’s Watching You!

As we run that race of life as Children of God we are to understand that we are to be light in the midst of this devil’s fallen world. We will not be treated fairly. We will be mocked, and we will be unfairly judged. There will be others who are not running the race toward Heaven, but whose soul purpose is to pretend to run so as to try and trip us up. These are agents of the devil, not children of God. Children of God love one another, and guide one another to race so as to bring glory to God. Children of Adam – also known as Children of Lucifer – serve no purpose other than to disrupt our race, our course, and cause us to fall.

We are surrounded by “so great a cloud of witnesses”. People watch what we do. People listen to what we say. People watch how we run our race. The Lord tells us to ..

lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus

We are to be GRACE ORIENTED in our lives. Bitterness causes us to fail of the Grace of God. Bitterness makes us ineffective in our calling, and trips us up or defiles us so that we cannot do that which Christ wants us to do.

I have known Pastors, Deacons, and great Teachers who have fallen into the trap of bitterness. They got their eyes off of Jesus and became walking wounded, unable to do any good for the Lord.

How many of you have ever heard of Franklin Pierce? I must admit – red faced and embarrassed – that I never heard of Franklin Pierce until this week. Who was Franklin Pierce? He was the 14th President of the United States, a northern Democrat that saw the Abolitionist Movement as a threat to the unity of the United States. Pierce was a bitter man. He was married to a wife that suffered illness and depression most of her life, and all of their children died while young. Just before Pierce’s inauguration his last child died in a train accident. Pierce could not imagine how God would let such a thing happen. He refused to to place his hand on a Bible during his swearing in as President, choosing instead to use a Law book. His policies as President are recognized by most historians and scholars as contributing to our eventual Civil War. Pierce drank heavily most of his life, and died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1869. To date historians and scholars rank Pierce as one of the worst and least memorial of the U.S. Presidents. A bitter heart leads to a bitter, unblessed life.

When life hurts us, let us look unto Jesus. Jesus did not have an easy path. In fact, Jesus could have easily become bitter. We are told:

Hebrews 12:3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

What did Jesus do? He left Heaven to come to this earth to save us. He was born in the lowest of places, a baby in a manger. Before He could ever walk He was hunted by Herod, a spiteful and bitter King who was never satisfied. This evil man killed all the babies in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16-18), fulfilling the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:15. When Jesus began His earthly ministry He was not welcomed by the religious leaders of the day. He was attacked at every point, even accused of being evil for healing people on “the sabbath Day” (Matthew 12:12; Mark 3:4; Luke 6:9). When Jesus was “taken” in the Garden of Gethsemane at the end of His earthly ministry He was betrayed by the kiss of a friend who betrayed Him, Judas Iscariot (see Luke 22:48). This was foretold by the Lord in Psalm 41:9. Jesus knew that Judas was going to betray Him, because He said:

John 6:70-71 … Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? 71 He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.

When Jesus stood in front of the Jewish Ruling Council, the Sanhedrin, they hired liars to offer false testimony about Him. When Jesus was taken to Pilate the Governor he said:

Luke 23:14-15 … 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.

Neither Pilate nor Herod found fault in Jesus, yet still ordered His execution because the religious leaders incited the people to violence. As Jesus hung on Calvary – beaten, bloody, tortured beyond belief, so much so that the Scripture says:

Isaiah 52:14 .. As many were {astonished} at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:

How many indignities were heaped upon our Lord? How many terrors did He go through? And yet, never was He bitter. Never was He hopeless, or eaten up of anger. But as He hung on that Cross what was ever before Him was the finish line, the glory of God the Father and the salvation of a people unto Himself. He prayed though in anguish and in humiliation:

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.

Jesus never wavered for the joy set before Him.

The Root That Leads To Bitterness Is A ME Centered Life

Hebrews 12:14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

What seed can plant the fruit of bitterness? It is a ME CENTERED life. Most people become bitter because:

1. Of What Is SAID About ME (Slander).
2. Of What Is DONE To ME (Bullying).
3. Of What Is TAKEN From ME (Theft).

If you belong to Jesus and are doing the best you know how in serving Him, you need to be more concerned about what Jesus says as opposed to what the world says.

The darkness will never like the light.
Cain will always seek to kill Abel.
Goliath will always despise and try to overthrow David.
Daniel will always find himself in a pit of lions.
Joseph will be attacked by jealous brothers.
Lucifer and the Lord Jesus will never be One!

Jesus told us in:

Luke 15:17-21 These things I command you, that ye love one another. 18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.

1. When SLANDERED What Shall I Do? Jesus was slandered, and we who serve the Lord Jesus will be slandered. What are we to do? Jesus said:

Matthew 5:11-12 Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Jesus tells us that rather than focus on the slander, praise God for what is being said. Evil will always say bad things about the righteous. Now Beloved, DO NOT BE SELF RIGHTEOUS. God despises self righteousness, and considers such tings to be a smoke in His nostrils. The self righteous …

Isaiah 65:5 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.

If you are living for Jesus as a holy new Creation then as much as possible, live at peace with all (Romans 12:8). But understand that the lost do not have the light of Christ. Understand also there may be lost people on the roll of the Church! Do not allow what others say about you to cause you to be bitter. Look unto Jesus. As He was slandered and reviled…

1 Peter 2:22-23 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

When Jesus was verbally attacked and slandered He did not come back with an evil foul mouth. He did not allow bitterness to enter His heart and thus pollute His thought process. No, but Jesus blessed those who cursed Him, and advised we who are His Children to:

Matthew 5:44-45 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.

When Jesus was slandered He trusted that the Father would one day make all things right, that all things worked together for good, controlled by the Almighty.

2. When BULLIED What Shall I Do? When Jesus was struck by His accusers He did not REACT but He ACTED. He controlled how He responded. This is what He tells us to do. When you are hit, your old man leads you to strike back. Yet if you strike back you become part of the problem rather than the solution.

Act And God Is In Control
React And You Lose Control

The Apostle Paul had one of the hardest ministries ever in Church history. A Jew who was originally on the Ruling Council of the Jews, Paul was regarded as a traitor to Israel and in the beginning was mistrusted by the Church. The Apostle said:

2 Corinthians 4:6-11 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 11 For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

The Apostle saw himself as an earthen vessel, continually overseen by the Potter Who is God. He saw His life as a dedicated bowl or pitcher, dedicated to the Lord Jesus Christ. As a result the Apostle refused to allow his life (his bowl) to be filled with bitterness. He wanted his life to be filled with Jesus. Rather than strike back when a lost person struck him, the Apostle Paul trusted that God would bring it all out for His glory and for the blessing of God’s Kingdom. This is what Jesus told us to do. When bullied heed the Master’s words:

Mathew 6:38-39 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.

Love will win the heart, not one upmanship or vengeance. Love like Christ has shown us will win the world for Him.

3. When We Are ROBBED, What Shall I Do? Jesus told us:

Matthew 5:40-41 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.

Jesus wanted us to understand the difference between the eternal and the temporal. All things that we see and touch right now are temporal, temporary, and will one day pass away. The reality of your salvation and the sonship that accompanies it is eternal.

Stuff is just stuff.

One of my favorite movies is an old John Wayne movie called Angel and the Badman. It’s a wonderful story where the gunslinger Quirt Evans (played by John Wayne) is hurt and nursed back to health by a Quaker family. The daughter of the family named Penelope (played by Gail Russell) falls in love with Quirt. As Quirt is recuperating in the Quaker home he sees a sign on the wall. He says:

That {sign} on the wall: “Each human being has an integrity that can be hurt only …by the act of the same human being. and not by the act of another human being. Is that Quaker stuff? You mean nobody can hurt you but yourself?”

Penelope says “That’s what the Friends {Quakers} believe.” Quirt asks, “Are there many of you Quakers?” She replies, “Very few.” To which Quirt retorts, “I sort of figured that.”

The way of the world is that is someone takes from me, then I will take from them. But the Way of Christ is to live a life of sacrifice. The Apostle said:

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

The stuff we have is just “stuff”. If someone robs us of TIME, then what would this matter to a child of Christ. Eternity is ours. We will live beyond this life, into eternity with the Jesus Who loves us so. In Jesus’ Jerusalem the conquering Roman soldiers had the right to ask you to provide cover for them, and to carry their packs for them for up to a mile. Jesus told His listeners that if they wanted to be light, provide cover – ample cover – even to the Roman enemy. If they demanded that you carry their pack for a mile, carry it for two. Do so not out of compulsion, but because this is what LOVE DEMANDS. It’s like that wonderful song Love Is Not A Fight, that states:

Love will come to save us, if we’ll only call
He will ask nothing from us,
but demand we give our all!

The heart of our faith is love in action. To avoid bitterness, consider stuff just to be stuff. Serve the Lord Jesus. Do as He says. Give, and God will give, more than you can imagine.

This is what our God expects us to do. May Christ’s Holy Spirit guide you as you live out your purpose in Him! Amen!

Posted in Hebrews, Sermons Preached | Tagged , ,

Living As Children Of Light

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Photo by Michael Hart on Unsplash

In the Old as well as the New Testaments people were saved by faith in the God of Scripture. The phrase “The just shall live by faith” covers both testaments.

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

Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

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

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

The father of faith Abraham was saved by faith in God.

Romans 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Genesis 15:6

And {Abraham} believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

Galatians 3:6-8 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.

Salvation has always been by faith in God.

But what position did the Old Covenant believer have?
The great theme of the Old Testament is that believer served God.
The great theme of the New Testament
is that the believer is a Child of God.

You can see the difference when you look at two of my Old Testament heroes. One is Joshua, a wonderful believer, God’s warrior. Before Joshua passed into glory he charged the people to serve the Lord:

Joshua 24:15 … choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

Or that wonderful old Prophet Elijah who, on Mount Carmel, commanded the people to choose:

1 Kings 18:21 … How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.

As we come to the New Testament and the wondrous work of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord we see a change of tone. Yes, we are still to serve God. But now we serve God for a more intimate reason.

We who are saved are the children of God.

Ephesians 5:1-2 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor.

How Does One Become A Child Of God?

Our text tells us:

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

In the world today it is popular to say that “all are quite naturally the children of God”. But we know this is not true based upon the words of the Holy Scripture. The Apostle Paul said:

2 Timothy 2:19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

God does not say that ALL are His. He created all, but not all are His children. So how do we become a child of God? The Pharisees, scribes, Sadducees, and many religious people today believe they are children of God if the DO religious things.

If I say so many “Hail Mary’s”.
If I genuflect at a statue and cross myself.
If I give to the Church or to charity.
If I celebrate holidays and am careful to say “Merry Christmas”.

Jesus told the Pharisees – a people with spotless religious records:

John 8:42-51 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. 43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. 44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. 45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. 46 Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? 47 He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. 48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? 49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honor my Father, and ye do dishonor me. 50 And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. 51 verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.

Jesus was very clear in this text. The Pharisees – religious as they were – were nonetheless the children of the devil. Why? Because they did not love Jesus. They did not heed His Word. They did not see Him as the Messiah, the Redeemer of His people.

God gave the Law to us – the Old Testament – to make us realize that we all need a Redeemer. We are born sinners. We are born into this world children of the devil – not children of God. We read earlier in Ephesians that the Christian is someone that God has raised from spiritual death. We read:

Ephesians 2:1-5 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our {way of life} in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved😉

Before we met Jesus and realized our need for the Savior we walked as if we were gods and goddesses, following the rebelliousness of the flesh and of the devil. But once we met Jesus and realized the great love He ha for us, that He alone is Savior and Lord, we turned from our own strength to His strength.

We surrendered to Him!

We are told in Galatians 3:22-29 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. 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.

Jesus Christ took upon Himself humanity, coming to this earth to be our Redeemer. He died on Calvary for my sins and for your sins. His sacrifice made it possible for God to forgive us our sins, and to bring us into His Family. We are dear children of God. Not because we were perfect, but because Jesus is perfect. We are beloved children of God. Not because we are good, but because our good and gracious Jesus bore our sins on the Tree.

We who are Christians are not perfect, but we are perfectly saved because of Jesus!

Oh what Grace God has given us! Hear His Word!

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 {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 a person hears the call of the wondrous Gospel and, repenting of their sins, falls into the arms of Jesus by faith – then God brings that person into the Family.

God saved us and brought us into His Family so that we can be imitators – not of the world – but of Him. God wants us to imitate Christ. Hear what the Apostle said in another place:

1 John 3:1-3 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

How Does A Child Of God BEHAVE?

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

The Christian is told to be a “follower” or imitator of God. This is the Greek μιμητής mimētḗs, (pronounced mim-ay-tace’) which comes from μῖμος mîmos and means to mimic or imitate. Now, we are made in God’s image but we are not gods. There are certain things we cannot mimic.

God is omnipotent – all powerful. Jesus said:

Matthew 19:26 “with God all things are possible“.

There is nothing that God cannot do – but there are many things you and I cannot do. Only God is omnipotent – all powerful. I cannot mimic that.

God is also omniscient – all knowing. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 147:4-5 {God} telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by [their] names. 5 Great [is] our Lord, and of great power: his understanding [is] infinite.

God knows all things. He knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). God is never confused, but always in control and knows all things. At times I barely know MYSELF, much less what is going to happen next. I cannot mimic this great being of God.

God is also omnipresent – at all places at all times. He says:

Isaiah 66:1-2 1 Thus saith the LORD, The heaven [is] my throne, and the earth [is] my footstool: where [is] the house that ye build unto me? and where [is] the place of my rest? 2 For all those [things] hath mine hand made, and all those [things] have been, saith the LORD: ..

Though we as humans are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) we cannot imitate the immensity of God.

But if we are saved by the Grace of God by the Son of God we can imitate God as dear children. We are commanded to do so. God saved us by Grace. He sent Jesus Christ to this earth to be born among mankind.

We bring glory to God when we imitate Him.
We bring glory to Christ when we act like Him.
We bring glory to the Spirit when we honor God in our actions.

The Christian is to be like God’s child. The Christian is not to be like the world, but like the One Who fathered us. God saved us by the Blood of the Cross and by the power of the Holy Spirit of God. We are Christs in progress, being made like Jesus. We entered the Kingdom of God by becoming like little children. Like little children we are to be CHRIST CONTROLLED.

Matthew 18:2-4 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Hell is for the person who leaves this life rejecting Christ as Lord and Savior. Heaven is for the little child, the obedient child, the adopted child of God who heeds the words of the Father. We imitate God, surrendering to His will. As God’s sheep we are to be LIVING SACRIFICES.

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

To imitate God is to NOT imitate the world.

It is to do as God has said. It is to do as God has shown. We are to be like Jesus, like God our Father. We are to be Spirit led.

Galatians 5:16, 26 Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh …. if we live in the Spirit let us also walk in the Spirit.

Our walk, our daily – minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, step by step WALK must be WITH GOD and not with the world. What did our precious Savior command us to do?

Matthew 5:43-48 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 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.

We are to be living lights. We are to shine not just in this sanctuary – this room of teaching – but particularly in the world out there.

In order for salt to do any good,
it must get out of the salt shaker.
In order for light to do any good,
it must leave the bulb.

We have to be LIGHT and LOVE in here and out there. The children imitate God’s love. The children imitate God’s goodness, even to those who do not deserve it. The children imitate the love of God in their daily lives.

If You Are His Child Then Love As Jesus Loved

Ephesians 5:1-2 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor.

Jesus gave Himself for every person, though not every person will receive Him. There will be many who never heed the Gospel. There will be many who will reject Christ as Lord and Savior, and leave this life to go to a place of eternal death.

You see, we were all made in the image of God. All of us have eternal souls. our soul shall never cease to be. Where will that soul spend eternity? That is entirely up to you. Are you saved? Are you Christ’s child? If so, it will show.

I was at a Pastor’s breakfast the other day at the Lifecare Facility. As we sat down to eat a wonderful meal I saw the beautiful cloth napkins and elegant silverware. It looked like the finest of silver was put into this knife, fork, and spoon. But when I picked it up something was wrong. It LOOKED like silverware, but it was the very finest of …. plastic! It had no weight to it. Now I’m not complaining – it fed me just as well as heavy silver would have fed me. But it was imitation.

Are you an imitation Christian or are you a Living Child of the Light? If you belong to Jesus you are called to walk in love, not in lust.

Ephesians 5:3-8 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that no whore monger, 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:

If you are a Child of God then you are a Child of Light. You do not walk as children of darkness. Sexual sin – heterosexual or homosexual – should not be a part of your lives. You should not be imitating the darkness around you. You should be radically different, loving, kind, but standing firmly on the truths that God has presented us in His Word.

You do not belong to the devil. He is not your father.
You do not belong to this world.
You belong to God your Father.
You were purchased from evil by the Blood of Christ.
You are Redeemed, loved, and Light.
Be what God your Father has called you to be.
For His glory!
Amen!

Posted in Ephesians, Following Jesus, Foundation Series, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , ,

Five Steps To Rest A Worried Mind

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Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

I love the King James Bible – it is a good and reliable translation. Yet the Bible uses archaic language – after all, it’s last authorized revision was in 1881 (called the English Revised Version, or Revised Version, this was the only officially authorized revision). Language has changed quite a bit from 1611 and 1881. The word “careful” in the King James is the Greek μεριμνάω merimnáō, (pronounced mer-im-nah’-o) which in today’s language means:

To be ANXIOUS, or have ANXIETY, to be WORRIED,
to be TROUBLED about something

The same word is translated differently throughout the King James. From our Lord Jesus in Matthew 6:25

Therefore I say unto you, Take no THOUGHT for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

Or in Matthew 6:31

Therefore take no THOUGHT, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

Or when Jesus told the worrying Martha in Luke 10:41

Martha, Martha, thou art CAREFUL AND TROUBLED about many things:

The Lord does not want His people to be worried – and yet, we often are. Worry is a fertile ground that grows many dangerous plants. It can lead to:

Panic Attacks
Racing Heart,
Sweating and Shaking,
Deep Depression,
Listlessness and Loss of Joy,
even Suicidal Thoughts … or worse!

If you are a Christian – saved by faith in the Grace of God – the Lord does not want you feeling this way. The Bible tells us that:

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

Jesus did not save you so that you could be ruled by the negative. And even as I say this, I want you all to understand God does not want you to feel like less than a son or daughter because you are anxious or worried. One of my favorite Pastors, C.H. Spurgeon, often called The Prince of Preachers, suffered depression and worry. In his sermon The Christian’s Heaviness and Rejoicing Spurgeon said:

My spirits were sunken so low that I could weep by the hour like a child, and yet I knew not what I wept for.”

King David, a man after God’s own heart (see Acts 13:22) said:

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me?” (Psalm 42:5)

As Christians, there are five Biblical steps you can take to help overcome worry before worry overcomes you. Let me say this, though. If you are chronically worried, or habitually depressed, you may need to see a healthcare professional. We live in a fallen world in broken bodies. The mind, just like the heart, can become disabled. Reach out to me, to someone who loves you, and let us come together in love to find a solution. Jesus Christ gave everything for your blessing. You’ve got a lot to live for, both now, and forever!

Just Cast It On The Lord

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing
or better – “Do not be anxious or worried about anything!”

Sometimes we as humans take too much on ourselves. This characteristic started in the Garden of Eden when a talking snake convinced Adam “you really want to be like God” (Genesis 3:4). No, we do not want to be like God. But too often we try and be God, and it hurts us.

I’m sure you’ve all done this, because I’ve done it many times. I go into the grocery store or the local Walmart to get just one thing, so I don’t take a shopping cart with me. I head back into the store, pick up the one thing … then remember something else I need. I go and get that something else, and now I have two things in my hands. But as I head toward the check out line I think of something else. It’s getting harder and harder to hold what I have, and I’m struggling – but then I remember something else. By the time I get to the one register that’s open (and filled with people) I’m struggling to hold all these items in my two arms. My muscles and tensing, and I’m frustrated as the customer at the register (and I’m at the end of a long line) counts out pennies and digs through her handbag for elusive coupons “I just know I have” … and my arms stretch out of joint about 3 inches. Finally as I get close enough to the register I drop everything on the conveyor belt. The tension is relieved, and my mood starts to get better.

I never should have taken all that stress on myself in the first place!
Why didn’t I just take the shopping cart?

The same truth applies to our lives. We pick up too many stresses that don’t belong to us in the first place. We are told in:

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

The word translated CARE is the Greek μέριμνα mérimna, (pronounced mer’-im-nah) which means “worry or anxiety”. Things happen in our lives that we cannot control. God does not want us to worry about these things. He wants us to be who we are, and let God be God. The same Greek word is used in Luke chapter 8 in Jesus’ Parable of the Sower. Jesus said that some of the seeds of Grace – when cast by the Sower – fall among thorns and never produce fruit. Jesus said:

Luke 8:14 … {they are} choked with the CARES {mérimna – worries} … of this life, and bring forth no fruit to perfection.

Worry makes a fruitless and miserable life. God’s solution to worry is for me to stop trying to be God, and to cast my worries on the Lord. Let it go! You cannot fix it by worry. You cannot make it better by worry.

Express The Problem To God

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing {quit worrying};
but in every thing by PRAYER and supplication

When we cast our burdens upon God we use the spiritual disciplines of prayer and supplication. The word translated PRAYER is the Greek προσευχή proseuchḗ, (pronounced pros-yoo-khay’) which means to earnestly seek God in prayer. It is a dedicated focus – not on yourself – but on your Savior and Lord.

Our Lord Jesus chose twelve men to be His choicest leaders – called Apostles – and of these twelve chose three men – Peter, James, and John – to be the leaders of the leaders. These twelve were to be the beginning of Christ’s Church. One day Jesus took Peter, James, and John up into a high mountain apart from the other 9 men (Matthew 17:1). Jesus’ intent was to teach these three men of His inner circle that He and He alone is Messiah. While these 3 men were on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus the other 9 men were in the valley. While Jesus and the inner three were on the mountaintop a man with an insane, demon possessed son came to the nine Apostles. The 9 did what they could, but in the end did nothing. As Jesus came back from the mountaintop with Peter, James, and John, the father of this poor boy came to Jesus saying:

Matthew 17:15-16 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatic, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. 16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.

Jesus rebuked the father and the 9 disciples for their failure, and stepped in, rebuking the devil and curing the child (Matthew 17:18). Right after this the 9 disciples asked Jesus “Why couldn’t we do what You did?”. Jesus told them:

Matthew 17:20-21 … Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. 21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by PRAYER and fasting.

Jesus uses the same word for PRAYER that is used in Philippians 4:6 – proseuchḗ, (pronounced pros-yoo-khay’). The prayer that moves the heart and hand of God is the prayer focused on God, not on oneself. In fact, Jesus includes FASTING with prayer. When you FAST you do without something so that you can focus purely on God. This type of prayer is POWERFUL!

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing {quit worrying};
but in every thing by prayer and SUPPLICATION

The word SUPPLICATION is the Greek δέησις déēsis, (pronounced deh’-ay-sis) which means to to seek for, to earnestly request something from God. Déēsis, (pronounced deh’-ay-sis) is the cry of the broken heart totally submitted to God.

A wonderful example of this is found in the Old Testament in the life of a woman named Hannah. The name Hannah means “Grace”. Hannah had a problem. Hannah was childless. She wanted a child more than anything in the world, but was unable to conceive. It wasn’t her fault, and it wasn’t her husband’s fault. She was just unable. The Bible says Hannah was bitter in her soul. Her inability was destroying her outlook on life. She had a good life, a good husband, but felt less than because of her perceived failure. Do you know what Hannah did?

1 Samuel 1:10 … Hannah prayed unto the Lord, and WEPT SORE.

Hannah laid her burden on our Heavenly Father, Who’s shoulders are able to bear whatever weight we may have. Hannah promised to honor the Lord in her surrender. She humbled herself before Him – and He blessed Hannah with not just a child, but one of the greatest Prophets who ever was: the Prophet Samuel. What did the Psalmist say?

Psalms 37:5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

Psalms 55:22 Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

You are not gods, so stop trying to be that way. Let the Lord have the burden!

Sing And Praise The Lord

Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving

The Bible does not tell us to rejoice or be thankful only while we are on the mountaintop. It’s easy to praise God on the mountaintop. But when we are in the valleys of life we often express our gloom rather than remembering how good God our Father has been to us in the past. There are a lot of times that hard things happen to my life that I do not understand. Nonetheless, I am to thank God anyway. We are told in Ephesians:

Ephesians 5:15-21 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 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.

The will of God our Father is that we not be like the dark world around us, but that we walk as light in the Lord:

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.

Jesus calls His followers to come together frequently and to worship God in song and praise. When I have a blue day it lifts me up to come into this place and celebrate Jesus with others. When I am down singing – both private as well as public singing – releases my heart from despair and to the control of God the Holy Spirit. God calls His people to work TOGETHER. What better way to be TOGETHER than for us to sing TOGETHER and praise our Savior and Lord TOGETHER.

We as believers are not called to walk in darkness, but to walk in light. What does the Scripture say?

Ephesians 5:8 .. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light …

We walk together looking to Jesus. We work together for His glory. When you are down, pray. When you are depressed, seek out God’s people, and sing praises unto Him TOGETHER. Our God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). Praise Him!

Understand That God Is Absolutely
And Always In Control

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto GOD.

When the great Pastor C.H. Spurgeon was depressed he always looked to the Sovereignty of God. He said:

It would be a very sharp and trying experience for me to think that I have an affliction which God never sent me, that the bitter cup was never filled by his hand, that my trials were never measured out by him, nor sent to me by his arrangement of their weight and quantity.”

Take your requests to God, for our God is able. The Apostle James told us that when trials come:

James 1:2-7 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. 5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ASK of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

When tried we are to understand that God worketh in us to will and to do of His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). The Bible says:

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

God works in us to bless us and make us more like Jesus. It is through trials and faith that we are shaped. God wants us to be like Jesus, to shine like Jesus, to enjoy life like Jesus.

Study or Meditate On God’s Word

Philippians 4:6-8 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

What we dwell on effects how we feel. If we muse or meditate or study on negative things we will feel less than or negative. Let us focus on our God and His Word. Jesus prayed for His Church before going to Calvary, saying:

John 17:16-17 … {My Church is} not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

What you set your mind on is what will influence your heart. Let the Word of God infiltrate your soul. Let God’s truths be engraved on your hearts by His Holy Spirit.

As we close, let me restate these five steps:

Just Cast It On The Lord
Express The Problem To God
Sing And Praise The Lord
Understand That God Is In Control

Study or Meditate On God’s Word

Dear friends, give it all to Jesus! Look unto Jesus. Pray to the Father through Jesus. His Kingdom will never fail. May God richly bless you as you seek Him this very day!

Posted in Philippians, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , ,

The Gospel In Three Words

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Photo by Cristian Palmer on Unsplash

Acts 2:36, 38-39 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. … 38 … Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

 

Our message today is part of a larger sermon preached by the Apostle Peter. On the first day of the Church, this first of the Apostles preached the first sermon the Church ever heard foillowing the ascention of Jesus. Three words stand out in this sermon Peter preached, three very important words, the basis of the Gospel of salvation. The first word is ..

Lord

Peter said:

God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified,
both Lord and Christ

The heart of the Gospel is found in the truth that Jesus is Lord. That word “Lord” is very interesting. The word LORD is used 7836 times in our KJV Bible – and it’s first use is for God, the Creator of all. When we speak of “God” we are speaking of the Creator of all. But when we say “Lord” we are recognizing that God created all things and is Ruler above everything. In the creation account we read in …

Genesis 2:4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens …

Creation was made by God. It did not evolve as an accident,
but was made on purpose by
the God Who yet rules it.

God made everything, both seen and unseen.

Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

It is the Word of God that spoke all things into existence. It is the Word of God that created the Angels. The Angels were made beautiful, servants of God. The chief Angel was called Lucifer which means “The Bright and Shining One”. Lucifer rejected God because of his own pride. We are told by the Prophet …

Isaiah 14:12-14 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 be like the most High.

It was the Love of God that made Lucifer. Lucifer rejected the lordship of God. Falling from his place as Chief Angel he led a third of the angels of Heaven in a senseless revolt against God. You see, Lucifer like many of us don’t mind God as long as He is NOT LORD. He is Lord.

And God is love (1 John 4:7). The Lord God created the heavens and the earth, and in the midst of this planet, in the most perfect of places, the Lord placed Adam and his wife Eve. Hear God’s love:

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

The Lord made all perfect, and turned the Lordship of earth over to Adam and Eve. But the Bible tells us that Lucifer crept into Eden.

Ezekiel 28:13 … Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God;

In that wonderful Paradise Lucifer whispered to our foreparents:

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, how we must break the heart of God! He made us, He gave us, and we wanted more. Adam was made in God’s image, and given the earth to rule. Adam listened to Lucifer and, trying to take the place of the Lord, plunged us all into sin. This is the human condition.

Romans 3:9 … they are all under sin

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

Ecclesiastes 7:20 For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.

At one point humanity grew so far from God that the Lord decided to destroy it by flood. Yet even then God was not willing to totally erase all.

Genesis 6:5-8 And 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; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

When I think of the Flood my heart hurts, but then I praise the Lord, for …

Psalm 145:8-9 The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. 9 The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.

Psalm 113:1-8 Praise ye the LORD. Praise, O ye servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD. 2 Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. 3 From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD’S name is to be praised. 4 The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens. 5 Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high, 6 Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth! 7 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill; 8 That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people.

Our God is Lord! Think of the blasphemies perpetrated on the Lord our God every day in this nation, and all over the world. And yet He in love humbles Himself to watch over us. Our Creator, our God, our Lord did not reward evil for evil, but tolerated mankind another day, and another day, and another day. Why did He do this? This brings us to our second word:

Christ

Though Adam rejected the Lord our God and obeyed Lucifer, and though he brought sin and death and thorns and thistles into the world, the Lord God from the beginning decided to save us. Lucifer led willing humanity into rebellion against God. In the Garden of Eden God promised a Redeemer.

Genesis 3:14-15 the LORD God said unto the serpent … 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 LORD God promised that one day the seed of the woman would come forth and crush Lucifer’s power (his head). God would one day send a Christ, someone Who was anointed, chosen of God, to overthrow Lucifer and rescue those enslaved to sin. God told Lucifer that it would be “the SEED of the woman”, an interesting phrase, because women carry the egg of fertilization, not the seed. Man carries the seed. Yet God spoke of “the seed of the woman” coming as Christ, as God’s anointed, to destroy the works of the devil:

1 John 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

God promised in Eden that the “Seed of the woman” would come forth to destroy the works of the devil. Further along in human history the Lord God in love sought out a man called Abram.

Genesis 12:1-3 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, 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 promised Abraham – that out of him would come a great nation (Israel) and a great blessing to all the nations (Christ). The Christ – the Messiah – would be a man from the lineage of Abraham. But how would He be the “Seed of the woman”? The Prophet said:

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.

The miraculous Child, the Messiah, would be “Immanuel” or “God with us”. He would be virgin born. Further, the Christ would be born in Bethlehem:

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.

Furthermore God decreed that the Christ – when He came among humanity – would not only be from the lineage of Abraham, but He would come from the Jewish Tribe of Judah, from the lineage of King David. The Prophet said:

Jeremiah 23:5-6 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. 6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

God had promised a Christ – a Messiah would come. That this Messiah would bless the nations while destroying the works of the devil. This Messiah would be virgin born, born in Bethlehem, and born of the line of King David. This Messiah would be “God with us”, God in the flesh. Who is this wonderful Messiah? This brings us to our third word:

Jesus

The Lordship of God and the promise of the Christ
meets in the name of Jesus!

The name “Jesus” literally means “The Lord our Savior”. Before Jesus entered into this world the Angel Gabriel told Mary:

Luke 1:30-33 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Jesus would be born of a virgin, and would be “God with us”. He would rule an eternal kingdom (of His kingdom there shall be no end). How would Christ enter this world? 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.

Christ would be God. He would be God in the flesh. Why was Christ coming? The Angel Gabriel told Joseph:

Matthew 1:20-23 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.

Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the Prophet that God promised. As Peter preached in Jeruisalem he clearly stated that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

Acts 3:19-26 … 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. 22 For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. 23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. 24 Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. 25 Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. 26 Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.

Peter saw Jesus as the One Whom God through Moses prophesied:

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

Jesus is both Lord and Christ. He alone is both Lord and Christ. Many false prophets declare “there are many ways unto God” to which I reply, WHICH GOD? If you are speaking of the God of the Bible then there is but one way to read Him, and that is THROUGH JESUS.

Jesus is God the Son, Co-Creator with the Triune God.

Colossians 1:16-17 For by {Jesus} 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: 17And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Jesus is the Only One sent to redeem us. There is no other but JESUS!

Galatians 4:4 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.

As Russell Moore wrote:

In Jesus, all the promises of God find their “yes” and “amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20). Jesus is the heir of God’s promises to Abraham, and if we are hidden in Him, those promises become fully ours (Galatians 3:29). Those of us who were outsiders to God’s promises are now, in Him, by the Blood of His Cross, “brought near” to God (Ephesians 2:13). We are all now, in Jesus, “no longer strangers and aliens”, but “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). …

We are saved to be a people.”

As we come to the Lord’s Table this Sunday we recognize Jesus as more than just a man.

God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified,
both Lord and Christ.

There is no other Savior but Jesus. If you would be saved, you need to recognize Him as Lord. If you would be saved you need to recognize Jesus as Christ. If you would be saved then do as Peter said:

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.

Do your part and God will do His part. Repent, turn to Jesus and Jesus alone. Follow Him as Lord. Revere Him as Christ. When you do, you will be saved! Blessed be the Name of the Lord forever!

May God touch your hearts with His Word!

Posted in Acts, Sermons Preached | Tagged ,

Grieve Not The Spirit

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Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

In our day many people consider the Holy Spirit of God to be a power or a thing.

If you believe this you are not heeding what God’s Word says. The Holy Spirit of God is a Person, a Divine Person, the Third Member of the Triune Godhead. Some people point to the text of …

1 Thessalonians 5:19 Quench not the Spirit.

and say “See, the Spirit can be quenched.

You can quench thirst.
You can quench feelings.
You can
quench fire, but not a Person.

The Apostle was warning the Church not to resist the leadership of the Holy Spirit when he used the word σβέννυμι sbénnymi, (pronounced sben’-noo-mee). Many, many people have quenched or resisted the leading of the Spirit. One of my favorite songs in the hymnal was written by John W. Peterson in 1961. He was gripped and inspired by the words of our Lord Jesus when He spoke of the role of the Holy Spirit in John 16:

John 16:7-11 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

Inspired by these words Peterson wrote the hymn “Heaven Came Down:

Born of the Spirit with life from above;
Into God’s family divine,
Justified fully thru Calvary’s love,
O what a standing is mine!
And the transaction so quickly was made,
When as a sinner I came,
Took of the offer, of grace He did proffer,
He saved me, O praise His dear name!

What a wonderful song, and a wonderful blessing the Holy Spirit brings to us. The Spirit is NOT a power, though He is powerful.

The Spirit Is Called “He” By Our Lord Jesus

The Spirit of God glorifies Jesus.
The Spirit of God convicts us of sin.
The Spirit of God declares Jesus as the only Cure for sin.
The Spirit of God guides us to Jesus.

The Spirit warns of eternal punishment, and instructs us in living lives pleasing unto God. The Spirit of God takes the willing soul into the Family of God, indwells the believer, and then …

John 16:13 … when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

The Holy Spirit indwells the Christian so that He can ever be with us and guide us in the Family of God. The Apostle warned:

Romans 8:9 … Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

The Holy Spirit not only guides our Christian walk, but He guides our prayers. He indeed prays for us with groanings that cannot be heard by us:

Romans 8:26 … the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

The King James uses the wrong pronoun in this text. It should be “the Spirit HIMSELF”. It is the Holy Spirit who binds us into the Body of Christ, the Family of God (1 Corinthians 12:13). One proof that the Spirit of God is a Person is found in our text today:

Ephesians 4:30 And GRIEVE not the Holy Spirit of God

A power cannot be grieved.
My car battery cannot be grieved.
Electricity cannot be grieved.
Only a Person can be grieved!

The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Godhead. It is a dangerous thing to grieve God. When the world turned away from God but for Noah the Bible tells us that God was grieved:

Genesis 6:5-7 And 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; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

And when Israel rejected God’s leadership the Lord said:

Hebrews 3:10-12 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. 11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) 12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

God destroyed all but eight souls because He was “grieved” with that world. God destroyed an entire generation of Israel but for Joshua and Caleb because He was “grieved” with His people.

God will avenge wickedness. God will judge His people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31). The wise person will not grieve the Spirit, but will follow His leadings.

We Grieve The Spirit When We Reject Grace

Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are SEALED unto the day of redemption.

The first work of the Holy Spirit is to lead us to Christ. A Rabbi named Nicodemus was lead to Jesus by the Spirit of God one night. Jesus told him:

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

John 3:5-8 … Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

Jesus Christ died on Calvary and rose from the grave to make our salvation possible. Once we believe on Christ then God the Holy Spirit comes to us and changes us. Jesus called this being “born again”. When we enter this world we are physically alive but spiritually dead or separated from God. We are sinners without hope in ourselves. But thanks be unto God for Jesus christ our Savior. The Apostle Peter wrote:

1 Peter 1:2-5 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again {we are born again} unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

The Spirit of God opens our hearts up to the message of that glorious Gospel of Salvation – a Gospel only possible through our Beloved Jesus Christ. When we receive Christ as Lord and Savior, reckoning ourselves to be helpless sinners, the Spirit causes us to be born into the Family of God or born again. From that moment on the Spirit keeps us by His power – through faith unto salvation. The late great Adrian Rogers once said – and I love this:

“The faith that fizzles
before the finish was flawed from the first.”

The Bible is very clear that those who are born of the Spirit have an overcoming faith. We are told in:

1 John 5:4-5 For {whosoever} is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. {5} Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

Time after time the Scripture uses that term “overcoming” for the truly saved and Spirit indwelt believer.

Revelation 2:7 To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life.

Those who do not overcome will not receive of that eternal life!

Revelation 2:11 He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

Only those who have an overcoming faith shall not be cast into the Lake of Fire that burns forever and ever.

Revelation 2:17 Him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a new name.

Only those who overcome will be entered into the registry of Heaven!

Revelation 3:5 He that overcometh shall be clothed in white raiment, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life but will confess his name before My Father.

Only those who overcome will be announced in the courts of God.

Revelation 3:12 He that overcometh will I make a pillar in the Temple of My God, and he shall go no more out.

Only those who overcome will have a right to permanent residence in Heaven. The Christian indwelt by the Spirit has an OVERCOMING faith. Is it because we are strong? No.

Those Whom God Saves, He Keeps

Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are SEALED unto the day of redemption.

Praise God! It is God Who “seals” us. We should carefully examine ourselves whether we be in the faith or not. The Apostle warned the Church:

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

We are not to “work FOR” our salvation but to “work OUT” that salvation. If you are saved, then it will be evident in your life. Why? Because God the Holy Spirit is in you. There are many who PROFESS Christ but are not POSSESSED of Christ. When you are saved God the Holy Spirit enters the framework of your life, working in you to make you more like Christ daily as you practice the Christian disciplines of:

Bible reading and study
Prayer and fellowship with God
Loving support of your brethren in Christ
and Practical outworking of love toward God and others.

The Christian who is a Christian does not forget God except on holidays or hellish days. The Christian who is a Christian is indwelt of God. The Bible says of those who PROFESS but later WALK AWAY from God:

1 John 2:19-20 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. 20 But ye have an UNCTION from the Holy One, and ye know all things.

The word translated “unction” is the Greek χρῖσμα chrîsma, (pronounced khris’-mah) which means “An Anointing”. You are Anointed by the Holy Spirit of God, the Spirit of Truth that teaches you, if you are indeed a Christian. We are told just a few verses later:

1 John 2:27 … but the Anointing which you have received of Him (of Christ) ABIDETH IN YOU (lives in you), and you need not that any man teach you: but as the same Anointing TEACHETH YOU ALL THINGS and IS TRUTH, and is no lie, and even as (He) hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him.

Jesus told us in John 16:13 “when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth”. God saved you by His Blood. God now indwells you, dear Christian, by His Spirit. You will overcome because God overcomes.

Christians don’t overcome because they hold onto God. Christians, genuine Christians, overcome because God holds onto them!

What “Grieves” The Spirit of God?

Ephesians 4:30 … grieve not the Holy Spirit of God …

We are told in chapter one that God chose us to be HOLY and WITHOUT BLAME before Him IN LOVE (Ephesians 1:4-5). Having chosen to save us by the great sacrifice of Christ our Lord we who are His are predestined to the adoption of Children. God saved us from His wrath by pouring His wrath out on Christ. Since we have believed on Christ as Lord and Savior we are blameless.

God approaches us as Father, not Judge.
God approaches us as Elder Brother, not jury.
God approaches us as Comforter.
He loves us so very much!

  • It grieves God the Spirit when we reject His Word and His Church. We read:

Ephesians 4:11-13 {and God} gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

Once we are born again into the family of God the Lord begins to work in us, to perfect or mature the saints. As each saint grows in faith the Body of Christ the Church is edified, or built up. God used Apostles and Prophets to write His Word, Evangelists to spread His Word, and Pastor and Teachers to help the saints apply His Word. When professing believers walk apart from the Church that is Christ’s this grieves the Spirit of God. God has equipped His local Church – where ever it might be – to cherish and know the Word of God, the Bible. As we learn and apply the Word of God we become more and more Christlike. God is working in us to bring us all to the unity of the faith, His light in this dark world.

Many local Churches have become like tumbleweeds or children acting like tumbleweeds:

Ephesians 4:14-15 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15B ut speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

Too many professing Christians have abandoned the Word of God as they chase after every trend and vanity this world has to offer. If you’ve ever seen a tumbleweed you will see that, as it rolls, it picks up all kinds of trash and dead things.

We are not to be tumbleweeds,
But trees planted by the Water of God’s Word!

Ephesians 4:17-19 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

God’s Children are not to harden their hearts to His Word. We are not to be empty headed, chasing fads and fetishes. Our minds are to be filled with God’s Word!

  • It grieves God the Holy Spirit when we embrace worldliness.

Ephesians 4:22-25 That ye put off concerning the former conversation 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. 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

You are no longer lost like the world. You belong to God. You are to put away every filthy way of the world, and be like Christ. You are to walk with integrity and honesty.

Ephesians 4:28-29 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

Do not take what is not yours. Do not be lazy, nor a conspirator. If we are saved and God the Holy Spirit indwells us let us guard our tongues, speaking words that build up others, not tear them down.

  • It grieves God the Holy Spirit when we embrace disharmony and division.

Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

We are to reject the operation of the flesh. We are to reject anything that is not from the God Who loves us. We are to be like Christ, Who was always kind to others, compassionate and forgiving. The Bible tells us in:

1 John 4:7-8 7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

In the local Church where love prevails – love for God and for our fellow creature – Christ will eventually win out. His light shines through us when we are yielded to His Word and His Spirit. The Lord cannot use a self centered Christian to win the world, nor can He use an apathetic or selfish Church to

bring revival to America. Yield to God, dear believer! Sing your songs to Him. Do not yawn throughout the invitation, but pray – pray that God the Holy Spirit will touch a heart and bring a life to salvation today. Pray that God will remove the blinders of sin and doubt from one more person’s eyes. Pray that someone today will:

Acts 3:19-20 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.

God cannot save the soul that will not repent, nor can He use the Church that will not yield. Be His Body as the invitation is given, that God’s Spirit might lift up an erring heart to that Old Rugged Cross.

May God touch your hearts with His Word!

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Anger And Anger Management

Anger & Anger Management

Ephesians 4:25-27 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil.

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Jim (not his real name) and his wife were traveling at the speed limit down a long, curvy country road. Both were enjoying the beauty of the country side when another car traveling much faster that it should raced up behind them and rode their bumper. After about a minute the car started flashing its lights and blowing the horn. Jim let anger take him. Before the day was over Jim would kill the other driver, and end up in Federal Prison for manslaughter. A beautiful day turned into several ugly years – all because of uncontrolled anger.

Before the incident Jim was a Deacon in his local Church.. Now in prison anger – like fiery chains – holds his soul enslaved just as surely as the bars hold his body.

What Is “Sin”?

The Bible says “Be ye angry, and SIN not…”. What is this thing we call “sin”?

Sin is the opposite of godliness.

To sin is to walk in a state that God does not endorse. All of us sin at times. In fact, sin is universal among humanity. The Bible declares:

Romans 3:10-12 (KJV) 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.

The Bible doesn’t say “there are SOME righteous” but “there are NONE righteous”. The Greek word for SIN is ἁμαρτάνω hamartánō, (pronounced ham-ar-tan’-o) which means “to miss the mark”. God is holy, righteous, and pure. Humans in our natural state are NOT holy, righteous, and pure. We “miss the mark” of God’s righteousness.

SIN is the desire to put SELF FIRST

When God created man He made us to be like Himself. God made us in HIS IMAGE and after HIS LIKENESS.

Genesis 1:26-27 (KJV) …. Let us make man in our image, after our likeness27 So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Man was made in the image of God – but was not made to be God. Adam and Eve were designed to serve God FIRST, and help themselves AFTER. Creation was designed to be very good (Genesis 1:31). Our good God made everything good. Man could have anything but one thing. God told Adam:

Genesis 2:16-17 (KJV) … Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Man was given authority over everything, was made in the image of God, was paired with the most beautiful woman in all creation, and placed in a perfect and sinless environment. God only had one condition: do not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge. God is God and I am not.

God is to be first in my affections, not I. I am to love God and obey God.

SATAN the selfish angel encouraged Adam to put himself rather than God first. He does the same today with all who will listen.

Satan in the guise of a serpent comes into the perfect environment of Eden (see Ezekiel 28:13). What is his message to our forefather? “Go ahead, eat the forbidden! …”

Genesis 3:4-5 (KJV) …. 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.

Adam put himself in the place of God. He did what God said he should not do. We repeat this pattern daily billions of times throughout the world. Sin is the act of pitting self first – above God and above others.

When Adam took the place of God and made himself first, he brought spiritual death on every living creature and on every child that would be born. Creation itself became me centered instead of God centered. People and even animals are by nature selfish.

The Christian is commanded to put off the works of the flesh – works that are selfish or ME driven.

Galatians 5:19-24 (KJV) Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Anger or wrath is placed in the list of sins that we are to crucify – nailing it to the Cross. There can be a righteous anger. The Lord our God at times gets ANGRY (see Genesis 18:30; Leviticus 10:2-6; 1 Kings 11:9; Psalm 80:4). Our Lord Jesus at times got ANGRY (see John 11:33). I am reminded of the time that our Lord Jesus …

Mark 11:15-17 (KJV)Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; 16 And would not suffer that any man should carry [any] vessel through the temple. 17 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Jesus got angry, and the Bible says in Hebrews 4:15 that Jesus Christ was without sin. So it is possible to be angry and not sin. But our Galatians list reminds us that unless carefully controlled anger can become sin.

Righteous anger stems from a desire to see God honored.
Human anger stems from a selfish heart.

Human anger focuses on the ME, MYSELF, and I:

Someone cut ME off in traffic
Someone hurt MY feelings
Someone made ME feel little or small
How can he speak to ME that way?

What Is The Source Of My Anger?

In order to control my anger I need to first of all ask myself WHY AM I ANGRY.

Where is the seed of my anger planted?

If it is planted in self or vindication of self then it is unrighteous anger. The Bible says:

James 1:19-20 (KJV) Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

The “wrath OF MAN” or uncontrolled anger planted in my ego is NEVER productive and ALWAYS destructive. Anger like poison ivy spreads as it touches the soul. It can transmit from one person to another unless it be cut off. Anger is almost like a communicable disease. When one person gets angry that anger generally rubs off on another person, and another and another, until the whole house burns down. This is why the Psalmist wrote:

Psalms 37:8-9 (KJV) Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. 9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.

There is a righteous anger, for Jesus expressed righteous anger. Neither you nor I are Jesus, but we’re supposed to be like Jesus.

Christ is the Vine, and we are His branches (John 15:5). The fruit that our Lord wants to is not anger, but love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and tenderness. God does not want our fruit of Anger. We are told to pick that fruit and toss it into the dumpster of the world. The Bible says:

Colossians 3:8-10 (KJV) But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10 And have put on the new [man], which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

Anger leads to wrath. Wrath leads to malice. Malice leads to blasphemy. Blasphemy leads to filthiness. Let’s cut the chain at its head. Now saved, let us put on the new man – we through application of God’s Word and the power of the Holy Spirit seek to be more like Christ.

Like TNT anger can be useful, but only when handled in a constructive manner. Remember that Jesus was only angry a few times in His ministry.

The most important thing for us to remember is that every soul needs to be won to Christ. Let us tell the world of Jesus, loving them, even when they are our enemies. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:43-47 (KJV) Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 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?

Methods Of Anger Management

The Bible gives us several methods for anger management.

a When angered, ask yourself “Why am I angry”? Determine what soil your anger is rooted in. Is it rooted in LOVE? If so, remember that …

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (KJV) 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.

The word translated “provoked” is a Greek word παροξύνω paroxýnō, (pronounced par-ox-oo’-no) which means “to provoke to anger or exasperation”. Often when I am angered it is because I didn’t get my own way. Is that why you are angry? Are you angry because your ego was bruised, your pride was hurt, or because God’s Word was abused by an offending party. The disciple of Christ is ever mindful that the world is watching us. Jesus said:

John 13:35 (KJV) By this shall all [men] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

The disciple of Christ is distinguished not by whether he is right or wrong, nor by whether or not we get our own way – but by the love that we show to others. Any anger rooted in the ego is unrighteous anger, and counterproductive to our Great Commission and the heart of our Lord.

b When angered, carefully monitor your anger. The Bible says:

Ephesians 4:25-27 (KJV) Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil.

Do not let anger control you. You need to carefully monitor your anger to insure that the Devil doesn’t get the upper hand. One of my favorite movies is called The Shining. Though the movie has a small amount of foul language in it, it is a great representation as to how the devil can take over a person through anger. Listen Beloved, anger can lead us to make a foolish decision that can cost us our spouse, our children, our families, our jobs, and even our ministries.

Set a time limit on your anger!

The Bible tells us that a good rule of thumb is do not let the sun go down on your anger. Among the Jews the day was reckoned from sunset to sunset. When the sun set a new day began. The Apostle says to us, “Don’t let anger abide in the tent of your life for more than one day”. Anger unresolved over a period of time turns into bitterness that scars the soul.

c Keep your anger in a proper Biblical perspective. Our Lord Jesus said:

Matthew 5:21-22 (KJV) Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

The Bible tells us that God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). When I am angry at a fellow Christian I need to remember that this person – like me – is a Child of God by faith in Christ (Galatians 3:26). If I am angry at my brother without a cause, I am endangering myself, and exposing myself to the Judgment of God. Why? Because the Scripture says:

1 John 3:10 (KJV) In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

That which shows I am a Child of God is that I do right and love my brother in Christ. If my brother is offended by me then I am to do as Jesus said.

Matthew 5:23-24 (KJV) Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

I cannot serve the Lord while my brother is alienated from me because of anger. Jesus commanded that we both sit down at a table of peace and resolve the conflict – then go back to serving God. Hatred, anger, and grudge carrying is inconsistent with the life of faith.

Leviticus 19:17-18 (KJV) Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him. 18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I [am] the LORD.

If the person you are angry at is not a Child of God, remember still that Jesus Christ died for the world. Forgive, and let bygones be bygones, and maybe you can win this one to Christ. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).

d Do what Jesus tells us to do when angered. Jesus gave us a very detailed system for dealing with offenses.

Matthew 18:15 (KJV) Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

to first try and work out a peaceable solution one on one with your brother. Sit down and have a cup of coffee together. Try and reach and understanding and a reconciliation without involving anyone else. Secondly Jesus said:

Matthew 18:16 (KJV) But if he will not hear [thee, then] take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

to take a witness or two with you and again go back and talk to your brother. Perhaps the different perspectives of the witnesses will help resolve the issue. If the matter is still unresolved Jesus said:

Matthew 18:17 (KJV) And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell [it] unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

Only after all other methods are used are we to take the matter before the Church. The Church then becomes the witness and the judge. At this point the angry issue will be resolved or, if necessary, the offending party will be recognized as a heathen or unbelieving person.

e Choose your companions wisely, and avoid those who are quick to anger. The Bible says:

Proverbs 22:24-25 (KJV) Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: 25 Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.

The best way to get in trouble is to choose troublemakers for friends. The Bible warns us against befriending hot headed people. In most cases hot headed people do not benefit from exposure to a cool headed person, but hot headed people rub off on others. Choose who you call “friend” wisely.

Love all people, but love hot headed angry people at a distance.

f Be a peacemaker for the glory of God. Choose to do the right thing. Refuse to stir up strife.

Proverbs 15:18 (KJV) A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but [he that is] slow to anger appeaseth strife.

Think, and choose your words carefully, controlling your tongue in love.

Proverbs 15:1 (KJV) A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Think before you speak, and make sure you answer the argumentative person with Biblical love. Do not give back evil for evil, but trust that the Lord will protect you from harm (Proverbs 20:22). The Bible says that the servant of the Lord must not quarrel, but be kind to others (2 Timothy 2:24), and forgiving to others as Christ forgave us (Ephesians 4:29-32).

We who are saved by faith in Christ are called to work together to save souls and bring God’s Kingdom on the earth. Let’s keep the big picture in focus. The work we are doing is eternal work, God’s work, and we will one day be rewarded by the Master.

Posted in General | Tagged , ,

The Most Important Connection You’ll Ever Make

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John 15:1-2 {Jesus said} I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

Are You “Connected”?

I recently read of a man in Los Angeles who nearly got in bad trouble texting. He heard a commotion outside, and walked outside his apartment to see what was happening as he was texting. He nearly ran into a 400 pound black bear. Though he escaped others were not so lucky. People have walked into swimming pools, walked into rivers, and been hit by cars while texting. More than 10,000 people seek emergency treatment every year because they are not looking where they are going while texting. We as a people are more technologically connect than ever before – but less connected on a personal level with our Creator and with our fellow man.

The Bible is all about being connected.

When Jesus was asked what the heartbeat of God’s Law was His answer was not baptism nor tithing nor Church membership. What did Jesus say?

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.

God wants us to live a connected life that matters: a life that connects to Him and a life that connects to those around us. Social media can be used to increase connectivity, but technology can disconnect us from both God and man. The most important connection you can make is not on Facebook, Linked In, Instagram, or Twitter. Your most important connection is to personally and spiritually bind to the Lord Jesus Christ.

We All Need To Connect To Jesus

John 15:1 I am the true vine

There are three parties in this teaching of Jesus. There is Jesus Himself, and what He calls Himself is “The True Vine”. Then there is the Father Whom Jesus says is the Husbandman. Husbandman is the old English word for the Gardener. Then the third party is the Branches in Jesus. The Branches are those who have believed in Christ, receiving Him as Lord and Savior. The overall message here is about life. Not death, but life.

To have true life you must be in Christ.

You must be attached to the True Vine if you are going to have true life. Jesus declared that “I am the True Vine”. There have been many who have claimed to be God’s Way unto Heaven. Jesus said in Mark 13:22 “false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce”.

The Vine is where life is.
The Vine has the root in which life flows.
Jesus Christ is the True Vine.

In the early Church the Apostle Peter warned about connecting with the wrong people. He said:

2 Peter 2:1-2 there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

The false teacher offers connections to God through means other than Jesus Christ. Some false teachers offer connectivity through music. Others through entertainment. I have heard it said that television does not only entertain, it instructs and shapes. There are false teachers and false teachings all around.

But Jesus Christ is true!

  • Jesus is (John 1:9) “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world”. “ The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17).
  • Jesus is “the True Bread from Heaven” (John 6:32). There is no other way to life with God the Father outside of a loving relationship with Jesus Christ.
  • A connected relationship with Jesus Christ is the only way to know God. Jesus said:

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

We connect with Jesus by not by man made technology, but with God inspired faith. We “call upon His Name”. We ask Him to save us, to bring us into union with Him and with the Father. We are told:

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. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 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. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

When you receive Jesus as the True Vine – the Lord and Savior of your life – then He binds you with Him. You then stand justified:

Romans 3:24-26 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation (satisfactory payment) through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

When you receive Jesus Christ as that True Vine from God, the Holy Spirit attaches you to Christ.

Your sins are forgiven because of Christ.
You are at peace with God because of Christ.
You are a son or daughter of God because of Christ.
You have an inheritance stored up for you in Heaven because of Christ.

Through the Vine and the Branches flows the same life, the same essence, the same root. Because of Jesus:

Ephesians 2:4-10 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Attached to Jesus by faith the Christian has an eternal destiny. God saved us by His eternal love and by His Son’s magnificent sacrifice and resurrection. Christ sits on the right hand of God even now making intercession for those Who are His:

Romans 8:32-35 … 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? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 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. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

The True Vine loves His Branches. He loves you! But here is an important point.

If you are INDEED branches, you are to bear kingdom fruit.

 I am amused as well as somewhat irritated by “Social Network Protests”. I see these all the time. It goes like this: “If you agree with this or that, repost this”. Or “Facebook took down this picture. Let’s repost it!” Now I uphold your right as Americans to your free speech. But let me ask –

Has anything been really changed by reposting a picture or by social network indignation? No, not a thing. Never. Zip.

Jesus Christ saved us and bound His life to us so that we could literally and spiritually produce fruit. This is what He is emphasizing in this chapter. Every branch is to produce fruit, to be Light, to let that which Jesus gives shine out through your life. This is what the Apostle emphasizes in:

1 Corinthians 3:9 … we are laborers together with God: ye are God’s {garden}, ye are God’s building.

Every Christian is a Branch off of Jesus the True Vine. And God left you on this earth to bear fruit for His Kingdom
and His glory!

Our Heavenly Father Is The Gracious Gardener

John 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

The word translated husbandman (γεωργός geōrgos) is an Old English word for a Vine Dresser, that is, a Gardener. In our world – particularly in Columbia Tennessee – there are many people who have lawn care businesses. In the ancient world there were Vine Dressers, people who specialized in getting the highest yield of harvested fruit possible from fruiting vine branches. How would they do this? Jesus used the Vine Dressers and their techniques to explain what the Father does to us who are “Branches”. He said:

John 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he TAKETH AWAY …

Our Heavenly Father Lifts Us Up

The words “taketh away” is the Greek αἴρω aírō, (pronounced ah’-ee-ro, Present Active Indicative). This word can mean “to lift up, to bind up, to support, to raise up”. This same word is used in Matthew 16 where Jesus told us:

Matthew 16:24 If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and TAKE UP his Cross, and follow me.

We who are His are expected to TAKE UP or LIFT UP the Cross, that wonderful symbol of sacrificial and unselfish love, and follow Jesus. To TAKE UP means to LIFT UP. If you are in Jesus and are not bearing fruit the Father TAKES YOU UP, raises you up. I love the words in:

Psalm 145:14-20 The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down. The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them. The Lord preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy.

The Lord God loves the Branches for the Son’s sake. He knows that Christ gave His all for us. When we are discouraged, when we are down, when the trials of life seem to just overwhelm us, at times like that we cannot be fruitful. The branch is struggling. God will lift you up.

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

Oh Blessed Be the Name of the Lord! Praise Him for His loving encouragement. When I am weak then He comes to me. He reaches out in love and ties the weak branch up, binding me tighter to Jesus through prayer and His Word. He binds me with cords of love.

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

Isaiah 12:2-4 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. And in that day shall ye say, Praise the Lord, call upon his name

Praise Him! Praise Him! So often I have been down, weak, unable. I have gone to Him in prayer. I have cried out as the fathers did. Then did my Father come and lift me up.

Isaiah 40:29-31 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

If you are Jesus’ Child by Faith then the Father will bear you up. He wants you to be fruitful. He has left you on this earth to bear fruit for His glory!

Our Heavenly Father Prunes The Branch

John 15:2 … and every branch that beareth fruit, he PURGETH it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

The Old English word for “purge” is the Present Active Indicative of καθαίρω kathairō, which means “to prune, to cut away impurities so as to make fruitful”. The Vine Dresser would access every branch to see if it was putting out fruit. If the branch was otherwise healthy the Vine Dresser would cut away some of the branch. You see, the fruitless branch is investing too much energy in itself. You, dear believer, are bound to the Vine that is Christ not just to have an easy ride to Heaven. God expects you to be FRUITFUL. When you are placing all your energy in life in satisfying yourself or living for yourself the Father will prune you. I was thinking about this the other day when I came across this instance in the life of the Apostle Paul. We read:

2 Corinthians 12:7-8 .. there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

Now Jesus told us to “take up your Cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). I have heard people speak of their “Cross” as being an illness or some life altering condition that you have. That’s not the Cross. The Cross is VOLUNTARY, not thrust upon us.

There is a difference between a Cross and a Thorn!
The only One Who ever took up a THORN was Jesus.
The Cross is voluntary.
The Thorn is thrust upon us.

Thorns” came upon us when Adam fell into sin (Genesis 3:18). Thorns represent the corruption of sin. When Jesus died on the Cross, He died with a Crown of thorns for a reason (John 19:2). Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world. He voluntarily picked up the Cross and gave Himself for us, and we in turn are to pick up the Cross and give ourselves voluntarily to others.

Thorns are different than Crosses. The Apostle asked the Lord to take away this thorn in the flesh that he had three times. The thorn was given to Paul to humble him “lest I be exalted above measure”. The thorn is suffering. After praying THREE TIMES that the thorn be removed the Lord told Paul:

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 … My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

This is the Father’s pruning of the Branch. When we are too full of ourselves to be used of God to bear fruit the Father prunes us. He prunes us by thorns, by trials, by suffering. He does this so that we will be more fruitful. I heard a preacher say one time that “God never tries His children”. Beloved, if you believe this then you are worshiping a false god, not the God of the Scripture.

God tried Abraham when He told him in:

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

God brings trials and tribulations to us to prune us, to prove us, to make us more productive.

James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Our Father prunes us, shapes us, and makes us more fruitful. Have you ever noticed how God is described in Scripture?

God is our Shepherd. (Psalm 23:1)
God is our Potter. (Isaiah 64:8)
God is our Vine Dresser. (John 15:1)

In every case the Father cuts away or removes part of us to make us more fruitful.

God SHEARS the sheep.
God SHAPES the pot.
God SLICES away parts of the branch.

Every trial that comes our way is under His loving gaze. God continually works in His children to make us more fruitful!

Hosea 6:1 Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.

The pruning of God on the Branch makes us draw closer to Him. God’s Grace is sufficient for us all. Let us bind to Him, and love Him, knowing all things are under His control. When tried, remember His Word.

Let Us Branches Cling To Jesus!

John 15:3 Now ye are CLEAN through the word which I have spoken unto you.

Again we need to refer to the original text. The word translated “CLEAN” is καθαρός katharos which means “To be purified”. We are brought into a right relationship with God our Father through the Word of Christ. When trials come, cling to Jesus. Focus upon His Word. Seek His face in Prayer. God our Father wants us to be fruitful. How can we be fruitful?

John 15:4-5 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. 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.

No Christian shall be fruitful who is not abiding in Christ’s Word. No Church shall be fruitful that is not abiding in Christ’s Word. Without Him we can do nothing. We desperately need Jesus. Not just to save us, but to be in our lives every moment of every day. This is where power is. It is in abiding in Him! Pastor Scott Hubbard wrote:

As you come to your Bible, then, expect God to do just what he says he will: teach you, reprove you, correct you, train you (2 Timothy 3:16). Might we even be so bold as to pray for him to do so? “Whatever idols need to be shattered, shatter them. Whatever lies need to be broken, break them. Discomfort me, rework me, unsettle me — whatever it takes to bring me to you.” Such a prayer is worth the pain. For after God has stripped us of our pride, self-sufficiency, and comfortable illusions, what will be left? Joy. Freedom. The hope of glory. Christ himself.”

What happens when we do not abide in Christ? Jesus tells us:

John 15:6 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.

I had someone tell me once this is the picture of the Christian who loses his salvation then goes to hell. No, this text has nothing to do with backsliders going to hell. Jesus said of the unproductive and withered branch and MEN gather them. Not God. Not angels. MEN. People. What is Jesus warning of? It is exactly this:

When the Christian and the Church become like the lost world, the lost world will control us and destroy us. This happened to the Church in Germany in World War II. This is happening to the American Church in many cities today. When there is no difference in connectivity between the lost and the saved, then nothing but destruction comes. How do we avoid this?

John 15:7-8 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

God wants us as His Church to be fruitful. The only way we can be fruitful is to connect to Jesus. To do as He says. To love as He loved. To serve as He served. Nothing else will suffice. The Church that focuses on worldliness soon becomes one with the world. In that case Jesus warned us in Revelation 2:5

repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”

Let His Church repent, and seek His face. Let us shine for Him so He will shine through us. May God touch us all with His Word!

Posted in Jesus, Johanan Sermons, John, Law Of God, Love One Another, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , ,

Being Faithful With What You Have

A message on Business Meeting Night

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Photo by Anuja Mary on Unsplash

Luke 16:1-13 And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. 2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. 3 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. 4 I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. 5 So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? 6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. 7 Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. 8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. 9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. 10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. 11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

God has been putting the parables of Jesus on my heart lately – and tonight we’ve got a doozy! One Commentary stated:

Luke 16:1-8 contains probably the most difficult parable in Luke”
Darrell L. Bock, Luke

This parable is only found in the Book of Luke, though the conclusion:

Luke 16:13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Is also found in Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

A couple of interesting things about this parable is that it serves as a bridge between the previous parable (the parable of two sons) and the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. In this parable the unjust steward” (verse 8) did the same thing that the younger son did in the parable of the two sons

Luke 15:13 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.

Luke 16:1 There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.

The “unjust steward” was supposed to properly manage all that he had for his Master Who was far away. Yet the “unjust steward” did not manage his assets. His lifestyle became such that others knew he was not fulfilling his duty. The “certain Rich Man” became upset at this report he received, so He sent a message to the “unjust steward”:

Luke 16:2 And {the Rich Man} called {the unjust steward), and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.

The Rich Man fired the steward outright! His position was terminated, and his services were no longer needed. The Rich Man wanted the unjust steward to send him the books – to “give an account of thy stewardship”. But the Rich Man told him plainly “thou mayest be no longer steward”. You’re fired! There’s no second chances here.

The unjust steward is at the end of his rope. What in the world is he going to do? Now here’s where it gets interesting. The steward does something that Jesus commends him for. We read:

Luke 16:3-4 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. 4 I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.

The steward know that his time is short. He is going to be cast out into the street. Just as the wayward young son was, he is about to find himself in a horrible place. So what does the steward do?

He decides to use what he has for the future.
He doesn’t have long, but he’s going to invest what he has wisely!

Luke 16:5-6 So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? 6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.

The commentaries spend their time trying to figure out exactly how much “a hundred measures of (olive) oil is”, but that’s what makes this parable so difficult. The parable is not meant to be difficult. Jesus said that the reason He spoke in parables is so His disciples can understand Kingdom truths (see Matthew 13:10-17).

Matthew 13:10-11 10 And the disciples came, and said unto {Jesus}, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

Unbelievers only need to know how to be saved in Christ. Believers, however, are indwelt and guided by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; Romans 8:9; Acts 2:38; James 4:5; Romans 5:5). If you are Spirit filled the Lord will guide you into understanding His truths. If you are NOT Spirit filled, you will not understand. What did the unjust steward do?

He simply reduced by 50% what one person owed on oil.
Now was he stealing from his employer?
Absolutely not!
First of all, Jesus would not commend stealing.
Second of all, the Rich Man would not commend
theft from himself!

We read in verse 8:

And the lord commended the unjust steward,
because he had done wisely

People just don’t do that … and Jesus was NOT saying that theft was WISE. Theft is a sin against God and man (Exodus 20:15; Romans 13:9). The Bible tells us:

Ephesians 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

The Lord Jesus is not commending stealing when the unjust steward when he called the second debtor:

Luke 16:7 Then said he to another, And How Much Owest Thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.

and tells him to reduce what he owes on wheat by 20%. This is not theft. Do you know what the unjust steward is doing?

He is giving away his commission!
He is giving away what is owed to him.
He was worshiping money, and living for money.
Now he is giving away all that is due him
so that when his current life is ended
he can be blessed in the next stage of life.

The Master commended this repentant but previously unjust servant for his wisdom in using his funds wisely. Now Jesus tells us, His disciples, that we are to:

Luke 16:9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

The key to this parable is in the words “when you fail they may receive you into everlasting habitations”. This unjust steward used what was his to benefit others so that when he was homeless he could go and work for them. Jesus tells us to use what is ours to make friends – to win people to Him. Every person we win to Christ will one day meet us in Heavenreferred to as “Everlasting Habitations”. There is no everlasting habitation on this earth. Everything on this earth is temporal, passing. But there are two Everlasting Habitations found on the other side of the veil.

One is Heaven.
The other is Hell.

Everyone you meet and talk to is headed toward Heaven or Hell. Those who receive Christ as Savior and Lord are headed toward Heaven. Those who reject Christ as Savior … like the rich man discussed in the next parable (you remember “The Rich Man and Lazarus” of Luke 16:19-31). That which God has given us MUST be used so that we can win others to Christ. God is not honored when Churches become banks where money is stored or museums where people come to see the old things. The Church’s mission has been and will always be to win the world for Christ.

Period.

What we as disciples do with our money will one day be judged. If we invest it wisely to win others to Christ our Master – Who has “saved us and called us with a holy calling” (2 Timothy 1:9) will commend us. When we use what He has given us for Christ’s glory then He will bless us with other things. Jesus emphasizes this by saying:

Luke 16:10-12 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. 11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?

Jesus told us in another place to “store up our treasures

Matthew 6:19-21 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.

Jesus ends this parable with …

Luke 16:13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

The things that our Lord has allowed us to have are but on loan to us. Everything we have – our homes, our church, our community, our nation, even ourselves – all belongs to God the Son. Jesus Christ is the “Heir of all things” (Hebrews 1:2), and by Him all things are reconciled to God (Colossians 1:20). Let us heed our Jesus and use what He has given to us for His glory.

We may not have tomorrow!

May Christ touch your hearts with His Word!

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