And It Came To Pass

Photo by Cedric Froehlich on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to Luke chapter 2.

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

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

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

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

Is God Gone Away?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Is There, And In Control – ALWAYS

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

Isaiah 55:8-9 my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus is the Bread of Life!

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

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

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

God Intended His Lamb To Be In A Manger

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

Genesis 22:2 Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

This son is Abraham’s only begotten son. He has just had this child in his old age. Abraham was a hundred years old (Genesis 21:5) when Isaac was born. We do not know how much time passed from Isaac’s birth till the command of God, but we do know that Isaac was old enough to accompany his father and to carry the wood of the sacrifice.

Abraham does as God requests. On the third day (Genesis 22:4) Abraham and Isaac climb to the top of Mount Moriah (Genesis 22:2), the same place where Solomon would one day build the Temple of God (2 Chronicles 3:1). Once they built the altar, Isaac asks his father:

Genesis 22:7-8 … my father … 8 Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?

Abraham’s answer? Genesis 22:8 … My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering:

After Isaac willingly laid himself down on the altar, and Abraham went to sacrifice him, it was then that God stopped him. Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked (Genesis 22:13) … and there he found the lamb of God. Isaac did not die because “God provided Himself a lamb for a burnt offering”. Abraham named that place Jehovah-Jireh (Genesis 22:14), meaning “the Lord will provide”.

Why is Jesus Christ laid as a baby in a manger? God provided Himself a Lamb for the burnt offering”. Where else would you find a lamb, a sacrificial lamb, but in a manger? Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God. John the Baptist would later declare on seeing Jesus:

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

Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God, sent to take away the sin of the world. He is the replacement for the animal sacrifices that Israel made year after year. These sacrifices could not satisfy our Holy God – they were but shadows.

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

God will provide Himself a sacrifice for sin. That Child born on that holy night so long ago is the Lamb of God. He was see by the Prophet Isaiah:

Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

This precious Baby of Mary’s will grow up to be “the satisfactory payment for our sins, and not just for ours, but for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2, my paraphrase). Jesus Christ – the Lamb of God!

1 Peter 1:18-20 … ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you

It is God in that small baby, sent to redeem us. It is God willing to die for us. It is God alone Who is worthy to atone for sin. It is God you receive as Lord and Savior, causing your name to be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 13:8). All Heaven declares (Revelation 5:12) “Worthy is the Lamb Who was slain”. Jesus Christ is the sent Messiah (Luke 10:16; Mark 9:37; John 13:20). Jesus Christ is Shiloh prophesied, the One Sent of God:

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

Where better a Lamb to be than in a manger?

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

Jesus is the Lamb in the Throne of God in yonder Heaven (Revelation 22:3). Christ died for us! (Romans 5:8).

The Shepherds {Jews} See The Lamb Of God FIRST

Luke 2:8-14 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

These Shepherds are watching sheep – lambs – that one day will be used as sacrificial animals. Only the best of the lambs can be used to make payment for sins on the altar of God. These Shepherds can identify a lamb without blemish (Leviticus 1:3; Deuteronomy 15:21), prized as a sacrifice for sins. The Angel of God comes to these Shepherds first, for God promised the Messiah to the Jews FIRST. That which God has foreordained in Christ Jesus will replace the “dead works of the Law” (Hebrews 9:14) by “a NEW and LIVING WAY” (Hebrews 10:20). No longer will the people need to approach God through the Temple and the Blood Altar. This baby Lamb in that manger will establish the only Way unto God. The Angel tells the Shepherd:

Luke 2:10 Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people

In this past year we have seen more riots over perceived “racism”, statues torn down, “critical race theories” pushed forth. Do you want to see racism end? It will not end by legislation, but by faith in Jesus Christ. Racism is something that sinful humanity created. The Bible speaks nothing of “races”. The only times the word “race” is used in Scripture, it is in reference to competitive running. The Bible speaks of nations, of peoples. The Apostle Paul preached:

Acts 17:24-27 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25 neither is worshiped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26 and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

In humanity, God has made us all OF ONE BLOOD. We all bleed red. We are of ONE BLOOD, one race, the HUMAN race.

That Lamb of God in the Manger came to this earth through Mary to be the sole means of salvation for all people. There is no other way to peace with God. There is no other way to peace with other peoples. Jesus is…

Luke 2:10 a Savior, which is Christ the Lord

When you receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, His sacrifice on Calvary, His Blood, is the covering for your sins. It is through Jesus Christ that the insanity of sin is rejected. Beloved, all who are in Christ by faith are my brothers and my sisters. My family is not distinguished by outward color, but by inward faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Praise God!

Luke 2:14 … Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men

Hearing this good news, the Shepherds did not wait. The Bible says:

Luke 2:15-17 … the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

Do you want to see world peace? Then you must tell others about Jesus. Do you want to see racism die? Then you must tell others about Jesus. It is only this faith in Christ that changes the human heart.

Luke 2:18-20 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Do you know Him? Do you know the Jesus of Scripture? If you know Him, then you should be glorifying and praising God for this great gift of life. Jesus Christ came that you might have life, and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). The greatest gift that God could give you is His Son Jesus. The greatest gift you can receive this holiday season is Jesus. The greatest gift you can give to others is Jesus Christ. Oh Beloved, if you do not knows Him, repent and turn to Him today. I heard this the other day – I do not know where. But I agree with this.

“If Your Repentance Did Not Change Your Life, Then You Need To Repent Of Your Repentance”

Come to Jesus Christ today. Receive Him as Lord and Savior. Believe He is the Lamb of God Who died for you. Believe He is the Son of God Who gives you eternal life. He lives, so we live! May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit! Amen and Amen.

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A Christmas Light

Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

Tonight we’ll be in two chapters of the Scripture. In the Old Testament, we’ll be in Isaiah chapter 42. In the New Testament, we’ll be in Matthew chapter 2.

In Isaiah chapter 42, God spoke through the Prophet concerning Jesus Christ our Lord. We read:

Isaiah 42:1-4 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. 2 He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. 3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. 4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.

We know that this is a prophecy of the Coming Jesus because, after Jesus healed the man with the withered hand, the Pharisees gathered and held a council as to how to destroy Jesus (Matthew 12:14). The Bible then quotes our Isaiah text:

Matthew 12:15-21 But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; 16 and charged them that they should not make him known: 17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by {Isaiah} the prophet, saying, 18 Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. 19 He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. 20 A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. 21 And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.

When Jesus came, He came to bring the love of God and compassion to all He saw. This is why the text states “a bruised reed shall He not break, and a smoking flax shall He not quench”. In two places in our text we are told of the Messiah that:

vs 18 … he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles

vs 21 … in his name shall the Gentiles trust

Jesus The Messiah Would Also Come For The Gentiles

Isaiah 42:16 And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.

In Christ, God would reach out to save not just Israel, but all who will believe in Him. This is not the first time that God let Israel know that He wanted to save the Gentiles as well. Through the Prophet, the Lord said:

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

During this Christmas Season you will see “Nativity Scenes” in Churches and on lawns throughout the nation. In most nativity scenes you will see the Baby Jesus in a manger, Mary and Joseph, some shepherds, and three wise men. This seems to be the standard formula. Though the shepherds came to see the Baby Jesus, the Scripture says:

Luke 2:12, 16 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. … 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

The Shepherds saw, not the Wise Men, but Joseph, Mary, and the Baby Jesus in a manger. On the other hand, when the Wise Men came to see Jesus, He was NOT in a manger, NOR was Joseph there. We read:

Matthew 2:11 And when {the Wise Men} were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him …

The Wise Men only saw Mary and Jesus, and both were in a house. What is most interesting to me is that

Luke, a Gentile Physician, wrote about the Jewish Shepherds going to see Jesus in a manger. Matthew, a Jew and a Levite, wrote about the Wise Men who were Gentiles who went to see the young child Jesus in a house.

Both Jews and Gentiles saw the Messiah shortly after He came into the world. Though they did not see Him at the same time, the Jews saw Him first, and the Gentiles last. This is because the Gospel of salvation was offered:

Romans 1:16 … to the Jew FIRST, and also to the Greek {Héllēn, Gentiles}

God made promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well as to King David concerning the coming of the Messiah. Therefore it is no mystery why Jesus would be revealed to the Jew first. It was the Shepherds who would come to see Jesus in the manger. But the wise men would come some time later – and these were clearly Gentiles. They came because God promised Abraham:

Genesis 12:3 … in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

Jesus came for us all! Let’s focus on these “Wise Men”

Matthew 2:1-2 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

We do not know how many “Wise Men” came to see Jesus. We will later read that they bring three gifts, but the number of men is not mentioned in Scripture. These men come into the Capital City of Israel, the place where the Temple of God and the Priests were. They were coming according to the promise of God in Isaiah 42:16

Isaiah 42:16 … I will make darkness light before them

The Wise Men said,

we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him

These men are following a star, probably traveling at night. They called Jesus “The King of the Jews”. As they went through Jerusalem asking this question, word got back to King Herod the Great. Herod was an awful man. He was born in Idumea, south of Judah. Herod was King over Judea because the Roman Senate appointed him. He was therefore a puppet King, serving at the whim of Rome. When Herod heard the Wise Men were looking for “The King of the Jews”, this threatened him because he was suppose to be “King of the Jews”.

Matthew 2:3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

Herod was notorious for his cruelties. When Herod was troubled, all Jerusalem was troubled. An example of his cruelty was that, when he laid dying, he ordered the imprisonment of many Pharisees. He ordered that, once he died, these imprisoned Pharisees be crucified so that the day of his death would be marked by weeping!

Mark 2:4-6 And when {Herod} had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judæa: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

Herod asked the Chief Priests and Lawyers where the Messiah was prophesied to come from. They correctly referred to the prophecies of:

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

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

The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Discovering this, Herod calls the Wise Men to his palace:

Matthew 2:7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

Dr. Bob Utley notes in his commentary that “Herod was interested in the age of the child. Since it took the Magi many months to travel from Persia, Jesus was at least one or two years of age at this time.” Herod was not genuinely interested in the Messiah, other than to remove a threat to his throne.

Matthew 2:8 {Herod} sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

I have often wondered why Herod didn’t send an armed escort with the Wise Men to Bethlehem. I believe it is because God knew Herod’s heart, and knew that his intent was to ultimately kill Jesus. The Bible says:

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

God is in control! He knew that Herod would have killed the young Jesus without a moment’s hesitation. God moved Herod’s heart to send the Wise Men on their way unhindered, thus allowing them to finish their mission. But God also insured that the Wise Men, as well as Joseph, Mary, and Jesus, would all escape Bethlehem before Herod realized it. The Father had a plan for Jesus, and that plan was not that a monster King kill His Son. No, His plan was to save the world through Jesus.

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

The Wise Men Worship The Lord Jesus

Matthew 2:9-11 … When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him…

They WORSHIPED Jesus. This is the Greek προσκυνέω proskynéō, {pronounced pros-koo-neh’-o}, which means to prostrate oneself in homage, to reverence or adore. These men came to worship the Messiah, Jesus Christ our Lord. The only One Who is supposed to be worshiped is God Himself. Jesus told the devil in the wilderness:

Matthew 4:10 … thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve …

No one is to be worshiped, no one but God. Jesus Christ, our Messiah, is God. Though this is the first time Jesus is worshiped, this is NOT the only time He is worshiped – and RECEIVED that worship.

The leper worshiped Jesus (Matthew 8:2)
A certain Ruler worshiped Jesus (Matthew 9:18)
The disciples worshiped Jesus (Matthew 14:33)
The Canaanite woman worshiped Jesus (Matthew 15:25)
The mother of James and John worshiped Jesus (Matthew 20:20)
The disciples worshiped the resurrected Jesus (Matthew 28:9,17)

Jesus Christ is worthy of all worship. He is to be adored, for He is the Door of salvation, the King of kings and Lord of lords. The Father told the Angels:

Hebrews 1:6 … let all the angels of God worship him.

As a part of their worship, the Wise Men gave “treasures” to Jesus.

Matthew 2:11-12 … and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

Again, tradition assumes that there are three Wise Men, because there are three gifts. Yet we do not know this. The gifts given to Jesus were very appropriate for the Messiah.

  • Gold has always been a precious metal. The Ark of the Covenant was overlaid with gold (Exodus 25:10-17). Once a year the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies in the Temple where the Ark was kept, and sprinkle the blood of a sacrificed animal onto the Mercy Seat on the lid of the Ark. This was to appease the wrath of God for the sins of His people (see Leviticus 16). From a practical standpoint, this gold would finance Joseph’s family as they fled to Egypt to avoid the wrath of King Herod.
  • Frankincense was obtained by making incisions in the bark of the trees of the genus Boswellia. The white resin or gum that was produced was mixed with (Exodus 30:34) “stacte, and onycha, and galbanum”. God told His people Israel to (Exodus 30:36-37) “beat some of it very small, and put of it before the testimony in the tabernacle of the congregation, where I will meet with thee: it shall be unto you most holy. And as for the perfume which thou shalt make, ye shall not make to yourselves according to the composition thereof: it shall be unto thee holy for the Lord.” Burned as an incense by the priests, it symbolized the prayers of Israel rising up to God. Jesus Christ is not only our Messiah, He is our High Priest (see Hebrews 8:1; 9:11, 24), representing us unto God.
  • Myrrh was obtained like frankincense was, by slashing the bark of trees. Frankincense came from the genus Boswellia, whereas Myrrh came from the flowering trees of the genus Commiphora, of the incense-tree family (Burseraceae). When later in life Jesus was crucified, He would be offered myrrh to drink (Mark 15:23) to stupefy Him, making His crucifixion easier. Jesus would refuse to drink that myrrh, bearing the full weight of our sins on His body on that terrible tree! After Jesus died on the Cross, Joseph of Arimathæa and Nicodemus would go to Pilate and get permission to take His body from that place. The Bible says in John 19:39-40 “{they} brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.”

Jesus Is Saved, And A Terrible Prophecy Is Fulfilled

Matthew 2:13-15 when {the Wise Men} were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. 14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: 15 and was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

Matthew tells us that Jesus’ family temporary exile in Egypt was a fulfillment of Hosea 11:1. But next we see the evil of Herod fully exposed. Realizing that he had been betrayed, Herod ordered that Bethlehem be attacked:

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

The Prophet Jeremiah foresaw this horrible massacre in:

Jeremiah 31:15 Thus saith the Lord; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; {Rachel} weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.

Why did God send His Son into the world? Because without Jesus, evil is unchecked. The life that rejects Christ as Lord and Savior can become as mean as Herod’s life was. Oh Beloved, this world needs Jesus. Oh Beloved, we all need Jesus. The Light of God led the Wise Men to Jesus. The Light of God beckons you to Jesus. If you do not know Him as Lord and Savior, I pray that this Christmas your focus is not on the presents under the tree … but the Presence of God Who died on the Tree. He gave Himself for you and for me. Trust Him. Believe He gave Himself for your sins. Obey the Gospel:

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

May God touch your hearts with His Scripture, and His Holy Spirit. Amen and Amen!

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Let This Mind Be In You

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

God wants His people, saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, to have the mind of Christ. We are to think like Jesus in a non-Jesus world. In another place the Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 2:16 … we have the mind of Christ

If all that Jesus Christ wanted to do is cover our sins, to save us from the wrath of God, He could have entered humanity as a full grown man. If salvation from sin was the only goal that God had for us, Jesus could have suddenly appeared at the Temple just prior to the crucifixion Passover. He could have surrendered to the Cross, being betrayed and executed on Calvary, all without being born in a manger. The Scripture says:

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

Praise God for the Cross. Without the Cross of Calvary we could not be saved. But God wanted to do more than just save us. He wanted to show us the mind of Christ, to teach us how a godly person should live. It was not only to fulfill prophecy that Christ was born in a manger in Bethlehem, and was raised in a nondescript town like Nazareth.

Jesus was born into humanity to show us what God
expects of His Children.

Just as every loving parent has expectations and standards that they want their children to meet, God, our most Loving Father, has expectations and standards He wants us to meet. Jesus was born in a manger, a lowly place, but did not grow up with a chip on His shoulder. So many people are born poor – I remember poor as a child – and then, because of this environment, turn to crime. Some people use their childhood as a reason to act out. But Jesus was born in the lowest of places, and yet, continued to fulfill His purpose in God.

Jesus came to this earth, being born of a virgin, to show how much God loves us. But then Jesus grew up among humanity, showing us all what God expects us to be. Jesus came so that we might have life – abundant life. God wants us to more than just exist.

You must COME TO JESUS if you would have the ETERNAL life
God wants to give you (John 5:40).
You must MODEL JESUS if you would have the BLESSED
life God wants to give you.

Did our Jesus not warn us:

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

There is a thief that wants to rob you of the life God wants you to have. This thief is the devil, the evil one, called in Scripture “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). The greatest enemy to the Full Gospel of Christ, the one who seeks to rob us of the life that the True God wants to give us, is the devil and his dark systems of thought. When the Apostle called out the enemy of the Gospel, he spoke against the “god of this world”, saying:

2 Corinthians 4:3-5 …. if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.

The devil is in an all out battle to seize the minds of as many people as possible. He wants to nullify the power of the Gospel. The Bible says that,

As a person thinks in their heart, so that person is” (Proverbs 23:7)

Your Life In Christ Hangs On An IF

The unbeliever cannot know the blessed life that God has for those who believe in Jesus. The believer in Christ, however, has experienced His Grace. We have been in a low place, and God lifted us up. As God has done to YOU, YOU are to do to others. Read with me:

Philippians 2:1-2IF there be therefore any consolation in Christ, IF any comfort of love, IF any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, 2 Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

When telling us about the “mind of Christ”, the Apostle reminds the Christian what we experienced when we came to Jesus in faith. In the text the Apostle uses the word IF in three ways:

  • IF you, dear Christian, experienced CONSOLATION in Christ. The word “consolation” is the Greek παράκλησις paráklēsis, (pronounced par-ak’-lay-sis), which means “to come alongside and embrace so as to comfort”. When you came to Christ by faith, what did HE do for YOU? Did Jesus condemn you as a sinner, or did He come alongside you, and embrace you? I remember the day I was saved, how lost I was as I reached out to Jesus, how lonely life was. And as soon as I reached out, He reached out and grabbed my hand. He said, “David, I forgive you. David, I receive you. David, I adopt you into the Family of God”.
  • IF you, dear Christian, were COMFORTED by the love of God. Didn’t Jesus do the same for you, dear Christian?
  • IF you, dear Christian, were given the FELLOWSHIP of God. Didn’t Jesus not only love you in spite of yourself, but also send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit of God (John 14:16), to lift you up, and to abide with you forever? Didn’t Jesus bring to you the peace of God, which passeth all understanding(Philippians 4:7)? The genuine Christian has felt the embrace of God at the point of salvation, and numerous times throughout our walk with Christ.

It is the mind of Christ to elevate, to bless. It is the devil’s way to denigrate, to curse. It is the mind of Christ to unite in love. It is the devil’s way to tear apart, to cause division. It is the mind of Christ to forgive, to embrace.

Beloved, as you have received, so are you to give. We who are Christians are to be like minded (like Jesus’ mind), having the same love (that Jesus has), being of one accord (as Jesus is with the Father), of one mind (as Jesus is with the Godhead).

You as Christians have experienced the UNMERITED love of God in Christ. As we have received, so are we to give. What are the Great Commandments, according to Jesus?

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

When Jesus said On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets, He was emphasizing that THIS is what God our Creator intends us to be like. We are to love, fervently, passionately, as Christ loved and loves us. We are not to be like the world.

Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Word Study The word STRIFE, the Greek ἐριθεία eritheía, {pronounced er-ith-i’-ah} means to be partisan, electioneering, sneaking about politically, bringing divisiveness or factions. The word VAINGLORY, the Greek κενοδοξία kenodoxía, {pronounced ken-od-ox-ee’-ah}, means “to puff oneself up with empty pride”. A holy people following God cannot be arrogant, or self serving. The Christian, like Christ, needs to be constantly asking themselves:

How Can I Be a Practical Blessing To Others

Small minded “me first” people cannot do great things for God. Small minded “me first” people cannot be used of God. When God offered Israel the Promised Land, the people refused to go. They would rather protect themselves than live for God. The Lord’s response was, “Ok, then you’ll not go. You will wander 40 years until you die out, and your children shall go forth and be blessed”.

Philippians 2:4 Look not every man on his own things, BUT every man ALSO on the things of others.

God is not saying that we are not to take any time for ourselves. We should take time to feed and clothe ourselves. We should take time to rest ourselves. But do you see the words BUT and ALSO? Just as important as feeding ourselves is, it is important that we reach out, and do for others. If you have been blessed by Jesus Christ, by God the Holy Spirit, by the Heavenly Father, then you should strive to be a blessing to others.

Holiness Is The Pursuit Of Christ’s Mind

Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

The phrase “Let this mind be in you” can also be translated “Have this attitude in yourselves”, or “Have the same mindset”. THE CHRISTIAN IS INDWELT WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT. God is in you (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 6:19). The Christian’s objective in this life is to be like Jesus, to pursue the mind of Christ. We do this by REMOVING anything from our lives that is not of His Will. We are told in …

Ephesians 4:22-24 put off concerning the former {way of life} the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

The Christian is called to a new life in Christ. The old hateful ways are to be taken off, like old, dirty clothes. When we sin, we confess our sin to the Lord, and are restored to a right walk with Christ.

We who are Christians do not give ourselves over to fear or foolishness, we give ourselves over to faith.

Illustrate I was talking to a fellow the other day who was worried that he had the Coronavirus. I told him, “You can go to the Maury Health Department. They have a drive through testing area – you don’t even need to get out of your car!” His reply first was to look at me with wide eyes, saying, “Have YOU been tested?” I told him, yes I have. It’s a simple test. Go get it. He replied “I heard they push the q-tip up your nose so far they hit your brain! I’m not going!” I assured him that this was not the case, as I and my wife had been through the test. He wouldn’t listen. He would rather sit and worry, rather than take the available help. This is NOT THE MIND OF CHRIST.

Dr. Joe Pettigrew recently illustrated how we can drift from the mind of Christ. He wrote:

The following article turned up in a newspaper: “A lady took my seat in church. She’s very nice… a good friend, in fact. I can sit anyplace; no big deal. My seat’s on the right as you enter the sanctuary. I can rest my arm on the end. It’s a good seat, but I wouldn’t raise a fuss about a seat… never hold a grudge. ACTUALLY, it was three months ago she took it and I really don’t know why. I’ve never done anything to her… never taken her seat. I SUPPOSE I’ll have to come an hour early to get my seat. She took it because it’s one of the best seats in the house. She’d no business taking it… and I’m not going to church two hours early to get what’s rightfully mine.”

As God’s children, dear Christians, we are not to let the devil hijack our thoughts. We are not to become his pawns. The Scripture reminds us:

2 Timothy 1:7 … God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. … God; 9 who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began

Illustrate It is easy to let our minds drift into bad territory. This can happen to the best of believers. The Priest Zacharias and his wife Elisabeth are very much part of the Christmas Story. You see, before Jesus Christ could come into humanity and be born of a virgin, God had to raise up a Herald who would go before Jesus. That Herald would be John the Baptist. John’s birth was just as carefully orchestrated by God as the birth of Jesus was. John would be born about 6 months ahead of the baby Jesus, and John would begin preaching about Jesus 6 months before our Lord was baptized in Jordan.

Zacharias and Elisabeth are John the Baptist’s parents.

Their story is very interesting. It is told in Luke 1:5-24. As Zacharias ministered in the Temple, serving at the altar of incense, the Bible says:

Luke 1:11-17 there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. 14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. 15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. 17 And he shall go before {the Messiah} in the spirit and power of {Elijah}, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Zacharias had been praying his whole life for a child. Now God promises to give him a child – and not just a child, but a John the Baptist. God told John thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. John received a great gift from God. Did he rejoice?

No, he doubted. Zacharias doubted the power of God.

He asked the Angel, “Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.” (Luke 1:18). Zacharias had lived in loss his whole life. Now hearing the promise of God, he could not receive it, but doubted. The Angel Gabriel replied:

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

God made Zacharias a promise, a promise that he should have been overjoyed with. Instead his mind was trapped into doubt and despair. The Angel took away Zacharias’ voice until the day that John was born.

The devil uses fear and doubt to rob us of blessing.
Reject him. Seek the Mind of Christ!

The Scripture tells us, as Christians, we are to be:

2 Corinthians 10:5 casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ

As goes our thoughts, so goes our life. Let us invite God into our minds. Let us turn off the television and the social networks, and open up our minds to the Word of God. Our God will transform us, if we but let Him (Romans 12:2).

Act Like Jesus To Think Like Jesus

Philippians 2:5-7 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

God showed us what a blessed life is in the life of Jesus Christ. Jesus is “in the form of God”. Jesus Christ has been and will always be God. He is

Our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13)

We are told in Colossians 2:9, “In Jesus dwells all the fullness of the Godhead in body form” (my paraphrase). Though Jesus Christ is Creator God (John 1:1-3, 14), He entered into this world “the form of a servant”. That little baby born in Bethlehem, was not born in a fine motel, but in a manger. His parents were not rich and powerful, but working class people. Jesus did not live in a big, notorious city like New York, New York. No, He grew up in a tiny place called Nazareth. He made Himself of no reputation. Jesus often said:

Matthew 20:26-28 whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27 and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28 even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

People, if you want to be happy you must do the things that Jesus has said to do. He told us:

John 13:15-17 For I have given you an example, that ye should DO as I have done to you. 16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye DO them.

Jesus Christ lived a life of service – not to Himself – but to us, to others. He did good where ever He went. He gave His life for us. The Apostle said:

Philippians 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Jesus Christ came into this world – that baby in the manger – so that He could die for our sins. He gave Himself for us. Beloved, if He has given Himself for you, you are called of God to give yourself to others. The way to a happy life is a life of service. Not being served, but serving, doing, loving as Jesus loved. It is humility and loving service that impresses God. This is the lifestyle that is a polar opposite to that of the world.

Examine Yourselves: Are You Saved?

If you are saved, then you are saved to serve Jesus, to confess Him Lord. As the Apostle speaks of the life of Christ, and how we are to live like Jesus, he makes a very remarkable statement. He says:

Philippians 2:12-13 …. work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure

The Apostle does not tell us to WORK FOR our own salvation. Salvation is something that no one can earn – it is a gift of God. There are so many wonderful verses that explain this:

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

Ephesians 2:5 … (by Grace ye are saved)

Romans 4:16 … {salvation} is of faith, that it might be by grace …

Romans 11:6 … {salvation} is by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

The Bible gives this promise, that

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

When we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, we become sons of God. Following that moment in time we are commanded to obey Him Who saved us, to imitate Him, to “have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). This is what makes a difference in the world, is the Christian WORKING OUT their faith, not WORKING FOR their faith. It you are God’s child by faith in His Son, you have received precious promises from God. Live OUT your faith so that others might see it. Live OUT your faith with fear and trembling. What you, dear Christians, do is what will change the world. If you are saved, be like Jesus. When you fail, confess your sin to God. Get up, and be like Jesus. DO the things He said do, and you will be happy and blessed.

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

Posted in Philippians, Sermons Preached | Tagged | 2 Comments

What Love Is

Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to …

Luke 1:26-29 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

What does love look like? Everyone wants love. The bulk of most songs we hear deal with love, and relationships. Years ago when I was young, one of the groups I listened to called Foreigner did a song entitled “I Want To Know What Love Is”. In the chorus of that song the group said:

I want to know what love is, I want you to show me
I want to feel what love is, I know you can show me

There is Someone Who can show us what love is. We all need love, and need to love. We see what love is in the true story of our Lord Jesus Christ’s birth. Let’s look at this recounting one more time.

Luke 1:26-29 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

Love Fulfills It’s Promises

Every word is important in the Bible. We start out with “in the sixth month”. The “sixth month” is very important. In order for Christ to come, before He came His prophesied Herald would have to come. 700 years before this moment the Prophet said that the Herald would come:

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

The King of Kings, God Almighty, will write Himself into humanity. But the King must have a Herald. The Prophet Malachi also saw the Herald:

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

Six months prior to this moment, the Angel Gabriel comes to Zacharias and Elisabeth, and tells them that they will have this Herald. The same Gabriel now comes to Mary 6 months later to bring her good news. God’s Plans cannot be thwarted.

Isaiah 14:27 For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who shall {stop} it? And His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back.

God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son” (John 3:16). This Son was “foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:20) to come and dwell among us. The Apostle said:

Galatians 4:3-5 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: 4 but when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

Love Reaches Out To The Lowly

The time for the sending of God’s Son had come. It was six months after Elisabeth became pregnant with John the Baptist. Gabriel did not go to Jerusalem, the Holy City. He did not go to a well known place, or a powerful place. When God came into the world, He would come “unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth”. Nazareth is not even mentioned in the Old Testament. Bethlehem is mentioned as the birthplace of the Messiah. But not Nazareth. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” is a question often on the lips of people (John 1:46). Nazareth was perhaps the least of all the towns in Israel. And yet, God sent Gabriel to Nazareth. Not to New York City. Not to New Jersey. To Nazareth. A humble place. The angel comes to a young virgin named Mary, engaged to an unknown carpenter working in Nazareth.

Luke 1:27-29 … the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

I find this very interesting. The Angel Gabriel tells Mary that she is highly favored. This is the Greek χαριτόω charitóō, {pronounced khar-ee-to’-o}, which means “to be given special honor”. The Lord God was going to bestow a special honor upon Mary. Blessed art thou among women. Mary would be given the greatest honor that a woman ever had. What I find most interesting is that Mary is not shocked at the Angel’s appearance. We are told, Mary was troubled AT HIS SAYING. She was not troubled at his appearance, but with what he said. Why was this? Because Mary was a believer, a person well acquainted with our Heavenly Father. What was it that her Father wanted her to do? The Angel continues:

Luke 1:30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found FAVOR with God.

Word Study The word translated FAVOR is the Greek χάρις cháris, {pronounced khar’-ece}. Mary had found GRACE. Grace is unmerited favor from God. Mary was saved by Grace, and it is Grace that now chooses her to be the vessel by which the Savior will come.

What is Nazareth to the world? Nothing!
Who is Mary to the world? Nobody!
Love Reaches Out To All!

When Jesus came, when …

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

Grace is Heaven’s coin. Grace is God’s way. Mary loved the Lord. She was saved by Grace, and love Him by Grace. Now God in His Grace decides Mary would be the vessel by which He would “become flesh”. When we love God, and follow Him by Grace, He will call on us to show our love. The Angel tells Mary:

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

Mary is told “you shall conceive in your womb”. This is something Mary her self cannot do. No woman can “concieve in her womb”. She must have the donation of a man in order to conceive – that’s basic biology. But this child is different from any other child ever born. This child is JESUS. His name means “Yahweh our Savior”. Jesus’ birth is the fulfillment of the promise God made in the Garden of Eden. He told the serpent, that old devil:

Genesis 3:15 … I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

The “seed of the woman”, the Messiah, would come from a virgin birth. Jesus would “become flesh and dwell among us” (John 1:14) through the supernatural birth of Jesus. As the Prophet said:

Isaiah 7:14 … the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (meaning, God with us).

Jesus is “the Son of the Highest”. He is God the Son become flesh. The Angel says, “the Lord God shall give Him the Throne of His father David”. Jesus is from the lineage of King Davids. He is the fulfillment of the promise that God made to David,

1 Chronicles 17:11-14 it shall come to pass, when thy {O David} days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom. 12 He shall build me an house, and I will stablish his throne for ever. 13 I will be his father, and he shall be my son: and I will not take my mercy away from him, as I took it from him that was before thee: 14 but I will settle him in mine house and in my kingdom for ever: and his throne shall be established for evermore.

The Child that Mary would bear would be the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant! Jesus is “the Son of the Highests .. and of His Kingdom there shall be no end”. What a wonderful blessed truth this is. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords would enter humanity. He would enter through a lowly virgin, and be raised in a lowly place.

Mary does not doubt God, but she is curious. Again, I find this amazing. When Gabriel came to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, the Bible says:

Luke 1:12-13 … when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias…

Mary, on the other hand, is excited but curious. She asks a good question.

Love Does The Impossible

Luke 1:34 … How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

Mary knows her basic biology! She has never been intimate with any man, but is chaste, awaiting the consummation of her marriage. How can a virgin have a Child such as Jesus? The Angel tells her:

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

Among humanity, it is not possible for a woman to have a child without the seed of man. But God the Holy Spirit would bring a miracle in Mary. She would experience the power of God, for with God, nothing is impossible.

I want you to think about this. You are a young girl, perhaps just a teenager, who will soon be pregnant. You are not growing up in a permissive and liberal society like America. You are growing up in ancient Israel, under the harsh laws of the Torah. A young woman, pregnant, and without a husband, would certainly be ostracized. Mary’s family would probably disown her. Joseph would probably divorce her. She might have been run out of town. Yet her words were simply:

Luke 1:38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Mary does not know how God will do what He will do. She doesn’t know what is to come. But she trusts God, and is willing to be the “handmaid of the Lord”.

Mary does not doubt the Lord, but knows that her elderly cousin Elisabeth – well advanced in years – is with child. Elisabeth is carrying the Herald, and Mary the Son of God. So she doesn’t hesitate – she goes to Elisabeth’s home to help her out. I remember when Sherry was 6 months pregnant, and how hard it was for her to do the simplest of things. I had to help her. Mary goes to help Elisabeth.

Luke 1:39-45 Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; 40 and entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. 41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 42 and she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.

There is no indication in the Scripture that anyone – even the Angel Gabriel – told Elisabeth that Mary would be bearing the Messiah. The Angel has just told Mary about it. So Mary goes to Elisabeth’s home, and as soon as Mary enters the home, Elisabeth knows that Mary is carrying the Messiah. To those who tell me the Fetus is no life until it is born, I love to point out this text. The Fetus in Mary would have been in the earliest stages of development, and yet it was the Lord Jesus. And the baby John, still in his mother’s womb, jumped for joy at the presence of Mary and Jesus. The baby John jumped for joy, according to Elisabeth. Life is precious in the womb. Life is precious, even if still in the embryo stage, as Jesus no doubt was.

Love Is Not Self Centered, But God Centered

Mary has been told by the Angel Gabriel that she has been given exceptional favor from God. Mary now hears her cousin Elisabeth acknowledge her special place in God’s Plan. But Mary does not go all egotistical on us. She does not become puffed up with pride.

Mary praises God! She says:

Luke 1:46-47 … my soul doth magnify the Lord, 47 and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.

Mary does not boast on what she has. She boasts on God. There are some who believe that Mary had some special construction that made her sinless. Yet this is not true. The Bible says:

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

The Bible says that, compared to God,

Isaiah 64:6 … we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Mary knows that she is a sinner saved by Grace. She magnifies God. She says “my spirit hath rejoiced IN GOD MY SAVIOR”. If Mary were sinless, she would not require a savior. But she needs a Savior, as do we all. Since the Bible says:

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

Oh Beloved, “By MAN came DEATH” (1 Corinthians 15:21). So God now bypasses Man, fallen Man, and creates in Mary a sinless Man named Jesus. This child Mary would bear …

Hebrews 4:15 … was in all points tempted like as we are, yet WITHOUT SIN

This Child that Mary would bear will grow up to be the Sin Bearer. Because God loves us, He sent Jesus. The Bible says:

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

No, Mary was not sinless. She was a believer, one who looked unto God for salvation. Her Son will be the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. Mary does not magnify herself, but magnifies God.

Luke 1:48-50 For {God} hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

Mary speaks of her “low estate”, the Greek ταπείνωσις tapeínōsis, {pronounced tap-i’-no-sis}, which means “pitiful” or “vile”. The Apostle Paul used the same word when he spoke of the future resurrection of the saints, saying:

Philippians 3:21 {God} shall change our VILE {tapeínōsis} body, that it may be fashioned like unto His {Jesus’} glorious body …

Mary is not puffed up with what God has promised to her. She humbles herself before God, showing us that God chose the right vessel for the Christ’s birth. Our bodies are indeed VILE. But God in love will one day raise up His Children, and then we shall be VILE no more. Mary shows us the strength of humility. She is surrendered to the Lord, willing to do whatever God would require of her.

Oh Beloved, what a wonderful thing it is to surrender to the Love of God. The Apostle said that the secret of joy in this life is the surrendered life.

2 Corinthians 12:10 … when I am WEAK, then am I STRONG

God will do great things with us if we would but humble ourselves before Him.

God does not save a man standing up.
God saves a man kneeling.
God empowers a man willing.

God was able to do the impossible with Mary because she was willing and surrendered. God will do the impossible with anyone who is willing and surendered.

Dr. W.A. Criswell once said, “The Christian faith addresses itself to the need for regeneration—for the forgiveness of sins; for a new life, a new heart; a new way, a new day.” What God is doing in Mary is a new thing. What God will do in you is a new thing, if you will but turn to Him. Mary continues her beautiful prayer:

Luke 1:51-53 {God} hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. 53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

To those who are self-sufficient, proud, mighty, or arrogantly rich in the things of this world, God has nothing for you. God scatters the proud in the imagination of their hearts. God puts down the mighty from their seats. But if you are lowly, humble, willing, God will bless you. What does God say?

John 7:37 … If any {one} thirsts, let him come to Me and drink

Revelation 22:17 the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

To those who are thirsty, if you come to the Lord, He will quench your thirst. As Mary did, make yourself available to God even when what He asks doesn’t make sense. Like Peter’s boat filled with fish, sink in your own esteem as God blesses you. Be like the Baptist who said “He must increase but I must decrease” (John 3:30). The river called Pride has drowned more Christians than any other body of water. Put your pride away and do as God bids you to do. The root of false theology is found in putting my desires above God’s Will.

Luke 1:54-55 {God} hath {given help to} His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy; as He spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever.

God never changes. His love is never ending. He loves you, and has shown His love in the supernatural birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If you do not know Him as Savior, then I beg you, come to Him today. Do not delay. Surrender to His love. He is the very definition of love. May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

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God Is Our Refuge And Strength

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Psalm 46:1-2 To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth. 1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will not we fear ….

As I read through the Psalms, and even through the prayers of the patriarchs throughout our Bible, I am struck by the fact that no one starts out their prayers with, “God, I want”. Those old saints who knew best, knew that as humans we do not need more stuff. We also do not need more comfort. But we do need more of God.

The Most Successful And Blessed People
Are Those Who Want More Of God

Read through your Bibles. God met with Moses at the burning bush, commissioning him to go and tell Pharaoh “Let My People Go” (Exodus 3:1-10). God gave Moses the power to bring ten plagues upon Egypt. As Moses led Israel out of Egypt, God went before them in a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:22). God led Israel through the Red Sea (Exodus 14:13) as if on dry land. The Lord fed Israel manna, bread from heaven (Exodus 16:15). God told Moses to come up on Mount Sinai to receive His Law, written with God’s own hand (Exodus 31:18). After all these magnificent things, with even

Exodus 33:11 …. the Lord speaking to Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend

still Moses asked God

Exodus 33:18 … I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.

Moses did not want more stuff. He wanted more of God, to know more of God. And consider King David of Israel. God called David when he was but a shepherd (Psalm 78:70). God blessed David with victory after victory. God enabled David to kill Goliath (1 Samuel 17:4), and later in life promised David that the Messiah would come from his lineage (2 Samuel 7:13). Having had blessing after blessing, David prayed:

Psalm 25:4-5 Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. 5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.

It is God that we need. Not just on Sunday, but every day. Not just when we are in a valley, but up on the mountaintop. We need God because we are so terribly weak. At least, I am. I need Him more every single day that He grants me life.

We Are All Weak, But God Is Strong

Many times when we read the Psalms, we neglect to read the “Headers”. This Psalm starts with this header:

To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth.

This song is “to the chief Musician for the sons of Korah”. The sons of Korah were singers among the Levites, what we might call worship leaders. Korah himself was Moses’ nephew. He led a rebellion against Moses, trying to take over leadership of Israel (Numbers 16:1ff). God initially wanted to destroy all of Israel for this rebellion, but Moses prayed, and asked for Grace for Israel. God told Israel to separate themselves from the homes of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. Following this, God caused the earth to open up, and to swallow all those who stood in rebellion against Moses (Numbers 16:31-33). However, God did NOT kill the sons of Korah.

Numbers 26:11 Notwithstanding the children of Korah died not.

God did not destroy the innocent with the guilty, but, as He has said,

Deuteronomy 24:16 The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.

Though their father behaved shamefully, the sons of Korah continued to sing to the glory of God. The musical note A Song upon Alamoth, according to Easton’s Bible Dictionary:

{this is} a musical term (1 Chronicles 15:20), denoting that the Psalm which bears this inscription (Psalm 46:1-11) was to be sung by soprano or female voices.”

I suspect the Psalm was sung this way because, in ancient Israel, most choirs were entirely of men. By making the Psalm to be sung only by women it emphasized that power in life does not come from human strength. It is God’s power that gives us the ability to prevail. The Lord spoke through the Prophet in another place, saying:

Jeremiah 17:5-7 Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. 6 For he shall be like the {bush} in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. 7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.

The strongest person is not the person who can lift the most, or endure the most. The strongest person is the one who knows the Lord, and knows to run to the Lord when tried.

Psalm 46:1 God is our REFUGE and STRENGTH, a very present help in trouble.

God is our REFUGE, the Hebrew מַחֲסֶה machăçeh, (pronounced makh-as-eh’), our “Shelter, Refuge, Place of Security”. The same word is used in:

Psalm 62:7 In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my REFUGE {machăçeh} is in God.

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

Psalm 91:2 I will say of the LORD, He is my REFUGE {machăçeh} and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

Just as a refuge was a fortress, a tower, or a place of high walls, our God is a fortress, a tower, and a place of high walls. Resting in Him we have blessing and hope. God saved Israel because He loved her. He cast down entire nations in Israel’s defense. Will not God protect you, dear Christians, having shed the Blood of His own dear Son for your salvation?

We may be tried, but we are not to fret, fear, and foolishly worry over what is to come. We are a delivered and cherished people!

The Scripture says that God has

Colossians 1:13-14 … delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins

God did the greatest thing He could do for us at the point of our salvation. He gave His only Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins. Having saved us, we are to remember that we are precious to Him. Jesus Christ is God the Father’s BELOVED SON, in Whom He is well pleased (2 Peter 1:17). As Jesus gave Himself for you, you are also Beloved of God for His sake.

Our power is in God. Our strength is in Jesus.
Sometimes we forget this.

In 1 Chronicles 21 we see what happens when we forget our strength is not in us, but in our God to Whom we run. The Bible tells us that:

1 Chronicles 21:1 And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

It was the devil that whispered, “Hath God really said, you shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”. With that whisper came the fall of humanity into sin. Satan whispers in our ears, encouraging us to doubt God, or to inflate our own ego. David told his right hand man Joab:

Numbers 21:2 … Go, number Israel from Beer-sheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it.

Joab knew what was in the heart of David. David began to think that all the battles he had won were because of his own prowess, or because his army was bigger than anyone else’s army. Joab warned David:

Numbers 21:3 The Lord make his people an hundred times so many more as they be: but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?

I wish I had had a Joab to stand up and warn me all the times that I thought it was about ME, instead of being about God IN me. A Joab is a good friend who warns us when pride comes. As the Bible says:

Proverbs 11:2 When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.

Because David forgot that the blessings he had were from God, the Lord punished Israel (1 Chronicles 21:14-15) by killing 70,000 men. Let us not follow in King David’s footsteps, at least, not in this pride. As God told Zerubbabel:

Zechariah 4:6 Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.

When trials come in life, always remember “God is our refuge and strength,

a very present help in trouble”. Do not try to fix it before you run to God. Trust Him Who saved you. When Job, that dear old Saint, lost all that he had, he would not curse God and die as his evil wife suggested (Job 2:9). He ran to his Refuge and Strength, saying:

Job 1:21 Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

Our God Is Never Far Away

Psalm 46:1-2 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Though King David messed up when he numbered Israel, his head was in the right place when he came upon Goliath. Israel was gathered together to do battle against Philistia at Shochoh, when the Philistines sent out their champion, Goliath. Goliath is described in 1 Samuel 17:4-7. The Bible tells us that the tip of his spear weighed 18 pounds. Goliath was about 9 feet tall – a giant of a man. He was powerful as well. His metal armor weighed 157 pounds.

As everyone else looked at Goliath and trembled, David looked at God Who was beside him and rested. When King Saul doubted David’s ability to defeat the giant, he said:

1 Samuel 17:37 … The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.

The Lord our God was near David when he was guarding the sheep at night. The God Who gave David the ability to stop the lion and the bear would surely saved David from a bear of a man! David trusted in God – and Goliath lost his head that very day. Beloved, our God is near.

Stop listening to the whispers of Satan. Stop believing his lies. If your heart is shriveled with fear, God cannot use you to change the world. Look at the God Who saved you – and believe that He saves you still!

When the Prophet Elijah stood before 450 false prophets, and all of Israel, he did not allow the numbers against him to influence what he believed. Elijah knew that God is near, and that God is able. He told the false prophets:

1 Kings 18:24 … call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.

God is near. God is near! He is not asleep at the wheel, but has promised “ I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee (Hebrews 13:5). Our Jesus has promised,

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

If God is with us – and He is – and God is greater than Anyone – and He is – then we need not fear.

Psalm 46:2-3 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. SELAH.

The Bible tells us not to fear. Some 365 times throughout Scripture we are told, “Fear Not”. When we fear, we are implying that God does not love us. But God does love us. The Apostle said:

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

When we fear, we forget the faithfulness of God. But our God is there. He is right in the middle of it all with us.

Do you see the word SELAH? The word means “REST”. When we are tried, we need to REALIZE our limitations, then RUN to the Lord Who loves us. Hiding in His love, we are to REST in His embrace. Trust God, trust the Lord Jesus in your trial. He will not forsake you.

Psalm 46:5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

God is with His people. He has promised this in so many different ways. Jesus told us:

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Someone once asked me, “Why do you go to Church?” My response is, “Because Jesus loves the Church. But also, because I need the fellowship of the others.” I just received a call from an unchurched family seeking “Christmas for her kids”. They have hit hard times. I receive calls like this frequently throughout the year, every year since I have been in ministry. People who have no concern for the Lord, and have been through valleys of despair.

Beloved, I need my Church family. I need others around me to remind me to look to Jesus when I am tried. I need the WE of the Scripture, the Church that Jesus so loves. The Apostle said:

Romans 8:31-39 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God is with us, if we are children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26).

Psalm 46:7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. SELAH.

In verse 3 we saw a SELAH, or “Rest”. Now in verse 7 we see a SELAH, or a “Rest”. The “Lord of Hosts” is with us – the God Who made all things, Who controls the angelic hosts, He is with us. REST. Rest in Him. God ends the Psalm with these wonderful words:

Psalm 46:10-11 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. 11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

We are not to fear. We are to glorify our God, to exalt Him, to lift Him up. Run to Him. Rest in Him. But do not fear. Our God is able! May He touch your hearts with His Spirit and His Word. Amen and Amen.

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Why Call Him “Jesus”?

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Every year around this time we focus on the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. His birth is unique among the births of all other children from the beginning of time. The birth of Christ Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise God made to the devil in Genesis 3:15. The Lord promised the devil, that old serpent (Revelation 12:9; 20:2):

I will make you, you old serpent, and the woman enemies. Your seed and the seed of the woman will be enemies. The seed of the woman will crush your head – and you shall bruise His heel.” (my paraphrase of Genesis 3:15)

This “Seed of the Woman” is the Lord Jesus Christ. It is He Who was born of a virgin, fulfilling the prophecy of Scripture:

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

As the Christmas story goes, a Jewish Carpenter named Joseph discovered his wife to be Mary was pregnant – and they had not yet come together to consummate their marriage. Joseph decided to put his wife away – to give her a bill of divorce – but to do it privately. He did not want Mary harmed. As Joseph dreamed that night the Angel Gabriel came to him, saying:

Matthew 1:20-25 But while {Joseph} thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25 and knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

The Apostle Matthew quotes Isaiah 7:14 when he refers to the child that the virgin Mary is carrying. The Angel tells Joseph to name the coming Child “Jesus”. But then Matthew quotes Isaiah 7:14, telling us that the virgin born Child would be named Immanuel. So why didn’t Joseph name Jesus, “Immanuel”? Is this a discrepancy in the Scripture? No, not at all.

The short answer to the question is “Jesus” is our Lord’s human name, but “Immanuel” is one of our Lord’s
Divine Names.

Immanuel” Is Jesus’ Divine Name, But
“Jesus” Is Immanuel’s Human Name

In the Old Testament God describes Himself with a variety of names, each one meant to explain to us who and how God is.

Humans have only one name, though we may have nicknames by which we are known. God introduces Himself with many different names.

When God called Moses to follow Him, and to go to Pharaoh to present God’s demand, “Let My people go”, Moses asked God:

Genesis 3:13-14 … when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? 14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

God is “I AM”, always present, never ending. He has always existed, and will always exist. He is the Great and Eternal “I AM”. But this is not the only name God uses of Himself. God calls Himself:

  • ELOHIM (the Godhead): In the beginning ELOHIM created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1)
  • YAHWEH ELOHIM (the Lord God): … in the day that the LORD GOD made heaven and earth (Genesis 2:4)
  • EL SHADDAY (God Almighty): The Lord appeared to Abram and said unto him, I am EL SHADDAY (Genesis 17:1-2)
  • EL BETEL (the God of Bethel): … God said to me in a dream, Jacob … I am EL BETEL
  • YAHWEH MEKADDESH (the Lord Who Sanctifies): The Lord spoke to Moses … I am YAHWEH QADASH (Exodus 31:12-13)

I could continue on, but you see the point. God uses many different names for Himself to describe His power and authority to us.

The Bible also uses many different names for our
Messiah, Jesus Christ.

In addition to Immanuel (God with us), the Prophet said of Jesus:

  • As we studied this morning in Isaiah 9:6, “His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of peace. Isaiah gave not just Immanuel (God with us) as a Divine name for the Messiah, but four more names in this text. Each name describes the power and authority of our Lord Jesus.
  • When Gabriel went to the virgin Mary to tell her of her pregnancy and future child, he told her in Luke 1:31-32 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest. The Messiah’s human name is JESUS, but His divine name here is SON OF THE HIGHEST.
  • The Prophet Jeremiah saw the Messiah as “a King Who reigns wisely”. He went on to say “and this is the name by which He will be called: The LORD is our righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:6)
  • When John the Revelator introduces “Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth”, Jesus then describes Himself in Revelation 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. He uses two names to Divine names to describe Himself to us.

“Jesus” is the human name that our Lord was given, but He has taken to Himself many other Divine Names, each describing an aspect of His power and authority. But this brings me to a second question:

What Is The Significance Of The Name “Jesus”?

God is quite specific on naming the baby “Jesus”. He told Joseph:

Matthew 1:21 … thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

And God tells Mary:

Luke 1:31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

Why is Jesus called “Jesus”? We are told by Gabriel as he speaks to Joseph:

For He shall save His people from their sins”

The name “Jesus” is very interesting, because there is an Old Testament “Jesus” and a New Testament “Jesus”.

The name “Jesus” comes from the Greek Ἰησοῦς Iēsoûs, (pronounced ee-ay-sooce’). This would be the Gentile form of His Name. The same name in Hebrew would be יְהוֹשׁוּעַ Yᵉhôwshûwaʻ, (pronounced yeh-ho-shoo’-ah or the shortened form Yeshua), that is, Joshua (. For all intents and purposes “Jesus” is interchangeable with “Joshua”. To the Hebrew, Jesus would be “Joshua”. To the Gentile, Joshua would be “Jesus”. The names are paralleled. Now you understand why I said there is an Old Testament Jesus, and a New Testament Jesus.

Whether Joshua (Yeshua) or Jesus (Iēsous), the name means “Yahweh Is Salvation”

In the Old Testament God’s people were called Israel. To Israel came the Law.
When God sent Moses to Israel to secure their release, it was by faith Israel was saved. Israel had to do as God said, acting in faith, if they were to be blessed and released from bondage. The Blood of the Lamb was put on the entryway of their homes. By faith Israel killed the Lamb. By faith Israel marked their homes with Blood. It was the blood of the Lamb that saved Israel.

When Israel left Egypt, it was God’s intent to carry them through the Red Sea, through the Jordan, and into the land of Canaan. God had promised this land to Abraham and his descendants many years before:

Genesis 15:18 In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:

The Land of Canaan did not belong to the pagan people known as the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaims, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, or the Jebusites. God owns the land – all the land, regardless as to what human documents may say. The Scripture declares,

Psalm 24:1 The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

God headed Israel toward the Promised Land – but Israel did not have faith in God. They allowed what was going on in the land around them to influence their faith. They did not look up to God. Even Moses failed God in faith. When the Israelis murmured against God at a place called Meribah, Moses asked God what to do. God told Moses:

Numbers 20:8 Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.

Moses was but to speak to the Rock. The Bible tells us “This Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4). The Rock represented our Jesus Christ, resurrected from the Grave. Jesus told the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well:

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

Our Lord Jesus gives Living Water – the Holy Spirit of God – to all who are thirsty. Jesus said:

John 7:38-39 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

Moses was to but speak to the Rock, to speak to Jesus, and living water would flow! Yet Moses struck the Rock, disobeying God. Because of this God told Moses, “You will not enter the Promised Land”.

To Enter The Promised Land, Believer,
You Must Follow Yeshua

When Moses – who represented the Law of God – failed to enter the Promised Land, who was his replacement to lead God’s people? It was Yeshua – Joshua. God made promises to Yeshua. He said:

Joshua 1:2-5 Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. 5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

God gave the Old Testament Joshua (Yeshua) a very simple rule for power and victory. Yeshua was told to go forth in faith, knowing by faith three things:

God will be with you,
God will not fail you,
God will not forsake you.

Israel was to follow the Old Testament Yeshua/ Joshua, as the Old Testament Yeshua/ Joshua followed God. God said, “Step out on faith – I am there for you. I will not fail you. I will not forsake you. Just follow Me”. Everywhere the Old Testament Yeshua/ Joshua went, there was victory. There was only one blemish on his record, and that was when sin came into the camp. In Joshua 7:1 God’s people took to themselves that which was forbidden – and the Israelis lost, terribly lost the battle of Ai. Once Joshua uncovered where the sin was, he eradicated the sin, and from that point on Israel was blessed. Every Jew knew the story of the Old Testament Joshua. The Old Testament Joshua/ Yeshua (Yahweh is our Savior) lived a wonderful life, and led Israel (God’s people) into victory after victory.

Joshua/ Yeshua was a national hero to Israel. Every school child learned of Joshua, and the greatness that Israel achieved under his leadership.

Sixty three years before Jesus became incarnate (in the flesh) through the virgin Mary, Jerusalem was put under siege by Roman General Pompey the Great. At the end of the siege Judea (Southern Israel) was incorporated into the Roman Empire. When Joseph discovered his wife Mary was with child, he and all of Israel had been in Roman bondage and occupation for 63+ years.

Imagine this: For your ENTIRE LIFE all you have known of Israel is that it is subjected to the Gentiles. You grew up hearing about Yeshua/ Joshua, and hearing about how Israel had once achieved greatness in Canaan because of faith in God. Joseph’s father Jacob told him all about Israel’s great past. Joseph’s grandfather Matthan told him all about Yeshua, and the wonderful days when Israel was great. Israel was great because Israel followed Yeshua/ Joshua as he followed God.

But now? Israel is under Roman Rule. It has been under Roman rule for 63 years. The Temple was not built by Israel, but was built by Herod, the puppet Governor of Jerusalem . It is a Gentile built and Gentile funded structure.

The days are darkest. Now Joseph discovers that his Mary is pregnant – and they have not even come together yet. Oh, how dark Joseph’s spirit had to be! Then Gabriel comes. In the blackest of night, the light of God shines brightly. Now listen to what the Angel says as if you were Joseph:

Matthew 1:20-25 … Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

What the New Testament, written in the Gentile language called “Greek”, we hear that the Baby to be born of Mary is JESUS. But what Joseph hears is in the Hebrew. God tells him, “You shall call His name YESHUA (Joshua): for He shall save His people from their sins”.

Imagine what Joseph is thinking. “Joshua – my Son is
going to be another Joshua!” This would hit him
like a ton of bricks!

Once You Understand The Significance Of The Name Of “Jesus/ Joshua”, You Understand More Of The Significance Of The Scripture

The Angel told Joseph:

Matthew 1:21 … thou shalt call his name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins.

Those who followed Joshua in the Old Testament were blessed. Those who stood against Joshua in the Old Testament were cursed. Those who follow Jesus, the New Testament Joshua, are blessed. Those who do not follow Jesus, the New Testament Joshua, are cursed. Our nation will never be blessed while we follow the ways of the “Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites”. We must follow Jesus, the New Testament Joshua. We must rest in Him.

To Be Blessed, You Must Follow Yeshua.
This Is Not Optional!

The Old Testament Joshua gave the people of God a limited blessing, a limited rest. Why? Because even though Joshua led Israel to successfully take the land of Canaan, Joshua could not change the hearts of the people. Joshua’s leadership – just like every politician that has ever existed – can only do so much with broken people. God must change the hearts. It was the hardened hearts of Israel that led them from victory to Roman captivity. It is the hardened heart of a people that keeps them from the blessings of God.

When Jesus began His ministry, and as God the Holy Spirit healed people through Jesus, excitement built up around Him. So many people saw Jesus – Yeshua – as another Joshua. They thought that Jesus came to lead them from Roman rule an into Israeli independence. In John 6, when Jesus fed above 5000 people with five barley loaves and 2 small fish (John 6:9), the Bible says:

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

Yeshua – the New Testament Joshua – fed above 5000 people with very little provisions. He would make a great King. So the crowd thought they could force Him to be their King, and as a mighty King, Yeshua could free Israel from Roman bondage. They thought that Jesus could bring peace into Israel just as they were. Beloved, the problem of humanity is not the environment. It is the human heart. It is the heart enslaved to sin.

It is the heart enslaved to sin that led Israel away from God time and time again. Our Lord Jesus Christ is indeed the King of Kings and Lord of Lords:

1 Timothy 6:13-16 I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; 14 that thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: 15 which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; 16 who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen.

Our Jesus – Yeshua – is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. There will come a day when He will rule on this earth. But Jesus did not come the first time to conquer our enemies. When Pilate asked Jesus, “Are You a King?”, Jesus said:

John 18:36-37 … My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. 37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

Jesus Christ – Yeshua – was born into humanity to lead us from the devil’s lie, and into the truth and the Light of God our Savior. He came to save a people, that, whosoever believeth on Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16). Jesus came preaching the Kingdom. The Old Testament Joshua led a broken people into a Promised Land. The New Testament people came to change hearts, to turn us from the darkness and into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).

Turn with me in your Bibles to Hebrews 4. The Book of Hebrews is very interesting, because it shows how the Old Testament shadows are fulfilled in the New Testament Jesus. In Hebrews 4 the Author warns against doing what the Old Testament Jew did under Joshua’s leadership. God tells us:

Hebrews 4:8-12 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 11 Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. 12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

The word “Jesus” in verse 8 is a reference to the Old Testament Yeshua/ Joshua. Joshua could lead Israel to a temporary rest, a taking of the land of Canaan for a time. But after a time, Israel (God’s people), lost this rest because of sin in their hearts. They departed from God in their faith, and lost the blessings of Canaan. Israel lost the Promised Land because of sin. Yet the Hebrews text tells us,

There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God

Israel’s bondage under Rome was because of Israel’s sin. But this does not mean that God has abandoned His people. Absolutely not! There remains a rest for the people of God. That “rest” is in the New Testament Joshua – Jesus Christ our Lord. We “rest” in His Word. We trust in His provision. We know that He has conquered the world, and do not fear. How do we attain this rest? The Bible says:

Hebrews 4:11 Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief

We LABOR to enter into THAT REST. We struggle against ourselves, forcing ourselves to dwell on what Jesus has said, to do as the Master has commanded. This is the REST we LABOR to go into – our REST in Jesus. It is often a struggle. Even among the saved, there is a struggle. The devil, through media, television, and Internet, tells us to forsake the way of the Master and to follow the popular path. Beloved I tell you,

Matthew 7:13 … wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

It was the “wide gate” of public opinion that caused Israel to lose the Promised Land. But, as Jesus said:

Matthew 7:14 … strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

How do we govern our lives? Where do we place our minds? We place them on the Word of God. We both HEAR and DO what our God has told us. We must get back to the Word of God.

Hebrews 4:12 … the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword

God loves us, and wants only the best for us. If we will be victorious, let us give our hearts and minds to Jesus. Let us trust in what He said. Let us both HEAR and DO His good pleasure. This is the way to reclaim our land. This is the way we as God’s Church will lead America out of the horrid hole it has gotten itself into.

We need Jesus, and His Word, as Lord over our lives. Let us follow Him with all that we have. For Christ’s sake I pray. Amen and amen.

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Unto Us

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Turn with me to the Book of Isaiah, often called the Old Testament Gospel of Christ. If you’re looking for it, go to the middle of your Bible to Psalms, the Hebrew Hymnbook. From Psalms go to Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, ISAIAH. While you’re turning there, I want to talk about the state of our world in 2020.

If I remember 2020 for anything, it will not be for the Coronavirus (a world-wide pandemic), nor for who won or lost the Presidency. What will make 2020 stand out in my mind is the incredible divisiveness and pettiness that I have seen from all of America.

I am told a local Church near us had a “split” the other day over the wearing of “masks”. That’s foolish. How are you going to explain that to Jesus on judgment day? (And yes, even Christians will be judged).

People are fighting about masks. They are fighting about politics. They are tattling on one another at the bequest of the state. I have read of people turning in other people to law enforcement because they had “too many” over for a family Thanksgiving meal. The Bible teaches us that we are to love God and love our neighbor. The Apostle Paul settled an argument over what could and could not be eaten at a Church supper by saying:

If what I eat offends my brother in Christ, I will eat no flesh while the world stands. I do not want to hurt my brother!”
(my paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 8:13)

The arguments and division do not come from God.
They come from the devil and the darkness.
It hurts my heart when I see us in such confusion!

1 Corinthians 14:33 God is NOT the Author of Confusion,
but of Peace

Where confusion is, God is not. The Prophet Daniel – the man responsible for training the Magi (Wise Men) who went out to find the baby Jesus – prayed a great prayer. In that prayer he told God:

Daniel 9:7-9 O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day … 8 O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee. 9 To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him;

Beloved, our Lord Jesus said “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand” (Matthew 12:25).

We need to re-center ourselves – to get back to Christ.
Our communities need Christ.
Our Churches need Christ.

I asked God what I should preach this week, and as I prayed the content of Isaiah 9:6 came to my heart:

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

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

Unto US A Child Is Born

In the first thirteen words of our text, the phrase “unto US” is repeated twice. What is this season we call “Christmas” about? It is what God did for US. He did not do it just for the Jew, nor for just one nation. The Apostle said:

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

God came in to humanity as a Jew, a Jew born of a virgin. But God did not come into humanity as a Jew just for the Jews. God came into humanity for the Jews FIRST because God keeps His promises.

God keeps His promises!

God promised King David – a Jew – that the Messiah would come from his lineage. Why? Because one day David was praying, thanking God for all the things that the Lord had blessed him with.

Have YOU thanked God for that which He has blessed YOU with today?

As David thanked God, he realized that he had a fine home, a palace to live in with Bathsheba his wife. And yet God had no home to stay in. David got under conviction. He told Nathan the Prophet, “I have a nice home. But God’s Ark – that which represents His Throne – it’s housed in a tent!” Nathan told David, “Follow your heart, for God is with you” (2 Samuel 7:1-3). That night God sent Nathan back to David, telling him:

2 Samuel 7:5 Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in? 6 Whereas I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle.

God never asked for a house. But He loved David for what was in his heart, and promised him:

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

With those words God promised that He would send His Son through the line of David, a Jew. Jesus was born a Jew because David was a Jew, and God promised David an eternal Son and an eternal Throne. Unto us a child is born means that God will keep His promise to David. But Unto us a child is born does not mean that God just keeps His promises to the Jews. God keeps His promises to everyone.

We All Come From The Same Stock.

Before there were ever Jews, God made our first parents, Adam and Eve. God made Adam and Eve – the prototype human – after His image. The Bible says:

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

This is God’s design. People ask me, “Were Adam and Eve white, black, red, or yellow?” And my reply is, YES! Adam and Eve had the ability – based upon Divine Design – to be any color, and any skin and hair type. God made humanity with skin cells called melanocytes. Melanocytes produce a pigment called MELANIN. As one source notes, “The difference in skin color between lightly and darkly pigmented individuals is due to their level of melanocyte activity; it is not due to the number of melanocytes in their skin”.

We do not know what color our first parents, Adam and Eve, were. We do know that God told Adam and Eve to multiply, and fill the earth. Man began disobeying God early on, and settled in the land of Shinar (Genesis 11:1-9). Because they would not voluntarily do as God commanded, God confounded their language, that they would not understand one another’s speech. This caused humanity to spread.

When we speak of human melanin and what we call “race” – God does not even use that word in the Bible. Not for people. I looked it up. The word “race” is found four times in the King James, and each time it is used for running, not for color. When the Apostle Paul preached the Gospel at Athens, he said “of our God …

Acts 17:24-26 … God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25 neither is worshiped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26 and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth

Racism is evil. Racism in any form is evil. The God Who, in love, made Adam and Eve in His image. We are all offspring of that prototype. We are all of one blood. Though our disobedience at Babel scattered us, we are all of one race. We are the HUMAN race. Unto US a child is born.

Jesus died for the US. He died for the white, the black, the red, the yellow. Jesus Christ – Eternal God – would become humanity so that He could redeem humanity. Beloved, we are all born into this life sinners, corrupted because of our first parents. The Apostle Paul, himself a Jew, said:

Romans 3:9-12 What then? are we {Jews} better than {the Gentiles}? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; 10 as it is written, {here the Apostle quotes Psalm 53:1-3 & 14:1-3}There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Racism is foolish because it assumes a particular outward color of a person determines their standing with God. God says, NO! You ALL are far from Me.

Romans 3:23 All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.

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

It was Babel and the Divine Design of the human body that caused people to scatter, and colors to begin to change. Disobedience to God brought confusion and death over all the world. Yet God promised that “unto US a Child is born”.

The devil brought and brings division. God the Father sent His Son to bring us together. The Apostle Paul, addressing racist and godless tendencies in the Church at Corinth, said:

2 Corinthians 5:14-19 the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. 16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh:

I have read this text many times, but only today has it jumped out like a cobra after a meal! Christ Jesus – that Child born in Bethlehem – died for ALL. He did not die just for people like me, but for ALL people. Once you grasp that, the Apostle says, you are NOT to live for yourself, but for HIM Who died for all. That person you see, whether they be like you or not, Jesus Christ died for him. The Apostle said, and I paraphrase him:

Because Jesus died for ALL, we who are Christians know no one AFTER THE FLESH.

The color of a person should mean nothing at all to the right minded Christian. God loved that person of whatever color enough to shed His Son’s blood for him, as well as for you and I. The Apostle goes on to say:

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

What matters – or should matter – to the Church of Christ is whether or not a person is IN CHRIST – not what color of skin that person has. Unto US a Child is born.

Unto US A Son Is Given

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given …

The Child was BORN, but the SON was GIVEN. The Son of God was never born, but He Himself is eternal God, ever living, never ceasing. The Apostle John said of the Son of God:

John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Jesus Christ – the Eternal Word of God – WAS GOD. He was in the beginning with God. How much so? The Apostle says, ALL THINGS WERE MADE BY HIM. Jesus Christ is Creator God. We are told in:

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

It was Jesus Christ Who walked in the Garden of Eden. It was Jesus Christ Who formed Adam from the dust of the ground, and Eve from Adam’s rib. It was Jesus Christ Who walked in Eden that horrible day that Adam ate that which was forbidden. It was Jesus Christ Who cried out, “Adam, where are you?” It was Jesus Christ Who told the serpent of his future destruction, saying:

Genesis 3:15 I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

It is Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son of God, who was GIVEN to cover the sins of all who will receive Him. It is this Jesus of Whom we are told:

Hebrews 1:1-6 God … 2 hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by {Jesus} also {God} made the worlds; 3 {Jesus} being the brightness of {God’s} glory, and the express image of {God’s} person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; 4 … 5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? 6 And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

When the Child was born, the Angel told Mary:

Luke 1:35 The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

This was God keeping His promise, the one made to the serpent in Genesis 3:15. Isaiah foretold this “seed of the woman” by saying:

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name {God with us}.

God would come to be with us through Mary. The Son of God is eternal, and has always been. But the Child born of that virgin Mary, God incarnate, is the Child born. The Son was given so that He might redeem His fallen world, the world hijacked by satan. But the Child was born to show the love that God has for every person. The Child was born so that God Himself could intervene in the confusion, and bring us back to Himself.

When the Son of God was born through Mary, He was born as the Son of Man to make payment for our sins. Born a Jew, He died for all. The horror of racism is that it covers up the great love and truth of the Gospel. God’s Son humbled Himself.

Jesus humbled Himself in Bethlehem, being born in a manger.
Jesus humbled Himself in family, being raised in Nazareth.

Jesus humbled Himself as He walked the earth. He had no home.
Just as God has no house, Jesus refused to buy property.
He wanted to save a people to Himself.
The Son of God humbled Himself to the Cross.

Philippians 2:5-11 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

When we receive the Son of God as Lord and Savior, we ourselves become children of God, all equal in standing. Though receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will not change my skin color, it should change how I regard other people’s skin color. Though receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will not change my Divinely Designed sexuality, it should change how I regard the opposite sex. The Apostle declared:

Galatians 3:26-29 ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior gives us power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name (John 1:12). There are no second class citizens in the Heaven that our God occupies. There are no second class Christians in the Kingdom of God. All people have value, a value not derived by skin color, but by faith in Jesus.

Jesus Christ came into the world to tear down the walls that people build around themselves because of sin and racism.

Ephesians 2:14 … {Jesus} is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

By being born and going to Calvary, Jesus tore down the barriers between us and God, and between us and others. We who are saved are to be “fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). Born again by faith in Christ, the Christian views the world with different eyes. All that we see have the potential to be son of God. All.

The Government Shall Be Upon His Shoulder

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

When a person is saved, that person receives Jesus not only as SAVIOR, but also as LORD. “The government shall be upon His shoulder”. Jesus is my King. Jesus is my Lord. Do not believe that you can be saved by faith in a half- Jesus. A half- Jesus will not save a whole, broken you. We are told in:

Hebrews 3:6 Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

When Jesus walked the earth, He had no house, He was as God in the Old Testament. He ascended unto Heaven, but has a house now upon this earth. That “house” is you, dear Christian. Christ is in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). A.W. Tozer wrote in his devotional:

No Christian believer should ever forget what the Bible says about the Person and the offices of the eternal Son, the Christ of God. “God hath made this same Jesus whom ye have crucified both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Jesus means Savior; Lord means Sovereign; Christ means Anointed One. The apostle Peter did not proclaim Jesus only as Savior; he preached to them Jesus as Lord and Christ and Savior, never dividing His Person or His offices. Remember, also, the declaration of Paul: “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, thou shalt be saved.” Three times in the passage to the Roman Christians telling how to be saved, Paul calls Jesus “Lord.” He says that faith in the Lord Jesus plus confession of that faith to the world brings salvation to us!”

The government is on His shoulders. Let me ask you:

Have you been hurt by racism, thoughtless people, ungodly actions?

Turn it over to Jesus!

After noting that the government is on His shoulder (Jesus is in charge of His people), this Child Born and Son Given is given FOUR titles:

Wonderful Counselor (there is no comma in the Hebrew)
Mighty God
Everlasting Father
Prince of Peace

FOUR is the number of REST in the Bible. The fourth commandment is to remember a day of rest. Have you been hurt by racism, favoritism, meanness? Tell it to Jesus, the Wonderful Counselor. Share the burden with Him Who loves you so. Do not seek vengeance – seek to be like a Child of God. Jesus was hurt by ungodly people, and yet turned the other cheek. Jesus commands us:

Matthew 5:44-45 I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Have you been denigrated? Devalued? Share the hurt with your Jesus. Give it to the Mighty God that He is. Let God fight your battles – you live for Him. You need not avenge yourselves. Hasn’t Jesus promised:

Romans 12:19-21 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Do good to those who do bad to you. Overcome evil not with more evil. Fire does not fight fire, but makes the blaze larger. I was often curious about the “heaping burning coals of fire on the enemy’s head” statement. In ancient times people used small, portable stoves to cook their meals. When the coals went out, they would carry the stove to a friends house, usually carrying the stove on their heads. A friend would given them a “heaping portion” of lit coals to carry home on their heads.

Do good, Beloved, when evil is done to you.

Let us live for Him Who gave so much for us. If you have seen Christ, you have seen the Everlasting Father. If you possess Christ, then you possess the Prince of Peace. Let us not play the devil’s game, burning our families, our communities, our churches, and our country down. If you have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, every day is another day headed home. If you do not know Him as Lord and Savior, He bids you come to Him today. He came for you! Will you go with our Jesus? May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit this very day. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Christmas, Christmas Sermons, Isaiah, Sermons Preached | Tagged | Leave a comment

Jesus Is The Christ

Photo by Tim Umphreys on Unsplash

What we call “The Christmas Story”, the conception and birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, is only found in two books of the New Testament. It is found in the Gospel of Matthew, a Jewish Tax Collector who became an Apostle of Jesus Christ. More of the Christmas Story is found in the Gospel of Luke, a “beloved Gentile Physician” (Colossians 4:14) who was a companion of the Apostle Paul. We’ll talk about Luke’s account this coming Sunday night at Riverview. So turn with me in your Bible to Matthew chapter 1.

Matthew 1:1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Matthew – a Levite – makes three claims about Jesus

  • First, Matthew says “Jesus is the Christ”, the Messiah that God promised to send to mankind in the Old Testament. Christ”, the Greek Christos, is not Jesus’ last name, but His function. Later on in the Book of Matthew as Jesus enters the coasts of Cæsarea Philippi, He asks His disciples,

Matthew 16:13 Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

Cæsarea Philippi was a well known seat of idolatry. The other disciples gave a variety of answers as to the popular concept of who Jesus was. It was Peter who declared:

Matthew 16:16 … Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Jesus affirmed that Peter had spoken truly – that He is, indeed, THE Christ. Jesus is the Messiah promised. When Jesus stood before the High Priest just before His crucifixion, the Priest demanded:

Matthew 26:63 … I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.

Jesus told the High Priest You said it yourself” (Matthew 26:63). The High Priest tore his clothing, saying, “This Man has spoken blasphemy”. The Jews knew that when the Messiah came, that He would be “God with us”, the Christ. Jesus is the One and Only Messiah, promised of God throughout the Old Testament.

  • Matthew also declared Jesus to be “the Son of David”. If Jesus is the Christ, then He MUST be the Son of David. God made a promise to King David in:

2 Samuel 7:12-14 And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. 14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son.

Messiah would come from the House of David. God promised this would happen in what we call the “Davidic Covenant”. David was to have a Son sit on his throne that would rule forever. When Jacob lay dying, he told Judah:

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

Shiloh” literally means “Him Who Is Sent”. Judah was to rule Israel (David was of the Tribe of Judah) until “Him Who Was Sent” – the Messiah – came. Throughout His ministry Jesus declared that He was the One sent as Messiah. He said in:

Luke 10:16 … he that despiseth Me despiseth Him {God} that sent me.

Mark 9:37 … whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.

John 13:20 … he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.

John 5:23 … He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

John 5:30 … I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

Jesus is the Christ, the Shiloh that Jacob foresaw. He is the Messiah sent for us all, if we would but receive Him.

  • Jesus is also the Son of Abraham. Why is this important? It is because God promised Abraham:

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

God told Abraham that “in thee shall ALL FAMILIES OF THE EARTH be blessed. The Messiah was not just coming to save the Jews. Jesus was coming to save whosoever will believe in Him. God prophesied of the Coming Messiah:

Isaiah 42:1,4 -7 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. … 4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law. 5 Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: 6 I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee,and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; 7 to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

To prove that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of David and Son of Abraham, Mark gives a genealogy of our Lord Jesus. When we read the genealogies in Scripture, I must confess, I often get sleepy. Yet Matthew quotes this genealogy to prove to Jesus meets the criteria of the Messiah. He starts Christ’s lineage in …

Matthew 1:2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judah and his brethren …

The genealogy continues unbroken to verse 6, where we read:

Matthew 1:6 and Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Uriah;

Matthew’s lineage of our Lord Jesus begins at Abraham, continues through David, and ends with:

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

Jesus is “called Christ”, designated the Messiah. His lineage traced through Joseph His stepfather qualifies Him to be the Messiah.

Joseph Was The Stepfather Of Jesus,
But Not His Father

Matthew 1:18 … Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise…

Word Study The word translated “birth” is the Greek γέννησις génnēsis, (pronounced ghen’-nay-sis). Yes, it means “birth”, but I find it interesting that the word sounds so much like Genesis. It is in the Book of Genesis that we see the creation of the world and the universe. We see the creation of mankind. We see Adam’s sin against God, and the loss of Eden. Throughout the Book of Genesis we see a list of people, some who did good, others who did badly. When you look at the Genealogy of Jesus presented by Matthew, every person mentioned is flawed. The Messiah did not come from a sinless line of people.

  • In verse 3 we see Tamar. Tamar was Judah’s daughter-in-law, who became pregnant by Judah (see Genesis 38).
  • In verse 5 we see Rahab, a Canaanite prostitute who hid the spies from the Canaanites when Israel entered Canaan (see Joshua 2:13; 6:17-25).
  • In verse 5 we see Ruth, a Moabitess (see Ruth 1). The Moabites were forbidden to enter the congregation of Israel (see Deuteronomy 23:2). Ruth, however, became a believer in the Lord – and became part of the lineage of Jesus.
  • In verse 6 we see David, not as King but as adulterer and murderer. He killed Uriah so that he could have Bathsheba, his wife.
  • In verse 10 we see Hezekiah, one of the five godly Kings of Israel. His son Manasseh would be the most evil king in all of Israel’s history (see 2 Kings 21:2-7)
  • In verse 13 we see Zerubbabel, the godly leader of the Jews in the second return from the Babylonian exile (see Ezra 1-6). When we come to Zerubbabel’s son Abiud, as well as his descendants to Joseph’s father Jacob are not mentioned anywhere else in the Scripture. They are obscure.

The genealogy is marked by sinful, fallible, broken, and unknown people. This is why the Messiah had to come into the world. From Adam’s sin until the coming of Christ mankind is marked by brokenness. Raymond E. Brown in his book An Introduction to the New Testament notes that the genealogy of Jesus is in three sets of fourteen:

Matthew 1:17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.

Brown notes that:

The first fourteen names are Patriarchs
The second fourteen names are Kings
The third fourteen names are Unknown or Obscure ancestors

Jesus’ Genesis Was Not Like Yours And Mine

The Messiah – though His lineage would be traced back to Abraham through Joseph – would not be Joseph’s child. He would be God’s Child. Read with me:

Matthew 1:18 -19 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.

The GENESIS of Jesus the Messiah would be different than any other birth. Throughout the lineage of Jesus children were conceived as they were always conceived, born as they were always born. All of these people – regardless as to whether they were Patriarchs, Princes, or Prostitutes – were all fallen people. They were all sinners. Even the best of them fell short of the glory of God. The Bible tells us that:

1 Corinthians 15:21-22 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Adam’s sin caused not just himself, but all of his progeny (that’s us) to fall into sin. We are born physically alive into this world, but spiritually dead. The Apostle tells us that:

Romans 5:12, 15 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: … 15 But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. For if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

The Christ came into this world differently than any other man had ever been born. Through man sin entered the world. Man passed sin to his progeny. God foretold the coming of the Messiah Who would break this cycle of death. The Messiah had to be a man – just as Scripture prophesied – but He had to be a man different from any other Man.

Joseph was “BETROTHED” to Mary. This was a legally binding Jewish custom. The period of betrothal lasted around a year prior to the full sexual consummation of the marriage. Joseph had paid the dowry expected of Mary’s parents, and both he and Mary entered into what we today would call an “engagement” period. Joseph had yet to consummate the marriage. Why the delay? Perhaps because he was preparing a place for his bride. I do not know, but know that both were to stay chaste during the betrothal. In Verse 18 we are told:

before they came together, {Mary} was found
with child of the Holy Ghost

God promised the serpent, that old Devil (see Revelation 12:9), in the Garden of Eden that his destruction would come of the seed of the woman:

Genesis 3:15 I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

I am not a biology whiz, but even I know that women do not carry seed. Women bear eggs – men bear seed. The man joins with the woman, and impregnates her by sowing his seed on her egg. This is the way God made us to reproduce. But God told that old devil, the serpent “your head will be crushed by the seed of the woman”. This was the first prophecy of the Coming Messiah, the promise that He would come into the world differently from any other man before Him. The Messiah would be virgin born. Jesus Christ is the “Seed of the Woman” spoken of.

When Joseph found Mary to be pregnant, knowing that he himself was NOT the father (for he obeyed the covenant of marriage), he was put in a predicament. Had he accused Mary of infidelity before the High Priest, Mary would have stoned to death. The Law declared:

Deuteronomy 22:20-21 … if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: 21 then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.

Joseph was “a just man”. He wasn’t sinless – none of us but Jesus are. But he decided to “put Mary away privately”. Joseph went home to sleep on the matter. I can imagine him tossing and turning that night. Yet the Bible tells us:

Matthew 1:20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

The phrase “Angel of the Lord” appears 64 times in the Bible. Who is this “Angel”? In the Gospel of Luke, Zacharias is praying and fulfilling his priestly duties when

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

This angel goes on to tell Zacharias:

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

I suspect that this Angel of the Lord Who appeared to Joseph is the same Arch-Angel that appeared to Zacharias, John the Baptist’s father. Gabriel tells Joseph

Matthew 1:20 … fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost

The Messiah, our Jesus, is different than any other human born. When the Angel Gabriel goes to tell Mary about her pregnancy, Gabriel describes it this way:

Luke 1:35 The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

Word Study The fetal Jesus is described as a “Holy Thing” in the King James. This is the Greek ἅγιος hágios, {pronounced hag’-ee-os}, which means holy, consecrated, morally blameless. The Holy Spirit Who causes Mary’s pregnancy is called hágios pneuma. The word hágios is used of God. Our God is holy, holy, holy:

Isaiah 6:3 {the angels cry} Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

Revelation 4:8 {the angels rest not by day nor night, but cry out} Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.

That Child that Mary is carrying is holy, pure, without the stain of sin that afflicts us all. Jesus Christ is the second Adam. The first Adam, made of the dust of the ground, was made and named by God.

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

The father usually named the children. In the case of Jesus, Joseph will not name the Child. Joseph is not the father, but the stepfather, the surrogate parent. He is a good man, and a wonderful caretaker for his family. But he is not the father of Christ. God is the Father of the humanity of Christ. Gabriel relays to Joseph what he has been commanded:

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

Why “Jesus”? What Is The Significance Of His Name?

Why was “Jesus” named “Jesus”? What is the significance of His name? We have a clue in our focal text. Gabriel said:

Matthew 1:21 … thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins

Word Study The name “Jesus” in the Greek text is Ἰησοῦς Iēsoûs, (pronounced ee-ay-sooce’), which means “Yahweh is salvation”. The same name in the Hebrew – the native tongue of the Jew – isיְהוֹשׁוּעַ Yᵉhôwshûwaʻ, {pronounced yeh-ho-shoo’-ah}, which also means “Yahweh is salvation”. When Israel entered into the Promised Land of Canaan, it was Joshua the Son of Nun who led them:

Joshua 1:1-3 Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, 2 Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.

Moses died prior to entering the Promised Land because of sin in his life. Joshua (the Hebrew Yᵉhôwshûwaʻ, {pronounced yeh-ho-shoo’-ah}) led the Old Testament Israel into the Promised Land. The New Testament Joshua – Jesus – will lead His people into the Promised Land. This Jesus would be born to lead the New Covenant believer in power into the land of promise. Heaven is our home, and earth our pilgrimage. We belong to God because of Christ.

Thou shalt call His Name Yᵉhôwshûwaʻ” is what Joseph heard. And Yᵉhôwshûwaʻ – God our Savior – shall save His people from their sins. The Christmas Story begins with a promise from God. The Messiah – Jesus Christ our Lord – will save all who believe on Him from their sins. When God prophesied of the coming Messiah He told Israel:

Psalms 130:7-8 Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

This Child, this Messiah did not come just to cover our sins, but to save us from our sins. This Jesus …

Titus 2:14 … Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Jesus came to take broken humanity, to take us from that broken state and bring us into union with God. The Blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). Jesus is the satisfactory covering for our sins (1 John 2:1-2). He was manifested – brought into humanity through Mary – to take away our sins (1 John 3:5). To those who come unto Jesus the Christ they are to be new creatures in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17).

This Christmas, as you see the decorative lights often displayed in and around the homes, let us remember that God became Man so that He might bring Man to God. This baby that Mary is carrying will grow up to “wash us from our sins in His own Blood. He has made us who believe in Him kings and priests unto God and His Father: to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever” (Revelation 1:5-6).

If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, Beloved, call upon Him this very day. Whosoever calls upon the Name of the Lord Jesus shall be saved. Amen and Amen!

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Salvation Is Of The Lord!

Photo by Milan Seitler on Unsplash

Many people today that profess to be “Christian” do not believe what their Bible says. Liberalism and Leftism has infiltrated the Church of Jesus Christ, teaching that this grand old Book is just a figment of a human’s imagination.

The devil’s trifecta, Darwinian Evolution, Critical Race Theory and Gender Fluidity has replaced the Biblical account of Adam and Eve and Divine Design.

People are afraid to proclaim that God made anything. People are accidents of nature, and life is cheap. To have a guaranteed full Church and a fat check, do not preach this Bible as God’s Book.

Beloved, I still believe the Book. I have to believe the Book, because Jesus believed the Book. Jesus said …

John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and {these Scriptures} testify of me.

When Jesus said this the New Testament had not yet been written. The “Scriptures” our Lord is speaking of is what we call “The Old Testament”. Jesus said that the Old Testament focused on two things: eternal life, and Jesus Himself. “The Scriptures testify of Me”. All of the Bible points to Jesus Christ, the Messiah. The Scriptures point to His love, His foretelling, His virgin birth, His earthly ministry, His horrible death on Calvary, His resurrection from the grave on the third day, His Church, and His second Coming. The Bible is about Jesus. Jesus would not have commanded us to “search the Scriptures” if He did not believe it to be true. Jesus extensively quoted the Old Testament while He walked on this earth. The Church proper is:

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

The APOSTLES wrote the New Testament, the PROPHETS the Old Testament. The CORNERSTONE of both Books is Jesus Christ.

It is not surprising that, when Jesus spoke of His impending death, burial, and resurrection, He would reference the Old Testament. One of His references was Jonah.

Jesus said in Matthew 12:39-40 An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah: 40 for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Word Study Modern people look at our Lord’s statement with doubt. Many have said, “There is no way a WHALE swallowed Jonah”.

I agree!

What the King James translates as “whale” is actually the Greek κῆτος κοιλία kētos koilía, (pronounced kay’-tos koy-lee’-ah), which means the belly of a huge fish. The Septuagint (according to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon) says “Matthew 12:40, from Jonah 2:1 where the Septuagint, κήτει μεγάλῳ for גָּדול דַּג.”. Jesus said it was a “the belly of a great fish”. This is exactly what the Book of Jonah tells us. Turn with me to

Jonah 1:17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

The Hebrew tells us that Jonah was in theמֵעֶה me`ah דָּג dag (pronounced may-aw’ dawg), in the belly of a great fish. How is this possible that a man can live in the belly of a great fish three days and nights? It is because God engineered the man, and God engineered the fish. God made both for a specific purpose, and God can do anything He wants to do.

Our God is a miracle making God.

I do not find the great fish incredulous. The God Who hung the stars in space can make a great fish that can swallow a man. Jesus believed it, and tied the story of Jonah to His death and burial. What amazes me is that God can use broken things – like Jonah, you, and I – to do His magnificent good!

Our Lord Loves Our Broken World,
And Sends The Broken Saved Out To Save It

Jonah 1:1-2 Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. 3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

The Bible tells us “the Word of the Lord came to Jonah, the son of Amittai”. Don’t gloss over any of this. God chose Jonah to go to Ninevah for Him, to proclaim the Gospel. Why did God choose Jonah? The text tells us that

Jonah was the son of Amittai, the prophet.

This is repeated in 2 Kings 14:25-27. Amittai was a prophet, and Jonah was a Preacher’s kid. Jonah grew up under the preaching of his father. He is like so many that tell me “I’ve been going to Church my whole life”. Jonah knew the heart of God. Jonah knew that God loves people. After all, people are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). And the Bible tells us that,

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

God wants people to repent, to turn from following the false gods and goddesses, and to follow Him. God made us to follow Him. God tells Jonah to GO – this an Imperative – a command – “GO to Ninevah, the capital city of Assyria”. What is he to do?

vs 2 cry against it; for their wickedness is come up
before me

God is going to destroy Nineveh if the people do not repent. God destroyed the world by flood because of wickedness:

Genesis 6:5-7 … God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. 7 And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth

God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of wickedness:

Genesis 18:20-21 the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; 21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.

God will destroy Nineveh because of wickedness. Jonah, you go out and CRY AGAINST IT. Do not justify it’s darkness. Tell them I love them, but they must repent!

As God speaks to Jonah, He speaks to the Church today. “Arise …. Go …. Cry Against. These are Imperatives in the Hebrew text – they are not suggestions but are commands. Destruction is coming, but it can be averted. The nation must repent. They must stop, and heed God. You, like Jonah, stand in a place of the intercessor. A loving God will do what He does not want to do. If the cancer is not averted, the world will perish. Jonah, go right now. Tell them to repent. Don’t entertain them – tell them.

How did Jonah respond? He ran away. Jonah thought by running that he could get away from the Presence of the Lord. You cannot hide from God!

Hebrews 4:13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

Psalm 139 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”

Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh. Why? There were several reasons. When God came to Jonah, the Commentary Critical & Explanatory on the Whole Bible states:

this prophecy of Jonah was given at a time when Israel was at the lowest point of depression, when “there was not any shut up or left,” that is, confined or left at large, none to act as a helper for Israel”

Assyria was the enemy of Israel, and
Nineveh the capital city of the enemy.

So many Christians today want to take the “Benedictine Option”, to wall up themselves as if a monastery, to hide from the world. Yet this is not an option. If you are saved by faith in Christ, you are to LOVE GOD and LOVE OTHERS. Jesus commanded:

Matthew 5:44-45 I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Our Lord loves people. But when a people drift too far from Him, His love for the world will lead Him to destroy that which is cancerous, that He might save the whole. Jonah ran. Too many believers today run. No, you cannot run. There is no option to run!

If you run, God will find you. If you run, destruction will come upon you. Jonah must stand!

Jonah 1:4-7 … the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. 5 Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep. 6 So the ship-master came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not. 7 And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.

Proverbs 16:33 tells us The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord”. Jonah, you cannot hide. You must stand with Jesus.

Jonah 1:8-10 Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou? 9 And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land. 10 Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.

Jonah was honest, and I believe at heart a decent man. He just did not want to heed the Lord. But the Lord gave him no option to disobey. God does not expect you to be perfect, dear Christian, but He does expect you to be obedient. Jonah asked the men to throw him overboard. He was ready to die for his convictions.

But Jonah would not die, because Jesus had something He wanted Jonah to do!

Jonah 1:15-17 So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows. 17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Jesus was ready with the Great Fish! Did you read that? “The Lord HAD PREPARED a great fish to swallow up Jonah”. When God gives you something to do, there are two great truths that follow:

  • God will prepare the way so that you can do what He said.
  • You WILL do what God said!

The Belly Of The Fish Is A Blessing
If It Leads You To Walk With Jesus

When Jonah was called to go to Nineveh, he ran. He did not pray. He did not seek God’s direction. He ran in the opposite direction. But now, Jonah is in the Belly of Hell! He is in a bad spot because of disobedience. But this trial is a blessing, for it causes him to pray.

Jonah 2:1-9 Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly, 2 and said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. 3 For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. 4 Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. 5 The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. 6 I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God. 7 When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. 8 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. 9 But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.

Do you know why – many times – we find ourselves in the belly of hell? It is because we did not do as Jesus said. God uses trials as a mother who loves her child uses a switch. Jonah now prays “out of the belly of hell”. This is a great fish, the BELLY of a great fish. Stomach acids are churning around him. As a fisherman, I have enjoyed the smell of dead fish before. Imagine being locked up with that smell! Jonah prays. He said:

vs 2 I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me

As Jonah prays, he is actually quoting scripture. His words are from …

Psalms 120:1 … In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me.

Jonah prayed the Scripture back to God. Jonah quotes Psalm 18:4-6; Psalm 116:3-4, 18; Psalm 31:6; and Psalm 116:18. As a son of God Jonah prayed the Word of God back to it’s Author.

The exhale of prayer is most sweet when it is based on the daily inhale of the Word of God!

Jonah stopped running. Jonah repents. He promised the Lord that he would “pay that I have vowed”. If you are a child of God you owe Him allegiance. Jonah also is given a great truth, a truth that he ends his prayer with.

Salvation Is Of The Lord Jesus”

Jonah 2:9 … Salvation is of the Lord.

It is our Lord Jesus Who makes salvation possible. It is the Holy Spirit of God that must move the heart. It is the Kingdom of the Father that our Lord strives to fill. Salvation is of the Lord!

Jonah 3:1-4 … the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, 2 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. 3 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey. 4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.

Thank God for second chances! God gave Jonah a second chance. He tells Jonah, preach unto Nineveh the preaching that I bid thee. Jonah, you go and be My representative. You go and tell them what I tell you. Jonah is not responsible for the results. Jonah is just to share the message that God gives him. His words?

Jonah 3:4 …Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.

This is no feel good, soothing message, but God’s Word often isn’t. It was a simple message, delivered by a reluctant messenger. Yet it is God Who changes people. God takes the text, and moves the heart with it.

This sermon that Jonah preaches would have earned a FAIL in seminary or Bible college.

Here we see the miracle of the Book of Jonah. The miracle is not the big fish swallowing Jonah. The miracle is not that Jonah survived the swallowing of the great fish. The miracle is God moving the hearts of people. God, through Jonah’s simple message, worked in the hearts of the people. The Scripture says:

Jonah 3:5-10 So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. 6 For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: 8 but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. 9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? 10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

What would happen in our fallen country if as Christians we began to share Jesus – not our political party but JESUS – with others. Wouldn’t that be a blessing? Wouldn’t God move the hearts of Americans?

Beloved, The Hope Of The Nation Is Jesus Christ

In chapter one Jonah ran from God lest Nineveh be saved.

In chapter two Jonah ran to God in prayer, gaining release from the great fish.

In chapter three Jonah ran for God, telling Nineveh what God said.

But now in chapter four Jonah is upset with God.

Jonah 4:1-4 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. 2 And he prayed unto the Lord, and said, I pray thee, O Lord, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. 3 Therefore now, O Lord, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live. 4 Then said the Lord, Doest thou well to be angry?

How foolish this is! If you are saved, you ought to want others to experience the joy of salvation. What hatred it is to withhold Divine Salvation from any person! The Apostle said:

1 John 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

The Bible says that “Jesus died for all” (2 Corinthians 5:15).

The Bible says that “Jesus tasted death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9).

The Bible says that “Jesus is the satisfactory payment for sin” (1 John 2:2). The Bible says that “God so loved the world” (John 3:16).

The Bible says Jesus “gave Himself a ransom for all people” (1 Timothy 2:3-6).

The heart right with God rejoices when others are saved. Jonah is foolish! God illustrates Joshua’s foolishness with a gourd. He causes a gourd to grow up to shade Jonah – then allows the gourd to be killed by a worm. When Jonah is angry over this the Lord tells him:

Jonah 4:10-11 Then said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not labored, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: 11 and should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

God wanted to save Nineveh because there were 120,000 children in that place (a child does not know their right hand from their left). God did not want to destroy the nation. When you do not witness, dear Christian, but instead focus on the gourds of life, you miss the bigger picture. That man that you do not tell about Jesus will not only die in his sins and go to hell, but his children may remain lost as well. That woman that you do not share Christ with may never be saved. If she is not saved, what of her children? What of the children? Let us not run from what God has called us to do, but to stand up for Him. The world needs Jesus. Everyone needs Jesus.

Let’s share Jesus with others as we enjoy the gift of life. Let’s tell them that Jesus Christ loves them so much, that He descended into the belly of hell for us. Oh what a great love this is! Oh, what a great love!

If you do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, I beg you, come to Him believing this very day. Only by faith in Christ can anyone be saved. Oh Lord, bless this message to the saving and revival of our nation. Amen and Amen!

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Three Witnesses For God

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Romans 1:16-22 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools …

Word Study Several times in our focal text tonight the Apostle uses the word “FOR”, the Greek conjunction γάρ gar. We see the word in verses 16, 17, 18, 19 & 20. The conjunction gar is used by the Apostle as if he were a Lawyer defending God in a courtroom, presenting evidence to the jury. You can render the word “for”, though in a judicial context you could use it’s stronger definition of “truly therefore” or “verily, as the case stands”.

Ancient Rome had and prescribed worship of many gods and goddesses. To name just a few, they had Jupiter (aka Zeus), the King of the gods; Juno (aka Hera), the queen of the gods; Minerva (aka Athena), goddess of wisdom and arts; Neptune (aka Poseidon), god of the sea; Venus (aka Aphrodite), the goddess of love; Mars (aka Ares), the god of war; Apollo, the god of light and music … I could continue on and on. Rome was a melting pot, just as is America. As people were conquered and brought into the Roman Empire, they were allowed to bring their gods and goddesses with them.

In Rome, just as in America today, there were “gods many, and lords many” (1 Corinthians 8:5). As the Apostle opened his letter to Rome (America), he wanted the Church at Rome to know that it had to resist and stand against all other gods and goddesses – that there is only One God, the God of Scripture. There is only One Messiah, Jesus Christ.

God warned His Old Covenant Church, Israel, against idolatry. God told His people:

Jeremiah 10:1, 3-5 Learn not the way of the heathen …. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. 4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. 5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.

The false gods and goddesses are but man made idols. They are fashioned by craftsmen, and shaped by imagination. These idols are “upright like a palm tree”, but cannot speak nor move. “They cannot do evil, nor can they do good”. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 115:3-8 … our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. 4 Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. 5 They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: 6 they have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: 7 they have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. 8 They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.

The idols look like gods or goddesses, but are nothing but a figment of man’s (and woman’s) imagination. People might ask, “What’s the harm in following the false god or goddess, the idol?” The Psalmist says:

They that make {idols} are like unto {idols}”

When you make and worship an idol, you waste your time, and your life. The idol has no power to stand with you in hard times. The idol has no power to lead you through the valleys. The most honest idolater I ever heard of was the mythical Conan the Barbarian, who believed in the god Crom, a god who did absolutely nothing for his followers. The God of the Bible is not imaginary, but real. He has left three witnesses that the Apostle focuses on for the Romans.

God Is Real, And Has Placed His First Witness
In Our Own Personal Creation

The Bible teaches us that God has made us in His image and in His likeness:

1 Corinthians 11:7 … a man indeed … is the image and glory of God:

Genesis 1:26-27 God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion27 So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them

Every person is made in the image of God. We were created to love by a loving and eternal God. We are His workmanship. The Prophet said:

Isaiah 64:8 But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.

We did not make God. God made us. He is the First Cause of all life. As our Maker, He has left His fingerprints on us. Our focal text states:

Romans 1:18-19 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

That which may be KNOWN of God is MANIFEST (or REVEALED) in them”. God has left His mark on our souls. Every person, from the time they reach an age where they can reason, knows that there is a God, a Creator of all that we see. God has given us all an internal witness that we are created beings. That internal witness is what we call “the conscience”. Every person is born with a conscience. We are born intuitively knowing what is right, and what is wrong. A child, playing with other children in the sandbox, intuitively knows it is wrong when another child comes up and takes his toy. Why? Because the knowledge that theft is wrong is imparted to the conscience of a person by the loving God Who created us.

The conscience – our sense of right and wrong – can be hardened or over-ridden. We see evidence of this in American life, and the loss of morality in our nation. What has largely caused this hardening and confusion of the conscience? Technology. Mass media. There was a day when Americans knew, by their conscience, what was right and what was wrong. It was wrong to steal, wrong to kill, wrong to sexually abuse someone. But television has hardened our conscience. We have seen so much bloody and sexually charged television that we no longer blush. Gone are the days when television hinted at what went on in the bedroom. Now all is opened up to see. What is the problem with this?

When people no longer blush, but have hardened their conscience to where right is wrong and wrong is right, then that nation is not far from destruction.

When God caused Israel to fall under the armed might of ancient Assyria, they stayed in captivity for 70 years. When God allowed Ezra to lead Israel back home to Jerusalem, the people, rather than learning from their suffering, returned to following the old gods and goddesses of Canaan. When Ezra heard this, the Bible says of Ezra:

Ezra 9:3-10 when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonished. 4 Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had been carried away; and I sat {astonished} until the evening sacrifice. 5 And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the Lord my God, 6 and said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens. 7 Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is this day. 8 And now for a little space grace hath been shewed from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage. 9 For we were bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem. 10 And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? for we have forsaken thy commandments

I wish I had time to preach all of this beautiful prayer that Ezra said, but I cannot right now. There are so many other things that God has placed upon my heart. I do want to note that Ezra used the word BLUSH in his prayer to God (see verse 6). The word BLUSH is only found three times in Scripture. Once in Ezra’s prayer – and twice in Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 6:15 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the Lord.

Jeremiah 8:12 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore shall they fall among them that fall: in the time of their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the Lord.

Both verses in Jeremiah are nearly identical. God tells His nation that – because they have hardened their hearts, and calloused their conscience so much that they NO LONGER BLUSH AT ABOMINATIONS, that God shall cause the nation to fall. Beloved, when Rome fell, it did not fall because it was destroyed from without. Rome fell because it was destroyed from within. It fell because immorality and abomination increased. The people no longer blushed. That is what God warns of in our focal text. Read it with me again:

Romans 1:18-19 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

People know what is right and wrong. Yet they have ignored their conscience, and hardened their hearts to do that which God has said is destructive. Oh, that God would raise up national leaders who would return our nation to it’s moral foundation! God gave the Ten Commandments to Israel on written tablets because they had so far drifted from Biblical morality while in Egyptian captivity. Yet these commandments are actually written in our hearts from our creation. We know what is right and what is wrong, but have allowed peer pressure and mass media to infiltrate our souls, hardening us to the right and wrong.

We need to turn off the television and computer, and put away the social media. We need to open the Bible, and return to the God Who lovingly made us.

The early Church wrestled with the false prophets and false gods. The Apostle prescribed to the Pastor Titus to resist the false gods and their narratives, and any who might bring false beliefs into the body of Christ:

Titus 1:13-15 … rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; 14 not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. 15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. 16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

No one is blessed when we harden our conscience against God (see 1 Timothy 4:1-2). What each citizen does will eventually determine the state of our nation. We must seek out the God Who lovingly made us. He has said:

Proverbs 8:17 I love them that love Me; and those that seek Me early, shall find Me

Creation Itself Is A Witness That A Loving God IS

The Apostle speaks of the CONSCIENCE of a person testifying to the Biblical God, and now speaks of CREATION as a witness to our God.

Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Word Study The invisible God Who is, is clearly seen from the creation of the world. For those who will look at creation, it is impossible not to understand that there must be a Chief Architect, a Chief Creator of all that we see. I like the King James phrase by the things that are made. This phrase is actually just one word in the Greek, the word ποίημα poíēma, {pronounced poy’-ay-mah}. Poíēma means “the workmanship of”.

The creation you see around you is no random act of chance – the interaction and balance of nature is so precise that it cannot be accidental, but architectural.

Mark Yakich, a professor of creative writing at Loyola University New Orleans, and editor of the New Orleans Review notes:

{the word} ‘Poem’ comes from the Greek poíēma, meaning a “thing made,” and a poet is defined in ancient terms as ‘a maker of things.’”

The Apostle uses the word poíēma – or “poem” – to describe the creation that is around us, and of which we are a part. In a poem words work together to bring out a grand idea. In creation, all of creation works together to bring out a grand idea. What is this idea? It is that a loving God made us. We are not accidents, not even what the late Bob Ross would have called “happy accidents”.

The creation you see around you was deliberately made by a Loving God, the God of the Scripture. When we look at creation, we often see horrible things that cloak the poem that God originally wrote. You see, when God made Adam and Eve, He placed them in a perfect Paradise. The weather was so perfect that they had no need even of clothing. Food hung in abundance from trees and vines. This was the poem God originally wrote. But man decided to put his hand to the pen. The Bible tells us that:

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

Adam was given the authority – along with Eve – to dominate the earth for God. Adam chose instead to follow the serpent’s (the devil’s) lead. A loving pen created the poem of creation. Man got hold of the pen, and marred the picture. Our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln said:

I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how a man could look up into the heavens and say there is no God.”

Man often brings damage to the ruin of God’s poem. It is God Who creates life, Who gives the mother the joy and responsibility of bringing forth that wonderful creation we call “baby”. The Psalmist, when looking at his own body, said:

Psalm 139:13-14 For Thou {O Lord}, {have created my innermost parts}: Thou hast {wove} me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

I could point to many fascinating things in nature that are surely the works of God – from honey bee to humming bird to a huge elephant. Yet nothing is as fascinating as the human creation. Did you know that:

  • The average adult heart beats 72 times a minute; 100,000 times a day; 3,600,000 times a year; and 2.5 billion times during a lifetime. Though weighing only 11 ounces on average, a healthy heart pumps 2,000 gallons of blood through 60,000 miles of blood vessels each day.
  • In one square inch of skin there are 65 hairs, 9.5 million cells, 19 yards of blood vessels, 650 sweat glands, 78 yards of nerves with 19.5 thousand sensory cells at the ends of the nerve fibers.
  • Even the simplest human action – a smile or a frown – are very complex. You use around 43 muscles to frown, but only 17 muscles to smile.
  • Have you ever noticed your eyelids will shut when you sneeze? Try to keep your eyes on the road when you’re driving and sneeze. It’s impossible.
  • The human body is fascinating. In his book “Where Is God When It Hurts?” (page 15), Dr. Philip Yancey wrote: “The fingertip … can detect a mere 3 grams of pressure, but not until that pressure exceeds 300 grams will I be able to feel pain there! Why? … Fingertips must be incredibly sensitive to the slightest differences in touch.”

Evolutionary theory has been pushed through mass media and houses of education all around the world. Macro-evolution has been taught for years as settled science. Macro-evolution (not micro-evolution) teaches that mankind evolved from some primordial soup billions of years ago, through numerous stages, such as from cell, to fish, to land creature, to ape, to man. In the article “A World-famous Chemist Tells The Truth: There’s No Scientist Alive Today Who Understands Macro-evolution” we read:

Professor James M. Tour is one of the ten most cited chemists in the world. … He has authored or co-authored 489 scientific publications and his name is on 36 patents. Although he does not regard himself as an Intelligent Design theorist, Professor Tour, along with over 700 other scientists, took the courageous step back in 2001 of signing the Discovery Institute’s “A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism”, which read: “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

God’s response to those who question His creation of all that we see is very simple. He says:

Job 38:4-6 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. 5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? 6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;

I do not doubt the sincerity of the scientists who declare Darwinism to be true. But you can be sincere, and yet wrong. Creation is very clearly not an accident, but an intentional action by a loving Creator.

We have looked at the Conscience and Creation as witnesses to God. Creation and conscience are marred because of sin, because of mankind’s interference with God’s “Poem”.

The Clear & Final Witness Of God Is Jesus Christ

1 Corinthians 15:20-22 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Man can harden his conscience against God. The sin that is in nature because of Adam often gives a distorted view of the Creator. But there is One Clear Witness to the reality of God, and that Witness is Jesus Christ our Lord. God the Father sent His Son into this world for a specific reason.

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

Jesus Christ came into the world – eternal God become perfect Man – to bring us to the God Who made us all. The Bible declares:

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

God sent His Son into the world to bring us to His side. He wants to restore us to what we lost through Adam. Jesus Christ came to make us right in the eyes of God. The blessed Scripture says:

1 John 4:9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

God gave His Son as His Witness – and His Messiah. When we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, believing that He is the Messiah that we must receive as Lord of our lives, then we come into union with the God Who is, the God Who created us. The Apostle says:

1 John 5:9-12 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. 10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. 11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

God made us in His image to walk with Him, to be with Him daily, hourly. Oh Beloved, what joy there is when a soul comes to God by faith in Christ! Life begins to make sense when Jesus Christ comes into your life. In our focal text the Apostle said clearly:

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

When a person surrenders his or her life to Jesus, believing in Him for salvation, then God enters the framework of your daily life. Salvation is all of faith in Jesus Christ. Believe that He gave Himself for you, and bids you to come to Him this very day. The thief comes to kill and steal and destroy. Jesus Christ came so that we might have life, and have life more abundantly (John 10:10).

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

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