Is It True?

Daniel 3:13-14 Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo. Then they brought these men before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true

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Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash

God created man and woman to worship Him. We were not created so that God could serve us. We were created so that we can serve God. This is why we were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27; 9:6). Were were made in His image – but we were NOT made gods. There is but one God (Malachi 2:10; Mark 12:32; Romans 3:30). This God made us. He is not the God of our imaginations, but the God of the Holy Bible, the Scripture written by his hand. Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit of God” (2 Peter 1:21). We were made to worship God. God has set ETERNITY (“world” in the KJV of Ecclesiastes 3:11) in our hearts. We know there is more than we are. We know there is One greater than us. God the Father created the Angels to worship God the Son, Jesus Christ our Lord:

Hebrews 1:6 … {the Father said} And let all the angels of God worship Him.

God is God, and we are not. We are created to worship God, to love and adore Him, to serve Him, to please Him. Satan – from the Garden of Eden until now – constantly seeks ways to keep God’s creation from worshiping the Creator.

If Satan can get us to worship a thing, an idol, money, a function like sex or eating, if he can get us to worship the adoration of man or the acquisition of power, if Satan can get us to worship ANYONE outside of God our Creator then it is the same as worshiping Satan himself.

Satan uses many tactics to draw us into worship outside of God. Though he knows that at the end of time God will triumph in Christ, for our Lord has said:

Romans 14:11 … As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

Though Satan knows this he wishes to bring as many people to hell with him as he can. He and his demons – the rebellious angels – never stop offering another way of worship, another god to love, another thing to put in the Almighty God’s place. The unbeliever, just like the Samaritan woman Jesus spoke to at Jacob’s well, think that any worship or any god is acceptable to the Creator. People proudly point to their local church and say, like the Samaritan woman:

John 4:20 …Our fathers worshiped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

My denomination believes this, BUT YOUR denomination believes that.” Even the so called “non denominational” churches do the saDaniel 3:26-27 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., came forth of the midst of the fire. 27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.me. But Jesus tells us:

John 4:22-24 … Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Jesus Christ defines the truth. The God of our Holy Bible defines the truth. His Word is truth (John 17:17). What has our God said? What does the Bible clearly say? What does Jesus Christ our Lord say? This is what matters. Jesus Christ. The One Who saves us is the One Who leads us. Jesus! The Jesus of the Bible. Not the Jesus of our imagination, but the Jesus of Scripture!

What Are You Going To DDaniel 3:26-27 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., came forth of the midst of the fire. 27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.o When
You Are Given A Choice?

If you are indeed a Christian, you are going to be tried.
If are indeed a human, you are going to be tested.
The devil will put choices before you.
Will you worship the Lord, or Satan?

If you choose to worship the Lord, the God of Scripture, you will be persecuted. This is a promise from God. It will happen. Light and darkness do not mix. Good and evil cannot blend. The Apostle said:

2 Timothy 3:12-14 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. 14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;

Religion has always been the tool of Satan. God calls us to a RELATIONSHIP in Him through Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus was ALWAYS persecuted by whom? The Gentiles? No! The PHARISEES. Who else? The SCRIBES. The copiers of the Scripture, who never had a relationship with God.

King Nebuchadnezzar created a religion.
Why? Because he was lifted up with pride.

In the previous chapter the Almighty God gave Nebuchadnezzar a dream that Daniel interpreted. After the interpretation Nebuchadnezzar said:

Daniel 2:47 {Nebuchadnezzar told Daniel} … OF A TRUTH IT IS, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.Daniel 3:26-27 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., came forth of the midst of the fire. 27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.

The same Nebuchadnezzar who asked the Hebrew Children “Is It True” just one chapter before says “OF A TRUTH IT IS”. The worldly have no true faith in God. The worldly base their lives on “feelings”.

Nebuchadnezzar previously said that our God – the God of Scripture – is a God of God, and a Lord of kings, but what he SAID was based on feelings not on faith. Nebuchadnezzar was much like the Pharisees, whom Jesus indicted saying:

Matthew 15:7-9 Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah {in Isaiah 29:13} prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

There are many who pay lip service to God, but do not truly worship Him. Nebuchadnezzar was of this sort. That is why he …

Daniel 3:1 Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits (90 feet tall), and the breadth thereof six cubits (9 feet wide): he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.

This was not just a statue to put in a park for the birds to sit on and the children to ooh and aah. The King James calls it “an IMAGE of gold”. The word translated IMAGE is the Hebrew צֶלֶם tselem, (pronounced tseh’-lem) which means “an IDOL”. The value of the idol is shown in it’s makeup. First of all, the idol as of GOLD. It is 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide. To put this in comparison the Statue of Liberty – from heel to top of her head – is 111 ½ feet tall, just 21 feet higher than Nebuchadnezzar’s statue. I tried to find out the value of such a statue to no avail – it appears that there has never been such a thing made before or after this creation. Considering that one pound of gold today costs $17,987.00, this statue would have been unparalleled in cost. Nebuchadnezzar had the statue set up in the capital city of Babylon.

Daniel 3:2-3 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. 3 Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

At the dedication of the gold statue Nebuchadnezzar gathered all of the politicians, all of the leaders were gathered in place. This started out as a “dedication”. When the devil wants to draw us away from God he always couches his requests in a sly way.

It is “dedication” not “desecration”.
It is “freedom of choice” not “abortion”.
It is “love” not “lasciviousness”.
It is “alternate lifestyle” not “defiance of God’s standard”.

As they stood at the proposed “dedication”, suddenly the truth was revealed.

Daniel 3:4-6 Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, 5 That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sack but, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: 6 And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.

Now we have a choice before us. The leaders all have heard the choice. Fall down and worship the idol. Only God shall be worshiped! Only the Creator is to be so treated.

Psalm 95:2-10 Sing unto the Lord, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day. 3 Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people. 4 For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the Lord made the heavens. 6 Honor and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. 7 Give unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the Lord glory and strength. 8 Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts. 9 O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth. 10 Say among the heathen that the Lord reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously.

You shall worship no other god, for the LORD, Whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Exodus 34:14). Jesus told Satan “Get away from Me, Satan! You shall worship the lord your God, and Him only shall you serve” (Matthew 4:10). The devil says “Worship other than God”. Nebuchadnezzar said “worship my statue”. The world worships the wrong thing. It bows down to that which is not God.

Daniel 3:7 Therefore at that time, when ALL the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of musick, ALL the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshiped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.

ALL the people complied. The darkness was great, for ALL worshiped that image. When you compromise with the darkness, you ARE in league with the devil. When you sin without repentance, you ARE advancing the devil’s darkness. When you are quiet when evil is, then you are aiding evil!

Light MUST be light.
Be the Light!
Worship God only!
Serve the Lord.

Children Of God Must Set
The Standard And The Tone

Have you ever wondered why DANIEL
isn’t mentioned in Chapter Three?

Daniel is tested in Chapters 1 and 2, and Daniel passes the tests. Daniel is the leader and the mentor of three other young men named Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. You may better know then as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo. These three young men are hardly mentioned in Chapters 1 and 2, but are now focused on in chapter 3. Why?

I believe it is because Daniel mentored these young men. As the elder in faith he taught them the ways of the Father, and now these young men are being tested. One area that the Church is America is woefully deficient in is DISCIPLESHIP. We who are believers in Christ are to, as we grow in faith, mentor other believers in Christ. Beloved, all will be tested. All will be tried. Peter tells us:

1 Peter 5:5-9 … ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

Believers are to disciple believers, to teach one another to submit oDaniel 3:26-27 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., came forth of the midst of the fire. 27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.urselves to God and resist the devil. You will be tried. Daniel chapter 3 is the trying of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo.

Daniel 3:8-12 Wherefore at that time certain CHALDEANS came near, and accused the Jews {Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo.}. 9 They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever. 10 Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, shall fall down and worship the golden image: 11 And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo.; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

The Chaldeans were the priests of the state religion, the followers of the idol that Nebuchadnezzar set up. They came to the King and reminded him that he promised whosoever does not fall down and worship this god will be cast in a fiery furnace. They told the King “there are some Jews YOU – O King – set over the affairs of your Kingdom. They are rulers by YOUR decree – and these three – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo. – have refused YOUR command.”

The King was beyond angry. The Bible says that:

Daniel 3:13-15 Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo. Then they brought these men before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? 15 Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?

Nebuchadnezzar gave these three believers a choice. “You have a choice. You can fall down and worship the image I made, or you can go into the furnace alive. And WHO is THAT God that shall deliver you out of MY hands.”

Shadrach said,

Give us a minute to confer, O king, while we decide what to do.”

No, no he didn’t say that. All three young men were ready with an answer to the King. The reason that many young people leave the Church and never return is because they were not mentored in the faith. They were not taught the truths of Scripture by other believers. Too many people have placed the entire burden of mentoring on a select few we call “Pastors”. Pastors should mentor – but so should every elder Christian. That is why we have meetings every week. WDaniel 3:26-27 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., came forth of the midst of the fire. 27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.e meet to encourage one another, to teach one another, to help one another grow in our faith.

Hebrews 10:23-25 … Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

We as Christians are to “provoke one another to love and good works”, to teach other believers by word and example to follow the One True God. These three young men were prepared. Notice there was no hesitation in their response:

Daniel 3:16 … O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.

ALL THREE – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo. – were UNITED in their answer. A divided Church is not a Church. We are together to serve our Lord and Savior – especially in the midst of the darkness. When we unite together Jesus promises us:

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

God calls us to “stand firm in one spirit, with one mind, working side by side for the faith we received by the Gospel. Do not be frightened – God will deliver you” (Philippians 1:27-28).

The Hebrew Children spoke the same thing – glorifying God – in love! They said “We’re not careful to answer you in this manner!” They were not worried about pleasing an errant king. They were more concerned with pleasing King Jesus.

Daniel 3:17-18 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

These Children of God didn’t say “God will save us”, but said “Our God is able to save us”. But they also went on to say “Even if our God does not save us, we STILL will not worship this god”. They absolutely REFUSED to compromise. Their eyes were firmly fixed on Jesus.

This is the test of genuine faith. Like Job we who believe in Christ declare:

Job 13:15 …. Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.

If the believer in Christ, the Child of God passes from this life we have hope even in death (Proverbs 14:32). God is with His Children. We must never compromise with the darkness.

Daniel 3:19-23 Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo.: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated. 20 And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 22 Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., FELL DOWN BOUND into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo. FELL DOWN BOUND in the midst of the fiery furnace. They would not fall down and worship the golden idol. They would not fall down and compromise before the King and all his brainwashed leadership. You had to tie them up to get them to fall down. THEY FELL DOWN BOUND in the middle of the fiery furnace. And there they met Jesus their Lord.

Jesus Never Leaves Us Nor Forsakes Us

Daniel 3:24-25 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counselors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. 25 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

Jesus Christ stays with His people. He loves us, and gave Himself for us. He stays with us in the valleys of life, and stays with us throughout our days. What Nebuchadnezzar saw so impressed him that we read:

Daniel 3:26-27 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo., came forth of the midst of the fire. 27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.

The Children of God came out of the flame unsinged, with not even the smell of smoke on them. Jesus Christ will take you through the fire of trials. Jesus Christ will lift you out of the fire of sin and hell. He will take you into the palm of His eternal hand and hold you there – forever – if you will be give yourselves to Him. May God touch your hearts with His Word and his Spirit. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Daniel, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , ,

Red Letters #22: What About Fasting?

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Photo by Ben Ostrower on Unsplash

Matthew 9:14-15 Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? 15 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bride chamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.

We’re continuing our sermon series called “The Red Letters”, focusing on the Words of our Lord Jesus Christ. Last week we saw that Jesus had just called Matthew – also known as Levi the son of Alphaeus- to salvation. When Jesus said “Follow Me” Matthew immediately got up from his tax table, and leaving all on the table, he began to follow Jesus. If you remember the first thing Matthew did was throw a party, and invite all his lost friends over to his house to meet Jesus. This party ruffled a bunch of feathers. First, it offended the Pharisees, who asked,

Matthew 9:11 … Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?

Jesus answered simply,

Matthew 9:12 … They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.

Mark 2:17 … I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Jesus Christ came to this earth to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15), and since we are all sinners far from the glory of God (Romans 3:23), this is not just GOOD news, but GREAT news. Jesus …

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

If Jesus Christ came to redeem sinners, what better way to do so than to sit down and eat with them?

This is what Jesus wants of us. He wants to be in our daily lives. Jesus told the lukewarm Church at Laodicea:

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

To “SUP” is to “eat with”. Eating is the most common thing that everyone, regardless of status or race, does. We all eat. God wants to be with in our daily lives. This is why Christ came – not to exclude any, but to include whosoever will in the Messianic Gospel Call. Praise Him, Praise Him forever!

The Pharisees Exit, And John’s Disciples Enter

Right after Jesus answers this question, next comes the Disciples of John the Baptist. There is a difference between the disciples of the Pharisees and the disciples of John. The Pharisees come to Jesus to criticize His ministry. The disciples of John are followers of the greatest Prophet who ever lived. Jesus said this, so it must be true:

Luke 7:28 … I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist:

Jesus said it, and I believe it. But now the disciples of John come to Jesus to question this very same party at Matthew’s home. They ask:

Matthew 9:14 Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?

They are not being critical, but are honestly seeking to understand more about Jesus. These disciples of John were told by their leader that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. John said on seeing Jesus:

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

John was the Prophet who would herald the coming of the Messiah. John told his disciples:

Luke 3:16 … I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:

John told his disciples that “Jesus must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). John as the forerunner of Christ was the last Old Covenant Prophet. Jesus said of John:

Matthew 11:13 … all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.

The “Prophets and the Law” is the Old Testament of our Bibles. The Old Testament was written specifically to prophesy and teach about the coming Messiah. Jesus said:

John 5:46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me.

It was after His death and resurrection that Jesus had a Bible class, and …

Luke 24:27 … beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

The only “scripture” that existed at this time in human history was the Old Testament writings. Jesus Christ is the Messiah Who was prophesied in the Old Testament, the Messiah heralded by John the Baptist, the Messiah of whom the angels sang. Jesus Christ is God’s method unto salvation.

I know it seems as if I am chasing rabbits, but I’m not. John, the greatest Prophet ever, preached until Christ was revealed. After Christ was revealed at His baptism the crowds that came to John began to dwindle. Why?

  • Because the Herald’s job was done. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords had come, and was building a kingdom around Himself. So John’s ministry became obsolete.
  • Because Herod Antipas imprisoned John. It wasn’t long after Jesus’ baptism that Herod Antipas got in an argument with John the Baptist. You see, Herod (the present Governor of Israel) divorced his wife Phasaelis, a daughter of Aretas IV, an Arab leader. He then married Herodias, who was not only his niece but also his sister-in-law. John told Herod the Biblical truth. He told him…

It is not lawful for thee to have her” (Matthew 14:4)

Herod Antipas had John thrown into prison (Matthew 4:12) just as Jesus’ ministry started.

John’s disciple, though loyal to their Leader, were like sheep without a Shepherd (Matthew 9:36).

These good, moral and upright men heard John preach on the Messiah, saw John point to Jesus as the Messiah, saw their master John baptize Jesus as the Messiah …. but they never quite understood that Jesus is the Messiah. They were not disciples of Jesus, but disciples of John. They saw Jesus as “just another Teacher” like John was a teacher. Jesus explained to them that He is more than “just another teacher”. Jesus asked them a question:

Matthew 9:14-15 Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? 15 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bride chamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.

Jesus Christ is not just another teacher (though He is Great Teacher). Jesus is the Bridegroom. John told this to these very same men. He said:

John 3:28-31 … Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. 29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease. 31 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.

John saw himself (and rightly so) as the “friend of the Bridegroom”, the “Best Man” at the wedding. Jesus is “The Christ”, the Messiah Who was sent from God to be the Savior of His people:

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

Jesus came building a kingdom, the Kingdom of God. He is the Bridegroom. Who is the “Bride”? It is the Church of Christ. It is the people who have received Christ as Savior. The Apostle Paul uses this image when he describes what Christian marriage should be like. He says:

Ephesians 5:25-30 … Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

Though John’s disciples were still following the Old Testament sacrifices and rituals (including ritual fasting), Jesus is the Author of the New Covenant, the Husband of His Church. We who love Him are bound to Him by faith in His Blood:

Romans 3:23-28 … For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that {God the Holy Spirit} might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. 27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

The disciples of John, following their master (the last Prophet of the Old Testament), continued to do the works of the Law. They fasted WITH the Pharisees not because the Law or God said to do so, but because it was tradition.

The “Free Bible Commentary” notes:

In the Old Testament there was only one official fast day called Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement, cf. Leviticus 16) held each year. However, the rabbis had made the second and fifth days of the week fast days also (cf. Luke 18:12), supposedly basing them on the day that Moses went up on Mt. Sinai and on the day that he came back down. Fasting had become a way to prove one’s religious commitment. Jesus does not condemn the practice, but neither does He affirm it as required.”

Jesus tells the disciples of John that He is the Bridegroom, the Husband of His Church. While Jesus is with His Church – the disciples that are at this time following Him – there is no fasting or mourning. There is only celebration! The Messiah has come! Jesus has come!

The reason the Jews fasted was to focus on the Lord, to draw nearer to God. It is like the Prophetess Anna, who “departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day” (Luke 2:36-38). Anna waited for the coming of the Messiah. But when Anna saw the Messiah, the eight day old baby of Mary’s in the Temple that day, she “gave thanks likewise unto the Lord”. Anna celebrated. I suspect that she no longer fasted or stayed in the Temple, for like Simeon her eyes saw the salvation of God, a Light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of Israel (Luke 2:30, 32).

Jesus’ disciples had no need to fast. The Bridegroom was here! Jesus is here!

Matthew 9:15 … the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.

The phrase “shall be taken” is the Greek ἀπαίρω apaírō, (pronounced ap-ah’-ee-ro), which means “to be seized violently, torn away from”. Jesus began to teach of His upcoming crucifixion. Jesus would be taken from the Garden of Gethsemane, betrayed with the kiss of a friend (Luke 22:48). The Bible says:

Luke 22:63-65 … the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him. 64 And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee? 65 And many other things blasphemously spake they against him.

The Prophet Isaiah, foreseeing the violent taking of Jesus Christ,

Isaiah 52:14 … his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:

Isaiah 50:6 I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.

Jesus would be taken violently from us, so that through His suffering and death our sins would be covered, and our souls redeemed. They spat in His face, and beat Him, and struck Him with the palms of their hands (Matthew 26:67). They beat Him with a reed (Mark 15:19). Jesus Christ was violently taken from His growing Church – but He died willingly for you and I. The disciples of John needed to stop looking to John for teaching and blessing, and to look unto Jesus. Beloved, this is where our eyes go.

All eyes on You, Jesus.
All eyes are on You!

Hebrews 12:2 … Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

A Patchwork Faith Cannot Save

Jesus Christ is the Messiah, come into the world to save sinners. The disciples of John were still living under the Old Covenant, the Old Laws of animal sacrifice and ritual. Jesus came to bring to us to God the Father …

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

Jesus now explains to the disciples of John a great truth that everyone needs to understand. He says:

Matthew 9:16-17 … No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. 17 Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.

This is a beautiful illustration. The disciples of John are still following John and the Law. They are living under the Old Covenant. When Jesus Christ came to this earth He did not come to put a patch on the Old Covenant. He came to bring to mankind a New Covenant, a Covenant of Grace found by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

In the first illustration Jesus speaks of patching clothes. I don’t know how many of you ever wore patched clothes, but growing up I and my brother and sister often wore patched clothes. At times daddy only made about 25$ a week. Being kids, we were rough on our clothes. We’d run, slide, and sometimes wear holes in our pants (usually on the knees or on the seat of the pants). When that happened mama would patch our clothes. The best patch to put on clothes is a patch made from older material. If you put a new patch on a pair of old jeans, then washed them, it would pucker where the patch was. This looked ugly. So you never patched old clothes with new cloth.

In the second illustration Jesus talked about new wine and old bottles. In Jesus day wine was often put into wine skins, bottles made of goat or other animal skins. “New Wine” was somewhat freshly made wine that was still in the process of fermentation. Fermentation produces alcohol in the grape juice, but this same fermentation also produces escaping gasses from the aging liquid. If you foolishly put “New Wine” in old wine skins the fermenting wine would first swell, then later burst the bottles. Your wine would be lost.

The followers of Christ are not followers of John the Baptist – they follow Jesus. Jesus Christ is the One Who brought to God’s people the New Covenant. In the Old Testament God promised His Old Covenant Israel:

Jeremiah 31:33-34 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (see also Hebrews 10:16-17)

God gave His Old Covenant Law to Israel, a good and blessed Law that Israel could not keep. God knew that Israel wouldn’t be able to keep the Law when He gave it to them (see Deuteronomy 31:16-18, 20-21; Joshua 24:19). The Law was not given to save anyone. The Law was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Him (Galatians 3:24).

The just must live by faith in Him (Habakkuk 2:4)

Greg Allen, the Pastor of Bethany Bible Church, in his message “From Fasting to Feasting”, said:

I believe that the lesson Jesus is seeking to teach us in this is that we can’t make the old patterns of the old covenant somehow become updated and relevant by simply patching new covenant realities over them. The old covenant patterns won’t hold up under the strain. We would be trying to make works support grace! New covenant realities can’t be used to simply cover over the old covenant patterns. We have to have a whole new garment, as it were; and completely trust Christ for our righteousness before God through grace.”

There is no salvation outside of Christ. We must put our faith in Him, the Bridegroom of the Church. We must receive Him as Lord and Savior. When we do so, something wonderful happens. We are no longer old clothing, nor old wine skins. We undergo a NEW BIRTH, being born again of God’s Spirit. Jesus said:

John 3:3, 7 … Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

It is Jesus Christ Who saves us from our sins. It is Jesus Christ who calls us to salvation, and it is the Holy Spirit Who comes to us at Christ’s request once we believe on Him. When we believe on Jesus we are …

1 Peter 1:23 … born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

Are you a Disciple of John or a Child of King Jesus? Where do you place your faith? My faith is in Jesus Christ, my Lord. He died for me on Calvary’s Tree, and rose again on the third day to lead me throughout this life. We are not saved by the sacrifice of goats and calves, nor by following the Aaronic Priesthood. We are saved by following Jesus. The Scripture says:

Hebrews 9:13-15 … if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this cause {Jesus} is the mediator of the New {Covenant}, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

Oh praise Him! Praise Jesus Christ our Lord! As that old song says:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus name

On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

When darkness veils His lovely face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil

On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand!

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Supports me in the ‘whelming flood
When all around my soul gives way
He then is all my hope and stay

On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand!

Praise Jesus Christ, for this is where our salvation lies. Receive Him as Lord and Savior. Put away all other teachers. Run to Him. Be a disciple of Christ. Here, then, is life both now and eternal. May God bless this message through His Spirit and His Word. Amen and Amen!

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

Red Letters #23: Look To Jesus

Matthew 9:18-26 (KJV)  While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshiped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live. [19]  And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples. [20]  And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: [21]  For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. [22]  But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour. [23]  And when Jesus came into the ruler’s house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise, [24]  He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. [25]  But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose. [26]  And the fame hereof went abroad into all that land.

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I don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. Going through this Coronavirus Pandemic every day some “trustworthy source” proves itself wrong. As widespread testing of the Coronavirus increases the doctors and scientists are discovering that many more people have the virus than previously reported. Many people are asymptomatic, which means they carry the virus but never suffer from it. A CNBC.com report I read had these headlines:

Coronavirus Antibody Testing Shows LA County Outbreak Is Up To 55 Times Bigger Than Reported Cases”

One article I read noted that only about .5% of those infected would die – a much lower rate than was previously reported. Confusion abounds. Businesses are collapsing because of quarantine standards. Our economy is in tatters. What should we do?

I suggest we look unto Jesus. Jesus can fix our souls. Jesus can heal our hurts. Jesus can raise our nation out of the ashes. Let’s look unto Jesus!

Jairus Looked Unto Jesus

In today’s message two people are facing overwhelming problems. The first of these is called by Matthew simply “a ruler”, but Mark tells us that he is …

Mark 5:22-23 … there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, 23 And besought him greatly …

Jairus is one of the rulers of the Synagogue, the local Church of Jesus’ day. His name is very interesting. The name “Jairus” means “Yahweh has enlightened”. I suspect that Jairus as a leader in the Synagogue was probably a Pharisee. The Pharisees were Jesus’ most outspoken opponents. Earlier in the day the Pharisees attacked Jesus for eating with Tax Collectors and Sinners (Matthew 9:11). But Jairus was not one of the attackers. Do you know why?

Because his little girl dying. In Mark Jairus says:

Mark 5:23 … my little daughter lieth at the point of death

In Matthew he says:

Matthew 9:18 … My daughter is even now dead

We are told in Luke 8:42 … {Jairus} had one only daughter, about twelve years of age.

Anytime a parent loses a child it is horrible, but it is particularly painful when that child is young, with so much life left before her. One of the greatest of horrors is to have a child suffering and be unable to help that precious baby. We all believe that our children should outlive us. I don’t know why that is, for death grips both young and old. The Coronavirus is no respector of persons – it infects any who come in contact with it. Disease is not racist or particular. Did you know that every year in the US around 15,780 children between the ages of birth and 19 years old are diagnosed with cancer. Age is no protection against the corruption of life. Adam introduced sin into the world and death by sin. Medical science cannot cure sin – but Jesus can!

Jairus is a big man – an important man. But he comes to Jesus BROKEN. He came to the Master not arrogantly, but in humility. He came on bended knee worshiping Jesus Christ. The other Pharisees picked at and found flaw with the Lord.

Jairus worshiped Jesus (Matthew 9:18).
Jairus begged Jesus (Mark 5:23).
Jairus fell down at Jesus’ feet (Luke 8:41).

What humbled Jairus? It is this disease his daughter – his only daughter – has. I’m Jairus has tried everything he can to fix his daughter. I’m sure he sought out the best doctors. I’m sure he had all those of the Synagogue praying with him. Nothing worked. “My baby is so close to death, that I’ve given up. Jesus I beg of You, come!”

Why does a Loving God allow such things to happen? Though God does not invent the terrible things we face, God allows all things, controls all things. God is on His throne. Where is God in this Coronavirus Pandemic? He is where He has always been. God told the Prophet:

Isaiah 46:9-13 … I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: 11 Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it. 12 Hearken unto me, ye stouthearted, that are far from righteousness: 13 I bring near my righteousness…

The God I serve and I hope you serve does all His will. There is nothing that takes His control away. The Reformer Martin Luther said:

Even the devil is God’s devil”

Our God is in control. He loves the world, and gave His Son’s life for it. So why does this loving God – this all powerful Creator – allow the Pandemics, the Cancers, the suffering? To draw us to Jesus.

Earlier in the day Jesus spoke a parable to His disciples about a sower who sowed his seed:

Luke 8:5-8 … A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. 8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Jesus explained the parable by noting the seed sown is the Word of God.

  • Some of that seed “falls on the wayside – and the devil comes along and takes the word out of their hearts lest they should believe and be saved” (Luke 8:12).
  • Some of that seed “falls on rocky soil. They receive the Word of God with joy, but have NO ROOT, and during time of trial fall away. (Luke 8:13).
  • Some of that seed “falls among thorns, and is choked out with the things of this world, worries, riches, and pleasures (Luke 8:14).
  • But PRAISE GOD, some seed “falls on good ground”. Do you know what “good ground” is? It is broken up. It is plowed. It is a place where all weeds are removed, pulled out, or burned off. Good ground is ground that has been afflicted, turned, rowed, cleaned. Trials bring us to a place where we look to Jesus.

Beloved, we must look to Jesus. As a nation we must look to Jesus. Jesus is the One Who sits enthroned, the God Man Who says:

Revelation 21:5 (KJV) … He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new …

Jesus came to make all things new. He is the Bridegroom of His Church, a people saved by Grace, a regenerated people, a people who have a Master Who has conquered death. Jesus is not a patch, but the solution for sin. He brings in the Kingdom of God on the earth.

  • Suffering Makes Us SELFLESS, Whereas Prosperity Makes Us SELFISH. Jairus was selfless when He came to Jesus. He wanted relief, the healing of his daughter, and what others thought or said no longer mattered.

We each will be tried. Today we are tried by the Coronavirus. Tomorrow, there will be more trials from other sources. They come to all. Sickness comes. Disease strikes. Remember the Scripture:

Luke 14:11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

1 Peter 5:5-7 … be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Jairus put aside all pride and fell down before Jesus. The Creator says:

Isaiah 66:2 (KJV) For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but TO THIS MAN WILL I LOOK, even to him that is POOR AND OF A CONTRITE SPIRIT, AND TREMBLETH AT MY WORD.

God honors those who understand that He is God. Christ honors those who realize He is the Great I AM. We are not gods, but God is God. Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. Oh God, humble us. Teach us to rely upon Jesus. Teach us to look unto Him Who said …

Jeremiah 33:3 (KJV) Call unto Me, and I WILL ANSWER THEE, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.

  • Jairus came to Jesus believing. Worshiping Jesus he said:

Matthew 9:18 (KJV) … but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live.

Jairus said: “You lay hands on her Jesus and she SHALL LIVE”. That is faith. He believed Jesus was able, and would not entertain any doubt. Jairus’ daughter was at the point of death, but he wasn’t out pursuing doctors and other gods. He had his eyes only on Jesus.

When Pastor John Wesley was but 5 years old his family home caught fire. A servant named Betty went to the nursery to get the youngest children. Picking up the little ones, including Charles who was barely a year old, she called to 5-year-old Jacky (young John Wesley) and told him to follow her to safety. When she arrived in the garden, however, Jacky was missing. Seeing the flames, the young boy ran back into the room. Though his father tried to reach him, the flames prevented him. The family knelt down in the Garden and “prayed God to receive his soul”. Little John looked out the window, and yelled for help. Two neighbors – one standing on the shoulders of the other – was able to reach John and pull him to safety. God used this trial to shape John into the wonderful preacher he would one day become.

Oh America, that you would all look to Jesus in this time. He is able to bless you even in the midst of trial.

You Are Never Alone – There Is Jesus!

Listening to Jairus, our Lord Jesus heads toward his home. His twelve year old daughter is at death’s door. But something else happens. We are told in Luke’s account:

Luke 8:42-44 … {Jairus} had one only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she lay a dying. But as {Jesus} went the people thronged him. 43 And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, 44 Came behind {Jesus} …

Jairus’ daughter was twelve years old. But here is another woman – a woman all alone – who has had an issue of blood for twelve years – every bit as long as that little girl was alive. Is this a coincidence? I don’t think so.

Jairus has set himself apart from the other
Pharisees by approaching Jesus.
This woman has been alone – set apart because of her disease.
Both people could only look to Jesus!

Matthew 9:19 a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment:

The Law of Moses declared that women with “issues of blood” were unclean – and thus would have been quarantined from her family and friends.

Leviticus 15:25-27 And if a woman have an issue of her blood many days out of the time of her separation, or if it run beyond the time of her separation; all the days of the issue of her uncleanness shall be as the days of her separation: she shall be unclean. 26 Every bed whereon she lieth all the days of her issue shall be unto her as the bed of her separation: and whatsoever she sitteth upon shall be unclean, as the uncleanness of her separation. 27 And whosoever toucheth those things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.

If this woman were married her husband could not touch her. If she had children prior to this event her children could not embrace her. It was if she were a leper – anything she touched was unclean, and anyone who touched her was unclean.

Matthew 9:20 (KJV) …a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years ..

This poor woman had suffered this disease – whatever it was – for twelve years! She had tried everything to get relief. We are told in the parallel Gospel that she ….

Mark 5:26 {she} had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,

She “suffered many things from the physicians”. There are good doctors, and there are bad doctors – but Jesus Christ is the BEST Doctor. He is the Great Physician. He can do what no others can do. I respect doctors, nurses, and hospitals – but make sure you invite Jesus into the process when you are sick and go to the medical profession. Doctors do not know all things, but Christ does. This woman “spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse”. Let us look unto Jesus! He calls us,

Matthew 11:28-30 (KJV) Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

God does not despise the lowly, but embraces them. He lifts up the weak, and those who will come to Christ and Christ alone. The Gospel Plow we call pain has brought this woman to Jesus. We read:

Matthew 9:20-21 (KJV) … came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: [21]  For SHE SAID WITHIN HERSELF, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.

She “came behind Jesus” because the Law forbade her from touching anyone, lest she make them unclean. So she quietly reached out believing that “If I can but touch His garment then I shall be made whole”. Her faith was rewarded. The Bible says in …

Mark 5:29 (KJV) And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.

Immediately the woman was healed! Mark tells us that Jesus asked “Who touched Me?” The disciples said “But Lord, there’s people all around You touching You. How can we tell who touched You?” But Jesus can tell. He looks around and sees that certain woman. Look what the Bible says:

Mark 5:33 (KJV) But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.

Saving Faith is not hidden.
Saving Faith falls down before the Savior.
If your faith lies down to hide, then your faith is a lie.

Jesus knows His Sheep! Has He not said:

2 Timothy 2:19 … The Lord knoweth them that are his.

John 10:27-28 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

If you are Christ’s then you may be saved in secret, but it will not stay a secret. There are many in our world today that think they are saved, but are ashamed to stand up for Jesus. This woman made her faith known. Our Lord has said:

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

Jesus looked at this precious lady and said:

Matthew 9:22 (KJV) {Jesus said} DAUGHTER, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.

When Jesus called her “Daughter” He was acknowledging that she is of the household of God, a child of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:19; Galatians 3:26).

What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought
Since Jesus came into my heart;
I have light in my soul for which long I have sought,
Since Jesus came into my heart.
Since Jesus came into my heart,
Since Jesus came into my heart;
Floods of joy o’er my soul like the sea billows roll,
Since Jesus came into my heart.

Why Did God Have This Healing
Come In The Midst Of Jairus’ Need?

God is in control. Though Jesus paused to bless this woman, He was nonetheless headed toward Jairus’ home.

Matthew 9:23 (KJV) And when Jesus came into the ruler’s house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise, 24 He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn.

Oh Jesus, you’re too late! If You had been here on time my daughter would not have died!” I can hear them now, mocking Jesus, finding fault with Jesus. But Jesus says,

She is not dead. She just sleeps!

Mark tells us in chapter 5:35-37 that Jesus sent everyone away but Peter, James, and John. These three men would be the leaders of Christ’s Church, and Jesus wanted them to know that nothing is too hard for Christ to do. Then we read:

Matthew 9:25-26 (KJV) But when the people were put forth, {Jesus} went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose. 26 And the fame hereof went abroad into all that land.

The unbelievers had to get out of the room. Once they were gone, Jesus raised that child from death. Christ is able! Our God is able! He can raise the dead. He can give life to the spiritually dead. Christ is able! The great Evangelist Billy Graham once said:

Faith literally means to give up, surrender, or commit. Faith is complete confidence. Fear can banish faith, but faith can banish fear.

Do you know Christ? Do you have faith in Him? Will you approach Him with your needs, and believe He is able to abundantly provide to those who trust in Him. There is nothing our Lord cannot do. Trust Him. Believe Him. Bring your lives to Him, and believe.

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

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

Fake, Fear, or Faith

Daniel-2-nebuchadnezzars-dream

Daniel 2:1-6 And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him. 2 Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to shew the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king. 3 And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream. 4 Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriac, O king, live for ever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation. 5 The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill. 6 But if ye shew the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honor: therefore shew me the dream, and the interpretation thereof.

When an unbeliever looks at you, O Christian, what does he or she see? If your outward actions do not reflect your profession of faith then the first person who will recognize it will be the unbeliever. This Coronavirus Pandemic has done more to test and prove the faith of professing Christians. Many who profess Christ as Savior are inordinately afraid. The Bible tells us:

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

If you are overly fearful during this time then

  • (a) perhaps you are not a Child of God. God does not give us a spirit of fear. Now, I’m not saying you’re not a child of God, but I do believe you need to examine yourselves, as the Scripture commands:

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

If you are a Christian indeed, and fear is overwhelming you, then

  • (b) perhaps you need to spend more time in the Christian disciplines of prayer, Bible study, and service. You must spend time with God if you are going to grow in your faith. Turn off the television, especially the mainstream media news, and turn to God. The Scripture repeatedly says:

Habakkuk 2:4 …. the just shall live by his faith.

Romans 1:17 …. The just shall live by faith.

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

A great truth we see throughout the Book of Daniel is that there is a difference between the fakes, the fearful, and the faithful. Being faithful means spending quality time with the God Who saved you. When you spend time in the Christian disciplines then rather than be fearful, you will be faithful. You will be like the Psalmist who wrote:

Psalm 16:5-9  The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. 6 The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. 7 I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons. 8 I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.

Cast your worries and fears upon God, dear Christian, for God cares for you (1 Peter 5:6-7). As Lucy A. Bennett wrote in the poem Trust Him:

Trust Him when dark doubts assail thee,
Trust Him when thy strength is small,
Trust Him when to simply trust Him
Seems the hardest thing of all.
Trust Him, He is ever faithful,
Trust Him, for his will is best,
Trust Him, for the heart of Jesus
Is the only place of rest.
Trust Him through cloud or sunshine
All thy cares upon Him cast
Till the storms of life are over,
And the trusting days are past.

The Unbeliever Has Nowhere To Turn In Times of Trial

The Christian has a wonderful Benefit that the unbeliever does not have. The King of Babylon Nebuchadnezzar is a believer in false gods and goddesses. Though he will later become a believer because of Daniel’s testimony, at this time in his life he is still chasing after shadows. The unbeliever has no solid foundation to appeal to in times of trial. When bad things happen the unbeliever discovers how terrible it is to live a life bereft of Jesus Christ. Let’s read:

Daniel 2:1 And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him.

People think that money or beauty or power or fame or some other humanist god will hide them from trials. Some people – like the King of Babylon – think they will not be tried because of their position in life. Some unbelievers never learn. The Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, recently held a press conference and stated:

The number (of Covid-19 cases) is down because we brought the number down. God did not do that. Faith did not do that. Destiny did not do that. A lot of pain and suffering did that. That’s how it works. It’s math. And if you don’t continue to do that, you’re going to see that number go back up. And that will be a tragedy if that number goes back up.”

Sadly, unbelievers often fails to recognize the mercy and kindness of God. New York suffered terribly during this Pandemic. It could have been worst. The Bible says:

Proverbs 16:9 – A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.

No one is God but the God of Scripture. This God – the Creator of Heaven and earth – has made all things for Himself (Proverbs 16:4). This wonderful and loving Lord has all things in His hand. In His hands are the souls of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind (Job 12:10). I could continue with this all day long! The Bible says:

Psalms 22:28 – For the kingdom [is] the LORD’S: and he [is] the governor among the nations.

Psalms 115:3 – But our God [is] in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.

King Nebuchadnezzar is just like Governor Cuomo at this point in his life. He is in the second year of his reign and thinks that his position protects him from trials. Then God speaks to the King in a dream. The dream troubled his spirit. His spirit was troubled. So what does he do? He calls his trusted advisers.

Daniel 2:2 Then the king commanded to call the MAGICIANS, and the ASTROLOGERS, and the SORCERERS, and the CHALDEANS, for to shew the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king.

God sometimes speaks to unbelievers in their dreams. In Genesis 41 Pharaoh had dreams that disturbed him. Now Nebuchadnezzar is having dreams, disturbing dreams, and they are effecting his health.

I hope that during this Coronavirus Pandemic you have learned to look UPWARD. Faith looks upward. Faithlessness looks horizontally. I believe that as we have come through this Pandemic that God is trying our hearts (Proverbs 17:3). Where is your faith? Is it fake? The King called on

  • Magicians. Not like an “abracadabra” magician, these men were “scholars” who claimed to be able to look into the future using scientific methods.
  • Astrologers. These men created horoscopes that were suppose to tell your future.
  • Sorcerers. These men allegedly spoke to the underworld and cast spells.
  • Chaldeans. These were the priests of the false gods of Babylon – the televangelists, the Benny Hinns of their day.

God spoke to Nebuchadnezzar in a dream … but these so called helpers did not know the God of Scripture. It amazes me that when people have problems they go to people just as filled with problems as they are. These helpers told the King:

Daniel 2:4 ….. O king, live for ever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation.

These helpers didn’t want to anger the King. Nebuchadnezzar roasted two kings – Zedekiah and Ahab – in a fire (Jeremiah 29:22-23). He was brutal, demanding, tyrannical – and like a scorpion he was not to be toyed with. These men said:

Tell us your dream, O King, and we will tell you the interpretation

The King was having none of that. He told them:

Daniel 2:5-6The thing is gone from me: if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill. 6 But if ye shew the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honor: therefore shew me the dream, and the interpretation thereof.

The thing is gone from me”. This is another way of saying “You heard my command. What I have commanded, I expect”. Nebuchadnezzar was not about to back down. “If you don’t tell me what I dreamed and what it means will have you cut in pieces and turn your homes into cesspools and sewers. But if you do as I ask you will receive from me gifts, rewards, and fame. These counselors were in a quandary, so they ask again:

Daniel 2:7 …. Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation of it.

This was going nowhere in a hurry. I think that the King realized these people were clueless as to how to fix his problem. He was not about to be fooled. So he said:

Daniel 2:9 But if ye will not make known unto me the dream, there is but one decree for you: for you have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me, till the time be changed: therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that ye can shew me the interpretation thereof.

The King’s Counselors protested – and they spoke the truth. They said:

Daniel 2:10 … There is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king’s matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asked such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean. 11 And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can shew it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.

No man can do what the King is asking – no man who is not in communion with God. The Counselors said “only the gods can help you – but they don’t come around here!”. A false god cannot give the interpretation of a dream instilled by the True God of the Bible. The idols of the unbeliever are silver and gold, created by the hands of men. These idols cannot tell you anything (Psalms 135:15-18) – they have nothing to offer.

The King is enraged. His trusted advisers. had no answers, so the King responded like a six year old. He had a tantrum.

Daniel 2:12-13 For this cause the KING WAS ANGRY AND VERY FURIOUS, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. 13 And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain.

An angry ruler is just as bad as an angry peasant. Anger does nothing but cloud our judgment. Since these men couldn’t answer Nebuchadnezzar then his solution was simple:

Kill them all!

The Bible says:

Ecclesiastes 7:9 Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.

Nebuchadnezzar had a solution that was much better than killing everyone. We were told in Chapter 1 of this book that

Daniel 1:19-20 …The king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. 20 And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.

Daniel had previously helped Nebuchadnezzar, but now the King ignores them and orders the death of all wise men. Why? Because of anger. Another King by the name of Solomon wrote:

Proverbs 25:28 He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.

The King is being driven by fear and the faithlessness of his closest advisers. He needs to find the counsel of a person of Faith.

In Times of Trial The Mature Believer Is Fully Equipped

Daniel 2:13-16 And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain. 14 Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king’s guard, which was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon: 15 He answered and said to Arioch the king’s captain, Why is the decree so hasty from the king? Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel. 16 Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would shew the king the interpretation.

The King is driven by FEAR and ANGER. The King’s Counselors are driven by FAITHLESSNESS. But when Daniel is approached by the King’s Guard he does not panic. His eyes are firmly focused on God His Savior.

Daniel Did Not Fear, For His Confidence Was In God.

The Executioner comes to the door with a bloody ax, ready to lop off Daniel’s head. Daniel did not fear. Daniel looked up! Where are you looking, dear Christian? Are you looking around at those who have no faith in God? How foolish! Look up. The Psalmist declared:

Psalms 118:6-14 The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me? 7 The LORD taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me. 8 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. 9 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes. 10 All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD will I destroy them. 11 They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD I will destroy them. 12 They compassed me about like bees; they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the LORD I will destroy them. 13 Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the LORD helped me. 14 The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.

Daniel’s faith was not in himself, but in the God Who loves him and gave His life for him. Do not have self confidence. Have GOD confidence. Self confidence leads us astray.

  • When Moses was self confident he killed a slave driver. When Moses was God confident the Red Sea parted.
  • When Saul was self confident he killed Christians and destroyed Churches. When Paul was God confident he established Churches and wrote Scripture.
  • When King David was self confident he killed Uriah and took his wife in adultery. But when David was God confident, that child killed a giant with a stone and a slingshot.

Daniel asked the King for a little time. What did he do with that time? The Bible says:

Daniel 2:17-18 Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions: 18 That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.

Daniel had a prayer meeting. He got together with other like minded believers, and they sought God’s guidance. Now that makes sense, doesn’t it? God spoke to Nebuchadnezzar, so Daniel and his friends would speak to God. Didn’t Jesus tell us that:

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

When God’s people come together in prayer, God moves. When God’s people look up in faith, God answers. Take the time to pray. Take the time to pray with other believers. God has told us in His Word:

Jeremiah 29:11-14 … For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. 12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. 13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. 14 And I will be found of you, saith the Lord…

It is my prayer that – as we have come through this Pandemic – that you have sought the Lord with your whole heart. I pray that the fruit found in the aftermath of Covid-19 will be strong Christian communities, Churches more concerned about serving God and studying His Word than they are about how others “feel”. I am praying – and I pray you do, too – that we will have a revival in America. Daniel prayed.

DANIEL PRAYED, THEN …

Daniel 2:19-23 THEN was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. 20 Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: 21 And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: 22 He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him. 23 I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what WE desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto US the king’s matter.

Daniel found his three believing friends. They all prayed. THEN after they prayed, God spoke to Daniel in a night vision. What did Daniel do next?

Daniel praised God.
Daniel acknowledged the Sovereign power of God.
Daniel thanked God.
Daniel gave God the glory.
THEN Daniel went to see the King.

Daniel 2:27-28 Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king; 28 But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these;

Daniel took no credit to himself, but gave God the glory. God spoke to King Nebuchadnezzar through Daniel. Daniel told the King:

Daniel 2:37-38 … Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. 38 And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.

As powerful as King Nebuchadnezzar was, his Kingdom would not last forever. In the vision God foretold that all kingdoms of the earth – kingdoms that reigned because God allowed them to reign – would one day cease. There is only one Kingdom that will stand forever. Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar:

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

The Kingdom of God will never end. There is coming a day when the Governor of New York will no longer govern. There is coming a day when no earthly king will govern. There is coming a day when Jesus Christ shall rule and reign forever. At this time in Biblical history Nebuchadnezzar is “king of kings” (verse 37) – but not forever. There is only one Kingdom that will last forever.

The Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

Others will resist this Kingdom, but I promise you, they shall not prevail.

Revelation 17:14 … These {other kingdoms} shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.

Jesus will rule and reign. Beloved, the wicked may have their rule now, but there is coming a day when Jesus Christ shall rule everywhere. The Word of God declares:

Revelation 19:15-16 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King Of Kings, And Lord Of Lords.

Jesus Christ is building His Kingdom now. One day He shall return and reign over all peoples. Are you ready? Our Jesus is coming again. Nebuchadnezzar saw it. Daniel saw it. John the Revelator saw it. Jesus promised it. Are you ready? Are you? If not, today is the best day to give yourselves over to Jesus. Someone asked Andre Crouch one time “Why are you a Christian?” Andre wrote this song before he went to be with the Lord.

You ask me why, why do you serve the Lord?
Is it just for Heaven’s gain?
Or to walk those mighty streets of gold,
And to hear the angels sing?
Is it just to drink from the fountain,
That never shall run dry.
Or just to live forever, ever, and ever,
In that sweet, sweet bye and bye.
But if heaven never was promised to me,
Neither God’s promise to live eternally.
It’s been worth just having the Lord in my life.
Living in a world of darkness,
You came along and brought me the light.

It is worth knowing Jesus Christ to have this wonderful peace that passes all understanding in my heart. Oh Beloved, call upon the name of Jesus. Receive Him as Lord and Savior. Whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. What a joy it is to be a member of His Kingdom! May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Daniel, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , , , ,

When Jesus Saw Their Faith

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Photo by Mads Schmidt Rasmussen on Unsplash

Matthew 9:2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.

Mark 2:5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.

Luke 5:20 And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.

I rarely hear sermons on sin anymore. I hear preachers say that “Jesus saves from sin”, but no one defines sin. Years ago I went through a series of studies on Harmarteology given by Dallas Theological Seminary. Harmarteology is the Biblical study of sin. It’s part of a Systematic Theology, a study that all pastoral candidates are supposed to take. I don’t know if it’s taught in seminaries anymore, but it was very eye opening.

People don’t like to hear sermons on sin, but I think we need to go back to basics. We need to hear sermons on sin because the Bible addresses sin. If there were no sin, there would be no need of Jesus. Sin is very deceptive.

Sin Brings With It Harmful Consequences

I was watching a sitcom the other day, and the dad began to talk to his son about sex. The son had been sleeping with a woman that was not his wife, doing what the Bible calls the sin of “fornication”. Any sexual intercourse outside of marriage is defined by the Bible as sinful, defined as “fornication”. We have hardened our hearts to this sin – it is fashionable today. Anyway, the younger son felt some guilt over what he had done. Then his father told him:

You’re both adults. What’s the harm?”

This is the attitude of many in our America today. “You’re both adults. What’s the harm?” We have been told that any action we do is absolutely fine as long as it overtly harms no one. This is the deception of sin. It says, “If it feels good, do it”. This is what the world says. Yet the Bible warns us that sin is harmful. Adrian Rogers once said:

“Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”

Sin hurts you. Sin always hurts you. Three of the Gospel writers, the redeemed Tax Collector turned Apostle Matthew, the Evangelist Mark, and the Gentile Physician Luke all record an incident in the life of Christ regarding a paralytic, a man who was paralyzed. Let’s ask a question.

Why was this man paralyzed?

Did he suffer an industrial accident?
Was he run over by a drunk camel driver?
Did he eat some bad oysters?
Was he roofing his home, and fell off?

What caused this man to be paralyzed? We do not know the exact cause of his paralysis, but we do know that it was not a infirmity he was born with. We do know that his paralysis is the result of personal sin. How do I know this? Look at what Jesus said to the man:

Matthew 9:2 … Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.

Mark 2:5 … Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.

Luke 5:20 … Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.

Jesus does not say merely “you are healed”, but “your SINS are forgiven”. This is a plural. The man had not committed just one sin, but SINS. We do not know what sins he committed, but we do know this was the primary cause of his paralysis because of Jesus’ words.

Sin can make you sick. Sin can kill you. Sin is anything abnormal that God says we should not do.

When I was in the Air Force (I am a retired E-6) I was once deployed to the Philippines. We flew over on large C130 aircraft, disembarked at the Air Base that was there, and immediately began “processing in”. Before we were allowed to go to downtown Manila we were shown a film about the dangers of unprotected sex in this area. I cannot nor will I describe all of the pictures we were shown, but I must say it turned my stomach. When two people engage in a sinful act forbidden by scripture the act can bring with it disease and misery … even death. Listen beloved:

Not all sickness occurs because of willful acts of sin. The world is a fallen place, and we are fallen creatures. But when we choose to sin and depart from God, it is like pouring gasoline on an already lit fire. When we study what God says is “sin” we need to understand He loves us, and doesn’t want us to immolate ourselves, to set ourselves on fire.

Adam’s sin brought death into our world.

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:

Sin always brings with it death. Jesus Christ saves us from sin to free us from sin so that we can do what we were made to do – live with God. The Apostle wrote:

Romans 6:20-23 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Christian, forgiven their sins by faith in Christ, is encouraged to serve God and not sin. When we served sin as unbelievers we did not understand how deadly it is. But once we were saved we saw that the wages of sin is death. When you serve sin as a master, that master will eventually repay you not with blessing, but with death. The Psalmist wrote:

Psalm 107:17 Fools {unbelievers} because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.

And again in Psalm 38:1-5 O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. 2 For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore. 3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin. 4 For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. 5 My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness.

Sin is likened to a weight in the arms of a drowning man. God warned His Old Covenant people in:

Ezekiel 18:20-24 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. 21 But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. 22 All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. 23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live? 24 But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.

If sin were rightly packaged it would not be beautiful, but on the package there would be a skull and crossbones, with the words
“Poison – Deadly – Corrosive”

In John chapter 5 our Lord Jesus comes upon a pool outside of the sheep market in Jerusalem, a place called Bethesda (or “House of Mercy”). For some 38 years this man had laid in this place filled with impotent folk, blind, paralyzed, withered (John 5:3). Jesus passes by all these sick people and comes directly to this man. Why this man? Jesus asks the man:

John 5:6 … Wilt thou be made whole?

The man is not “whole”. Why is he not “whole”? We know he is unable to walk, but don’t know why. Jesus Christ our Lord, the Precious Savior to all who will hear Him, tells this man …

John 5:8 … Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.

He hears the Master, and does as Jesus says.

John 5:9 … immediately the man was made whole,
and took up his bed, and walked

The man was healed. But WHY was the man bed bound for 38 years? We do not know until later in the text, when Jesus finds this same man and says:

John 5:14 … Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.

Sin crippled this man. Sin put him in bed for 38 years. Jesus said, “Don’t do the same thing again lest a worse thing come unto thee. What’s worse than 38 years bed bound? I don’t know, but I don’t want to find out. Do you?

True Friends Do Not Justify Sin,
But Bring The Sinner To Jesus

Matthew 9:2 And, behold, THEY brought to {Jesus} a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed …

Mark 2:3 … And they come unto {Jesus}, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.

Luke 5:18 … And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before {Jesus}.

Four friends got together and brought a crippled friend to Jesus. A true friend does not encourage you to sin. A true friend does not say, “Well, what’s the harm?” There was a commercial on TV years ago that ended with:

“Friends don’t let friends drive drunk”

When I was running wild, much of my wildness and sinfulness was because my “friends” suggested evil – and I followed. The Bible tells us that “bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33). Good friends will not lead you away from Christ, but toward Jesus. This is what happened in our story today. Jesus was in Capernaum, visiting in a home and preaching the Word of God.

Mark 2:2 … straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and {Jesus} preached the Word unto them.

As Jesus preached the Word the Bible tells us

Luke 5:17 … the power of the Lord was present to heal them.

Jesus heals people. Jesus makes people whole. Jesus helps us come away from the crippling influence of sin. Jesus blesses us so we can walk with God.

Four men hear that Jesus is in town, so they go and get their friend on a stretcher. When they arrive at the place where Jesus is they could not get near Jesus because of the crowd (Mark 2:4; Luke 5:19). What could they do? Should they give up, and go home? No! True friends bring their fallen friends to Jesus. What they do next is extraordinary.

Mark 2:4 … when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.

Luke 5:19 … when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus.

These men stepped outside of their comfort zone to get their friend to Jesus. In ancient times the rooftop of most homes were flat, and often had raised gardens planted there. These men took their friend to the rooftop. Sitting him down, they then removed a few panels from the roof, making a hole in the roof just above Jesus. They then lowered their friend down. They got the paralyzed man to the Lord.

The best thing we can do for anyone is to bring them to the Lord. A friend does not spend time judging a friend. Religion spends it’s time in judgment. Religion separates us from God. Friends do not spend time judging friends. We examine the Scripture, and apply that Word to our lives. We warn fellow believers when they wander into unrighteousness – not because WE think their actions are unrighteous, but because GOD SAYS in HIS WORD that it is unrighteous. God sets the standard. The Bible says:

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

Jesus preached the Word of God. Let God be the judge. Bring your friends to Jesus.

There is no evidence in our text that the paralytics friends spoke even one word. They just brought him to Jesus. Friends bring friends to Jesus.

The Pharisees and Scribes were in the room, but they were not bringing people to Jesus. They were judging Jesus.

Mark 2:7-8 … Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? 8 And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?

Matthew 9:4 … Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?

Jesus read the minds of these self righteous people and calls them out on it. “Why do you think EVIL in your hearts?” The word translated “Evil” is the Greek πονηρός ponērós, {pronounced pon-ay-ros’}, which means “hurtful, diseased, morally grievous”. The same word is used in the Lord’s Prayer:

Matthew 6:13 … lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil

The self righteous add nothing to others in any positive way. Jesus said “the corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit” (Matthew 7:18). These men are doing nothing to help, but instead are hindering God’s blessing. Jesus tells them:

Luke 5:23-26 Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? 24 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house. 25 And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. 26 And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day.

Jesus Christ alone has the power to forgive sins on the earth. That power is not given to any man, be it Pope or Preacher. Only Jesus Christ can cleanse us from sin. He proved this in a very graphic way, for the man immediately got up and glorified God.

The Way Out Of Sin Comes Only By Jesus

The only way a person can be freed from sin is to come to Jesus. Only Jesus can save a soul. The Bible says:

1 Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

When Jesus told this man to get up and walk – the man got up and walked. He was made whole. He was cleansed from sin. He was made new. Only Jesus can do this. Let us bring our friends, our family, the ones we love to Jesus. It was Jesus Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (1 Peter 2:24). We are all sinners. We are born into a world of sin. Yet Jesus Christ came to save us from sin, and to bring us to God.

Jesus Christ is able! I am not able to save anyone, and neither are you, but Jesus is able. Let us bring our friends to Jesus!

What can wash away my sins?
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus!
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus!
Oh, precious is the flow,
That makes me white as snow,
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus!

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

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

Jesus Saves Sinners: Red Letters Series #21

Matthew 9:9-13 (KJV)  And as Jesus passed forth froMatthew 9:13 (KJV) BUT GO YE and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.m thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.  [10]  And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.  [11]  And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?  [12]  But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.   [13]   But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

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Photo by Neal E. Johnson on Unsplash

An interesting truth about the Book of Matthew is that it’s writer was not called to follow Christ up until chapter 9 of the Book. His calling is in Matthew 9:9, just prior to the Pharisees first attack on Christ’s ministry.

I want you to notice the difference in what Jesus said to Matthew,
and in what He said to the Pharisees.

The Sinner Is Saved By Following Jesus

Earlier in the day Jesus saved a man “sick of the palsy”. We’ll study that text tonight. Jesus has just had a full day saving sinners and healing the sick. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all report on what comes next – and you learn a little more about the man Jesus saves by looking at the whole testimony.

Matthew 9:9 … as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.

Mark 2:14 …And as {Jesus} passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him.

Luke 5:27-28 … after these things {Jesus} went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me. 28 And he left all, rose up, and followed him.

Matthew is writing about himself, but note that he refers to himself in the third person. He said “Jesus saw a man named Matthew”. It is almost as if Matthew is ashamed of himself. We have all done things that we are ashamed of. If you haven’t, then you have never really examined your life. We are all sinners. We are inherently born sinners because of what our forefather Adam did. God told Adam:

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

God created mankind in love. God put Adam in a perfect place, and gave him a beautiful Eve. But Adam sinned. The Bible tells us that:

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:

Humanity is broken by sin. We cannot fix ourselves. We need the Lord.

Too many people think that salvation is a self help product for the religious. It is not. Jesus must save you. The manufacturer of humanity must change out our hearts – He will only do this if we will heed His call and follow Jesus!

I don’t know what my water bill is going to be this month – but I learned a lesson from it. As summertime approaches I got my old garden hose out to set up my garden. As the end with sprayer on it was broken I decided to “repair” it. I went down to Lowe’s and bought a repair couple r, came back, put it on my hose, turned on the water and watered my garden plot. Then I went inside. Guess what I forgot to do? Turn off the water. Sometime that evening the water pressure in the hose blew the couple r off, and water ran steady ALL NIGHT LONG. When I got up the next morning I could hear sounds from my bathroom water pipes. I quickly went outside, turned the water off, and hit myself in the head. I should have just bought a new hose. Too many people come to Church to put a couple r on their soul. They make the outside look good. They dress up, clean up, sing hymns. What we all need is not a man-made patch, but a new life from Jesus Christ.

We must follow Jesus to be blessed. You only get a new life when you follow Jesus. Matthew 9:13 (KJV) BUT GO YE and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.Choose life. Choose Jesus!

I believe that Jesus deliberately sought out Matthew, and called him to salvation. The Bible says:

Matthew 9:9 (KJV) … {Jesus} saw a man, named MATTHEW, …

This is not Matthew’s given name. We are told in Mark:

Mark 2:14 {Jesus} … saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom …

The man that Jesus saved was using the name “Matthew”, but he was born with the name of “Levi the son of Alphaeus”. The name “Matthew” means “a reward”. The name “Levi” means “attached to God”. Matthew underwent a name change. His father Alphaeus, on seeing the little baby born, he called him “Levi” because he wanted him to grow up and be attached to God. Every parent who loves the Lord wants their children to grow up and love the Lord. Yet at some point as he grew Levi drifted away from God. He drifted so far away that he chose to work for the Roman Empire as a “tax collector”. That’s what Matthew was doing when Jesus called him to salvation. Matthew had left his family, left his friends, left his upbringing. Matthew was seeking pleasure from money.

Money in itself is not evil, but the Bible says:

1 Timothy 6:6-10 … godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Money can be a snare, a trap. Matthew fell in love with money. He left all to seek riches – and was lost because of it. Matthew should have been Levi, but Levi traded what was best for the lesser. God should have been his reward. Instead, Matthew is off from his family. He is like the Prodigal Son who is eating the food fit only for the hogs. He is like the rich young ruler who came to Jesus saying:

Luke 18:18 (KJV)… Good Master, what shall I do to INHERIT eternal life?

His words are interesting. “How do I INHERIT eternal life?” An inheritance is only given to a relative of the deceased. Do you know how to INHERIT eternal life? You must die to self. The old man must die.
You must follow Jesus.

Jesus told the rich young ruler …

Luke 18:22 (KJV) … sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and COME, FOLLOW ME.

How do you have eternal life? You cannot let the things of this world be your reward, your gods, that which you live for. Whatever stands between you and God will damn you forever. Get rid of the gods. Get rid of anything that keeps you from your Creator. “Come, Follow Me” says Jesus.

Matthew 9:9 (KJV) … {Jesus} saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed Him.

I can only imagine how much money was on Matthew’s table. Matthew had money – but he wasn’t happy. He needed what we all need. Matthew needed Jesus. When Jesus said “Follow Me” Matthew didn’t question the command. He got up and followed Jesus. We are told in Luke’s account:

Luke 5:28 … {Matthew} left all, rose up, and followed {Jesus}.

Matthew followed Jesus. Where was Jesus going now? Jesus was going to Matthew’s home.

When you follow Jesus, Jesus comes into your home!

This is the way of salvation. Jesus tells you “follow Me”. Some of you have heard the Lord’s call and yet have never followed Him. You have let how others think of you control whether you go forward or not. You are prideful. You may not have a table filled with gold coins, but you have a table filled with pride. You cannot be half saved. You either surrender to Christ, or you don’t.

Salvation is unconditional surrender to Christ.
Salvation is unconditional surrender to Christ.
Salvation is unconditional surrender to Christ.

We are told in:

Proverbs 16:5 Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.

James 4:6 But {God} giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

If you would be saved you must follow Jesus. If you want to be blessed you must follow Jesus. You cannot live your life to please others, nor to please yourself. You must follow Jesus.

There is another familiar story I am sure you have all heard, the Bible story of another Tax Collector named Zacchaeus. The name “Zacchaeus” means “Clean, Pure”, but this man was anything but clean and pure. He, like Matthew, chased after the god of money.

Luke 19:2-3 … Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. 3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.

Zacchaeus went looking for Jesus by climbing a sycamore tree (Luke 19:4). As Jesus passed by He looked up, and told Zacchaeus:

Luke 19:5-6 … Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. 6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.

Both Zacchaeus and Matthew did the same thing when they met Jesus. Neither man cared what anybody else thought. Jesus said “follow Me”, and they both followed Jesus. And Jesus went to both Matthew’s as well as Zacchaeus’ homes.

God Cannot Save Prideful Self Righteous People

God can save any sinner, no matter what sin you may have committed. There is no one Jesus cannot heal and no one Jesus cannot save – if you come to Him in faith. We are told in Matthew:

Matthew 9:10 (KJV) And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.

Why were these “publicans and sinners” at Matthew’s home? We are told in Luke’s account:

Luke 5:29 (KJV) And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a GREAT COMPANY of publicans and of others that sat down with them.

Matthew (Levi) went home with Jesus that very day and invited all of his friends over to eat with him. If you have fallen in love with Jesus, you will share the love that you have experienced with others. Matthew invited his friends over – these sinners and tax collectors – and they all came.

But the self righteous came as well. We read:

Matthew 9:11 (KJV) And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?

The only way that the Pharisees dealt with undesirables was to shun them, to walk away, to ignore them or to ostracize them. We often do this as a society. We put drug addicts in jail because we don’t know what to do with them. We should bring them to Jesus. All that self righteousness and self righteous people can do is CRITICIZE. If you want to help someone, take them to Jesus. That’s what Matthew did, and what we should do. Jesus replied to the Pharisees:

Matthew 9:12 (KJV) But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.

The Surgeon cannot stand in a room apart from the one he is operating on. The Doctor must be with the patient if there is ever going to be healing. Our Lord Jesus came to heal the sick. Our Lord Jesus came to save the lost. He said:

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

Jesus came for the sinners. He came for those who are broken. He comes calling them, saying “Follow Me”.

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

If you think that you are right before God Jesus did not come for you.

If you think you’ve got it all figured out,
Jesus does not say “Come, Follow Me” to you.

What did Jesus say to these Pharisees?

Matthew 9:13 (KJV) BUT GO YE and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

To Matthew, a sinner repenting Jesus said “Come” but to the self righteous Pharisee Jesus said “Go”. Christ has nothing for you if you think you are right before God. If you read:

Romans 3:23 (ESV) … for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God …

and say “Not me. I’m good. I’m ready to meet God!” then Christ has nothing in you. Your righteousnesses are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) but you do not see nor smell your stench. Christ has nothing in you. Jesus says to you who think you are better than others:

GO YE and LEARN what that meaneth, “I will have mercy and not sacrifice”. Pharisee, you know your Bible. Go back to your Bible. Open it up. Look what God wrote in Hosea:

Hosea 6:4-7 (KJV) O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away. 5 Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth. 6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. 7 But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me.

God wants His people to know Him. God is the Gospel. The Gospel is not about ME, but about HE. I am broken, but He is not. He was broken so that I might be healed.

Jesus told the Pharisees “Go and learn. Read the Scripture. Read what God said in the Old Testament”. God does not desire sacrifices, but gave sacrifices for sin so that He could give MERCY.

What does God want of us?

To admit that we are ALL sinners who need Jesus!
Every moment of every day.

The Pharisees – the self righteous – are the WORST sinners. Their sin is worst because they do not see it. It is like the Box Jellyfish in the ocean. They swim to it, embrace it, and die in it. What is good?

Micah 6:8 (KJV) {God} hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Acknowledge your sin. Acknowledge you are a sinner, just as all are sinners. Acknowledge that only Christ can heal you of your sin. Then and only then will you hear Him say “Come, Follow Me”.

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

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

God Is In His Heaven And On His Throne

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Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash

When trials and tribulations come upon us, as humans we often ask:

Lord, Why did this happen to me?

If you have ever asked this question you’re not alone. King David, a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22) asked God fifty one questions in the Psalms. David asked questions like:

Psalms 6:3 My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O Lord, how long?

Psalms 13:1-2 How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? 2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?

Psalms 22:1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

The Psalms are called the Hebrew Hymnbook. They were put to music so that not only David could say these words, but God’s people could also ask the same questions. Trials come to us and often we do not understand why. As we go through this Covid-19 Pandemic some of you may have suffered the virus. There may have been good Christian people afflicted with the virus, while other brittle and unloving people escaped unscathed. You may be one who asks God,

How long will you forget me, O Lord? Forever?
How long will you hide Your face from me?

When David asked these questions at the front end of a Psalm, by the time he reached the end of the Psalm he rejoices in God, saying things like:

Psalm 13:5-6 But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. 6 I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

Trials Come To Both Children Of Light And Children Of Adam

God uses two things – TIME and TRIALS – to get our attention and make us consider our lives in the light of His Glory. God brings trials to people to

CONTROL history
to CALL the lost to salvation,
to CREATE faith in His Children,
and to impede the CURRENT of darkness.

God knows the destructiveness of sin, and sets LIMITS on the darkness. Just as firefighters sometimes fight fire with fire, there are times when God uses the darkness of trials against the darkness of sin. The sinful Jehoiakim and Judah will be hit with the sinful Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon – but God will still be in control!

As we examine the Book of Daniel, we read:

Daniel 1:1-2 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. 2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.

Who attacked Judah? Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. But who caused this trial to come on Judah? The Scripture plainly tells us:

the Lord {אֲדֹנָי ʼĂdônây, (pronounced ad-o-noy’)} gave Jehoiakim king of Judah
into Nebuchadnezzar’s hand

Israel did not fall because they had weak rulers. Israel fell because Israel was not following God. The Scripture says:

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

Why are we as a nation suffering through this Pandemic? I believe it is because we have rejected the God Who so blessed us richly. God is in control. The powers that be are ordained of God (Romans 13:1). God either SENDS the trial or ALLOWS the trial. God is God. God is in control even in the midst of the trial.

When Nebuchadnezzar invaded Israel, God is in His Heaven and on His throne.
When Corona-virus invaded America, God is in His Heaven and on His throne.

God spoke through the Prophet saying:

Isaiah 45:6-7 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else. 7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.

The God of the Bible is in control. This is the God Whom I serve. When the apparent bad happens to the Child of God, our God is in His Heaven and on His throne. We know this to be true, which is why we can declare with confidence:

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

All things work together for GOOD. Not that all things ARE GOOD, but that the Sovereign God Who is over us all causes all things to WORK TOGETHER for good. If you love God and are living for Christ, nothing … NOTHING is bad for you.

Several years ago I read a book The Other Side Of The Mountain, written by Joni Eareckson Tada. Joni suffered a diving accident when she was a teenager that made her into a quadriplegic. When asked by others “Why does God allow suffering?” her reply is, “God allows what he hates to accomplish what he loves.” God loves people, and wants to be in a relationship with whosoever will. God uses trials like sheepdogs. A trained sheepdog will bark and snap at the feet of the sheep, driving them into a place of safety. The same sheepdog will chase off the wolf. Through trials God pushes us all toward salvation by faith in Him. Israel would not repent and turn to God. So God gave Israel over to Babylon. God moved the heart of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to order

Daniel 1:3-4 …. unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes; 4 Children in whom was no blemish, but well favored, and skillful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.

God was working in the background to make sure those who loved Him were not destroyed in the invasion. He ordered that certain young children of Israel be kept safe, and adopted into the Kingdom of Babylon. Oh, how glorious the power of God! Oh, how wonderful is His eternal love!

Daniel 1:6-7 Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: 7 Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.

Daniel and his three friends were around fourteen years old when taken into exile. Our text describes these young people:

  • Children in whom there was no blemish, but well favored”. These young people were BELIEVERS in God who LIVED THEIR FAITH. They were pleasant, well liked because they were not brittle.
  • Skillful in wisdom and cunning in knowledge”. These four young people LISTENED when they were taught.
  • Understanding Science” is actually mistranslated. A better translation would be “Having the ability to understand”. These four young men were not self absorbed nor narcissistic. The King wanted young people who were not arrogant, but teachable. I can only imagine how many children were killed because they were brats.

The Welwyn Commentary Series by Stuart Olyott states:

The four boys would have been fourteen years old when their names were changed, for this was the age at which the Babylonians entered young people upon their programmer of re-education. They were to be given no rest until they had a thorough grasp of all that was required of them. That would be three years later. Stolen from their homes, told to forget their God, intensively re-educated in a pagan culture—how would these young boys fare? Would they remain true to their God, and to what they knew to be right? Or would they capitulate?”

When Trials Come WHO Owns You?
Fear? Panic? The World? Or God?

The Bible tells us that Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah are captured and taken from Israel. Transported from their families, they were carried 1678 miles from everything and everyone they loved. These four young men lost their fathers and mothers, their sisters and brothers, their Church and schools, their friends and girlfriends. They not only lost everything they had grown up knowing, these four young men lost their very names. The Bible says:

Daniel 1:7 .. {the prince of the eunuchs} gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.

In the ancient world a name meant something. Parents today give their children names based upon their own fancy or fantasy. In the ancient world children were named as a goal, what their parents wanted them to be when they grew up. The Hebrew names of these four young men examined:

Daniel means “God is my Judge”
Hananiah means “God is Gracious”
Mishael means “Who is like God”
Azariah means “God helps”

These young men were names by Bible believing parents. They were trained as God commanded in the Book of …

Deuteronomy 6:4-15 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 13 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name. 14 Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you; 15 (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.

Adopted into the palace as servants of King Nebuchadnezzar these young men were purposely renamed to make them conform to the Babylonian false gods.

Daniel was renamed “Belteshazzar”, meaning “One favored by (the false god) Bel”
Hananiah was renamed “Shadrach, meaning “servant of (the false god) Sin”
Mishael was renamed “Meshach”, meaning “guest of the king”
Azariah was renamed “Abednego”, meaning “servant of (the false god) Nebo”

What was done to these young men was an attempt to brainwash them, to make them over in the image of darkness. The devil’s world is constantly trying to take away the Christian’s name, our identity in Christ. It amazes me as I go back and watch old television shows how the devil started indoctrinating us, making us consider that which is abnormal as normal, that which is darkness as light, and that which is evil as good. The world pushes the mind of the believer into a state of compromise.

We must turn off the indoctrination, and turn on the Bible. We must do as these four young men did:

Romans 12:2 … be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Daniel was given another name, but we read in verse 8

But Daniel

Not but Belteshazzar”, but it says “But DANIEL”. Daniel did not lose his identity. He kept his eyes on God. Daniel knew that “God is my Judge”, and he purposed in his heart that he would stay faithful to the God Who loved him.

Beloved believers, we cannot compromise with the world. We are warned by …

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

We are to love those around us as we would be loved. We are to treat others with the respect that God calls us to treat all with. Yet we are never to normalize sin, nor make darkness out to be light. Love the sinner, but cry out against the sin. Remember that as Christians our allegiance is first and foremost to God.

Psalms 100:3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Daniel looked UP! This was how he was trained, and how he continued.

Daniel 1:8 But Daniel PURPOSED in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank.

Daniel put God first. If you are a believer in Christ you are to put God first. God’s love to you is to be more than any other love. What did Jesus say?

Matthew 22:37 Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

With ALL. God is to have ALL of your heart. Not just the leftovers. You are to love God more than anyone else. Jesus told us:

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

God must be first. Seek ye first he Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33). Because Daniel did this God worked in the life of his superior, the prince of the Eunuchs. The Bible says:

Daniel 1:9 NOW GOD had brought Daniel into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.

God brought Daniel into favor with the Prince Melzar. In fact, this prince loved Daniel just as if he were his own child. He was a eunuch, a man unable to have children, unable to know the joy of fatherhood. God planted love in that man’s heart – not creepy perverted love but the love of a father toward a son. Daniel didn’t demand, nor was he ugly in any way to his boss. He asked Melzar …

Daniel 1:12-13 … Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulsevegetables to eat, and water to drink. 13 Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.

Daniel humbled himself to both God and to Melzar in the midst of the trial. When we humble ourselves and let God be God, it is then that God can bless us.

1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

The Bible says that Melzar

Daniel 1:14-16 … consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days. 15 And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat. 16 Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.

Several years ago I preached to Riverview the following words. Little did I know that the words would become prophetic. I said:

A storm is coming to our country, a hurricane greater than anything that has ever been seen. Tie everything up as tightly as you can in your faith with God. Seek out His Word daily, and pray to Him as you go through your day.”

The storm is now here. Are you prepared? If not, let’s start. Repent, turn back to God. Look upward to him Who loves you so. Purpose in your hearts that you will be salt and light every day. Live so as to hear the applause of God. Bind yourselves to your Creator and Savior with the twin golden cords of Grace and His Gospel. God loves you – He loved you so much that He gave His life for you. God loves you still – the grave could not hold Him. He walks with His people, even in the midst of national failure.

He walks with us right now.

Daniel and his three friends not only lived through their exiles, they flourished through it. I am praying that this Covid-19 Pandemic will leave in its wake an awakened Church, and a people willing to shine for the Lord Jesus Christ every day. I am praying that many lost souls will discover the joy of knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Beloved, as C.H. Spurgeon said:

Dare to be a Daniel! Dare to stand alone! Dare to have a purpose firm! Dare to make it known!

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

Posted in Daniel, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , ,

Are You Listening, America?

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Photo by Riz Mooney on Unsplash

Daniel 5:25 (KJV) And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.

Many years ago there was a Sunday when my Pastor was going on vacation. He asked me to fill in for him. I was a young preacher – only 38 years old – and very nervous as I prepared that early message. I prayed and sought God’s face. The Lord put this text on my heart. I preached it that Sunday, and the following week the Pastor called me into his office to ….

…chew me out.

He told me that one of the “elders” of the Church said I was speaking in tongues during the services, and that speaking in tongues was not allowed in a Baptist Church. If I were more seasoned in the Word of God I would have quoted the Apostle, who said:

1 Corinthians 14:39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.

I’ve never spoken in tongues while preaching. I always try (though I am often unsuccessful) to make my words clear and understandable. The elder who claimed I was speaking in tongues heard me quote Daniel 5:25, our focal text. The words Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsinwere written on a wall by a disembodied hand – a clear miracle from God.

and he thought I was speaking in tongues. I guess I was speaking in tongues. For I would not know what those words meant had God not given an interpretation of them. The words that were written on the wall by a disembodied hand, Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin. God spoke clearly to the King, but the King would not hear what the Lord said.

America, are you reading “the handwriting on the wall”? Are you getting what God is telling us through this Covid-19 pandemic? As I heard Barney Fife say the other day on that grand old classic, The Andy Griffith Show:

Let’s blow away the smoke and read the handwriting on the wall”

What are we seeing as we go through this Covid-19 pandemic? I was reading the news on the Internet today, where several media outlets are breathlessly proclaiming:

Unemployment Shatters Records”
“One Hundred Days That Changed The World”
“President Trump Threatens To Remove Funding From WHO”

We are in a time of national distress because a tiny virus has invaded our sense of security. Can we “blow away the smoke and read the handwriting on the wall”? America, we need the Lord! We need to repent as a nation, repent as the Church, and turn to wholeheartedly following the Lord Who loves us and gave Himself for us. Not tomorrow – TODAY.

The Powers That Be Are Ordained Of God

I love studying the Old Testament. I love the whole Bible, but there are many great truths that apply to our world today. The Book of Daniel has great truths that we need to mine as we go through this time of national testing.

Imprisoned for preaching the faith of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul wrote the Roman Church (and us):

Romans 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

Every power – every President, King, Potentate, or Prime Minister that gets into office or sits on a throne is ordained of God. God is ultimately in control.

We don’t want to hear this, but it is Biblically true. During President Obama’s 8 year term in office I heard self professing Christians make disparaging remarks. Beloved, President Obama was in office because the Lord our God allowed it. President Trump is now in office because the lord our God has allowed it. We vote in America. We have an Electoral College in America. We elect Representatives and Senators to our state and federal Legislatures. Yet the powers that be are ordained of God. The Apostle Peter, often antagonized for preaching the Gospel of Christ, wrote:

1 Peter 2:13-15 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 15 For so is the will of God…

Several pastors throughout our nation are ignoring social distancing and guidelines established by the Governors of their state. They are doing so in violation of God’s Will. The powers that be are ordained of God … and we are to submit ourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake. If the state were to tell us what to preach or how to preach we as God’s people are to “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). But when Governors enact laws to protect the citizens of their states, laws equally applied to churches as well as businesses, then we are under obligation to obey.

The powers that be are ordained of God!

Now let’s head back to our Daniel text. The Book of Daniel was written by a man who believed in and loved the Lord our God. This Book was written after Israel – a nation whom God loves – departed from following the Lord our God. God warned Israel before they drifted that there would be consequences if they departed from Him.

Hebrews 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

Hebrews 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

God spoke to Israel, but Israel would not hear Him. Do not deceive yourself. God is not mocked: for whatever you sow, you shall also reap (Galatians 6:7). Are you listening, Israel? Are you listening, America? Will you blow away the smoke and look at the writing on the wall? Israel didn’t listen, so God allowed Babylon to attack and destroy Israel. Daniel survived because he trusted in God. That’s why Daniel was able to write this Book.

Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon took over Israel. Why? The powers that be are ordained of God. Nebuchadnezzar reigned because God allowed him to reign. Donald Trump now reigns because God allows him to reign. Barach Obama reigned because God allowed him to reign. The powers that be are ordained of God.

Now turn with me in your Bibles to Daniel chapter 4. In Daniel chapter 4 King Nebuchadnezzar (the king of Babylon) has a dream.

Daniel 4:5-6 I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me. 6 Therefore made I a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known unto me the interpretation of the dream.

The dream frightens the King, so he initially turns to every source but God. That’s what most of us do. When something frightening happens we turn to doctors, lawyers, professionals, hospitals, bankers, whatever. Nebuchadnezzar turned to magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers (verse 7) and got no answer.

Then Nebuchadnezzar called on Daniel. Daniel loved the Lord. Though the king had given Daniel a pagan name, Daniel’s heart was still firmly fixed on God. Daniel lived for the Lord. “I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvelous works.” (Psalm 9:1). The King told Daniel his dream:

Daniel 4:10-15 … I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great. 11 The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth: 12 The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it. 13 … behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven; 14 He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches: 15 Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth…

When Daniel heard the dream he studied on it for about an hour, I believe, praying to the Lord our God. At the end of that time Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar:

Daniel 4:20-22 … The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth; 21 Whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation: 22 It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth.

Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that God was going to take away his throne, but leave the nation Babylon intact. The dream was a warning to this proud king. Change your ways and honor God, the God Who gave you this kingdom, or suffer loss. Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar:

Daniel 4:27 … break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquility.

The judgment of God could be averted if Nebuchadnezzar would REPENT and do as God directed. But if Nebuchadnezzar continued to ignore God, continued to puff himself up, and hold himself above the way of Christ, then he would suffer.

Beloved, God loves you. God loves us all. But God is ultimately in control. For the longest time our country has enjoyed the blessings of Heaven. We are the richest nation on earth, with unprecedented freedoms, freedoms that other people in other nations only dream of. The powers that be are ordained of God. Having so much, we have enjoyed the bounty of God, but have despised God and His Word. Now we are limping. Now we are suffering. Would that we would – as a nation – turn back to God.

Nebuchadnezzar heard Daniel’s words, but did nothing about the situation. He ignored the wisdom of the preacher. A year passed and nothing happened. Then Nebuchadnezzar walked into the palace one day, saying:

Daniel 4:30 … Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?

The king ascribed to himself the glory for his kingdom. He ignored God’s Word. God waited patiently for the king to repent, and he would not.

Daniel 4:31 While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee.

King Nebuchadnezzar went mad that very day. The Bible says in verse 33, that King Nebuchadnezzar was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws. He stayed in this state until

Daniel 4:34-37 … I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honored him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: 35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? 36 At the same time my reason returned unto me … 37 Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.

When he was proud and lifted up, Nebuchadnezzar was like a wild animal in the field. He remained in this state for seven years. But once he looked heavenward and acknowledge that God alone is King, then he was blessed.

The powers that be are ordained of God.
There is no power but that of God.

The Truth Does Not Change With Time

As we move from Daniel chapter 4 to Daniel chapter 5 twenty-five years have passed. Belshazzar is now King in Babylon, and Nebuchadnezzar is called his “father” (verse 2). The word translated “father” is the Arabic word אַב ʼab, (pronounced ab), which can mean “father” or in this case “descendant of or ancestor” (see Ezra 4:15; 5:12). Belshazzar was in the lineage of Nebuchadnezzar, perhaps his great-great-great grandson.

People are always telling me that truth changes with time. “That was back then, pastor, but this is now”. Truth is timeless. What was truth a million years ago is just as true today. God does not change – EVER. “I am the Lord, I change not” (Malachi 3:6). What God told Nebuchadnezzar is just as true for Belshazzar.

Nebuchadnezzar didn’t listen to God.
Belshazzar didn’t listen to God.
The powers that be are ordained of God.
There is no power but that of God.
Are YOU listening, America?

Daniel 5:1-2 (KJV) Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. 2 Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein.

Belshazzar had a party, and selected 1000 “Lords” to attend that party. At the party they drank, and drank, and drank. Then Belshazzar had an idea. “When Nebuchadnezzar was King he robbed the Temple in Jerusalem, and had some great silver and gold vessels taken. Let’s get those and drink out of them.”

Belshazzar robbed God, and redefined what God made for his own purposes. America has done the same thing. We have redefined marriage, taking it out of God’s design into something else. We have redefined life, making abortion the law of the land, contrary to God’s decree. We have redefined morality, and now endorse sexual pleasure prior to Biblical marriage. We have taken the vessels that God meant for His worship and have filled them to the brim with liquid pleasure. We have worshiped the gods of money, sports, Hollywood, news media:

Daniel 5:4 (KJV) They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.

Are you listening? Will you repent? God watched and waited. The Bible says that God is long suffering, patient, and kind. Time passes, and we feel that God isn’t watching. God is there. God is here. God is watching. The Bible warns:

Romans 2:3-6 thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? 4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds …

Sooner or later a payday comes. Payday is here, King Belshazzar. The King would not listen, so now God gets his attention in a very visible way.

Daniel 5:5-6 (KJV) In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. 6 Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.

What did the King do? He did the same thing King Nebuchadnezzar did. He “cried out for the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers” (Verse 7). These wise men couldn’t do anything about it. Why? Because they had no contact with the God of the Bible. But then the Queen of Babylon told her husband about Daniel, and how Daniel had helped Nebuchadnezzar. So Belshazzar calls for Daniel and tells the old believer:

Daniel 5:16 (KJV) And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom.

I love Daniel’s words to the King. He wasn’t about to receive anything from Belshazzar. He told the King

Daniel 5:17 (KJV) … Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.

You can keep your STUFF. I don’t want it. But I’ll tell you what these words mean”. Before Daniel interprets the handwriting on the wall he tells the King that all that Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar has, they have from God. Daniel then scolds Belshazzar, saying:

Daniel 5:22-23 … O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this; 23 But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven…

God Has The Right To Judge His Creation

I was reading an article written by Capitol Ministries entitled “Is God Judging America Today?” In that article the author noted:

Five forms of God’s judgment are repeatedly mentioned in the Bible. They are as follows: 1. Eternal Wrath (Hell), 2. Eschatological Wrath (The Day of the Lord), 3. Cataclysmic Wrath (The Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah), 4. Forsaking Wrath (Removing Restraint), 5. Consequential Wrath (Sowing and Reaping).”

Belshazzar walked away from God (forsaking), so God walked away from Belshazzar. America, have you walked away from God? America, are you listening? Daniel tells King Belshazzar:

Daniel 5:25-26 (KJV) And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. 26 This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.

The word MENE מְנֵא (pronounced men-A) is Aramaic, not Hebrew, and means “You have been NUMBERED”. God has closely examined you and your nation. God didn’t just closely examine Belshazzar ONCE, but note that MENE is repeated twice. God closely examined Belshazzar and his kingdom TWICE. What did God determine from this numbering?

Daniel 5:27 (KJV) TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.

תְּקַל tĕqal is also an Aramaic word, and it means “to weigh a thing”. The ancients weighed things on a balance beam. On one side a known and true weight was placed, and on the other side the item to be weighed was placed. Belshazzar, you just don’t measure up. Then God gives His judgment:

Daniel 5:28 (KJV) PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.

God raised up another Kingdom that would overthrow Babylon. First the Medes under Darius would overthrow Babylon and kill Belshazzar, and later the Persian empire will join with the Medes to rule Babylon. God would raise up first King Darius

Daniel 5:30-31 (KJV) In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. 31 And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.

and Darius would keep Daniel as a high ranking adviser in his kingdom. Daniel would be protected for he trusted in God. Belshazzar would lose his life, along with his kingdom, because he neither loved God nor respected the Father’s authority. The Bible tells us that “If we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged” (1 Corinthians 11:31).

America, are you listening? Church, are you listening? Today we are confronting a global pandemic. What will we do? Will we repent, and turn to following the God of Scripture? Will we come to the Lord Jesus Christ, receiving Him as Savior? Will we follow His leadership? Let us as His people and His nation heed the ancient lesson of Scripture.

The powers that be are ordained of God. There is no power but that of God. May God the Holy Spirit and His Word draw you close to the Eternal Father, in Christ’s name I pray. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Daniel, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , ,

Resurrection Changes Everything

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Photo by Linda Gerbec on Unsplash

Luke 24:1-12 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher. 3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: 5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, 7 Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. 8 And they remembered his words, 9 And returned from the sepulcher, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. 10 It was Mary Magdalene and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. 11 And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. 12 Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulcher; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.

Christians disagree on many different things. As we study God’s Word we often have different interpretations of different texts. Sometimes these disagreements are so severe (or so we think) that we have divided ourselves up into what we call “denominations” (and don’t fool yourself – a “non-denominational” church is still a “denomination”). Christians even disagree about the day that Christ was crucified. Many believe that the Lord was crucified on “Good Friday”. Others, like me, disagree. I do not see how Jesus could have been crucified and Friday, and resurrect on Sunday, and yet His direct statement be true, for Jesus said:

Matthew 12:40 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.

Jesus referenced Jonah 1:17 when referring to His death and resurrection. I just don’t see how you can get “three days and three nights” from dying on Friday and rising early in the morning on the first day of the week (see Luke 24:1). So we as Christians disagree on when our Lord died. We disagree as to the permanence of salvation (I believe when you are genuinely saved, Christ keeps you). We disagree on the methods of water baptism (I believe in immersion, whereas others believe in sprinkling or pouring). We disagree on what version of Scripture to use, and we disagree …. well, I could go on and on, but I won’t.

We are humans, fallible, and thus we have points of disagreement. But if you are a Christian then we ALL agree that:

  • Jesus Christ – Eternal God Who became Perfect Man, died for our sins, and that
  • Jesus Christ rose from the grave on the third day, which was specifically “the first day of the week” (Luke 24:1)

The Resurrection of Christ changes everything.

The Resurrection Changes Our View Of Death

Luke 24:1-3 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher. 3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.

Very early in the morning on the first day of the week the Bible tells us that Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James along with other women (Luke 24:10) came to the tomb of our Lord Jesus. Jesus had been crucified on the day before a high Sabbath (John 19:31), and the women had hastily prepared His body for burial. The soldiers knew that Jesus was dead, for the Bible tells us:

John 19:33-35 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: 34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. 35 And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.

When blood separates from the plasma or water in the blood it is sure proof that a person has died. Jesus was dead.

Joseph of Arimathaea a very wealthy follower of Christ sought out the governor Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. (John 19:38). He along with the influential Nicodemus,

John 19:39-40 … brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. 40 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’ body was prepared hastily, before the sunset, for the High Sabbath of Passover was at hand (Luke 23:7-16). Now it’s Sunday, the first day of the week.

Luke 24:1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, {the women} came unto the {tomb}, bringing the spices which they had prepared {to finish embalming Christ’s body}, and certain others with them.

The women come back to our Lord’s Tomb “with spices they prepared” to better prepare Jesus’ body for the tomb. They expected to see an armed guard and a sealed door. They found nothing that they expected.

Jesus wasn’t there!

There were, however, two men in shining garments. I believe these were two angels who looked like men. Why two? Because God pays attention to details. He said in the Old Testament:

Deuteronomy 19:15 … at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

Two angels were witnesses – though only one spoke. We are told in Matthew 28:5 that it is an angel who spoke to the women. The angel said:

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

What Jesus said, JesLuke 24:44-48 These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, 46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And ye are witnesses of these things.us meant. Jesus keeps His Word!

Jesus had repeatedly told those who followed Him that He must be crucified, and on the third day rise again. Read with me our Lord’s Words:

Luke 9:22 {Jesus said} The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and BE RAISED THE THIRD DAY.

Luke 9:43-45 {Jesus} said unto his disciples, 44 Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men. 45 But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying.

Luke 18:31-33 {Jesus} took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. 32 For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: 33 And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: AND THE THIRD DAY HE SHALL RISE AGAIN.

Jesus told them over and over again – nevertheless the Bible says “they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not”. What “hid this saying” from them was their own humanity. It is not normal human experience to see someone die, be laid to rest in a grave three days, then that person come back from the dead. They heard, but did not process it. It was only after the angel reminded them of Jesus’ words that:

Luke 24:8-9 … they remembered his words, 9 And returned from the sepulcher, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.

Understanding Jesus had risen, now these women became the first “missionaries” of the Gospel. These women went and told the Apostles what had happened:

Luke 24:11-12 … And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. 12 Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulcher; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.

The Apostles did not believe what the women said. It is ironic that – though Jesus had raised three people from the dead:

a widow’s son (Luke 7:11-17)
a ruler’s daughter (Luke 8:49-56)
and Lazarus His friend (John 11:38-44)

they could not fathom He Himself rising from the grave. Sometimes it’s like the old saying, “seeing is believing”. You can be told over and over again but never fully appreciate it until you encounter it yourself. Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and this completely changes our view of life and death. The resurrection is intrinsic to the Christian faith. The Apostle preached:

1 Corinthians 15:3-5 I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen

The actual death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the very foundation of the Gospel of salvation. You cannot be saved unless you believe Christ both DIED then ROSE AGAIN. Jesus walked on this earth for forty days following His death and resurrection. He was SEEN by many who, in turn, were willing to die affirming that they saw a Living Savior. The Apostle Paul said:

1 Corinthians 15:17-22 … if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20 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.

In order to be “saved” a person must “confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that GOD HAS RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD” (Romans 10:9-10). Without the resurrection death is still man’s greatest enemy. But since Christ has conquered death we can say with the Apostle:

1 Corinthians 15:55

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

The Resurrection Changes Our View Of God

Right after the Angel testifies that Christ is risen, and the women go and tell the unbelieving Apostles, we read of two others on the Emmaus Road. These are two disciples, one of whom is Cleopas. They are walking the seven mile road between Jerusalem and Emmaus, and are sad. We read:

Luke 24:15-17 … while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. 16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. 17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?

Why did Jesus draw near to these two men, and not the eleven Apostles that were back in Jerusalem? I believe it was because they were sad, low of spirit. They saw Jesus – the great hope of Israel – die on the cruel Cross of Calvary. Didn’t our Jesus say:

Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

And are we not promised:

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

Jesus asks these men why they are so sad, Cleopas says that what saddens them is …

Luke 24:19-24 19 … Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: 20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. 21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. 22 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulcher; 23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. 24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulcher, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.

These men saw Jesus as many see Him today – a Great Prophet, a Great Teacher, a Great Man. They thought that Jesus was going to redeem Israel from Rome but, alas, Jesus was crucified by the leadership of Judaism. Cleopas says “the women didn’t find His body, but said that angels told them He was risen … but we couldn’t find Him!”

Beloved, the women couldn’t find Jesus because they were looking in the wrong place. These men couldn’t find Jesus because they were looking for the wrong Person.
But Jesus found them!

Jesus Christ is not found in a tomb. And Jesus is no mere Prophet. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords (1 Timothy 6:15). These men’s eyes were blinded to Christ because they expected a simple King, a simple Prophet, a simple Man to lead Israel away from Rome. God is more than that. Jesus is more than that. Jesus Christ came to redeem His people Israel, to redeem all that will believe on Him as Lord and Savior. When Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist saw his newborn child he cried out:

Luke 1:68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people

Zacharias saw the birth of his son John and the impending birth of Jesus Christ as redemption from Roman dominance. But Jesus Christ came to redeem Israel from a far greater enemy. Jesus redeemed His people from the sacrificial Law, being the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29):

Galatians 3:13-14 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Jesus has also redeemed us from sin and iniquity:

Titus 2:13-14 … our Savior Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

We who are His are redeemed from ritual worship and religion, so that we can walk with the Risen Savior:

1 Peter 1:18-19 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

Jesus Christ redeemed us from circumcision and ceremonial laws and rituals that have no lasting effect. He purchased us with His Blood so that we can become Sons of God by faith in Him. Jesus corrects these two men, saying:

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

Jesus gave these men a Bible class. He took them to the Old Covenant Scriptures and showed them how each of the rituals of the law were but shadows that foretold the coming of the Messiah. We no longer practice ritual sacrifices because Jesus Christ took their place. We no longer practice ceremonial abstinence from certain foods, for what God has declared clean, do not call it unclean (Acts 10:13-15). We no longer practice ritual circumcision, because in Christ their is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female, for ye are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).

As Jesus explains these wonderful truths Cleopas and his friend arrive at home, and they invite the Lord to eat with them. As of yet they do not know this is Jesus. But we read:

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

Beloved, Jesus is risen, and is with His people. We need not fear – for He is near to each and every one of us!

The Resurrection Changes Our Witness

Cleopas and his friend nearly run the 7 miles back to Jerusalem. Like the women at the tomb of Christ they can hardly wait to share the news: Jesus is alive! The Bible says:

Luke 24:36-43 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. 38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. 40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? 42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. 43 And he took it, and did eat before them.

If it seems that the Apostles were somewhat hard to convince concerning Christ’s resurrection, the truth is I believe each one of us – if we had gone through what they went through – would have been just as difficult. Jesus told them:

Luke 24:44-48 These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, 46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And ye are witnesses of these things.

Now that the Apostles had experienced the Risen Savior they were now empowered to preach Him among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. Jesus Christ came to save all people from sin, death, and the grave. He is the Risen Savior. We are to preach repentance and remission of sins in His Name – through His death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus Christ is alive! He is alive, and leads His Church this very day.

The resurrection of Christ changes things. It even changed the day the Church met. Prior to Christ God’s Israel worshiped and rested on Saturday. But since Christ rose from the grave on the first day of the week, Sunday became the New Testament Church’s Sabbath Worship (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; John 20:19; John 20:1). Jesus Christ is alive. The devil could not stop Him. The Pharisees could not destroy Him. Death could not keep Him. The grave could not hold Him.

Jesus Christ is alive! He is alive! Do you know Him? Do you know my Jesus? If not, may God the Holy Spirit and His precious Word open your eyes to see Him this very day. Amen and amen!

Posted in Easter Messages, Empty Tomb, Luke, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , ,

Prayer For A Fallen Nation

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Photo by Jack Sharp on Unsplash

Please turn in your Bibles to Daniel Chapter Nine. Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, DANIEL. As you’re turning to Daniel 9 I want to talk about prayer. As is our custom, Riverview has a Prayer Meeting and Bible study on Wednesday nights. The Church should be full of praying believers. The Bible is a Book full of prayers.

Jabez prayed (1 Chronicles 4:10)
Moses prayed (Exodus 32:9-14)
The virgin Mary prayed (Luke 1:46-49)
The Publican prayed (Luke 18:13)
Our Lord Jesus both taught prayer and Himself prayed
(Matthew 6:9-13)

Before Jesus went to Calvary to save His Church, He prayed that “we would be One as He and the Father are One (John 17:11). Jesus prayed that His Church would be One with the Triune God:

John 17:21 That THEY ALL MAY BE ONE; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

Though we as Christ’s Church are separated by quarantine from the pandemic Covid-19, though we may be physically apart we can still be spiritually one. I believe as Christ’s Church wherever it may be goes through this time of testing, that at the other end of the tunnel we will be stronger, more united in Christ Jesus. Jesus taught us that “a house divided cannot stand” (Mark 3:25; Matthew 12:25). The Church – like Israel – derives its power from unity with God and with one another. Prayer and Bible Study is so very important.

When the Christian prays according to God’s Word we center ourselves on God. Beloved, we as Christians are desperately needed to be centered on our God as we go through this great national trial.

Daniel FREQUENTLY Prayed

Daniel 6:10 …. {Daniel} kneeled upon his knees THREE TIMES a day, and PRAYED, and GAVE THANKS before his God, as he did aforetime.

No one could stop Daniel from praying. Daniel not only PRAYED, but he PRAISED. He sought God in prayer, but exalted God in his praise!

Have YOU thanked God for Covid-19?
Have you thanked God for the quarantine?
There is a reason for this quarantine, and our God is still in control.
Though Daniel was in captivity, cut off from Israel, he still prayed and thanked God for what he was going through.

When you pray, God will speak to you. He spoke to Daniel, and as God revealed what was coming it physically affected Daniel. The Bible says:

Daniel 8:27 And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king’s business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it.

When a nation drifts away from God, it brings a curse upon itself. The Psalmist said:

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

America, we need to get back to God.
Tennessee, we need to get back to God.
Columbia, we need to get back to God.
Church, we need to get back to God.

How Did Daniel Pray?

  • Daniel focused on God in prayer. He deliberately prayed.

Daniel 9:3-4 And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: 4 And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession

I love the way he says this: “I set my face unto the Lord God” (‘Adonay Elohiym) – the Godhead. His focus was not on others to solve the problem, but on the Lord Who saved him. Daniel calls God “The Godhead Who is Lord”, but in verse 4 addresses God as “the LORD my God” (Yahweh Elohiym) – the Godhead Who is the Eternal I AM. Our God is the ever Present God. He is always I AM, never I WAS or I WILL BE. He is with us, watching over His children by faith. Daniel made his confession. The Bible tells us that:

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

This is the first part of prayer – confession of sin. Notice how Daniel confessed sin:

Daniel 9:4-6 … O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; 5 We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: 6 Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.

Daniel did not play “the blame game” with God. He confessed his sins. He confessed the sins of his nation. He exalted God while confessing sin. He acknowledged that the mess the nation was in was because we have not listened to our faithful and loving God. The Scripture declares:

1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Deuteronomy 7:9 … the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God

Covid-19 may be ravaging our country, but it’s cause is not that God is faithless, or that God is absent. God is there. God is always with us. But when we reject His Word and His Spirit bad things happen. Daniel prayed:

Daniel 9:11-13 Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, EVEN BY DEPARTING, that they might not obey thy voice; THEREFORE THE CURSE IS POURED UPON US, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.  [12]  And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem.  [13]  As it is written in the law of Moses, ALL THIS EVIL IS COME UPON US: YET MADE WE NOT OUR PRAYER BEFORE THE LORD OUR GOD, THAT WE MIGHT TURN FROM OUR INIQUITIES, and understand thy truth.

Trials come upon us when we reject God’s leading. God warned Israel not to depart from His leadership. When we reject His Word, we automatically do something that brings badness to our front door. God said:

Deuteronomy 28:15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, TO OBSERVE TO DO ALL HIS COMMANDMENTS AND HIS STATUTES WHICH I COMMAND THEE this day, that ALL THESE CURSES SHALL COME UPON THEE, AND OVERTAKE THEE:   … [20] The LORD shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me.

Daniel did not blame others. Politics in our country has elevated itself to a place that previously was held only by religion. Politicians are constantly blaming “the other side”. Beloved, we are one country in distress. The blame game does nothing but lie to cover our own sins. Daniel prayed:

Daniel 9:5 WE HAVE SINNED, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even BY DEPARTING FROM THY PRECEPTS AND FROM THY JUDGMENTS:

Daniel didn’t pray “THEY have sinned” but prayed “WE have sinned”. The beginning of national healing comes when we realize we are all at fault – and return to God.

We are the United States TOGETHER. We are the Church of Christ TOGETHER. We must not compromise God’s Word, but be the light that our Lord calls us to be. What did Jesus say?

Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

  • Daniel acknowledged his weakness, that God alone is God. So often we hear God’s Word and say “Yes Lord, BUT”. Daniel prayed:

Daniel 9:7-8 O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee. 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.

The best prayer is the prayer that says, “God, I don’t know what to do. Please be God and tell me. Your servant is listening!”

I have often stood outside at night and looked at a beautiful, full moon. Have you ever thought that, if the moon were to depart from the sun, it would have no glow, and would not be seen from the earth. The light of the Church is God’s Son. The light of the Church is to imitate the Word. Not the WORLD, but the WORD.

  • Daniel acknowledged the righteousness of God, and asked for mercy upon the nation.

Daniel 9:14-17 Therefore hath the Lord watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the Lord our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice. 15 And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly. 16 O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us. 17 Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake.

As Daniel prayed, he refereed to various Biblical texts:

Leviticus 26:40
Deuteronomy 28:64
Exodus 34:6
Psalm 44:14
Jeremiah 25:11

Daniel was a man who studied the Word of God. Jesus has told us that (John 15:3) “you are clean through the Word I have spoken unto you”. Jesus said:

John 15:7 If ye abide in me, and MY WORDS abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

God’s people are called to pray and heed God’s Word.

2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from THEIR WICKED WAYS; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

  • Daniel pleaded the glory of God throughout his prayer. He prayed:

Daniel 9:18-19 O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. 19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.

Daniel asked that God grant a positive answer to his prayer for the glory of God. Everything we do is to be for the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

The model prayer that our Lord Jesus Christ taught us in Matthew 6 begins and ends with glory to God:

Matthew 6:9-10, 13 Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. … 13 … For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

As we pray we acknowledge that we belong to God, and give glory to His Name. We come together to glorify Him. We praise Him here – and out there. The glory of the Lord is our strength.

1 Chronicles 16:28-29 Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength, ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name. Bring an offering and come before him; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.

As Daniel ended his prayer we know that it was heard of God, for the Lord sent Gabriel to Daniel. He brought a vision to Daniel, telling Daniel “you are greatly Beloved of God” (Daniel 9:23). Daniel was allowed to look into the future, and to see the coming of the Messiah, and His death on Calvary. God led Daniel to a deeper place of blessing, and used Daniel for His glory.

As we go through this time of quarantine let us all commit to being people of prayer. Let us read our Lord’s Word, and trust Him. I believe America has better days to come. But if they will come, they will only come if God’s people are focused on Him and His glory.

Oh that God would bring national revival to America! May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit.

Posted in Daniel, praise, prayer, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , ,