The Names of God: Yahweh Elohiym and Yahweh Rapha

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The Book of Exodus shows us the beginning of God’s fulfillment of His Promise to Abraham. In it we see the beginning of Israel as a nation, a people saved by God. In Israel we also see how God reveals Himself to his people. God reveals Himself through the use of different names, names that characterize Who our God is.

God Reveals Himself As ELOHIYM

As the Book of Exodus starts we see the Pharaoh order the abortion of all male children. Yet the Bible tells us that those who delivered the babies – the midwives – refused to do so. Why? The Bible says:

Exodus 1:17 … But the midwives feared God (Elohiym), and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive.

That which motivated the midwives was their fear of Elohiym. If you remember this name of God, you remember this is the earliest name of God found in Scripture. In Genesis it is the fourth word in our English Bibles:

In the beginning God (Elohiym)

We discussed in earlier messages that Elohiym is a plural rendered as a singular. It is the name of the Triune God (Father, Son, Spirit). I am not certain that the early midwives understood the Trinity (and we barely grasp it), but it was their fear of Elohiym – respect for the Three in One God – that caused them to refuse to kill babies though the state ordered it done. By being obedient the Bible says:

Exodus 1:20-21 Therefore God (Elohiym) dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty. 21 And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God (Elohiym), that he made them houses.

The midwives had little, which is probably why they spent their time delivering babies for sustenance. But because they honored Elohiym the Bible says Elohiym made them houses. He increased what they possessed. A “house” is a reference to a household. Their income increased. Their families increased. Their health increased. What was it our Lord Jesus told us?

Matthew 6:31-33 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

My wife and I love to walk trails in the woods. It’s good exercise, and a beautiful way to experience God’s greatness. Often when I’m walking with my love I see fallen trees, many of which are huge in diameter. There is two reasons these forest giants fall. One reason is that the roots are not standing on solid ground. The other reason is because a small bug or disease took up residence in the trunk of the tree. I have seen trunks hollowed out by termites or small bugs. The outside of the tree looks nice and healthy, but the inside is all rotted away. In time it will fall.

So it is with every life, even the Christian life. If we build our lives on less than solid ground eventually we will fall. The Bible tells us to build our lives on the Rock that is our Triune God. King David said:

Psalm 62:1-2 … Truly my soul waiteth upon God (Elohiym): from him [cometh] my salvation. 2 He only [is] my rock and my salvation; [he is] my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.

The midwives sought the pleasure of The Father, Son, and Spirit. They did not live for Pharaoh nor to please the crowd. Furthermore, the midwives avoided allowing sins, like little bugs, to infiltrate their lives. When sin comes into the life, whether you be Christian or non-Christian, that sin will ultimately consume you. Oh Beloved, remember that:

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Sin kills. It eats us up from the inside out. Let us be like the midwives, and live so as to find our Father smiling on us. Let us live so as to honor the Son’s sacrifice. Let us walk in the Spirit, at peace with Elohiym regardless as to what this world may think! When we are afflicted, let us call upon upon the Father in the Name of the Son and in the power of the Spirit. Let us cry out within our affliction, as Israel did:

Exodus 2:23-25 And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God (Elohiym) by reason of the bondage. 24 And God (Elohiym) heard their groaning, and God (Elohiym) remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 And God (Elohiym) looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.

God Reveals Himself As YAHWEH

When God calls out to Moses from the burning bush, the Lord began by introducing Himself as Elohiym. He told Moses:

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

God told Moses that he was to go to both Pharaoh as well as Israel, serving as the spokesman of Elohiym. We read:

Exodus 3:13-15 And Moses said unto God (Elohiym), Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God (Elohiym) of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? 14 And God (Elohiym) said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. 15 And God (Elohiym) said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God (Yahweh Elohiym) of your fathers, the God (Elohiym) of Abraham, the God (Elohiym) of Isaac, and the God (Elohiym) of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.

Our God is YAHWEH. He is the great I AM. He is ETERNAL, without beginning or end. The first mother, Eve, knew Elohiym as YAHWEH:

Genesis 4:1 … Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD (YAHWEH).

When our Lord Jesus wanted to tell the Pharisees that He Himself is Eternal, co-existent with both Father and Spirit, He told them:

John 8:58-59 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM. 59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

The Pharisees sought to stone Jesus to death for blasphemy, for He made Himself equal with God. But Jesus is indeed equal with God. He is the Eternal Word Who “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1-2).

When God told Moses He was YAHWEH, He was also saying He is unchangeable. We change and grow, but God does not.

Malachi 3:6 … For I am the LORD (Yahweh), I change not

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

The Great I AM bound Himself to Israel by covenant, and that covenant would never end. He binds Himself to us who love Him by that same covenant. If you have faith in Christ then the Scripture trumpets:

Galatians 3:6-8 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. 7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. 8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, [saying], In thee shall all nations be blessed.

The God that saved Abraham is the same God that saved me. The God that promised Abraham is the same God that promised me. If you have received the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior then the Elohiym – the Triune God – works together to bring you into His family. YAHWEH has you in His hands. YAHWEH promised to save Israel from Egypt, and YAHWEH did so. It was YAHWEH Who told Israel to kill a lamb without blemish, a male of the first year:

Exodus 12:7-8 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. 8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.

God said,

Exodus 12:11-13 … it is the LORD’S (YAHWEH’s) passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD (YAHWEH). 13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.

You all know the story. The God Who gives life was going to take life this very night, the life of all that were not under the Blood of the Lamb. That Blood represented what our Lord Jesus Christ did for us on Calvary.

Every day I read the obituaries of those who were unprepared for death. The LORD YAHWEH came to their homes, but they knew not Jesus.

Jesus Christ is …

Revelation 13:8 … the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

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

The lamb slain at the first Passover represented our Lord Jesus Who would one day be killed for our sins. We are made near to God as children by the Blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:13). Our consciences are purged from dead works by the Blood of Christ (Hebrews 9:14). What shall wash away my sins? The Apostle said:

1 Peter 1:19 {you were redeemed from death} … with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

When Yahweh came visiting that night, every home that was not under the blood of the lamb suffered death. This broke the back of Egypt. Israel was released. Though Israel would later be pursued by Egypt (and the devil pursues every believer in Christ, tempting and trying to derail us), God would destroy Egypt’s armies and protect His people.

God Reveals Himself As YAHWEH RAPHA

People are so very fickle – and Christians are often the most fickle. God saved Israel with a mighty hand. At the Red Sea Moses cried out:

Exodus 14:13-14 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD (YAHWEH), which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. 14 The LORD (YAHWEH) shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

Yahweh – the Great God I AM – saved His people. God saves us by Grace. He merely asks that we come to Him as Lord, and heed Him as Father. He cries out to us in Jesus, “whosoever believeth in My Son will never perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Yahweh sends His Spirit to us, and indwells us, and adopts us. But we are so fickle. Our memory is so short. This is why we come together frequently, to remind one another that Yahweh is faithful – and calls us to faithfulness.

I am not a very good gardener. This year I am raising my own tomato plants from seed. So far they are doing well. But once I transplant them outside, that’s when the problems start. You see, I forget to check on my tomatoes daily. Weeds creep in. If you pull weeds when they are small, they are very easy to remove. But if you wait too long – holy cow! I pulled a weed the other day that had grown up into the highest part of my choke-berry tree. I thought I’d never get it out!

Weeds are similar to sin. You see, weeds began when Adam sinned. God told Adam:

Genesis 3:17-18 … cursed [is] the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat [of] it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee…

We need to pull the weed of sin out of our lives as soon as we see it. If we allow those little sins to creep in, they grow like weeds. Weeds that are not removed will remove the fruit – and even the life – of that which has been planted. If I want tomatoes, I must keep my garden weeded. If I want to be blessed of God, I must keep my spiritual life weeded.

Israel went three days into the wilderness, and found no water. Did they pray? Did they seek God’s face? Did they remember the blessings that God gave them just three days before?

No. They murmured. They groaned. They complained. They looked to themselves rather than to God. And here is where we see God revealing Himself to us by another name.

Exodus 15:24-26 And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? 25 And {Moses} cried unto the LORD (YAHWEH); and the LORD (YAHWEH) shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them, 26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD (YAHWEH) thy God (Elohiym), and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee (YAHWEH Rapha).

Israel was headed toward the Promised Land, but was not there yet. But the God Who saved them – YAHWEH Elohiym – is the God Who will keep them. Our God is “Yahweh Rapha – the Great I AM Who heals us, His people”. God never brings us to a place in life where we are to be cursed. Israel should have known that the God Who saved them from Egypt is the same God Who will be with them through all their trials.

Healing the water was very simple. God showed Moses a tree to throw in the water – and that tree made the waters sweet. Our Lord Jesus Christ made our lives so very sweet by going to the Cross of Calvary for us. Did you know that the average human is about 60% water?

The tree being tossed in the bitter waters is a beautiful picture of the Cross of Christ. The tree had to die to be cast into the bitter waters.

When we receive Him as Lord and Savior, Jesus’ payment for our sins becomes the catalyst that brings us into the Family of God. We are made alive because He died for us. When life gets rough, we need to look to the Cross. We need to look to Yahweh Rapha, the God Who heals us. Yahweh Rapha gave everything He had to save us. The Father gave His Son to die. The Son was willing to die in agony and shame on Calvary for us. The Spirit gives His life by promising to inhabit the believer. Oh, how God sacrificed for us! So we as His grateful children lay our lives down for Him.

Let us look to Calvary, look to the Christ, and trust Him when we are tried. Do not allow the weeds of sin and selfishness to creep into your walk with God. Look up! Look up!

May God’s Spirit and his Word touch your lives this very day. Amen.

Posted in Names Of God Series, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , ,

Red Letters Series #11: Light Lifts Up

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Matthew 6:1-4 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. 2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

Who are you living your life for? I was watching a television show last night when one of the female actors came out with “I’m non-binary. I’m not a female. I’m not a male. I don’t know what I am”. When we live our lives consumed with ourselves, living to satisfy our feelings and our wants, in time we come to a place where we are absolutely lost. This is what happens when we deny the God Who made us. Paul described the life bereft of God this way:

Romans 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

We need to choose God. We need to live for God. That is what Jesus is telling us. We are not to live our lives to please ourselves, but to live for the One Who created us.

When the Apostle prayed for the Church at Colossae he said:

Colossians 1:9-10 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might BE FILLED WITH THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIS WILL in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 That ye might WALK WORTHY OF THE LORD unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

The Apostle told the Church at Galatia:

Galatians 1:10 … if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

It is certain that the Gospel commands that we – “as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” (Romans 12:18). We are not to be difficult, or warmongers, or arrogant. The Church in the midst of darkness must not compromise with the narrative of the world. We as His Children are saved by Grace so that we can share His Gospel with others.

1 Thessalonians 2:4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.

Christ’s Church Is To Help The Needy

Matthew 6:1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them …

Please note that Jesus does not say “IF you give your alms” but “you DO your alms”. The word translated “alms” is the Greek ἐλεημοσύνη eleēmosýnē, (pronounced el-eh-ay-mos-oo’-nay), which means “a donation to the poor, an exhibition of mercy or pity, a compassionate gift”. The King James generally translates the word as “alms” or “alms giving”, whereas other translations use:

practicing your righteousness” (NASB, CSB, ESV, NIV)

Though these versions are not consistent, for in verse 2 the NASB renders it as the King James “do alms”. The CSB reverts to “give to the poor”. The ESV and NIV revert to “give to the needy”. I think the King James is a better and more consistent rendering with “do thy alms”.

The mark of a genuine believer is a merciful and beneficial attitude toward those around you.
Light shines so as to dispel the darkness.

I was watching a Food Network show the other day called “Cutthroat Kitchen”. At the beginning of the show contestants are given $25,000 to use throughout the game. When the contestants receive this money they ALWAYS seem to do the same thing. Some will smell it, others rub it on their faces or on their bodies. They are worshiping that money. Believers in Christ are saved by the unconditional Grace of God. We do not worship money. We understand that -= if God has blessed us with riches – then we were given these riches to not just use for ourselves, but to bless the needy. God told His Old Covenant followers:

Deuteronomy 15:7-11 If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: 8 But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth. 9 Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the LORD against thee, and it be sin unto thee. 10 Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto. 11 For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.

When the Israelite harvested their fields God commanded “thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of your field” (Leviticus 19:9). God told the people He loved “thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD (YaHWeH – the Great I AM) your God (Elohiym the Triune God)”. God told Israel “when you gather olives, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow”. God was so serious about His people being generous that He told them:

Exodus 23:10-11 And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof: 11 But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard.

God was going to give His people enough bounty to where they could take a break every seven years. On the seventh year they were to leave the land alone. The “volunteer crops” that came up were for those in need. God says:

Proverbs 14:21 He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he.

And has declared that the greedy person who never gives to those in need will not have his prayers answered:

Proverbs 21:13 Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.

The Apostle John told the New Testament Church – that’s us! – that we should especially be concerned in meeting the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is one of the reasons we give to missionaries as they go our to share the Gospel. The Apostle said:

1 John 3:16-19 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. 19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.

James 2:15-17 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

As we have been given, let us give. Let us care for one another. Let us not worship money, but use it as a tool to spread the glorious Gospel of Christ.

Matthew 6:2-3 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

When we give, we give so that God may see it – not man. The hypocrites is the Greek ὑποκριτής hypokritḗs, (pronounced hoop-ok-ree-tace’) which means “to be an actor or player on stage”. The Pharisees did not literally “sound the trumpet” before they gave to God’s Temple – but they did broadcast what they gave and when they gave so that others would see and praise them. To those who do such things Jesus said:

They have their reward

The God Whom we serve “looks at the heart of the giver” (1 Samuel 16:7). Jesus said that when we give:

let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth

Now Jesus wasn’t being literal here, but was exaggerating for effect (hyperbole). When you give, give so that God knows. Give to please this Audience of One.

The Disciple of Christ Talks To The Father

Matthew 6:5-6 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Let me start by saying that Jesus is not forbidding public prayer. Jesus Himself prayed publicly. He prayed so many times in the presence of His disciples that they asked Him:

Luke 11:1 And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.

There are some 222 prayers that have been recorded in the Bible: 176 in the Old Testament,
46 in the New Testament.

We have Abraham praying many times (Genesis 17:18; 19:24). Eliezer the servant of Abraham prayed that God would lead him to a bride for Isaac (Genesis 24:12-14). Jacob prayed for blessing (Genesis 28:20-22). Aaron prayed (Numbers 6:24-26). Moses prayed (Numbers 16:15). Gideon prayed (Judges 6:13-17). Prayer is found frequently throughout the Scripture.

The Lord is emphasizing that when we pray, we pray to the Audience of One. We are not to worry about or even focus on those around us as we pray. We enter the prayer closet of our minds and – as God enables – we pray. Not all people can pray publicly. That’s perfectly all right! Whether you pray publicly or not, you should still pray!

The Pharisees perverted public prayer:

they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men

God knows who you are speaking to. We are to be speaking to our Lord, not pretending to do so.

Matthew 6:7-8 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the HEATHEN do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

The “Heathen” is the Greek ἐθνικός ethnikós, (pronounced eth-nee-kos’) which means “ethnics” or “nations”. This is reference to those who are outside of the family of God. Both Jesus as well as Paul prayed the same words to God several times (Matthew 26:44; 2 Corinthians 12:8), so “vain repetitions” does not mean to use the same words more than once. It means to use meaningless babble when you speak to God. Prayer is an act of communication with a literal cognizant Person. Our God is not a stone idol. He is real. He is alive. And when we pray, we are communicating with our God.

The Child of God Prays This Way

Matthew 6:9-13 After this manner therefore pray ye: 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. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

The reason the Lord gave us “The Lord’s Prayer” is because a disciple asked “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). The Lord’s Prayer is made up of seven phrases. The first three relate to God and His Kingdom. The last four are directed toward us, the believer in Christ. The prayer begins with:

  • Our Father”. Israel drifted away from God, and religion took over the Temple. The Jews were taught that they were to be extremely formal with God. To call Him “Father” was considered blasphemy. This is what religion does to the faith of God’s Family.God was frequently presented as “Father” to Israel in the Old Testament. Moses told Israel:

Deuteronomy 1:31 … in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the Lord thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place.

King Solomon told Israel in Proverbs 3:12 that whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

King David told Israel in Psalm 103:13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.

And through Malachi 3:17 … they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.

God is “our Father”. Our elder Brother Jesus died for us so that we could enter the Family of God. We are no longer strangers, but Sons, Sons of God by faith in Christ. God our Father loves us. He provides our needs.

Galatians 4:4-6 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

  • Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name”. To “hallow” God’s name is to recognize that He is holy, and that He is to be glorified. We hallow God’s name by being obedient as His children to do His will:

Isaiah 29:23 But when he seeth his children, the work of mine hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel.

  • Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven”. I pray this prayer every day. At this point, I ask God to make His Will come to life in me, and in our Church, and in the Church that is in the world. I pray that we all become better citizens of His Kingdom NOW, not just when we get to Heaven. Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for my sins, but rose from the Grave to lead me and us as His Children.
  • Give us this day our daily bread”. God wants us as His children to live a DAILY faith in Him. In the Old Testament God illustrated His provision to His children by the giving of manna. There was enough manna given each day for each person to take an omer, which is equivalent to 43.2 eggs or about 3.3 pounds. This was a daily ration. No one was to gather more than a daily ration, unless it was the morning before the Sabbath, in which case they could gather 2 days worth. If the Israelite tried to hoard manna it would turn wormy and stink (Exodus 16:13-21). We must trust God as our Father to care for us daily.

A man traveling in Turkey had a young teen as his guide. He saw a rare flower hanging from an inaccessible precipice, and decided he wanted it. He asked the young guide to climb down to where it was. He said, “I’ll tie a rope about your waist, and hold it while you climb down. You’ll be safe.” The young man said, “No, I’ll not do it that way. Let me go and get my father, and he can hold on to the rope. If father is holding on I know I’m safe.”

Christian, you have a Heavenly Father who will hold on to you. Trust Him daily to “hold the rope” of your life.

  • And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”. We must forgive those who have hurt us, if we are the children of God. Jesus tells us just a bit further on:

Matthew 6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Many people have read and even memorized the Lord’s Prayer, saying it daily (as I do), and yet carry grudges in their hearts over hurts that others have done to them. Jesus said quite plainly, “If you don’t forgive, you will not be forgiven”. If you belong to Jesus then the Lord demands you forgive others. Jesus said it, we must do it. Period!

  • and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”. We pray daily that God would lead us away from anything that makes us “less than light”. The devil – the evil one – does the best he can to put out our light. He wants us to be negative, to be morose, to be discouraged and disheartened – then to share that doom and gloom with the world. We pray that God would daily lead us away from temptations to darkness, and that He would “deliver us from the evil one”.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo were tempted to bow down to an idol that foolish King Nebuchadnezzar commissioned. (You can read of this in Daniel chapter 3). The King asked them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? … if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” Today in America Christians are being told we need to bow down to the idols of this nation, idols like:

sexual immorality and perversion
money and power
wholesale murder of children via abortion
drug and alcohol abuse

We need to remember to do as the three Hebrew children did. They politely refused to bow down to these idols, trusting in God as their Father. Were they thrown in the furnace? Yes. But God stayed with them in that furnace – and they came out unharmed. As Oswald Chambers once said,

Faith for my deliverance is not faith in God. Faith means, whether I am visibly delivered or not, I will stick to my belief that God is love. There are some things only learned in a fiery furnace.”

  • For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory forever. Amen. Some Bible versions remove this part of the Lord’s Prayer because of textual criticism. I still think it’s best. We need to remind ourselves as the Light of the world that we exist for God’s glory, and to expand HIS Kingdom, not ours.

Let us live for our Father while we draw breath. May God empower this message to reach your hearts and minds, through His Spirit I pray. Amen.

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

Red Letters Series #10: The Mark Of Perfection Is Doing Love

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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

We Are Commanded To Be Perfect!

I’m going to start at the end, and work toward the beginning today. The last verse we read is:

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your
Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Jesus tells us as His disciples to “be perfect”. Perfect? As I looked up this passage in the various commentaries, each one I looked at minimized this command of Christ, barely paying it any attention. I don’t think God will honor this.

Jesus commanded that we “be perfect” (Greek τέλειος téleios, pronounced tel’-i-os), which means “to be complete, mature, of full age”. The Pharisees only focused on doing the parts of the Law that made them look good. They focused on giving so as to receive the praise of men, holiness so as to receive the praise of men, religious ritual fidelity to receive the praise of men. But Jesus drives us back to the Source. We are to be “imitators of God our Father”. If we are born again, if we are indeed”

children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26)

If indeed …

the Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit,
that we are the children of God (Romans 8:16)

Then we are to be “perfect and complete, just as our Father in Heaven is”. This is not a new requirement by Jesus. God told Israel:

Deuteronomy 18:13 Thou shalt be PERFECT with the LORD thy God.

Here the word “perfect” is the Hebrew תָּמִים tâmîym, (pronounced taw-meem’) which means “full, whole, without blemish, perfect”. What Jesus was telling His Church and the Father was telling Israel was:

Do not be like the lost world. Love Me. Love those around you. Do not love the idols, nor worship the false gods of of this world. Nations are destroyed because of their abominable child sacrifices and horrible gods.
Love only Me. Love one another. Be perfect!

We are to DO LOVE NOT HATE. Our “Light” is not like the Pharisees or the politicians.
We DO LOVE NOT HATE.

Matthew 5:43-48 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies …

“It hath been said, ‘thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy'”. This is found no where in the scripture. Never did God tell anyone – Israel or anyone else – to “hate your enemy”. Dr. Thomas Constable in his Soniclight Commentary notes “Nowhere does the Old Testament advocate hating one’s enemies”. Even in the Mosaic Code God said:

Exodus 23:2-5 Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil … 4 If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. 5 If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help him.

Everyone has enemies. But we, dear Christians, must DO LOVE NOT HATE toward our enemies. Only in this will people come to know Christ.

The wonderful Scottish preacher Alexander Maclaren saw a man that had often visited his congregation come forward and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. Maclaren had talked to the man before, and tried to lead him to Christ to no avail. The preacher asked the man “which sermon brought you to receive Jesus Christ?” The man honestly replied. “Your sermons were helpful, but they were not what finally persuaded me to be a Christian. A few weeks ago as I was leaving church, I noticed an elderly lady with a radiant face. Because she was making her way with difficulty along the icy street, I offered to help her. As we walked along together, she looked up at me and said, ‘I wonder if you know my Savior, Jesus Christ? He is everything in the world to me. I want you to love Him, too.’ Those few words touched my heart, and when I got home, I knelt down and received the Savior.”

Dr. David Jeremiah said “Even those in the grip of sin and frailty can recognize a true believer in Jesus Christ. When they see the joy of Christ in our life, it becomes a convicting moment. There’s a sermon in the holy smiles of God’s faithful people.”

Listen up Christian! Even if no one else around you is living for Christ and doing love, you yourself need to DO LOVE NOT HATE.

Consider the life of Noah. God was going to destroy the world by flood (Genesis 6:5-7). Evil had grown too pervasive, the darkness too widespread. The Lord decided to unplug civilization and let it reset. God, however, saw Noah. The Bible says that …

Genesis 6:8-9 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. 9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

Noah looked to God. While all those around him looked to false gods and petty feelings, Noah looked up. Noah loved God. Noah needed God. Because Noah found Grace (and Grace always comes first) – He was saved by faith in His Creator – Noah was JUST and ….. wait for it … PERFECT. Noah DID LOVE. If you notice in our text that Noah is described as …

“perfect”, the Hebrew תָּמִים tâmîym, (pronounced taw-meem’) meaning “full, whole, perfect”.

Noah lived life in God’s presence. God told Noah “build an Ark, an escape for those who will love Me”. All else will flood. The world will flood. But build the God you love an Ark! So Noah build the Ark. Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he. (Genesis 6:22).

Beloved, God is not done with America. America is not totally destroyed. Build the Ark. As believers DO GOOD NOT HATE. Continue to share the love of God. Love God, love one another. Be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect”. Our God continues to love them that curse Him. Our God continues to do good to them that do bad to Him.

“{God} maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good,
and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

God blesses the world. His sun rise and sets on both evil and good. His rain falls on both evil and good. This past week I have heard so many people moan about the rain, cursing the fact that the sun is not out. Doesn’t the Bible tell us that God said:

I will give you rain in due season (Leviticus 26:4)

God gives us good. He gives us life. He blesses us daily. And yet so many receive the blessings of God without thanking Him, without praising Him, without honoring Him. Yet God gives anyway. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:46-47 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect …

The “publicans” (τελώνης telṓnēs, pronounced tel-o’-nace) were people of rank who gathered taxes from the populace. They could be likened to the politicians of our day. These people glad handed you, patted you on the back, “loved you” as long as it was in their best interests. Their “love” was fake, self serving, meant to line their own pockets. Jesus commands us as His children and disciples to do better. To “be perfect” in our doing of love.

God’s Children Have Always Been
Called To “Be Perfect”

  • Consider Abraham. When God called Abraham to His side He commanded that old believer:

Genesis 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and BE THOU PERFECT (tâmîym, (pronounced taw-meem’)).

Love God. Love your neighbor. BE PERFECT. Live in the Grace of God, trusting Him, looking to Him. He will enable me.

  • Consider Joshua. When that great old warrior Joshua prepared the leave Israel, he encouraged them saying:

Joshua 24:14 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity (PERFECTLY) – (tâmîym, (pronounced taw-meem’)) and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.

  • Consider David. When King David was saved by God, He sang a beautiful song of salvation to the Lord. He sang:

2 Samuel 22:2-3, 32-33 … The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; 3 The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my Savior; thou savest me from violence. … 32 For who is God, save the LORD? and who is a rock, save our God? 33 God is my strength and power: and He maketh my way PERFECT. (tâmîym, (pronounced taw-meem’)).

  • Consider your calling. We come to God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Receiving of His Grace, His abundant love, we are called to love as God loves. We are to DO LOVE NOT HATE. We are to do good to all. One day while Jesus was teaching the crowds a Pharisee asked Him:

Matthew 22:38 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

Jesus replied without hesitation:

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

The entire Law is summed up in these two principles. Love the God of Scripture with all that you have. All your heart – your emotions. All your soul – all that is you. All you mind – all of your intellect. Let God have all of you. Do all in love for Him, for He has done all in love for you. Then the second principle is love thy neighbor as thyself.

Jesus quoted this same principle in another place. The Bible says:

Luke 10:25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

Jesus answered a question with a question. Knowing that this man was a Lawyer He asked “What is written in the Law? What have you read there? (Luke 10:26)”. The man answered:

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

Jesus told the Lawyer, “Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live” (Luke 10:28). But the Lawyer – knowing the Law of God but like so many never doing the Law sought a loophole. He asked Jesus:

“Well then, Who is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied using a type of person often hated by the Jews of His day. Jesus used a Samaritan. Jesus said:

Luke 10:30-36 … A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. 36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves?

The Lawyer answered – “He that showeth mercy on the man in need”. And Jesus said:

“GO, and DO thou likewise!” (Luke 10:37)

The Law is fulfilled by love. We are told this throughout Scripture. The Apostle Paul stated:

Romans 13:8-10 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

and again,

Galatians 5:13-14 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

Love is the fulfillment of the Law. Love – to love God with all you have, to love your neighbor – whoever is near you – this fulfills the Law of God. This is what James the stepbrother of Christ called “the Royal Law”:

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

God despises racism. God despises sexism. God despises elitism. Would you be perfect before God. Come to Christ as both Lord and Savior. Acknowledge you are a sinner in need of salvation. Call upon His name, believing He died for your sins. The Scripture declares that Christ came for sinners:

Matthew 9:12-13 … 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.

God will have mercy on all who will seek Him. Jesus Christ will save all that come to Him – bowing the knee to Him as both Lord and Christ. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your hearts that God has raised Him from the death, you shall be saved (Romans 10:9-10). God will have mercy on you. God reaches out to all people in Christ. All can be saved who receive Him as He is.

And once He saves us we are called as His Children to imitate the love of God. To love God with all we have. To love our neighbor as ourselves. To be merciful as our Father in Heaven is merciful. Oh Beloved, if you do not follow Christ, you cannot be the Light you are called to be. And you may not be saved!

We Are Called To DO Love, Not FEEL Love

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

In our world today humanity views love as a mere emotion. People fall “in love” and people fall “out of love”, like it’s a swimming pool or a mud puddle. The ancients had four different words for love:

Storge – the love that RELATIVES have toward each other
Philios – the love that FRIENDS have toward each other
Eros – the love that LOVERS have toward each other

These three loves are defined by human emotion. Jesus doesn’t use any of these emotional words to describe the love that He calls us to. When Jesus says:

LOVE your enemies

He is not telling us to have warm and fuzzy feelings toward those who do us wrong. The word that Jesus uses is the fourth type of love – the highest standard of love. Jesus calls His disciples to ἀγαπάω agapaō (noun form Agape) which means to do what is best regardless as to feeling. Jesus emphasizes this. God does not enjoy it when an unbeliever takes His name in vain. God does not clap His hands with glee when a person commits adultery, or murders someone, or steals. God did not love what the Pharisees were doing in the name of “religion”. The Lord does not appreciate how many of His local Churches have compromised with darkness, calling good “evil” and evil “good” (Isaiah 5:20). And yet God is merciful. God does good to those who do bad to Him. In like manner, we who are His Children are to do good to those who do bad to us.

Love your enemies, BLESS them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and PRAY for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven…

God never tells us to justify the sin of others. God never tells us to compromise with sin. We are to love God first and foremost, emotionally as well as practically. But when it comes to our neighbor we are called to DO GOOD to those who DO BAD to us. Don’t respond with hatred. But even if you cannot control your emotions, do the godly thing. Pray for the lost. Do good for the bad. Be the Light that God has called you to be. Jesus Christ died so that all might live. Let us share Christ with others. Let us live in love, in AGAPE. As one commentary at gotquestions.org put it:

“Love that fulfills the law is agape love. This love is not based on emotions, but an act of the will. It is self-sacrificing, deliberate, active love. To love someone with God’s love is to promote that person’s best interests—to actively work not to harm but to bring good to that person. This love is directed not only toward fellow believers but to all people, even our enemies. Regardless of our emotional response to another person, agape love will act for his or her good, regardless of the cost. That is the kind of love Scripture speaks of when it says to love your neighbor as yourself. That kind of love is the fulfillment of the law.”

God expected this type of love from His followers in the Old Testament, and expects it of us even today. DO LOVE. Love God with all you have, both emotionally and practically. And DO GOOD to those who do bad to you. Remember our Lord’s example. Imitate Jesus. Imitate God your Father, if He is indeed your Father. DO GOOD.

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

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

The Names of God: El Shaddai

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

The first time we see the name of God El Shaddai is when we come to …

Genesis 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

We see two of the names of God in this text. We see YaHWeH (translated LORD (all caps)) which is the “I AM” name of God. Then YaHWeH tells Abram:

I am the Almighty God

which is אֵל ‘El שַׁדַּי Shadday which means “Most Powerful God”. God uses this name when He is conveying the thought that our God is able to fill our needs. Amy Grant’s song El Shaddai is one of my favorites. In it she sang:

El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
El-elyon na Adonia,
Age to age you’re still the same,
By the power of the name.
El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
Erkamka Na Adonai,
We will praise and lift you high,
El Shaddai.

Through your love and through the ram,
You saved the son of Abraham;
Through the power of Your hand,
Turned the sea into dry land.
To the outcast on her knees,
You were the God who really sees,
And by your might,
You set your children free.

Why Did God Now Present Himself To
Abram As El Shaddai?

Our text today is not the first time YaHWeH came to Abram. Our God came to Abram while he was in Ur of the Chaldees. The name Abram means “exalted father”. When he was born his father Terah (whose name means “to breathe”) looked at Abram and had high hopes for him. He thought that Abram would – as mamma used to say – “do his family proud”, make a name for himself. He would have a large family, and he would be well honored as the father of a mighty clan.

But life often squashes our dreams.

Abram was 75 years old and had yet to have any children at all. His wife Sarai was a good woman, but she was unable to have any children. Sometimes things just are. Sometimes dreams fail. Sometimes we don’t measure up, and look back over our lives, the broken tracks, and begin to despair or be depressed.

Then YaHWeH came to Abram. We read:

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

The Eternal I AM gave Abram three “I WILL” promises, all of these statements promising that Abram would have children. The GREAT I AM told Abram, in essence, “If you follow Me, and go where I say go, I will repair your broken dreams and your crippled life. I will look after you, and protect you where ever you go! I will give you children. Follow Me!

People often ask me “why do good people suffer”, to which I reply:

There is none good, but God” (Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19)

If you are asking me why we as humans suffer (for Job truly said {5:7} “man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward”) it is because we live in a fallen, sinful world. That’s the bad news. But the good news is that God loves us. Trials many times stop us, break our pride, bow our knees, and lead us to look up. That’s where Abram was. As C.S. Lewis once said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, but shouts to us in our pains”. Abram was at the end of his rope – and there he found God holding the rope! Abram followed God without hesitation.

Abram waited for a child. And waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. Now back to our text:

Genesis 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

Abram was 75 years old when God came to him and promised him many children. But now he’s how old? Ninety nine years old. Twenty four years have passed. Abram has gotten older, Sarai has slowed down, and it seems as if God has forgotten him. Yet our God never forgets. When time passes, we are often tempted to believe that God has forgotten us, or that He has welshed on His promise. Yet the Scripture declares:

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;

2 Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall establish you, and keep you from evil.

Our God is faithful. He keeps His promises. He never forgets what He has said. As God came to Abram on this day, I believe the Lord looked in the heart of that old saint. Our God does not see as the world sees, but looks on the heart. God told the Prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 16:7):

the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”

God looked at Abram and saw his heart. There was doubt there, in that old saint’s heart. God started by telling Abram “I am El Shaddai – mighty, able to provide”. Then God told Abram:

Genesis 17:4-6 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. 5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. 6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.

God not only reaffirmed His promise to Abram, but renamed him “Abraham” which means not “exalted father”, but “father of many nations”.

Genesis 17:7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.

God Does Not Need Our Help To Fulfill His Promises,
But We Must Walk With Him!

After introducing Himself as The Almighty God (אֵל שַׁדַּי El Shaddai) God told Abraham:

walk before Me, and be thou perfect

“Walk Before Me” (פָּנִים paniym) means walk in My presence”. If you want to be blessed of God, dear ones, you need to “walk” or live your lives as if God is PRESENT. Too many believers live their lives as if God is in another room, or another country. God tells His children:

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

For 24 years God has watched over Abraham. God knows the best time to fulfill His promise. When time passes we often begin to doubt the promises of God. Yet God tells us to rely on Him. He is EL SHADDAI. He says:

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

God also tells Abraham “you are to be PERFECT (תָּמִים tamiym, to be “Whole” or “Complete”)”. I will speak more on “being perfect” this coming Sunday in the Red Letters series we are going through. To be “perfect” we are to keep our eyes on the One Who saved us. To be “perfect” we are to do what God tells us to do when God tells us to do it.

We are not to live our lives foolishly as the lost world does. We need to live our lives imitating God, doing His will, and trusting His faithfulness.

The Great Preacher C.H. Spurgeon said:

Whether we know him as Jehovah, Elohim, Shaddai, or Lord, or by whatsoever other name he has been pleased to manifest himself, that title becomes the ground of our confidence, and is the means of fostering faith in his people’s minds, when they come to understand its meaning. To a trembling people the Lord enlarges on his wonderful names. I think he also does it to excite our wonder and our gratitude. He that loves us so much as Jehovah: he that can create and destroy; he that is the self-existent God; he, even he, has set his heart upon his people, and loves them and counts them precious in his sight. It is a marvelous thing. The more one thinks of it, the more shall he be overwhelmed with astonishment, that he who is everything should love us who are less than nothing. It is the Holy One who has deigned to choose, and to love unholy men, and to look upon them in grace, and save them from their sins. That you may bow low in loving gratitude, God lets you see who He is.”

We are “perfect” not when we are sinless. We are “perfect” when we keep putting our broken lives in the hands of El Shaddai. Walk in God’s presence.
Imitate Christ!

Many who profess Christ as Savior and Lord live much like Naomi did. In the Book of Ruth – truly a Book of Blessing – the believer Naomi loses her husband and Ruth her husband, who was Naomi’s son. Naomi was destitute. Naomi says to Ruth:

Ruth 1:20-21 …. Call me not Naomi (which means “Pleasant”), call me Mara (which means “Bitter”): for the Almighty (El Shaddai) hath dealt very bitterly with me. [21] I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD (Yahweh) hath testified against me, and the Almighty (El Shaddai) hath afflicted me?

Abraham thought that El Shaddai had let him down. Naomi thought that El Shaddai let her down. God did not let either of these precious broken people down. In the Book of Ruth God comes through for Naomi and Ruth, just as God – the EL SHADDAI – comes through for Abram. God knows when the time is right to fulfill His promises to us. Let us trust the faithfulness of God. Let us remember the admonition:

James 1:17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

God Does Not Need Our Help,
No Matter How Well Intentioned It Is

God tells Abraham that He is going to bless him with a child. How did Abraham respond? We read:

Genesis 17:15-18 And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. 16 And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. 17 Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? 18 And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!

As God told the Prophet Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 32:27 (KJV) Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?

Abraham believes that what God has promised is impossible – so Abraham does what we have ALL been guilty of at one time or another.
He tried to help El Shaddai!

Abraham had a child by Hagar, his Egyptian maid. Ishmael’s name, means “God that hears”. Abraham thought that his union with Hagar would bring about the blessing of a son to raise. Now in his 99th year Abraham is, in essence, saying to El Shaddai:

I’ll help You out, Lord. I know You appreciate it!”

No, God does not appreciate it. In fact, the birth of Ishmael would come back to haunt Abraham’s children many years later. God does not need our help. God wants us to pay attention to what He has told us to do, to DO what He has told us to do. Nothing more. Nothing less.

King David knew better than El Shaddai, and put the Ark on a cart.
Uzzah died because of his foolishness.

Jonah decided the Ninevites weren’t worth witnessing to.
El Shaddai made sure Jonah got to see the inside of a whale.

Judas Iscariot focused more on money than on El Shaddai..
Judas hung himself.

Every time we fail as believers to “walk in El Shaddai’s presence” we hurt ourselves. Quit listening to the flesh, to the world, to the chatter of darkness. Walk before El Shaddai, be in His Presence. The Psalmist David – often afflicted – wrote with confidence:

Psalm 91:1-10 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High

{ עֶלְיוֹן ‘elyown} shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty {שַׁדַּי Shadday}. 2 I will say of the LORD { יְהֹוָה YaHWeH}, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God {אֱלֹהִים ‘elohiym}; in him will I trust. 3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. 4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. 5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; 6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. 7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. 8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. 9 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; 10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

Our God is The Most High (El Elyon)
Our God is Almighty to Provide (El Shaddai)
Our God is Triune (Elohiym)
Out God is the ever Present I AM (YaHWeH)

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

Posted in Names Of God Series, Sermons Preached | Tagged , ,

Overcoming Darkness

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Matthew 5:38-42 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

Introduction

It was a week or so ago that we studied the Biblical Lex Talionis, the Law of Tooth and Claw. Jesus summarizes it this way:

Matthew 5:38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

The first time the Law is quoted is in:

Exodus 21:22-25 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. 23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, 24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

We illustrated that the Law initially and specifically has to do with the death of an expectant mother and her prematurely born child. We noted also that the Law was given to limit the response to be taken to literally make the punishment fit the crime. God did not want His people being cruel. Nevertheless crime was to be punished. Though crime was to be punished, vengeance and grudge carrying was never to be normalized among the people of God. The Law specifically stated:

Leviticus 19:16-18 Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbor: I am the LORD. 17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him. 18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD.

In the Old Testament YaHWeH (the Great I AM) commanded His people be light and unity in the midst of a dark and lost world. Jesus preaches on the mountain He reminds His Church that we are to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). Light cannot be darkness. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil

What Did Jesus Mean By “Resist Not Evil”?

IA Church was going to have a picnic at a local park one fine Sunday morning. The Church felt that this would be a good way to reach out to the lost. The members planned, and set the date for the next Sunday morning. The only problem was no one told Sally. Sally was an old, somewhat cranky member of the Church. She was not invited to the planning sessions because of her demeanor. She missed the Sunday that the picnic was announced, and when she heard of the picnic she assumed she had purposely been uninvited. On the morning of the event a little boy from the Church stopped by Sally’s house to invite her to come. Answering the door and hearing his invitation, Sally snapped at him. “It’s too late now. I’ve already prayed for rain”.

“Resist not evil”. The word translated “resist” is the Greek ἀνθίστημι anthístēmi, (pronounced anth-is’-tay-mee) which means “to set oneself against”. What did Jesus mean by “do not set yourself against evil”?

  • “Resist not evil” does not mean to ignore the Devil. As the Light of the world we are supposed to actively resist the devil and his fallen followers. The Scripture says:

James 4:7-8 Submit yourselves therefore to God. RESIST (anthístēmi, (pronounced anth-is’-tay-mee)) the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.

1 Peter 5:8-9 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom RESIST (anthístēmi, (pronounced anth-is’-tay-mee)) steadfast in the faith …

We are to resist the devil by walking with God, and doing His Word. We are not to let the devil in any way control our lives.

  • “Resist not evil” does not mean to ignore the darkness around us. We are the light of the world. When Jesus – the Source of all light (John 8:12) – went into the Temple and saw the money changers there, the Bible says:

Matthew 21:12-13 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Jesus not only chased the money changers out, but He often corrected the Pharisees and Scribes. Jesus never compromised the Word of God, but always did as His Father directed (see John 14:7-10). We as God’s Church need to actively stand against darkness in our community. We must shine for Jesus! We must!

  • “Resist not evil” does not mean to condone and cloak sin in the Church. When the Apostle Peter was being hypocritical the Apostle Paul said:

Galatians 2:11-14 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. 13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. 14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?

The Apostle Paul told the Church at Corinth that when there is evil in the Church to “put it away” (1 Corinthians 5:13). When Ananias and Sapphira lied to God Peter called them on it publicly, saying:

Acts 5:3-5 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? 4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. 5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.

So what did Jesus mean by “resist not evil”. What Jesus meant was you cannot fight darkness by becoming darkness. You cannot fall to darkness in your methods. As the light of God every Christian is to avoid “fighting fire with fire”. We approach the darkness as LIGHT.

When Insulted, We Do Not Insult In Kind

Matthew 5:39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

The word translated “smite” is the Greek ῥαπίζω rhapízō, (pronounced hrap-id’-zo), which means “to slap in the face with the palm of the hand, to box the ears”. In the ancient world to slap someone was to show extreme contempt for that person. The slap did not injure the body, but was meant to scar the soul. When Jesus was questioned by the High Priest prior to His crucifixion “one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand” (John 18:22). Jesus questioned the need of the slap, but “turned the other cheek”.

When we as Christians are insulted, we are not to insult in kind. This is similar to what the Lord tells us in:

Proverbs 24:28-29 Be not a witness against thy neighbor without cause; and deceive [not] with thy lips. 29 Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.

When personally insulted we are always to remember that we are to be “the light of the world”. When the government forbade the Apostles from preaching Christ:

Acts 5:27-29 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, 28 Saying, Did not we straightly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. 29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

To “turn the other cheek” does not mean you cannot defend yourself if you are assaulted. It means you are not to trade insults with the darkness. You represent the Light of God, dear Church. Be the Light! Remember the admonition:

Romans 12:17-21 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

This is what Jesus our Lord did, even on the Cross of Calvary. The Scripture says:

1 Peter Chapter 2:20-23 For what glory [is it], if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer [for it], ye take it patiently, this [is] acceptable with God. 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed [himself] to him that judgeth righteously:

If you are insulted, be the Light. Let Christ shine through you. Don’t let the world drag you into the pit of darkness!

Surrender Your Earthly “Rights” To Be The Light

Matthew 5:40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.

The word translated “sue” is the Greek κρίνω krínō, (pronounced kree’-no) which means “to go to law against, seek a judgment against”. According to the Mosaic Law it was the right of every Israelite to have their cloak:

Exodus 22:26-27 If thou at all take thy neighbor’s raiment (cloak) to pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the sun goeth down: 27 For that is his covering only, it is his raiment for his skin: wherein shall he sleep? and it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto me, that I will hear; for I am gracious.

The person who is Christ’s child is to be reliant on God for our blessings. Our lives are not enriched because of our “stuff”. Our lives are enriched because we have a Heavenly Father Who loves us, and has adopted us through the Precious Blood of Christ.

It’s just stuff!

Do not let your “stuff” rule your lives. Jesus said in another place:

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

Our primary calling as Christians is not our “earthly rights” nor our “earthly stuff”, but that we are the Light of God. We are to live so as to earn the smile of our Savior. Shine for Jesus. Shine! The Apostle rebuked the Corinthian believers for sullying the name of Christ in court.

1 Corinthians 6:1-8 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? 2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? 4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. 5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. 7 Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? 8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.

Don’t let “stuff” dim your light! Be the Light. Follow the Law of Christ.

Support Your Earthly Government As The Light

Matthew 5:41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

Russian author Leo Tolstoy who wrote the book “War and Peace” said:

“Christianity in its true sense puts an end to the State. It was so understood from its very beginning, and for that Christ was crucified.”

He based this on Jesus’ principle of “turn the other cheek” and “resist not evil”. Yet Christianity does not “put an end to the State”. As God’s Light we are to pray for our government, and uphold its laws as long as they do not invalidate the Law of Christ. How does this apply to this particular text?

Israel was occupied by Rome, an invading force. The average Israelite hated this. What they particularly hated was Roman Law. Under Roman Law a soldier had the right to command you to carry a pack, or a weapon, for up to one mile. This is exactly what happened to Simon the Cyrenian:

Luke 23:26 And as they led {Jesus} away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.

Jesus told us to support our government. Though our Kingdom is not of this world, we are to shine for Christ as good citizens while on this planet. We are told in:

1 Peter 2:13-14 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, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:

Shine where you are. Shine as the Light of God, being good citizens – as long as that Law does not violate the Law of Christ. Go the extra mile. Richard Wurmbrand (a.k.a. Nicolai Ionescu) was a missionary for Christ in the Communistic Soviet Union. He wrote:

I have seen Christians in communist prisons with 50 pounds of chains on their feet, tortured with red-hot iron pokers, in whose throats spoonfuls of salt had been forced, being kept afterward without water, starving, whipped, suffering form cold, – and praying with fervor for the communists . . . Afterward, the communists come to prison too. Now the tortured and the torturers were in the same cell. And while the non-Christians beat them (the former torturers), Christians took their defense. I have seen Christians giving away their last slice of bread (we had at that time one slice a week) and the medicine which could save their lives to a sick communist torturer who was now a fellow-prisoner.”

Help The Needy As The Light

Matthew 5:42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

The Lord was not telling us to become easy marks for welfare minded people. The Scripture is very clear:

2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

Every week I receive calls from able bodied people who want me to pay their utility bill or their rent. Many call me on high priced mobile phones – while watching cable television all day long. If you will not work, you shall not eat. However, as the Light of God we must examine each case – and give to those who are truly in need and not just lazy. We do not fulfill wants and wish lists – but also do not turn away someone genuinely in need. Help others, but always be mindful that you are to be the Light of the world. Share Christ with others. Help your brothers and sisters in Christ. This was the pattern of the early Church:

Acts 2:42-47 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Let’s be the Light that Christ calls us to be. May the Lord lead us all to shine for Him. In Christ’s name. Amen.

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

Sin Is No Joke

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Matthew 5:27-32 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. 29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

This Is One Of The Tough Passages Of Scripture

When I pastored in North Carolina I was in a decidedly more “liberal” area of ministry than I had ever been in. One day I went to see our Director of Missions. The Director of Missions among the Southern Baptist Churches is not the “boss” of the local Association, but an adviser to the Churches, a helper to the pastors. As a new pastor in this Association I found that preaching the harder texts of scripture were often not well received. So I asked the Director of Missions what he thought my approach in the pulpit should be. What he told me was, “As I grow older, I think it would be better if we just heard comforting messages.”

I’m sure that all firemen wishes that every fire they had to respond to was just an out of control barbecue grill.

I’m sure that all policemen wishes that every shooting they had to respond to was just an eight year old with a Daisy Red Ryder BB Gun.

I’m sure that every prison warden wishes that the most violent offender he had to oversee was the vagrant, or the person with too many unpaid parking tickets.

I’m sure that every factory worker wishes the heaviest thing they have to pick up would be feather pillows.

As a pastor and a preacher of God’s Word I wish every word I could utter to you would be comforting and easy. But as John MacArthur once said, and I paraphrase him here:

The pastor is to be the waiter, not the chef. It is his job to deliver the meal without messing it up.”

I pray I can deliver His Word today without “messing it up”. Jesus spoke these words. He spoke these words to an Israel who had began to minimize sin. Jesus emphasized how horrid it is to minimize sin by saying:

Matthew 5:29-30 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

I don’t think Jesus literally wanted us to poke out an eye or cut off a hand. But Jesus often used shocking language to get His point across. God despises adultery. Unrepentant adulterers go to hell.
Better to lose an eye or a hand than go to hell!

God considers sin an abomination, a darkness, an aberration. All sin – sexual sin included – is despised by God. Jesus is speaking to His Church, a Church that He expects to be …

Matthew 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

We are to be “light” as God defines “light”, regardless as to what is going on around us. Jesus is speaking to a Church that has been influenced by Roman license and Pharisaical hypocrisy. Jesus does not want His Church to be religious, but righteous. Not self righteous like the Pharisees. Righteous.
God honoring.

In America we laugh at sin on sitcoms. Comedians on television make light of what God says is dark. We often hear people on television saying things like,

If no one gets hurt, and you’re both adults, what’s the harm?”

Yet God says that there is a harm in sin. He tells us:

The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)
Death passed upon all because of sin (Romans 5:12)
When you sin, you shall surely die (Genesis 2:17)
The soul that sins, it shall die (Ezekiel 18:4)
Sin, when it is finished, brings forth death (James 1:15)
Sin reigns unto death (Romans 5:17, 21)

Sin is not a laugh track on television. Sin is not amusement. God did not design us for sin, but to walk with Him. God despises sin because the devil has sold it as a harmless amusement. But it is not harmless.

Sin Minimizes God’s Best For Us

Matthew 5:27-28 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

God loves us, and wants the best for us. He doesn’t want us to be “religious” but to love Him and love others.
That includes your spouse!

Do you know that in all this Book, this Bible, I found the word “religion” and “religious” a total of seven times – and only once in a positive manner. The Law of God was given to us as a mirror by which we were to examine ourselves in the light of God’s standard.

“Adultery”, which is sexual sin that targets Biblical marriage, is never in our best interest.

God’s standard on sexual sin is found in texts like Leviticus 20:10,

“If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death

In our world today that seems terribly harsh. But God established marriage as a bond between a man and a woman, a bond that was to remain stable throughout the lifetime of both.

The Pharisees took the relational Law of God and twisted it. Under the religious laws of Jesus’ day the Israelite male was told that “if you see another woman that appears more attractive that your current wife, then you can give that wife a bill of divorce, and go marry that new woman”.

Women were routinely being abused and used because religion gave the authority to do so.

As Jesus addressed marriage and divorce from the mountain, those most upset with the Lord were not the lost. Those most upset were not the Roman citizens. Those most upset were the Pharisees, the religious crowd.

The Pharisees had turned Judaism into a cloak to use women. They turned the Mosaic Law into a unwitting helper in hypocritically covering up sin.

And Jesus said NO!

Later on in His ministry – and not long before Jesus was crucified on Calvary – the religious crowd came to Jesus. They had been stewing on what Jesus taught from the mountain, and finally they decided to challenge Him. We read:

Matthew 19:3-9 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? 4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. 7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? 8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

Notice how the Pharisees asked the question.

“Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife
FOR EVERY CAUSE?”

Are there Biblical reasons for divorce? Yes, there are. There are valid reasons for divorce. Jesus addresses one today. You read it earlier. He said:

Matthew 5:32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

Sexual infidelity in a marriage is a clear reason for divorce. If your spouse will not stay faithful to you, then Biblically there is a reason. There are other Biblical reasons for divorce. But Beloved, we are not looking for reasons to be divorced. If you are the light of the world you are to love the wife or husband you have right now. You are meant to grow old together. If you have previously divorced and remarried outside of the will of God there is nonetheless forgiveness available from God.

God forgave King David for murdering another man to take his wife
2 Samuel 12:13
God is no respecter of persons. What He does for one, He will do for all.
Romans 2:11-16

Be aware however that David suffered for his decision. Any divorce causes suffering. It is not God’s intent that you suffer, but that you excel.

Psalm 37:4 Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

Psalm 1:1-6 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. 4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6 For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

The Biblical marriage is when two people – a man and woman – make a commitment before God for life. The two grow old together. There is a deep seated joy in growing old together. I was at the VA Hospital in Murfreesboro the other day talking with another veteran. Sherry was with me. As we talked, he shared with me that he and his wife had just finished 50 years of marriage. As the two that become one grow old together, the love deepens. We take care of one another. There is a joy and a stability in the marriage that stays the course.

God did not give us sexual appetites so that we could wander about, going from bed to bed. The Pharisees condoned “legal divorce” if a man wanted to be with a younger woman. Yet this is not God’s way.

In Ephesians chapter 5 – a text I often use in premarital counseling situations – the Lord shows us how He regards marriage. He starts the chapter with:

Ephesians 5:1-3 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor. 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints

If you are loved of Christ, love others – especially your spouse – in the same, sacrificial way. This particular chapter ends with:

Ephesians 5:25-28 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.

Jesus loves His Church. Men, we set the standard. Love your wife as Christ loves the Church. Care for the wife God has given you. If you do not love your wife sacrificially then you are harming yourselves. Put away the porn. Put away anything that stands between you and love for your wife. God will honor and bless this marriage if you let Christ be in its midst.

Being Light Means Living Honorably

Matthew 5:33-37 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: 34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: 35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. 36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. 37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

The Pharisees were bad about giving their word, then reneging on that word. They just didn’t do what they said they would do. One of their favorite ploys was – when they were called on their failure to follow through – they would say “Well, I didn’t swear I would do it”. They would then point to the Law of God, and quote where God said:

Leviticus 19:12 And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.

Numbers 30:2 If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.

But the light of the world – God’s people – should always do as they have said they would do. The Bible tells us to:

Ephesians 4:23-25 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.

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

Those who are God’s children are to be “the light of the world”. We are to keep our commitments and our promises because we belong to Jesus. Jesus always kept His promises. Jesus has given as many as believe in Him the promise of eternal life. Praise Him, our God is faithful to His Word:

Exodus 34:6 … The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth

God does what He says He will do – always. As the light of the world we are to do as we say. When others see your life, do they see you as faithful, or untrustworthy?

Are You In The Light?

As Jesus spoke these “Red Lettered” words, He was speaking to His disciples, to those who loved and would follow Him. Are you following Jesus? If not, then today is a good day to commit to following Him.

2 Corinthians 6:2 … behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

Your lives will not be blessed until you commit to following Him. Let Jesus have your life. Follow Him by faith. Do as He says. For in this, God will truly give you rest.

May Christ and His Spirit enable you to hear His Word this very day.

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

Names of God Series #2: El Elyon, the Most High God

andrew-seaman-5D8PcedAKag-unsplash

Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

Last week we studied the most divine name of God, YHWH or Yahweh, which is a name that focuses on God’s description of Himself to Moses at the Burning Bush (Exodus 3:14). We also discussed the name of God Elohiym, which is the plural of El, the basic name of God. The Triune Name of God Elohiym is found in the very first verse of the Book of Genesis:

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God (Elohiym) created the Heaven and the earth.

This makes Elohiym one of the earliest names of God in Scripture. The first part of Elohiym – El – is the singular form of the name of God. Many scholars believe that El means “The Powerful or Strong One”. When the Father of faith Abram was 99 years old and still childless the Lord appeared to him:

Genesis 17:1-2 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD (YaHWeH) appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; (Shadday El) walk before me, and be thou perfect. 2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.

In Genesis 17:1 God pairs El with Shadday which means “the God Who is mighty to provide”. We will eventually study El Shadday – though not tonight. In the Bible the name of God El is often paired with other terms to describe our God. Let’s look at El Elyon.

In the Old Testament El Elyon occurs 28 times – 19 times in Psalms. Elyon (Biblical Hebrew עליון) means The Supreme, the Highest”. There is nothing greater than our God.

El Elyon (God Most High)
[Pronounced Ell Elly-Own]

Genesis 14:1-3 And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations; 2 That these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar. 3 All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea.

The Kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela revolted against the forces of a confederation of four other kings in the Valley of Siddim where the Dead Sea is. For twelve years the five kings served the larger four kingdom confederacy. Finally the five kings decided to break free. The problem is, they were not strong enough. We read:

Genesis 14:10-12 And the vale of Siddim was full of slime pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain. 11 And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. 12 And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.

The reason that the Bible records this series of battles and defeats is to show us that our God is the Most High God.

Last week we talked about Abram (whom we call Abraham) and his nephew Lot. Lot was a believer in God. Yet at some point in his walk with God Lot stopped trusting the Most High God. Lot became idolatrous. Lot’s idolatry is seen in his behavior. In the previous chapter we read:

Genesis 13:7-11 And there was a strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdsmen of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land. 8 And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdsmen and thy herdsmen; for we be brethren. 9 Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left. 10 And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. 11 Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.

Idolatry is the worst of all sins. When El – our Mighty God – gave us Ten Commandments, the first two of the commandments were against idolatry.

Exodus 20:2-6 I am the LORD (YaHWeH) thy God (Elohiym), which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 Thou shalt have no other gods (Elohiym) before me. 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD (YaHWeH) thy God (Elohiym) am a jealous God (El), visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Idolatry creeps in, and can creep into even the Christian heart. The Bible calls Lot “righteous Lot” (2 Peter 2:7). Lot was saved by faith in God. He trusted himself to the God of Scripture just as Abram (Abraham) did. Both Lot and Abraham were righteous because of their faith in the Gospel. Yet idolatry crept in.

Lot looked up he did not look up to God (El) nor to the Triune God (Elohiym), but looked up at his own riches.

Abraham was willing to trust God in Lot’s decision, and Lot followed the way of greed, which is a form of idolatry. We as believers in Christ are to heed the Scripture:

1 John 5:19-21 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. 20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

Colossians 3:3-5 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. 5 {Put to death} therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

Lot put himself in a bad spot because of idolatry. Settling in Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot made himself a target. This is why we are told:

Genesis 14:12 And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.

Lot lost everything because of idolatry. He lost his freedom, lost his goods, lost his land. When we chase after idols we lose the blessings of God. Our God is The God Most High, El Elyon. He is worthy of worship.

Deuteronomy 32:8 … the most High (El Elyon) divided to the nations their inheritance

The devil and his followers try to take God’s place. They say:

Isaiah 14:14 … I will be like the most High (El Elyon)….

Idolatry Destroys. Follow El Elyon To Victory

Lot’s idolatry got him in trouble. But Abram loved El Elyon. The Bible tells us:

Genesis 14:13-15 And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram. 14 And when Abram heard that his brother {fellow countryman} was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. 15 And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus.

This is a beautiful picture of faith.

Four mighty nations had defeated five other nations. In this terrific battle the five nations fell, and Lot with his household was taken captive. The Bible tells us that faith is to believe that God is El Elyon, the Most High God, regardless as to what is going on around us. The devils try to take the place of the Most High God. The backslidden Christian follows idols, which are an abomination to the Most High God. But the faithful believer – like Abram – looks upward.

If Abram is following the Most High God – El Elyon, the One Who establishes the nations – then the four nations he goes to battle with are going to fall. God is in control. He is the El Elyon – The Most High God.

As Abram returns from the battle – 318 trained commandos against four nations armies – he brought back all of the goods along with Lot, his goods, the women and the people besides (see verse 16). The five kings come to meet with Abram – five royal figures that Abram ignores. But then a mysterious king previously not mentioned steps in. We read:

Genesis 14:18-20 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. 19 And {Melchizedek} blessed {Abram}, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God {El Elyon}, possessor of heaven and earth: 20 And blessed be the most high God {El Elyon}, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And {Abram} gave {Melchizedek} tithes of all.

Who is this Melchizedek, King of Salem. The name Melchizedek means “King Of Righteousness”. The Book of Hebrews discusses him in:

Hebrews 7:1-3 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; 2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; 3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.

Gary Staats in his book A Christological Commentary on Hebrews (2012), p. 71: wrote “[The writer of Hebrews] is identifying Melchizedek as a king of righteousness and a king of peace. He thus becomes a beautiful type of Jesus Christ who is also the final King of righteousness and the final King of peace.”

Many believe that Melchizedek, King of Salem is an Old Testament picture of Jesus Christ. When Melchizedek came to Abraham He is described as the priest of the most high God (El Elyon). In the New Testament Jesus our Lord declared to the Pharisees:

John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.

I believe that this moment in time when Melchizedek met Abraham (Abram) is when the father of faith saw Jesus. Others may disagree with me, and you are free to do so. But I believe that in Melchizedek, Abram met Jesus. Abram’s response was to give Melchizedek tithes of all that he had. By honoring Melchizedek, Abram was honoring El Elyon, the Most High God. When the five kings tried to get Abram to compromise with them, that wonderful old man said:

Genesis 14:22-23 And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God {El Elyon}, the possessor of heaven and earth, 23 That I will not take from a thread even to a shoe latchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:

Abram was not tempted to idolatry in the area of riches. So many people in America today are tempted with idolatry, especially worship of money. Our God – El Elyon – is the sole Possessor of Heaven and Earth. He owns all things. He is the Most High God. He owns our lives. He owns our stuff.

Someone has asked me, “Preacher, do we have to tithe a portion of our goods to God? Wasn’t the tithe a part of the Law? Wasn’t the Law fulfilled in Christ?” Beloved, Abram gave tithes of all that he had. Abram – or as we call him Abraham – is the Father of our faith. Abraham tithed many years before the Law was given through Moses. The tithe was incorporated into the Law, just as was the commands not to murder, commit adultery, or to steal. But the tithe was pre-Law of Moses. If your God is money – and many people worship the God of money – then you are like Lot. You are NOT following El Elyon, the Most High God. If you have been given Grace, if you are unconditionally saved by faith in Christ, then you owe everything to El Elyon. As the Psalmist said:

Psalm 57:1-3 … Be merciful unto me, O God {Elohiym}, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast. 2 I will cry unto God {Elohiym} most high; unto God {El Elyon} that performeth all things for me. 3 He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God {El} shall send forth his mercy and his truth.

Jesus warned us that:

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

We who believe in Christ do not tithe of all our goods because the Law says so. We tithe because God is El Elyon, the Most High God in our lives. Money is not our God. Stuff is not our God. That is the dangerous path that Lot walked, and suffered for following. No Beloved, we who are His by the Blood of Christ do not worship idols. We trust God. He is our most High God. We will follow Him, trusting Him and Him alone, until the day He takes us home!

A man once went to his pastor and said “How can you say that God is the owner of everything. After all, I worked for everything I have!” The pastor replied, “Ask me that question again in a hundred years”. Think about it. God owns it all. God will get it all. God asks that we not make idols. That we give Him as El Elyon:

one heart
one day out of seven
one tenth out of a hundred

God deserves more than we give Him. Let us give Him our all – for He is, indeed, the El Elyon – the God Most High! May Jesus Christ touch your hearts to surrender to Him this very day. Amen!

Posted in Names Of God Series, Sermons Preached | Tagged

New Or Old Creatures?

Old Or New Creature Cover

We all did silly things when we were young children. For instance, I know of a little boy who was very naughty. He climbed out of his crib. He wandered into the bathroom and found – ahem – something unflushed in the toilet. He carried that back to his room and proceeded to decorate the walls and his crib. When mother came in I don’t believe she was impressed with his fashion sense!

When I was around 7 years old my brother Mark and I wanted to play a joke on our Aunt Edna. She is such a sweet woman, and has such a gracious disposition. I and my brother found some worms and, smashing them, put them on Aunt Edna’s doorknob. We didn’t get a whipping (and Mamma believed in whippings) but we did have to clean that mess off!

As children we touched the hot stove and, feeling the burn, learned not to eagerly touch it again. That is what growth is all about. We grow. We learn. We change into something a little wiser and more careful.

As it is with the physical child, so it is with the spiritual child. Every Christian who is indeed a Christian must be born again from above. Jesus told us:

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

A person who has not been spiritually reborn by looking on Jesus Christ in faith cannot see (εἴδω eídō, [pronounced i’-do] perceive with any of the senses, get a knowledge of, or understand) the Kingdom of God. A person who is born of the Spirit (John 3:5-6) by faith in Jesus Christ is a different person. We are, as Peter said:

1 Peter 1:23-25 … born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

We who are saved no longer play with corruptible things. We do not find sin to be a trifle. Though

the whole world lieth in wickedness (1 John 5:19)

We honor Christ by forsaking sin. Jesus Christ was the …

satisfactory payment for our sins (1 John 2:2)

so we walk in the …

light as He is in the light (1 John 1:7)

knowing that …

Jesus is righteous, and everyone that does righteousness is born again (1 John 2:29). Whosoever is born of God does not lightly or habitually commit sin … we are born of God! (1 John 3:9).

It is simple to profess with your mouth that you are a Christian. The proof, however, is that you are not like you were. The Apostle put it this way:

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Being “New” Is Not A Self Help Program

Christianity is not a twelve step program nor a self help program. Though I have great respect for Alcoholics Anonymous and similar programs, these programs focus on the adherent making themselves better – along with others in the program – one step at a time. Many religions follow the same pattern. But not Christianity. Christianity starts out by describing everyone as “dead”.

Ephesians 2:1 … you were DEAD in trespasses and sins

Colossians 2:13-14 … And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

The Bible says of the Christian that we are NOT bad people made good. No!
We are DEAD people made ALIVE.

This is the state of every unbeliever on the face of this world. People are born into this life physically alive but spiritually dead. Before Christ came into our lives we could not see or perceive the kingdom of God. Though we enjoyed the blessings of God:

Matthew 5:45 … {our Heavenly Father} makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust

Spiritually dead people do not think about God.

Psalm 10:4 The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.

Add to this the truth that the devil and his agents actively hide the Gospel from the walking dead. The Apostle said:

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

The devil hides the Gospel through false ministers
Who add to, or take away from the Gospel message.

Those separated from God by sin are dead to God’s Word. They are spiritually dead. God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). The Scripture declares:

Romans 8:5-9 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is {the enemy of} God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

Salvation is like that which happened at Lazarus’ tomb. Our Lord Jesus stood outside of Lazarus’ tomb and cried,

Lazarus, come forth!” (John 11:43)

We do not commend Lazarus for jumping out of the tomb, bound head and foot in the mummy’s rags. Lazarus, though dead, heard Christ’s voice and moved toward Him Who is Life and Light. Even so, the spiritually dead hear the Voice of Christ. Without merit for themselves they come jumping out of the tomb of this sinful world. Jesus made you new.

Revelation 21:5 {Jesus Who} sat upon the Throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” …

Dead people need life. Jesus Christ gave us life. “In Jesus is life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). We are no longer dead creatures, dear Christian. We are now “made near to God by the Blood of Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).

New Creations Are In A New Relationship To God

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Before I was saved by faith in Christ, I tried to do all things in my power to live my life. Life was all about me. I was the center of life’s stage, the star, the cast and crew, the everything. I lived for myself. I thought I was all right. But I wasn’t. I did not know God. I was my own god!

Those who do not know God through Christ are strangers to God. Imagine this. You wake up in the morning and, in addition to your family, you find someone you do not know in your home. What do you do? You call the police. Why? Because it is a violation of the Law for someone I do not know to be uninvited in my home.

And so it is with God.

In our world today as in the ancient world, people thought “well, I’m good enough, so I’m going to Heaven when I die”. They were wrong. If God does not know you – or if all you know “God” is, is as “God”, then you are a stranger to God. Strangers do not belong in God’s Home which is Heaven. Let me say that again:

Strangers do not belong in God’s Home,
Which is Heaven.

Jesus knows us because He raised us. The Lord Jesus warned:

Matthew 7:22-23 Many will say to me {on Judgment Day}, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Do you know Jesus? Did He make you new? If so, He knows you and you know Him –
blessed be the Name of the Lord!

Whoever believes on Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are in a new relationship to God. Before Christ we were condemned as transgressors of God’s Law (1 John 3:4). Once we came to Christ, casting our lives on Him, He purged our sins by Himself:

Hebrews 1:3 … when {Jesus} had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

Hebrews 10:9-10 … Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Believing on Jesus Christ, God took us from a state of spiritual death and into the Family of God. We are sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:14; Philippians 2:15). The Apostle spoke in incredulous voice, saying:

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

As new creations in Christ we are

fellow citizens with the Saints (Ephesians 2:19)
and of the household of God.

We are joint heirs with Christ,
and heirs of all that God owns (Romans 8:17).

New Creations Are In A New Relationship
To
Those Around Us

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

We as children of God are called to follow the Royal Law of the family. Two commandments are always foremost in our hearts and minds. They are:

Mark 12:30-31 … And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Christ calls us to a radical love of all that we come in contact with. As Jesus loved the unlovable, so are we called to do the same thing. We do not love the sin of the world.

1 John 2:15-17 Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Our want to’s change when Christ makes us alive. “Old things are passed away, behold, all things are new”. We are new in our responsibilities. We look for opportunities to do good around us.

Galatians 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

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.

You were saved by faith in Christ to live in God’s Kingdom, both NOW and into ETERNITY. Live as if you are His. Put away the old darkness that you used to live in, and live as light in the power of God.

Ephesians 4:1-3, 17-24 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. … 17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But ye have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Evangelist Paul Washer wrote in The Gospel’s Power & Message:

The proof or validation of genuine conversion is that the one who professes faith in Christ perseveres in that faith and grows in sanctification throughout the full course of his life. If a person professes faith in Christ and yet falls away or makes no progress in godliness, it does not mean that he has lost his salvation. It reveals that he was never truly converted.”

We are not saved by our works. But once saved. We. Work. We. Shine. We are different from the lost world. We are children of God, born of love, loving God and others, as long as we shall live.

As A New Creation, I Have A New Destiny

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

I am disturbed by the number of Christians who are disturbed by physical suffering and death. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t like to suffer any more than you do. But we inhabit frail and fallen bodies. Bad stuff is going to come our way. Beloved, we are not in Heaven YET.

How did the Apostles deal with suffering and death? The Apostle Paul suffered terribly. He wrote:

2 Corinthians 11:24-29 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?

How did the Apostle deal with all this suffering? He looked HEAVENWARD. He focused on all things through the lens of his destiny. He writes:2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. …

2 Corinthians Chapter 5:1-4 For we know that if our earthly house of [this] tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 4 For we that are in [this] tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.

The destiny of every believer in Christ is Heaven. I like how the Apostle describes our present bodies. Did you notice he called our bodies “our earthly house of this TABERNACLE”? Do you know what a Tabernacle is? It is a TENT. The body we have right now are TENTS. When Sherry and I were younger we used to go camping with our children. We put up tents. No matter how nice you make a tent it is just temporary.

I remember one time camping with my family in England’s Peak District, a beautiful mountainous range. It rained dogs, cats, and bullfrogs that night. We huddled inside our tent, wrapped up in sleeping bags, and stayed dry, though water flowed all around us. Oh, how I wished for home that night! A tent can be a place to stay, but it’s not home.

Beloved, the bodies you have are not your homes. They are tents. Some are more patched than others. Some have a few more wrinkles than others. Some are a little leaky. Some are pretty new. But every one of us are living in tents right now. It’s like that old song:

This world is not my home I’m just a passing through

My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue

The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door

And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore

Oh lord you know I have no friend like you

If heaven’s not my home then lord what will I do

The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door

And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore

Dear Christian, we are heading home. We are Heaven bound. That is where our destiny lies. Not here, but there. Until the day that the Father calls us home we are to walk as lights and as the Children of God. We are to share Christ and be Christ to as many as we can. We are to live, joyfully live, for our Lord. But one day we must depart. We must. These bodies are but tents, tabernacles, temporary abodes until we receive the full promise of God. That day is coming if you know Christ Jesus as your Lord and Savior. If you do not, today is the day to call on Him and be saved!

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

Posted in 2 Corinthians, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , ,

Murder And The Heart: Red Letters Series #7

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Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash

Matthew 5:21-26 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

I was talking to a married lady one day, and noticing she seemed upset, I asked “Did you wake up grouchy this morning?”. She told me “No, I let him sleep.

It seems that her husband has a “heart” problem.

A politician running for office (I won’t say who) stated “2900 children die from gun violence every year”. That is tragic. What is more tragic is that the same politician does not acknowledge that 125,000 children die by abortion worldwide each day, and 3000 of these are performed in America. Each. Day. 3000. Yet this politician – along with many others – is for abortion.

It seems our nation has a “heart” problem.

What are the solutions to what ails our country? Some say that it is one political party or the other. Others think that we can throw more money at it and make it go away. Some suggest that the solution is in a better justice system, increased imprisonment, or some sort of social reform. The truth is, the problems we face cannot be fixed unless we stop addressing the symptoms and go to the cause or the heart of the matter.

Mankind Has A “Heart” Problem

As Jesus sat on the mountain teaching His disciples sitting at His feet, our Lord began to address the forces that caused Israel to be in bondage to Rome. Why was God’s nation, a nation He led through the Red Sea, a nation that spawned heroes such as Moses, Joshua, King David, the Prophet Samuel – WHY WAS THIS GREAT NATION BEATEN AND NOW THE LAPDOG OF ROME? Why was this great nation under a puppet King called Herod? Why did a Roman governor called Pilate have any authority whatsoever against God’s people? God fought for Israel, and at one time caused the sun to stand still and another time to move backward for His people. Why had God abandoned Israel?

Israel had a “heart” problem.

God had not abandoned Israel. Israel abandoned God. God has not abandoned America. America has abandoned God. Many local Churches have abandoned God. We are too proud to kneel at His feet. We are too proud to sit and hear His Word.

America has a “heart” problem.

New And More Laws Will Not Fix The “Heart”

Matthew 5:21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment

There is and never will be a more perfect written Law than the Law of Moses, the Law that God gave to Israel on Mount Sinai. The Mosaic Law has three divisions: moral, civil, and ceremonial. The moral code reflected the conscience that God places in every human. The civil code was for Israel alone. The ceremonial code was also just for Israel, but this code taught of the Coming Christ. We studied what Jesus said last week:

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

Jesus would later tell us in …

John 5:45-47 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. 46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. 47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

And at the end of His ministry on earth Jesus said:

Luke 24:44 … 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.

God gave a perfect written Law to Israel.

The Apostle said in Galatians 3:21, “if there had been a law which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the Law {of Moses}”.

The Bible tells us “the law is light” (Proverbs 6:23).
The Bible tells us “by the Law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20).
The Bible tells us “the Law is holy” (Romans 7:12).
The Bible tells us “the Law is spiritual” (Romans 7:14).
The Bible tells us “the Law is good” (1 Timothy 1:8).
But the Bible also tells us this:

“The Law is NOT MADE for a righteous person”
1 Timothy 1:9

The Law was made for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and the sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers (heterosexual sinners), for them that defile themselves with mankind (homosexual sinners), for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons …” (1 Timothy 1:9-10).

The Law defines sin. Murder is a grievous sin. Jesus does not dispute that murder is a sin. He does not eradicate or erase the Law. He acknowledges it.

Matthew 5:21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment

The Law, this Perfect Law, defines the problem. Murder is a violation of the sixth commandment (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17). Before the Mosaic Law was ever given the Lord told Noah:

Genesis 9:5-6 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

To murder someone {Hebrew רָצַח râtsach (pronounced raw-tsakh’)} is to steal something that belongs to God. God owns the soul of us all. God said:

LISTEN UP! Every SOUL BELONGS TO ME!
Ezekiel 18:4

Your soul belongs to God.
Whether you believe in Him or not, your soul is a gift from God.

If you are a Christian “you not your own – you do not belong to you! YOU ARE BOUGHT WITH A PRICE!” (1 Corinthians 6:20)

This is why God’s perfect Law was so harsh with murder. God said:

Numbers 35:16-18 And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death. 17 And if he smite him with throwing a stone, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death. 18 Or if he smite him with an hand weapon of wood, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.

Murder Begins In The “Heart”

The reason no written Law will fix what ails us is because murder, like all sin, begins in the heart. Jesus brings this out. He said:

Matthew 5:21-22 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you,

The most perfect Law said “murder is hated by God. If you murder, you steal a life. If you murder, you will forfeit your life.” But then Jesus says, “Let’s not address the SYMPTOM. Let’s address the PROBLEM”. Here’s the problem:

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

Murder starts in the heart. It begins by being angry without a cause. Being angry for foolish things. Being angry because YOU don’t get your way. Being angry because someone else doesn’t agree with you. Being angry because your heart, like a wild stallion, is not under the control of the God Who loves you. Being angry because you have made yourself your own idol.

When we are born into this world, we are born because God gave us life. But we are born broken. The Bible says of our hearts:

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

God can see your hearts. God can control your hearts (Jeremiah 17:10). But you must give your hearts to God.

One day the Pharisees chastised Jesus for allowing His disciples to eat without first washing their hands. Under the Law a person who touched something unclean was to wash their hands (see Leviticus 15:11). The Pharisees considered all things unclean, and so disparaged Jesus for allowing His disciples to eat without washing their hands.

Matthew 15:16-20 And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? 17 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

What defiles a person before God? It is what is in the heart. Out of the heart comes … MURDERS. That’s what Jesus is saying in our focal text. Read it again:

Matthew 5:22 I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

Murder starts in the heart. Anger without a cause – a God sanctioned cause – leads to murder. It starts in the heart. Then it comes from the mouth. “Raca” is original to the Greek text, but it is not a Greek word. Many suppose it comes from the Aramaic Reka, which means “empty headed” or “foolish”. To call someone Reka is to make that person less than God made them. To call someone “thou fool” (moronos) is the same as saying “you are damned” or “you are going to hell” (see Psalm 14:1; Luke 12:20).

Every life has value. God made you in His image to walk with Him. Every person, whether in the womb, on their feet, or in the long term care facilities – every person is valuable. God made you for Himself. God gave you life to live with and for Him.

And no one has the right to devalue or diminish a person.

Granted, there are many sins that God commands we avoid. We saw several today in the book of 1 Timothy. But no written law is going to fix anything. No Constitutional adjustment or amendment is going to fix the murder problem in America.

The heart must be fixed. The heart must be filled with Godliness and righteousness. This is only possible through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Jesus Is The Fulfiller Of The Law,
The “Fixer” Of The Heart

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

Do you belong to Jesus? Have you believed on Him for salvation? If so, then no one has to chase you to make you serve the Living God. You want to approach the altar, a wonderful figure of serving God. And if Jesus is in your heart you know that you are to love as you were loved. God has taken from you that stony heart of the lost. The Apostle spoke of those who

Romans 2:15 … shew the work of the law written in their hearts

God promised His Old Covenant saints that one day the Law of God would be more than on tablets of stone, on parchment, on paper. He told Israel that the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ would come. He said that through the Christ:

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. 34 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.

Hebrews chapter 10 quotes from this prophecy in Jeremiah, then tells us:

Hebrews 10:19-25 19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21 And having an high priest over the house of God; 22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 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.

Has Jesus possession of your heart? Then love is planted in your heart. God the Holy Spirit influences you. And you value every person for Christ’s sake. You have had a heart transplant. You belong to Jesus.

Jesus Christ is “Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29, 36). Jesus Christ is “a Lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19). It is the …

Blood of Christ, Who through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God. {Who purged our} conscience from dead works {so that we can} serve the Living God” (Hebrews 9:14)

My heart belongs to Jesus. Does yours?

This wonderful Savior,
This sinless Redeemer,
This marvelous incarnation of God among us,
This precious Son of God
This Jesus.

bids you come to Him. Kneel at His feet. Realize that He is the only Solution for what ails America. Jesus Christ is the only Solution for what ails EVERYONE. We need Him. We need to fall in love with Him. We need to heed His Word – the Red Letters!

In closing I’ll share a parable I heard from Pastor John MacArthur. He said:

There’s a tale told about a certain rabbi whose name was Simon Ben Eleazar, and Simon Ben Eleazar was coming from his teacher’s house, and he’d just had a lesson at the feet of this great teacher, and he was feeling uplifted in the thought of his own scholarship, and he was so pleased with his own erudition, and he was so thrilled with his own righteousness, and his own goodness, and his own holiness. And as he was walking along he came across a very low, rather ugly common man who passed by and greeted him. And the rabbi did not return the greeting, but said, “You, Raca, how ugly you are. Are all the men of your town as ugly as you?” To which the man replied, “That I do not know, go and tell the Maker who created me how ugly is the creature He has made.

God made you to walk with Him. Come to Him. Come to Jesus. Give Him your broken heart, and He will make your life anew. Oh, that God the Spirit would open your hearts to the wonder of Christ today! Amen!

Posted in General, Matthew, Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached

YAHWEH and ELOHIYM: Examining The Names Of God (1)

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Photo by Alexis Antonio on Unsplash

Psalm 113: 1-5 Praise ye the LORD. Praise, O ye servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD. 2 Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. 3 From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD’S name is to be praised. 4 The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens. 5 Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high?

When Charles Wesley (one of the leaders of the early Methodist Church) read this Scripture he was led to write one of my favorite songs. “Blessed Be The Name” is in our Baptist Hymnal:

O, For a thousand tongues to sing, blessed be the name of the Lord!
The glories of my God and King, blessed be the name of the Lord!
Blessed be the Name, Blessed be the Name,
Blessed be the Name of the Lord!
Blessed be the Name, Blessed be the Name,
Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

Blessed Be The NAME Of YAHWEH!

The opening sentence “Praise ye the LORD” is literally:

Halal Yahh Halal

from whence we get our English Hallelujah. The people of God are told to praise the name of YAHWEH! One of the most famous names of God in Scripture is YAHWEH (though some refer to it as YEHOVAH or JEHOVAH). This is the most sacred name of God in Scripture. Pastor John Piper wrote:

God’s name is almost always translated LORD (all caps) in the English Bible. But the Hebrew would be pronounced something like “Yahweh,” and is built on the word for “I am.” So every time we hear the word Yahweh, or every time you see LORD in the English Bible, you should think: this is a proper name (like Peter or John) built out of the word for “I am” and reminding us each time that God absolutely is.”

YAHWEH is the God we praise, the God of the scripture. Though this name of God is sometimes translated JEHOVAH, the consensus among Biblical scholars is that the first translation of the Hebrew יְהֹוָה YHWH was, in the 6th century BC, most likely YAHWEH. So I use YAHWEH instead of JEHOVAH. Either way you pronounce YHWH this is the most holy name of God in Scripture. YAHWEH reveals certain things about our God.

  • YAHWEH is the eternal I AM. The God of scripture is never “I WAS” or “I WILL BE”. One of the first questions a child asks about God is:

Who made God?”

The proper response is “no one made God. God is self existent. He is the Great I AM. God never ends, and never began. Though Christ was made flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14) He did not begin existence at that manger in Bethlehem. Jesus Christ is the “Son of God become flesh for our salvation”. Jesus told the Pharisees:

John 8:23-24 … Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

  • YAHWEH is absolute reality and utterly powerful. In a world where feelings are often elevated above all else, God is in control. He knows what is best for us, and controls all things to bring forth the best outcome. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 116:1-4 I love the LORD {YAHWEH}, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. 2 Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live. 3 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. 4 Then called I upon the name of the LORD {YAHWEH}; O LORD {YAHWEH}, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.

It is the EVER PRESENT LORD Who is our Protector and King.

Proverbs 18:10 The name of the LORD {YAHWEH} is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.

In a politically correct and progressively wrong world the Christian trusts not in “feelings” but in the Eternal and Great “I AM”, the YAHWEH!

  • Everything in the universe is dependent upon YAHWEH. Nothing happens by blind fate or chance. “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD {YAHWEH}”. Nothing happens by “luck”, but all things are by the LORD. He is the first cause, the last cause, and every cause in between. My salvation is certain because my faith is in the certain and sure “I AM”. The Psalmist confidently declared:

Psalms 116:13 I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD {YAHWEH}.

I suspect the Apostle Paul had this precious Psalm in mind when he wrote the Church at Rome:

Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Salvation and blessing do not come by my hand, but by my God’s hand. I was saved the day I called “upon the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:2). My salvation is sure because my God is sure. My God is able to …

keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.
(2 Timothy 1:12)

… to keep me from falling (Jude 24)

I am frail, but God is constant. Our God is the absolute standard of truth. The Bible says:

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

Some people think that there is a god of the old covenant and a god of the new covenant. This is patently wrong. The old covenant was given to us by the unchangeable and immutable “I AM”. Jesus said of this old covenant:

John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

Both covenants – old and new- are written through and about an immutable God Who never changes. Our God is the great “I AM”.

Who Is Like Our ʼElôhîym

Psalm 113: 5 Who is like unto the LORD {YAHWEH} our God {ʼElôhîym}, who dwelleth on high?

YAHWEH is not the only name of God in Scripture. YAHWEH speaks to God’s eternity. YAHWEH made all things, yet is made of none. He alone is self existent. But God’s name is also ʼĕlôhîym, which is the earliest name of God found in Scripture.

The earliest name of God found in Scripture is not YAHWEH, but ʼĔLÔHÎYM.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God {אֱלֹהִים ʼĕlôhîym, pronounced el-o-heem’} created the heaven and the earth.

ʼElôhîym is a plural in the Hebrew text. If this name were applied to a mythological god like Apollo, Zeus, Mercury, et.al, then it would be translated “gods”. In this world there are many gods and goddesses that seek to take the place of the true ʼElôhîym. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 8:5-6 For though there be {many} that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) 6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

Though ʼElôhîym would be a plural if applied to an idol, the God of the Scripture is One God. God told His Old Covenant Israel:

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 Hear, O Israel: The LORD{Yahweh} our God {ʼElôhîym} is one LORD {Yahweh} : 5 And thou shalt love the LORD {Yahweh} thy God {ʼElôhîym} with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

God is one. God is ʼElôhîym, a compound Unity.

  • ʼElôhîym is our Father. When we pray, we pray:

Our Father Who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name!

ʼElôhîym is our Father Who is in Heaven. Jesus gave us another name for God – “Father”. He is the Head of the family of righteousness, those who are born again by faith in Christ. Our Father in Heaven is our Provider and Protector.

Matthew 6:8 … your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him …

ʼElôhîym our Father watches over the saved, lovingly providing our needs.

  • ʼElôhîym is our Jesus. The Father speaks to us through His Son Jesus (Hebrews 1:2), Whom He has appointed Heir of all things. All things belong to Christ.

All things were made BY Jesus (John 1:3)
All things were created BY Jesus FOR Jesus (Colossians 1:16)

The Father says of Jesus …

Hebrew 1:8 … Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom.

  • ʼElôhîym is the Holy Spirit of God. It is the Holy Spirit who indwells the believer. Jesus promised us, “The Holy Spirit lives with you, and will be IN you”.

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

The Holy Spirit guides and empowers our prayers. We are commanded to be …

Ephesians 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching …

Jude 1:20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost

We As Believers Are To Live Our Lives Praising YAHWEH ʼELÔHÎYM

The Old Testament priest would never rush into the Holy of Holies, nor never run into God’s Presence. Yet so often Christians rush into God’s Presence to demand something. We are not, in our urgency, to rush into His presence. We are to love the LORD God Who loves us so. The Apostle put it this way:

1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts

Let us magnify the great “I AM”, the wonderful Triune God Who gives us life and eternal life. Let us magnify Him in all we do. May God the Holy Spirit impart this Word of Truth into our hearts and lives. In Jesus name. Amen!

Posted in Names Of God Series, Psalms, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , ,