The Cure For Murmuring Hearts

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Turn with me in your Bibles to Philippians chapter 3.

I had a very interesting meeting with local Mayoral Candidate Sheila Butt this past Monday. As it’s getting into “election time” I see candidates from time to time, particularly when we have special events at the Church like our Youth Fish Fry. Sheila walked into my office and said, “I’m here for my ham”.

Sunday night we celebrated the baptisms of our newest members, Sheila Watson, Nikki Watson, and Kynslee Staggs. As Christ’s Church we always bring finger-food and celebrate when God adds to His Kingdom. Since Jesus said “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents” (Luke 15:10), we feel there should be joy in the Church as well. The “finger-food” Sherry and I brought for the celebration was homemade soup and HAM. Well, when Sheila said “I’m here for my ham”, I was confused, thinking, “but I took that ham home last night after the celebration”. Noticing the look on my face, Sheila said “You called and said I won the ham”. Now I was really confused. I know I’m getting senile, but I don’t remember calling Sheila … I don’t have her phone number.

Once we figured out what happened, we both had a good laugh. Sheila had won a ham from Riverside Methodist, not from Riverview Baptist. She was in the wrong place. People get our Church names mixed up all the time. Before Sheila left we had prayer for our nation, and our city. I believe that “all things work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28).

Is there an application here? Yes. If you’re looking in the wrong place, you can’t get your ham. If you’re looking in the wrong place, you can’t get your blessing.

We As Christians Are To Pursue The Mind Of Christ

Last week we talked about how the Christian is to have “the mind of Christ” (Philippians 2:5). The “mind of Christ” does not seek to be first, to seek self promotion, to be a “braggart” or self centered. The “mind of Christ” is to do what Jesus did. The Christian – if you are a Christian – is to lower themselves just as Jesus lowered Himself. We are to love others – even our enemies – by doing good to those who do bad to us (Matthew 5:44-46). “That you may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven” you are to do good to those who hurt you. The Christian is called to a life of holiness or separateness, wherein we imitate Christ. We read:

Philippians 2:14-15 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

The Church in America is filled with Christians who are suffering an identity crisis. We are to be like Christ.

Word Study: We as Christians are to look UPWARD, not INWARD. When we look UPWARD we praise God. When we look INWARD we tend to MURMUR. “Murmuring” (γογγυσμός gongysmos) and “disputing” (διαλογισμός dialogismos) are damaging to God’s people.

Murmuring is like cancer – it spreads.
Israel
murmured at Moses when they feared (Exodus 14:10-12)
Israel
then murmured against Moses and Aaron (Exodus 16:1-2)
Israel then murmured against God, and He punished them (Numbers 11:1)

Bible teacher Neal A. Maxwell wrote:

A basic cause of murmuring is that too many of us {particularly Christians} seem to expect that life will flow ever smoothly, featuring an unbroken chain of green lights with empty parking places just in front of our destinations.”

Beloved, we live in a fallen world, where trials are apt to hit at any moment. The lost person tries to navigate the fallen nature of our world by technology, by medicine, by government, and by every human means they can invent. Beloved, we live in a broken world. The world is broken and marred by sin. Children suffer terrible diseases not because God doesn’t care, but because the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Sin is the reality we live in.

  • Spiders are poison because of sin.
  • Ivy is poison because of Adam’s fall.
  • Mosquitoes bring sickness because of the forbidden.
  • Snakes carry venom because man walked away from Eden.
  • HIV and AIDs plague us because we reject God’s design.

Philippians 3:1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. …

Rejoicing In The Lord Crushes Murmuring

Not all of the Church at Philippi had drifted into murmuring. This is why Paul says “FOR THE REST” (λοιπόν loipon), that is, “For those of you who are NOT murmuring – my brethren in Christ, REJOICE IN THE LORD”.

Illustrate Superman: When I was growing up, I used to read Superman comics. There was one thing that could hurt Superman, and that thing was called Kryptonite. Kryptonite could cause Superman to stumble and fall. Murmuring in the Christian’s Kryptonite. How do we eradicate murmuring? We rejoice in the Lord.

What does it mean to “rejoice in the Lord”?

  • It means to take our brokenness and hurts to God FIRST, honoring Him in our hurt.

Illustrate Hannah: In the Book of 1st Samuel we read about a woman who, though she was well loved by her husband, she was barren and unable to have children. Her husband “loved her, but THE LORD HAD SHUT UP HER WOMB” (1 Samuel 1:5). This woman named Hannah was persecuted by others because she was unable to bear a child. Hannah was in bitterness of soul …

1 Samuel 1:10 … and PRAYED {not murmured, but PRAYED} unto the Lord, and wept …”

God heard Hannah’s prayer, and gave her a child. When Hannah had her baby, she raised him up until she weaned him ….

then she gave her baby back to the Lord! She took little Samuel to the Temple, telling the High Priest:

1 Samuel 1:27-28 … For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord. …

What does it mean to “rejoice in the Lord”?

  • It means to PRAISE our God, because HE is our Greatest Treasure. We who are saved, are saved because God sent His Only Begotten Son to die for our sins. We are Children of the Most High God. We are not to waste our time complaining, but praising Him.

Psalm 33:1-2 (ESV) Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright. 2 Give thanks to the Lord

Psalm 97:12 (ESV) Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, and give thanks to His holy name!

Bad things will come to us all. Rather than murmur, and risk murmuring against God, embrace the Lord Who loves you when troubles come.

Psalm 64:10 (ESV) Let the righteous one rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him! Let all the upright in heart exult!

We who are Christians are no longer lost and undone. We are not children of darkness and wards of hell. We are children of the light, of “the Father of Lights” (James 1:17). We will inherit the earth and Heaven, not hell.

Isaiah 61:10 (ESV) I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

What does it mean to “rejoice in the Lord”?

  • It means to understand that troubles are but momentary – but God our Father oversees everything that happens to us. He causes all things to work out for our good (Romans 8:28).

The Prophet Habakkuk said in 3:17-18 (ESV) Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

The Apostle Paul said again:

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

Word Study: We erase murmuring and it’s dangers by Rejoice in the Lord always, where the word “” is the Greek πάντοτε pantote meaning “at ALL TIMES” or “in EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE”. We are to praise our Lord Who saved us when the bad stuff happens and the good stuff happens. Returning to our focal text:

Philippians 3:1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.

The Apostle says in effect, “I’m telling you these things because THIS IS THE WAY OF SAFETY”. When the Christian murmurs, the devil watches. Murmuring is like a cancer – it will grow till it destroys your life.

Every marital disruption starts with murmuring.
Every Church disturbance starts with murmuring.
Every battle between parent and child starts with murmuring.
Every addiction or abuse starts with murmuring.

Murmuring is a heart problem that Can Lead To Death.
Put In The Stent Of PRAISE!

Illustrate: When the physical human heart murmurs, it is when the valves of that heart do not close properly, and blood leaks around the valve. This happens when the valve begins to harden. I myself have aortic stenosis, where my aortic valve is not fully closing, causing my heart to “murmur”. The doctors say they will watch this and monitor it closely. When necessary they tell me that they can go in through my leg and slide a heart stent in place that contains a new aortic valve. The old valve – once replaced – will not be a problem. If your spiritual valve has a murmur, you need to replace your spiritual valve with something else – a spiritual stent of rejoicing in the Lord!

The Devil Will Send An Unholy Trinity Of Evil Your Way When You Open The Door By Murmuring

Philippians 3:2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.

Warning us to avoid murmuring, the Apostle tells us to beware of three things. Beloved, the devil watches the Church. Jesus promised us that “where two or three are gathered in My Name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). This is very true. But it is equally true that – when the Church gathers and murmurs, the devil also watches.

It was when Satan saw Eve looking at the forbidden fruit that he slithered up and said, “has God really said you shall not eat of every fruit of this garden?” (Genesis 3:1)

Philippians 3:2 Beware of dogs

When the Bible talks about dogs, it’s not talking about house pets or your beloved critters. In developed countries like America we domesticate animals like dogs and cats because we can, and because we can afford to feed them. In third world countries, dogs are simply FOOD or PREDATORS. In Bible times dogs wandered through cities in packs, and would attack the weak. God told the Israelite:

Exodus 22:31 (ESV) You shall be consecrated to me. Therefore you shall not eat any flesh that is torn by beasts in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs.

One of the worst deaths was to die and be eaten by dogs (1 Kings 14:11; 16:4; 21:19; 21:23-24; 22:38; 2 Kings 9:10). The term DOG came to refer to the unbeliever who, totally divorced from God, began to act like an animal and not like God designed us to act. The Bible tells us that those who behave likeDOGS” will NOT be in Heaven (Revelation 22:15).

OUTSIDE are the DOGS and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”

When you murmur, you will not attract righteousness, but darkness. The devil who watches you will send unbelievers your way who will justify and encourage your doglike behavior.

Philippians 3:2 … Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers

As murmuring brings dogs, it also brings “evil workers”- people who will teach you to do wrong.

The Bible says that God saves us through faith in Christ from our sins, not in our sins. The Angel told Joseph:

Matthew 1:21 (NASB) {Mary} will give birth to a Son; and you shall name Him Jesus, for He WILL SAVE HIS PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS

The Christian is saved FROM sin, not IN sin. The intent of salvation is to make us as believers more like Jesus Christ our Savior and Elder Brother. We are told:

2 Corinthians 5:20-21 (ESV) … we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake {God the Father} made {Jesus} to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

We who are Christians are dead to sin. Sin is no longer our master, but God is our Master. We are to live righteously, loving God and others in our hearts and through our hands. The Scripture says:

Romans 6:6-11 (ESV) We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Sin does not rule the Christian. But when we begin to murmur, the devil sees this, and will send evil workers to us to draw us deeper into sin. Though it is true that Christians are not perfect, it is equally true that God changes our hearts once we are saved. We no longer desire to pursue sin. We desire the company of Christ. Therefore we are told:

Romans 6:12-14 (ESV) Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Murmuring is the dog whistle that attracts the dogs. Murmuring is the honey that attracts the evil wasp.

Murmuring Also Attracts False Teachers

Philippians 3:2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.

Word Study: The word translated concision is the Greek κατατομή katatomḗ, which means “those who cut off or mutilate”. When murmuring came into the Church of Philippi Judaizers came in who taught falsely that you have to BE CIRCUMCISED in order to be saved. Wherever you hear of people talking about things you have to DO to add to the work of Christ in salvation, it is certain this is a messenger of Satan.

Salvation is entirely a gift of God, received ONLY by faith in what Jesus Christ has done. A clear presentation of salvation is found in:

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

Salvation is the broken person in this broken world coming to the healing Savior. Salvation is my coming to Christ with empty hands, asking that He fill me up. Salvation is the leper unclean, calling out and being cleansed by Jesus. Salvation is the cripple and the blind, touched by the Master, hearing His Word to “take up your bed and walk with Me”. Beloved, we cannot earn nor deserve our salvation.

But once saved, we walk not with the devil nor with his henchmen, but with Jesus. The entire text of Ephesians reads:

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

A person is not saved by their works, but by our Jesus. But once a person is saved BY Jesus, we walk WITH Jesus. We are created IN Christ Jesus to DO GOOD WORKS. God has ORDAINED or ORDERED that we WALK IN GOOD WORKS. We are to be the LIGHT OF THE WORLD (Matthew 5:14), not part of the current darkness.

SALVATION is not gained by works. But once saved, SANCTIFICATION demands that we work.

Philippians 3:3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

In the Old Testament, God told the children of Israel that they were to be “circumcised” if they were to be counted as Israelites. This ritual cutting was only in place until the Messiah, Jesus Christ, came to this earth. The TRUE CIRCUMCISION are those who are distinguished by three marks:

  • Which worship God in the Spirit”.

When the Christian receives by faith Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God (Who looks on the heart [1 Samuel 16:7]) sends His Holy Spirit to us. “God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him” (Acts 5:32). Because we have called upon the Name of Jesus, “God gave us the Holy Spirit as a pledge or a proof of salvation” (2 Corinthians 5:5).

1 John 4:11-13 (ESV) Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.

Jesus promised that His people would be indwelt by the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17, 26). The Scripture declares:

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

You cannot be a Christian and NOT be indwelt by the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit will “guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).

Confusion comes to God’s people when we drift into murmuring and infighting. The Christian worships God in the Spirit. The Christian also:

  • Rejoice(s) in Christ Jesus”. Rejoicing keeps the murmuring away, but is also proof that you have been saved. We celebrate Jesus every moment of every day. We cling to Him, our Savior and Lord. And finally,
  • {We} have no confidence in the flesh”. We are broken creatures who are only safe in the embrace of God. The Apostle tells us:

Philippians 3:4-11 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: 5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

If salvation were a matter of works, the Apostle Paul would have never sought to be saved by Christ. Few have as many “works” qualifications as Paul had. Yet Paul said, I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. Paul clings to Christ, and bids that we also do the same. Paul said:

Philippians 3:12-14 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul realized, as do we all, that he is not perfect. But he continually pursued Jesus, seeking out the Master’s company. He strove to be like Jesus, to be possessed of Jesus, to do our Lord’s will. When Paul fell, and you will fall, he confessed his sin in Christ’s Name, and trusted in the salvation that God brings to us by faith.

And he continued his pursuit of Christ. Let each and every one of us who are saved by faith in Christ do the same. May God the Holy Spirit teach us the truths of salvation and sanctification, and make us more like Jesus every day. To God be the glory. Amen and Amen!

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Two Wandering Hearts

Black Hole At The Center Of Our Universe

Please turn with me in your Bibles to Luke 15.

Opening Illustration: This past Friday was the infamous Friday the 13th. When something bad happens to us, we like to blame it on bad luck or Friday the 13th. If you look up Friday the 13th and try to find out how that day became “unlucky”, no one really knows. In ancient Norse mythology the evil god Loki came uninvited to a feast in Valhalla. As Loki was the 13thso called “god” at the party, 13 became an unlucky number. In short, the legend of Friday the 13th began in idolatry. It is just untrue. Friday the 13th, walking under a ladder, a black cat crossing your path, spilling salt, breaking a mirror – none of these things are anything in reality. No one day is worse than another. When bad things happen to us, it happens because we or someone around us made bad choices.

Our Choices, Not Our “Luck”, Define Us

Every Day Of Life Is A Gift From God.
God Is The Source Of All Life.
God Has Gifted You This Day –
What Will You Do With It?

Psalm 118:24 This is the day the LORD has made;
IChoose to REJOICE and BE GLAD IN IT!

The world loves to blame it’s woes on something or someone else. Dear ones, the action you take, moment by moment, will lead to whether you are blessed or cursed tomorrow. God has given you the gift of life. You have neither earned it, nor deserved it. What you do with that gift is up to YOU. You can twist the gift. You can choose poor companions for your journey. I heard one speaker tell a group of graduating High School students:

The friends you embrace today will determine your future tomorrow.”

Let’s look at Luke 15 – the longest “Parable” Jesus ever Created

Someone asked Jesus one time, “Why do You speak in parables?” (Matthew 13:10). Jesus said, “Because the Godhead wants you, My followers, to understand the truths of the Kingdom of God, but the Godhead does not want those who do NOT follow Me to know these truths” (my paraphrase of Matthew 13:11). You see, Jesus is “THE Way, THE Truth, and THE Life” (John 14:6). God gives us all the gift of life freely, but enhances and brings greater blessing to our lives only when we come to Jesus.

A parable cannot be mined for truth using our own intellect. A parable only makes sense when we hear it at the feet of Jesus, and we listen to it submitting to the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God. Today’s 388 word parable starts with …

Luke 15:11 And He {Jesus} said, A certain man had two sons:

Already most of us have messed up the parable. I have heard preachers introduce this as “The Parable of the Prodigal Son”. The word “prodigal” is an Old English word that means “to spend money or resources wastefully or extravagantly”. In the first part of this parable Jesus talks about a son who wanders away from his Father (verses 12-24). Many translators of the Bible have often – since the bulk of this parable deals with the wandering son – put an uninspired heading like “The Parable of the Prodigal Son” or, as in my Bible, “The Parable Of The Lost Son”. But this is NOT what Jesus said. Jesus said,

A certain man had TWO sons

This parable is not about ONE wandering son, but TWO. Who are these wandering sons? Who is the FIRST wandering son? You would know if you’d read the context leading up to this long parable. Look at:

Luke 15:1-2 Then drew near unto {Jesus} all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

The first wandering son our parable deals with is the “sinners” that come to Jesus. Jesus calls out to the sinners, to the broken, and bids them come to Him. Jesus came on a mission from God the Father to save souls. Jesus said, “Come unto Me, ALL YE THAT LABOR AND ARE HEAVY LADEN, AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST” (Matthew 11:28). Jesus came from the Father crying out, “If anyone THIRSTS, cone unto ME AND DRINK” (John 7:37). When Jesus called for people to repent and come to Him, we read …

15:1 THEN drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.

The broken came to Jesus, surrendering their lives. The sinners came to Jesus surrendering their lives.

Word Study MURMUR: BUT the Pharisees and Scribes, what did they do? THEIR HEARTS wandered far from Jesus. The Pharisees and scribes MURMURED, saying, This MAN receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. They MURMURED. Why did Israel wander for 40 years in the wilderness, dying, an entire generation of people being buried before God allowed them to enter the Promised Land. Because they murmured. These people honor Me with their lips, but THEIR HEARTS are FAR FROM ME” (Matthew 15:8) said the Lord. Jesus opened the door for anyone to come to Him, but they must come putting God’s heart first. The Pharisees and Scribes – though close to Jesus physically – we FAR AWAY from Him in their hearts.

Oh Beloved, this is a parable of TWO SONS. Which son are you?

The Younger Son Physically & Spiritually
Wandered Far From Home

Luke 15:12 And the younger of them said to his Father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.

The younger son goes to his Father and demands the portion of goods that falleth to me.

The “younger son” is the wandering sinner.

When the Pharisees and Scribes murmured because Jesus allowed sinners to come near Him, Jesus told these “elder sons”two smaller introductory parables. Jesus said:

Luke 15:4-6 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? 5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

If you were a farmer of sheep, what would be more valuable to you? The sheep you have locked up and safely secured somewhere, or the sheep that has wandered away? We always place more effort and more heart into finding what is lost. When we have a thing, we take it for granted. But when we lose it – oh, how we fret until we find it.

Illustrate: Now this might not mean much to you, but let me relate it to my life. I own five computers, and use them in everything from scheduling, to typing out my sermons, to Biblical research, and even use them for entertainment. A few years ago I accidentally left one of my computers – an Ipad Mini – in a shopping cart at the local Walmart. I got all the way home when I realized what I had done. I didn’t say, “Oh well, I have four other computers. No big deal.” No, I jumped in the car, headed back to the Walmart, and by the Grace of God found that lost item. I rejoiced all day long that I found what was no more than an electronic gadget. It didn’t matter that I had the others safely at home. I found what was lost – and rejoiced.

You say, “Well, this is a silly illustration”, but Jesus knows just what I’m talking about. He spoke ANOTHER introductory parable about an inanimate object. Read with me:

John 15:8-10 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? 9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbors together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. 10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

All the coins that the woman had are equally valuable (just like all my computers have equal value) – though she celebrated more over the coin she found. God does the same thing. Jesus said, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. Hear me. Jesus did NOT say that the angels had joy. He said there is joy in the presence of the angels of God. Where is the joy coming from? It is coming from GOD. GOD IS REJOICING when a sinner – a life that God made – comes back to the One Who made him. God is the Father in the parable – and God is the Source of all life. Jesus said:

Luke 15:7 … likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

God made each person to be in His family, to be a son of God, a child of the Kingdom. God longs to embrace each person in love, and be a part of their lives. He says:

borne by Me from before your birth,
carried from the womb;

even to your old age I Am He,
and to gray hairs I will carry you.

I have made, and I will bear;
I will carry and will save. (Isaiah 46:3-4 ESV)

God loves us, though as sinners we wandered. This young son wandered far from home. We read:

Luke 15:13 And not many days after the younger son {the sinner} gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

We journey to a far country. As sinners, we get as far from God as we possibly can.

  • Pitiful women gather outside of Judicial houses, demanding that they be given the right to murder their babies. They are in a far country.
  • The addict sits at a bar or ingests a pill or injects poison into their veins to get a temporary “high”. They are in a far country.
  • A person prostitutes themselves, pursuing the fleeting pleasure of heterosexual, homosexual, or transsexual evil. Jesus tells us that God’s standard is different.

Matthew 19:4-6 (ESV) … {God} who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.

Ignoring His Word, we move into a far country. We are far from peace, far from joy, far from satisfaction. We have followed our hearts into the darkness.

And the darkness consumes us.

Luke 15:14-15 And when {the younger son, the wandering sinner} had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and {the sinner} began to be in want. 15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and {that citizen} sent him into his fields to feed swine.

Oh Beloved, in America today there is a mighty famine in the land.

  • There is a mighty famine in morality.
  • There is a mighty famine in common sense.
  • There is a mighty famine in politics.
  • There is a mighty famine in civility.
  • There is a mighty famine on social media.
  • There is a mighty famine economically.
  • There is a mighty famine in the churches.
  • There is a mighty famine in our families.
  • There is a mighty famine in our communities.

People are crying out. “Where is God in all this?” God has never left. He is where He has always been. But God will not force you into His family. God calls us in Christ, and bids us in Jesus to REPENT, to TURN FROM OUR WICKEDNESS and to RETURN home.

The sinner – the younger son – gets to the bottom of the barrel.

Luke 15:16-17 And he would {would} have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 17 And when he came to himself …

Praise God when …

… you get to the bottom of the barrel
… the straw breaks the camel’s back
… when you reach the bridge too far
… and find yourself at the end of the rope.

When we are as low as we can go, “we might come to ourselves”. This sinner came to himself. Now he tells himself:

Luke 15:17-20 … How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my Father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 20 And he arose, and came to his Father.

When you’re in the worst place you can be, you’re in the best place of your life if it causes you to repent. This sinner repented. The sinner went to the Father and DEMANDED what he was due, then wasted the life given him. Now the sinner goes to the Father with NO DEMANDS. “I’ll be one of your HIRED SERVANTS if you’ll take me in”. That’s all his heart now wants. This is Biblical repentance. This is the only Way unto salvation.

See now the love of God. See the heart of Christ!

Luke 15:20-24 But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Oh how God loves you! Oh how God bids you return, repent and return to Him Who made you. Receive the Lord Jesus Christ, and draw near to Him. Our Jesus is a “Friend of sinners” (Luke 7:34). He came to this earth to “call sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). But the parable is NOT over. We now come to …

The Older Son Who Spiritually & Physically
Wandered Far From Home

Whereas the younger son physically & spiritually wandered far from home, the older son spiritually & physically wandered away as well. I didn’t say the same thing twice. The older son stayed near the Father. The older son heard the Father’s commands. The older son worked in the Father’s fields. We read:

Luke 15:25-27 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.

The elder son heard music and dancing. He has every right to go in and join the party. But instead, the elder son called one of the servants. Did you notice this. The elder son didn’t go find the FATHER. He found a SERVANT.

The elder son wanted to be waited on.
The elder son wanted to be catered to.

Let’s ease back into the context before this parable. Ease back to:

Luke 14:26-35 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. 34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be seasoned? 35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

You know what Jesus is tells us? We are in a battle for men’s souls. We are in a battle for the lives of others. We are in a battle for the Kingdom of God …

and in America, we are losing the battle.

Why? Because the “older son”, the one who should know the Father’s heart, has wandered away. Oh, the older son may attend Church services. The older son may tithe. The older son may know all the hymns in the hymn book. But the older son has gotten comfortable. The older son does not want to welcome the younger son – the saved sinner – into his midst.

It is MESSY to deal with lost people. It takes WORK to love the enemy. But the heart of God is to love the lost, and to – not JUSTIFY the EVIL that the lost do – but to love the lost when they come into the Father’s house. And when someone gets saved WE ARE TO CELEBRATE.

Illustrate: Tonight we’re having a baptismal service, welcoming wandering sons into the family of God. We will bring finger food, and celebrate with these new believers, as they make their commitment to follow Jesus’ command to be baptized. Some of you will MURMUR. “I don’t have time for this. I pay the preacher to preach, to teach ME the Bible. I don’t see why we have to bring finger food. I don’t WANT to celebrate.” If you feel this way, you are the older son in Jesus’ parable. You are a Pharisee and a Scribe.

Illustrate: Every week our Worship Leader, Jerry Bridenbaugh, reads a passage of Scripture at the beginning of our services. Jerry reads a passage from 2 Chronicles 5:13-14, “It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.” Why does Jerry read this? Because he wants us to know that when we as the House of Christ, the elders sons, gather and PRAISE THE LORD WITH ALL OUR HEARTS, that God the Holy Spirit enters the house. If you have tuned Jerry out while yawning your way through the services, then YOU are the older son in Jesus’ parable.

When a visitor comes into the House of God, are you more concerned about where that person sits or how that person looks, rather than rejoicing that they are here? Do you pray that God will touch their hearts throughout the message? Do you welcome the stranger, and tell them your name? Or do you stay aloof, hoping the service will not go into overtime? You may be the elder son in Jesus’ parable.

In the Book of Hebrews God says:

Hebrews 13:7 (ESV) Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.

If you’re a leader, an elder son, you are not called to be waited on. You are called to wait on God. I am called to wait on God. We are to set the standard, remembering thatwe are “entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts” (ESV). God said:

Hebrews 13:17 (ESV) Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

As the Pastor and lead Bible Teacher of this Church, I am to keep watch over your souls. This means that I must continue to speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). I will have to give an account to Jesus one day for your souls. And you who are saved – you who are elder sons – will have to give an account of yourselves unto God” (Romans 14:12).

Returning to the parable, the Father speaks to the older son.

Luke 15:27-28 And {The Father} said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. 28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him.

The elder son was upset. Why was he upset? What made him so mad? Continue reading with me as the elder son (representing the Pharisees and scribes) said:

Luke 15:29-30 And {the elder son} answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: 30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.

The elder son was upset because he wasn’t the center of attention. He – like the younger son at the beginning of this story – was saying Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. I want to be the center of attention. I want everything to be pleasing to me. The Father told the elder son:

Luke 15:31 And {The Father} said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.

Think carefully about these words. The Father told the older son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. Because Christ died on Calvary for us, we are FOREVER with the Father. Heaven is ours. We have God the Holy Spirit indwelling us. Praise God, we are nested in the hands of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. God has given us the PRIVILEGE of representing His Kingdom on this earth. The parable ends with:

Luke 15:32 It was meet {fitting} that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

We should celebrate every life that comes to Christ’s Kingdom. We should celebrate every person saved by grace, by the Blood of the old rugged Cross. But the choice is ours. We can get our hearts right, and get in tune with the heart of Jesus – or we can perish as a Church. What will we choose? May God guide us by His Spirit to seek out and lead others to salvation by faith in Christ. For God’s sake we pray. Amen and Amen!

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Let’s Live To Please Jesus

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

Philippians 2:2-5 Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…

Lifeway Research, one of our Southern Baptist Resources, released a mid-pandemic study May 2021 on the state of the Church in the United States. The study noted that prior to the pandemic “In 2019, approximately 3,000 Protestant churches were started in the U.S., but 4,500 Protestant churches closed…” The information did not just come from the Southern Baptist denomination, but analyzed “congregational information from 34 denominations and groups representing 60% of U.S. Protestant churches to arrive at the church plant and closure numbers for 2019”. In 2014 there were more openings than closings of Churches, but in 2019 the trend reversed.

The American Church is experiencing a demise, though we live in a place of amazing freedoms. However the early Church GREW in a hostile Roman and Jewish world.

Christians were not only persecuted by the Roman Empire for the first 300 or so years that the Church started, but the Jewish religious authorities actively sought out and persecuted Christians as members of a cult. The term “Christian” was not a compliment. The Bible says:

Acts 11:26 … the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

An article in Relevant Magazine entitled “Where The ‘Christian’ Name Really Came From” notes:

“The early Church never called themselves Christians. In the Bible, the title most often used was “saints.” … The Greek word for “saints” is “hagios” which means “consecrated to God, holy, sacred, pious.” It is almost always used in the plural—“saints.” This reflects not just the individual but the connection to a group of people set apart for the Lord and His Kingdom. … the name “Christian” was given somewhat flippantly or even derogatively by these powers-that-be—a sort of dismissive wave of the hand to those “little Christs.” Technically, the ending “-ian” means “belonging to the party of,” so “Christians” meant those of Jesus’ party. … After Acts 11:26 the word “Christians” is used only two other times in the New Testament: in Acts 26:28 (by Agrippa, an unbelieving King that applied the name he knew as an outsider) and 1 Peter 4:16 (in the context of being oppressed in wider society under that given name). In each reference, the emphasis, inherent in the original Greek, is on the fact that people from outside the faith recognized Christians as a distinct group”.

The Early Church Lived To Please Christ

In the early Church “Christians” lived so as to please Christ. This made them appear weird or “peculiar”. This is what God expects of His people. He told Israel:

Exodus 19:5 … if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people {the rest of the world}

Jesus gave His life for us that we might be peculiar. The Bible says:

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

The early Christians were blamed for social unrest. The Great Fire of Rome (July 19, 64 A.D.) was blamed on Christians. From PBS:

“Nero himself blamed the fire on an obscure new Jewish religious sect called the Christians, whom he indiscriminately and mercilessly crucified. During gladiator matches he would feed Christians to lions, and he often lit his garden parties with the burning carcasses of Christian human torches.”

Why was the Church so persecuted? Because the early Church was NOT like the world. We are to be “light”, distinctly different from “darkness”(Matthew 5:14-16)

Jesus said in Luke 12:51-53 (ESV) Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.

Jesus again said in John 8:12 (ESV) … I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

And once more, our Lord decreed in John 12:46 (ESV) I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.

Every early Christian understood the Gospel of Christ. If you ask the average professing Christian today what the “Gospel” is, most will give you a half-answer. What you are likely to hear is:

“The Gospel means I have received Jesus Christ as Savior. He died for my sins. Because I believe in Jesus, I will not go to hell one day, but I’ll go to Heaven.”

This is what most professing Christians believe the word “Gospel” means. But this is not the whole Gospel.

The Forgotten Part Of The Gospel Is That
The Saved Are To Please God, Not Man

Philippians 2:2 Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind

• As Christians we are to first of all bring God joy. As God the Son Jesus brought the Godhead joy.

This should be our focus. We should desire to please Him with the lives that we live. After all, God suffered immensely to offer us salvation. God suffered by laying down His crown, and by stepping down from His Throne in Heaven to become a part of His own creation. The Scripture tells us of Jesus that:

Philippians 2:6-7 Who {Jesus}, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

Jesus was “being in the form of God”. The word translated “form” is the Greek μορφή morphḗ, {pronounced mor-fay’}, which means Jesus is equal to God. Jesus is not only equal to God, but Jesus openly declared Himself equal to God. We read:

John 10:30-33 (ESV) {Jesus said} “I and the Father are one.” 31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”

Jesus is God. Jesus took the holiest Name of God, the name God gave to Moses “I AM” (Exodus 3:14), and applied that holy Name to Himself:

John 8:57-59 (ESV) … the Jews said to {Jesus}, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

Jesus is God. The Jews sought to stone Jesus because they thought He violated the Law (see Leviticus 24:16) when He presented Himself as God in the flesh. It would be a lie for me to say “I am God”, for I am not. But it was no lie for Jesus to say “I am God” because He is. The early Apostles believed Jesus is God. The Apostle Paul told the Pastors at Ephesus:

Acts 20:28 (ESV) Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.

Jesus is God. Jesus Christ, God the Son, shed His blood for His Church. When the Apostle Thomas saw the resurrected Jesus, he called Jesus “My Lord and My God” (John 20:28). Jesus did not correct Thomas. The Apostle Peter called Jesus God when he wrote:

2 Peter 1:1 (ESV) … of our God and Savior Jesus Christ

Jesus is God. But what does God the Father say about Jesus?

Hebrews 1:8 (ESV) … of the Son {The Father} says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.

When Jesus walked this earth, He was often worshiped – something that no human should receive (see Matthew 2:11; 14:33; 28:9, 17; Luke 24:52; John 9:38). Jesus NEVER stopped anyone from worshiping Him, but received worship as His due. Yet Jesus lowered Himself. Though fully God the Son, Jesus “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men”. What did Jesus do after this?

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

Jesus did two things. “He humbled Himself”. Though God, with all the rights and privileges of God, He set aside those rights. He “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross”. Jesus was shamed, willingly shamed, so that we who believe in Him could be saved.

• As Christians, we are commanded to be “like minded”, to have the mind of Christ.

Philippians 2:2 Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like minded, having the same love…

We are supposed to love like Jesus loved. The Lord told us that the great Commandment of God is:

Matthew 22:37-40 (ESV) … “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

God commands that His Creation love Him above all else, and that as His Creation we love others the way that we want to be loved. This is God’s standard for every part of His creation. The problem in the world today is that – as God’s Creation – we love OURSELVES more than we love God. We also love OURSELVES to the exclusion of others. How many times have you heard on television:
“YOU do YOU”
“Be true to YOURSELF”

In the words of a popular song called “You Do You”:

Who it is that you want me to be? I can’t be
I can only do me
I can only go where life takes me
Now who it is that you want me to be? I can’t be
I can only do me
I can only be how god made me, yeah
You do you and I’ll do me
Together we’ll make harmony
Together we’ll make the world go ’round

That’s what the world believes,
“You do you, and I’ll do me”.

What does Jesus command of His followers? Not “You do you, and I’ll do me”. Jesus teaches us to be like HIM, to do as HE did. We are to be “be like minded, having the same love” that Jesus had. What did our Lord do?

Jesus went to the Cross because He loved us more than He loved Himself. Jesus died an excruciating death for our salvation because He loved God the Father more than He loved Himself.

When Jesus called people to His side, He demanded that we “follow Him”. Jesus said to His Church:

John 13:34-35 (ESV) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Jesus gave us the GREAT Commandment (love God with our all) and the SECOND GREAT Commandment (love others the way you want to be loved). But then Jesus gave those whom He saved ANOTHER Commandment, a NEW Commandment, which is:

“love one another: just as I have loved you”

Jesus, loving us, willing went to a humiliating and horrifying death. Jesus, loving us, gave up every right that He had. Jesus did not follow the narcissistic mantra of our age, “You do You”, but Jesus did “I die for you”. Jesus’ death was not empty and useless, but His sacrifice made it possible for us to be one with God. To make sure we get this, Jesus repeated the command:

John 15:12 … This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

We are to love as Jesus loved, even if we are hated for it. Jesus said “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19). The world will despise you, dear Christian, but you must continue to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) no matter how that truth is perceived.

Matthew 5:44-45 (ESV) Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.

As Jesus, the Son of God emptied Himself to save us, we are to empty ourselves to save others – even if we are hated. We are to love as Jesus loved.

We are to stand firm in what the Bible affirms as true, but are not to lower ourselves down to the “I’ll just do me” mentality. The Scripture orders us to “Bless those that persecute you, bless and do not curse them” (Romans 12:14). We are commanded to “not repay evil for evil … but bless, THAT YOU MAY OBTAIN A BLESSING” (1 Peter 3:9). As Christians we are not to back away from the Bible, but are to BE the Bible. “Do not be overcome by evil, but OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD” (Romans 12:21).

Church, We’ve Got To Do SOMETHING

As our nation gets darker and darker, and as common sense seems to be dead, I hear Christians and Pastors and Churches saying, “We’ve got to do SOMETHING”. Then the leaders in the Church begin to take some type of action – generally the wrong one.

Illustrate A woman was relaxing in her home one day when she saw a black snake slither into the room. Shrieking, she jumped up as the snake slid under the sofa. Running to the bathroom, she interrupted her husband’s shower to tell him to get that snake out of my house! The husband came out of the shower, wrapped a towel around his waist, and headed toward the couch with a broom. Poking around under the sofa, the family dog came in to see what the fuss was all about. Nuzzling the master’s foot with his cold nose, the man thought the snake had bitten him – and he fainted. The wife called an ambulance, and the attendants put the husband on a stretcher to carry him to the hospital. About that time the confused and frightened snake slithered out from under the couch. One of the ambulance attendants saw the snake, and with a yell dropped the stretcher, breaking the patient’s leg. In the midst of the confusion the snake quickly slithered out of that madhouse. There were better places to be!

Church, we do have to do “something”. If the Church is to survive, we MUST do what the Scripture commands. We must love like Jesus loved.

Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory …

God’s standard for His Church – the gathering of Christ’s believers – is ZERO TOLERANCE for “strife” or “vainglory”. We all know what “strife” is – it is fighting. King Solomon wrote,

Proverbs 20:3 (ESV) It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.

The Air Force Mission Came FIRST: It is a FOOL or a LOST PERSON that seeks quarrels. In the Air Force we learned that our mission was to protect this country. We worked TOGETHER to get the mission done. The Church must work TOGETHER to get the mission done. The Scripture says, “A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating” (Proverbs 18:6). James, the stepbrother of Christ, wrote,

James 4:1 (NLT) What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you?

Word Study: The word translated “vainglory” is the Greek κενοδοξία kenodoxía, {pronounced ken-od-ox-ee’-ah}, which means “empty glorying or self promotion, self conceit”. It was Lucifer who first illustrated kenodoxía when – looking at himself in comparison to the other angels, said “I will ascend above the clouds of Heaven; I will be like the Most High God” (Isaiah 14:14). We are not supposed to be like the devil. We who are saved are to be Children of God. We who are saved are to be like Jesus.

Philippians 2:3-4 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

“esteem others better than ourselves”
Is the direct opposite of “
YOU do YOU”.

The English Standard Version renders this scripture,

“in humility count others more significant than yourselves”

Jesus considered us “more significant” than Himself. We are to do the same with our fellow believers. You see, I by myself can do little. Yes, I can do some good for God. But I cannot do the same amount of good unless I band together with other believers who will be like Jesus. When I decide to bind myself together with the Church, not as “me doing me” but as “me doing Jesus”, the more of us there are, the more good we can do.

Humble Love Is Proof Of Life

When Jesus humbled Himself to the death of the Cross, Jesus was proved to be the Messiah.

Philippians 2:8-11 … being found in fashion as a man, he humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

How do we know that Jesus Christ is THE Messiah, and there are no others? Because Jesus Christ humbled Himself unto death to save us. There were many who professed to be Messiah when Jesus walked the earth, and many profess this today. But only Jesus did what the Messiah was supposed to do. He laid His life down for our salvation (John 10:11, 15, 18). Jesus did NOT do “you do you”. Jesus died for you, and for me.

You are sons & daughters of God because you have partnered with Jesus in God. Proof of your sonship is that you lay your life down for others as the Master did. You CANNOT follow “You do You” and be saved!

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

If you are saved, you are saved to be like Jesus. If you are saved, you are called to follow the same marching orders that Jesus had. Are you? The Scripture is clear. Follow the Lord Who saved you. Be like Him in behavior. Do not be like the world. May God the Holy Spirit touch your hearts through this, His blessed Scripture. Amen and amen!

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Give Your Mother The Best Gift Of All

Photo by Liana Mikah on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to Romans 3:23. We read:

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

If you came here today to hear a “Mother’s Day” sermon where “mothers” or “grandmothers” are the focus, you’ll be disappointed. One Mother’s Day years ago – at the end of the message – I was chewed out by a “single mother” for not preaching on the value of that type of mother. Listen: I love mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers.

I love my mother who, I believe, is with Jesus.
I love my grandmother who is with my Lord.

If my mother and my grandmother were here today, I know they’d expect me to preach focused not on mothers, but on the greatest need of every child – and YOU are someone’s child. I believe our greatest need is GOD.

Sin” Tells Us We Don’t Need God. So, What IS Sin?

Our text tells us …

ALL have sinned”

What is “sin”. We ALL have it according to the Bible, so we need to understand what it is. The longest living Apostle John put it this way:

1 John 3:4 (ESV) Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.

Sin is to break the law. What law? The law that God established. Sin is rebellion against God, the Creator of all life. Sin began in Heaven. God created all the angels, and made one angel named Lucifer to rule over those angels. But Lucifer forgot who made him, and began to stare at himself in a mirror one day, admiring his own beauty. As the most beautiful angel he was stunning. Lucifer (whose name means “Shining One”) began to believe that he himself was the source of his beauty and power. Lucifer said,

I will make myself like the Most High God” (Isaiah 14:14)

What was Lucifer’s plan? He could not defeat God, could not overthrow God. So losing Heaven, Lucifer led 1/3 of the angels in rebellion (Revelation 12:3-4, 9) to this earth. God had created this earth in perfection, and east of the Garden of Eden God placed the height of His creation – man and woman. God gave man and woman – Ish and Isha –dominion over the earth”.

Genesis 1:28 (ESV) … God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion … over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Adam and Eve were in a perfect place and a perfect position. God gave them immortality, and God gave them a perfect earth to live in and rule.

The earth and all that was in it was given to Adam and Eve. Lucifer could not take over Heaven. So Lucifer came to the earth. If he could get Adam and Eve to rebel against God, the sin he tried unsuccessfully to seed in Heaven, he could spread it on the earth.

Lucifer convinced Adam to disobey God, and since God gave Adam and Eve dominion of the earth, Adam’s sin – his following Lucifer in rebellion – caused sin to be planted into every human heart that came out of Adam and Eve’s family. Sin is rebellion against God. What does our text say?

ALL have sinned”

ALL” have sinned. All people. Old people. Young people. Infants. Toddlers. “ALL”. I was talking to another preacher one day who told me, “I don’t believe that children sin”. I told him, “Then you don’t have any children – or if you do, you don’t have any sense.” You don’t have to teach a child to lie. Children are born knowing how to lie. “Who broke that?” the parent asks. “Not me!”, the child replies.

Illustrate: One of my earliest memories was of being caught stealing chewing tobacco from the local Piggly Wiggly. I saw what I thought was candy on the shelf at the checkout. It looked good. I looked to see if mamma was watching – she wasn’t – so I grabbed a pack. I couldn’t have been very old – maybe 6 or 7. When we got to the car, I got in the back seat, and once mamma took off I started unwrapping my prize. Smelling it mamma pulled over, and was mortified at what I was doing. We went back to the Piggly Wiggly, where I was made to tearfully apologize to the manager of the store. King David wrote, “I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5).

All have sinned”

Black, white, red, yellow. Male, female. Jew, Gentile. Rich or poor. It amuses me – and I’m certain amuses Lucifer – when we begin to think “I am better than someone else”.

Look just a few verses away from our focal text:

Romans 3:9-11 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; 10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

Sin is a reality. It is sin that moves people to murder one another. It is sin that causes the addict to steal to support a habit. It is sin that abuses and murders children. It is sin that fills the prisons of every country. It is sin driving the murderous assault on the Ukraine. It is sin that causes bullying in school. It is sin that makes the alcoholic.

It is sin that is driving a stake through the heart of common sense in every nation around the world.

It was one fallen angel that planted the seed of rebellion into Adam’s heart. But it was Adam who grasped that seed. Just a few chapters from where our focal scripture is, we read:

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

Sin is a violation of God’s Law. Sin is rebellion against God. But sin is also that which brings DEATH. We as humans die because of sin. God made made humanity “in HIS IMAGE and after HIS LIKENESS” (Genesis 1:27). Humans are made to be immortal. Listen to me – animals die – but God made you to LIVE FOREVER. Your soul is designed to live forever, though your body dies. Your body DIES because of sin.

But your soul will live somewhere forever beyond the grave. Where will your “somewhere” be?

Death comes to us all. Sin is rebellion against God, and we are infected with sin. We all sin. We all die. Death will come to us all when we least expect it. Why? Because the Bible says:

Romans 6:23 … the WAGES of SIN is DEATH …

So we as humans have a big problem. We sin because we are sinners. We are sinners because Adam listened to a fallen angel, and rebelled against God. We are born sinners, born in rebellion against God and His law. Sin causes us to rebel against what God says. Sin not only causes rebellion, but it causes confusion. Rejecting God, the Creator of life, we are vainly trying to be our own creators. The longer we reject God and embrace sin, the more confused we will be.

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

Sin does not bring glory to God, but glorifies MAN while rejecting GOD. This is why we see strange things in the world today.

Illustrate: A transgender MAN is declared “WOMAN of the year” by USA Today. He is a MAN, but identifies as a woman. There is no God – I am my own god”.

Illustrate: A transgender MALE SWIMMER set a new world’s record, winning the NCAA WOMEN’S swimming championship. This must be true, because he identifies as a she. There is no God – I am my own god”.

Pastor Mark Spence, the Senior Vice President of Living Waters Ministries highlights the confusion normalized in our world today.

If gender is fluid, then there is truly no difference between men and women. So {why did}President Biden {come} along and he said, ‘I’m not sure who I’m going to nominate. I’m just going to make sure the person’s black, and the person is a female.’ ?”.

That’s a valid question. If gender is fluid, why make sure a “female” is chosen. This same woman who was nominated to be the first black woman of the Supreme Court (Ketanji Brown Jackson) was questioned by our state Senator Marsha Blackburn as a part of the confirmation process. The Senator asked, “Can you provide a definition for the word ‘woman’ ”? Ms Jackson replied, “Can I provide a definition? No, I can’t. Not in this context. I’m not a biologist.”

The Prophet Daniel wrote of a nation that rejected God, saying:

Daniel 9:8 (ESV) To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you.

Sin is rebellion. Sin is idolatry. Sin is confusion. Sin brings death. All are under sin. This is the bad news. But there is good news. There is GOD news. Though we all sin, and fall short of the glory of God.

Here’s The GOOD NEWS

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

Sin Is Deadly. Sin Separates Us From God.
But God – not man – Has Provided A Way To Cover Sin.

Illustrate: John Stonestreet in a recent Breakpoint Daily article wrote:

In March, online magazine Vox ran a series of stories under the title “America’s Struggle for Forgiveness. {Quoting that article Stonestreet writes} We wake up mad, we go to bed mad, and in between, the only thing that might change is what’s making us angry. The one gesture that could offer substantive change, or at least provide a way forward—forgiveness—seems perpetually beyond our reach. … As a society (emphasis mine) we have absolutely no coherent story—none whatsoever—about how a person who’s done wrong can atone, make amends, and retain some continuity between their life/identity before and after the mistake. … Grace, the act of allowing people room to be human and make mistakes while still loving them and valuing them, might be the holiest, most precious concept of all in this conversation about right and wrong, penance and reform—but it’s the one that almost never gets discussed {in our world today}.

We have made ourselves gods – and we cannot fix the mess we’ve made.

Illustrate Puny gods: When I was growing up, I loved to read Marvel Comics. If I could get my hand on a comic book, I’d read about Superman or one of the other “super heroes”. When Marvel Studios began to make movies, as an adult I love to go to them and watch them. One of the movies I saw had “The Incredible Hulk” in it. One of the villains, called Loki, begins to brag that he’s a “god” and no one can defeat him. The “Hulk”, who is big and green and has immense and immeasurable power, grabs Loki by an arm, and proceeds to bash him repeatedly into the ground. When the “Hulk” is done – and it only takes a few seconds, Loki with a stunned look on his battered face just says “uhhhhh”. The Hulk walks away, but not before he mutters two words.

Puny god!”

That is a perfect illustration of every one of us today. Professing ourselves to be wise, we became fools. We changed the glory of the uncorruptible BIG “G” God into an image that looked like us fallen humans” (Romans 1:22-23). We are wiser than God. We cannot be defeated. We are greater than anything that has ever been. Like the poem that William Ernest Henley wrote called “Invictus”,

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.”

PREACH! This is what we believe. We crow it on social media, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Parlor, Linked in, Instagram, whatever. We are our own gods. We know what’s best. We need no “God” of the Bible, for we are gods, we are immortal. No one is wrong, especially me! What I say is right, as long as I say it loudly. We believe this.

Then life, like that big, green Hulk, comes along and grabs us by the collar.

It slams us around economically. It beats us back and forth, bruising and battering us through what seems to be an endless pandemic. It hits us with cancers, and confusion. It fills us with fear and dread. And once that monster is done beating us up, it turns and walks away, saying,

Puny god!”

We are all in a pitiful shape, but the God Who created all things is not willing to leave us in this shape. We started at Romans 3:23,

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”

Let’s look at the words, the pretext that comes before our focal text:

Romans 3:19-22 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

God gave us a Law in His Bible to tell us what is right, and what is wrong. Stealing is wrong because God says it is. Sexual sin is wrong because God says it is. God gave us Laws. The Laws He gave us were given to show us what He demands – and how far we fall from what He expects. The Law of God was given to show us that we are all broken, we are all sinners, we are all far from where we need to be – where God says we should be. Look at:

Romans 3:20 “by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin”

Illustrate: Show a tape measure. Show a piece of lumber. Label the lumber “God’s standard”. Label the tape measure, “The Law”. Note, The Law, like a tape measure, tells me what the standard is. The Law shows me where I need to measure up. But the Law cannot save me. The Law is mechanical, but my life is DYNAMIC, not STATIC. I am, and you are, born under sin. We all are. We need to be saved – but we don’t realize it until we use God’s tape measure. When we use God’s tape measure, we realize how far we are from God. We need to be fixed.

Jesus Christ is the Fixer! Jesus is …

the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets

God sent Jesus Christ to this earth. Jesus Christ came for the broken. Jesus said:

Luke 5:31-32 (ESV) “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Jesus said, “If you’re broken (and you all are), if you’ll come to Me, I can fix that!” Jesus Christ came so that all who have faith in Him – all who surrender their godhood and embrace Jesus as a Savior and God – to those Jesus will fix our sin sickness. We saw the pretext to our focal text – let’s look at the post-text:

Romans 3:24-26 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

Let’s break this verse down:

Romans 3:24 Being justified freely…

The word justified means to be made right with God. We all fall short of the glory of God. But when we receive Jesus as our Fixer, HE MAKES US RIGHT with GOD THE FATHER. What does God charge for this? It is given freely upon our surrender to Him. We give up our broken life to Jesus. Jesus gives us eternal life. Jesus is the ONLY SOURCE of eternal life. Jesus said …

John 6:38 (ESV) For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.

God the Father sent Jesus Christ – God the Son – to this earth to fix us. Jesus said:

John 12:46 (ESV) I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.

And John 18:37 (ESV) … For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

Jesus said, I came that you may have LIFE, and have it ABUNDANTLY” (John 10:10).

Romans 3:24-26 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood

What is redemption? Remember I told you that the world was given to Adam and Eve, and Adam gave it away to Lucifer. We are born enslaved to sin. We are born pursuing the same path that Lucifer pursues. But Jesus came to REDEEM us from Lucifer and from Sin. He came to buy us back from sin and death. Jesus came to be a PROPITIATION – this is an old word which means to be a covering for sin. Sin separates us from God. Self separates us from God. Jesus came to fix our hearts, and to bring us into the family of God.

But we must have faith in his blood. He died to make payment for my sin, and your sin. He died to cover us, to save us from ourselves. Jesus died to free us from Satan and Self’s grasp. Jesus died for our sins, and rose from the grave to lead us as the children of God.

You Must Decide Your Own Destiny:
Hell
Or Peace With God

God has set Jesus and Jesus alone forth as a covering for sin. The Scripture is quite clear. A very well known scripture says:

John 3:16-18 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

You have a choice before you today. You can believe that Jesus Christ came to this earth to fix what ails you. You can reach out your hand to Jesus, and say by faith Lord, save Me!” (Matthew 14:30). He will grab your hand. The Scripture says, Whosoever shall call on the Name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). Will you, dear friend, call on Jesus right now? Ask Him to come into your life, to change your heart. Ask Jesus to save you from sin and death. He has promised to do so.

The choice is yours. You can heed the Word of God:

Accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior,
Believing that He and He alone can save you from sin and death, and
Choose to commit your life to Him.

Or you can reject Jesus. The choice is entirely up to you.

If your mother or grandmother is a child of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26), then the best Mother’s Day you could give to her is to give your soul to Jesus.

What do you choose. I close with:

Romans 10:9-13 (ESV) … if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

May God the Holy Spirit move on the hearts and lives of those under this Word of the Gospel. To grow the kingdom of God, and for the glory of Christ this I pray. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Mother's Day, Romans, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Happy Mother’s Day! Some Thoughts On The Value Of Life

Photo by Adele Morris on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to Psalm 127.

When I woke up Tuesday morning, with Mother’s Day just a few days away, I wondered what I would preach on this Wednesday night. As I checked the news God handed me the Wednesday night Bible Study. An article from a magazine called Politico entitled:

Supreme Court Has Voted To Overturn
Abortion Rights, Draft Opinion Shows

I quote: “The Supreme Court has voted to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, according to an initial draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito circulated inside the court and obtained by POLITICO.

The draft opinion is a full-throated, unflinching repudiation of the 1973 decision which guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights and a subsequent 1992 decision – Planned Parenthood v. Casey – that largely maintained the right. “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Alito writes.

We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” he writes in the document, labeled as the “Opinion of the Court.” “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

This is a first draft, and the opinion could be changed (according to the reporters). The final document is not expected to be released for about 2 months. Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the decision to overturn Roe, was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. Alito said that Roe was “egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have inflamed debate and deepened division.” If the majority of the Court holds firm, abortion laws would be left to the states – which is where they should be legislated in the first place.

I say, PRAISE GOD! Let’s stop killing babies!

Sadly there are many who are “pro choice”, who want abortion to continue to be funded by American tax dollars. Liberals – in particular liberal news organizations like NPR (National Public Radio) profess that the majority of Americans polled believe abortion should be a “right”. The truth is 22 states have laws in place to trigger a ban on abortion once Roe V Wade is overturned, with Montana expected to join in the ban soon.

Though the word “abortion” is not found in The Southern Baptist Faith & Message, in section XVIII. The Family we read:

Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord.”

Southern Baptists do not believe in nor endorse abortion.

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, writing of the Supreme Court’s decision, said:

Assuming it truly remains a majority opinion––which could still change––it means we are one step closer to ending the Roe-Casey abortion framework that has taken over 60 million innocent lives, fractured families, marginalized mothers and harmed this nation for nearly 50 years. If this majority holds, witnessing a day where that regime is ended cannot come soon enough.”

Some who profess to be Christian are pro-abortion, or as they say, “Pro-Choice”. A United Methodist Pastor Dave Barnhart craftily wrote:

You can love the unborn and advocate for them without substantially challenging your own wealth, power, or privilege, without re-imagining social structures, apologizing, or making reparations to anyone. They are, in short, the perfect people to love if you want to claim you love Jesus but actually dislike people who breathe.”

What he is doing is what most people do when they are advocating for wrong. He is redirecting and twisting the truth. This is a common ploy among the lost liberal world.

No genuine Christian hates people who breath. Genuine Christians love all life.Life is a gift from God.

Genuine Christians love all, and consider all made in the “imago dei”, that is, “In the image of God” (Genesis 1:26-27). When God made “man in our image, after our likeness” He made them “male and female”. God gave His command to “man”, which was “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion”. God did not tell mankind to just “satisfy yourself sexually”. There is satisfaction in human sexuality – God made it so. God said:

Hebrews 13:4 Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

There is pleasure in human sexuality. But the intent of the pleasure is not just to give us joy, but to “be fruitful and multiply”. What does “fruitful” mean?

Psalm 127:3 Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

Abortion became popular in America when individual pleasure became the norm instead of procreation. In short, humanity in America ignored the command of God.

In the ancient world abortion was regularly practiced. In Egypt the Pharaoh ordered the mid-wives – those who deliver the babies – that they be aborted once their gender was revealed. The King of Egypt, Pharaoh told the mid-wives who delivered babies:

Exodus 1:16-17 … When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live. 17 But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive.

When the Pharaoh – representing the government – asked why the male babies were not aborted, the mid-wives said because the Hebrew women do not need mid-wives. They deliver their own babies. The mid-wives feared God more than they feared the government. So then the government of Egypt said, “Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive”. You can read the whole story in Exodus chapter one.

Thank God that Moses’ mother
did not obey the government!

Abortion Is Murder. It Is Taking A Life.

When you take a life, you rob not just the life from an innocent, but whatever potential that child had to better society. That is the reason that God made murder a capital offense. When Noah got off the Ark God told him – and us:

Genesis 9:3-7 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. 4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. 5 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. 6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. 7 And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.

To murder someone is to shed their blood. If you shed the blood of a human unlawfully, then your blood is to be shed according to God. God says in the Scripture “the life of the flesh is IN THE BLOOD” (Leviticus 17:11). The shedding of blood is murder. Now here’s a question for you:

God said “The life of flesh is in the blood”. God said, “If you shed blood, YOUR blood will be shed”, which is the basis of capital punishment. So here’s the question.

When is BLOOD formed in a fetus?

21 days from fertilization RED BLOOD CELLS are pumped through the heart and blood vessels of the embryo. Once more, God said “The life of flesh is in the blood”. God said, “If you shed blood, YOUR blood will be shed”. 21 days.

The Merck Manual in discussing the formation of the baby notes in the section, “Development of the Embryo”: “Most organs begin to form about 3 weeks after fertilizationAt this time, the embryo elongates, first suggesting a human shape. Shortly thereafter, the area that will become the brain and spinal cord (neural tube) begins to develop. The heart and major blood vessels begin to develop earlier—by about day 16. The heart begins to pump fluid through blood vessels by day 20, and the first red blood cells appear the next day. Blood vessels continue to develop in the embryo and placenta.

King David, writing under the inspiration of God, spoke of his own birth.

Psalm 139:12-17 Yea, the darkness hideth not from Thee {O Lord}; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. 13 For Thou hast possessed my reins: Thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. 15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in Thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. 17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!

While still in his mother’s womb, David believed that God not only made him, but designed him to be what he would one day be. Thank God that King David was not aborted by his mother. When the blood of the child is spilled, that life – with all its potential to do good on this earth – is ended forever.

What Did Early Christians Believe About Abortion?

Abortion Doctor Willie Parker has said, “I believe that as an abortion provider, I am doing God’s work”. The man professes to be a Christian, and has insisted – along with others – that early Christians had nothing to say about abortion. But this is untrue. Dr. Albert Mohler in his article “The Real Story of Christianity and Abortion” writes:

The early church was decidedly, vocally, and courageously pro-life and opposed to abortion. … Both abortion and infanticide were common in the Roman Empire. Christians were forbidden to murder any child, born or unborn. … Michael J. Gorman states in Abortion and the Early Church: “All Christian writers opposed abortion.” Every mention of abortion in the early church rejects it forcefully.”

The Didache [pronounced DID-a-KAY]

Around 70-100 A.D. the early Church Apostles wrote a teaching called The Didache” (meaning “The Doctrine or Teaching”). Didache 2:1-2 states “You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not seduce boys. You shall not commit fornication. You shall not steal. You shall not practice magic. You shall not use potions. You shall not procure [an] abortion, nor destroy a newborn child.

It was not just Christians who rejected abortion, but Jews as well. The ESV Study Bible quotes the writing of the first century Jewish historian Josephus:

The law {of God} orders all the offspring to be brought up, and forbids women either to cause abortion or to make away with the fetus” (Against Apion 2.202).

Early Christian writings like The Letter of Barnabas (A.D. 130) states, “You shall not abort a child nor, again, commit infanticide”. There are many other early Christian writings that condemn abortion. Tertullian, a lawyer who became a Christian and a theologian wrote: in his book “Apologeticum”:

Murder being once for all forbidden, we [Christians] may not destroy even the fetus in the womb, while as yet the human being derives blood from other parts of the body for its sustenance. To hinder a birth is merely a speedier man killing; nor does it matter whether you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to the birth.”

Are There Other Texts In Scripture
That Address Abortion?

Yes, there are. The Prophet Jeremiah wrote:

Jeremiah 1:4-5 Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

God knows us while we are yet in the womb. Some object, saying, “But this just applied to Jeremiah”. Yes, that’s true. But Jeremiah’s mother didn’t know his destiny when she was carrying him. But God did. God has a plan for every life. Every life has potential.

Another good illustration I can think of is the life of John the Baptist. John was born to parents that, like Abraham and Sarah, were childless and past the age when they could have children (Luke 1:7). While the priest Zacharias was fulfilling his duties, the angel of the Lord came to him and told him:

Luke 1:13-17 Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. 14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. 15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. 17 And he shall go before {the Lord} in the spirit and power of {Elijah}, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Before John was ever conceived, God had a plan for John’s life. John was to go before the Lord Jesus, to start ministering 6 months prior to the Messiah. He was to be the Herald of God the Son. John the Baptist fulfilled the prophesies of Malachi 4:5-6 and Isaiah 40:3-5 (see also Mark 1:2-5; John 1:23; Matthew 3:1-3). When the virgin Mary, the mother of the humanity of Jesus Christ heard that Elisabeth her cousin was with child, she quickly went to see her. The Bible says that when Mary called out to Elisabeth:

Luke 1:41 … the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:

Elisabeth told Mary:

Luke 1:44-45 … lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.

Thank God that Elisabeth did not abort John! Thank God that Mary, the mother of Christ’s humanity, did not abort her baby!

Crafty Lies The Devil Tells,
For He Desires To Make Us Fail!

In any discussion of abortion, there is always a wolf in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15) used by the devil to trick the saints. In the Garden of Eden the devil crept in as a serpent, questioning God’s sincerity. Here’s some of the things I’ve been told as a Pastor – little lies from little serpents.

  • Elective abortion should be lawful in the event a woman is raped, or a victim of incest.

This is a favorite of politicians. I received a letter from one candidate who said he was against abortion except in cases of rape or incest. Where abortions are tracked, we discover that 98% of abortions are from consensual sex. Some states track abortion statistics. For instance, in Florida in 2018 there were 70,190 abortions reported. From that report we find that “abortions due to rape composed 0.1 percent of the total in 2018 but have fluctuated from 0.08 percent (2015) to 1.6 percent (2012) of all abortions reported in Florida”.

Rape is a horrible crime against another human, for both men and women have been raped. Rapists were executed in ancient Israel (Deuteronomy 22:25). Rape carries with it a horrible scarring on the soul of the victim. Even so, should the child produced by the rape be punished for the evil? This is something the mother should certainly pray over before taking the abortive step. Killing the child will not kill the memory of the rape. Killing the child will, however, take a human life, while robbing the world of the potential that child had.

  • Elective abortion should be lawful in the event it is necessary to save the life of the mother.

Referring to the same Floridastudy we saw earlier, we are told that “abortions categorized as due to the mother’s physical health jumped from 0.1 percent in 2016 to one percent in 2017 and 1.5 percent in 2018”. Most nations legal systems recognize that treatment to save a mother’s life is not the same as killing an unwanted child. Again, the mother should seek God’s direction through prayer before taking the life of her child. Loving my wife and children, I would gladly take a bullet for them that they might live. I believe that most mothers – if given the choice – would give their lives so that their children might live.

  • When the fetus is aborted, it doesn’t feel any pain.

The Journal Of Medical Ethics produced an article by Neuroscientist Stuart W.G. Derbyshire and Army Physician Assistant John C. Bockmann entitled “Reconsidering Fetal Pain”. They wrote:

Overall, the evidence, and a balanced reading of that evidence, points towards an immediate and unreflective pain experience mediated by the developing function of the nervous system from as early as 12 weeks. That moment is not categorical, fetal development is continuous and not an event, and we recognize that some evidence points towards an immediate and unreflective pain not being possible until later. Nevertheless, we no longer view fetal pain (as a core, immediate, sensation) in a gestational window of 12–24 weeks as impossible based on the neuroscience. … Given the evidence that the fetus might be able to experience something like pain during later abortions, it seems reasonable that the clinical team and the pregnant woman are encouraged to consider fetal analgesia {when performing abortions}. … Fetal analgesia and anesthesia should thus be standard for abortions in the second trimester, especially after 18 weeks when there is good evidence for a functional connection from the periphery and into the brain.

  • If abortion is not a constitutional “right”, tens of thousands of women will die each year from illegal “back alley” abortions.

When liberals learned that the Supreme Court had overturned Roe V Wade (though this is not settled as of yet), some of the comments were “Amazon is going to run out of coat hangers”. Dr. Bernard Nathanson who was instrumental in convincing America to repeal the abortion laws and to pass Roe, later wrote an essay called “Confessions Of An Ex-Abortionist”:

The number of women dying from illegal abortions {before Roe V Wade} was around 200-250 annually. The figure constantly fed to the media was 10,000. These false figures took root in the consciousness of Americans convincing many that we needed to crack the abortion law. Another myth we fed to the public through the media was that legalizing abortion would only mean that the abortions taking place illegally would then be done legally. In fact, of course, abortion is now being used as a primary method of birth control in the U.S. and the annual number of abortions has increased by 1500% since legalization.”

I could go on and on, for the devil is very good at twisting the truth. The truth is – a truth we in America need to rediscover – is that life matters. ALL life matters. Black lives matter. Red lives matter. Yellow lives matter. White lives matter. Unborn lives matter. Regardless as to how loud the liberal screams and protests, regardless as to whether we see more “peaceful – but fiery protests” on television – life is precious. God has a purpose for every life. I pray daily that we as a nation would come back to this great truth.

Happy Mother’s day! For the glory of God, and the advancement of our great nation, I pray these words would touch your hearts. Pray with me that the Supreme Court will hold the line and overturn Roe V Wade, sending the question back to each state’s legislature. This is where the question should have been dealt with from the beginning. Through His Spirit, Amen and amen!

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Saving Our Nation

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Turn with me in your Bibles to Jeremiah Chapter Five.

The Book of Jeremiah is the longest book in the Bible. By counting the number of words in Hebrew or Greek, Jeremiah has 33,002 words, whereas Genesis has 32,046. Jeremiah is also a very difficult book to read – and few Christians have ever read or contemplated its words. Most believers look at the Book and think, “This only deals with Israel and Judah – not with the Church. Jeremiah wrote to a people under the Old Covenant of works. The Christian and the Church are under the New Covenant – so there’s nothing here for me”.

I disagree. The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:11 that the things which happened to Israel and Judah are examples for us in the Church Age (1 Corinthians 10:11). Further, the Apostle wrote:

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

When the Evangelist Stephen (Acts 6:8) preached Christ at the “synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians” just prior to his martyrdom, Stephen referred to Moses and Israel, saying:

Acts 7:37-38 … Moses … said unto the children of Israel, a Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear. THIS {JESUS} IS HE, that was in the CHURCH IN THE WILDERNESS with the angel which spake to him in Mount Sinai

Israel was the “Church in the wilderness”, God’s Old Covenant people. Jeremiah is speaking directly to Israel and Judah – but his words also apply to God’s people today. Just as Israel and Judah walked away from God in the days of Jeremiah, the Church in America has walked away from God today.

Our nation and our churches are falling apart because we have forsaken the “Way of the Lord”.

Judgment is coming to Israel and Judah because they have forsaken God. I truly believe judgment is coming to America – and the American Church – if we do not return to the “Way of the Lord”.

Jeremiah 5:1-5 Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it. 2 And though they say, The Lord liveth; surely they swear falsely. 3 O Lord, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return. 4 Therefore I said, Surely these are poor; they are foolish: for they know not the way of the Lord, nor the judgment of their God. 5 I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the Lord, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds.

To Save The Nation, Believers Must Follow God

As we watch the news with horror, and see how radical racism and aberrant sexual practices have taken over our nation, the one thing I hear Christians say is “We’ve got to do something”. Yes, we do. The first thing we as Christians need to do is to “fully return to God”.

As God contemplates the destruction of Israel and Judah, He looks for something. What does God look for? Read again:

Jeremiah 5:1 Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it.

God told Jeremiah to go throughout the nation. He said Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem. Go looking. Look for what? God said, find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it. Look for one person. Do you see even one person who executes judgment and seeks the truth. What is God talking about? He is asking Jeremiah to question professing believers, and see if there is even one that agrees with what HE, GOD BELIEVES. God expects the unbeliever to abide in darkness. God will eventually pour out His wrath on those who disregard His Holy Word. The Scripture says:

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

God will pour out His wrath on all ungodliness, that is, against any action that has not been sanctioned by God. God will pour out His wrath on unrighteousness of men, the things that people do that are not right according to God’s Word. God has a standard, and His standard is clearly revealed in this Bible. God has determined what is right and what is wrong. God has decreed righteousness, and godliness.

It is true that we are all broken. It is true that our works cannot save us. It is the Cross of Christ that saves us. It is our faith in the Blood that was shed on Calvary that saves us. As the Scripture says:

Romans 3:21-28 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. 27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

We are justified by faith in Jesus’ work on Calvary. We are made right in God’s eyes because we love His Son, and receive Him as Lord and Savior. But hear me: ONCE SAVED, we are SAVED TO BE SET APART. We do not walk in darkness anymore. We walk with God. We walk yielded to God. Praise God, any can be saved, for Jesus died for whosoever will. Again the Scripture declares:

Romans 10:12-13 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Salvation is a gift which brings you into union with God. You are “children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26). But once saved, you become the property of God. You do not belong to yourself. He is your Father, and you are His son. As a son, you are called to walk according to God’s established righteousness. The same Apostle who wrote of the freedom of salvation also warned:

Romans 2:3-11 … thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? 4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds: 7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life: 8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, 9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; 10 But glory, honor, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: 11 For there is no respect of persons with God.

There is no respect of persons with God”. Once saved, you are called to walk WITH God, not against God. God will “will render to every man according to his deeds”. If you do righteously, as a child of God should do, “To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life”. God blesses the believer who walks with Him. But what of those who do NOT do righteously, following Christ? The Word is clear. “unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil”.

You cannot be a Christian and be blessed while rejecting God’s commandments. This is true for both the Old as well as the New Covenants. What did God tell His Church in the Wilderness?

Deuteronomy 10:12-13 (ESV) And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?

We are to fear the Lord our God. We are to walk in ALL His ways. We are to loveandserve the Lord Who saved us. “But”, you say belligerently, “This is the Old Covenant. We are under the New Covenant, the Covenant of Christ!” Fine, what did Jesus say? What do we find under the New Covenant? Jesus said:

John 14:15 (ESV) If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

John 15:10 (ESV) If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

Whether in the Old or New Testament, the believer is required to keep God’s commandments. When the Corinthian Church began to get away from the commandments of God, the Apostle said:

2 Corinthians 6:16-18 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

God expects His children to follow Him. He told Jeremiah to look, and if he found just one who followed, thenI will pardon it. God would withhold judgment if Jeremiah could find just one besides himself. When Abraham pled for Sodom (Genesis 18:16-33), God said “If there are ten righteous, I will not destroy it”. But our Lord is much more generous here. Just one. But there was none.

Jeremiah 5:2 And though they say, The Lord liveth; surely they swear falsely.

They did not truly believe that the Lord liveth, for if they truly believed He lived, they would repent and return to Him. They have drifted away from God.

To Save The Nation, Believers Must Return To God

Jeremiah 5:3 O Lord, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.

God brought discipline on the nation because His people would not return to Him. And yet, rather than receive correction, they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.

And yet God loves His people, and calls on them to return to Him. We read:

Jeremiah 3:1 They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the Lord.

Among humans, if a man has a wife who steps out on him, who even goes so far as to divorce him so she can be with another lover, that man would never accept her back. I’ve actually seen this in my ministry, the bitterness that comes when there is infidelity. AND YET GOD said, “Even though you have done this to Me – I will receive you back”.

The relationship that God has with His believers is just as intimate – if not more so – than a relationship between a man and wife. The stepbrother of Christ writes:

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

God wants all of our hearts. When we step away from God’s Word and begin to receive the vain philosophies and empty alleged truths of this world, we offend our God Who loves us so. It is like we are spiritually cheating on Him. Many church groups and Christians today have compromised on things which God has declared sinful.

It starts as a trickle. But in time, the tiny hole in the dam leads to catastrophic failure. This is how sin does. When sin creeps into a family, it is not long before it takes over the whole family. When sin creeps into the Church and the denomination, it is not long before that which was once done in the dark is now proudly displayed in the light. This has been true in our nation of:

heterosexual sin (fornication)
homosexual sin (LGBTQ2S+)
transgender sin
abortion
drug and alcohol use

And many other wrongs. God forbids it, declaring it immoral. And yet those who profess to be Children of God have begun to normalize sins like these and others. If God condemns an action, it is always wrong (for example, see Galatians 5:19-21; Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:24-28; 1 Corinthians 6:9; Matthew 19:18; Genesis 39:7-9; Exodus 20:14). God says to the wandering believer:

Jeremiah 3:12-15 … Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger for ever. 13 Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the Lord. 14 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: 15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.

If we have wandered, God calls us to repent and return to Him. We are to open our hearts to His Word, to hear the messengers, the pastors that God has sent to us. We are not to trust in the things of this world, but in the Scripture, the Word of God.

The salvation of our nation will come from God.

Jeremiah 3:22-23 Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the Lord our God. 23 Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: truly in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel.

Only God can heal our nation.

Let Us Walk In The Way Of The Lord

Jeremiah 5:4-5 Therefore I said, Surely these are poor; they are foolish: for they know not the way of the Lord, nor the judgment of their God. 5 I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the Lord, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds.

Word Study: God expects His Children to walk in HIS Way, not in ours. The one who does not know the way of the Lord is first calledpoor. This is the Hebrew דַּל dal, {pronounced dal}, which means “weak, thin, dangling”. The other adjective is foolish, the Hebrew יָאַל yâʼal, {pronounced yaw-al’}, which means “to be slack or simple minded”. Those who do not know the way of the Lord will be easily duped by the world. Jeremiah could find none who loved God’s Word, and trusted in it. God calls His people to repent and return to His way.

God’s way is always right. God’s Word is always true. Let us cling to Him. Let us both hear and do His Word. Our salvation is found in following the Lord Who saved us, in heeding and doing His Word. The Apostle said that we are to live …

1 Peter 2:16 … As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.

Iniquity (sin) in the life of the believer turns away the blessings of God. Let us, like the Prodigal Son of Luke 15:11-32 come to our senses and return to our Father. There is where the blessings are! Confess sin as soon as you recognize it, believer, and put it under the Blood of Christ. There is hope for America still , but it begins with us. We must return to the way of the Lord. We must walk with Him as did Enoch and Elijah, as did Daniel and the Hebrew children. We must walk with out God, having faith in Him, but not fearing the world.

Our God will triumph! Iniquity will turn away the blessings of God (Jeremiah 5:25). Let us therefor confess our sin, and walk in His Word. May God the Holy Spirit move through this, His Word, this very day. Amen and Amen! For the glory of Christ!

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Choose You This Day

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Turn with me in your Bibles to Joshua chapter 24.

Joshua is an old man now, ready to retire as the General of Israel’s Army. Joshua made a decision as a young man to follow God. He has led Israel through battle after battle, to victory after victory, because he followed the Lord. At the end of the road Joshua had many more blessings than he had cursings. Why? Because he chose to follow God. He chose to rest in God’s Grace.

Someone asked me the other day, “If God is all powerful, if God is everywhere, and if God is ultimately in control, then why is our country – our world – in such a mess.”

The problem is not God’s, but ours. God is gracious. God is faithful. And we consistently keep choosing to walk apart from God. You are the sum of all the choices you have made in life. And Beloved, you are responsible for the choices you make.

Joshua is resigning as the leader of Israel. He wants to share the secret of his success. We read:

Joshua 24:1 … And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God.

Joshua brings ALL ISRAEL to Shechem. Shechem is an interesting place. The Bible tells us that …

  • Shechem is the place where God promised Abraham the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:6-7), and there Abraham built an altar to God.
  • One of Abraham’s descendants named Jacob purchased land there, and dug a well. It is at Jacob’s Well that Jesus would meet a woman of Samaria (John 4:5-6) and present Himself as Messiah.
  • When Joseph (of the coat of many colors) dies in Egypt, he makes Israel promise not to bury his bones anywhere but in the Promised Land. Joseph’s bones will be buried in Shechem (Joshua 24:32).

Shechem represents GRACE. God shares with Israel all the instances where He bestowed GRACE – undeserved mercy – on them.

God Speaks GRACE At Shechem

Joshua 24:2-7 And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods. 3 And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac. [This is GRACE.] 4 And I gave unto Isaac {sons} Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir to possess it; [remember that Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of lentils? This is GRACE.] but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt. 5 I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought you out. 6 And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: [God saved Israel from Egypt. This is GRACE.] and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea. 7 And when they cried unto the Lord, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt: and ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season. [even though Israel betrayed God, He loved Israel. This is GRACE.]

Everything that God recounts to Israel – His people – is GRACE. When God called Abraham, it was not because Abraham deserved it. This is GRACE. Oh, how gracious our God is. “For from His fullness we have all received, GRACE upon GRACE (John 1:16). God called, and Abraham followed. God called, and Jacob followed. When you follow God, you follow GRACE upon GRACE.

When was Peter, James, and John blessed in the life of Christ? When Jesus said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” – and they followed!

When was the Apostle Matthew blessed of Christ? When Jesus told him, “Follow Me” – and Matthew got up from the tax collection table and followed. God forces no one to follow Him. When we follow the Lord, we enjoy the benefits of Grace. When we heed His command, and choose to obey Him, this is when the salvation starts.

Joshua wanted Israel to know this great truth. I want you to know this great truth. When you follow the Lord, Grace abounds. When you follow the Lord, the enemy is defeated. God said …

Joshua 24:11 … I delivered them into your hand.

Listen to these Gracious and Faithful words of God to His people. He told them:

Joshua 24:13 … I have given you a land for which ye did not labor, [this is GRACE] and cities which ye built not, [this is GRACE] and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and olive yards which ye planted not do ye eat. [this is GRACE]

Everything that Israel had, they had because of the Grace of God. Everything that Israel accomplished, they accomplished because they followed God.

Do You Choose Grace? Then you must follow God. Joshua, that old warrior, speaks, saying:

Joshua 24:14-15 Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity 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. 15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Everyone Follows Someone or Something
Choose Carefully Who You Follow

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

Life is all about choices, and you WILL serve someone or something. The Apostle Paul told the Church at Rome:

Romans 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

If you follow SIN, that is, what God has said is WRONG and UNRIGHTEOUS, then you will not find GRACE but DEATH. It’s your choice. It’s my choice. We can choose to serve the gods of this world, whatever they might be, and they lead to nothingness and death. The Bible is very clear that to follow any god but the God of Scripture is to go down a dark and empty valley. Before Israel entered the Promised Land with Jacob, Moses told the people:

Deuteronomy 30:15-20 (ESV) … “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 17 BUTif your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish.19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days

Where God is, there is GRACE. Where GRACE is, there is LIFE. Jesus said:

John 5:40 (ESV) … you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

John 10:10 (ESV) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that {my sheep} may have life and have it abundantly.

The thief is the person who attempts to trick you into following idols. The thief is the false prophet who tells you that you may be saved and yet continue to hold on to your old gods. Beloved, the devil is a liar! “When the devil lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44).

God NEVER promised salvation and GRACE apart from following Him. The believer is to follow the Lord. The believer is to follow Christ.

The choice is yours – but you must choose. No one can make the choice for you. Hear what the great Evangelist Billy Graham said:

When you come to Christ, you must give up all other gods.”

You choose the master you will follow. Joshua said, choose YOU THIS DAY Who you will SERVE. The choice is yours. But you are responsible for your choices. What you do effects not only you, but your family, your church.

Make the choice. You have free will to choose. Make a choice.

Matthew 6:19-21, 24Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. … 24 No {one} 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.

Some say, “I am a free man. I serve NO master.” That’s not true. If you do not serve God, then you are serving the gods, you are serving sin. Before a person meets Christ they are “servants of sin”. Giving your allegiance to Jesus, you are …

Romans 6:18 … made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

If you are saved, your god is not sin but the Savior. When you were the servants of sin, you were free from righteousness” (Romans 6:20). But once you come to Christ your allegiance is to be to God your Savior. The Apostle said,

Romans 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

Choose you this day whom you will serve! God gives you the freedom to choose. Choose God and Grace.

Salvation is a gift from God, but you must go to Him to receive it. You must reject the false gods. You must not follow yourself as a god. Didn’t Jesus say:

Mark 8:34-38 Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. 36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

We Are Saved From This World To
“Fear” The Living God!

Joshua 24:14 Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity 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.

God demands first place in our lives. Israel was saved from Egypt to “serve the Living God”. The Christian is saved from this world “to serve the Living God”. This is why Christ died. He died not just to get you into Heaven, but to get HEAVEN INTO YOU. Last week I spoke on without shedding of blood is no remission {of sin}” (Hebrews 9:22). But the Blood of Christ goes beyond just a covering for sin. We read in:

Hebrews 9:14 … the blood of Christ … purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Israel saved from Egypt was not to be double minded. The Christian saved from the world is not to be double minded. We belong to God – we are bought with a price – His Blood.

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

When you come to God, you become God’s possession, God’s Child. The Blood of Jesus Christ cleanses you from all sin. You are no longer an idol maker, but you are an idol breaker. (I got that from Billy Graham :).

Joshua 24:14 Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity 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.

The phrases fear the Lord or fear God are found frequently throughout the WHOLE Bible – not just in the Old Testament. The Apostle commanded:

Colossians 3:22-24 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eye service, as pleasanter; but in singleness of heart, fearing God; 23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

And again,

1 Peter 2:15-18 {It} is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. 17 Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God.

The Angels of God cry out:

Revelation 14:7 … Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

When we “Fear God”, we recognize and respect God as God, and seek to please Him as sons and daughters.

Pastor Justin Camp of Gather Ministries notes:

“… what does it mean to fear God? Well, mostly it means keeping our thinking straight. It means seeing God, in all his power, in proper relation and proportion to the people and problems in this world. Though we sometimes act as if he were, God isn’t smaller than financial hardship, difficult work situations, difficulties with children. He’s not equal to them. He’s so much bigger, so much more powerful, even comparing doesn’t make sense. He’s alpha and omega. He’s the beginning and the end of everything. What’s astonishing is this fearsome God, for some reason, chooses to love each of us with a fierce love—a love that’s good and will never relent.”

To “fear” God is to put Him first and foremost. A rich young ruler came to Jesus one day …

Mark 10:17 … came one running, and knelt to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?

Jesus told the young man:

Mark 10:18-23 … Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. 19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honor thy father and mother. 20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. 21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. 22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. 23 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!

Jesus loved that young man. But that young man had a god – riches – and he was not willing to release that god and follow Jesus. Do you want to inherit eternal life? Then you need to understand there is none good but one, that is, God. This is why Jesus Christ died on the Cross of Calvary. He died, giving up His perfect and sinless life for ours. Jesus Christ is WITHOUT SIN (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus was “offered to bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:28).

It is only by kneeling at His feet we receive salvation from sin. It is only by our unconditional surrender to Him that we have …

Romans 3:21-25 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a {covering or atonement} through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

We bend the knee to Jesus. We put away all gods that we once followed, and surrender to the God of Scripture. King David wrotein Psalm 51:5, “I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. We are born to sin. When we reach the age of accountability we choose to sin. We practice sin daily, redefining it and getting better at it. We must have the Savior. We must have Jesus.

God made a choice to provide salvation for us through Jesus Christ. We must now make a choice that we will put away our gods, and come to Jesus surrendered. The Prophet said: I set before you the way of life, and the way of death” (Jeremiah 21:8). Moses said, “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. Joshua said, choose you this day whom ye will serve” (Joshua 24:15). Jesus said,

Matthew 7:13-14 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Choose To Run In The Right Direction:
Jesus Calls You To Him!

Joshua 24:14 Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity 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.

Illustrate: On October 25, 1964 Jim Marshall of the Minnesota Vikings took a fumbled football 66 yards in the wrong direction into his own end zone. Though the Vikings went on to win against the San Francisco 49ers, Marshall was – needless to say – mortified. Jim was sincere. He was certain. He was positive that he was right. And he was absolutely wrong.

We must choose Jesus. We must choose to give our lives to God. What does this look like?

  • We REPENT. We turn away from the gods of this world, and acknowledge that we are weak, sinful, and totally unable to do any good without Christ’s intervention.
  • We RECEIVE Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. As Billy Graham once defined faith, he said, “We put our whole weight on Jesus”.
  • We daily RUN OUR RACE looking unto Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). We follow Jesus. We do this publicly, and unashamedly every day of our lives. We believe what our Lord said,

John 14:6 … I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE: no one comes to the Father BUT BY ME.

You cannot sit on the fence and expect to be blessed. You must CHOOSE God. You must CHOOSE Jesus. James said, “A double minded person is unstable in all their ways” (James 1:8). Choose life. Choose Jesus. Let not the double minded think that they shall receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:7). We must surrender to the Lord. It is not me you are surrendering to. I am nothing. But like Joshua, I can tell you – God is faithful. Jesus never leaves us. He has never left me. So I repeat the words of Joshua:

Joshua 24:15 … as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

What about you? May God through His Spirit touch your hearts with His Word. To Jesus Christ be the glory forever! Amen and Amen!

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A Prayer Against The Bully

Photo by Ilayza on Unsplash

Tonight we’ll be in Psalm 70. Psalm 70 is a very interesting prayer of David. It isn’t long – just five verses – but it is a prayer that many of us can identify with. Let’s prayerfully read the prayer first, asking the Spirit of God to guide us:

Psalm 70:1-5 Make haste, o God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O Lord. 2 Let them be ashamed and confounded that seek after my soul: let them be turned backward, and put to confusion, that desire my hurt. 3 Let them be turned back for a reward of their shame that say, Aha, aha. 4 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified. 5 But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: thou art my help and my deliverer; O Lord, make no tarrying.

David, though a King, was being bullied.
Anyone can be bullied.

Word Study: To “bully” someone is, according to “Oxford Languages”, is “to seek to harm, intimidate, or coerce (someone perceived as vulnerable)”. The “bully” seeks out someone he or she perceives is weaker to push around in order to build up his or her self esteem or ego. Anyone can be bullied. Though David is the King of Israel, he was being bullied by others. We don’t know exactly WHO was bullying David – maybe a member of his cabinet, or perhaps it was his son Absalom who was rebelling against his throne. We don’t know, but we can say for sure:

Your position or place in life does not protect you from the bullies. Bullies target perceived weaknesses in those
around them in order to make themselves feel
more worthy or valuable.

We live in a day where bullying is king – particularly on social media. Bullies hide behind electronic walls, attacking those they disagree with. Sadly today people no longer have civil discussions over weighty matters. We are “feeling” driven as a people.

When someone does not agree with my “feeling”, the acceptable practice is to bully until your opponent is shamed into agreeing with you.

Children are bullied in schools. I grew up being bullied, up until the age of 17 when I met the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. Jesus taught me that I was cherished, and that I was to stand up against the bullies. When I did, the bullies quickly backed down and sought easier prey. But bullies still abound. A scholarly article in the Journal of Adolescent Health calledBullying and Suicide: A Public Health Approachnotes: “Several recent studies have found an association between bullying and depression or bullying and suicide-related behaviors …” Both the child who bullies and the child who is bullied have self esteem problems. An article on School Counseling notes, “In regards to bullying, 87% of school shooting perpetrators left behind evidence that they were victims of severe bullying.”

Bullies are found in politics. I watched one presidential candidate bully another during the presidential debates several years ago. One candidate “dominated” the other by rudeness, by interruption, by “cutting off” the other candidate. The bully lost the election.

Bullies are found in religion. Rarely did our Lord Jesus teach where He was not interrupted and second guessed by pushy Pharisees, Scribes, Sadducees, and Priests. Though Jesus pushed back, the bullies in time gathered enough momentum to where they could have Jesus executed. The Apostle Peter told these same bullies:

Acts 2:22-23 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain

Though evil bullying killed Jesus, God still controlled the outcome to secure our salvation through Christ’s death. Nonetheless, the bullying was still wicked.

Rather than turn to a human solution to what he was suffering, King David turned to God in prayer. What is interesting is that …

This Is The Second Time David Prayed This Prayer

This is not the first time this prayer was prayed. The superscription to this prayer notes, “A Psalm of David, to bring to remembrance”. In Psalm 40 David prays this same prayer – almost word to word:

Psalm 40:13-17 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me: O Lord, make haste to help me. 14 Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil. 15 Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame that say unto me, Aha, aha. 16 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The Lord be magnified. 17 But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.

The commentator and Bible Teacher J. Vernon McGee wrote, “Why repeat {Psalm 40:13-17} here? Because my memory is not very good, and God knew it wouldn’t be. I can imagine that God said, ‘By the time McGee gets to this point in the Book of Psalms he will have forgotten all about Psalm 40, so I’ll repeat it {McGee, 2:790}”. That’s amusing, and it’s meant to be. God has David repeat it because it reinforces that – when we are bullied or made to feel less than by someone’s arrogance, our refuge is to be not tit for tat, but to seek God’s face.

David Sought God’s Presence
While Bullies Sought His Destruction

Psalm 70:1-2 Make haste, o God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O Lord. 2 Let them be ashamed and confounded that seek after my soul: let them be turned backward, and put to confusion, that desire my hurt.

As David prays against those who seek after my soul, he does not pray that his enemy be killed. There are other times when David prays for the death of the wicked. Consider:

Psalm 55:12-15 For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: 13 But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. 14 We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company. 15 Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.

David prayed death against those who, like Judas Iscariot, pretended love but were secretly seeking his demise. There are other texts where David prayed for the destruction of his enemies, such as in Psalm 69:28 and 109:8. These are called imprecatory Psalms. Why did David NOT call for the destruction of his enemies here?

I think it has to do with the glory of God, and the spread of God’s Kingdom.

Our God wants to save as many as will come to Him in faith. Our God would prefer that the enemies of the Gospel be converted rather than be crushed. David prayed for the destruction of the enemy only when that enemy was so far gone from God that their destruction would aid the growth of God’s Kingdom.

Some are so hardened that there is no hope. The Hitlers, the Stalins, the Judas Iscariots have concreted their heart in faithlessness. But God seeks the conversion of whosoever will. The Scripture says:

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is … not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance …

God so loved THE WORLD that He gave His Only Begotten Son (John 3:16). There are very few instances where God would honor a prayer that the enemy die. Jesus told us that we are to …

Matthew 5:44-48 (ESV) But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (see also Luke 6:27-38)

There are times when a prayer should be imprecatory – that is – calling down the catastrophic judgment of God. The Apostle Paul said of the false prophets who twisted the Gospel:

Galatians 1:9 (ESV) As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Word Study: That word accursed is the Greek ἀνάθεμα anáthema, (pronounced an-ath’-em-ah), meaning “to be put under the greatest curse”.

David sought God’s comforting presence. He wanted God to come to his aid.

Psalm 70:1 Make haste, o God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O Lord.

Word Study: David asks God to come quickly and do two things: to deliver David, and to help David. The word translated deliver is the Hebrewנָצַל nâtsal, {pronounced naw-tsal’}, which means “to take me away from, to rescue me, to snatch me up”. David is praying that God would take him out of the presence of the bullies. The word does not mean to kill, but to render that person ineffective. When Jacob in later years was going to meet his brother Esau, a brother he tricked, Jacob prayed:

Genesis 32:11 Deliver me {nâtsal}, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.

Jacob meant no harm to his brother, but prayed that God would change the heart of the hunter-warrior Esau into a heart that would not kill him. Further in the Bible, when Joseph’s brothers cast him into a pit and were going to kill him, his brother …

Genesis 37:21 … Reuben heard it, and he DELIVERED {{nâtsal},} {Joseph} out of {his brother’s} hands; and said, Let us not kill him ..

David prayed that those who were attacking him would be changed into those who were not attacking him. David also asked God to help{עֶזְרָה ʻezrâh, [pronounced ez-raw’]} or ASSIST him. When we are attacked, our first go-to is to attack back. If hit with a stick, we want to hit with a 2×4. David was asking God to minister to his soul, while removing the power of the bully (though not killing him).

David prayed that the enemy would see
the error of their ways.

Psalm 70:2 Let them be ashamed and confounded that seek after my soul: let them be turned backward, and put to confusion, that desire my hurt.

Word Study: David wanted his attackers to be ashamed is the Qal Imperfect ofבּוּשׁ bûwsh, [pronounced boosh], which means “to be delayed, to be disappointed in”. He prayed they would not be gratified. The word confounded is the Hebrewחָפֵר châphêr, [pronounced khaw-fare’], which means “to be ashamed or put to shame”. This same word is used again in the phrase put to confusion – again, it means “to be put to shame”. David is asking God to stifle his enemy’s efforts, to cause their attempts to backfire on them. As they knit a net of evil to entrap David, David prays that the enemy be turned backward. That is, that they would be caught in their own snare!

Psalm 70:3 Let them be turned back for a reward of their shame that say, Aha, aha.

David prayed that those who found found fault with Him be turned back for a reward of their shame. That their efforts would go no where but into the dust bin of history. We who are Christians are to never avenge ourselves. The Apostle said in another place:

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.

We are not called to eradicate evil nor to kill evil, but to overcome evil with good. We are called to love even the unlovely, to forego vengeance. God will take vengeance on all unbelievers when they pass out of thus life. God is the Judge. We are to do good, and pray.

Psalm 70:3 Let them be turned back for a reward of their shame that say, Aha, aha.

Those who said Aha, aha are those who, watching David, find fault by which they can condemn and mock him. The phrase Aha, aha is also found in:

Psalm 35:20-22 … they speak not peace: but they devise deceitful matters against them that are quiet in the land. 21 Yea, they opened their mouth wide against me, and said, Aha, aha, our eye hath seen it. 22 This thou hast seen, O Lord: keep not silence: O Lord, be not far from me.

Though We Are Tried, Let God’s Glory
Be Our Driving Force

Psalm 70:4 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified.

In the midst of his suffering, David prays that others would find the Lord, and the salvation that comes through Him. God is not magnified when our enemies are killed. God is magnified – His power is glorified – when our enemies are converted to become our brothers and sisters in Christ. When we are suffering under the hand of life’s bullies, we need to remember our Lord Jesus, when He preached from the pulpit of His Cross:

Luke 23:34 … Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

The crowd minimized and mocked Christ because sin blinded them to Who He is. Sin blinds the bully today from understanding that ALL are created in God’s image. This includes that bully. The only cure for what the bully is doing is a new heart – and only Christ can give him or her that new heart. Let us, like Jesus, pray for the conversion of the lost. As the lost are saved, the King of Christ grows, and evil diminishes.

In the midst of trials, let us pray and praise our God. The great Chinese Church Leader Watchman Nee wrote:

We have seen that our praise is a sacrifice. But there is more. We have to see that praising is the way to overcome spiritual attacks. Many people say that Satan is afraid of the prayers of God’s children; he flees whenever God’s children kneel down to pray. This is why he often attacks God’s children and frustrates them from praying. This is a common attack. But we will point out another fact: Satan’s greatest attacks are not aimed at prayers; his greatest attacks are aimed at praise. … Satan does not attack just prayer; he also attacks the praise of God’s children. The ultimate goal of Satan is to stop all praises to God. Prayer is a warfare, but praise is a victory. Prayer signifies spiritual warfare, but praise signifies spiritual victory. Whenever we praise, Satan flees. Therefore, Satan hates our praising the most. He will use all his strength to stop our praising. … even a Philippian jail can become a place of songs (Acts 16:25). Paul and Silas were praising God inside the jail cell. Their praise broke loose all the jail doors.”

Let us cast ourselves upon God our Savior! David closes the prayer as he started it:

Psalm 70:5 But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: thou art my Help and my Deliverer; O Lord, make no tarrying.

David bows himself dpadown to God. He describes himself as poor” {עָנִי ʻânîy, [pronounced aw-nee’]}, that is, “wretched” and needy” {אֶבְיוֹן ʼebyôwn, [pronounced eb-yone’]}, that is, “a beggar man”. David is casting himself before God, seeking the glory of God. We as His children need to do the same. May God touch your hearts with His Word! God is our Portion forever. Amen and Amen!

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My People Have …

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Jeremiah 2:11-13 Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. 12 Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord. 13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

The Serpent Entices Us To Trade Value For Vanity

Illustrate: Before the service, make up some slips of paper with $100 on it. When starting the service, use these slips to make the sermon point: “Do you remember that old game show ‘Let’s Make A Deal’. During the original show Monty Hall would entice people, giving them something to start, and then tempting them to switch what they had – the thing with obvious value – for something hidden under a box or behind a curtain. Do you remember? Well, let’s play ‘Let’s Make A Deal’. Does anyone have a $10 bill? If you do, hold it up. Now, I hold in my hand what I “believe” to be a hundred dollar bill. I “feel” that it’s a hundred dollar bill. I “identify” this as a hundred dollar bill. Who would like to make a little money today? If you’ll give me that ten dollar bill, I’ll give you this note that I “believe – feel – identify” to be a hundred dollars. That’s a deal! Let’s make a deal!”

Only the foolish would exchange their real money for this slip of paper I have in my hand. And yet, this is what humans have done from the beginning of creation. When God put Adam in the Garden of Eden,

God gave Adam a garden that needed no weeding, a wife that needed no clothing, and an animal kingdom that was under his direction. God gave Adam the greatest thing of all. Adam had a personal relationship with his Creator.

But God told Adam:

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

Adam had everything. Most especially, Adam was God’s Child by creation. Adam represented God on the earth. If God is King (and He is), Adam was the Prince. Adam named the animals (Genesis 2:19-20), and Adam and Eve were told:

Genesis 1:28-29 … Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. 29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

Adam and Eve were given rule over all the earth. “They were both naked … and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25). They were stewards of all creation in God’s stead. What happened? The Serpent (a picture of Satan – see Revelation 12:9 & 20:2) came into Eden and, like Monty Hall, offered Adam something in place of what he already had. Adam took the bait. He switched a ten dollar bill for a figment of his imagination hundred dollar bill. Adam didn’t just lose Eden. Adam didn’t just lose the world. Adam lost his relationship with God. Adam traded his relationship with God for something worthless.

We repeat this pattern over and over.

In the Book of Jeremiah, the Prophet is speaking to a nation (Israel), warning them that destruction is coming. Last time we were in this Book, we were in chapter one. There God gave Jeremiah two visions. He had the vision of:

Jeremiah 1:11 … a rod of an almond tree

This symbolized that God was watching His people, and would “hasten My Word to perform it” (Jeremiah 1:12). What God promises, He does. When Adam ate that which was forbidden, Adam immediately died – that is – lost his relationship with his Creator. This was what God promised. This is what God would do. God will bring a rod to His people if they will not repent. The second vision God gives Jeremiah is:

Jeremiah 1:13 … a seething pot; and the face thereof is toward the north.

A whistling tea kettle is pointing northward. God will use the nations of Babylon and Assyria to punish His people for refusing to repent. God said that – using these nations:

Jeremiah 1:16 I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands.

Punishment will come to God’s people. God is not speaking to the lost. God is not warning the lost. God is warning His people. God is not addressing the lost. He said:

Jeremiah 2:11 Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.

He is comparing His nation, His people to the other nations of the world. The other nations, the nations filled with lost people, do not change their gods, though their gods are but idols, the creation of their hands.

The lost have always created gods to follow after.

The lost followers of Moloch and Baal do not trade in their gods, but sacrifice to them. The lost followers of the gods of evolution, abortion {so called “women’s reproductive rights”}, of wokeness will not change their gods. An article by Michael Vlahos published in Humanitas (volume XXXIV Nos 1-2 2021) states:

“What does it mean to be woke? First and foremost, “woke” is a religious signal that you have heard the Good News and Seen the Light. Awakening means both witnessing revealed truth and experiencing spiritual transformation. Today this has taken the form of a collective enunciation: Of a new national church, reformed and transformed, to replace the original American sect, which is wicked and corrupted. … In simple, practical terms, the Church of Woke is pledged to the destruction of Racism, Patriarchy, and Heteronormativity.”

This darkness has crept into churches all across America. Certainly as believers in Christ we do not affirm racism. We believe that “God is love” (1 John 4:7-8) does not just apply to one race, but to all peoples regardless of color. Jesus said:

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

Jesus came and gave His life to us regardless as to race. Racism is a direct contradiction to the Gospel. But what of what wokeism calls “Patriarchy, and Heteronormativity”? The Bible is clearly patriarchal.

God is called Father, not Mother.
The first created & commanded was Adam, not Eve.
Sin entered the world because of Adam’s disobedience – not Eve’s.
Romans 5:12 .. by one MAN sin entered the world, and death by sin
The FATHER of faith is a MAN (Romans 4:11-12, 16)
Sin’s solution was that one Man had to die for the sinner.
Romans 5:19 .. by the obedience of JESUS shall many be made right
The MAN is to lead in the marriage (Ephesians 5:22-24)
The MAN is to lead in the Church (1 Timothy 3:2, 12)

The Bible is not only patriarchal, but it is Heteronormative. The Church’s Founder Jesus Christ affirmed proper sexuality by quoting the Bible (Genesis 1:27):

Matthew 19:4-6 {Jesus} 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.

What was God’s design in creation? What does the Scripture – and Jesus – say? God made them “male and female”. God designed humanity from this template. There are but TWO GENDERS according to Scripture. The “man … shall cleave to his wife”. The male has the pronoun “his”. The sexuality is Heteronormative. The god of wokism says this is not true – but God in His Word affirms it to be true.

Unbelievers will not leave their false gods. They stick to the darkness. But God says:

Jeremiah 2:11 … but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.

God’s people are facing destruction in Jeremiah’s day because they have “changed their glory for that which doth not profit”. What is the “glory” of the Kingdom of God? It is God Himself. God never allowed His Old Testament people to make a statue or an idol to bow down to. He commanded His people:

Exodus 20:2-5 I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 Thou shalt have no other gods 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 thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

The lost world could make idols to bow down to, man made things to worship, but not God’s people. God was the glory of His people. God did direct His Old Covenant people to make something called “The Ark of the Covenant”. This “Ark” was a box that held the Ten Commandments, some Manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded” (Hebrews 9:4). These three things symbolize the truth that God’s people are given – because of God – His Word, His Sustenance, and His Life. The Ark, a box made of acacia wood overlaid with gold, had for it’s lid a “Mercy Seat”, an altar where blood was sprinkled once a year to cover the sins of God’s people. This Mercy Seat was the only place in the world where sin could be covered or atoned for in the sight of God (see Leviticus 16).

The Ark of the Covenant represented the person of God. Specifically, the Ark of the Covenant represented the Son of God, Jesus Christ, Who came to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).

The Prophet Simeon said of Jesus:

Luke 2:30-32 mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Jesus is the “glory” of God’s people. God became Man …

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

C.H. Spurgeon preached:

“Now, the true Israel, which are spiritually the church of Christ, are said, according to the text, to be the Lord’s people. “The glory of thy people Israel.” Briefly let me remind you, my fellow believers, of the ties which make us the Lord’s. Are we not his tonight by his eternal choice? “You only have I known of all the nations of the earth.” The eternal Father has selected us from amongst the ruins of the fall, and given us into the hands of Christ that we may be his portion, his bride, his jewels, “according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.” We are Christ’s next by redemption. He has redeemed us from among men by a special and particular redemption which is peculiar to ourselves. A price has been paid for us, an effectual price, which will not permit for a moment that the objects so purchased shall ever be lost. “Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price.” The saints are redeemed from among men. Thus are you Christ’s by double bonds — the gift of the Father, the purchase of his own blood. The Father gave you to Jesus, and none shall pluck you out of his almighty hands. You are his, too, this night by conquest. You admit it. He has struggled with your sins and overcome them. The Spirit of the living God has taken you, as it were, like a lamb from the jaws of the lion. You were led captives by the devil, but Christ met the devil and overcame him in terrific duel, and you, the once willing captives of the powers of darkness, are now Christ’s portion made free and blessed. You are now the possession of your Conqueror, for he took you out of the hand of the enemy with his sword and with his bow. You belong to Christ as the spoil which he has won from death and hell.”

Jesus Christ is the glory of God’s Kingdom.
Jesus Christ is the Glory of His people.

As the Ark had the Ten Commandments, we who are in God’s Kingdom through Christ have His Commandments.

• We have the Bible that Jesus affirmed. Jesus frequently referred to the Old Testament Scriptures by saying “It is WRITTEN” (Matthew 4:4, 6-7, 10; Matthew 21:13; Matthew 26:24, 31; Mark 7:6; 9:12-13; 14:21; Luke 7:27; 19:46; et al.)
• We have the writings of the Apostles that Jesus APPOINTED. Of the Church we are told:

Ephesians 2:19-22 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

The foundation that the Kingdom of God is built upon is not man made doctrines, but the writings of the Apostles and Prophets, with Jesus Christ Himself the Chief Cornerstone. We obey His command. Jesus said:

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

John 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

What are Christ’s commandments? They are in this Book. One of His Chief Commandments is:

John 15:12-14 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

We are commanded of God to love God FIRST and FOREMOST, but to love one another SACRIFICIALLY as Jesus SACRIFICIALLY loved us.

As the Ark had Aaron’s Rod that budded, we who are Christ’s by faith have eternal life. Those who possess eternal life are to keep God’s commandments (Matthew 19:18-21) while following Jesus. We are to walk with God. Period.

Heaven Shudders At The Evil We Lightly Pursue

Jeremiah 2:12-13 Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord. 13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

God will bring judgment on His people – His Kingdom – if they walk away from a RIGHT relationship with Him. Israel did this in the Old Testament. The Church throughout America is doing this in the New Testament.

We are to do everything we do FOR GOD.
We are to do everything we do FOR JESUS.
We are to do everything we do in THE SPIRIT’S POWER.
We are to do all that we do FOR GOD’S GLORY.

Israel forgot this. To those who are saved,

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

Christians, we do not belong to ourselves. We belong to God. Everything we visibly do should be for the intent of glorifying our Owner. God told Pharaoh:

Exodus 5:1 … Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness.

Exodus 7:16 (& Exodus 8:1) … Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness

That which God has purchased is to glorify God. We live to serve God, not ourselves. If we wish to be blessed, we are to seek to serve God FIRST. What did Jesus say?

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

Seek FIRST God’s Kingdom. Seek FIRST His glory. Seek first to DO what God has said to do. Seek FIRST to “hear Jesus’ sayings, and DO them” (Matthew 7:24-25). This is where the blessing is.

When we turn away from God’s Word, from what He has said and recorded for our benefit, we commit “two evils”. By our actions we say that God’s Word is not true to us, and by our actions we believe we can make a better way than God has. This is arrogant. God says that our efforts apart from His Word are, “broken cisterns, that can hold no water”. A “cistern” is a man made hole put in the ground or in the rock meant to catch rainwater run off. It may satisfy for a moment – but in time it drains out, and you are thirsty once more.

What does God promise the believer in Christ? He promises righteousness and peace. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 85:7-10 Shew us thy mercy, O Lord, and grant us thy salvation. 8 I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly. 9 Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land. 10 Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

Righteousness – true righteousness – is a gift from God. Your righteousness is imputed or credited to your spiritual account because of what God did for you on Calvary. Once you grasp and rest in this salvation, you are freed from the world just as Israel was freed from Egypt. You are not freed to satisfy yourself, but you are free to love God, and love one another as Christ has loved us. We live to please our Lord.

Romans 5:1 … being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ

We live our lives FOR JESUS. Jesus said:

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

We are – those of us who have received Jesus as Savior – UNDER CHRIST’S COMMAND. We are under His YOKE. We do as Jesus directs. We follow Jesus. We love Jesus. We TEACH OUR CHILDREN TO LOVE JESUS.

Illustrate: A little girl was on her lunch break, and reading her Bible. One of her friends came up. “What are you reading?” her friend asked. “My Bible”. Her friend asked, “Why are you reading the Bible? Isn’t that boring?” The little girl said, “I’ve loved reading the Bible since I found my name in it”. Her friend said, “You found your name in it? Where?” The little girl read:

1 Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners …

She said, “There’s my name – ‘sinners’. If you are not ‘sinners’, I certainly am! And Jesus came to save me!”

We are all born flawed, broken. But God came into the world to redeem whosoever would heed His call. Once we heed His call, we cling to Jesus day and night. We do not receive the grace of God in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1), but hold on to Jesus as He holds on to us. We do not trade the gift of God – His Person – for our temporal pleasures and for our selfishness. Salvation is a process.

You are SAVED when you call upon the name of Jesus.
You are DAILY SAVED as you continue to seek Christ’s face.
You are ULTIMATELY SAVED if your faith overcomes in Him.

Revelation 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

Do you belong to God? Do you belong to Christ’s Kingdom? If not, today is the day of salvation. Call upon Jesus Christ, believing He gave Himself for you, and you shall be saved. “For whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). May God touch your hearts with His Word. Amen and Amen.

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Without …

Photo by Max Muselmann on Unsplash

Today we shall focus on texts from Hebrews 9 through Hebrews 12. To start, please turn with me in your Bibles to:

Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

Without The Blood, There Is No Salvation

Word Study: The word translated without is the Greek χωρίς chōrís, [pronounced kho-rece’], which means “separately or apart from”.

I believe every person who is honest will admit that we are all broken. We are not broken because God made us this way. We are broken because of Adam. God gave Adam a clear set of rules to obey – and he broke them. So God gave Adam what He promised to give him. “The day that you eat thereof, you shall surely die”.

It was sin that caused God to send Adam and Eve outside the Garden of Eden. But before God sent them out into a sin influenced world, God shed the blood of animals to cover Adam and Eve’s sinful act of rebellion. “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21).

That poor animal had nothing to do with man’s fall, yet that animal was sacrificed. It’s blood was shed, and the shed blood provided a covering for man’s sin. The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life(Leviticus 17:11, ESV). The blood of the innocent animal was slain from that time forward. When the Law was given to Israel on Mount Sinai, the Law told Israel to make sacrifices in first the Tabernacle (the mobile Temple), and then later in the Temple.

Animal Sacrifices Were Temporary: To explain how offensive sin is to God, the Lord for many years gave humanity the animal sacrifices. The center of the Tabernacle or the Temple was the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy of Holies. At this Holy of Holies the High Priest made sacrifice for the sins of the people. God “winked at” (Acts 17:30) sin, giving Israel a temporary atonement or covering for sin in the animal sacrifices. The Gentiles never made these sacrifices, but the Jews did. The Tabernacle or Temple was the only place that forgiveness of sin could be granted. The Temple and the Altar of the Ark were given to Israel to show us how sin horribly separates us from God. But Israel did not understand.

Early in His ministry our Lord Jesus chased the money changers and the sellers out of the Temple (John 2:14-16), causing the Jewish Leaders to ask:

What sign do You show us for doing these things?”
(John 2:18, ESV)

What they were asking Jesus for was authority. They were asking, By what authority do you do these things, running the sellers out of the Temple. Show us your identification. Show us your right to vote. You have no right to do this! Jesus replied simply,

Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
(John 2:19, ESV)

The Jews thought that Jesus was talking about the Temple. They said, It took 46 years to build this Temple – and You think you can raise it up if it’s destroyed? But Jesus was talking about Himself. Jesus was foretelling His death, and His resurrection. Jesus would die on Calvary, and would rise from the grave in three days. Jesus would chiefly be executed at the request of the priests and the Pharisees, who had forgotten why the Temple and the Altar existed.

God would eventually destroy the Temple because of their failure. As Jesus and His disciples passed by the Temple one day, the disciples remarked …

Look, {Jesus}, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!(Mark 13:1, ESV)

Our Jesus replied, Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down. WHY WOULD THE TEMPLE BE TORN DOWN?

Because of sin.
Because the Messiah – the Lamb of God – had come.

As humans, we minimize that which the Bible calls “sin”. We shouldn’t, but we do. Sin is to God as poison ivy is to us. God despises sin. His nature is sin free. God hates sin. Sin is anything that runs contrary to God’s design.

Sin brings darkness. Sin brings suffering. The Psalmist said of God, You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; no evil dwells with You (Psalm 5:4). God hates sin because God is holy, without sin. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3). Sin is to God as:

Putrefying sores (Isaiah 1:6)
Heavy burdens (Psalm 38:4)
Defiling filth (Titus 1:15; 2 Corinthians 7:1)
Binding debts (Matthew 6:12-15)
Darkness (1 John 1:6)
Scarlet stains (Isaiah 1:18)

God hates sin. Sin calls for death, separation from God. God despises sin because it causes His creation (us) to be far from His embrace. Sin separates us from God (Colossians 1:21). Evil is sin’s outworking.

BEFORE THE CROSS the ONLY place you could receive forgiveness for sins was at the Temple.

BEFORE THE CROSS the ONLY way you could receive forgiveness of sins was by sacrifice of animals via the priests of Israel.

What Animal Sacrifices Teach Us

Only by the shedding of blood is there remission of sin. Why was it shedding of animal blood? Because a sinner cannot pay for the sins of another sinner. Man is fallen. We are all broken, all sinners. Innocent animals were sacrificed to cover man’s sins, but this covering was temporary and insufficient.

A perfect Man was needed to make proper payment for our sins. There were no perfect Men, so God made one!

The broken cannot make a perfect Man – so God decided to do so. God Himself entered into His creation as Jesus Christ. The Book of Hebrews tells us that it is only Jesus that can make purification for sin (Hebrews 1:3). It is only Jesus Who – among all humans – entered this world without sin. It is Jesus that the Father said,

Hebrews 1:8 (ESV) “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your kingdom”

Jesus Christ is God the Son, Who came into this world to save us from our sins. The Scripture says:

Hebrews 2:17 {Jesus} … had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation {to COVER} for the sins of the people.

Before Jesus came, the only means by which sin could be covered was by animal sacrifice. Jesus entered this world through a virgin, born of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ was, is, and will always be without sin. Jesus came to be both the High Priest of the believer as well as the Lamb of God that takes away sin (John 1:29). The Scripture says:

Hebrews 4:14-15 (ESV) Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Under the old Temple system of the Law the blood of animals was offered to cover sin. But when Jesus came, He came – a perfect Man – to give Himself for our sins. We are told:

Hebrews 9:12-14 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood {Jesus} entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

It is the Blood that caused God to pass over judging and condemning people. He told Israel, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you”. The blood of the animal represented a temporary covering for sin. But when God became Perfect Man, and yielded Himself up for our sins, faith in Him makes a permanent covering for our sins. What does the Scripture say?

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

It is the blood that saves us. It is your faith in the blood of Christ, His once for all sacrifice, that covers your sins so that we might serve the living God. How do we know that

1 John 1:7 (ESV) … the Blood of Jesus, {God’s} Son, cleanses us from all sin

? … We know this because Jesus, truly dying, rose again from the grave. Jesus told the Jews, “Tear THIS Temple down, and I will raise it up in three days”. We saw that before. Jesus did this. He rose from the grave.

The Campus Ministry formerly known as “Campus Crusade for Christ” notes:

Jesus made numerous appearances to His followers. He comforted the mourners outside His tomb on Sunday morning. On the Road to Emmaus, He explained things about Himself from the Old Testament. Later, He ate in their presence and invited them to touch Him. Scripture records that Jesus was seen by more than 500 at one time. Some may argue that a few people could have agreed to a deception, but how can one explain the collaboration of 500 people?”

It is the blood of Jesus Christ that paid the penalty for my sin, and your sin. If you do not receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, believing He is the one and only way to have your sins covered – then you are under the condemnation of God.

You Must Believe (Have Faith In)
The Lord Jesus To Be Saved

The first text we studied was …

Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

Word Study: where the word translated “without is the Greek χωρίς chōrís, [pronounced kho-rece’], which means “separately or apart from”. The next time we examine this without” (chōrís) is in the text of:

Hebrews 11:6 But WITHOUT (chōrís) faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

The Blood shed by Jesus was shed for us all – but if you do not receive this truth by faith then you cannot be saved. WITHOUT (chōrís) faith it is impossible to please {God}. God requires the guilty to be punished. His holiness demands this. But God will allow an Innocent to take our place. The Innocent that takes our place is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is God’s Only Begotten Son. That phrase, “Only Begotten”, means that Jesus, though a Member of the Godhead, lowered Himself to be born into this, His creation. God became Man for one purpose.

To die for our sin.

As God, Jesus is pre-existent with God the Father. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was WITH God, and the Word WAS GOD” (John 1:1-2). Jesus is equal to God in all aspects, as He is God. But “the Word BECAME FLESH AND DWELT AMONG US” (John 1:14).

God became Perfect Man, with the intent of bringing
Imperfect Man to God.

Jesus Christ is perfect and “WITHOUT SIN” (Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 9:28). To be saved you must trust what the Scripture declares of Jesus. The Evangelist Billy Graham said,

Faith is believing and receiving what God has revealed
in His Word, the Bible.”

Though we are fallen creatures, Jesus is NOT. Jesus Christ came to save sinners. We must have faith in Him, calling upon Him and Him alone to be saved. Jesus Christ and the Cross of Calvary replaces the animal sacrifices and the Temple and Ark of God. Jesus Christ dying on the Cross replaces the lamb that was slain. Jesus Christ is the:

Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world
(John 1:29, 36)

There is no other Lamb. There is no other way. There is no other Messiah. There is no other truth. The Psalmist, looking forward to the coming of the Messiah Jesus Christ, wrote:

Psalm 25:8 Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.

When Jesus walked this earth, where was He often found? Among sinners. The Pharisees could not understand this. They asked, “Why does your Master eat with publicans and sinners?” Why would He Who is sinless spend so much time among sinners? Jesus told the Pharisees:

Matthew 9:13 … 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.

Jesus did not come to this earth to enable sinners to sin. Jesus came to this earth to make payment to God for the sinners sin, and to lead the sinner to repentance.

Faith – genuine faith – is both a COMING TO
and a STAYING WITH God.

What does our text say?

Hebrews 11:6 But WITHOUT (chōrís) faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, AND that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Faith is not a temporal thing. Faith is a reclining on God, an absolute reliance on His promises. Jesus Christ is a friend of publicans and sinners. He doesn’t want any to stay in sin – for sin is horrendous! But Jesus “came to call SINNERS to REPENTANCE” (Mark 2:17). What wonderful news the Gospel is. We are told:

Romans 5:8-9 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

God does not leave sinners in the sins. No, but God causes a REPENTANCE from sin to those who believe. One of my favorite Bible stories is that of Zacchaeus, a tax collector. His story is only found in the Gospel of Luke. The Bible tells us that Jesus saw Zacchaeus up in a tree, and called to him:

Luke 19:5-6 Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. 6 And (Zacchaeus) made haste, and came down, and received {Jesus} joyfully.

This is faith, saving faith. Zacchaeus’ sinful lifestyle choices caused him to be shunned, and up a tree. But Jesus called Zacchaeus, and Zacchaeus received {Jesus} joyfully. Embracing Jesus, Zacchaeus said:

Luke 19:8 Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.

Salvation – genuine salvation – is always accompanied with repentance, a change of heart. Whereas Zacchaeus once worshiped money, now he worships Jesus. He loves Jesus more than he loves sin. And Jesus said:

Luke 19:9-10 This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

A true son of Abraham is the person who exhibits the faith of Abraham. The Apostle Paul put it this way:

Romans 4:3, For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. .. 7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. 11 {Abraham is} … the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:

Salvation comes by faith in God’s provision of salvation. Abraham believed God, and his faith in God was counted to him as righteousness. Beloved, you must believe.

You must receive Jesus Christ as the LAMB of God.
You must receive Jesus Christ as the LORD of life.
You receive the LORD and the LAMB by faith.

Genuine Salvation Is Always Accompanied
With External Evidence

Word Study: Where else do we see the word translated “without”? {The Greek χωρίς chōrís, [pronounced kho-rece’], which means “separately or apart from”}. It is found in:

Hebrews 12:6-8 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

On the day that you understood the need for the Blood, and have called upon Jesus and Jesus alone for salvation, God the Holy Spirit does a work in your life. He brings the believer in Christ to a place where we are children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26). We are adopted into the Family of God by the Holy Spirit (). And – listen Beloved – our outward actions and works begin to be in accordance with the holiness of God. The only Apostle to die of old age was John. The Apostle wrote:

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

James, the stepbrother of Christ put it this way:

James 2:20, 26 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? .. 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

If you are saved by faith in Christ, you walk in LIGHT, NOT IN DARKNESS. You follow after Jesus. You live your life to please your Heavenly Father. Billy Graham said:

I cannot work my way to Heaven. After I receive Jesus as Savior, I prove my faith with my works. … After I’m saved, I’m sinning every minute of every day I’m not working for Jesus …”

There are many on local Church rolls all around the world who profess to be children of God, saved by faith in Jesus. And yet, they walk in darkness. Does not the Scripture say:

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

If you are saved, truly saved, your life will show it. You will walk separate from the world. You will shun sin. When you fall into sin, you will repent of sin quickly, and get back in step with Jesus. You will love God and love others. Jesus said:

John 8:12 … I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

God the Holy Spirit does not make stillborn children. If you walk apart from God as a believer, God will chasten you until you repent. If you do not repent, you may find yourselves meeting death prematurely. Christians are to walk in the light of God and His Word. If you are a Christian, you have this promise of God:

1 John 3:2-3 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 Jesus is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17). The Christian belongs to God. The Christian is purchased by the Blood of Jesus. The Christian is to walk in the light. If you are indeed saved, your works will show it. You will love God with your all. You will love your neighbor as yourself. You will lover your fellow Christian sacrificially. This is the truth of the Scripture. This is the Word of the Gospel.

May God the Holy Spirit move in your lives, drawing you to His side this very day. Amen and Amen!

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