The Friend’s Gospel

Audio Message: 

Isaiah 41:8 (KJV) But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.

I have often heard preachers say that the reason God created man is because God needed a friend. God was lonely, and in His loneliness He took the dust of the ground and

calvinhobbes_friends

of it formed man, then woman. I believe it is blasphemy to even believe such a thing. To say that God was lonely or was somehow deficient in an area of life is to lower God. God is ALL MIGHTY and SELF SUFFICIENT. He does not need us. He says:

Psalm 50:12 (NKJV) If I were hungry, I would not tell you; For the world is Mine, and all its fullness.

God owns everything and holds everything together.

Colossians 1:17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

God owns everything – even us. That which gives us presence is our SOULS, and God says:

Ezekiel 18:4 (NKJV) Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father As well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die.

God does not NEED our companionship. God does not NEED a friend. As Eternal Triune God, our Lord has an eternal friend in Himself. The Father loves the Son Who loves the Spirit.

1 John 5:7 (NKJV) For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.

Our God needs nothing. “The God who made the world and everything in it … is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything” (Acts 17:24-25). God made us “in His image and after His likeness” (Genesis 1:26) so that we could reflect His glory by imitating Him. Our God is love. He said in Jeremiah 31:3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love”. God loved us before we were ever made. We need Him. It is our best interests to ruin to Him, to love Him, to exalt Him, to magnify His Name.

God made us to be like Him.
To rule the earth as His representatives.
To shine for Him as He shines on us.
The highest ideal for a human is to be a Friend of God.

Abraham was a Friend of God.

God created us for His pleasure. We see in Revelation the Throneroom of God, and around that Throne twenty four “Elders” who cast their crowns before the Lord, saying:

Revelation 4:11 (KJV) Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

We were created FOR GOD’S PLEASURE. He made us to please HIM, not ourselves but HIM. So when we come across a passage where GOD HIMSELF calls Abraham “My Friend” I can say without any hesitation that Abraham fulfilled his purpose in life. HE PLEASED GOD. When God spoke to Abraham just as He spoke to Moses:

Exodus 33:11 (NKJV) … face to face, as a man speaks to his friend …

God continued to treat Abraham as a dear friend his entire life.

God Invites Us To Be His Friends

James 2:23 (NKJV) And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.

How does one become a “Friend of God”? Is this something only for a select few? I believe that you cannot be a Friend of God until you BELIEVE GOD. The Bible tells us that

Abraham BELIEVED God and it was counted to him for righteousness”

Abraham believed God. God came to Abraham and said,

Abraham, just go along with the crowd.
Stay where you are.
Blend in.
Be an undercover Christian, and we’ll be buddies!”

You’ll find this passage in the Book of First Opinions 1:1-3. I’ll wait while you write this down, or try and look it up. Can I give you a hint – it’s not in the Bible. Abraham believed God. Abraham didn’t believe his feelings but his God. God told Abraham:

Genesis 12:1-4 (NKJV) … Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” 4 So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him

Abraham believed God. He left his comfortable home and traveled to where God told him to go. He believed God. When Abraham got to a place where there was friction between his household and the household of his nephew Lot that precious believer said:

Genesis 13:8-9 (NKJV) … Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.”

Lot looked with his EYES, but Abraham with his EYES ON GOD. Though Abraham could have chosen the “greener pastures” of Sodom and Gomorrah, he let Lot choose. Lot chose badly because he chose not of God but of his flesh.

Abraham believed God. Because he believed God the Lord told him:

Genesis 13:14-17 … Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.

A later King of Israel, King Jehoshaphat, said:

2 Chronicles 20:7 (NKJV) Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?

God gave Abraham the land that would later become Israel because Abraham loved God above all else. Abraham believed God.

When Lot’s bad choice got him and his family captured by the armies of four nations Abraham believed God. He took his small band of 318 men (Genesis 14:13-14) against a numerically superior force and, refusing to fear, trusted in the Lord his God. Abraham believed God. God told Abraham that he was going to have a child, and that he was going to own some land. Neither promise had yet been fulfilled, so Abraham knew God was not going to lie nor renege on His Word. Abraham went against these nations and came back in victory.

When Abraham came back victorious in faith two kings presented themselves to him,

Melchizedek the King of Righteousness & Peace
Bera the King of Sodom & Wickedness

Abraham proved himself the friend of God. He accepted Melchizedek’s food and blessing, and paid a tithe of all he had to what many believe is an Old Testament manifestation of Christ. But Abraham rejected any help whatsoever from Bera, a worshiper of false gods and fleshly sinful lusts. He wanted nothing of Sodom but distance. Abraham believed God.

Abraham believed God when the Lord told him:

Genesis 22:2 (NKJV) … Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.

Abraham – the Bible says – “Rose EARLY in the morning”. He did not debate God. He did not offer other solutions. Christ has said:

Luke 14:26 (NASB) If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.

God calls us to love Him MORE than we love anyone else. MORE, not less. To trust Him. To believe Him. To magnify Him. Abraham, take your only son Isaac – I know you love him – but sacrifice him to Me. Abraham said nothing. No words nor groans were recorded in Scripture. Just doing. He took his son to the mountain, tied him down.

Father, where is the sacrifice?”
“Son, God will provide Himself the lamb for a burnt offering”

God had promised Abraham, and Abraham believed God. God cannot lie. He cannot fail. James said:

James 2:21-24 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

Abraham believed God. He did not need to sacrifice his child, but God provided the sacrifice. Abraham did instinctively what Christ taught us to do:

Matthew 6:19-21 (NKJV) Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

God was Abraham’s treasure, his Friend, his Love. Friends support one another. Friends enjoy one another’s company. This brings me to a main point:

Do You Want God For A Friend?

Is God first place or last place in your life? For Abraham God was first place. God wasn’t an occasional Visitor to Abraham, but He came often because Abraham wanted to see Him. The Bible says:

Genesis 15:1 (NKJV) … the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”

When God is your Friend He is your shield. Friends take care of friends. Friends support one another. Abraham loved and looked for God – and the Lord loved and looked after Abraham. He made sure that Abraham was cared for:

Genesis 12:7 (NKJV) …. the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.

Genesis 18:1 (NKJV) … the Lord appeared to {Abraham} by the terebinth trees of Mamre, as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day.

When God decided to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of the sexual sin in those cities, He wouldn’t do anything until He talked to Abraham. He knew tghat Lot – Abraham’s nephew – was in that city. The Bible says:

Genesis 18:17-23 (NKJV) … the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, 18 since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.” 20 And the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, 21 I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.” 22 Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. 23 And Abraham came near and said, “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked?

Abraham loved God, and taught his household to love God. Abraham didn’t love God at Church but ignore God when he stepped out the door. God knew Abraham was His friend, and discussed matters with him. “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is GREAT – their sin – SEXUAL SIN – is VERY GRAVE.” It was God’s intention to judge those cities, just as God will eventually judge every sin. “There is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” (Luke 8:17) “For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:14). “When the Lord comes, He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart.” (1 Corinthians 4:5) Though we may feel that we have gotten away with sin, God eventually judges. Judgment was going to fall on Sodom and Gomorrah. Sin would be punished. Evil would be wiped out lest it, like a canker, spread throughout all the world.

But before God would do this thing He said “I will tell my friend Abraham”. As God began to outline what was going to happen, Abraham began to seek mercy from his Friend. Though Abraham was not part of the sin, he interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah for Lot’s sake, saying to the Lord:

Genesis 18:24-25 (NKJV) Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? 25 Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

God listened to Abraham’s pleading, saying “If I find 50 righteous in the city I will spare it for their sake”. But Abraham was not through. Friends can press friends to do more.

Genesis 18:27 (NKJV) … “Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: 28 Suppose there were five less than the fifty righteous; would You destroy all of the city for lack of five?”

The Lord was not angered. He knew Abraham’s heart. “If there are 45 righteous, I will not destroy it.” Abraham continued to address his Friend:

Suppose there should be forty found there?”

I will not do it for the sake of forty.”

Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Suppose thirty should be found there?”

I will not do it if I find thirty there.”

Suppose twenty should be found there?”

I will not destroy it for the sake of twenty.”

I will speak but once more: Suppose ten should be found there?”

I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.”

As God and His friend Abraham discussed the fate of Sodom, God continually met Abraham’s requests. One Bible scholar once said “Abraham stopped asking before God stopped granting”. The Lord patiently listened to His friend, was never angered, and met his requests with mercy and grace. Why? Because Abraham delighted in the Lord.

The Beginning Of Friendship With God Is Reconciliation

The Bible tells us that we are born into this world separated from God by our sin.

Ephesians 2:1-3 (NKJV) And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

God reaches out to us just as He reached out to Abraham. God calls. He says “Come unto Me all you that are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He calls to us in Christ. He calls to us to be reconciled to Him through His dear Son. As Abraham believed in God – and it was accounted to him for righteousness – we are to believe in God. God extends His hand of fellowship and bids us come to Him and be saved. The Scripture says:

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV) For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Titus 3:5-6 (NKJV) not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,

Saved by faith in God, the Lord calls us to follow Him daily. Not just at Church, nor just when it is convenient, but at all times. If you want God to be your friend then you must be a friend to God. He calls us into a daily walk with Him, loving Him, putting Him first and not last. God does not want our leftovers, but our allovers. He wants us to love and obey Him as Abraham did.

It is the blessing of the Christian that we can be friends with God. Jesus declared:

John 14:21-23 (NKJV) He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

Oh Beloved, make God first as Abraham did. Remember the words of our Lord:

John 15:13-15 (NKJV) Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

God would have you for a friend. Do you want to be His friend? Then do so. Believe Him, and put Him first in your lives.

May God touch your hearts with His Word.

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The Worm’s Gospel

Audio of Sermon: 

1 Isaiah 41:10-14 (KJV) Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. 11 Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish. 12 Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of naught. 13 For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. 14 Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

In the midst of all these beautiful promises from God we see the strange words:

Thou WORM Jacob”

Why would God promise great things to His Children, but then call those children “Worm”? When you think of a WORM what do you think of? I think of something wet and slimy that I often use for fishing.

I was watching an Andy Griffith Show episode one time when Andy was taking a girlfriend fishing. When she saw the worm she went …

ICK!”

Andy tried to hand her the worm, and she nearly jumped out of the boat. Though it was funny, and some of you might feel that way about worms, worms actually are the most defenseless creatures on the face of the earth. Worms have no real teeth. It’s hard for me to tell which end of a worm is the head and which is the tail. Worms wiggle, wiggle, wiggle through the soil. The best soil is filled with worms, for worms serve a purpose. They are tillers of the soil. Worms ingest soil and organic matter like leaves and grass, and digesting what they eat leave behind casings that are very valuable as fertilizers. 500,000 worms living in an acre of soil will produce 50 tons of castings, while producing a drainage system equivalent to 2000 feet of 6 inch pipe.

But worms are not fierce. They are largely defenseless. Their greatest defense is to do what they were designed to do, to bury themselves in the soil as God intended. I’ve never seen a worm come out of the ground, sit back on it’s coil, and roar like a lion. Do you know what a worm on a sidewalk is? Besides confused, it is also squashed! Worms are defenseless, harmless, and though not ugly, I’ve never seen a pin up calendar filled with worms in bikinis.

Jacob The Worm – Israel The Prince

I’ve never seen a pride filled worm. Have you?

When God spoke and said “Thou WORM JACOB” you won’t understand this unless you understand who Jacob was. God promised great blessings to three men:

Abraham
Isaac
and Jacob

This is the beginning of Judaism and Christianity in our Bibles. God called out Abraham, and ancient Babylonian, to follow Him. “Follow Me, Abram, and I will bless you and bless the whole world through you. I will make of you a mighty nation”. Now Abraham was childless, and past child bearing years, but he trusted and followed God. Tonight I’m going to preach about Abraham the friend of God, so come back if you want to hear more of this. To simplify this message I’ll just say

Abraham put aside his pride and followed God …
And God blessed him with a son Isaac
.

Isaac was the Child of Promise, but Isaac was no great man of faith. But God used Isaac. In the Christian faith there are many born into the family of God that do not exemplify Christ, yet God uses them for His glory. God has a purpose for the Isaacs of this world. We may not see it, but God does. And God is in control. Isaac is great because he had a child Jacob.

Jacob was the child that God wanted to turn into Abraham’s Israel. Jacob was not a paragon of faith. He was a plotter – a deceiver who was often deceived himself. His brother Esau was supposed to inherit the biggest portion of Isaac’s estate, and a blessing from his father. Esau sold his birthright to Jacob, but then Jacob schemed and plotted until he robbed his brother of the blessings of his father.

Jacob was a back-biter.
Jacob was a trickster.
Jacob was a plotter.
Jacob was deceitful.
Jacob was not a man of faith, but prideful and self sufficient.
And Jacob often hurt himself in his pride.

Jacob fought with God, and kept fighting God until God crippled Jacob (see Genesis 32:22-32). Some of you are fighting God in your lives, puffed up with pride, filled with yourselves. The Bible declares that ….

Proverbs 16:18 (NKJV) Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.

Pride cost us Paradise. While Adam obeyed and loved God he lived in a perfect environment with a perfect wife in perfect health and doing a perfect job. Then Satan wiggled into the Garden looking like an overgrown worm and said:

You will not die if you disobey God. God knows that the day you eat the forbidden you will be like Him knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:5). Adam, you will be able to set your own standards!”

Convincing Adam that it was a promotion to obey his own desires rather than God sin entered the world, and death by sin. Had Adam remembered that he was but dust (Psalm 103:14) and – in comparison to God nothing but a worm – we would still be in Paradise. God always knows what is best, not us. It is in our trusting of God’s strength and the disavowal of our own that we are blessed.

When Jacob wrestled with God and was crippled it was after this that God renamed him Israel. The strong self sufficient proud one was JACOB.
But the broken, humbled God following believer was ISRAEL.
The PROUD come to God and hear His Gospel.
But it is the BROKEN that come to God and are changed.

The Church Is To Preach The Worm’s Gospel

It is the Worm’s Gospel that saves a person. When we come to God in arrogance and pride God will not do anything with us. But it is the WORM JACOB that God will bless, the one who realizes that we are at best worms, broken things, totally defenseless and unable to reach the majesty that is God. Sadly much of the Church has gone to a PROSPERITY Gospel or a Gospel of SELF ESTEEM where we pump ourselves up. This is not what God tells us to do. We are to magnify God and minify ourselves.

Isaiah 41:13-14 (KJV) For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. 14 Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

God tells the WORM JACOB that “I will help you. I will hold your right hand.” Have you ever seen a worm with a right hand? I haven’t. But if you come to God He will change you from Jacob to Israel, from handless Worm to a Child that He will lead. This is the Gospel of salvation. We come to God as helpless and hopeless creatures – as worms – and God by His Grace changes us. He gives us a new name (Revelation 2:17) and a new purpose.

Oh that God would bring the Church in America back to where the Worm’s Gospel is preached!

I was reading an article in Outreach Magazine the other day about how one Church found success. This particular Church was tiny and losing members, so they redesigned the Church and made it more friendly to the unChurched. As the Church became accepting and tolerant of the unChurched more and more came into the Church until today this Church has around 1000 members. As I read this I wondered what Jesus would think of it.Though Jesus reached out to the lost – and we need to be doing this – He never compromised the Word of God. In fact, Christ was quite harsh.

Go and sin no more” (John 8:11)
“Let the dead bury the dead – you follow ME” (Luke 9:60)
“You must love Me and hate your father and mother” (Luke 14:26)
“I have come not for the righteous, but sinners” (Luke 5:32)

The only way to decrease the darkness is to INCREASE God’s Light!

Even among the Baptists we have compromised His glorious Gospel. Back in the 16th century Isaac Watts penned the words to a song in our hymnal called “At The Cross”. The first line originally read:

Alas, and did my Savior bleed and did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?”

The hymn started out recognizing the lowliness of the saved, that we we were but worms that Christ died for. But by the 19th century the words of the hymn were changed. The text was deemed too demeaning and was changed in our hymnal to …

Alas, and did my Savior bleed and did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
for SINNERS such as I?”

Along with the change an entire stanza is missing from the original, again because it is too demeaning:

Thus might I hide my blushing face
While His dear cross appears.
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt mine eyes to tears.”

We do not understand the MAJESTY of the Grace of God until we understand how MINIMAL we are in comparison to Him. We do not understand how great God’s love is until we comprehend how far He is above us, and what He did for us. The Scripture shouts without apology:

Romans 3:10-18 (NKJV) As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. 12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” 13 “Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit”; “The poison of asps is under their lips”; 14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways; 17 And the way of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Without God we are woefully inadequate. We have heard the preacher say these words many times, but unless we internalize that we are but worms compared to His majestic glory, then we lose the wonder of His love. When John Newton wrote:

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Newton was confronted with his sin, and convicted of it. When he was in the world Newton – like all of us – walked according to the ways of this world, according to satan, the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who works in every son of disobedience. Newton was an ex-slave trader who had used people as merchandise and murdered for profit. He realized that he was a child of wrath deserving damnation – just as we all do (Ephesians 2:1-3). And then God touched Newton with His Amazing Grace.

Grace Is Amazing When We Realize Our Worminess

Isaiah 41:14 (KJV) Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

God cares for us, dear Worm. In the book of Job Bildad Job’s friend asks:

Job 25:4-6 (NKJV) How then can man be righteous before God? Or how can he be pure who is born of a woman? 5 If even the moon does not shine, And the stars are not pure in His sight, 6 How much less man, who is a maggot, And a son of man, who is a worm?”

Bildad was asking the same question that the Apostles asked our Lord one day …

Who then can be saved?”

Jesus replied:

With man salvation is IMPOSSIBLE, but with God ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE”
(Matthew 19:26)

When we come to God in our helplessness – as if worms – God becomes our REDEEMER. It is widely understood that Psalm 22 is a Messianic Psalm, one that foretold the Coming of Christ. The Psalm starts with the words of Christ on the Cross of Calvary:

Psalm 22:1 My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, And from the words of My groaning?

Matthew 27:46 (NKJV) And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Psalm 22 is a picture of Jesus on the Cross of Calvary. He Who is “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 19:16) came down from the splendor of Heaven to suffer and die on Calvary for us. Oh how our Jesus lowered Himself. As He hung on Calvary the Psalmist speaks of our Christ Who said of Himself …

Psalm 22:6-8 (NKJV) But I am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised by the people. 7 All those who see Me ridicule Me; They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, 8 “He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him; Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”

As Jesus hung on that Cross, He hung there being ridiculed. You have saved others. Save yourself! (Matthew 27:42). But Jesus could not save Himself. He became a worm to save us worms. He died a horrible death so that we could have eternal life. C.S. Lewis once wrote:

When a man is getting better, he understands more clearly the evil that is in him. When a man is getting worse, he understands his own badness less and less.”

We understand our badness by seeing Christ on the Cross. We are born with potential, but sin enslaves us and the world draws us. We are but worms. We are fallen, creatures of the dust. But God in His glory became like us. He Who knew no sin sin became sin for us:

2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) For our sake {The Father} made {Jesus} to be sin who knew no sin, so that in {Jesus} we might become the righteousness of God.

Pastor John Piper said, “the good news of the Bible is not that we are not worms, but that God helps worms who trust in Him”.

A tale that keeps coming to my mind is that of Naaman, the commander of the army of Syria. Naaman was a great leader, but he was afflicted with leprosy, a terrible disease. The Bible often uses leprosy to describe the terrors of sin. Naaman was told by one of his wife’s servants that there was a way to be healed – that he needed to contact Elisha the Prophet. Naaman sent word to Elisha, who in turn sent word back to the Warrior-King:

2 Kings 5:10 (NKJV) …. Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.

Naaman puffed up with pride and arrogance. “Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” (verse 12). Here is that old arrogance that is in all of us. God said THIS, but we say THAT. Beloved, there will be no blessing of God unless we realize He is God and we are but worms. Naaman’s servants came to him and said:

2 Kings 5:13 … “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”

Naaman humbled himself, and went to the Jordan and did as the Prophet said. And you know what? He was made clean when and only when he did as God told him.

Trust God, and a man can take the jawbone of an ass and kill the enemy army.
Trust God, and a stone and a sling will defeat Goliath.
Trust God and do as He says and a walking stick can part a sea.
Trust God and walk where He says and the walls of Jericho will fall.
Trust God and cast your nets to the other side of the boat, and you will be filled.
Trust God, and death will be defeated, and eternal life will be yours.
Trust God, and the ax-head once lost will float to your hand.
Trust God and the ox goad will be as powerful as Excalibur!
Do not fear, but trust God and His Word.
Use what God has given you.
Trust His Word, and call upon His Name!

Romans 10:9-10 (NKJV) … that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

What does a worm have but a mouth. Let us trust Him, praise Him, pray to Him, honor Him.

What Does God Promise To The Wormy?

Isaiah 41:10-14 (KJV) Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. 11 Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish. 12 Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of naught. 13 For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. 14 Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

God promises not to shun us, but to be with us.
“Do not be afraid, for I am with you”.
God promises to give us strength.
“I will strengthen you.”
God promises to hold us up and help us.
“I will help you, and I will hold you up.”
God promises to defeat our enemies.
“Those who attacked you will be ashamed and nullified.”
God promises to hold our right hand.
He promises to Redeem us from sin and death.

Will you, dear one, surrender to Him?

Posted in humble, Isaiah, preaching the Gospel, pride, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

An Unexpected Famine

Sermon Notes:

Amos_8_11t12_OLD WOMANAmos 8:11-12 (KJV)  Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:  [12]  And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.

Amos prophesied during the final days of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The Kingdom was enjoying great power and great prosperity. But the Kingdom had fallen far away from God. Selfishness filled the land. Lovelessness was everywhere. Most tragic of all, many of God’s people no longer loved the Lord.

The very first commandment given by God to man was that we love the Lord. God told His people in the very first four commandments:

You shall have no other gods before Me (Exodus 20:3)
You shall not worship the creation of your hands (Exodus 20:4)
You shall not take My Name in vain (Exodus 20:7)
You shall remember one day in seven for My sake (Exodus 20:8)

These first four laws could bed summed up simply as “You must love the Lord your God above all else”. The Lord reminded His people of this in Deuteronomy 6:

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 (NKJV) You shall love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, with ALL your soul, and with ALL your strength. 6 And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

Prosperity in the Northern Kingdom had an opposite effect on God’s people.
They stopped loving the Lord.
They began to do things not because they loved God, but because the Law demanded it.

In our text we see God’s people:

Amos 8:5 (KJV)  Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit?

Like the Pharisees of Jesus’ Day they outwardly were becoming (Matthew 23:27) … “whitewashed tombs which indeed appear outwardly beautiful, but inside are filled with dead people’s bones and uncleanness”. It is as Jesus exhorted in another place:

Matthew 5:13-14 (NKJV) You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. 14 You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.

God’s people are to be the salt of the earth – a preservative for civilization.
God’s people are to be the Light of the world.
Nothing but mushrooms grow in the dark.
When God’s people love God the Lord makes them salt and light.
But when love for God decreases, then something happens.

Catastrophe Is Used By God To Bring Repentance

God told His people:

Amos 8:11-12 (KJV)  Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land ….

One of the worst disasters that can come on a land is FAMINE. In physical famine people starve to death.

  • In 1846 a famine in Ireland killed 2 million people.
  • In 1932 a famine in the then USSR killed 10 million people.
  • In 1959 a famine in China killed 43 million people.

When famines happen people ask “Where is God in this terrible time?”
The truth is that God sends famines for a reason.

Proverbs 16:9 (CSB) A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.

Over 400 years before Joseph was sold into captivity by his brothers a famine caused Abram to go to Egypt (Genesis 12:10). God allows trials and tribulation in our lives to teach us to trust in Him, to love Him no matter what might come. God is faithful to His Children, and uses circumstances and even things like famines to teach us to cling wholly to Him. The Scripture says:

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV) No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

The way of escape in trials is to trust in God.

  • It was a famine that caused Israel and his family to be blessed. When Joseph was betrayed and sold into slavery by his brothers, God raised Joseph up so that Egypt could prepare for the coming famine. Because Joseph was faithful to listen to and hear God’s Word the Lord gave Israel and his little family a place to stay and grow until Israel became a mighty nation.

God uses famines for our good, if we but trust His leadership.

  • In the Book of Ruth we see that a man named Elimelech and his wife Naomi were caused by a famine to go to Moab, a place as godless as Egypt. This was a good thing. Why? Because God knew a Moabite named Ruth that He not only wanted to save, but to put in the lineage of Christ our Lord. Ruth entered Naomi’s family when she married Naomi’s son. Later when all the husbands passed on to glory Ruth told Naomi:

Ruth 1:16 (NKJV) .. Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God.

Ruth came to know the Lord, and was married into the line of Christ by the will of God! Famines and trials can be blessings when we focus on our God and love Him first and foremost. We need the Lord! We need His Word! We need to love God with all our hearts, to love Him who first loved us (1 John 4:19).

This Catastrophe Was Different From Other Famines

Amos 8:11 (KJV) … I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, BUT OF HEARING THE WORDS OF THE LORD:

The famine that God was going to send was not a famine where food or water were lost, but a famine of the Word of God. The people would not hear the blessing of God’s Word. What is the problem with this? The Bible tells us that …

Romans 10:17 (NKJV) So then FAITH comes by HEARING, and hearing BY THE WORD OF GOD.

As hearing the Word of God decreases, faith in God decreases. When God first said this I am sure that few in Israel were upset.

Good, we didn’t care for the sermons anyway.
We would just as soon have the feast days, the eating meetings, the celebrations”
.

But as people no longer cherished God’s Word the Lord took it away. He gave them what they wanted. The British preacher George Whitefield said:

As God can send a nation or a people no greater blessing than to give them faithful, sincere, and upright ministers, so the greatest curse that God can possibly send upon a people in this world is to give them over to blind, unregenerate, carnal, lukewarm, and unskillful guides.”

Whitefield was one of the founders of Methodism and the Evangelical Movement.

When God removes His Word – when He stops speaking to His people – then the people of God become like the world. We are told in Timothy:

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV) All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

The Word of God equips us to serve the Lord. Our Lord Jesus said:

Matthew 4:4 (NKJV) …. It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ …

In His Word is life and light. It is His Word that gives us doctrine or the way that God have us go. By His Word we are reproved and corrected, instructed as His Children in what is righteous. The word of man is fragile and ever changing, but God’s Word is eternal. Jesus said:

Matthew 24:35 (NKJV) Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

It is a failure to hear the Word of the Gospel that causes damnation and eternal condemnation. Jesus said:

Mark 8:38 (NKJV) For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.

When the Word of God departs the God Who speaks those words departs. God said to the people of Amos’ day “I will send famine in the land, a famine of My Word”. You do not wish to hear God then God stops speaking to you. God is fed up with disobedience.

The same thing happened in the ministry of Christ. He went about teaching the truths of God, but the Pharisees – who loved the rituals of religion – cared nothing for His Word. So Jesus began to speak in parables. The disciples asked Jesus why He

Matthew 13:10-15 (NKJV) And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” 11 He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:

Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’

I have heard “Bible Scholars” say that Jesus spoke in parables to make things clearer, but they did not hear His Word. The parable hid spiritual truths that – without Jesus – you could not fathom. You had to love the Living Word in order to understand the Word of God.

When God sends a famine of His Word people become spiritually weak and anemic. There is no power in the Church nor in the Christian. Energy of the flesh rules, but not the Spirit of God. When people refuse to hear God’s Word He can remove that Word from them.

The Consequences Of This Famine

Amos 8:12 (KJV) And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.

When people experience famine of God’s Word they chase after other things to seek happiness and peace. This frantic search for happiness never brings the expectant results.

I remember years ago I had a friend named Sammy Scott, a great Christian man. Sammy lost one of his legs in a terrible accident years before. Sammy told me that the worst part of losing his leg was the phantom pains that came. There were times when the foot on his missing leg would itch, and he would reach out, but there was nothing to scratch. With nothing to scratch the itch would drive him nearly crazy. The doctor had to give him some type of sedative when phantom pain struck.

When God’s Word is not cherished because God is not loved, people – all of whom were designed to walk with God – begin to run around and scratch an itch that cannot be satisfied. They run to and fro seeking what is no longer there. There is no satisfaction. No happiness.

We need God’s Word. We need Him in our lives. We need His presence above all else.

At the very start of our study I shared an illustration with you that Pastor John Piper once used. He said:

Perhaps, you are looking at a picture of a young woman facing away from you. You may look for hours and not see that her jaw is the nose of an old woman, and her ear is the old woman’s eye, and her neck-band is the old woman’s mouth. Then, in the twinkling of an eye you see the old woman. That’s an analogy of many issues in life and many perplexities in the Bible. We look and we look. We think. We study. We may even discuss and debate. And all we see is a young woman looking away from us. Then, one day, we realize we have not intentionally stopped, admitted our blindness, and called on God for the gift of sight. So we stop and get down on our knees — to say with our body how weak and helpless we are — and ask him for a breakthrough.”

We need the Word of God. We need the Word of God more than anything else in life. We need the Spirit leading us along the Highway of Righteousness. We need the Word of our Lord! We need His Presence and His Word guiding us. His Word is a lamp unto our feet, and the light unto our path!

Posted in Amos, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

On Wings Of Eagles

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Isaiah 40:28-31 (KJV)  Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.  [29]  He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.  [30]  Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:  [31]  But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Audio of Message: 

We all have times when discouragement and trials seem to weigh us down. The difficulties of life drive happiness from us like a hawk drives a little mouse underground. We are tempted to run from the trials, fearful and uncertain. To hide in bed, to pull the covers up over our heads. To seek self medication and self solace in the trial. But then the Word of God cries out to us:

Have you not known?
Have you not heard?

We are not alone on this earth. The godless person is the hopeless person, for they have no one to turn to. But we who know the Lord do. As W.A. Criswell once preached:

The world is either a place where there is no God anywhere, or it is a place where there is everlasting God everywhere. And there’s no middle ground: this earth in which we live is without purpose and is nothing but a vast graveyard; or else it is our Father’s house and He keeps watch over His own.”

God Is Alive And He Is Able

Do you not know that God is there and He is not silent? I cries out through His creation that He is.

Isaiah 40:28 (KJV)  Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth,

Our God is EVERLASTING and ETERNAL. His immensity is seen in the creation all about us. We are told:

Isaiah 40:25-26 (KJV)  To whom then will ye liken Me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.  [26]  Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.

It is God Who made the stars above, the earth below, the very body you occupy. Stand outside at night – God says – and lift up your eyes. Look at what I made. I bring out the host – the multitude of stars – by number. I have created all these things. I call every star by name, and know them, for they are My work.”

On a clear cloudless night a person can see about three thousand stars with the naked eye. In 1608 German-Dutch lensmaker Hans Lippershey invented the telescope, a design that Galileo Galilei improved in 1610 and with that instrument was able to see thirty thousand stars. Years passed, and man increased the strength of the telescope till he could see six hundred and forty thousand stars. Then from 1785-1789 Sir William Herschel invented a Great Forty Foot Telescope that could see twenty six million stars. Following this Sir Robert Ball improved the telescope to where fifty million stars could be seen. Now with the Hubble telescope we can see an estimated 170 billion galaxies or as astronomers now say a septillion stars in the observable universe. I had to look up “septillion”. This is a “1” with 24 zeros following it – or a thousand raised to the eighth power – or a trillion trillion. God not only made these stars, but has named every one of them. God is immense in power. He is the Creator of all things. The Psalmist says:

Psalm 147:3-6 (NKJV) {God} heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds. 4 He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name. 5 Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite. 6 The Lord lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground.

Our God is immense in power – and yet has time for the smallest and most broken. Our God is our Creator, and He is not compassionless and dull concerning His creation. God cares. The Scripture declares:

Psalm 145:8-9 (NKJV) The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy. 9 The Lord is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works.

God cares. The God Who made the immensity of the stars cares for you, and cares for me. Jesus said of God:

Luke 12:6-7 (NKJV) Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Of all the birds sold in the market in Jesus’ day the sparrow was the cheapest, with five being worth just a few pennies. Men considered the sparrow worthless, but God created the tiny sparrow just as He created the timy human and the tiny hairs on our heads. God created everything with purpose and value. Without sparrows the poorest people would not have been able to eat. God cares. God loves. God is compassionate toward all of His creation.

Isaiah 40:28-31 (KJV) … the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

The Creator God does not get weary, nor does He pass out from use of energy. God is ALMIGHTY. He is El Shaddai, the God of all might and all power. God told Abraham our father:

Genesis 17:1 … I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.

We can know God by His names. God is:

  • Almighty (Genesis 49:25)
  • Creator of heaven and earth (Genesis 14:19)
  • Builder of everything (Hebrews 3:4)
  • King of Heaven (Daniel 4:37)
  • God of all mankind (Jeremiah 32:27)
  • Eternal King. (Jeremiah 10:10)
  • The only God (Jude 1:25)
  • The Eternal God (Genesis 21:33)
  • The Everlasting God (Isaiah 40:28)
  • Maker of all things (Ecclesiastes 11:5)

The Bible tells us that our God is …

Ephesians 3:20 (NKJV) … able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,

There is nothing that our God cannot do.

Job 9:6-10 (NKJV) {My God} shakes the earth out of its place, And its pillars tremble; 7 He commands the sun, and it does not rise; He seals off the stars; 8 He alone spreads out the heavens, And treads on the waves of the sea; 9 He made the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades, And the chambers of the south; 10 He does great things past finding out, Yes, wonders without number.

Our God is able! His power is without limits.

Psalm 115:3 (NKJV) But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.

The Prophet Daniel – who experienced the power of God in a lion’s den and in Babylon – declared:

Daniel 4:35 (NKJV) All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, “What have You done?”

God is able. He is awesome in power and yet loves us who are His. Are you His?

I heard a story told by a former Sergeant for the Los Angeles Police Department. He would demonstrate bulletproof vests to rookie officers by placing them on mannequins – then live firing rounds at them. After shooting the vests the rookies were then asked to examine them to see if any rounds had penetrated. The vests all passed with flying colors. Then the sergeant would turn to the rookies and ask them, “So who wants to wear a vest and let us test how it works on you?”.

The only way you can have confidence in a bullet proof vest is if YOU put it on and feel it stop the live rounds. Otherwise there is always doubt. God allows trials and tribulations to come into our lives to allow us to test Him and ourselves. Have I done as scripture says? Is Christ mine? Is God my Father?

Romans 13:12-14 (NKJV) The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

Let us cast off the darkness. Let us reject depression and suicidal methods. Let us not rely on the darkness nor on the ways of this world, but let us rely on our God. He is able! He is able! He is able!

God Is Able To Make Us Able

Isaiah 40:29-20 (KJV)  He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.  [30]  Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 

When we are young we thought we were immortal. But even young people grow old. In time human energy is expended, and we become faith and weary and utterly fail. But God is able to give power to the faint. When we bring our nothingness to Him He is able to make it into something. The broken life given to Christ becomes whole through Him. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increases strength.

When we come to God as God then God can give us power for abundant living. The Apostle Paul said:

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NKJV) … lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

It is in our weakness that we surrender to God – and surrendered to Him we discover His power living through us.

Pastor Vince Gergardy wrote:

One of the great movies of all time was the 1959 epic Ben Hur. One of the movie’s most riveting scenes where Charlton Heston (who played Ben Hur) defeated his arch enemy in an extremely realistic chariot race. The scene required 5 weeks of filming, 15,000 extras, and 18 chariots. To add to the spirit of authenticity Charlton Heston actually learned to drive the chariots he’d be using in the race. But after weeks of practice, Heston was worried about the shoot. He confided in the stunt coordinator: “I can drive the chariot, but I’m not sure I can win.” The stunt man smiled and replied: “Chuck, you just make sure you stay in the chariot, and I’ll make sure you win the race.” You see, Heston had made the mistake of thinking that he actually had to win the race by his own power and skill. He had forgotten that the outcome had already been decided. It was in the script He couldn’t lose!

When we come to God and surrender to Him our weaknesses as well as our strengths God rewrites the script! The Church began on the day that Christ’s disciples did what Jesus told them to do. Jesus told them:

Acts 1:4-5 (NKJV) {Jesus} commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; 5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

They were to WAIT on the Lord. WAIT for the Promise that Jesus made. WAIT.

Isaiah 40:31 (KJV) they that WAIT upon the LORD shall renew their strength;

What did it mean to the disciples that they should WAIT. Did it mean to do nothing? No! For after Jesus ascended into Heaven we read:

Acts 1:12, 14 (NKJV) Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. … 14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

They WAITED upon the Lord. They prayed. They sought God’s face. They obeyed God’s Word. They did as Jesus said to do. And they WAITED. They did not procrastinate. They did not play video games, nor go on vacations, nor go out to eat. They did not host “Super Bowl Parties” at the Church. They did not form a praise band and jam, dancing in the aisles. They WAITED. They did as Abraham did when he did not know which way to go. He sat up his tent and then prayerfully sought the Lord on the horizon. He did as Moses said. God told Moses:

Exodus 33:14-17 (NKJV) … “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 Then {Moses} said to {God}, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. 16 For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.” 17 So the Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.”

It is the PRESENCE OF GOD that proves the salvation of His people. If God is not Present, then we are not His. So we WAIT upon our Lord. We PRAY. We seek His will in His WORD. If God does not lead us to it, we will not go. We PRAY. We TRUST. We hear the words of the Apostle:

1 Thessalonians 5:12-23 (NKJV) … we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil. 23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Do good, for God is good. Trust God. Do not avenge, but trust God as avenger. Rejoice always. Praise God in the valleys as well as the mountaintop. God made everything, and controls all things. Trust Him, and praise Him, for He is your portion, a Portion that cannot be removed.

Pray without ceasing. Have you prayed about it, or is it just your opinion? Will what you want to do glorify God, or is it all about YOU?

James 4:10 (NKJV) Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.

When the world drives you down, go down on your knees before God and look up. He can lift you up, and will lift you up. He will defeat the enemy. Pray!

1 Peter 5:6 (NASB) … Humble yourselves under God’s mighty hand that He might exalt you at the proper time …

Seek Him in prayer. Trust and read His Word. Believe what He has said no matter what the world might say – His Word is truth. Do you remember the precious passage:

1 Corinthians 2:9 (NKJV) But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.

The Apostle is quoting Isaiah 64:4 in the Spirit, which says:

Isaiah 64:4 (NKJV) For since the beginning of the world Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, Nor has the eye seen any God besides You, WHO ACTS FOR THE ONE WHO WAITS FOR HIM.

If you love Him, you wait on Him. You seek His face in prayer and adoration. You heed His Word.

Those Who Wait Are Rewarded

Isaiah 40:31 (KJV) But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

A CHICKEN hides from the wind. An EAGLE rides the wind. He stretches his wings and flies, gliding on the wind effortlessly. When the CHRISTIAN waits on God He sends His Spirit to us. Like the wind, the Spirit of God lifts us up, blessing us, taking us high above the cares of this world.

The eagle RESTS upon the wind.

The Christian RESTS upon the Spirit.

The eagle spreads it’s wings to rest.

The Christian spreads the wings of faith to rest.

The eagle RESTS on the wind above the darkness of the earth.

The Christian RESTS on the Spirit far above the fallen world.

The eagle does as it is designed to be blessed.

The Christian does as he is designed to be blessed.

The eagle is seeking prey.

The Christian is seeking the lost.

To WAIT on the Lord does not mean to do NOTHING. The word MOUNT UP is a verb which means “to go forth, ascend, climb, rise up”. We RISE UP by serving our God, by doing as He says. We seek His face if we are His, and He promises to renew our strength, to empower us, to give us victory over our enemies.

Pastor W.A. Criswell said:

For those who wait upon the Lord, there abides a certain victory: the glory, the good thing, the best thing that is yet to come for those who wait upon the Lord. This same great preacher Isaiah, in 64:4, says: “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside Thee, what He hath prepared for him that waiteth for Him.” Listen to Habakkuk: “The vision is for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; it will surely come . . . ” [Habakkuk 2:3]. And Daniel 12:12: “Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.” They that wait upon the Lord shall achieve a certain victory. God hath prepared for them – some better and more precious thing.”

Victory is ours in Him and Him alone. He is our God, and He is able! May God touch your hearts with His Word.

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God Is Our Shepherd

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Isaiah 40:11 (KJV) {The Lord} shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

Audio of Sermon 8:30 am 

Full Service 11 am 

Shepherds – those who care for sheep – have an important place in the Word of God.

  • Abel was a keeper of sheep (Genesis 4:2). The Bible tells us:

Hebrews 11:4 (NKJV) BY FAITH Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.

Cain sacrificed a lamb without spot or blemish, trusting in God his Savior, believing that what God decreed was truth, and honoring his Heavenly Father. The sacrifice of the WICKED is an abomination unto the Lord … but God loves the one who follows Him in righteousness (Proverbs 15:8-9). Abel the Shepherd offered a faithful gift to his Creator, and he himself lost his life when wicked Cain killed him (1 John 3:12).

  • When God called to Moses from the burning bush he was a keep of the sheep, guarding the flocks of his father in law Jethro (Exodus 3:1). It was in the solitude and dedication of the shepherd that God called out to Moses:

Exodus 3:10 (NKJV) Come now {Moses}, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.

God had Moses trade Jethro’s sheep for HIS sheep. Psalm 95:7 (NKJV) He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand.

God loves His people!

  • One of the most known shepherds in the Bible is the one who would be King of Israel, David. Like Moses God would lead David out of the sheep’s flock and would have him oversee HIS sheep, HIS Beloved Israel.

The Greatest Shepherd Of All Is God The Son

Isaiah 40:11 (KJV) {The Lord} shall feed his flock like a shepherd …

The greatest event in human history was when God became man and dwelt among us:

John 1:14 (NKJV) And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Christ was born of Mary, the Son of God, the Holy Child brought forth of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20). It was to shepherds watching their flocks by night that God first announced the first Coming of Christ (Luke 2:8). This is only fitting as God is the Shepherd of His people, and Jesus Christ is that manifest Shepherd.

The Shepherd must lower himself to feed his flock, and God lowered Himself to be our Shepherd. The Shepherd must smell like sheep. He must be in the field with His flock. He must watch over the sheep in His care. God loves His people, and lowered Himself from Heaven to earth to save us. We are of the dust, but God is of light and truth. We are mortal, but He is immortal, eternal, higher than the Heavens. Jesus is:

Hebrews 7:26 (NKJV) holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens …

For our sakes God the Son became the son of man. He did this because:

Isaiah 53:6 (NKJV) All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

We have all been born into this life wandering from God. But God became man so that He could bring us back to Him. Jesus said:

Luke 19:10 (NKJV) for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.

How did this Great Shepherd God save us?

  • God the Son became the DOOR of the Sheep. In ancient times the shepherd would lead his flock to a secluded and safe pasture. Once he had the sheep in that place the shepherd would block the access to the field with his own body. He would literally become a DOOR. Jesus Christ said:

John 10:2-5, 7-9 (NKJV) But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers. … 7 Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

Jesus Christ is the door of the sheep. He is God the Savior of His people. All others are robbers and thieves. Who are these others? Joseph Smith. Taz Russel. Mohammed. Buddha. The Hindu gods. These and all other false gods who are not Christ are but shams that rob you of eternal life.

Isaiah 40:11 (KJV) {The Lord} shall feed his flock like a shepherd …

Only God the Son shall feed His flock like a Shepherd. Jesus said “If ANYONE enters by ME, he WILL BE SAVED, and will go out and FIND PASTURE”. Christ is the door. He stands between us and life eternal, between us and Heaven. When Jesus Christ first came He came to save the weak, the fallen, the broken, the sinners aware that they were sinners. Pastor Jonathan Parnell wrote:

Christianity is summed up in these words: Jesus came to seek and save the lost. If we were asked to describe in a sentence the heart of the gospel, there it is. There is no other news like this. Every other religion says it backwards. Every other religion tells us to seek. We are advised to climb trees like Zacchaeus, to depend upon our own exertion for any hope of ascending to the divine. We are told to bridge the gulf by our effort. If you want salvation, they say, then seek it. In a sense, that is the world — we live in a planet full of seekers. We are, in one way or another, tree-climbers, maneuvering ourselves to gain some advantage, to achieve some perspective, to find personal peace. And then Jesus comes. We are lost in our own seeking until Jesus comes and says to us, “Hurry and come down” (Luke 19:5). Stop your searching. Stop trying to save yourself. I have come to seek and save the lost.”

Luke 5:31-32 (NKJV) Jesus answered and said to them, 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 stands alone as the Door of the Sheep. There is no other Door to salvation. Good intentions will not save. Good works will not save. But Christ will save. When we come to Him and Him alone Christ declares:

John 6:37 … him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.

None will be cast out. God is a Shepherd to His people – and any who come by faith can be His people. God is not willing that any perish, but that all come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Whosoever will believe on Jesus shall not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

  • God The Son laid His life down for His Sheep.

Jesus said in:

John 10:11 I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

Jesus gave His life for His sheep. He laid His life down on Calvary for us. The Scripture tells us that …

Isaiah 53:4-5 (NKJV) Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

The Good Shepherd took our sins on Himself. We not only wandered from God, but by our sins we brought eternal offense to our Creator. The wages of sin is always death (Romans 6:23), and we all merit death and eternal separation from God.

We deserve, dear ones, to go to hell.
We deserve, each of us, the eternal flame of separation.

Yet God the Son was not satisfied with our damnation. Like a Good Shepherd He came and put Himself in harm’s way for us. The sins that we should have paid for were poured out on Him and judged.

Isaiah 53:7-8 (NKJV) He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; FOR THE TRANSGRESSIONS OF MY PEOPLE HE WAS STRICKEN.

The Good Shepherd gave His life for us. Oh happy day when Christ came, and by His Blood carried my sins far away! Oh great provision of God, the Shepherd became Lamb of God. Eternal God became sinless Man. Shepherd to Lamb, God to Man, the Scripture declares:

Hebrews 10:12, 14 But this {perfect and sinless} Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, … 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

The ONE OFFERING of Christ on Calvary paid for our sins. It was not the prayers of Mary that saves us, nor the efforts imposed by man made priests from a confessional, but what Jesus did. His act was singularly the salvation of whosoever believes in Him. Blessed be the Name of God.

Christ died on Calvary, but death did not defeat Him. He died, but raised from the grave. He said:

John 10:17-18 (NKJV) Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I HAVE POWER TO LAY IT DOWN, AND I HAVE POWER TO TAKE IT AGAIN. This command I have received from My Father.

The Good Shepherd Provides For HIS Sheep

Isaiah 40:11 (KJV) {The Lord} shall feed his flock like a shepherd …

God the Son provides for His people. The text does not say “He shall feed the goats”, or “He shall feed the wolves”, not even “He shall feed the sheep”. There are sheep who follow after others. There are sheep who chase after Mammon, after Pleasure, after Narcissism, after the things of this world. But what does the text say? The Lord shall feed HIS FLOCK – those whom HE HAS POSSESSED – like a Shepherd.

God the Son provides for His own because He is able. God the Father said to God the Son:

Hebrews 1:8 (NKJV) .. to the Son {the Father} says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.

God is our Shepherd. There is nothing that God cannot do. Our text tells us:

Isaiah 40:10 (KJV)  Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.

Adonai Yahweh – the Eternal God – WILL COME with a STRONG HAND and HIS ARM shall rule for Him. There is nothing that God cannot do – and God our Shepherd will provide our needs. If we are born of His Blood, redeemed by Calvary, saved by Grace and faith in Him, He will not fail us. He our Savior is the God Who:

Isaiah 40:12 (KJV)  Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

Measured the waters in the hollow of His hand”. No one on the face of this earth knows exactly how much water is on this earth – but GOD KNOWS. He measured ALL THE WATERS in the PALM OF HIS HAND. If He can measure and did measure all the water in the palm of but ONE HAND, do you not think that God can provide for YOU?

He meted our Heaven with a span”. God said “Let there be light” and there was light. He spoke the worlds into existence:

Psalm 33:6-7 (NKJV) By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. 7 He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deep in storehouses.

This is the Lord Who saved us. He shall feed His flock like a Shepherd. God sustains us, providing for our physical needs. King David wrote:

Psalms 37:25 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.

Many find themselves in tough times, struggling, barely making ends meet. I ask you – WHAT is YOUR FOCUS? Are your eyes on the Good Shepherd? Are you following Him not just now in this Church building, but when you leave this place? The Lord is our Shepherd, and if He is our Shepherd then He cares for us. The Psalmist wrote:

Psalms 23:1-2 … The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. {2} He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

If you are a believer and are hungry, then it’s because you have turned away from His pastures. “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures” but we need to be following Him if we want provision. Like the Prodigal son we can wander far from God by sin. We can leave the Christ and His provision and find ourselves in want. Jesus told us:

Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Luke 12:32 (NKJV) Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

As we follow Him He provides our needs. Our Lord loves to care for His own. We are told:

Isaiah 40:11 …. He shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, .…

There are times that we are saved, in fellowship with Him, but forget that He is our Daily Savior. Sometimes we wander away from Him not by sin but by self sufficiency, thinking that “I am able to handle this”. Oh Beloved, this is not where our strength lies. Our strength lies in our weakness. “He shall gather THE LAMBS with His arm”. One of the greatest Apostles of the Church Age was the Apostle Paul. It is said that:

Acts 19:12 (ESV) … even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.

Then one day sickness came to Paul. We do not know what this sickness was, but we do know that:

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 … Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

When God gathers the lambs in His arm He does so because they are not struggling AGAINST Him, but instead are leaning INTO Him. God provides for His sheep, His little lambs, those who will rest in Him, in His arms. The safest place to be is nestled in the arms of the Good Shepherd, resting in His provision, trusting in His Presence. We listen to His Word knowing that:

Matthew 4:4 … Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

God the Son purchased us at a great price. He will not abandon the ones He loves. He will come to us to provide for us. I have but one question to ask before I close.

Will You Be Of His Flock?

Isaiah 40:11 (KJV) {The Lord} SHALL FEED his flock like a shepherd: he SHALL GATHER the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and SHALL GENTLY LEAD those that are with young.

The Lord has promised to FEED His flock.

He SHALL FEED His flock.

The Lord has promised to EMBRACE His lambs.

He SHALL GATHER the lambs.

The Lord has promised to GENTLY LEAD us.

He shall GENTLY LEAD those with young.

If you are of His flock you will come to Him. You will hear His voice:

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

You do not need to clean yourself up to come to the Shepherd, but you do need to walk away from where you are spiritually to where He is. Turn away from this present evil world and run into His arms. WHEN we come to Jesus in faith, believing Him to be both Lord and Savior, THEN He gives us rest. Come weak, come thirsty, come wanting and come needing. But COME to Jesus! Come and be a part of His flock.

Come thirsty.

John 7:37-38 …. If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. {38} He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

Here is your responsibility. Do you thirst? Recognize it, and come to Jesus. Drink of His love and of His willing sacrifice. Come to Christ. Come to Christ. Come to the Good Shepherd, the Door of the sheep. Do not take the broad paths of the world, but the narrow road to Him Who loves you (Matthew 7:13-16).

He is the Lord Jesus, that Great Shepherd of the sheep (Hebrews 13:20)

And He calls to you today. Come! Come! Come! Rest in His arms. Know He is present with you. Does He know you as His? Do you know Him as yours?

2 Timothy 2:19 … The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

May Christ lead you to His side this very day! Blessed be His Name!

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Three Stories From God

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Strengthen!

Isaiah 35:3 (KJV)  Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.

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Audio of Sermon: 

Sermon Notes: God speaks to His people. “Grow strong” (חָזַק chazaq) the weak hands and – NOT “confirm” but “make steady or brace up” (אָמֵץ ‘amats) the feeble knees. As we grow older our hands get shaky, our legs a little less stable. Physically we go down in strength. But in our text today …

God Is Not Addressing Physical Weakness

When you read these words you may attribute them to old age, but that is not what God is refering to.

God gave us hands and feet to serve Him.
God expects us to serve Him.
Every day we live is a day to serve our Lord.

God’s best servants and best saints were those who were advanced in age.

Abraham followed God and had the child of Promise, the Isaac or laughter of life, when he was 100 years old. Abraham continued to follow and serve the Lord in strength, and did not die until he was 175 years old. Old age does not keep us from serving God.

Moses heard God’s call and followed God when the Lord called to him from the burning bush, sending him to the courts of Pharaoh.

Exodus 7:7 (NKJV) … Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three years old when they spoke to Pharaoh.

Moses never entered the Promised Land in his earthly life, but served God faithfully until he was 120 years old according to Deuteronomy 34:7. When he died he passed leadership of Israel over to …

Joshua, who was between 68-78 years old when he led Israel into the Promised Land. Joshua led Israel faithfully serving God until he died at the ripe old age of 110 years old.

In the New Testament two of the stories that we didn’t get to cover during Christmas is the stories of Simeon and Anna the Prophetess. We do not know how old Simeon was, for the text does not tell us, but his words seem to imply he was of advanced age. We read:

Luke 2:25-32 (KJV)  And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.  [26]  And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.  [27]  And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,  [28]  Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,  [29]  Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:  [30]  For 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.

Here is this apparently old man who loved and walked with God. The Lord led him to the Temple and told him that he would see the Savior. Simeon had no weakened arms when he reached out and took Jesus to himself. Simeon said in essence – “I’m ready to go home, Father. Let me go in peace for I have seen Your Salvation, Your Jesus!”.

Right after Simeon saw and was blessed by Jesus we are told that the Prophetess Anna saw the baby Jesus. We know that Anna was old:

Luke 2:37 (KJV) … she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.

…but her age did not stop her from serving God. She kept coming to the Temple. She refused to let old age rob her of her duty to God. She served God with FASTINGS and PRAYERS night and day. She made herself available to God.

I have pastored older members who – as age increased – they began to stay at home rather than come to Church.

When I was young I served the Lord – NOW I’ll retire”.

Beloved you are not retired from the service of God on this earth until God takes you home to heaven. Anna served God day and night. Anna departed not from the Temple.

When I think of Anna I think of my Grandma Elma who prayed for me and shared Christ with whoever came near her until God took her to glory just 30 days short of her 102nd birthday. As a young man I rebelled against my God and my parents, but when I was 17 years old I was saved and not long after that entered the military. I’ll never forget my grandmother’s words just before she died. She was not able to leave the Nursing Home she was at to come and hear me preach, but she told me “I always knew you would be a preacher.” I asked Grandma “How could you know that?”, to which she replied “I prayed for you every day”. Anna and Elma had a lot in common. Anna prayed day and night. Though 84 years old she was not feeble of hand and knee in the ways that mattered. Anna witnessed the blessing of Simeon on Christ and the Scripture says:

Luke 2:38 (KJV)  And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

She confirmed the Christ. She saw Jesus because she served God.
Old age is not a reason for spiritually weak hands and feeble knees.

Our Focus Must Be On God Not The Desert

Our hands become shaky in serving God and our knees wobbly in following God when our desire focuses away from our Lord. We read:

Isaiah 35:1 (KJV)  The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.

Our text speaks of the “wilderness”, the “solitary place” and the “desert”. These are all places where you would not expect to find joy or happiness. A “wilderness” is a place without comfort, a “solitary place” somewhere where you have no companionship, and the “desert” a place without food or water.

But in these places there is, the Lord says, rejoicing and gladness.
What is it that brings rejoicing and gladness to these lonely and rugged places in life?
It is to be in that place with God.

Isaiah 35:2 (KJV)  It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon,
they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God.

If God is with you in the wilderness it will blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing. In the lonely places if God is with you then you are never alone. Where God is, joy and happiness abounds. The Scripture says of God:

Psalm 107:31-35 (NKJV) Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! 32 Let them exalt Him also in the assembly of the people, And praise Him in the company of the elders. 33 He turns rivers into a wilderness, And the watersprings into dry ground; 34 A fruitful land into barrenness, For the wickedness of those who dwell in it. 35 He turns a wilderness into pools of water, And dry land into watersprings.

Where God is glorified the knees are not weak nor the hands without strength. Regardless as to whether we are in the mountaintop or in the valley if our focus is on Him Who saved us and we are living to glorify His name, then joy and singing breaks forth. It is in the wildernesses of life that we find God.

Isaiah 43:18-21 (NKJV) Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert. 20 The beast of the field will honor Me, The jackals and the ostriches, Because I give waters in the wilderness And rivers in the desert, To give drink to My people, My chosen. 21 This people I have formed for Myself; They shall declare My praise.

God saved us to praise Him, to dwell on His magnificence, to magnify His name.
Yet when our focus turns from Him to ourselves we become like the Laodicean Church.

Revelation 3:15-17 (KJV)  I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.  [16]  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.  [17]  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

The people focused on themselves and not on the glory of God soon find themselves without God, for God will not honor selfishness and self seeking. Chuck Swindoll wrote:

Deterioration is never sudden. No garden “suddenly” overgrows with thorns. No church “suddenly” splits. No building “suddenly” crumbles. No marriage “suddenly” breaks down. No nation “suddenly” becomes a mediocre power. No person “suddenly” becomes base. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, certain things are accepted that were once rejected. Things once considered hurtful are now secretly tolerated. At the outset it appears harmless, perhaps even exciting, but the wedge it brings leaves a gap that grows wider as moral erosion joins hands with spiritual decay. The gap becomes a canyon. That “way that seems right” becomes, in fact, “the way of death.” Solomon wrote that. He ought to know. Take heed, you who stand; take heed, lest you fall! Be careful about changing your standard so that it corresponds with your desires. Be very cautious about becoming inflated with thoughts of your own importance. Be alert to the pitfalls of prosperity and success. Should God grant riches, fame, and success, don’t run scared or feel guilty. Just stay balanced.”

Christ gave ALL of Himself passionately for us.

God so loved the world that He – without reservation – gave His only Begotten Son for us. God laid it all on the table for us. We are to lay it all on the table for God. The misfocused people look at their pleasure and comfort and not at God’s glory. We must always be reminded the words of the Apostle:

Acts 20:34-35 (NKJV) Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. 35 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

It is always more blessed to give than to receive. Our Lord showed us that. Our hands become feeble and our knees weak when we stop serving the One Who loves us, and stop going where He says go. We must love Him more than we love ourselves. We must love Him most. It is always good to remember that the very thing that cost Israel the Promised Land is that the people stopped praising God and began to murmur against Him because they did not have what they wanted. The Scripture says:

1 Corinthians 10:9-11 (KJV) Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. 10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

When the wilderness comes, let us look up and praise our God. Let us be as the Psalmist who praised the Lord, saying:

Psalm 63 (KJV) O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; 2 To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. 3 Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. 4 Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.

To keep your focus on God you need to build a habit daily of turning to His Word. Dr. Charles Stanley wrote:

One of the primary reasons we struggle in adversity and give in to despair and hopelessness is ignorance of the Scriptures. The Lord wants to help us through affliction, but we must open His Word to receive His guidance, comfort, and assurance.”

Let us learn to focus on our God no matter what might come, honoring Him and serving Him all the days of our lives.

Failure To Share Faith Fosters Spiritual Weakness

God’s people are to work together in encouraging one another to glorify God. We read:

Isaiah 35:4 (KJV)  SAY TO THEM THAT ARE OF A FEARFUL HEART,
Be strong, fear not:
behold, your God will come with vengeance,
even God with a recompense; he will come and save you.

A self focused person cannot help a person overwhelmed by life. A God focused person can. When someone is going through trials and tribulations do not add to them, but point them to the Lord that loves them. Encourage them to look upward, to trust God’s heart even when we do not understand His hand. Do not just tell them …

Be strong, fear not

Suck it up! Be a man! Toughen up! Stiff upper lip!” No, these things all seek solutions in ourselves. The Apostle said:

2 Corinthians 3:4-5 (KJV) And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;

The strength of faith is not in ourselves, but in God. Isaiah wrote not just “Be Strong and Fear not” but …

Be strong, fear not: behold, YOUR GOD WILL COME WITH VENGEANCE, EVEN GOD WITH A RECOMPENCE; HE WILL COME AND SAVE YOU.

Our hope is not in ourselves, but in God.

I cannot tell you how many times I have tried to lead someone to Christ only to find out some religious fool has led them in the wrong direction. “Be self sufficient. Name it and claim it. You can do it, little engine. Choo Choo!” Hogwash. Our strength is in God. Our hope is in Christ.

Psalm 46:1-5 (KJV) God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. {REST!}. 4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

Psalm 42:11 (KJV) Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

My grandma used to tell me “If you can’t say somethoing nice to someone, don’t say anything.” Beloved, I want to modify that statement somewhat. “If you can’t direct the hurting and fearful to God, SHUT UP!” You do not help the cause of Christ by murmuring with the murmurers, nor by trembling with the tremblers. Remind those who are suffering that the Scripture does NOT say:

I can do all things …

but

I can do all things THROUGH CHRIST Who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)

You must focus on trusting God in your own life, but must also direct those around you to focus on God. Tell the fearful that:

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

Fear of God is good, but fear of anything else can be a trap that weakens the hands and knees. Trust thou in God! When you share faith in God with others there is a wonderful blessing that comes from it. When our focus is on Christ …

Isaiah 35:5-6 (KJV)  THEN the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.  [6]  Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.

Darkness breeds darkness, but God is light, and light in God brings forth light. Do you see the word THEN in our text.

When you point the fearful to faith in God THEN the eyes of the blind are opened.
When you point the fearful to faith in God THEN the ears of the deaf are unstopped.
When you point the fearful to faith in God THEN the lame leap as an antelope.
When you point the fearful to faith in God THEN the tongue of the disabled sing.

It is God Who can bring order from disorder, and blessing from cursing. We must not only trust Him ourselves but point others to Him as well. We are to remind our brothers and sisters in Christ that the Lord left us here on this earth on purpose, and we are to serve Him on purpose until the day we see Him in glory.

Failure To Serve The Lord Causes
Weak Hands And Knees

Isaiah 35:8 (KJV)  And an HIGHWAY shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.

God makes a highway for His people, a Highway of Holiness. He calls us to walk that path with our Lord Jesus. The Lord said:

John 14:6 (KJV)  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Jesus Christ is the One in Whom we walk with. We have a personal relationship with Him, loving Him, doing as He says. Solomon twice repeated the admonition:

Proverbs 14:12 (NKJV) There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Proverbs 16:25 (NKJV) There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

We are to walk in the way with Christ. We have often sang those beautiful words:

When we walk with the Lord in the light of his Word
What a glory he sheds on our way!
While we do his good will, he abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Where He goes, we go.
What He says we will do.
We trust and love Him Who saved us.

God gave us hands and knees to walk with Him, to serve Him, to be with Him daily. The step brother of Jesus James exhorted the Church:

James 4:7-10 (NKJV) Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

God calls you to salvation in Christ. Once called, He bids you follow Him Who saved you. Put your faith into action. I have often told those placed in rehabilitation at one of our Nursing Homes that they MUST get up and walk, MUST reach out, MUST do. If you do not, then in time you cannot do even if you wish to do.

So it is with Christ. Do not delay. Trust Him. Follow Him. Love Him. May God touch your hearts with His Word.

Posted in Faithfulness of God, Following Disciples, Following Jesus, Isaiah, Sermons Preached | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Three Veils

Audio of Sermon: 

2_Corinthians_3Sermon Notes: 2 Corinthians 3:13-18 (KJV)  And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:  [14]  But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.  [15]  But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.  [16]  Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.  [17]  Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.  [18]  But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

The Apostle talks of “vails” throughout this text. The word “vail” is the Greek κάλυμμα kalymma which means a curtain, a covering, something that separates. Though women often wore veils in the east for modesty’s sake, in our text today we are introduced to three vales or veils that are significant to the message of salvation. There are:

The Veil of Moses
The Veil of The Temple
The Veil of Unbelief

The Veil Of Moses

God saved Israel by grace. God saves everyone by grace. God started Israel’s salvation by a directive. He told Israel:

Exodus 12:5-13 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, 6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. 7 Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. 10 And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11 In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.

Grace comes to us through the blood of the Lamb, the sacrifice made. This was symbolic of the Coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, as John the Baptist called Him “The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Though Christ had not yet come God wanted all to understand His Grace comes through His Christ. So Israel sacrificed the Lamb without spot or blemish, a forerunner of the Christ which we have today:

1 Peter 1:18-19 (NKJV) knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

They sacrificed the Lamb. They marked the home with the blood of the Lamb. God entered Egypt and, as He promised, Judgment fell on every household where the Blood was not found. This Divine Massacre caused Egypt to release Israel. Israel was saved by grace, saved by the Blood, saved by faith.

But Israel hardened their hearts to God’s Grace.

They hardened their hearts to God’s loving provision, and rebelled against His Grace. Eventually the Lord led Israel to Sinai, the Mountain of God. God told Moses to come up the Mountain to receive the Law. The Law was given because Grace was rejected. We are told in:

Romans 5:20-21 (NKJV) Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

God gave the Law to Israel to convict of their sins, to make them realize how much they needed the Savior. As I looked at the giving of the Commandments I discovered an interesting truth I never knew. When God first spoke the Law – the Ten Commandments – He spoke before the words were ever engraved on stone. We are told after God spoke the Ten Commandments:

Exodus 20:18-19 (NKJV) Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. 19 Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.

These people had drifted so far away from God that they would not hear Him.
Fear stood between them and their Savior.
“Let not God speak to us, lest we die!”.
Moses looked at the mountain and, loving God, was not threatened by His majesty.
Israel looked at the mountain and, rejecting God, was frightened by His majesty.

Little faith says “You pray for me”. Big faith approaches God.They trusted Moses to speak to God and Moses to speak to them, but they themselves rejected the love of God and His Grace. This is why the Law entered in. Moses told the people:

Exodus 20:20-21 (NKJV) … Moses said to the people, “DO NOT FEAR; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” 21 So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.

Moses loved God.
I want you to notice again the difference between Moses and the people.
The people stood far off from God.
Moses drew near to God despite the darkness.

The Bible says:

1 John 1:5 (NKJV) This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and IN HIM IS NO DARKNESS AT ALL.

Our God is light and love, good and pure. Moses was not afraid of the apparent darkness because he loved God and knew that God loved him. There are times in our lives when things seem to go against us, dark periods, but God is there if we but trust and believe on Him. God enters the darkness so that He can change it.

2 Corinthians 4:6 (HCSB) For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

If the light is there WITHOUT God it is a bad thing.

If the darkness is there WITH God it is a good thing.
As long as God is there we need not fear.
For God loves us. He loves us.

The people are afraid to go to where God is, but Moses runs to God. He receives the Law for Israel in Exodus 21-23. In Exodus 24 Moses delivers the Law to the people, and we read:

Exodus 24:3-4 (NKJV) So Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the Lord has said we will do.” 4 And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel.

Israel promised that they would keep God’s Law. So Moses makes another trip up the mountain to receive the plans for the Tabernacle and the stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written. This is in Exodus 25-31. But when Moses comes down the mountain he discovers that the people have violated the very commandments they promised to keep. They made and worshiped a false god, a golden calf of all things. They had betrayed their Savior.

Oh how fickle the human heart is! Moses addresses the sin of the people. There are many who will attend and even support a church faithfully until the preacher addresses sin. As long as the sinner is petted he will stay in the Christian zoo. But once sin is addressed, the exhibits escape back to the world that they love.

After Moses dealt with the sin of the people he headed back up the mountain to talk with God. Moses begged for Grace for the people. And God responded to Moses’ request. God will always respond to a request for Grace. He is the God of Grace.

Pastor Phillip Holmes writes:

when we, his sinful and rebellious prodigal children, spit in his face, wallow in our sin, and grieve his Spirit, he calls us to repentance with open and loving arms saying, “Come home, child.” He’s not ignorant of all the ways we’ve sinned against him. He knows everything we’ve ever done and is able to stomach it. His knowledge of who we really are will never hinder his love for us. He’s even aware of the evil behind our righteous deeds. The intimacy by which the Lord knows us but is able to lovingly embrace us as his children is supernatural. God’s grace is mind-blowing. Every time I think of this reality, I’m brought to tears because I serve a God whose love and grace baffle me.

When Moses headed back up the mountain to receive the Law a second time we read:

Exodus 34:6-9 (NKJV) … the Lord passed before {Moses} and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.” 8 So Moses made haste and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped. 9 Then he said, “If now I HAVE FOUND GRACE IN YOUR SIGHT, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray, go among us, even though we are a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your inheritance.”

I want you to notice that even in the giving of the Law GRACE ABOUNDED.

Moses went up the mountain by Grace.
He came down the mountain by Grace.
He went up the mountain again by Grace.

When Moses came down the mountain this time the Bible tells us that:

Exodus 34:29-35 (NKJV) … when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses’ hand when he came down from the mountain), that MOSES DID NOT KNOW THAT THE SKIN OF HIS FACE SHONE WHILE HE TALKED WITH HIM. 30 So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, THE SKIN OF HIS FACE SHONE, AND THEY WERE AFRAID TO COME NEAR HIM. 31 Then Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned to him; and Moses talked with them. 32 Afterward all the children of Israel came near, and he gave them as commandments all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. 33 And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face. 34 But whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with Him, he would take the veil off until he came out; and he would come out and speak to the children of Israel whatever he had been commanded. 35 And whenever the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone, then Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with Him.

Moses stood before God not by Law but by Grace. He spoke to God by Grace. And though he carried the Law of God to Israel, Moses was very much a recepient of the Grace of God. I believe it was this Grace that was making his face shine. Grace brought Moses into proximity to the glorious God we love, and that proximity caused his face to reflect the glory of God. The Apostle tells us that …

2 Corinthians 3:13-18 (KJV)  And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:

Moses put the veil on his face so that they could not look to the end of that which is abolished. What is that a reference to? The Bible tells us that …

Romans 10:4 (NKJV) … For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

The Law was given because Grace was rejected. The shining face of Moses was the fruit of Grace. Israel saw this shining face and rather be attracted to it were repelled. Why? Because they were in unbelief. The veil of Moses covered the Grace that he enjoyed because of their own sinful hearts.

The Veil Of The Temple

Through the Law God gave Israel first a Tabernacle, then once they were in the Promised Land a Temple where they were to worship God. In that Temple a veil separated the Holy of Holies – a place that symbolized the Presence of God – from the rest of the Temple. We are told in:

Hebrews 9:2-8 (NKJV) … a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; 3 and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, 4 which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; 5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. … 6 Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. 7 But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance; 8 the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. …

The veil separated the people from God. That veil represented the sins of the people. We are told in:

Isaiah 59:1-2 (NKJV) Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. 2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.

Sin separates us from God. This is what the veil of the Temple signified. The High Priest went into the Holy of Holies once a year with blood to make atonement for the people and for himself. Again, this was temporary, an act of Grace. The Bible tells us that when Jesus Christ died on Calvary:

Matthew 27:50-51 (NKJV) … Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. 51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split,

The veil of the Temple was thick. It was around 60 feet high, and was composed of blue, purple, and scarlet material. As Jesus died the True Lamb of God was sacrificed for the sins of the world. On that day God destroyed the Holy of Holies, exposing it to the world, because the Blood of Jesus Christ is sufficient for all our sins FOREVER. We are told:

2 Corinthians 3:16 (KJV) Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.

The veil of the Temple was taken away because of Christ. We are told that the first Covenant – the Covenant of Law – was given because of unbelief. The first Covenant was written on stone. But through Christ there is a returning to Grace. God says:

Hebrews 10:16-25 (NKJV) This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR HEARTS, AND IN THEIR MINDS I WILL WRITE THEM,” 17 then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” 18 Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin. 19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Through the veil of Christ’s flesh the old veil was torn. No longer do we come unto God by the Law and by sacrifices, but we come unto Him in love and in faith.

But there is one other veil we need to discuss.

The Veil Of Unbelief

2 Corinthians 3:14 (KJV) But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.

The Veil of the Temple was done away with in Christ, but many still cling to the Veil of Unbelief. Some still reject Christ even today, choosing to lay veil on their hearts. They cling to salvation without Christ, believing good works will bring them into union with God. But they are wrong.

It was Grace, not Law, that brought Moses to the mountaintop with God.
It is Grace, not Law, that brings us to the mountaintop with God today.

We who are saved come to God without the veil of the Temple and without the veil of the Law. We come “with open or unveiled faces”. Like Moses, we look upon God in faith, heed His Word, and love Him with all our hearts.

2 Corinthians 3:18 (KJV) But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

And as we behold our Beloved Savior the Holy Spirit slowly changes us, just as He changed Moses. We shine as he shined. The Grace of God our Savior makes us shine. Oh that all would approach the Lord, seeking His Grace! It is by looking on our Savior that we are lightened. It is by looking on Jesus that our sins are forgiven. It is by trusting Him that we are saved to be like Him, changed from glory to glory.

May God touch someone with His Word this very day.

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Kingdom Culture

wonderful word from a beautiful brother

Jonathan Camac

kingdom_culture_710Why do I exist?

Such a simple question. And yet, perhaps the most confusing. New theories for life are constantly being developed and followed. Explanations for a statistically near-impossible universe are mass produced on the conveyer-belt of human reasoning. Even the most mind-boggling advances in design and technology, in this day and age of such incredible knowledge, leave us wanting. It’s beyond us. We can’t reach a consensus conclusion.

And so the answers to why we exist range on a ridiculously large spectrum.

And here’s the deal. Everyone answers the question of why they exist. Whether consciously or not. If not in words, then it shows up in actions. Because what you believe, will always impact how you respond to the world. And how you respond to the world, will always be a reflection of what you believe.

And so this post comes with two prongs.

First, to those of you…

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Three Stations Of God

Isaiah 33:10-22 (KJV)  Now will I rise, saith the LORD; now will I be exalted; now will I lift up myself.  [11]  Ye shall conceive chaff, ye shall bring forth stubble: your breath, as fire, shall devour you.  [12]  And the people shall be as the burnings of lime: as thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire.  [13]  Hear, ye that are far off, what I have done; and, ye that are near, acknowledge my might.  [14]  The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?  [15]  He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil;  [16]  He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.  [17]  Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.  [18]  Thine heart shall meditate terror. Where is the scribe? where is the receiver? where is he that counted the towers?  [19]  Thou shalt not see a fierce people, a people of a deeper speech than thou canst perceive; of a stammering tongue, that thou canst not understand.  [20]  Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken.  [21]  But there the glorious LORD will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby.  [22]  For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.

Audio of Sermon: 

God is love.

We know that God is love. The Scripture teaches us that God is love. The Bible says:

1 John 4:7-8 (KJV)  Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.  [8]  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

There is nothing that I like preaching more of than the Love of God. It is the Love of God that brought about His Gospel. God loves us, so He reaches out to save us. But in talking of the love of God we often forget something very important.

God is love, but God’s love has a standard.
God is love, but God is also holy and righteous.
The righteousness of God places demands on His love.

One of the most famous texts of Scripture states:

John 3:16 (KJV)  For God so loved the world, that HE GAVE his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

How did God GIVE His Son? He gave His Son to die for us. He gave Jesus to suffer on Calvary, to pay the penalty of sin. He gave His Son to be whipped, to be brutalized, to be nailed to a tree. God loved us enough to forgive us, but only when His justice was expended on His Son. The Scripture declares:

Colossians 2:13-14 (KJV)  And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;  [14]  Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, NAILING IT TO HIS CROSS;

God is LOVE, but God is first and foremost JUST. As we are told in our text today:

For the LORD is our judge,
the LORD is our lawgiver,
the LORD is our king;
he will save us.

The God Who loves us is first of all our Judge. He establishes right and wrong. He alone has the right to codify what is right and wrong. The Lord Who loves us is our Lawgiver. He knows what is best and what is not best. Finally, the Lord Who loves us is our King. He rules over His people. Let’s look at these truths.

The LORD Is Our Judge

It is God Who judges right from wrong, good from evil. God knows what is best. We as humans only have a limited understanding, but God has infinite understanding. He is Judge. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 75:7 But God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another.

Psalm 50:6 And the heavens declare His righteousness, For God Himself is judge. Selah.

God is our Judge. I read a wonderful illustration in last Sunday’s Sunday School Lesson. (You need to go to Sunday School so you can learn God’s Word. God is the Judge.)

An old man lived in a tiny villiage, and he owned a beautiful white horse. His neighbors told him such a beautiful horse would be stolen, but he refused to lock it up. One day the horse was missing and his neighbors told him, “See, we told you so!”. He simply replied, “Whether I have been cursed or not, how can you know? It is not my place to decide.” A week later the horse returned to the stable. It had siomply run into the forest, and when it returned, a dozen wild horses came with it. The neighbors said “You were right! It was not a curse, but a blessing.” The old man replied “Who is to know?” The next day the old man’s son was injured when the herd of horses stampeded. Again the neighbors declared the man cursed, but the old man replied “Who is to know?” A few weeks later the country entered into a war and required the young men to enlist. Because the old man’s son was injured, he was exempt. The neighbors said “We were wrong. Your son’s injury was a blessing after all.” The old man simply replied, “Who is to know?”

I thought that was a very good illustration with one exeption – we cannot know, but God knows. God is the Judge. He is always the Judge. He knows right from wrong, good from evil, and establishes what is and is not normal. The text says:

The LORD is our Judge

The word capitalized LORD is the Eternal Name of God. The Great I AM – the Ever Present Creator – is our Judge. God begins our text today by warning:

Isaiah 33:10-12 (KJV)  Now will I rise, saith the LORD; now will I be exalted; now will I lift up myself.  [11]  Ye shall conceive chaff, ye shall bring forth stubble: your breath, as fire, shall devour you.  [12]  And the people shall be as the burnings of lime: as thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire.

What we ourselves conceive as right or wrong from our own finite minds is not right or wrong, but wishful thinking. As we moved into the 21st Century Progressive Thought and Progressive Politics became popular. Who doesn’t like Progress?

I love Progress! I love that I can get in a car and in about 7.5 hours see my grandchildren. In the days of the horse an buggy it would have taken myself and my wife 2 weeks or more to get where our grandchildren are.

I love Progress! I love that I can access the Internet, a World Wide Web of knowledge. It’s like having a portable library. Are there bad things on the Internet? Sure. Just don’t access them. Use it for good. To research years ago I had to go to a library and pour through books. The Internet has made research easier. I thank God for it.

I love Progress! I preach every week to you, and post sermons on Facebook and on my WordPress Blog. I reach several thousands all over the world with the Gospel of Christ. We couldn’t do that before, but we can now. Praise God for it.

I love Progress! Medical progress has wiped out diseases that used to take whole cities out. We no longer have Small Pox or Black Plague infestations because of medical progress. Thank God for the advances that medicine has made.

Yet with every wonderful advance of progress, one of the worst things that has come out is Progressive Thought.

Mankind has made itself a judge as to what is right and wrong, and as God said If you conceive chaff, you will bring forth stubble, and the your breath shall catch you on fire.” It is not “Progressive” to turn away from God as Judge to become our own arbitrators of good and evil. It was dangerous in the Garden of Eden, and it is dangerous now.

Planned Parenthood released the 2017 statics, telling us proudly that they killed 321,384 babies last year. This is about half of the population of Nashville, or more than the population of Columbia, Mount Pleasant, Spring Hill, Murfreesboro, and Pulaski Tennessee combined. Progressive thought says that the child in the mother’s womb is a lesser important life than the mother. Yet the Bible says that the child in the mother’s womb is planned of God.

Psalm 139:13-16 (NIV) For you {O God} created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

God is our Judge. Who shall be in Heaven with our God? Shall I? Shall you? If God is your Judge and you honor Him by obedience then you shall be with Him in eternity.

The LORD Is The Law Giver

Salvation is by faith and not by works.

We are saved by placing ourselves in Christ, trusting Him fully for our salvation. This is the grand theme of Scripture. We read:

Romans 3:28 (NKJV) Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.

Romans 5:1-2 (NKJV) Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Though salvation is indeed by Grace and not by works – I certainly do not wish to put this aside – God is still the Law Giver. For many years the Church in America has promoted a nominal type of Christianity as normative.

You can say the sinner’s prayer, then go back to living your life as you did before you were saved. This type of pitiful preaching has flooded America with pseudo-Christians, people who know the vocabulary but not the Father, Son, nor Spirit. I read an article by Baptist Ethicist Russell Moore where he stated:

“I do not believe that we’re living in a post-Christian society if you define Christian the way that the New Testament does. When people ask me that, I usually say we’re living in, at best, a pre-Christian society. I don’t think there’s a golden age in the past where there has ever been a nostalgic Christian society … There was a previous era {in America} when people had a certain basic understanding of biblical truths and some connection to the church. That brought some benefit because, in many cases, there was some sort of stable understanding of morality. But it also brought a lot of drawbacks because a nominal Christianity doesn’t save.”

When a person is saved by faith in Christ there is always – ALWAYS – a point of CONVERSION. A converted person begins to desire to live for the Lord Who savcd them. A converted person is not sinless, but a converted person loves the Lord more than his or her self.

There is what the Bible calls “fear of the Lord”, a respect for the Judge Who saved us.

Look at our text once more. We read:

Isaiah 33:14 (KJV) The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. …

Before salvation there is NO FEAR in sinning against God. Hypocrites and false converts are not ashamed of sin. But those who are CONVERTED begin to understand that God – our Lord – is the Law Giver. We read in the last half of this verse:

Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire?
who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?  

The “Devouring Fire” is a reference to God. The Bible says that:

Deuteronomy 4:24 (ESV) For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

Deuteronomy 9:3 (ESV) Know therefore today that he who goes over before you as a consuming fire is the Lord your God.

Who shall dwell with “The Devouring Fire” that is God our Creator? We read:

Isaiah 33:15 (KJV) He that WALKETH RIGHTEOUSLY, and SPEAKETH UPRIGHTLY; he that DESPISETH THE GAIN OF OPPRESSIONS, that SHAKETH HIS HANDS FROM HOLDING OF BRIBES, that STOPPETH HIS EARS FROM HEARING OF BLOOD, and SHUTTETH HIS EYES FROM SEEING EVIL;

Who shall be in Heaven with the Father, Son, and Spirit? The one who WALKS RIGHTEOUSLY – that is, according to God’s direction. The one who lives according to His standard, for HE IS THE LAW GIVER.

Who shall be in Heaven with the Father, Son, and Spirit? The one that SPEAKS UPRIGHTLY, according to the words of the Lord. What God says we say. How God says, we do.

Who shall be in Heaven with the Father, Son, and Spirit? He that despises gain from oppression. The thief and swindler shall not be in Heaven, for these people worship mammon and not the Magnificent God Who saved us.

Who shall be in Heaven with the Father, Son, and Spirit? He that shakes his hands from holding brides. The person who can be bought will not be seen in glory. We who are His are purchased not with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.

Who shall be in Heaven with the Father, Son, and Spirit? The one who stops his ears from hearing of blood, the one who refuses to plot and plan and backstab and murder others. Those who sneak around carrying tales to gain control of God’s Church will blister in hell eternally.

Who shall be in Heaven with the Father, Son, and Spirit? The one who shuts his eyes from watching evil, who spends his time honoring God not the devil or satan.

Those who are saved by faith in Christ walk righteously. For us The LORD is our Judge. We live to serve Him. We love to serve Him. We walk righteously, for God calls us to righteousness. He says to those whom He has saved:

1 Peter 1:15-20 (NKJV) but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you

Salvation by faith in Christ always brings a change to a person’s life. We stop living for others and what others think is acceptable and begin to live to please our Father Who loves us. It is not PROGRESSIVE to walk away from the Father. It is REGRESSIVE, devilish and satanic. It is COUNTER PRODUCTIVE. We are to live so as to please Him Who gave Himself for us.

We are to live to honor our Savior and Lord.

Galatians 5:19-21 (NASB) Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things WILL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NASB) Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

Saved by faith in Christ God is still our Law Giver. He establishes what is right and what is wrong behavior. We are to live for our God knowing that one day we will stand before Him and give an account of our lives.

The Lord Is Our King

We are not King, but the Lord is our King. We live our lives to honor Him. We live our lives, if we are saved, at His command. Because we have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior we are entered into His Kingdom, and will one day see Him face to face. Isaiah said:

Isaiah 33:16-17 (KJV) {The Saved} shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.  [17]  Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.  

In this life we live with the Lord as our King, and when we depart this life we will continue to live under His rule. As the Apostle said:

Romans 14:7-12 (NKJV) For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written:

As I live, says the Lord,
Every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall confess to God.”

12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.

God is our King. There is coming a Judgment Day. Are you living for Him? If not, do you belong to Him? I cannot answer that question for you, but you had better make a choice now. Will you please the world, or will you please the LORD your King? Joshua put it plainly:

Joshua 24:14-15 (NKJV) Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! 15 And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

I choose to follow my King, the Lord Who loves me. His side is the winning side! May God touch your hearts with His Word!

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