The Parable Of Two Idolaters

idols abound
Photo by Gabriel Meinert on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles first to Matthew 5:17-20. We’ve studied this text in detail just a few Sundays ago, but I want to refresh our memories. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

When Jesus came to this earth – God become perfect Man – Jesus lived the Law. He fulfilled the Law of sacrifice by dying on the Cross as “the Lamb of God”. There are no more animal sacrifices accepted from God to cover sins. If you are saved, your sin is covered by the blood of Christ.

It is His Blood that brings us near God (Ephesians 2:13)
It is His Blood that establishes the New Covenant (1 Corinthians 10:16)
It is His Blood that makes it possible for us to serve God (Hebrews 9:14)
It is His Blood that covers our sins once and for all (1 Peter 1:19)

Under the Old Covenant, God called His people to the Temple to worship. Under the New Covenant, the people of God ARE His Temple. God lives in us who are saved! We are to cherish God above all else.

Jesus fulfilled the ceremonial and shadow laws of the Old Covenant, but did not erase the need to love and obey God. His commandments are still in effect, even today. The Law is holy, and the commandment Holy and Just and Good” (Romans 7:12). When Jesus spoke of the GREATEST COMMANDMENT, He said:

Matthew 22:37-38 … Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment.

God is to have ALL of our love. He is to be loved much more than those that are around you. God is to be loved more than you love yourself. God told His Old Testament believers

Deuteronomy 10:12 … what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,

God demands that His people love Him first and foremost. If we love God most, then we will love those around us who are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26). If we love God most, then we will love the spouse God has given us, and the children that are His gifts. We are to “love the Lord our God with all our hearts, with all our souls, with all our might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). And if we love God, “we will keep His commandments” (1 John 5:3-5).

One of the most grievous sins in all the Scripture is to not love God, but to place your love on other gods. This is the sin of idolatry. Idolatry is to make a god in our image and in our likeness, to create a false god to follow. This is what the Pharisees and the Scribes did – they were idolaters.

Jesus told us in Matthew 5:20, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. What did Jesus mean by that? In order to understand this, we will look at what many called “The Parable of the Prodigal Son”. Turn with me to:

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

The phrase “Prodigal Son” is not found in the Scripture. Many Bibles have it posted just before the parable, but this is an addition by the translators. Jesus never called it “The Parable of the Prodigal Son”. If I ask people “What does ‘Prodigal’ mean?”, most would not have a clue. Some would guess it to be “wayward” or “wandering”, but you would be wrong. The word “prodigal” comes from Latin, and means “one who wastes resources by spending it recklessly”. By titling the parable “The Parable of the Prodigal Son” you miss the entire point. Let’s focus. Jesus said:

Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven

Now Jesus is near all the publicans and sinners, but far off the scribes and Pharisees murmur against the Son of God. “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them, they bitterly say. Their righteousness will not get them into the Kingdom of Heaven. It will not save them. They are self righteous. They are IDOLATERS. Go down to Jesus’ parable.

Matthew 15:11 And he said, A certain man had two sons:

Though Jesus doesn’t give the sermon a title, it is not “The Parable of THE Prodigal Son”. It is a parable about “two sons. It is a sermon about “TWO sons who were IDOLATERS. Neither son initially loved the Father of this parable.

The two idolatrous sons could be called
“Publican Sinner” and “Pharisee Scribe”

PS and PS – both initially missed the mark!

Since Jesus looked at “Publican Sinner” first, let’s read about him first.

Publican Sinner Worshiped SELF & STUFF

Luke 15:11-13 And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12 and the younger {Publican Sinner} of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And {Father} divided unto them his living. 13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

The younger son, Publican Sinner, took what the Father gave him. As the younger son according to Jewish Law, he was allowed 1/3 of the estate, and his older brother the double portion. Publican Sinner is like every person born into this world. Every person who has ever lived has benefited from the Grace of God. It is by God’s Grace that we are given life. It is by God’s Grace that we are not immediately destroyed because of our sinful nature. The Bible says:

Psalm 145:9 The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.

God is so good to us all. Jesus said,

Matthew 5:45 … your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Luke 6:35 … {our God} the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

God gives life and breath to us all, even though we are born idolatrous. God does “good, and {gives} us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness”. Old Publican Sinner went to the Father and said, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. Give me what YOU owe me. And the Father – filled with Grace – is “slow to anger and great in power” (Nahum 1:3). He didn’t give his son what he deserved. He gave his son grace – the grace that God gives to us all. Note that our text states:

Luke 15:13 … not many days after the younger son gathered all together

Young Publican Sinner didn’t immediately wander away from the Father. He stayed home for a few days. But then he gathered ALL together. He is suppose to be loving the Father with “ALL his heart, ALL his soul, ALL his mind”, but his heart is set on his stuff, his things. Gathering up his things, he moved into a far country. What is a far country? It is a place in your heart where you turn away from the God Who loves you, and begin to follow false gods and goddesses. The far country is a life that ignores the kindness and Grace, the Presence of God. The far country is when I stop loving God with my all, and instead make myself a god.

You can be in a “far country”, far from God, sitting in Church. Anytime your idol is yourself, you are far from God. Satan even tempted Jesus to leave God.

The devil told Jesus, “If you’re hungry, command these stones be made bread {That’s a “far country”}. If you’re the Son of God, cast yourself down, and God will save you {That’s a “far country”}. If you’ll worship me, the devil, I will give you all the best this world has to offer” {That’s a “far country”} (see Matthew 4:1-11). Jesus REFUSED to go into a far country – He refused to wander from God. Publican Sinner wandered from God.

Illustrate Beloved, God is everywhere, but in your mind you can go into a “far country”. I loved the illustration Pastor Kyle Idleman used, saying, “God is like electricity”. There is electricity all around you in this building, but few of you notice it unless it is mentioned. Electricity is there. If you were to probe into an electric socket, you would know it is there. God is there. He is there. In one sense Publican Sinner could not get away from God. In our minds, however, we can go into “a far country” by allowing idolatry & sin in our lives.

Proverbs 15:29 The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

Publican Sinner took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. He is his own idol, his own god. The Bible says “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). When you love yourself more than you love God, when you are your own idol, you invest everything into that god. But in time, the good times end. Jesus said:

Luke 15:14-16 And when {Publican Sinner} had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. 15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.

Idolatry always destroys those who worship it. Idols are nothing at all – they cannot do evil, nor is it in them to do good. Idolatry exchanges the truth of God with a lie (Romans 1:23-25). Idols were always placed in the “high places”, but worship of idols will always bring you low. The Bible says,

1 John 5:21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

The younger son Publican Sinner lost everything. Now he is off feeding pigs. Under the Old Covenant Law, pigs were considered unclean creatures (Leviticus 11:7; Deuteronomy 14:8; Isaiah 65:4; 66:1). The young idolater is hungry. No man gave unto him. He is eating the slop he is feeding the pigs. Then Publican Sinner REPENTS. That’s what we read:

Luke 15:17 … And when he came to himself

This is what the Bible calls REPENTANCE.

Preach This! REPENTANCE is when you stop making excuses and WAKE UP. REPENTANCE is when you get tired of eating the slop of the hogs. REPENTANCE is when you stop saying “I deserve this” and humble yourself, saying “I will go to my father”. You cannot be saved without REPENTANCE. You are not a child of God but for REPENTANCE.

The Apostle Paul preached, “they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance” (Acts 26:20). Repentance is when you wake up, and realize that YOU are not a god – that there is but ONE GOD – and there is access to this ONE GOD through ONE JESUS CHRIST ALONE.

God the Son said in John 7:37, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink”. The Holy Spirit says “Come”! The God of Heaven says “let the one who is thirsty COME. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).

Young Publican Sinner repented, saying (Luke 15:17-18) “How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee”.

Notice there are no EXCUSES made here. God never forgives an EXCUSE. He will, however, forgive those who repent. The picture of REPENTANCE is in these words:

Luke 15:19 {I} am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

Young Publican Sinner stopped doing things HIS way, and decided to let God be God. Like the Publicans and Sinners, he drew near to God.

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

Publican Sinner is given a new name, a new start. In the arms of his Father he is blessed. In the arms of his Father he is made alive. Jesus earlier said:

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

Who need(s) no repentance? Everyone needs repentance. You cannot be saved without repentance. The Apostle Paul said:

2 Corinthians 7:10 … godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of …

Repentance is a gift of God that leads us to God. It is “God Who grants repentance that leads to life” (Acts 11:18). God gives the gift of life freely and daily. He kept young Publican Sinner alive until he “came to himself”, or woke up from the stupor of idolatry. Because God is longsuffering (2 Peter 3:9) and kind (Romans 2:4), this young man came to repentance. Repenting, he came to the Father. Repenting, he was received into the family of God.

Pharisee Scribe Stayed With The Father –
But He Too Was In A “Far Place”

The younger Publican Sinner has come home, and there is rejoicing throughout the house. Now we read:

Luke 15:25-27 Now his elder son {this is Pharisee Scribe} was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.

I want you to notice what Pharisee Scribe did. He did NOT call the Father. He called one of the servants. He asked one of the servants what was going on. Jesus chastised the Pharisees and Scribes because:

Matthew 15:3 … {you} transgress the commandment of God by your tradition

and in Matthew 15:6 … {Pharisee Scribe} ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.

Pharisee Scribe did not consult God, nor His Word, when determining right or wrong. Pharisee Scribe was faithful to be in Church, faithful to the Temple, faithful to the rituals, but had no personal relationship to the Father. Pharisee Scribe wanted the Father to wait on HIM – and was upset that Publican Sinner was being forgiven and blessed. Our Lord said:

Luke 15:28 {Publican Scribe} was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him.

Pharisee Scribe was just as much an idolater as his younger brother Publican Sinner used to be. The Father came out to him, and begged him to come in. The older idolatrous son says:

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

Now, if you’ll notice, as Jesus speaks the parable, 2/3rds of the parable is devoted to the younger son, but only 1/3 to the older son. God first called the Pharisees and Scribes to Himself through Abraham. God chose out a nation to be His own, a nation called Israel. It was to Israel that God first made His covenants. And yet, when Jesus comes to save the lost, Jesus:

John 1:11 … came unto His own, and His own received Him not

Pharisee Scribe should be pleased that his brother repented, and returned to the fold. But instead he is jealous, and upset. “Why is Jesus sitting with Publicans and Sinners? If He were the Messiah, He would know what sort of people these are”.

Jesus never finishes the parable. There is never a “The End” placed on it. We read:

Luke 15:31-32 And {the Father} said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. 32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Jesus does not say that the Pharisees and Scribes are not saved. He leaves that open. But He does tell us that – if they are saved – then they should be OVERJOYED that Publicans and Sinners are coming home to God. The saved should be ecstatic that the Kingdom of God is growing.

Jesus didn’t just tell this story to get REBELLIOUS people to repent. He told this story to convict RELIGIOUS people, to get us to repent.

The Kingdom of God is not about what I want. It’s about what Jesus wants. The Kingdom of God is calling whosoever will to repent – to come to themselves – and to return home. The “Prodigal” younger son took the grace of God, wandered off, and got far away from home. He wasted his life until he came to Himself. But the older brother was also “Prodigal”. He was upset because the Father did not give HIM a party. The Father said, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. The Older Son had access to a party any time that he wanted. But the Older Son became complacent, then idolatrous. Though he was at home with Father, Father was miles away.

Christian – if you are a Christian – are you complacent in your faith? Have you wandered far away from God in your hearts? Are you just going through the motions? The Expositor’s Bible Dictionary says:

We call it the parable of the Prodigal Son; it might with equal propriety be called the Parable of the Bereaved Father, for the whole story crystallizes about that name, repeating it, in one form or another, no less than twelve times.”

Oh, how the Father loves us! Would that every one who reads this message or hears it’s preaching would open their hearts to Him. God is everywhere, but your heart makes God seem close or far away. As a Church, our righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees and Scribes. Our Love must be Christ centered, and our focus joyfully on who we are in Christ. It is time for us to “break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you” (Hosea 10:12). If we want God to bless our nation, revival must begin here. The Prophet Isaiah, tired of the mess that Israel had become, prayed:

Isaiah 64:1-2 Oh {God} that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, 2 as when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence!

The Parable Jesus spoke – whether you call it to Parable of the Prodigal Son, the Parable of the Grieving Father, or the Parable of Two Idolaters – is left hanging, with no resolution. It is as if Jesus says, “Now, will you repent? The ball is in your court. I am here. The Father is here. The Spirit is here. What will you do?” Oh Father, make the Holy Spirit of God move in our midst. For your glory and honor. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen and Amen.

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Having An Attitude of Gratitude

Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

The past few Sundays we talked about the Second Coming of Christ. The Scripture presents His Second Coming in two stages: His coming in the Air:

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Jesus’ Second Coming in the Air – the Rapture – will be to save the Church from a “great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21).

At the end of that seven year period Jesus will return with His Church to save Israel, and establish the Kingdom of God on the earth, a Kingdom of Peace, for 1000 years.

Though Jesus will return to save His Church from the Great Tribulation, there are times when His Church has gone through suffering and tribulation. The International Mission Board of the SBC notes that in 2020:

• 340 million Christians experience high levels of persecution
• 4,761 Christians were killed for their faith
• 4,488 Church buildings were attacked and destroyed

In Finland, former Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen was criminally charged with “hate speech” for posting a picture of the Bible opened to

Romans 1:24-27 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: 25 who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.

Päivi said, “The early Christians did not renounce their faith in lions’ caves, why should I then renounce my faith in a court room?”.

In America we as Christians have freedom of speech. The big tech social networks are pushing hard to remove our freedom of speech. There may come a day when the American Christian loses our public freedom of speech. Facebook, I am told, is already blocking some Christian content, especially if it is Bible and Family based.

As I was mowing my grass this past Thursday, and talking with my Lord God, He caused a text of Scripture to pop into my head. In Exodus 1 the Scripture lists the twelve children of Jacob, and says:

Exodus 1:5-8 And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already. 6 And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation. 7 And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them. 8 Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.

God allowed Egypt to be a sanctuary for His Old Covenant people, Israel. Israel was blessed in that land. The Bible says “the land was filled with them”. Israel prospered in Egypt, just as the Christian has prospered in America. Yet over time Israel stopped being the light that God called them to be. Israel began to blend with the darkness. And in that blending, the light of God was not seen. A king rose up who “knew not Joseph”. Joseph changed his environment by living for and loving the Lord.

When you live for and love the Lord,
you change the world around you.

The King didn’t know Joseph because the believers in Israel compromised with the darkness. When you compromise with the darkness, it isn’t long before the darkness takes you. Because Egypt “knew not Joseph”, in time Egypt enslaved Israel and began to kill her children.

Let us love the Lord our God. Let us keep our eyes on Jesus, and have an attitude of gratitude to our Lord and Savior. We are told:

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice evermore. 17 Pray without ceasing. 18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

As children of the King, let us

Rejoice Evermore – At ALL times!

Word Study The little sentence “Rejoice evermore” is very powerful. It is two words in the Greek, χαίρω chaírō, {pronounced khah’-ee-ro} πάντοτε pántote, {pronounced pan’-tot-eh}, meaning “Overflow with joy at all times”. To “rejoice” is to let joy bubble up from your heart and overflow to your mouth and your face, your entire body. Why should we as Christians be filled with joy at all times? Quite simply, because …

1 Thessalonians 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ

Word Study What wonderful words! “God hath not APPOINTED us to wrath”. The word “APPOINTED” is the Greek τίθημι títhēmi, {pronounced tith’-ay-mee}, which means “to assign, to lay down, appoint”. The same word is used in Acts 17:31, where we are told “God hath APPOINTED a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ…”. When Jesus returns, the rejecters of the Gospel will have an appointment with Him. He will judge them, and punish those who have rejected His offer of salvation. The Bible tells us:

Hebrews 9:27 … it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment …

The Christ follower is not “appointed … to wrath”. Our destiny is to be with the Lord Who loves us, and will love us into eternity. Those who reject Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are under condemnation – and are the subjects of the future wrath of God. The Bible says:

John 3:17-18 God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

The “wrath of God” is a real thing. It was the wrath of God that killed the firstborn of every home NOT under the Blood of the Lamb. God’s wrath comes on those who …

Psalm 78:22 … believe not in God, and trust not in his salvation

God’s wrath came on Israel when she continually rejected His love.

Psalm 78:31 the wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel.

When you reject the Grace of God, and deny Him His glory, you bring His wrath into your life. The wrath of God is not just an Old Testament phenomenon. Listen Beloved,

I looked up the phrase “wrath of God” in the King James, and found that phrase ten times, nine of which are in the New Testament.

One day that grand old preacher John the Baptist was asked, “Are YOU the Christ?” John replied:

John 3:28-30; 34-36 …. I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him …. THIS MY JOY THEREFORE IS FULFILLED … 34-36 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. 35 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. 36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

Jesus Christ came to take the wrath of God from us. If we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, we “hath everlasting life”. But there is something else we do not have. We are NEVER under the wrath of God. The Apostle said in:

Romans 5:6-9 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

The wrath of God is not my heritage. God does have wrath. Oh yes, He does. We are told in Revelation 20:15, whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. This “lake of fire” is a horrible place, described as:

Revelation 14:10-11 … the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11 and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night

Regardless as to what is going on in your life, dear Christian, you are not appointed to wrath. What is your appointment? Again we read:

1 Thessalonians 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ

Salvation is ours. Eternity is ours. Jesus is preparing a place for us, and it is a mansion, not a fire! As a believer in Christ I am never alone. We are told:

1 Thessalonians 5:10 {Jesus} died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

It is the Christian’s lot in life that we “live together with him”. We as Christians live in union with Christ. He is with us. He is our Lord. We live WITH Him and FOR Him. We are told in:

Romans 14:8-9 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.

Rejoice, for Jesus has saved you. Rejoice evermore, because Jesus is with you in the valley and on the mountaintop. Rejoice, for God controls all things for your good. You are His Child by faith in Christ. As you love Him, know He loves you. One of my favorite texts is:

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

Rejoice at all times for whatever is happening in your life – regardless as to whether it seems beautiful or horrid – these things “work together for good” in your life. Rejoice evermore. Rejoice at all times!

The Attitude Of Gratitude Is For The Prayerful

1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.

If God is in partnership with your life, and if the Scripture is true that says:

Hebrews 13:5 … I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. … then

We as Christians should find prayer as
easy and natural as breathing!

Prayer is not just asking God for things. Prayer is talking to God your Father. What a joy it is to know that I have the ear of God, especially when I am going through trials and tribulations. As we pray, we give God the glory by acknowledging that He is Father, and we His children. We honor His name in our prayers, seeking only the glory of God.

Matthew 6:9 Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Prayer honors God by seeking His will in our lives. When His Kingdom comes in our lives, we are filled with joy.

Matthew 6:10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Prayer changes our environment by changing our hearts. Moses prayed:

Exodus 33:13-16 … Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. 14 And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. 15 And {Moses}{ said unto {God}, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. 16 For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us?

Prayer gives glory to God, and magnifies His will in our lives. Prayer invites God into our DAILY lives. “If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence”.

In prayer, we lay our needs at the Father’s feet. We pray:

Matthew 6:11-13 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…

The closer we are to God, the greater will be our attitude of gratitude. Israel was more focused on where they came from, rather than where God was leading them. Invite God into your environment. Walk with Him: “walk in the light, as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7). Confess and repent of any active sin, knowing that sin in the heart muffles your union with God in Christ.

Proverbs 15:29 The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

It is sin that quenches or grieves the Holy Spirit of God.

1 Thessalonians 5:19 Quench not the Spirit.

We suppress or grieve the Holy Spirit when we walk in the darkness, following the world instead of the Lord. We are not as we were before we were saved. As Christians, the Holy Spirit of God now lives in us.

We QUENCH the Spirit when we do NOT DO what He says do.
We GRIEVE the Spirit when we do what He says NOT to do.

The Spirit of God now lives inside you, dear Christian. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Romans 8:9). You are now the Temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have of God (1 Corinthians 6:19). God knows your hearts. Confess any active sin in your lives, and repent of that way of life. Hear the Word of God, and apply it to your lives.

1 Thessalonians 5:20 Despise not prophesyings.

Hear what the Word of God says, and do it. The Bible that we have is written by God.

2 Peter 1:21 the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

Heed the Word of God, and do what it says.

1 Thessalonians 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good.

Do not live your life based on your feelings, but on what God has said in His Word. So many of us rob ourselves of blessing when we do not prayerfully weigh all things against the Word of God.

Illustrate A little girl came to her daddy and asked for a nickle. The father generously opened his wallet and handed her a five dollar bill. The child tossed the bill on the floor, and demanded the nickle. Her daddy said, “But honey, that’s a five dollar bill!” Her reply is like what many of us stubbornly give God. “I don’t want that. I want a nickle”.

Weigh everything by God’s Word and God’s Spirit. When someone tells you something to be true, verify it by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. Make sure that what you are being told is not just a word from man. It is the Word of God that blesses. Your life should align with God’s Word if you expect to have power in prayer.

Be Thankful For All Things – Even The Hard

1 Thessalonians 5:18 In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Did you get the Covid? Be thankful. That was God’s will for your life. Trials grow the Christian. Thank Him for it.

Are you in a hospital, or long term care facility? Be grateful. This is where God wants you to minister. Tell others of Jesus.

Do you have cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or some other affliction common to mankind. Thank God for it. Do not be filled with sadness or depression or anxiety. Be FILLED with THE HOLY SPIRIT. The Bible says in …

Ephesians 5:18-21 be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Some people take a shot of whiskey, a mixed cocktail, a marijuana product, or a pill to “steady the nerves” or “calm you down”. God’s prescription is to FILL yourself with the Holy Spirit. Chase out the doom and gloom with song! Like a bird, let your hearts be filled with song!

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold.
Count your many blessings, money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your Lord on high.

So amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

If it is true that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28), then the trial you are going through is GOOD. Trust God in it. Trials make us more like Christ. As we are told in

James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers {trials}; 3 knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Had the first generation of Israel trusted the God Who saved them, they would have entered the Promised Land. God will not do great things with those who have little faith. Thank God for what you have, and for what you lack. Seek an attitude of gratitude.

Pastor Max Lucado wrote:

“A grateful heart sees each day as a gift. Thankful people focus less on what they lack and more on the privileges they have. I attended a banquet recently in which a wounded soldier was presented with the gift of a free house. He nearly fell over with gratitude. He bounded onto the stage with his one good leg and threw both arms around the presenter. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” He hugged the guitar player in the band and the big woman on the front row. He thanked the waiter, the other soldiers, and then the presenter again. Before the night was over, he thanked me! And I didn’t do anything. Shouldn’t we be equally grateful? Jesus is building a house for us (John 14:2). Our deed of ownership is every bit as certain as that of the soldier.”

God did a wonderful thing for us, dear Christian, when He saved our souls. We have Heaven before us, hell behind us, and a Savior and Lord Who cannot be defeated. When we rejoice at all times, pray at all times, and give thanks at all times, we will change our environment. We will be the light that Jesus calls His Church to be. Let us be the light of the world, a city that is set on a hill that cannot be hid (Matthew 5:14). May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

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This Is Not A Commercial

Photo by Kate Trysh on Unsplash

The grandchildren asked grandma what she wanted for Mother’s day. She said, “I just want my family to go to Church with me this Sunday”. So come Sunday, her children and grandchildren got up, got dressed, and went to Church. After the service they gathered around Grandma’s table to eat. She asked her grandchildren, “So what did you think about the Church service”? The youngest child spoke up. “I really enjoyed the singing – but the commercial was way too long!”

Let’s play a little “pretend” right now. What if today was the last day on earth I could talk to you, and this be the last day you could hear from me? What words would I want to leave with you if I were to go to glory tonight? Better than that, if you were to hear the last words God spoke to you on this earth, what would these last words be? Well, we don’t have to guess on this last part. The last recorded words Jesus Christ spoke are found in the last book of your Bibles, in the last chapter, and in the next to the last verse of Scripture. Turn there with me.

Revelation 22:20 …. Surely I come quickly.

If you have a “Red Letter” Bible, these words of Jesus Christ would be in red. Jesus tells us that He is coming quickly. There is a sense of urgency in this last chapter, for Jesus says this not just here, but two other times for a total of three times. Three is the number of God in Scripture. Working backward through the chapter, we read:

Revelation 22:12-13 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

Jesus is coming quickly! We do not know when He will come. He may come, and receive His Church by Rapture before I finish this message. Or Jesus may come and require your soul return to Him this very day. We do not know. As Pastor of this Church I have seen over twenty souls called to eternity, and few of those were expected when called. Jesus said I come quickly. Death, like a sleep, comes on us when we least expect it. Are you prepared? Jesus said in the third quote:

Revelation 22:7 Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.

This Word that we will hear today is not a commercial for some do-dad that somebody wants to sell you. Jesus is coming quickly. Blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. Are you ready if Jesus comes today? Tonight? Are you prepared to meet your Maker? As God spoke to the wayward nation Israel, He speaks to America today:

Amos 4:12-13 …. prepare to meet thy God, O {America}. 13 For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The Lord, The God of hosts, is his name.

Why Should I Care That Jesus Comes Quickly?

Some of you may be thinking, “Why would I care if Jesus comes quickly? Jesus is no more than the founder of one religion among many. He’s dead anyway – why would I care?” You should care. Jesus is not just one founder of one religion among many. Jesus Christ is God Who became Perfect Man. Again, return to

Revelation 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

When next you see Jesus –

Revelation 1:7 Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall WAIL because of him. Even so, Amen.

When Jesus comes – when you see Him in the air or when He comes to you at this life’s end – He will come as Judge of all. all kindreds of the earth shall WAIL because of him. The first Adam brought sin into the world – “and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). Man ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and, from that terrible first error, man has developed his own sense of what he or she thinks is right or wrong. Today in our world it is common – even in Church settings – to hear people affirm actions and beliefs that are NOT taught in the Scripture. We as humans have become arbiters of what we think is true. Beloved, Jesus is true. He that sent Jesus – God the Father – is true (John 7:28). Those who know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior can affirm Him and His Words, as John did:

1 John 5:20 … we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

When Jesus comes again, He comes as Avenging God, judging God, righteous God. Jesus said:

John 5:22-23 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: 23 That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

God the Father judges no one. All judgment has been given to Jesus. Those who have honored Jesus have honored the Father. Jesus Christ is the sole Judge of eternal life. The Apostle Peter told the Gentiles at the Centurion Cornelius’ home:

Acts 10:38-43 God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: 40 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; 41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And {Jesus} commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. 43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

Jesus Christ is ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. It is only through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God Who makes payment for our sins. Jesus Christ is the Judge, and the Savior. Oh Beloved, it is Jesus Who comes quickly – unexpectedly – and certainly!

Revelation 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

Jesus has the sole commission of the Godhead to give every man according as his work shall be. Jesus Christ is God made Man. He is the Eternal Word of God:

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

Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16). He was, is, and will always be God the Son. He was transformed when the Holy Spirit came upon Mary, the Angel told Joseph in Matthew 1:20

that which is conceived in {Mary} is of the Holy Spirit”

and the Angel told Mary in Luke 1:35

that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall
be called The Son of God

Not A Son of God”, but THE Son of God”. Jesus Christ, God become Man, so that God could call sinful man to His side. Jesus’ reward (Greek μισθός misthós, {mis-thos’}), literally his WAGES or what is OWED HIM is that He be the Judge of all souls. It was Jesus Who – in eternity past – agreed with both Father and Spirit to enter fallen humanity, to take upon Himself flesh and blood. The Bible says:

Hebrews 2:14 … as the children {of Adam} are partakers of flesh and blood, {Jesus} also Himself took part of the same; that through death He might destroy Him that had the power of death, that is, the devil

Man sinned against God, creating an eternal barrier between us. Jesus Christ came to break down that barrier. He is not “just a man”, or “just a founder”. Read with me again:

Revelation 22:12-13 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

Jesus says not “I WAS Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, but I AM Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Let us look at His titles for just a moment.

Jesus Christ IS Alpha and Omega

It was the fruit of the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” that Adam ate, plunging us into the abyss of sin. When John the Revelator walked the earth (he is the God inspired chronicler of this Revelation) the Greeks were thought to possess all knowledge. The Greek language had spanned the world. Even among the Jews of John’s day, many Jews no longer read Hebrew. The Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek, a text called the “Septuagint”. In the Greek Alphabet the first letter is ALPHA, and the last letter is OMEGA. When Jesus said I am Alpha and OmegaHe is saying “I have ALL THE KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM”. Humans believe ourselves to possess great knowledge and wisdom – but often our wisdom is foolishness.

1 Corinthians 3:18 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.

Mankind in our foolishness have turned the simplicity of human sexuality into a mad, confused mess. We smile and nod at one another, believing we know better than God. When we depart from God, we enter the sea of madness. The Prophet said:

Daniel 2:20-22 Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: 21 And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: 22 He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.

All Light and all Knowledge is found in Jesus Christ, in the Word He has spoken. Is your life in disarray? Is your family in trouble? Turn to Him Who is Alpha and Omega. Come to God and, by faith, receive the Gift of God – salvation by relationship to Christ. Bring your burdens to Him. Bring your brokenness to Him. He is able. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega. The Bible promises:

John 1:12 … as many as received {Jesus}, to them gave He POWER to BECOME the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name

When you receive the Son of God as Lord and Savior, you yourselves become “Children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26). Receive Him as Alpha and Omega. The world stumbles around in darkness, the “blind leading the blind, and both falling in the ditch” (Matthew 15:14). To Him Who receives Jesus, and does as He says, that person is …

Matthew 7:24-25 … a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

The Child of the King of Kings lives their life victoriously. We do not stumble, but walk in the Master’s footprints.

I could care less for what Oprah said,
But heed Jesus Who rose from the dead.
Who is impressed by the talk show host?
Let’s love Jesus, Who gives us the most.

Adrian Rogers said,

There is power in the Word of God, and Satan does not want you to understand the authority of the Word of God. He doesn’t want you to get the power that will divert his fiery attacks away from your heart — his prime target. When the Word of the Lord and the Lord of the Word become your authority, then Satan and all of his demonic forces will flee, and you are going to have authority for your life.”

Jesus Christ Is The Beginning And the End

Revelation 22:12-13 And, behold, I come quickly … 13 I am … the beginning and the end …

In Jesus is contained all the wisdom of the Godhead. He is the Alpha and Omega. But Jesus is also the beginning and the end. It was Jesus at the beginning of human history that both Father and Spirit addressed, saying:

Genesis 1:26 … Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

The Father could not make man without the cooperation of the Son. Jesus Christ was there.

When Adam and Eve ate us out of house and home
our Lord Jesus was there.

Jesus has been with man from the beginning of human history, loving us, caring for us. When Adam led humanity into sin the Lord promised to come through the “seed of the woman” (Genesis 3:15). We see the first coming of Jesus promised in the Covenant God made with Abraham. We see Jesus in the Passover Lamb as Israel is freed from the grip of Egypt. There is Jesus in the Ark of the Covenant, for within the Ark is the manna or Bread of God, the Rod of Aaron, and the Ten Commandments.

Jesus is the Manna from Heaven
Jesus is the High Priest of His people
Jesus is the fulfiller of the Ten Commandments

Jesus is the fulfiller of the Law! By receiving Him as Lord and Savior, the Beginning and the End, your life will begin anew. Because Jesus lives, you shall live forever. Jesus is no shadow, but the very Bread of God. He said:

John 6:33, 35 … the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. … 35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

Jesus is the beginning of everlasting life.
Jesus is the ending of death.
Jesus is the beginning of peace with God.
Jesus is the ending of false gods.
Jesus is the beginning of victory.
Jesus is the ending of fear and victimhood.

If Jesus Christ is your Savior and Lord, then we have His promise:

John 5:24 … Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

Jesus Christ Is The First And The Last

Revelation 22:12-13 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am …. the first and the last.

If Jesus Christ is first in your hearts, then He will be first and last in your life. In the Old Testament, God often referred to Himself as the first and the last. For instance:

Isaiah 44:6 Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.

Isaiah 48:12 Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.

The reason God took this name for Himself is because His First Commandment is:

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

To be saved, you must give God your ALL. He doesn’t want your leftovers, but your whole life. We are to love God with our ALL. Jesus Christ is God Incarnate. Jesus said in:

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

To be saved we come to Jesus, and lay our lives at His feet. The Apostle John commented right after noting Jesus’ three part declaration of Himself:

Revelation 22:14-15 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

Those who are allowed into Heaven are those who do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life. What is God’s great work? One day some people asked Jesus:

John 6:28 … What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

Jesus replied in John 6:29, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. What does God expect of us? “To believe on Him – Jesus – Whom the Father has sent”. Jesus is the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” He is God’s Light to a sin filled and broken world.

If you do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, today is the day to call upon Him and be saved.

How Is One Saved? By Coming To Jesus. Period.

As we finish today, I now come to a place of invitation. Will you come to Jesus? Will you give your lives to Him? If you are a saved believer who, like a prodigal son, has wandered from home, will you not repent and return to Him? We are told in:

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

Jesus is coming soon. Don’t make Him chase you. Come to Him, now, and be saved. the Spirit and the bride say, Come. The bride is the Church of Jesus Christ, the people who have received Him as Lord and Savior. The “Bride is the Lamb’s wife” (Revelation 21:9-11). It is the city of Heaven, the place where Christ’s redeemed live. God’s people bid you come. God the Holy Spirit bids that you come.

Word Study The word translated “COME” in our text is the Greek word ercomai (pronounced er’-khom-ahee), which means “to move from where you are to go along with another”. The Holy Spirit and the Bride say “COME”. You cannot “COME” and continue following your own path. Dear friends, God does not follow us, but we follow God. If we want to be saved we must follow God.

So many linger, holding back when the invitation is given. “I cannot step out, and receive Christ publicly. What will the Church think? What will my neighbor think?” The answer is in our text. Let him that heareth say, Come. The believer in Christ will rejoice if you come! The angels of Heaven will rejoice if you come. Let him that is athirst come. If you are thirsty for life, come. Do not hesitate, but give your life to Him. Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. Oh, what a wonderful day to be born into the Kingdom of God – on Mother’s day! May God move on your hearts through His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen!

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And You

Photo by Derek Story on Unsplash

Colossians 2:8-14 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. 9 For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: 11 in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12 buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

The Devil Attacks The Christian With
Philosophy & Vain Deceit

Word Study The word translated spoil is the Greek συλαγωγέω sylagōgéō, {pronounced soo-lag-ogue-eh’-o} means literally “to carry off as a spoil of war or booty, to lead captive”. Satan is constantly attacking the Church with the emptiness of human traditions and laws. Through a series of secular laws America has normalized godlessness.

Prayer removed from schools in 1962
The Bible removed from schools in 1963

Abortion legalized in 1973
The Ten Commandments removed from public view in 1980
Same sex marriage codified in 2015
Expanding homosexual & transgender rights in 2020

The nation was never meant to be the source of righteousness. Government exists solely to equally protect it’s citizens. The Apostle Paul, though imprisoned for preaching the Gospel of Christ, wrote:

Romans 13:1-4 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

The government was never meant to be the Church. The government is a kingdom of man established or allowed by God. The Kingdom of God is divinely appointed, headed by Jesus Christ, and inhabited by those who have received Christ as BOTH Lord and Savior. It is only the believer in Christ who is ordered to:

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

The person who puts their faith in philosophy and vain deceit are following the same path that the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’ day did. King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, chased after philosophy or human wisdom apart from faith in Christ. Solomon said:

Ecclesiastes 1:16-18 I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge. 17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. 18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

In this Internet Ready, connected world we live in, it is easy for a Christian to be side tracked, as Solomon was, into worldly wisdom and philosophy. If the devil cannot prevent a person from entering the Kingdom of God by faith in Christ, he will attempt to hamstring that person by polluting their soul with human philosophy and human traditions.

I talked with someone who told me his brother came home from Church one day. This man asked his brother, “What did you learn at Church today?” His answer was, “That the preacher must wear a suit to Church”. I do wear a suit to Church. But this “doctrine” is not found in the Scripture, and is patently divisive. I asked another what he heard at a Church revival. He told me, “That women must not wear pants or open toed shoes”. This is not the Word of God, but human tradition. Jesus chastised the Pharisees and Sadducees for following tradition and not the Word of God:

Mark 7:5-9 the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? 6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Isaiah {Isaiah 29:13} prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

Colossians 2:8 … after the tradition of men, after the rudiments {stoicheîon, pronounced stoy-khi’-on} {base elements} of the world, and not after Christ

There were two systems of philosophy that attacked the Church at Corinth:

  1. Stoicism which taught that the person is greater than any circumstance. Stoicism often focuses on human traditions. Whether a person faced poverty or prosperity, the Stoic is detached about it. “I can do all things” is what the Stoic believed. The ancient Rabbis

    The poet William Ernest Henley wrote the poem Invictus celebrating the Stoic power of man:

(1) Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
(4) It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

Though there are Stoics in America today, the greatest false teaching is Epicureanism. Epicureanism teaches that there is no ultimate truth, that truth is fluid, changeable, based upon the viewpoint of the person. Jesus spoke of the Epicurean attitude in:

Luke 12:16-21 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17 and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

The Epicureans, like Atheists, push any thought of God out of their heart.

We Are All Incomplete Apart From Jesus

Jesus Christ is not just another Man, another Charismatic Leader, another figurehead of a religion. The Bible says:

Colossians 2:9 For in Him {in Jesus} dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

In Jesus is all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. Jesus Christ is fully God and fully Man. The Scripture says:

Colossians 1:19 … it pleased the Father that in {Jesus} should all fullness dwell;

Jesus told His disciples “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” and “I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (John 14:9-10). When He prayed, He said “you, Father, are in me, and I in you” (John 17:21). The Bible tells us that the Eternal God came from glory, and became like us, but without sin. He is “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23).

Humans are broken because of sin. The Bible says:

1 John 1:8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us …

All humans are natural born sinners. When born into this world, we are born – not with a desire to do the good – but with a desire to pursue that which is against God. Our forefather Adam brought sin – like a plague – into this world and onto every son and daughter born from creation’s dawn. When you enter this world kicking and crying you enter it as a son or daughter of Adam.

You are not complete unless you have given yourselves to Christ. Ritual is not enough. Remember that Jesus said to the religious Pharisees:

John 8:44, 47 Ye are of [your] father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. … (47) He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear [them]not, because ye are not of God.

Pharisees attempt to be “complete” or right with God apart from faith in Christ. That just won’t work. Jesus Christ contains “all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (in human form)”. We cannot be complete – qualified to enter Heaven – unless our lives are attached to Christ by faith.

Colossians 2:11-12 in {Jesus} also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12 buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

When you receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God the Holy Spirit acts on your life to make you “born again”. Your position before God changes.

A male child born into Israel was required by God to be circumcised on the eighth day of birth – or be cut off from Israel (Leviticus 12:3; Philippians 3:5). This circumcision was only performed on the boy, not on the girl. Circumcision did not save the child, but marked the boy child as a member of the Kingdom of God (Genesis 17). Because Jesus was “cut off” for our sins at Calvary, when we receive Him as Lord and Savior God “cuts us off” in our hearts. This is a God the Holy Spirit circumcision made without hands. The Apostle spoke of this in detail in:

Romans 2:25-28 For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. 26 Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? 27 And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfill the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? 28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29 but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

The believer in Christ is circumcised in heart with the circumcision made without hands. That person is marked as a citizen of the Kingdom of God because their heart is tender toward God, seeking to please Him, and not man. Genuine believers – members of Christ’s Kingdom – can say “we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of{be pleasing to}{Jesus}” (2 Corinthians 5:9).

You are complete in Christ because Christ
Your Savior is completely God!

Colossians 2:10 … ye are complete in him, {Who} is the head of all principality and power

We are told “in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily”. The word “dwelleth”in the Greek text means “to be permanently at home with”. All that God is permanently dwells in Christ. Jesus Christ has and will always have the full nature of God. Before Jesus ever came to this earth He was God, and is still God today:

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

Jesus Christ is Creator God. He is, was, and will always be God the Creator. Jesus is, as we are told in 1 Timothy 3:16 …

God … manifest in the flesh”

What a glorious love God has for us, that “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Jesus Christ is “the Brightness of God’s glory, and the express image of God’s Person, Who, upholding all things by the Word of His power, Who by Himself purged our sins, and is now seated on the right hand of Eternal God the Father” (paraphrase of Hebrews 1:3).

Jesus Christ is God.
Jesus Christ became perfect Man.
Jesus Christ purged our sins.
Jesus Christ is alive today.
And at the right hand of God the Father.
God the Son made us right with God the Father!

We Are QUICKENED TOGETHER With Jesus

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

Word Study There is an interesting term the Bible uses for the Christian, and it is the term is quickened together. We were dead in sins an in the circumcision of our flesh – separated from God because of the sin in us. We were in a helpless and hopeless situation. Then Godquickened {us} together” with Jesus, (“quickened together” is the Greek syzōopoiéō, {pronounced sood-zo-op-oy-eh’-o} which means made us alive together with Jesus”). As Jesus is eternal, we who are His are eternal. Our destinies are locked together.

Illustrate I’m sure you have all seen a railroad train. The locomotive is attached to the cars, and pulls the cars down the track. Jesus Christ is our Locomotion. We are bound to Him eternally. As we go through this life, we avoid sin, repent of sin, and try our best not to jump the track that Jesus has us on. The locomotive {Jesus} alone has life – the cars which follow it have no inherent life in them – only when they are bound to the locomotive do they do anything productive. They must go where the locomotive leads them. We who belong to Christ are bound to Him in life, and bound to Him in afterlife.

Beloved, if you are saved by faith in Him, God has switched where your car was attached! God has changed the track of your life. Whereas before you were attached to the Locomotive of Satan, and riding on twin rails of sin and death, now your life is different. You are bound to Jesus Christ by faith, and ride on the twin rails of love and hope. The destination of Locomotive Satan is damnation and condemnation. The destination of Locomotive Jesus is salvation and eternal life in Heaven. The wonderful truth of the Gospel is:

Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

We are quickened together with Christ. Praise Him, by Grace we are saved. God has blott{ed} out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which were contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to Christ’s Cross. We who are believers in Christ are bound to Him forever. As Adrian Rogers once said:

The train that runs with incredible speed on ribbons of steel is far freer to be what it was made to be than the so called free train that may choose an excursion through the meadow. It is only free to wreck.”

Trust in and follow Jesus. Believe that He is able to save you, and that He is able to keep that which He has saved. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Pastor Wayne Stiles told the story one time of his two daughters. One child would ask him to throw her up into the air and catch her. Every time he caught her, she would say “Do it again, daddy!”. The other daughter asked her daddy to toss her into the air, but screamed in fear when he did so, and never asked to be tossed up again. What was the difference between the two children? One child focused on the ability of her daddy to catch her, whereas the other child focused on her inability to control the flight. Put your faith fully in Jesus, believer, and trust in Him.

May God drive His Word, by His Spirit, fully into your hearts and lives this very day. Amen and Amen.

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Happy People Will See God

God is immense!
Photo by John Fowler on Unsplash

Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

The Way To Happiness Is To Hear And Do

This morning we looked at Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount”, and talked about how Jesus viewed the Law of God. Tonight I want to look at this small verse, a tiny portion of that Sermon on the Mount.

Word Study The first word is Blessed, which is the Greek μακάριος makarios which means “much happiness”. People look for happiness in many things. As Jesus went out the Bible says:

Matthew 4:25 … there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.

Many people followed Jesus for temporary relief. People with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatics, and those that had the palsy” flocked to Jesus, and Jesus healed them all. Many people follow Jesus that same way today. They only seek out Jesus when some great negative comes into their lives. When life is good, they only want a part time Savior, a Jesus Who will stay in the background until needed, Who only – like a trained dog – comes when called. The Bible says:

Jeremiah 17:9-10 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? 10 I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

No heart is born into this world “pure”. “Those that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8). It is because of the condition of the human heart that evil is perpetuated. Jesus told the Pharisees and Scribes:

Matthew 15:18-20 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20 these are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

Illustrate I often people today say “just follow your heart”. Beloved, if you just “follow your heart” you will end up getting in terrible trouble. Case in point, consider the heart of the first human King of Israel, King Saul. When Saul was first chosen the Prophet Samuel told him:

1 Samuel 15:1-3 … The Lord sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the Lord. 2 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. 3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not…

God gave King Saul very clear (though brutal) instructions. In our modern world, that which God told Saul to do to Amalek seems harsh. But God owns everything and everyone on the big blue planet. If God wanted King Agag and the Amalekites destroyed, that is God’s business. God is God and we are not. What did Saul do?

1 Samuel 15:9 … Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.

Saul and Israel looked over the people and the possessions of the Amalakites, and what look vile or useless to them, they destroyed – but what they thought was the best, they saved. This is not what God told them to do.

So God decided to remove King Saul from office. Though the Prophet Samuel prayed to God all night long, interceding for King Saul, God would not relent. When Samuel got to Saul’s encampment the next day, Saul told him:

1 Samuel 15:13 … Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord.

Samuel replied, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? (vvs 14). Saul justified his actions by saying the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed. (vvs 15)”. Saul heard the Voice of God, knew what God wanted. The instructions were very clear. But Saul “followed his heart” and allowed Israel to do the same. It cost Saul his Kingdom. God told Saul through Samuel:

1 Samuel 15:22-23 … Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

Doing only PART of what the Lord says is the same as
rejecting ALL of God’s Word. Let Us Be “Pure”

Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Word Study “BLESSED” or “MUCH HAPPINESS” comes to those who are “ pure in heart”. The word translated “pure” is the Greek καθαρός katharós, {pronounced kath-ar-os’}. In other Scriptures, the word is translated as “CLEAN” (Matthew 27:59; John 13:10). How does one become “CLEAN”? It is only by listening to Jesus, and doing what He says. Jesus told His disciples:

John 15:3 Now ye are CLEAN {katharós} through the word which I have spoken unto you.

When the Word of God is heard AND DONE, it cleanses the heart. It is only the CLEAN heart that can see God. When the Apostle Paul speaks of the Church and Jesus, he said that Jesus …

Ephesians 5:26 … SANCTIFIES and CLEANSES {καθαρίζω katharizō} {the Church} with the washing of water BY THE WORD.

It is not just the Word of Christ that cleanses, but the Word of God that is both HEARD and DONE. We see this principle many times in Scripture. For instance:

Romans 2:13 … for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified

and in James 1:21-25 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and {all that remains of wickednessNASB}, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

Throughout Jesus’ ministry on this earth, twelve men followed Him everywhere He went. Yet only eleven of these men were blessed. Jesus said to them:

John 13:10-11 … ye are CLEAN {katharós}, but not all. 11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all CLEAN {katharós}.

Judas Iscariot heard the Word of Christ on a daily basis. Day after day, for some 3 ½ years, Judas heard Jesus preach. And yet, though a faithful Church member, Judas was not happy. He lost his blessing – and ended up taking his own life. Throughout the Scripture we see those who heed and do God’s Word being blessed. The Apostle in another place warns against blending God’s Word with the word or tradition of man. He tells Titus:

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

You may not understand or know all of the Word of God. But as His Children, you are accountable to do that which you know. The stepbrother of Jesus declared, To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.(James 4:17).

When You Both Hear And Do His Word,
You Have God’s Promise

Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

I have often been asked the question,

When we get to Heaven, will we see God?”

Every believer I meet has told me that they look forward to seeing God face to face. When John the Revelator looked into Heaven, he wrote:

Revelation 22:3-4 … there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: 4 and they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.

When Moses went up into Mount Sinai, he asked God:

Exodus 33:18 … I beseech Thee {dear God}, shew me thy glory.

God told Moses:

Exodus 33:20 Thou canst not see My face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

God allowed Moses to get into a “clift of the rock” to protect him, and covered Moses so that all Moses could see of God was “His back parts” (vvs 23) … “but My face shall not be seen”. Moses saw just a glimpse of God’s glory. But Moses did not see God face to face.

Can a person “see” God? It depends on what
you mean by “see”.

It is impossible to “see” God the Father or God the Holy Spirit due to the very nature of God. The Bible tells us that one of the characteristics of God is God is everywhere at all times. The theologians call this the Omnipresence of God. When I “see” something or someone, the seeing must be in my presence.

God is everywhere. God is Spirit.

The Psalmist said of God in Psalm 139:7-12 Whither shall I go from Thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. 12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to Thee.

God is everywhere – there is no where where God is not. God is spirit. When Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection, He told them:

Luke 24:39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

God is Spirit. Jesus taught us that. In John 4:24 He said, God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. ” As a Spirit, God is everywhere. We are told in

Jeremiah 23:23-24 Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? 24 Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.

God is everywhere at once, and every time at once – and yet He is fully present in the moment. God can manifest an image of Himself, and we can see that image. Yet we are not seeing God – but a representation of God. The Shekinah Glory was a visible demonstration that the invisible God was present (Deuteronomy 31:15) – yet this was not the all of God. The Lord tells us through Isaiah:

Isaiah 66:1-2 Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? 2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.

The Infinite God is present with those who both hear and do His Word. But can we “see” God like we “see” a tree, or “see” each other? No, because God is too infinite. It is the infinity of God that blesses us as believers. Because God is everywhere at once, He can promise to every one of His children by faith:

Isaiah 43:2-3 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. 3 For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior:

Only an omnipresent, omnipotent God can promise that – no matter where I go, no matter what I do, no matter what time of the day it is – “ I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. ” (Hebrews 13:5). Theologian Don Stewart notes:

The universe that God created finds the Creator everywhere. He is everywhere present. There is no place that a person can hide and no chance that a believer will out of His protective care. He is everywhere present in His works and in His personality. This does not mean that God is the same as the universe – merely that His presence is everywhere in the universe. The truth of God’s omnipresence if comforting for the believer for no one can escape God’s notice. ”

So in one sense, no, you will not be able to see God face to face as you see me face to face. We are told in …

1 John 4:12 … No man hath seen God at any time.

The nature of God makes seeing all that is God impossible.

This Is Why God Became Man

Is it possible to see God the Father or God the Spirit in a localized way with our eyes? No, it’s not. So God, in His great love, sent the eternal Jesus Christ into the world. God the Son became flesh, so that we who are flesh can see God face to face. When Jesus promised:

Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

He was making a promise that He Himself would keep. God Himself – Father, Son, and Spirit, from eternity past are “immortal, invisible” (1 Timothy 1:17). The Bible says of God that He dwells in unapproachable light, “whom no man hath seen, nor can see” (1 Timothy 6:16). Jesus was like this before the incarnation. Yes, God could manifest an image, a Theophany, or a Christophany, a Shekinah, or a person. But then …

Hebrews 2:14 … as the children (that’s us) are PARTAKERS OF FLESH AND BLOOD, He also Himself (Jesus) took part of the same

God the Son lowered Himself to become our Mediator. He represents God the Father and God the Spirit to us, and we to God. The Scripture says:

John 1:17-18 (KJV)For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

There is only One Man Who has ever truly “seen” God, and that Man is God become Man, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Jesus said in John 6:45-47 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. 46 Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. 47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

Only Jesus has seen God as God is. But Jesus Christ is God, and when we get to Heaven we will see God face to face – for we will see Jesus! When you see Jesus, you will be seeing God. Jesus said “if you have seen Me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). All that is of God, we shall see in Jesus, God Who became Man. Why does God love us so much as to want to lower Himself to be like us? The Apostle called this a great mystery. He said:

1 Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

Will we see God face to face, it will be God the Son we see. When we hear and do His Word then God “shines in our hearts, giving the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). We see God face to face through Jesus Christ. “There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

Do you know Jesus as Lord and Savior? If not, you will never “see” God. But if you know Him, you will see God in Heaven. You will see Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, and be with Him forever. May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen!

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Follow God Up The Mountain To Be Saved

Follow Jesus up the mountain!
Photo by Matteo Catanese on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to Matthew chapter five. Today we’re going to look at what Jesus taught about the Law. As we come to Matthew chapter 5, we read:

Matthew 5:1-2 And seeing the multitudes, he {Jesus} went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2 and he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying…

The Saved Believer Follows God

It is become fashionable today to say that you can be a Christian, and yet there be no obligation to follow Christ. Some “preachers” have invented the title, “Nominal Christian”, to apply to those who profess to be Christian, and yet have no evidence of Christlike works in their lives. In many cases the “Nominal Christian” is, in outward appearance, no different than a lost person. Some who profess to be “Pastors” and “Evangelists” who confuse the free gift of salvation with lawlessness. They say, “You can be saved by faith in Jesus – but then God expects nothing else of you”. This is a lie from the pit of hell. You will never find such a salvation in the Bible.

Under the Old Covenant God saved Israel by faith … but Israel had to do what God said to be saved. The Lamb without spot or blemish had to be killed. It’s blood had to be placed on the doorway of the home. The Covenant required a following. After God worked through Egypt that night, bringing death where the Blood was not, Israel had to follow God out of Egypt. Israel followed God by faith, and was saved by faith. Saving faith follows God. Always.

God did not give Israel the Law until they repeatedly refused to follow Him. Israel was saved by faith, by following God up to the giving of the Law. The Law did not save Israel. Following God saved Israel.

When God gave Israel the Law, He had Moses, the Leader of Israel, go up Mount Sinai to receive the Law. When God gave Moses the Law for Israel, God gave Israel the Ten Commandments, sanitary Laws, ceremonial Laws, and Laws governing the Priesthood. Only Moses was allowed to go up Mount Sinai to receive this complex Law. Mount Sinai is NOT found in the Promised Land. It is found in Arabic territory. What does this have to do with our text today?

Moses left the multitudes in the valley, and went up Mount Sinai (in Arabia) to receive the Law. Now Jesus “seeing the multitudes … went up into a mountain”. This is not Mount Sinai, but Mount Eremos (in Hebrew, הר האושר‎, Har HaOsher), located in the Promised Land. When God spoke to Moses in the giving of the Old Covenant, Moses was by himself. As God the Son (our Lord Jesus) speaks on the Mount, “his disciples came unto him”. The Bible says:

John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

The Old Covenant Law was given to Moses for Israel, but salvation was still only by faith in God. The Old Covenant said:

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

Faith follows God. Faith always follows God. Under the Old Covenant, salvation was by faith in God. Now God the Son speaks, and brings in the NEW Covenant. What is the difference between the New Covenant and the Old Covenant? Now Jesus’ disciples – not just Moses, but every follower of God – goes up the Mountain to hear what God the Son has to say. Does Jesus wipe out the Law of God? Well, what does Jesus say?

Matthew 5:17-20 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus Came To Fulfill The Law

Jesus said in vvs 17 I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

Word Study The word rendered destroy is the Greek καταλύω katalýō, {pronounced kat-al-oo’-o}, which means “to subvert, overthrow, to bring to nothing, annul, to tear down”. Jesus did not come to destroy or overthrow the Law of God, but He came to fulfill {the Greek πληρόω plēróō, {pronounced play-ro’-o}} or “COMPLETE IT” it. As I said before, the Law was:

Ten Commandments
sanitary Laws
ceremonial Laws
Laws governing the Priesthood

Jesus did not come to erase the Law of God. The Law never saved anyone – but it was followed by those who were saved. You were saved by following God. The Apostle said, “the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Romans 7:12). The sanitary laws were in place to protect the life of the Israelite. The ceremonial laws were but shadows given until the Messiah came. The Law’s requirement to “go to the Tabernacle or the Temple with a lamb without spot or blemish, and to sacrifice that lamb on the altar” (Leviticus 1; Leviticus 14; Leviticus 16; Exodus 12) was done year after year under the Old Covenant. Jesus Christ came to be …

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

Jesus is THE Fulfillment of every animal sacrifice under the Old Covenant. The Book of Hebrews tells us:

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

The animal sacrifices under the Law were temporary, until Jesus Christ came. Jesus fulfilled the Law of sacrifice. The writer of Hebrews, speaking of Jesus, said:

Hebrews 10:5-10 when {Jesus} cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6 in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. 7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. 8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; 9 then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Jesus Christ, God the Son, our Messiah came to be the fulfillment of the Law. He is the “Lamb of God” (John 1:36). It is because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross that we can stand right with God. We can approach God because Jesus, like the Old Covenant Lamb, is without spot or blemish. Jesus went to the Cross – a wooden altar – to die for our sins. We now cry out with Heaven:

Revelation 5:13 … Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.

We are saved by receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Salvation belongs to our God Who sits upon the Throne in Heaven, and unto the Lamb (Revelation 7:10). Jesus fulfilled the Ceremonial Laws. Jesus told His disciples on the Mount:

Matthew 5:17-18 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Jesus uses two terms that we as Gentiles are probably not acquainted with. He speaks of the jot and the tittle. These are terms that refer to Hebrew writing. The jot is the tenth letter in the Hebrew alphabet – it looks like an apostrophe. It is the smallest letter in the Hebrew. The tittle is a tiny extension placed on a Hebrew letter. What Jesus is saying is that the smallest part of the Law and the Prophets may not be removed unless He as Christ fulfilled it. Jesus fulfilled the ceremonial portions of the Law. He died as the Lamb for us all. The Apostle said:

1 Peter 1:18-22 … ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

When Jesus died on that Cross, had He remained dead then His death would have meant nothing. But Jesus died and ROSE AGAIN. Jesus as SAVIOR died for our sins. God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice, and caused the Son to RISE FROM THE GRAVE. If you are saved, the Scripture says:

Romans 14:7-9 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. 8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.

Jesus died to be your Savior – and rose from the grave to be your Lord. Every believer is called to follow Jesus by faith. We are to do as He says, to live as He says. Listen Beloved, the Christian is not without Law. Christ is our Law. Christ is our Savior. Christ is our Leader.

You cannot be saved and NOT follow God the Son.
The Scripture does not allow for such a fantasy!

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

The love of Christ holds us fast{Greek συνέχω synéchō, {pronounced soon-ekh’-o}}. Because Jesus died for me I am saved. Because Jesus rose from the grave for me, I must follow Him – and you must, too, if you are saved. The great preacher C.H. Spurgeon said:

If Christ is not all to you He is nothing to you. He will never go into partnership as a part Savior of men. If He be something He must be everything, and if He be not everything He is nothing to you.”

The works of the Law – especially the ceremonial portions – could not save. They were but shadows, temporary adjustments made until Jesus Christ appeared. But with the coming of Christ the ceremonial and priestly laws are fulfilled. You no longer need to sacrifice animals to God.

You as Christians are under a High Priest
named Jesus Christ! All Christians are priests unto God.

Hebrews 2:16-17 … {Jesus Christ} took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. 17 Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

Following The Law Does Not Save You,
But Following Jesus Does

Jesus is the fulfiller of the Old Covenant ceremonial laws. Within the Old Covenant there are not just ceremonial laws, but also the moral code we call the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are still in effect, but following them does not save you. Only following Jesus saves you. Notice what our Lord says:

Matthew 5:17-19 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Please notice what Jesus said. He did NOT say Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so” SHALL GO TO HELL. Jesus said, Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.What are the “least” of the commandments? Every commandment has value, for it comes from God. But I think the commandments with the most weight are those that either deprive someone of their life, or deprive someone of their spouse. The Ten Commandments are:

1 – No other gods, but GOD (Exodus 20:3)
2 – No creation of or worship of idols (Exodus 20:4-6)
3 – Do not take God’s name in vain (Exodus 20:7)
4 – Remember the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-11)
5 – Honor your parents (Exodus 20:12)
6 – Do not murder anyone (Exodus 20:13)
7 – Do not take someone else’s spouse (Exodus 20:14)
8 – Do not steal (Exodus 20:15)
9 – Do not lie about your neighbor (Exodus 20:16)
10 – Do not covet what your neighbor has (Exodus 20:17)

When I think about these commandments, God never made one greater than the other. But in the human frame of reference I would suspect the least of these ten commandments is lying about your neighbor. As humans, we often view gossip as harmless, the least of all things. But Jesus said “if you do it and by example, teach it then you will be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. There is a penalty for gossiping.

To God, there are no “little white lies”.

Jesus then says something very telling. He says:

Matthew 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Word Study The word translated exceedis the Greek περισσεύω perisseúō, {pronounced per-is-syoo’-o}, which means “to SUPER-ABOUND” or “to be much, much better than”. Why is Jesus picking on the scribes and Pharisees? Why does Jesus say “if you break the least of the commandments, and teach others by your example, you will be the LEAST in Heaven”, but now say “the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees will only get then into HELL”? It is because KEEPING THE LAW DOES NOT SAVE YOU – BUT FOLLOWING JESUS DOES.

If there was any two people’s who constantly harassed Jesus, it was the scribes and Pharisees. The scribes and Pharisees kept the Law of Moses perfectly. They studied the Law. They were very careful to never murder anyone, or take another man’s wife, or make idols and worship them. By all traditional standards, the Scribes and Pharisees kept the Law perfectly. But they failed in a very critical point.

They would not follow Jesus.
They would not go up the mountain and sit at the Master’s feet.
They followed the outward form of religion.
But had no relationship with God.

The Christian Lives To Fulfill The Law

Illustrate One day a man came running after Jesus. He said:

Mark 10:17 … Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?

He’s asking Jesus “How can I get to Heaven?” Jesus replied:

Mark 10:19 … Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honor thy father and mother.

Jesus quotes the Ten Commandments. Not all, but six of them. If you are a believer in God, you will follow His moral codes. The man replies:

Mark 10:20 … Master, all these have I observed from my youth.

The Bible says that “Jesus beholding him, LOVED him”. Jesus looks at this man, and looks through this man. Outwardly he has kept the commandments of God. However, his heart was not sold out to God. He was not in love with God. His heart belonged to another. Jesus tells the man, tenderly,

Mark 10:21-22 …. One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. 22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

The Bible says “the Lord sees not as man sees. Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Jesus looked into this man’s heart. He outwardly looked like a follower of God, just as the Scribes and Pharisees looked like followers of God. But the man’s heart was bound to his things, to his riches, to his possessions, and not to his God. Jesus told him, “sell what you have”. Get rid of your idols. Then Jesus told him, come, take up the cross, and follow Me. Outwardly following the Law while inwardly following the world will not get you to Heaven. You must follow Jesus. You must fall in love with Jesus.

Love Is Our Fulfillment Of The Law

Jesus fulfilled the ceremonial Laws so that we who believe in Him need never do these Laws again. We do not need to be circumcised. We do not need to sacrifice animals. We do not need restricted diets, nor do we need to keep Jewish festivals. Jesus fulfilled these shadow laws. He is the Lamb of God. He is our High Priest.

Jesus did not wipe out the Ten Commandments. He expanded them. Addressing the sixth commandment, Do not murder anyone (Exodus 20:13)”, Jesus said:

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

Among religious people like the Scribes and Pharisees, I daresay that none of them actually murdered someone in the traditional sense. If I were to ask “Who in this room has actually killed someone with malice”, I’m sure no one would raise their hand. But the sixth commandment is violated when you kill someone in your heart, when you carry grudges and hurts. The Ten Commandments are still in effect today. The only way you can fulfill them is by giving yourselves to Jesus. Take up His Cross and follow Him. When you give your lives to Jesus Christ – when He becomes your Lord and Savior – then Jesus begins to fulfill the Ten Commandments in your life. You do not just NOT commit adultery (a violation of the 7th commandment), but you do not cherish adulterous thoughts in your mind. Giving yourselves to Jesus, you begin to love as Jesus loved.

It is through love that ALL of the Law is fulfilled. The Apostle Paul wrote:

Romans 13:8-10 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

The Christian way of life is NOT lawless, but it is very simple. When you love and follow Jesus, God saves you. When God saves you, you love others. You live a life not for yourself, but for the Lord Jesus. You pick up His Cross and follow Him. You do not follow like the multitudes, but you follow Him up the mountain. You sit at His feet. You love others because you love Him.

Illustrate I will close with this. I was reading an article written by Rebecca McLaughlin the other day called “Why It Is Unloving To Preach #YouDoYou”. In the article she talked about the sinking of the Titanic. In 1912 the Titanic – a supposedly unsinkable ship – sank, killing around 1500 people. Sadly, when the ship hit the iceberg, it was about an hour before anyone was told the ship was sinking. Had the word gotten out sooner, a lot more people could have been saved. Rebecca wrote:

When I was a teenager, I heard a man named Rico Tice explain that if the message of Jesus is true, it’s like we’re all sailing on the Titanic. Jesus warns us that without His offer of salvation, everyone is facing God’s judgment as surely as the people on that ship were facing drowning if they didn’t get to a lifeboat. The people on the ship are just going about their daily lives and don’t think they have a problem.”

If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you have no hope of ever entering Heaven. Salvation is a free gift from God. In order to receive that gift you must lay your life down at Jesus’ feet. You must receive Him as He is – both Lord and Savior. If you do not – if following Jesus is not part of your life – then I am not loving you by telling you everything is OK. Everything is certainly NOT OK. You need to follow Jesus in life, where ever He leads, if you expect to follow Him to Heaven.

Choose Thou My Sacrifice – Dennis Martin (Still Waters Ministry)

To Abraham of years gone by,
God called and he said, “Here am I”.
“Go offer Isaac – don’t ask why” –
The Lord God chose his sacrifice.

As Israel out of Egypt came
They sacrificed a lamb not lame.
For years to come they’d do the same –
The Lord God chose that sacrifice.

When God with meekest Moses met
Upon the mount where laws were set,
The off’rings He did not forget –
The Lord God chose each sacrifice.

When fullness of the time was come,
God sent forth His only Son
To shed His Blood for everyone –
The Lord God chose His sacrifice.

If we are saved, God wants our praise,
To Him that sacrifice we raise
And worship Him through all our days –
The Lord God chose this sacrifice.

Since Christ hung on the cruel tree
To be the Sacrifice, shall we
Not living sacrifices be?
The Lord God chose our sacrifice.

And as through life we go our way,
We make some sacrifice each day.
And we in full surrender say,
“Oh, Lord God choose my sacrifice.”

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

Posted in Matthew, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Aspire To Inspire

Lion of Judah
Photo by Matthew Kerslake on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to:

Colossians 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk ye in Him

I hate most commercials I see on television. There’s an Aldi’s© commercial that is nauseatingly stupid, and a Smuckers© commercial that should be called schmuck. I like a few of the Progressive© commercials, and the GEICO© commercials, because they are usually humorous. Several years ago a commercial for a SAMSUNG© phone came on that was just beautiful! Listen to these words:

Nobody ever set their sights on second place. Who aspires to be almost remembered? There’s a reason there are no giant foam fingers that say “We’re number 3″. No one wants to tell an average joke, make an underwhelming entrance, go out with a whimper. No one ever stood in front of a mirror with a hairbrush pretending to be the tambourine player. And there are definitely more kids dressed as Batman, than Robin. We all aspire.”

I’m not sure we all aspire. It’s a good thought, I just don’t see it. I’ve eaten at restaurants where the waitresses are excellent, and where the waitresses don’t care. I’ve eaten food that was prepared with pride, and at places where the food was mediocre at best. I’ve worked – both in the Air Force and in civilian life – with people who sought excellence … but I’ve also worked with lazy people who had no concern over what they were doing. I tell you, if everyone DID aspire, our world would be a greater place!

The Apostle today encourages us to aspire to be like Jesus Christ – that is, IF you are a Saved Son of God.

We Must Receive Jesus As The Only Regent

Colossians 2:6 … As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord

What does it mean to received Christ Jesus the Lord”? The word “receive” is the Greek word παραλαμβάνω paralambanō which literally means “to draw to oneself in an embrace. To take to oneself. To make a part of your life. God the Father sent God the Son into the world to save Israel first. Jesus Christ is the Creator God. John tells us:

John 1:10-14 {Jesus} was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

This is not to say that every Jew rejected Christ. There were many who believed in Him, and received Him as He is, both Lord and Savior. There are many Jews today that know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and are a part of His ever growing Kingdom. But Israel as a nation rejected the Messiah Who came for them. The Bible tells us that through the Apostle Paul:

Romans 11:25-28 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. 26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. 28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.

The nation Israel rejected Jesus Christ as Messiah, for their leaders (the Chief Priests, Jews, and Sadducees and Scribes) rejected Jesus. The Apostle calls this “a mystery”. God allowed Israel to reject Christ so that the Lord could save more than just Israel.

Through Christ God desired to save the WORLD. Though fully God Himself, and Co-Creator of all things, Jesus is God the Father’s Regent.

Jesus as a Child told His earthly parents:

Luke 2:49 {Do you not know} that I must be about my Father’s business?

And Jesus told His disciples:

John 14:9 … he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father …

In His First Coming Jesus Christ represented the Father and His Will on the earth. Though Jesus is co-equal to both Father and Spirit (He said “I and My Father are One”), He came REPRESENTING the will of God the Father. In His Second Coming Jesus as REGENT will destroy the enemy of God’s Kingdom, and set up a Millennial Kingdom on this earth. The Psalmist foresaw this:

Psalm 2:2-9 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, 3 Let us break their bands asunder,and cast away their cords from us. 4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh:the Lord shall have them in derision. 5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. 6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.7 I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. 8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. 9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron;thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

Israel as a nation rejected Jesus as Regent in His First Coming. God used this rejection to reach out and save the Gentiles. God wants to save “whosoever will”.

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

Though REGENT, Jesus is NOT a lesser God. Jesus is, according to Scripture, the Historic Creator of all that we see. Jesus is also the Operational Creator Who holds all things together. That is the sense of the text by him all things consist (συνιστάω synistáō, [pronounced soon-is-tah’-o] are held or put together). The Apostle said in another place:

1 Corinthians 8:6 but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

Darwinian Evolution claims that humanity came to be by chance. The Bible says “God … through {Jesus} also made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:1-2). Man was created by the Compound Unity we call the “Trinity”. “God said, Let US make man in OUR image, according to OUR likeness” (Genesis 1:26-27). Neither humanity nor the natural world are accidents. All that is, was created by the I AM that is Christ Jesus our Lord!

Knowing that Jesus is Creator, and receiving Him as such, drives fear from my heart. When Adam disobeyed the Creator in the Garden of Eden, he brought …

Death
Fear
Human Righteousness
& Slavery to sin

I believe it was God the Son Who told Adam,

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

Spiritual Death came on all humanity when Adam disobeyed God. His seed from that moment on would produce bent twigs rather than righteous plants. Sin has a side effect of “self righteous, human good works”. We are told:

Genesis 3:7 … the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

Covering their sin with their human works, Adam was fear filled. When Jesus came into the Garden, He cried out to Adam, “Where are you”? Adam replied:

Genesis 3:10 … I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid…

Fear causes us to run from rather than to the Lord. Fear causes us to play “let’s make a deal” with God. “God, IF You will do THIS, THEN I will do THAT”. We cannot work our way out of sin by our works – God proved this in the Garden when He killed animals to make coverings for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21), just before casting them out of Paradise. Sin enslaves us to false works that will never save us. Jesus as Regent came to save us from Death, Fear, Human Righteousness, and Slavery to sin. Praise God for His Regent!

We Must Receive Jesus As REDEEMER

Colossians 2:6 … As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord…

The first Adam brought ..

Death
Fear
Human Righteousness
& Slavery to sin

into the world. The second Adam, Jesus Christ, redeemed us from these four horrible things. The Apostle says in:

1 Corinthians 15:45-49 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam {Jesus} was made a quickening spirit. 46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

It is our father Adam who gave us our brokenness, our sinfulness, our mortality. But it is the second Adam, Jesus Christ our Lord, Who gave us Himself, so that we might be redeemed to God. Jesus Christ died for your sin and mine. Jesus Christ rose again, and is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to his people. The Scripture repeatedly tells us that Jesus Christ is ALONE the Redeemer.

Ephesians 1:6-7 {God Himself} hath made us accepted in the beloved {Son}. 7 in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

Romans 3:24 … being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

As God made the world through Christ Jesus, He now makes His Kingdom through Christ Jesus.

It is not by our own works that we can be saved, else we would be able to boast about our inheritance of Heaven. The Apostle says:

Romans 3:27-30 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. 29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: 30 seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.

How is one saved?
It is by falling in love with Jesus.
It is by receiving Him into your life,
clinging to Him as your Preserver from hell.

The Apostle John, the lover of Christ, said simply:

1 John 5:11-12 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

You have either received Jesus Christ, or have not. If you have not, then you have not Heaven.

We Must Receive Jesus As RECONCILER

Look at Colossians 1:20-22 … and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

The Biblical Doctrine of Reconciliation teaches that, though God created all humanity through Christ Jesus, God is ONLY the Father of those who have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Jesus told the Pharisees who thought they were God’s children:

If God were your Father you would love Me … you are of your father the devil”
(John 8:42-44).

Every person who has ever been born and ever will be born belong to God. God said, “all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine” (Ezekiel 18:4). From the perspective of creation, everyone belongs to God. But not everyone belongs in God’s Kingdom.

You must be “born again of the Spirit” (John 3:3, 7)
You must be “born again … by the Word of God” (1 Peter 1:23)

The unsaved person who is not “born of the Spirit” (John3:6-7) hears the Word and Will of God, but is an enemy in their mind by wicked works”. They ignore what God said about the forbidden fruit. They unconcernedly do evil. They violate God’s Laws without concern. The lost violate God’s Commandments without thought.

We Must Receive Jesus as The RULER Of His Church

Colossians 1:18-19 And {Jesus} is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell;

Jesus Christ is the Head of His Church. When He gave what we call “The Great Commission” to the Apostles, Jesus ordered them (and us) …

Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you …

The Church in America today has done exactly what the Apostle Paul warned against. The Church largely has drifted from the Word of God, the Bible, into human tradition and myths. In Colossians 2:8-9 the Apostle wrote:

BEWARE lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. {9} For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily

Word Study In Jesus and His teachings is all the fullness. Through Jesus we have all we need to be in a right relationship with God the Father. The Bible uses the word fullness” (Greek πλήρωμα plḗrōma, [pronounced play’-ro-mah]) seventeen times. The word refers to “complete purpose”. To live a God pleasing life, you must receive Christ as Lord and Savior. To excel in the Kingdom of God, you must follow the directives of the King. Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords to His people.

The local Church becomes spoiled or taken captive by the world when it departs from the Word of God.

We can only achieve the high ground, being like Jesus Christ, when we obey the Scripture that Jesus so loved. The power of the Church is to stay firmly in step with Christ. The Bible says:

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

As God planted the Church through His Apostles the devil continually sought to pervert it. When Paul and Silas went into the Synagogue at Berea, the Bible says:

Acts 17:11-12 These {Bereans} were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honorable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.

When God’s Word is adhered to, the Church grows, and souls are saved. When the Church departs from the commandments of Christ, the light of God dims and goes out. We must follow the King of Kings and the Scripture He so cherished.

Conclusion

Colossians 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk ye in Him

The Christian way of life is described in the Bible as “a walk”. If you have received Jesus Christ as Regent, Redeemer, Reconciler, and Ruler of His Church, then your life should reflect these truths. Our beliefs should reflect our walk. As Regent, we believe that Jesus is the manifest member of the Godhead. As Redeemer, we know that only the Blood of Jesus Christ makes payment for our sins. As Reconciler we know that we have direct access to God every minute of every day. And as Ruler, we know that we are not called to be lawless. We are called to follow the God Who saved us. As Christians:

We walk in the LIGHT, not in DARKNESS
Ephesians 5:8; 1 John 1:6-7

We walk as NEW CREATURES, not LOST CREATURES
Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:6

We walk in GOOD WORKS
Ephesians 2:10

We walk in WISDOM and TRUTH
Colossians 4:5; 2 John 4; 3 John 3-4

We walk in LOVE toward God and others
Ephesians 5:2; 2 John 6

We walk REJECTING SIN and EMBRACING CHRIST
Romans 6:1-6

We walk in DIGNITY as sons of God
John 1:12

Don’t waste your lives. Receive Christ Jesus the Lord, and walk in Him. May God touch your hearts with His Spirit and His Word. Amen and Amen.

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A wonderful poem

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Christian, Take Up Your Cross

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Matthew 10:38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

His Cross” Proves Every Human Life Is Precious

This past week former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted for second degree murder, third degree murder, and second degree manslaughter. Chauvin knelt on the neck of a suspect named George Floyd. Floyd plead with Chauvin. He said “I can’t breathe” at least 16 times. Floyd asked for “water”. I watched the video, and heard Floyd saying “Don’t kill me … I’m about to die”, and crying out for his mother. If I had been there I probably would have been arrested. My heart broke as I watched Floyd die.

Whether Floyd was a criminal or not, he was none the less made in God’s image and in God’s likeness (Genesis 1:26). When God made the animals no details are given, other than God allowed Adam to name them (Genesis 2:19). When God made humanity, He “breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). Humans are distinctively different from animals. When Noah got off the Ark, God told him:

Genesis 9:2-6 …. the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. 3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. 4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. 5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. 6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

Noah and his descendants were given the animal kingdom, and were allowed to take meat from those creatures. But God warned Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. Man is allowed to kill man, but only to punish for and protect from capital offenses. I am told that Chauvin faces either 40 years imprisonment, or 75 years imprisonment (depending on whether sentencing is concurrent or consecutive). God’s law demands something else. To maliciously take any life is a capital offense in God’s Kingdom.

Life is precious. Every life is precious. If you don’t think so, consider the Cross. Jesus Christ came from eternity to this earth to demonstrate the love of God. The Apostle said:

1 Timothy 1:15 … Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

Sin Causes Problems Humans Cannot Fix

With the Chauvin verdict in, I saw news reports of people applauding and cheering. I also heard people on the other side saying things like “Unfair! Floyd was on drugs – this is what killed him”. Neither side gets it. Neither conservative nor liberal understands. There should be no cheering, no taking of sides. A human life was needlessly taken. George Floyd should not have died that way.

This is why humans, as we are, cannot make us right with God. We are blind to sin. Sin blinds us. Sin comes to us, dressed up in filthy rags.

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

No human born of Adam can make things right with God, because we are all, at heart, corrupt. We cannot see sin, unless our seeing benefits us.

The only way that God could save sinners would be to become Man, and punish Himself. When Adam sinned, he caused an offense against an eternal and unchanging God. But Adam also brought disease into our minds.

Genesis 2:17 … of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Have you ever noticed it is the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” that Adam ate from? Eating of this tree makes US – the created – believe that WE KNOW WHAT IS BEST, BETTER THAN THE CREATOR. When Adam sinned, he immediately died spiritually and mentally, which would lead to eventual physical death. His natural born children are both spiritually and mentally broken. As humans, we have the audacity to believe that we know what is best for ourselves, and for those around us. We do not know. We are broken.

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

Adam brought mental and spiritual death on us all. A breach was made between us and God, a breach that only God could bridge. Guilty people cannot – nor in most cases are they even willing to try – to make themselves guiltless before an immutable, unchanging God.

God temporarily accepted animal sacrifices as a means by which humans could approach Him. The lamb was to be slain as a Peace Offering between God and man. God told the priests to kill the lamb without blemish, and pour all of it’s blood out at the bottom of the altar. Then:

Leviticus 4:35 … the priest shall burn {the lamb and it’s fat} upon the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the Lord: and the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him.

That this was but a temporary offering for sin is seen in that the lamb without blemish was killed year after year. “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin” (Hebrews 9:22). The Bible says that the Old Testament law of sacrifices was but a shadow of something better to come. The Bible says:

Hebrews 10:1-4 … those sacrifices which they offered year by year {over and over again could not} make {those who offered animal sacrifices} perfect {in the eyes of God}. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

If the animal sacrifices permanently covered our sins, the Bible would not have required that the sacrifices be made over and over again, year after year. The very repetition of these sacrifices shows that they were but temporary.

Preach This! Man is NOT an ANIMAL, so animal sacrifices could only, by God’s allowance, make a temporary covering for sin. These sacrifices looked forward to the coming of God Himself, dying for our sins. In order for God to die for our sins, God would have to become man, Perfect Man. Perfect Man in turn would have to live in this world, never following Adam’s sin, but always doing as God would require. Perfect Man would have to be like us in humanity. Perfect Man would NOT be like us in sin.

This Perfect Man is Jesus Christ. The Bible declares:

Hebrews 10:5-10 Wherefore when {God the Son} cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering {You, Father God, would not accept}, but a body {the Holy Spirit of God has} prepared {for} me: 6 in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. 7 Then said {Jesus Christ}, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. 8 Above when {God} said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; 9 then said {God the Son}, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. {God} taketh away the first {Covenant of Animal Sacrifices}, that he may establish the second {Covenant of Grace}. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

In the above text the items in brackets {} are my additions, but they seem true to the point the text is making. In the Old Testament an Altar was used to sacrifice animals, making a temporary atonement or covering for sin.

In the New Testament God did not use an altar of wood or of stone to atone for sin.
God used a Cross, a platform made from a tree.

The Cross was a killing tool by which criminals who wrongly took lives (like Derek Chauvin did with George Floyd). The ancient Jews normally stoned criminals to death outside the city square. But God prophetically spoke of the Cross in:

Deuteronomy 21:22-23 And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: 23 his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

This was a prophecy of the Cross of Christ.
It was by a tree that Adam brought sin into the world.
It is by a tree – a Cross – that God permanently covers the sins of those who believe in Him.

The Apostle Paul quoted Deuteronomy when he wrote: Galatians 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

Sin is no trifle, no small thing. We see the power of sin by looking at the Cross of Christ. Sin is a debt owed to God, a debt we cannot pay, but Jesus did. God hates sin, for sin makes humans treat one another like animals. God HATES sin (Habakkuk 1:13), whereas we as humans make light of it. Sin forced the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.

If You Are Saved, You Will Embrace The Cross

I find it interesting that twice in the Gospel of Matthew that Jesus tells us to “take up His Cross”. In the first text:

Matthew 10:38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

The genuine Christian will take up His Cross and follow Jesus. The Cross was not forced on Jesus, but He willingly took it upon Himself. The Bible says:

Matthew 16:21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he MUST go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day

Jesus was not forced to go to the Cross – He willingly did so because, as the Son of God, He loves humanity as much as do the Father and the Spirit. Jesus was filled with compassion for us (Matthew 9:36; 14:14; 20:34; Mark 1:41; 6:34; 8:2; John 11:33). Love compelled Jesus to lay His life down for us. He said:

John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Follow this line of reasoning, if you will.

God is love.
God died for us.

God willingly took the Cross.
We are saved by believing God died for us.
If we are saved, God indwells us.

If God indwells us, then we love like Him.
We willingly take the Cross.
We are love.

1 John 4:7-8 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.

The Christian embraces the Cross at New Birth – at the point of salvation – and the Christian embraces the Cross daily. It is no Christian who does not embrace the Cross. Jesus said:

Matthew 10:38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

Word Study When Jesus said that the person who refuses the Cross is is not worthy of me, He is using the Greek ἄξιος áxios, {pronounced ax’-ee-os}, meaning “unworthy”, but it also means “does not have the weight of, does not measure up”. When God brought judgment on King Belshazzar, the ghostly hand wrote on the wall:

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

The Bible says “A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight” (Proverbs 11:1). Jesus told Belshazzar, and tells us, “If you will not take up your Cross and follow Me, your PROFESSION does not match your POSSESSION. The Christian takes up the Cross and follows Jesus. The non-Christian shuns the Cross and embraces the world of self”. The late Evangelist A.W. Tozer wrote:

Only in America can we develop instant potatoes, instant TV dinners, and instant coffee. Unfortunately, we have now given the world instant Christianity, whereby we believe that we can satisfy the demands of Christ in a once-in-a-lifetime walk down the aisle of a church or pray a little twenty-second prayer of surrender and think that we have fulfilled the calling of Jesus. … As a result, there is no essential difference between ordinary human life and the life of a person who claims to be a Christian.”

Christianity is a calling to the Cross. Today I hear over and over again:

You do you!”

What’s wrong with this? “You do you” is from Satan, not from Jesus. Jesus said:

Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

let him deny himself” is certainly not “You do you”. It is the opposite. The Cross is self denial. The Apostle wrote:

Hebrews 12:1-2 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus endured the cross. The Cross is not a party. It is not comfort. People are not lining up outside of some nightclub to gain entrance to the Cross. Jesus despised the shame. The Cross is shame. It is self denial.

  • The Cross is love “turning the other cheek”. Jesus said, “resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:39). When someone hurts you, let the hurt come, and give them another chance. Doesn’t Jesus give us all another chance every day?
  • The Cross is “loving your enemy, doing good to those who did bad to you”. Jesus said, “I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”.
  • The Cross is “waiting on God, rather than doing it yourself”. The Apostle said, “Recompense to no man evil for evil. … avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:17, 19-21). As Jesus hung on the Cross, suffering, being mocked, He cried out, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34).
  • The Cross is “rejecting the worldly minded while embracing God’s mind”. The Stepbrother of Christ wrote, “whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). The son of Adam does not want to carry the Cross of Christ. When Jesus fell under the burden of the Cross, no one stepped out of the crowd to help Him. Simon of Cyrene was COMPELLED to carry Christ’s Cross. If you must be compelled, dear one, you are not saved. I say again, if you must be COMPELLED to carry the Cross, you are not saved!
  • The Cross is “both a place of death, and a place of life”. Jesus Christ died on the Cross for our sins. Once dead, He was removed from that Cross, and laid in a tomb. Three days later Jesus resurrected from the grave. The Christian goes to the Cross, dying to self. The old you dies. Rising from the Cross, we then pick up the Cross and follow Jesus forever.
  • The Cross is “where the Christian is bound forever”. Our feet are nailed to the Cross – we only go where Jesus bids us go. Our hands are nailed to the Cross – we only do that which Jesus bids us do.

In the past few years, a number of what are called “High Profile Christians” have renounced their faith, and no longer follow Jesus. Popular Hillsong songwriter Marty Sampson wrote:

I’m genuinely losing my faith… Christians can be the most judgmental people on the planet – they can also be some of the most beautiful and loving people… but it’s not for me. I am not in anymore.”

Christian author Joshua Harris wrote:

I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. The popular phrase for this is ‘deconstruction,’ the biblical phrase is ‘falling away.’ By all the measurements I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.”

Former Pastor of Grace Family Fellowship, Covenant Church, and Cedar Community Church Dave Gass wrote:

After 40 years of being a devout follower, 20 of those being an evangelical pastor, I am walking away from the faith. Even though this has been a massive bomb drop in my life, it has been decades in the making.”

How can such high profile, popular Christians suddenly be Christians? I believe it was because they never carried the Cross. When God spoke of the New Covenant that He would bring through Christ, He said through the Prophets:

Jeremiah 31:31-33 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: … 33 but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

When Jesus gave us the Lord’s Table, He tied His death with the New Covenant when He offered the Cup, saying “This is My blood OF THE NEW TESTAMENT (Covenant), which is shed for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). When we receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and are supernaturally born again of the Spirit, then God Himself, saving us by the Cross, daily draws us to the Cross. It is as God has said, “I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 10:16-17). Christians are not “self made”. They are “God made”. They are drawn to the Cross when saved, and carry the Cross after they are saved. One final truth about the Cross:

  • There is only one person to a Cross. When Jesus said “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24), He calls us to individual decisions. No one can carry your Cross. You will not enter Heaven because you had a mother, a father, a grandparent, or anyone else you loved carrying a Cross. You must carry the Cross. If you are saved, you are compelled by your changed heart to carry that Cross.

Do you belong to Jesus? Will you receive Him today to be your Lord and Savior, repenting of your old life, dying on the Cross? May God the Holy Spirit drive the Word of God deeply into your hearts this very day. Amen and Amen.

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Being Resurrection Minded

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1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Are you resurrection minded?

Most people – even professing Christians – are not. We live our lives daily thinking rarely of our own deaths. Some of us dread death. Others ignore death. Yet death is a part of life. Death seems unnatural to us, because God did not make us to die. When Adam did what God told him not to do, “the day that he ate thereof he surely died” (Genesis 2:17). God made everything perfect, but man made death. “By one man sin entered the world, and death by sin, for all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). God manufactures life and peace. Man manufactures death and sin.

We must all die, unless, like Elijah of old, God takes us up into Heaven “by a whirlwind” (2 Kings 2:11).

Death Should Not Frighten We Who Are Saved

Death should frighten the lost person, but it should not frighten the saved. In the Old Testament King Hezekiah (his name means “God has strengthened me”), the King of Judah was 25 years old when he began to reign. His father, Ahaz, was one of the worst kings Judah ever saw. When Hezekiah took over the kingdom he honored God, and removed idolatry from among the people. Hezekiah loved the Lord, and proved it by his works. One day God came to Hezekiah and said:

2 Kings 20:1 Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.

Hezekiah “turned his face to the wall” and “wept sore” (2 Kings 20:2, 3). Because of his grieving the Lord said, “I will add unto thy days 15 years” (2 Kings 20:6). What happened during those added years? Hezekiah had the worst 15 years of his life. When Babylonian emissaries visited the kingdom, Hezekiah in pride showed off the national treasury. God told Hezekiah that his foolishness would cause all in his house, all his kingdom’s treasures, would be carried off to Babylon (2 Kings 20:14-18). Hezekiah also sired the most evil king, his son Manasseh. Manasseh would have Isaiah the Prophet killed. Hezekiah would be responsible for Judah as a nation falling into idolatry and sexual immorality.

It would have been better had Hezekiah left this earth when the Lord had him scheduled to go. We should not fear death, dear Christian, for

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

God called Hezekiah for a purpose. He called you for a purpose. While we have the gift of physical life, we should live in the purpose of God. But when God calls us home we should not fear. We know something that Hezekiah did not know. We know and have heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I Should Not Fear Death Because
Jesus Has Conquered Both Sin & Death

1 Corinthians 15:3 … For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 and

The GOSPEL (Greek εὐαγγέλιον euangélion, {pronounced yoo-ang-ghel’-ee-on} or “good tidings” or “good news” that God has given us is in two parts. The first part is Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.

The Old Testament prophecies repeated sets God forth as a “Physical Savior of His people”.

King David often praised God for saving him from death:

2 Samuel 22:2-7 The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; 3 the God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my savior; thou savest me from violence. 4 I will call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. 5 When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly men made me afraid; 6 the sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me; 7 in my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears.

The Old Testament Saints saw God as Someone who savest me from violence. David praised God because the Lord saved {Me} from mine enemies. God is seen as a Savior from earthly enemies. God is seen as a Savior from harm, from loss of life. There are many passages that speak of great deliverance, where:

Psalm 106:21-22 … God their savior, which had done great things in Egypt; 22 wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things by the Red sea.

The idea of “God as Savior” under the Old Covenant is that of God saving from the things that sting, that bite, that harm, that oppress the joy of life on this earth. God is more of a PHYSICAL Savior. The Prophet said:

Isaiah 19:20 … they shall cry unto the Lord because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a savior, and a great one, and he shall deliver them.

When God presented Himself as “Savior”, it was often as a PHYSICAL Savior. God told Israel,

Isaiah 43:3 … I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.

God foretold of the time when He would send forth His Messiah, His Son Jesus. God foretold of salvation from sin in:

Isaiah 45:21-22 … there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Savior; there is none beside me. 22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.

And a clear presentation of Jesus Christ in Isaiah 53:3-6 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Though there are numerous passages that foretell the coming of Jesus Christ, the fact that:

Matthew 1:21 … JESUS .. shall SAVE HIS PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS

The Old Testament saints were more concerned with God SAVING THEM FROM PHYSICAL HARM than they were of God SAVING THEM FROM SIN. Even Isaiah the Prophet, when he looked into Heaven, cried out in dismay:

Isaiah 6:5 … Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.

Sin under the Old Covenant was seen as something that you could take care of with an animal sacrifice.

The “Gospel” under the Old Covenant is that God could protect you PHYSICALLY, but SPIRITUAL safety was not first and foremost.

The Gospel under the New Covenant is that God has defeated BOTH sin and death. God saves us physically, AND God saves us spiritually. The GOOD NEWS that Paul delivers is:

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 … For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 and

Do you see the “and”? The Gospel teaches that Jesus …

Galatians 1:4 … gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world …

1 Corinthians 15:4 … and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Jesus did not just die for our sins. He saved us from sin. But Jesus also CONQUERED DEATH. The Bible says he was buried. He was done. There was no life left in him whatsoever. And yet he rose again the third day according to the scriptures. Jesus Christ died on Calvary being the covering for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). The Bible says:

Luke 24:46-47 Thus it is written, and thus it {was right for} Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Jesus Christ died, and rose again.
In His death He conquered sin.
In His resurrection He conquered death.

Many who profess to be New Covenant Christians are – sadly – Old Covenant Believers. Their fear of death proves this.

Prior to Jesus, there were SEVERAL who
were brought BACK FROM DEATH …
but NONE who were RESURRECTED.

The Prophet Elijah brought life back to a young boy (1 Kings 17:17-24).
The Prophet Elisha raises the son of a Gentile woman (2 Kings 4:32-37).
A dead man tossed into Elisha’s tomb comes to life (2 Kings 13:21).

Our Lord Jesus raised:

The widow of Nain’s son (Luke 7:11-17).
Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:49-56).
His friend Lazarus (John 11).

These were all raised from the dead – but eventually died again. They were resuscitated, NOT resurrected. But the Apostle tells us:

1 Corinthians 15:20-23 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.

The Old Testament saint understood resuscitation of the dead. There were examples where people died, and were brought back to life. There were examples where people SHOULD have died, but God extended their lives. BUT NEVER HAD THE OLD TESTAMENT SAINT SEEN RESURRECTION. God spoke of an awakening from sleep in passages like:

Daniel 12:2 … many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

But the Old Covenant believer had no concept of resurrection. This is because Jesus Christ is the first fruits of them that slept. The first fruits was, to the Jew, the “first harvest of the field”. Jesus Christ is the prototype of the resurrection. We have the promise of God that in Christ shall all be made alive. You will NOT be RESUSCITATED. You will be made alive, just like Jesus is alive. There is coming a day when you will die. Yet beloved, this is but a bee sting. Why? Because every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. When Jesus returns, you shall be made fully Heaven worthy. You shall be made like Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15:5-8 {Jesus} was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

Jesus Christ rose from the grave. He is the first fruit of resurrection. He was seen of many, touched and spoken to in His resurrection body. And as the first fruit, you who believe in Him will one day be as He is.

This Present Body Is Not Heaven Worthy

I received a gift from the United States Government the other day. They sent me a “intestinal lavage”. It’s for an upcoming procedure that the V.A. is going to do. Yippee!!!

We must all die, or be changed, if we are going to go to Heaven. You may, like an Old Testament Saint, pray that God extend your earthly life, and God may do so. God loves us enough to extend our lives. But Beloved, you cannot enter Heaven in your current bodies. Your souls can enter Heaven, because Jesus Christ paid for your sins. If you have believed in Him the Bible says:

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

If you have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior you are not condemned. The Bible says because we are BORN AGAIN of God’s Spirit (John 3:3, 5, 7), that …

Romans 7:6 … NOW WE ARE delivered from the Law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit …

1 John 3:2 … now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

Our SOULS are made Heaven worthy … but our BODIES are not. The Apostle describes this in detail:

1 Corinthians 15:35-44 But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? 36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: 37 and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: 38 but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43 it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44 it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.

The Apostle likens our bodies to the seed of a tree or a fruit. That which is sown, is sown into the soil a dead thing, but is raised through the power of God into something else. Our bodies are corrupted by an old sin nature. Sin is in our flesh. The Apostle said:

Romans 7:18 … I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

This present body must be exchanged for another. This present body is not Heaven worthy. This is why,

2 Corinthians 5:6-8 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7 (for we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8 we are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

The Apostle did not see physical death as a thing to be feared. He viewed his walk with God under the New Covenant, not under the Old Covenant. He knew that his current body – as is all our bodies – is not Heaven worthy. Our bodies must undergo change before they are allowed in Heaven.

1 Corinthians 15:44 … There is a NATURAL body, and there is a SPIRITUAL body …

The first body you were given (you neither earned nor deserved that body) by God’s Grace. It is an EARTHLY body. The next body you will be given, dear Christian, will be HEAVENLY. We read:

1 Corinthians 15:45-49 The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

In Adam we have physical life, but in Adam that life is corrupted by sin. But in Christ we have right now spiritual life, and the promise of a Heavenly body in God’s own timing. Physical death for the believer is not a curse, but a blessing. When we physically die, we spiritually go to be with Jesus.

The Promise Of God Should Remove
Our Fear Of Death

Let us end with more of this precious text. The Apostle says:

1 Corinthians 15:50-58 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

In a 1972 Radio Message Billy Graham said:

The death of a Christian is unlike the tragic passing of the unrighteous. Though the Christian has no immunity from death and no claim to perpetual life on this planet, death is to him a friend rather than a foe, the beginning rather than the end. … It is as if the Lord of the harvest says to every weary laborer, ‘You’ve been faithful in your task. Come and sit in the sheltered porch of my palace and rest from your labors. Enter now into the joy of your Lord.’ … Death to the Christian is the exchanging of a tent for a permanent palace. Here we are as pilgrims or gypsies living in a frail, flimsy home subject to disease, pain and peril. But at death we exchange this crumbling, disintegrating tent for a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15). Let us not fear what is to come, dear Christian. Let us be New Covenant believers. If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, run to His embrace today. He loves you, and has promised to give you eternal life both now, and forever. Amen and Amen!

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