Finally, Farewell

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2 Corinthians 13:5, 11-12 (KJV) [5]   Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? … [11] Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.  [12]  Greet one another with an holy kiss. 

Many years ago I read an article – I forget who wrote it – that stated there are five different types of Christians. I found that interesting because I thought there was only ONE type of Christian. Anyway, the article said that the five types were:

Active
Professing
Liturgical
Private
Cultural

The “Active” Christian is self explanatory. This is the believer who ACTS like a believer, following Jesus daily in prayer and application of the Scripture. The other four “types” do not have a daily faith.

The “Professing” claims to be a Christian but lives like the rest of the world. The “Liturgical” ties their Christian faith to some Church and some ritual. They may go to Mass frequently or count beads but believe their affiliation with a Church – whatever type it may be – is what saves them. The “Private” claims to love Jesus but rejects the Scripture and its teachings as man made. The “Cultural” claims to be a Christian because they do not want to be a Muslim, Buddhist, or some other faith. Of all the “religions” they like the one called “Christian” the best.

When I read that article I said then to my congregation “This will not last”. It didn’t. Those who are not Active Christians dissolved over time and have become today those who are called “Nones”. The false Christian does not endure. The Bible tells us:

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

Are you in “THE Faith”?

How do we know that we are in “THE Faith”, the genuine faith, the Christ authored blood bought Spirit empowered never to depart faith?

We walk with Jesus. We love our Jesus. We do His Word.

What did Christ repeatedly tell the Churches in Revelation?

Revelation 2:7 … To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

Revelation 2:11 … He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

Revelation 2:17 … To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

Revelation 2:26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

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

Revelation 3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

Revelation 3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

Revelation 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

What did Christ tell us through the Apostle?

1 John 5:4-5 (KJV)  For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.  [5]  Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

I am not speaking of a works based salvation, and neither is God.
The Christian who is the Christian indeed IS ACTIVE.
God has come to that person.
The Holy Spirit indwells that person.
That person sees and wants to do the will of Him Who saved us.

A little boy was visiting his grandma one day when he said, “Grandma, do you know how you and God are the same?” The grandmother beamed, internally polishing her halo. “No, how are we the same?” The little boy said “You’re both old”!

We should be more than “old” in our likeness to God.
We are to be a living people following a living Christ.

The Christian who is a Christian indeed is indwelt of Christ, endued of Christ, and cannot help but follow Christ. Do we get off course? Of course! I do not pun. We are all born of Adam, and have within us a sin nature that draws toward the wrong. Yet God will not allow us to wander off too far. As David said:

Psalms 37:24 (KJV)  Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.

We who have received Him as Lord and Savior are firmly in His hand. Jesus has said:

John 10:27-30 (KJV)  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:  [28]  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  [29]  My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.  [30]  I and my Father are one.

Those who claim to be Christian who are Christian will live in the reality of their faith.

The hand of Christ embraces us.
The hand of Christ is wrapped around us.
The territory we occupy is His hand.
When we seek to squeeze out of His hand He grabs us, draws us back.
We are His and He is ours.

I have no choice but to serve Christ, and neither do you.
I need no beads to count, nor Pope to serve.
I serve a risen Savior, and so do you.
It is a privilege to serve, and a duty I must do.
For I love Him, and He loves me.

Know ye not your own selves, how that JESUS CHRIST IS IN YOU,
except ye be REPROBATES?

There are only two states that you can be in. The ACTIVE state – “Jesus Christ is IN YOU” or the DEAD state – “Ye be REPROBATES”. What is a “Reprobate”? This is the Greek ἀδόκιμος ADOKIMOS which literally means “not standing the test, not approved, unfit, worthless or a failure, that which is cast away as counterfeit”. If “Jesus Christ is in you” – you are born again and indwelt of His Spirit – then you are genuine. You are not false gold.

How Do Children Of God Act?

The $20 has value because of who backs it, and because of who made it. It is backed by the U.S. Government because it is made by the U.S. Government. So it is with the Christian. We are backed by Christ because we are made by Christ. He is in us, through us, around us. Thus we will be driven to behave as His people.

2 Corinthians 13:11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect,

WHOA Preacher. There’s no way I can be PERFECT. You can only understand this word in the context of Scripture. Jesus said …

Matthew 5:48 (KJV)  Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

What is “perfection” to God? Is it sinlessness? No. Jesus tells us what “perfection” is. He said:

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

A young couple invited their pastor for Sunday dinner. While they were in the kitchen preparing the meal, the minister asked their son what they were having. Old Goat” the little boy replied. Old Goat?” replied the Pastor, “Are you sure about that?” The child said “I heard Daddy say to Momma, ‘We might as well have the old goat for dinner today as any other day’.”

The mark of perfection is to LOVE, to love everyone just as our Father loves everyone. Love is not so much an emotion as it is a DOING. The Father does not love sin, yet allows the good sun and rain to fall on even those who despise Him. One day God will judge and punish the wicked. But daily He shows love to them by giving them life though they have done nothing to deserve life. He gives them bodies to use for good or evil, and often prospers the wicked by His kindness. We love because – as Children of God – we have been loved.

Colossians 3:12-14 (NKJV) Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

Love is the bond or mark of perfection. Love. Love controls the actions, guides the tongue. As the Apostle closes his letter to us and the Corinthians he writes

Finally, brethren …. BE perfect

BE love.
Let love BE in your hands and feet, in your tongues.
If tongues were knives some “Christians” would slash their own throats.
Don’t BE that way.
BE Love.
BE like your Heavenly Father.

Ephesians 5:1-2 (KJV)  Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;  [2]  And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor.

Walk in love. Walk sacrificially. Take up your Cross and follow Him. The Cross is hard love. But this is our pattern of perfection. Love as Christ loves.

2 Corinthians 13:11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort

“Be of Good Comfort” is παρακαλέω PARAKALEŌ which means “to call alongside”. Call one another alongside. Lift up one another. Call one another to the Christ, our Great Shepherd.

Quit asking me “Who was that masked man who attended service … sitting just in front of me this Sunday?” I want to reply “He was the Lone Stranger and his sidekick Tonto”. REACH OUT to those around you. Call them alongside you and us. Love them. Find out their names. They may become your relative in Christ.

Quit asking me “Whatever happened to ____”? Pick up the phone. Call them. Love them. Call them alongside you and us.

We each are to encourage one another to walk together with Christ, to do the things He wants us to do. It is not the responsibility of the pastor to call and beg people to Church. It is, however, each of our responsibilities to call out to the other sheep and encourage them to obedience in following Christ. It takes a Church to make a Church. If God puts someone on your heart call them, visit them, encourage them. Call them alongside of us, the flock of Christ. Relationships matter. The Pastor cannot be the only one reaching out … it takes the whole Church.

2 Corinthians 13:11 … Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind,

The Bible says:

Let this MIND be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus … (Philippians 2:5)

and

We have the MIND of Christ … (1 Corinthians 2:16)

The MIND that should be in every Christian is the MIND of CHRIST. That is the ONE MIND we must have. How did Christ MIND? Though Eternal God the Son He lowered Himself for us. He became a servant so that we could be saved. This is the MIND we must have. Jesus did not do what He did for acclamation, fame, or fortune. He did not seek to enrich Himself. He sought to enrich US. This is the MIND we are to have. Not selfish, but selfless. The MIND of CHRIST.

2 Corinthians 13:11 … Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace;

Some people are always wandering around looking for trouble. Do me a favor. I don’t think it’s you, but if it is, GO FIND SOMEWHERE ELSE TO BE. I’d rather pay the electric bill of this Church out of my own pocket than be around a troublemaker. The Bible says:

Romans 16:17 (ESV) “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.”

Proverbs 6:16-19 (ESV) There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

When we live in peace then God responds. We read:

2 Corinthians 13:11(KJV) … live in peace;
and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

God comes where love and peace are. Let us love one another, and let it be shown in how we live out our lives.

May God touch your hearts with His Word.

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The Greatest Sermon

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Matthew 28:1-8 (KJV) In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the {Tomb}. [2] And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. [3] His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: [4] And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. [5] And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. [6] He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. [7] And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. [8] And they departed quickly from the {Tomb} with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

We have all heard sermons that are memorial, but too often we hear sermons that are forgettable. On the day that Mary Magdalene and Mary Cleopas went to the Tomb of Christ they heard one of the greatest – and shortest – sermons ever preached. That sermon was preached by an angel. The Angel of the Lord descended from Heaven. He rolled back the stone that stood in the door of Christ’s tomb. He sat upon it, much as Christ sat on the Mount when He preached His Beatitudes. And from this rocky pulpit the Angel preached.

[5] …. Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified

Jesus was crucified. He was beaten with the scourge, with the hands of the guards. Can you see Him? The Bible tells us that sin separates us from God. We are told in Isaiah:

Isaiah 59:2 (KJV) But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

Sin separates us from our God. All are sinners. You sin, I sin. Sin is no trifle. So Christ came. He was crucified for us, for you, for me.

1 Peter 3:18 (KJV) For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

Christ suffered for our sins that He might bring us to God. He was crucified. See Him crucified. There was no sin in Him that He should have been crucified.

Matthew 27:21-23 (KJV) {Pilate the Governor} … said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. 22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. 23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.

Barabbas was released, but Christ was crucified. He died in Barabbas’ place. He died in my place! They platted a crown of thorns to place on His head, and jammed it down, the blood running into His eyes. They spat upon Him, mocking Him. “Hail, King of the Jews!” They beat Him with their fists and ropes, and gave Him vinegar mixed with bloody animal entrails. Then they crucified Him, parting His garments among themselves. Naked and dying He was crucified.

And He died.
His side was pierced with a spear.
Out ran blood and water.
He was dead.
The Angel said “He was crucified”. Jesus was dead.
He was laid in a place where the dead lay.

But then the Angel said:

[6] He is not here:

Jesus is not here. When Jesus died, He yielded up His spirit to God. His Body became an empty shell, just as it is with all who are human. The Bible says “absent from the Body, we are present with the Lord”. When we leave this life and this body we travel to God’s embrace or to a place where God is not. But when Christ died the Bible says that …

Hebrews 10:12-18 …. when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For BY A SINGLE OFFERING HE HAS PERFECTED FOR ALL TIME THOSE WHO ARE BEING SANCTIFIED. 15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, 16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” 17 then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” 18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

But Christ did not leave His body in the grave. He is not in the grave anymore. He was crucified, but now has risen.

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.

Jesus came to pay for our sins, and also came to fulfill the Law of God. He told His disciples:

Matthew 5:17-18 (KJV) 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 Christ fulfilled the Law of God. Being perfect and sinless, God in the flesh, He laid down His life for His friends (John 15:13). Mary Magdalene and Mary of Clopas (see John 19:25) stood by the cross of Christ with His mother Mary, watching Jesus die.

Jesus died as our Passover Lamb, the Lamb without spot or blemish. Jesus came to this earth to be “the Savior of His people” (Luke 2:11). He died at the end of the Passover as our Passover

1 Corinthians 5:7 (NLT) … CHRIST, OUR PASSOVER LAMB, has been sacrificed for us.

When the Angel of the Lord rolled the stone away, He broke the seal of the Law on that tomb. Christ Jesus paid for our sins. Jesus died for me. And those who receive His Promise:

John 3:14-18 (KJV) And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: [15] That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. [16] For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. [17] For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. [18] He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Jesus is no longer dead, but has fulfilled all that the Father wants of Him. He died for our sins, but rose again to show that IN HIM IS LIFE.

Matthew 28:7-8 (KJV) He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. [7] And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead

Jesus is alive. He is alive forever more. He died for us and rose again so that He can live in us. As the Angel closed his sermon he said:

Matthew 28:7 (KJV) … behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

Jesus goes before you. Go to Him. Jesus leads you. Follow Him. Love Him. He is Lord. Practice His presence no matter where you may go. He is alive. Jesus is not amid dead things. He is alive. His people are not dead things. We are alive. Follow Him. Follow Him.

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The Problem Of Pain

12 Corinthians 11:23-30 (KJV) Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? 30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.

If God loves me, why am I in pain?
If God is in control of all things, then why do His Children suffer?

These are questions that all Christians eventually ask themselves. The Bible teaches that God loves us. One of the most memorized Scriptures in the Bible is:

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

God loved us so much that He gave His Only Begotten Son.
What did God in love give to us? He gave us Christ suffering on the Cross.

If God is God, then couldn’t God have loved us without sacrificing His Son? If God can do anything then why couldn’t God have saved us apart from the Cross.

The answer is simple, and it is found in the Scripture.

God Cannot Deny Himself

We are told in 2 Timothy 2:13:

2 Timothy 2:11-13 (KJV) It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: 12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: 13 If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

God is faithful to His Word. God is faithful to His Nature. Can CANNOT sin, nor can He lie. God can do anything BUT sin. The Bible teaches that God is immutable, unchangeable:

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

God is LIGHT, not darkness. And He cannot change Himself. He is the Great and Eternal I AM. He is the …

Revelation 1:8 (KJV) …. Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

He is ALL MIGHTY because there is nothing that He cannot do EXCEPT SIN. He is absolutely holy – HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, LORD GOD ALMIGHTY. He is …

Habakkuk 1:13 (KJV) … of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?

Since God cannot look on iniquity the Prophet asked “why are You silent when the wicked devours the man more righteous than he?” Even Habakkuk asked the question of WHY.

The answer is in the character of God and in the character of man.

God is holy, righteous, and just. He is eternally good, and unable to do sin. God placed man in a perfect Paradise, a Holy Eden, a place without death or sickness or pain. Man I am sure had hunger pains at times, but these pains were quickly satisfied by the fruit of the trees of that beautiful Beulah Land. What a gorgeous place it must be! How wonderful Heaven will be one day where all sin is banished! God gave Adam and Eve all that they wanted or needed. But God told Adam:

Genesis 2:16-17 (KJV) …. 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.

Why did God give ONE RESTRICTION in Paradise? Because Man was given free will. He was made in God’s image, and after His likeness. “Male and female created He them – and they were in God’s image” (see Genesis 1:26-27). Jesus declared:

Matthew 19:4-6 (KJV) … Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

God cannot change. He made man and woman, put them in the Garden, and declared to Adam “In the day that you eat of the forbidden fruit THOU SHALT SURELY DIE”. The very day that Adam ate he died – not physically, but spiritually. His sin separated him from Paradise, and from God Himself. Sin separates us from God. God cannot change, but as Adam’s children we inherit sin sin nature. This is why the Bible says:

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)

There was no sin in the world until Adam chose NOT GOD. When he chose to follow the serpent’s word rather than God’s Word sin came into all of creation. God told Eve:

Genesis 3:16 (KJV) …. I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

God does not change. Women suffer in childbirth even now. Though medicine can provide drugs to ease the suffering, there is still suffering. This suffering comes to the Christian woman or the witch, the godly or the Atheist. It doesn’t matter. God placed on woman a physical reminder of sin’s taint, and that is the labor of childbirth – as well as having to raise little free will sinning children. God told Adam:

Genesis 3:17-19 (KJV) …. Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Eve’s labor before Adam sinned was much easier. She was to multiply and fill the world, and prior to sin labor was not that bad. Afterward there was pain and suffering. Adam’s labor before he sinned was easy. Though he had sweat glands he never really sweated in paradise. After sin entered into the world it brought with it THORNS and THISTLES and SWEAT and SORROW. This falls on every person, whether Christian or Buddhist, disciple of Christ or follower of satan. It does not matter. Sin brings the pain with it. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). God is unchangeable, immutable. What He decrees continues.

This is why Christ had to suffer and die. Since God cannot change, God must do as He said He would do. So Christ took our place.

1 Corinthians 15:22 (KJV)22 For as in Adam all die,
even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

God makes no exemptions, no exceptions. He sent a perfect Christ into an imperfect world to stand in for us. Christ – the Light of the world – came into a world filled with sin and darkness.

Why did He come? The scripture says:

1 Peter 3:18 (KJV) For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

Jesus took our place on the Cross. So when we receive Him as both Lord and Savior then He promises to those who receive Him:

John 11:25-26 (KJV)25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Whosoever LIVETH in Me shall never die ……….…….. He is LORD.
Whosoever BELIEVETH in Me shall never die …………. He is SAVIOR.

Though our sins are forgiven, and though we have a place in Heaven, this world is yet in the grip of evil. Man was made with a free will to choose, to decide. Man (and woman – I do not leave you out) can choose to follow Christ and let Him reign in our lives, or choose to follow the flesh. It is a matter of choice.

If Paul was doing God’s work, Why was he suffering?

1 Paul Was Suffering Because Even Christians Are Sinners. The Apostle wrote this section of Scripture as he was led of the Holy Spirit. He wrote this section because he was hurt. The Apostle founded the Church at Corinth. He suffered to share the Gospel in that godless area. Then when he left that area other false ministers came into that area and taught the opposite of what Paul had been teaching. The Corinthians LOVED it. They turned from the Pauline teachings in order to follow error. The Apostle wrote:

2 Corinthians 11:13-15 (KJV) For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

Those who come in and teach:

Well the Bible spoke to a different time.
That was THEN and this is NOW.
God loves everybody and all are going to Heaven.

Do not understand the immutability of God. God does not change.

What was “marriage” in the Garden is “marriage” now.
What was “sin” in the Old Testament is “sin” in the New.
What leads to God’s wrath THEN leads to His wrath NOW.
What Dr. Spock said about raising children does not change what Dr. God says.

Paul told the Corinthians:

2 Corinthians 11:23 (KJV) Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.

Paul uses not his success, but his SUFFERING to prove his apostleship. The world is a fallen place. When Jesus came into this world He told His disciples:

John 12:46 (KJV) I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.

The world is in darkness, in sin, in the flesh, in satan. Jesus came to transform those in darkness into light. The Bible says:

Colossians 1:13-14 (KJV) Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

Christians are not supposed to be in darkness, but sadly we sometimes revert to our old sin nature. We do things we ought not to do. We say things we ought not to say. We do not “imitate God as dear children”. We forget the Word:

Ephesians 5:1-6 (KJV) Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor. 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that no whore monger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

If you belong to God you belong in the Light of Christ – walk in His Light. Do not compartmentalize God. God is there at all times – and we are His at all times.

2 Paul was suffering because unbelievers are sinners. He wrote:

2 Corinthians 11:24-27 (KJV) Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

The darkness does not like the light, and it never will. Paul was beaten by the Jews because they refused to believe that Christ was the Messiah. The Pharisees had Christ beaten and crucified … they will also beat and crucify those who follow Christ. Jesus told His disciples:

John 15:18-20 (KJV) If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

Muslim terrorists can strap on bombs and kill people and yet it is still declared a “religion of peace” by the world. Yet a Christian owned company can be attacked for not endorsing abortion or sexual sin. Why? Because anything Christian is of Christ, and Christ calls us out of the world. We are to be IN the world but not OF the world. Christ is our Lord, Heaven our home, and Love our target. The world despises the things of Christ.

He was in the world, and though the world was made by Him the world did not know Him. (John 1:10)

You adulterers and adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? If you would choose to be a friend of the world you become an enemy of God (James 4:4).

Father, My prayer is not that You should take them out of the world but that You would protect them from the Evil One (John 17:15).

The Apostle was under attack not only by robbers and heathen, but also by his own countrymen and family. How bad was it? We are told:

2 Corinthians 11:32-33 (KJV) In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: 33 And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.

It was right after Paul’s conversion to Christ that he went to Damascus to speak of his conversion. We are told in:

Acts 9:22-27 (KJV) But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ. 23 And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: 24 But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. 25 Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket. 26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

Saul … who now preached under the name of Paul … was even rejected initially by the other Christians because of his past history. Had it not been for Barnabas, a faithful Christian missionary, it is possible that Paul would have been rejected by all. But God always provides an escape when suffering comes. God will always triumph!

3 Paul Was Suffering Because HE Is A Sinner. In the next chapter the Apostle begins to speak as to how God blessed him to see into Heaven. He said:

2 Corinthians 12:1-4 (KJV)1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

Though Paul speaks in the third person most commentaries say that the Apostle is speaking of himself. Why? Because he states:

2 Corinthians 12:7-8 (KJV) And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

God let Paul look into Heaven proper, to see the glories of which we can only imagine today but will one day enjoy. With the privilege of the revelations that he received, along with his apostleship, the Lord sent “a messenger of Satan to beat him, lest he should be exalted above measure”. Why?

Because Paul is a sinner like we are sinners.

If he had received the joy of looking into Heaven without the beating from this “messenger of Satan” then Paul could have become puffed up with pride. Three times Paul asked God to remove this suffering. What was God’s answer?

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (KJV) And {God} said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

We are strong when we are fully relying on God. Suffering brings us low so that we can surrender to God, to be His conduit of Grace. Understanding that the Apostle began to stop GRUMBLING about his trials and began GLORYING in them. He said because of this I TAKE PLEASURE in infirmities, reproaches, necessities, persecutions, distresses FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, knowing that WHEN I am weak, THEN I am strong.

The best place to be is surrendered to the hands of Christ.

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Married To Jesus

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2 Corinthians 10:17-18 (KJV) But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. 18 For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.

2 Corinthians 11:2-4 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. {3} But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. {4} For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

The SIMPLICITY Of Christ

The faith that God gives to us is not complex or confusing. It is simple. God has never been difficult with us. He has always asked us to follow Him simply. Jesus illustrated this when He called a little child to His side. Jesus said:

Matthew 18:2-6 (KJV) … Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. 6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

That is very simple. There is a simplicity in Christ. How is a person saved? It is very simple. Jesus illustrated it with a child. He illustrated it with His disciples.

Matthew 4:19 (KJV) … Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

Come. Follow Jesus. What God does for us is complex, but what He expects of us is simple. “Follow Me”. God made us simply.

We are not Gods, but we are God’s (G O D APOSTROPHE S).
We belong to God.
But we are not GODS.
We are NOT GODS but we ARE GOD’S.
And we are most like GOD when we imitate Him.

We cannot be gods, though we were made in the image of God. Sunday we studied these words:

Isaiah 55:6-11 (KJV) Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

God’s ways are NOT our ways. Our ways are often confused, foolish. But God’s ways are HIGHER than our ways. God is God. We are not. God’s Word is always true. The Spirit of this age – which was the spirit that entered and destroyed Eden – says:

Has God REALLY Said?

God gave Adam a very simple rule. You can have everything, but ONE thing you will not touch. That ONE thing is mine, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Genesis 2:17 (KJV) 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.

Very simple. Easy to understand.
You can trim the tree.
You can rake up it’s leaves.
You can till the ground around it.
You can polish its leaves if you want to.
You can water it.
You can string a hammock between it and the Tree of Life.
You can lay in the hammock, and snooze between the two trees
like a squirrel in its nest.
But YOU SHALL NOT EAT IT.

I’m going to give you a woman, Adam. She will be the most beautiful woman in the world. She won’t interrupt you while you’re watching TV because there won’t be any TV. You and her are to multiply and fill the earth. You’re a man, she’s a woman. She is to follow you as you love her. She can eat anything she wants. But YOU, Adam, are NOT TO EAT OF THE TREE OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL.

So what does Adam do? God has given him very clear instructions. Don’t eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. That’s very clear. But the spirit of evil creeps into the Garden. Here is Satan. He doesn’t go to Adam but to Eve, the wife. He says to Eve:

Has God REALLY SAID that you shall not eat of EVERY TREE in the Garden?”

Notice how subtle the devil is. He doesn’t come right out and contradict God, but he opens the door to contradiction. His implication is that God is STINGY. God is keeping ONE THING from Adam and Eve – after all, don’t they work hard? Haven’t they worked hard enough to deserve EVERYTHING? Opening the door with the wife, the Bride of Adam says:

Genesis 3:2-3 (KJV) … the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

Now God never said that. His orders were specific. You could TOUCH the tree all you wanted, but were not to eat of it. So Eve did what people have done from the beginning of time.

SHE ADDED TO THE WORD OF GOD.

When I was in school I was taught that 1+1=2, not 1+1=3.
When you add to the Word of God you turn it into a half truth.
When you take away from the Word of God you turn it into a half truth.

When the Word of God is simply read and simply applied you have the whole truth. For instance, the Scripture says:

Colossians 3:18-24 (KJV) Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. 20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. 21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. 22 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: 23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

That is very clear. Wives, SUBMIT to your OWN husbands
AS IS FIT in the Lord.

You don’t have to submit to sinful things that he asks you to do, but if he is following Christ and leading in Christ you are to follow him as he follows Jesus. The same principle is found in:

1 Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

Paul said “Follow me as I follow Christ”. If the husband is following Christ, the wife is to follow the husband as he follows Christ. That’s simple.

Husbands, love your wives, and do not be bitter against them.

Again, a very clear statement.

Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.

Everything is very simple. Where we go wrong is when we add to or remove from what God has said.

When Eve added to what God said the devil came back and said:

Genesis 3:4-5 (KJV) And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Here the devil’s plan is revealed. He opened the door. Eve added to the Word of God. Then the devil goes “Well, God is just trying to DEPRIVE you, to HOLD YOU DOWN, to keep you from your FULL POTENTIAL and ROB YOU OF HAPPINESS.” Once Eve heard this she began to look at things with her own intellect and feeling.

Genesis 3:6 (KJV) And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

When Adam ate the world fell into sin.

As the devil did with Eve, he tries to do with the Church today. Look at the Apostle’s words:

2 Corinthians 11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

The Church is the Bride of Christ. Each member in the Church is married to Christ by faith. When people are added to the Church they are ESPOUSED to Christ. The Bible teaches us elsewhere that:

Ephesians 5:22-24 (KJV) Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

The Church is Christ’s Bride, His Wife. As the wife is to obey her husband in the Lord, we are to obey Christ. We are to follow Him. We are to love Him. We are to do as He does. In the Great Commission Christ said:

Matthew 28:18-20 (KJV) …. All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 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: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

We follow Jesus as Jesus follows His Father. This is salvation. This is the Church. We are to heed His Word and do it, not adding to or subtracting from it. When we add to His Word what happens? CONFUSION.

1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

How is a person saved? By faith in Christ. Faith follows. Faith does. Faith imitates.

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

Christianity is quite simply a love story. The simplicity of our faith means that we who believe do what we do because God loves us – and we have been led to fall in love with Him. Simplicity means a sincere and pure devotion to the One Who saved you. The Christian exists to glorify God! To love God!

If I am following Jesus, I will do what my Jesus says. What has He said? WE MUST LOVE.

We are told in:

1 John 4:20-21 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

I must love you, and you must love me. I do not love you if I add or subtract from God’s Word, nor condone you in doing so. This is not love. We are to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). Love as Christ loved. Love as Christ said.

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

The Gospel is to follow Christ. The Gospel is to give Him the preeminence. The Gospel is to glorify God. A person is not saved if that person is not routinely and as a matter of course following Jesus. The Apostle warned:

Galatians 1:8-10 (KJV)8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. 10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

The Gospel is to live following the Lord, pleasing Him, doing as He has said we must do. Jesus Christ died for our sins. The Bible declares

1 Peter 2:24 {Jesus} his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

Jesus died for us to bring us to righteousness, and righteousness is defined as that which “is RIGHT with GOD”. I am not saved by my works, but by Christ’s. But once saved I am wed to Christ on the spiritual level. I am to follow Him, to love Him, to do as He has said do, simply, just like a child, an obedient child.

This is what our Lord would have us to do – to follow Him as He follows the Father. Here then is power. Here is the way of Christ. Let’s be like Jesus.

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Decisions Matter

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Please stand with me – if you are able – to honor our God and the reading of His Word. Will you read responsively with me …

 John 12:9-19 (KJV) Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; 11 Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus. 12 On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. 14 And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, 15 Fear not, daughter of Zion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt. 16 These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him. 17 The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record. 18 For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle. 19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.

I’ve been prayerfully thinking a lot lately about responsibility and the decisions we make. The two things go hand in hand. In America today I see many who shirk responsibility in favor of “let’s let the government handle it”. The government can’t fix what ails us. We need to be responsible for our lives. We need to understand that every decision we make TODAY always affects our TOMORROW. Conversely the decisions we DO NOT make have an impact on our future selves. The decisions you make are very important.

As Jesus rode into Jerusalem He was making a decision to be responsible. Not long before He entered Jerusalem our Lord caused Lazarus – a dear friend of His – to rise from the grave. Before Lazarus died his sisters Mary and Martha asked Jesus to come and heal Lazarus. Jesus waited four days before going to the aid of His friend. He had something He wanted to show Mary and Martha, something He wanted to show us all.

Jesus Christ has power over death.

Before Jesus Rode Into Jerusalem He Walked Into Bethany

If you have your Bibles you only need look at the previous chapter – John 11 – to see this story. When Jesus went to see Lazarus He knew he was already dead (John 11:14). Jesus planned it that way. He wanted us all to see that He conquers death. When Jesus went to Bethany – about 2 miles from Jerusalem – He was met by first Martha then Mary. Both ladies grieved the passing of their dear brother. Jesus told Martha:

John 11:25-26 (KJV) … I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:  [26]  And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

You cannot understand why Jesus rode into Jerusalem unless you understand what happened with Lazarus. Jesus clearly told Martha – and us – that He came to defeat death. He told her that the ones who believe in Him would never be conquered by death. The name of Lazarus is mentioned as a main subject in what we read today.

Jesus went to Lazarus tomb. He had the stone rolled away from that tomb. Then Jesus prayed:

John 11:41-42 (KJV) … Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.  [42]  And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.

In His prayer Jesus prayed:
“Father”.

No one addressed God as “Father” but Christ. No Jew had ever dared do so. “Father” is a term of love, of family, of endearment. To Jesus the Almighty was “Father”. The term is gender specific, male, not female. “Father”.

I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me”.

Jesus is not asking the Father to hear Him, but thanking the Father that He already heard Him. When Jesus spoke the Father heard. The Father sent the Son to this earth for a reason, and Jesus lived in union with His Father. “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father”. Jesus went to Bethany when He did because the Father spoke to Him, and He to the Father.

I knew that Thou hearest Me ALWAYS,
But because the people that are standing here I said this.
I wanted them to know and believe You sent Me and Me alone.”

Then Jesus did it. He stood in front of that tomb and

John 11:43 (KJV) …. cried with a LOUD voice, Lazarus, come forth.

Why did Jesus SHOUT this? Jesus was not foolish. To a dead man a whisper is as good as a shout. I have noticed when two people with different languages try to communicate both will speak LOUDER and SLOWER in their native language to try and be understood. This is foolish. If I don’t understand what “amigo” means in English shouting it will not make it more understandable. Jesus didn’t shout so that Lazarus could hear Him. HE SHOUTED SO THAT THE PEOPLE STANDING BY COULD HEAR HIM. He wanted people to hear and perhaps understand by faith that He has power over death. After Jesus shouted “Lazarus come forth” the Bible says:

John 11:44 (KJV)  And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

The dead was brought back to life. Lazarus left that dark cave, and hopped out into the light. The other living gathered around Lazarus helped take off his old clothes. “Loose him and let him go”. The one who was dead is now alive because of Jesus. God intervened. This is a beautiful picture of the Church. Lazarus’ family and friends celebrated his resurrection. Everyone was happy …

. but the Priests and the Pharisees.

They had a big meeting the day that Lazarus rose from the grave. You would think that they would flock to Jesus and love Him, for He was clearly sent of God to defeat death. But they didn’t. They said:

John 11:47-48 (KJV) … What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.  [48]  If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.

Confronted with truth, rather than believe these men chose to plot and ponder how they could keep their power. They had a good thing going before Jesus came along. If they left Jesus alone – they said – “all men will believe on Him, and the Romans shall come and take away OUR PLACE and NATION.” They did not see Jesus as the King of Life, but to them Jesus would be the reason that they would lose their power. The Bible says:

John 1:4-5 (KJV)  In {Jesus} was life; and the life was the light of men.  [5]  And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

John 3:19 (KJV)  And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

The priests and Pharisees made a decision that day. They did not want to lose their power, so they decided to kill Jesus.

John 11:53 (KJV)  Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.

They decided to kill Jesus. In fact, they knew that Jesus would go to Jerusalem for the Passover, so they plotted to kill Him then (John 11:56-57).

The Priests and Pharisees Made A Decision, But Their Decision Did Not Change Jesus’ Decision. Jesus rode into Jerusalem.

Jesus Rode Into Jerusalem To Lay Down His Life

Jesus knew that the Priests and Pharisees would plot His death, but He made a decision to ride into Jerusalem anyway. Why? Because Jesus our King came to conquer sin and death. He did not come to conquer the Romans, but to conquer evil and darkness.

Most of the commentaries I have read call this the “Triumphal Entry of Christ”. The entry of Christ into Jerusalem is also in Mark 11:1-11; Matthew 21:1-11; and Luke 19:28-44. By entering Jerusalem Jesus would not only make Himself vulnerable to His enemies, but He would so irritate the Pharisees and the Ruling Counsel of the Jews that they would deliver Him over to the Roman Authorities to be executed on the Cross.

But Jesus went anyway.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem He laid His life down for us all. Jesus knew what He was doing. He willingly laid His life down. Before going to Jerusalem Jesus said:

John 10:11 (KJV) I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

Jesus is the Shepherd of His people. The Shepherd leads the way. The Shepherd stands between the sheep and their enemy.

Our enemy is sin and death. The Bible declares:

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

On the one hand is sin which leads to death. If you decide to follow sin you will be paid off in death. BUT if you choose to follow Christ the pay off is LIFE. A better life NOW, and eternal life THEN. Jesus chose to lay His life down for us. He declared:

John 10:17-18 (KJV) Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

Jesus laid down His life. Her chose the nails. He chose the whip, the scourge. He chose to stand in the place of judgment for us.

1 John 3:16 (KJV) Hereby perceive we the love of God, because HE LAID DOWN HIS LIFE FOR US: …

Jesus made a decision. The decision He made effected His tomorrow, and effected our today. Look how Jesus rode into Jerusalem. The Bible says that:

John 12:14-15 (KJV) … Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, 15 Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.

The prophet Zechariah foretold that when the Messiah came into Jerusalem He would come sitting on a donkey:

Zechariah 9:9 (KJV) Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and UPON A COLT THE FOAL OF AN ASS.

When a conquering King entered into a city He rode on a white stallion, perhaps pulled by a Chariot. In the Old Testament when God wanted to overthrow the evil King Ahab and his queen Jezebel He had Jehu anointed King (see 2 Kings 9). When Jehu rode into Jerusalem he rode in a chariot pulled by a white stallion. He came to conquer by killing the evil King and Queen. But when a King came on a mission of peace he always rode on a donkey, a beautiful beast. Jehu rode into Jerusalem to kill. Jesus rode into Jerusalem to be killed, to be sacrificed for the sins of the world.

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem there were TWO GROUPS of people waiting for Him. We read:

John 12:9-11 (KJV) Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; 11 Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.

Illustrate One group wanted to see both Jesus AND LAZARUS. Lazarus rose from the grave. He was a side show, a carnival attraction. He is much like the scientists who developed three green glow in the dark pigs. They injected fluorescent green protein into embryonic pigs, and these pigs grow up green and glow in the dark. Why? Who knows? Man does silly things in the name of science. Lazarus was a curiosity, but to the Priests and Pharisees Lazarus was a threat. Their eyes were on Lazarus. Some believed on Jesus, but did not understand WHY He came.

They thought Jesus was the King Who would conquer Rome.

John 12:12-13 (KJV) when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.

As Jesus rode through the city He was received as if He were a conquering King. The people tossed palm leaves and outer clothing before Him, cheering Him. Jesus will come and overthrow the evil Romans – or so many thought. They wanted a temporary fix to their problems.

A temporary fix does not last.

Israel was in bondage to Rome THEN because of a sin problem.
America is in a mess TODAY because of a sin problem.
If we come to Christ and follow Him there is blessing.
But if we reject Christ and follow sin there is cursing.

God called His people to follow Him. He gave His people a law by which to live. He asked His people to love Him, to abstain from idolatry, to care for Him as He cared for them. But the people made a decision to do as they wanted to do. Instead of following God and loving God they followed their own hearts and their own sin nature. God was the least in their lives. And as the nation and its leaders drew away from God, the decisions they made led God to turn away. God will not condone sin. God will not wink at sin. God despises sin and wickedness and lovelessness. God told His people:

Deuteronomy 6:4-10 (KJV) Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. 9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. 10 And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not,

God loved Israel, and loved them still. When Jesus entered Jerusalem He saw the people laying down palm leaves and outer clothing before Him and His donkey. He heard the people shout:

Luke 19:37-38 (KJV) And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; 38 Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.

As they shouted they quoted Psalm 118 from the Hebrew hymnbook, singing and praising God. The Pharisees made a decision to harden their hearts to this. They said “Master, REBUKE Your disciples!”. The Pharisees knew that Jesus caused Lazarus to rise from the dead. They knew it so much that they plotted to kill Lazarus again, for this was a miracle they could not explain away. They hardened their hearts. They would not praise God for Jesus, nor could they tolerate it when others did. Make them be quiet. But Jesus said …

Luke 19:40 (KJV) …. I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

John 12:19 (KJV) The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.

They felt as if they couldn’t stop Christ. He threatened their franchise over religion, and their power over the people. They refused to hear Jesus, rejecting Him as Messiah. They plotted to kill Him.

Jesus Wept Over Lazarus And Wept Over Jerusalem

Luke 19:41-44 (KJV)41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, 42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. 43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, 44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.

When Jesus stood before Lazarus’ tomb He wept. I don’t believe He wept because His friend had died. Jesus knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the grave. Weeping over something that He was going to fix makes no sense. I believe Jesus wept over not Lazarus, but over the lost who would not hear. The Pharisees who – seeing the reversal of death – plot to kill Jesus so they can retain power. I believe Jesus wept because He looked around and saw people that He would lay His life down for, but these people would not repent nor come to Him. They would rather stay in the darkness of the tomb, rather than come to the light that is Christ.

I believe Jesus wept over Jerusalem and weeps over America today. I believe He weeps over the hard hearted who turn from Him and remain in their sin. In just a few days from now Jesus will be executed as a criminal of the state. He will be beaten, betrayed, bruised, and bound to a Cross. He will die on a hill called Calvary.

But like Lazarus, He will rise again. And unlike Lazarus, He will rise again to never die. Jesus will do this to show you and I that He is the Only Way, the Only Truth, and the Only Life. That no one comes to the Father but through Him.

Jesus decided to give Himself for you. His decision changes your tomorrow.
Jesus calls you to walk with Him, to lay your life down in Him.
He wants more than your palm leaves.
He wants YOU.
What will you decide.
Will you stand with the Pharisees and Priests, rejecting Him to stay in darkness?
Or will you choose to walk with Him?
The decision you make today will affect your tomorrow.
Choose wisely.
Choose Christ!

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God’s Masterpiece

excellent post from a great Christian

Jonathan Camac

masterpiece1

When you look at the canvas of your life, what do you see?

Maybe you see it riddled with mistakes. The lines might not be straight. Parts of the drawing have gone outside of the lines. The paper is torn, dirty. Stains splattered across the painting serve as a constant reminder of past mistakes [1]. People in the painting are blurry, once good friends have become un-recognisable.

No form of eraser or glue can fix the mess which you’ve created.

What would you give to start again? How much money would you pay to have your messy, torn up canvas turned into a masterpiece?

For we are God’s masterpiece.’ – Ephesians 2:9

We don’t become God’s masterpiece after we have fixed up the canvas of our life. Not God’s masterpiece once we’ve sorted out those messy lines and torn edges.  We are God’s masterpiece. Not in a few weeks, months or…

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Glorifying Jesus – God Loves The Small

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Revelation 2:18-29 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; 19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. 20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. 21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. 23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. 24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. 25 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. 26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: 27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. 28 And I will give him the morning star. 29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Thyatira was one of the smallest towns in the Roman Empire. Unlike Pergamos – an independent and self governed Roman Colony – Thyatira was considered unimportant. It was a small, throw away town that existed for one reason: it was a bumper, a buffer zone for more important places. It just didn’t matter to Rome, but it mattered to God, for God loves small things. God works with the humble, with those who love Him.

Proverbs 8:17 I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

I have heard people say “I prefer a small Church”.
Jesus prefers ANY Church of ANY size
That That Loves Him And honors God.

Jesus loves the small Church. His first Church had 12 disciples, of whom one was a devil. The eleven faithful went on to grow and become a church of 120, all praying together on the Day of Pentecost. That’s a small Church. Jesus loves a small Church, but Jesus also loves the large Church. Those 120 became 3000 before the day was over because the 120 honored the Son.

God blesses those who humbly follow Him.

Small Is Important To Jesus

Revelation 2:18-29 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God

We have a tendency to think that SMALL means INSIGNIFICANT. That’s not true. Small is important to God. God says:

This is the Word of the Lord to {His Servant}: Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord of hosts. Who are YOU, O great Mountain? Before {my Servant} you shall become a plain. Do not despise the day of small things … “ (Zechariah 4:6-7, 10 Author’s Paraphrase)

Jesus Christ addresses Thyatira. “I am the Son of God”. Who was Jesus? He is the Only Begotten Son of God. He was the King of Kings

Born in a manger amidst the stench and filth of animals.
Born in an unknown tiny place called Bethlehem.
Raised in a ridiculed small town named Nazareth.

Don’t you dare despise small things. The King of Heaven brought His Kingdom to this earth as a small baby. The largest man in this congregation was once a tiny baby held in a mother’s arms. Do not despise smallness. Thyatira was small, but Jesus was watching over it.

Revelation 2:18 These things saith the SON OF GOD, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;

Only here in Revelation is Jesus referred to as “Son of God”. He Jesus is watching little Thyatira – His eyes burn with passion! Oh how He loves His Church! His feet are like fine brass. He is with His Church and shall not be moved.

Jesus knows what it is like to be devalued. He was devalued by the Pharisees, the Scribes, the Sadduccees.

By what AUTHORITY do You do these things, Jesus?”

What school did YOU go to? Which Rabbi APPROVED your words? How dare YOU question US? You are not of the Ruling Council. You are nothing, Jesus, Nothing! When some were told about Jesus they asked:

“Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?”

People thought Nazareth, and Bethelehem and Thyatira were unimportant, tiny places that did not matter. But Jesus was born into humanity in Bethlehem. He was raised to adulthood in Nazareth. Jesus looked at Thyatira with passion in His eyes. His feet were like fine brass, refined in fire. Jesus was not going to walk away from His people. He was with them. These were His people, people He had given His life for. Christ says to the world and the worldly:

Mark 9:19 … O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? …

but to His people He says:

Matthew 28:20 … lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Jesus stood with Thyatira, just as He stands with all the outcasts, the small, the devalued. The Bible says:

1 Corinthians 1:26-29 (KJV) For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.

Thyatira is not nothing because it is small. Jesus sees His people. He passionately died for us, and He passionately watches over us. He cannot be pushed away from His people. He tells Thyatira:

Revelation 2:19 I know thy works, and charity, and serviceDIAKONIA, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.

If you read what Jesus says to His Church you’ll see something very interesting. The Lord repeats Himself. He says “I know thy works …… and thy works, and the last to be more than the first”.

Though Thyatira Was Small She Was Growing In Works.
Every Church Should Be GROWING In WORKS.

Like the Church at Macedonia we studied last Wednesday this small Church was GROWING in its works. They were continually reaching out to do more things.

One of the greatest dangers to face any Church is COMFORT and SELFISHNESS. A Church can become apathetic, settled in its ways and in its traditions. This is what destroyed Judaism. When Jesus came He challenged their traditions. Jesus came rocking the boat, and wants His people to keep reaching out, to keep telling, to keep doing. To be a brighter and brighter lighthouse, not a fishbowl or a clubhouse. Thyatira worked for the Lord, and were working more and more every day for the Lord. Their works were not just works for works sake, but works in charity (love for others).

The word “SERVICE” is the Greek DIAKONIA which means “Ministry”. They were sharing the Gospel, showing their love for Christ and God’s Kingdom. They had “faith” in what they were doing, which is good, because the Bible tells us:

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

Furthermore they were “patient”, the Greek HUPOMONE, a word that means “to rest in hope and not in hopelessness. To look upward. To trust in God”. So many Churches fail because they lose hope, but Thyatira – though small – had hope. And that’s a good thing!

The Problem With Smallness Is When We Devalue Ourselves

It looks as if Jesus is going to do nothing but praise Thyatira until we read verse 20:

Revelation 2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest (allow) that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

What is going on here? Thyatira is a great Church, working for the Lord. Jesus is commending the Church, praising them for their works. But now He notes that Jezebel is among them. Who is Jezebel? Jezebel is the wife of King Ahab, one of the most wicked Kings Israel ever knew. A wicked King, he married a wicked Queen. Jezebel was like liquid poison. The Bible tells us that:

Jezebel cut off the Prophets of the LORD (1 Kings 18:4)

That means SHE HAD THEM KILLED. Jezebel hated God. She ran off or murdered anyone who stood up for the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of the Scripture. Jezebel brought in BAAL WORSHIP, and ordained priests to spread their false teaching throughout the land. Had not faithful Obadiah hid 100 prophets in two caves, giving them food and water, the Faith of Abraham would have been wiped out of Israel. The Prophet Elijah stood against the 450 Prophets of BAAL on Mount Carmel, and wiped them all out by the Word of God.

Jezebel was wholly evil.

Jezebel demanded that the Israelites worship a false god, sacrificing their children to this evil. Jezebel would eventually be killed, and tossed from the wall of the palace. She was eaten by dogs (2 Kings 9:35-36), and they could find no more of her but her skull, her hands, and her feet. She died a grisley death.

But the spirit of Jezebel lives on, sometimes afflicting the Church of Christ. Jezebel was in the Church at Thyatira. Jesus said:

Revelation 2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest (allow) that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

The spirit of Jezebel teaches and seduces. It leads to fornication, or sexual sin. The spirit of Jezebel teaches idolatry rather than glory to God. How can these things get in Christ’s Church?

Jezebel comes in when the small Church devalues itself.
The Church tolerates that which it should not have tolerated.
The spirit of Jezebel is infused through many local Churches today.

There are many who profess Christ today who are pro-choice on abortion. What does God have to say on this? When does life begin? What does the Scripture say? Many do not ask, nor care. They have tolerated Jezebel in order to increase to roll of the Church.

There are many who profess Christ today who are pro-sexual sin. They endorse homosexual and heterosexual sins. They do not agree with Jesus Himself Who said:

Have you not read that at the beginning of creation God made them male and female? For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Mark 10:6; Matthew 19:4)

The majority of America has gone the way of progressivism, believing that all lines between the sexes are to be blurred and wiped out. This is Jezebel. Many Churches are becoming or have become more tolerant of that which God has said NO. Jezebel teaches Christ’s servants to commit fornication – sexual sin – and to fall into idolatry.

There are many who profess Christ today who believe there are many ways to God outside of Christ. This is idolatry. Just a few days ago megaChurch pastor Michael A. Walrond Jr said:

Saying you’re going to hell if you don’t believe in Jesus is insanity.”

He leads the more than 10,000 member First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem. He went on to say:

There was a time when you would see people in the pulpit say, ‘well, if you don’t believe in Jesus you going to Hell. That’s insanity in many ways because that is not what Jesus even believes. And so the key is you believe in God. And whatever your path is to God I celebrate that. Personally I celebrate that.”

This is Jezebel. Jesus said:

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

And John wrote 1 John 5:11-12 (KJV) 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.

An “all beliefs are ways to God” platform is not of the Scripture, but it is Jezebel. How does Jezebel get in a Church?

When The Small Church Chooses Human Methods
To Grow It May Move To Jezebel.

Years ago when Rick Warren and his book “The Purpose Driven Life” came out there was a push in Southern Baptist Life to do a “Forty Days of Purpose” campaign. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that Rick Warren is Jezebel, and I enjoyed reading the Purpose Driven Life. I try to live my life on purpose for Christ. But I didn’t feel led to lead our congregation to a “Forty Days” program. The Lord told me to just keep on preaching the Word – and I did. But I had a dear friend who bought into the “Forty Days” Purpose Driven program. He wanted his small Church to go from 50 to 500 or more. I prayed with my brother Jim that it would happen. We prayed together every week. At the end of Forty Days his Church had not grown, but actually decreased in size. Here’s what I want you all to understand.

Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that build it. (Psalm 127)

Jesus must build the Church. The Holy Spirit must save the people. There is no magic elixer or Jack and the Bean Stalk magic beans that will grow anything. Many Churches in order to grow have tolerated Jezebel and her Children. What did Jesus say of this?

Revelation 2:21-22 And I gave her {Jezebel} space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

The way to get on the dark side of Jesus is to tolerate Jezebel. Jezeus promised TRIBULATION to those who laid down with Jezebel. Jesus promised a LOSS of followers if Jezebel was allowed in the house. He said:

Revelation 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

Toleration of Jezebel – not standing up with God as Elijah did – is what leads to the most horrendous evil. Elijah told the nation in Jezebel’s heyday:

1 Kings 18:21 (HCSB) … Elijah approached all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If Yahweh is God, follow Him. But if Baal, follow him.” But the people didn’t answer him a word.

You can’t ride the fence. Riding the fence, Germany murdered 9 million people in concentration camps. Riding the fence our government – funded by Planned Parenthood – aborted 327,653 babies in 2013 and received 8 million tax dollars. Of these were 18,000 very late term abortions, children who screamed and cried as they were killed.

The Church of Jesus Christ needs to be like Elijah, like Joshua who said:

Joshua 24:14-15 (HCSB) “Therefore, fear the LORD and worship Him in sincerity and truth. Get rid of the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and worship Yahweh. 15 But if it doesn’t please you to worship Yahweh, choose for yourselves today the one you will worship: the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. As for me and my family, we will worship Yahweh.”

We need to lovingly stand up against Jezebel. We need to resist a redefinition of marriage and morality. We need to shine the light of Christ and His Gospel to whoever will hear.

We Will Conquer The World In Christ

Revelation 2:24-26 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this DOCTRINE, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. 25 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. 26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, TO HIM WILL I GIVE POWER OVER THE NATIONS:

The Church that stands strong with Jesus in love and love of life will have power over the nations. That Church will rule. It will change society. It will make a difference.

Revelation 2:27-29 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. 28 And I will give him the morning star. 29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

The power of evil and darkness is broken when righteousness stands up and says NO! Jesus says “I will give him the MORNING STAR”. What is “the Morning Star”?

Dr. Thomas Constable writes:

John identified the “morning star” (v. 28) elsewhere as Jesus Christ Himself (22:16). The morning star (usually the planet Venus) appears in the night sky, just before the dawning of a new day. From Babylonian to Roman times, the ancients regarded the morning star as a symbol of sovereignty and, in Roman times, victory.

Jesus Christ will guide faithful believers in the future, as the new day of His rule dawns (cf. Titus 2:13; Dan. 12:3). “The gift of the morning star must refer to the fact that the exalted Christ shares his messianic status with the believer who conquers.”

“To ‘grant the morning-star’ . . . means . . . to make the dawn of salvation or of life eternal shine on him after his dark afflictions.”

Christ stands with His people – but we must stand with Him.

May God touch your hearts with His Word.

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Cheerful Givers

2_Corinthians_9_6t8_Cheerful_Givers_Riverview_BOOK_EXCERPT_BIBLENOTES

Let us stand in honor of the reading of God’s Holy Word.

Please read with me.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

There is a law just as sure as the Law of Gravity.
There is a law just as sure as the Law of Magnetism.

There is a law just as certain as the Laws that maintain our earth at a proper distance from the sun. The Almighty God established Laws of Physics and Laws of Nature that work in a certain way. These Laws are immutable, unchangable, for they are fixed. These Laws are bound in the Nature of God, and exist for our good, for the Common Grace of mankind. The Law we’re going to discuss tonight is certain, fixed, without change.

It is the Law of Sowing and Reaping.

God established the Law of Sowing and Reaping when He created the earth. We are told in …

Genesis 1:11 (KJV)  And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, WHOSE SEED IS IN ITSELF, upon the earth: and it was so.

God created plant life with seed within itself. He designed creation to understand that if it want to survive it HAD TO GIVE OF ITSELF. If plant life had taken the seed that it was given and, in rebellion to God, REFUSED TO GIVE, then plant life would have died out. To be selfish is to eventually become obsolete. God designed the earth on the Law of Sowing and Reaping. We read:

Genesis 1:12 (KJV)  And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, WHOSE SEED WAS IN ITSELF, after his kind: and GOD SAW THAT IT WAS GOOD.

The earth did as it was to do. The plants did as they were supposed to do. God saw that it was GOOD. What was given was shared, and life continued. There was no selfishness.

When there is OBEDIENCE and FAITH
in God there is blessing!

Because Adam took what was not his to take, the Lord cursed him and his seed. Sin entered the world – and death by sin – because of Adam’s transgression (see Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:21). Selfishness leads to death. Adam SOWED DISOBEDIENCE and REAPED ITS WAGES. It is always that way. And yet, even in this fallen world, the Law of Sowing and Reaping did not change.

God promised ABRAHAM that if he followed Him that Abraham would be blessed. Abraham had no seed to sow, no natural seed that is. But Abraham could follow the Lord and love Him with all his heart. Abraham followed God, and God blessed Abraham. Eventually God gave Abraham seed, and Abraham had a son called ISAAC or Laughter.

Joy comes from obeying God’s Law

Isaac was the joy of Abraham’s heart. Abraham made some mistakes, some failures, and Isaac followed in his father’s footsteps. WHAT YOU SOW you WILL REAP. What your children see you do while they are tender ground will later spring up in their lives. Isaac repeated some of his father’s errors, but Isaac also followed Abraham in faith. The Bible tells us that there was a great famine in the land. A famine is a time when there is no food. Famines are caused by a lack of water, droughts, often considered a curse of God on creation for its evil. The Bible tells us that …

Genesis 26:1-2 (KJV)  And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar.  [2]  And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of:

There was a famine – no food. The word went out that Egypt had food stores, relief from the famine. But the Lord came to Isaac and said “Don’t go to Egypt. You go where I tell you. Stay here in Gerar.”

Genesis 26:3-5 (KJV){Stay} in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father;  [4]  And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;  [5]  Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

Abraham obeyed God’s Law of Sowing and Reaping. If Isaac obeyed God – even though to the human eye it looked as if it would be better to go to Egypti – then God would bless Isaac where he was. What would Isaac do? Isaac did something ridiculous by human standards.

He stayed in Gerar.
He planted a field in the midst of a famine.

Genesis 26:12-14 (KJV)  Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him.  [13]  And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great:  [14]  For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him.

The lost world envied Isaac and wanted what he had. But why did Isaac have anything at all in the midst of famine? Because he sowed in obedience to God, he reaped the blessing of God.

No good thing comes without faith. You can sit on your hands and hope for the best, but if you do not sow you will not reap. This is an immutable law of God. In our text today we read:

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

To SOW is to SCATTER SEED.
To TOSS IT FROM YOU.
Seed will not grow in your hand.
Seed only grows OUTSIDE of your hand.
If you sow LITTLE, you shall reap LITTLE.
If you sow MUCH you shall reap MUCH.

If you plant ONE tomato seed, you get ONE plant.
If you plant MANY tomato seed, you get MANY.
The law of God is true in the garden.
And it is true in the SPIRITUAL world.

If you have something in your hand and in your heart, you should be willing to sow it for the Lord!

In thre first five verses – as well as in the previous chapter – the Apostle spoke of The Macedonian Christians. These believers had little, but sowed what they had, and in sowing God gave them more. They sowed beyond what their means were, trusting God.

This is faith. The Bible defines “faith” as:

Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)  Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

It is not faith in God to do something when you have plenty of resources. It is faith in God to believe in His promise, to obey His will, though it may not seem likely according to the flesh. Faith trusts God no matter how circumstances look. The Bible says that …

Hebrews 11:6 (KJV)… without faith it is impossible to please {God}: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Faith is to release the seed to the ground, to broadcast it, to be a good steward of what God has given you. A Christian is to be a sower, a planter, believing in God. Jesus gave a wonderful illustration of this in Matthew 25. Matthew 25 is all about stewardship, about trusting God, about sowing and reaping. Jesus starts out in Matthew 25 speaking of 5 foolish virgins, and five wise virgins. These virgins were to wait for the coming of the Bridegroom. The wise virgins were prepared. They had oil in their lamps. But the foolish virgins wasted their time and were not prepared. They sat around and instead of filling their lamps with oil, they demanded that the wise virgins give them their oil – which they would not do.

You cannot sit around and hope somebody waits on you. God has given you life, which is a stewardship. He has offered you eternal life in His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. If you sit around doing nothing with your stewardship you will find yourselves coming up short at a critical time. Fill your lamps with oil now. Don’t make the preacher have to chase you to get you in Church. What you sow you will reap. If you are not prepared, not saved, not Spirit filled, when Christ comes you will NOT BE PREPARED.

What you sow you will reap.
If you sow little, you get little.
The reason for little faith is little sowing.
Follow Christ consistently.
Be in Church regularly.
For Jesus will come, and you need to be prepared.

In Matthew 25 Jesus also tells the story of three servants. Each servant was given to every man according to his several ability”.

God always gives to us
“According To Our Own Ability”

One man was given FIVE TALENTS, another TWO TALENTS, and another ONE TALENT. Each servant was able to do something with these talents. The person with FIVE talents INVESTED what he had. He sowed what was in his charge. When the Master came he said:

Matthew 25:20 (KJV) … Lord, thou deliveredst unto me FIVE talents: behold, I have gained beside them FIVE talents more.

He sowed what he was given for the Lord. If you sow 5, you reap 5 – and he reaped 5. The Master looked at him and said:

Matthew 25:21 (KJV)  His Lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.

Heaven is yours. You did what you could with what I gave you. Enter into the JOY of thy Lord! I am overjoyed with you, and shine with pleasure for you have served me. Then the servant that received TWO talents came to the Lord. He said:

Matthew 25:22 (KJV) … Lord, thou deliveredst unto me TWO talents: behold, I have gained TWO other talents beside them.

The servant SOWED what was entrusted to him. What was the Lord’s response? Exactly the same thing he said to the first servant:

Matthew 25:23 (KJV) … Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.

The words were the same – EXACTLY the same. Though one started with FIVE talents and ended with TEN, and though the other started with TWO talents and ended with FOUR, BOTH MEN were equally commended by the Lord. It doesn’t matter what you start with. If you sow what God has given you to sow, you will be blessed.

But then the THIRD servant comes to his Lord. What did he do with his ONE talent?

Matthew 25:24-25 (KJV)  Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:  [25]  And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.

This person did not know the Lord Jesus. Perhaps this person had a PROFESSION of Christ but no POSSESSION. He blames the Lord for not investing.

Lord, it’s YOUR FAULT I have little.
Lord, you are HARD on me.
Lord, if I had been given FIVE then…
Lord, I was frightened.

This servant buried his talent in the earth. How do we “bury our talent”? We do not sow it. We do not – trusting God – invest what He entrusted to us. We have money enough for fishing boats, trucks, four wheelers, and lands. We have money invested in the banks, and we give gifts to our families. But God’s talent is God’s talent. What will we do with it? This man said:

I bury it.
I hide it.
I hoard it.
But I will not invest it.

I can use a little holy imagination now and think about this man who buried his talent. He probably went to the other two stewards and told them “If I were you, I wouldn’t invest. I’d hold on to that money. I’d save for a rainy day. I’d sit on this in safety and security. When the Master returns I’ll be able to give Him back EXACTLY what He gave to me. So you’d better hold on to it. Hold on!”

When Adam sinned in the Garden he blamed God, then the woman. Now this steward blames the Lord. “I was scared of you, so I didn’t sow”. If you sow nothing, you reap nothing. The Lord told the steward:

Matthew 25:26-30 (KJV)  His Lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:  [27]  Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.  [28]  Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.  [29]  For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.  [30]  And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The WICKED servant lost his talent, and was cast into outer darkness. What does that mean? Some see this as a promise of eternal punishment, of hell for those who do not serve the Lord. That is a possibility. Those who love the Lord want to serve the Lord. The one who will not sow has a problem with faith and loving the Lord. So perhaps this person does go to hell.

But here’s another thought.

The “outer darkness” where there is “weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth” can refer to the life that lost sight of Christ and His Commission. I have seen a number of “Christians” die in misery and despair, wishing they had lived their lives better for their Lord. I have seen a number of parents in despair over the direction their grown children have taken. What you reap, you will sow. If you do not discipline the child nor

Ephesians 6:4 (KJV) … bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

If you allow that child to get away with murder, don’t be surprised if the child grows up to BE a murderer. What you reap you will sow. In time the seed you planted will become a tree, and that tree will bear GOOD FRUIT or BAD FRUIT. What was in the seed comes up in the plant. What is in the well comes up in the bucket.

Always.

The average heart will beat 36,000,000 every year, or around 2.52 billion times during a 70 year lifespan – and many of us live beyond that. The average respiration rate for a person at rest is 16 breaths a minute, 960 breaths in an hour, 23040 breaths per day. This comes to 588,672,000 breaths during a 70 year lifetime.

God made an investment when He made you. He made an even GREATER INVESTMENT when He died for your sins. You are purchased with the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:19) if you have received Him as Lord and Savior. You are to sow for the Lord.

Sow What You Expect To Reap

Galatians 6:7-9 (KJV)  Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  [8]  For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.  [9]  And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

We are to sow for the glory of God. If we sow sin, we reap death. If we sow to self we reap more of self. But if we sow to the Spirit, we reap of the Spirit. Whatever seed you sow will – in time – become what it should be.

Sow love, reap love.
Sow criticism, reap criticism.
Sow doubt, reap doubt.
Sow encouragement, reap encouragement.
Sow discouragement, reap discouragement.
Sow harmony, reap harmony.
Sow discord, reap enemies.
Sow good, reap good.
Sow evil, reap evil.
Sow sin, reap death.

When the Church justifies SIN in order to placate the world, this seed brings forth darkness. When God’s people show hatred and disharmony instead of love it will not be long before the Church disintegrates. What you sow, you will reap. If you sow Christ, you will reap Christians. Sow Christ. Live in God’s Word. Someone said:

Living a life of carnality and sin and expecting to inherit Heaven is like planting poison ivy and waiting for roses to bloom. It just won’t happen!”

We are told in the Old Testament:

Proverbs 11:18 (KJV)  The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward.

Proverbs 22:8 (KJV)  He that soweth iniquity shall reap {emptiness}: and the rod of his anger shall fail.

Give Because You Love God

Our Lord Jesus was standing at the Temple one day watching how people gave. Those who had much would come up to the Temple offering and LOUDLY let every one know they were giving. Now it was good that they were giving. But as Jesus watched He saw a little old lady hobble to the collection plate.

Luke 21:2-4 (KJV)  {Jesus} saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.  [3]  And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:  [4]  For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her {poverty} hath cast in all the living that she had.

This woman could have said:

I don’t give because I have medical bills.
I don’t give because I am a widow, all alone.
I don’t give because my children need it.
I don’t give because my mortgage went up.
I don’t give because I need groceries.
I don’t give because my utilities went up.
I don’t give because all I have is 2 mites.

The widow woman had a lot of reasons not to give. She didn’t take any of them. God gave her life. God gave her two mites to give. So the woman gave. And though her offering was tiny compared to those who gave much more, God appreciated her offering more.

She sowed out of faith.
She sowed out of love to God.

It is easy to give when you see where the money is coming from. It is easy to give when you have a lot of money in the bank. To give out of your ABUNDANCE is not faith. To give trusting God, believing what Jesus said:

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

Do what God tells you to do with your stewardship. Do not listen to the Devil who says “hath God REALLY said?” Yes, God has really said. And God meant it.

2 Corinthians 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity…

Giving to God is to be from the HEART. Our giving – whether it be time, talent, or money – is to be NOT GRUDGINGLY or because the Pastor or the Law says so. It is not to be OF NECESSITY. The Law of God speaks of a TITHE, and Abraham gave a tithe to God before the Law was ever written (see Genesis 14:20). Why did Abraham tithe? Because he loved the Lord. The Lord said of Abraham:

Genesis 26:5 (KJV) Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

Abraham obeyed and gave to the Lord not because it was a law written down, but because the Lord he loved asked him to do so. Abraham loved God, and God loved Abraham!

2 Corinthians 9:7 … for God LOVETH a cheerful giver.

“God loveth”. The word translated “loveth” is the Present Active Indicative verb of the Greek AGAPAO (agapaw ag-ap-ah’-o). This is the same word that we find in the beloved passage:

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

What’s the difference between “loved” in John 3:16 and “loveth” in 2 Corinthians 9:7? The tense of the verb is different. In John 3:16 it says “God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son”. This is Past Tense, showing that God poured out His love on the world when He sent the Lord Jesus Christ to the Cross. In 2 Corinthians 9:7 it says “God loveth a cheerful giver”. This is Present Tense, showing that God keeps on pouring out His love on those who cheerfully give.

When people who have received Grace are Gracious themselves, God sees this – and keeps on pouring out His love on them.

“God loveth a cheerful giver”. The word translated “cheerful” is the Greek adjective HILAROS (`ilaroj hil-ar-os’), the word from which we get our English word “Hilarious”. HILAROS means “to be cheerful, joyous, even hilarious, filled with mirth”. God keeps on pouring His love out on the hilarious giver, the person who gives – not because they have to – but because they want to. The God Who made us gives – not because He has to – but because He wants to. He gives liberally. He gives joyously. And He wants us to give in like manner. It is unnatural – against all creation – to take and take and take and never give back.

The God Who gives all things richly to us is the same God Who designed our hearts. He designed us to be communal, that is, to live together. He made us born again to LOVE OTHERS. It is in our giving of self and stuff that we show our love toward others.

II heard of a wealthy farmer who always bought three times the seed he needed to sow his fields. The salesman asked him why he did that. The farmer replied, “I give seed to my neighbors on each side of my farm. When the bees begin to pollinate my crops, I don’t want them to bring pollen from lower grade seed on to my land. By giving my neighbors the best seed, I bring myself the best riches”.

As the Apostle Paul prepared to leave the Church at Ephesus he told the Pastors there:

Acts 20:35 …. laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

It is more blessed to give than to receive. It blesses others, and it blesses you. And remember as you give for God it will not return void. The Apostle said:

2 Corinthians 9:8-9 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: 9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.

God is able. He is able to bless us. We must trust Him and give, if we have been given eternal life. May God touch your hearts with His Word.

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Ho! A Word From God

Isaiah_55_Ho!.png

Please stand in honor of the reading of God’s Word.

Isaiah 54:17 (KJV) No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.

Isaiah 55:1-3 (KJV) Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. 3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.

Isaiah 55:6-7 (KJV) Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

God makes precious promises to His people, the ones He calls “the servants of the LORD”. Those who live to serve themselves are not so blessed. Those who live for themselves will at times be very happy, for God causes

His sun to shine on good and bad people alike, and He sends His rain to fall on the righteous and unrighteous alike (Matthew 5:45)

Asaph, one of the three Worship Leaders appointed by King David, wrote a song we call Psalm 73. In this song Asaph asked why do these ungodly people prosper in this world, and increase in riches, and yet to Asaph it seemed as if he who loved the Lord struggled while the wicked had SUCCESS. Asaph wondered about this. He said “I did not want to speak my doubts aloud lest I betray your people”. But in his heart he wondered how it was that the servant of God should struggle so, whereas the wicked seem to have such good lives. Asaph wondered until …

Psalms 73:17-18 (KJV) Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. 18 Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction.

The easy riches and easy life without God NOW is but an illusion. The person without God and without Christ is not blessed, but cursed. They may have money, they may have popularity, they may have rich health, but in time – which is all so fleeting – they have nothing. When Asaph came into the Sanctuary of God and His Spirit began to speak to his heart Asaph cried out:

Psalms 73:22-27 (KJV) So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. 23 Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. 24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. 26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. 27 For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee.

Though there may be times when the ungodly seem to have the best life, that will not last. There will come a day when the ungodly go through the VALLEY. When in the VALLEY and the darkness comes, to whom shall they turn? When DEATH knocks on the door of their soul to whom shall they cling? When attacks come from those around them (and they will come) who shall defend them? If you belong to the Lord He “guides me with His counsel, and afterwards receives me to glory”. The heritage of the servants of the LORD, the Eternal and Great I AM is that

Isaiah 54:17 (KJV) No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper
and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn.

This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD,
and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.

God’s people are protected from the weapons of the wicked.
God’s people are protected from the TONGUES of the wicked.
God’s people receive IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS from the Almighty.

We Are God’s People Because We Are Satisfied In Christ

The Lord speaks of the protection of His Servants in chapter 54. In chapter 55 He tells us WHO are HIS PEOPLE? His people are those who are THIRSTY.

Isaiah 55:1 (KJV) Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

We see first of all that God’s people are those who ARE THIRSTY. They had tried the things of this life and found them unsatisfactory. They tried things, power, sex, or fame for satisfaction. Yet all that they tried brought thirst. It didn’t satisfy.

God calls a THIRSTY people to Himself.
If you are satisfied with the godless life
You will not seek God.

If you are satisfied with yourself as God and accountability only to yourself, or to the cry of the age:

It’s MY body and I’ll do what I want to”

If this is what you are satisfied with, then you will not hear God’s call. God calls to the thirsty. He calls to the hungry. He calls to the unsatisfied. God made us in His image and in His likeness. Because of that we are not happy until we come to Him. We are thirsty until we find our fulfillment in Him.

Jesus met a Samaritan woman at a well one day. He said “Give Me something to drink”. The Samaritan woman was intrigued. The Jews and the Samaritans had nothing to do with one another. The Jews considered the Samaritans to be half breeds, children of their enemy. So the Samaritan woman asked Jesus “How is it that you – a Jew – ask me a Samaritan for water?”. Jesus told her “If you knew who I am you would ask Me for water. The water you give will only satisfy for a little bit. But the water I give will satisfy … you will never thirst again.” The woman told Jesus “Give me this water. I want this water that lasts forever so I don’t have to comer to this well anymore”. Jesus told her, “Go, call your husband, and then come back to see Me”. The woman said “I have no husband”, and Jesus replied “It’s true you have no husband. You’ve had five husbands and the man you’re with now is not your husband.” You see, this woman was like so many others. She was seeking happiness and satisfaction in life without God. She was frantically searching for something to please her, but never finding it. She went to Church. She had a home she went to. She had a man she cared for. Yet her life was empty. Why? Because life is empty without the Lord in it. Jesus told this woman:

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

True worship is of the Jews. Christ our Messiah came out of Israel. He is the One that the Father sent to satisfy our thirst. We are to come thirsty to Him. When we chase after the things of this world we are like this woman of Samaria. We think this will satisfy our thirst, or that will satisfy our thirst. But our thirst is only satisfied in Him, in God. When we come to Him and worship Him in Spirit and in truth heeding His Word and do all that He says we are satisfied, for God then is our Father, the Son our Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit our guide.

God says to whoever will hear Him “Come to Me. I will satisfy your thirst. I will meet your needs”. He says:

Isaiah 55:1 (KJV) Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

God calls those who come to His embrace to come and buy, but NOT WITH MONEY. The great truth of the Scripture, repeated all throughout the Bible is:

the just shall live by his faith.”
Habakkuk 2:4, KJV

“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith:
as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”
Romans 1:17, KJV

no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident:
for, The just shall live by faith.”
Galatians 3:11, KJV

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

The Lord says “if you’re thirsty, come to Me. Let your FAITH be in ME. I will satisfy your thirst. I will love you. If you come to Me I will give you the greatest thing in the world, something you cannot purchase with money. I WILL GIVE YOU ME.

Every year Israel would have the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles, a Feast to commemorate the time that God led them out of Egypt and gave them food, shelter, and clothing in the wilderness. On the last day of that Feast the Priests would go from the … (and here I refer to Ellicott’s Commentary) …

“… Temple to the pool of Siloam, where the priest filled a golden vase with water and carried it to the Temple amid the joyful cries of the people. He then poured it out on the western side of the altar of burnt-offering; while another priest poured a drink-offering of wine, at the same time, on the eastern side of the altar, and the people{would praise the Lord loudly}.

As soon as the people stopped shouting the Lord Jesus stood up and with audacity cried out:

John 7:37-39 (KJV) … Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

If you reject Christ for the world
Your companions Are the wandering lost.
If you RECEIVE Christ
You gain the Spirit of God
Your Eternal Companion.

When you receive Christ instead of the world you receive God’s Indwelling Spirit, the Spirit of Christ Who walks with you NOW and into ETERNITY.

When the LORD said “HO – LISTEN TO ME all who are thirsty. Come and drink!” He was in effect saying what Jesus said. God sent His Son to this world to make payment for our sins. Sin separates us from God. In Christ we are united to the Holy Family NOW and FOREVER.

Jesus came to pay for us, to cover our sins by His own body on the tree of Calvary. If we are thirsty – if anyone is thirsty – we come to Christ. When we come receiving Him as Lord and Savior then “out of our bellies flow rivers of living water”. This is a reference to the Holy Spirit that indwells every Child of God. We purchase this WITHOUT MONEY. We hear God’s HO! We comer to God’s Son. We believe He died for us. We receive Him as He is. The Apostle speaks of this great purchase of God in:

Galatians 3:11-14 (KJV) But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. 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: 14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

When we hear God’s HO! we come to God’s Son. Receiving Him, He enters our life through the Blessed Holy Spirit. God is with His people all the time. He never leaves us nor forsakes us. He loves us, and dwells with us.

God’s People Listen To, Honor, & Obey God

Isaiah 55:2 (KJV) Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.

God asks His people “Why do you spend money for that which is not bread?” The world chases after things, trying to satisfy themselves with stuff. The stuff this world offers will not satisfy the soul. You may fill your bellies, but your soul will dry up and shrivel without the Lord. God calls out to all saying “Don’t spend your money for that which not satisfy. Walk away from stuff and come to Me. I will satisfy. I will bless. I will empower you by My Spirit. I will guide you by my Word.”

When Israel departed from following God they told the Prophet Samuel that “We want a King so we can be like the other nations”. So God allowed this. The Lord told Samuel to anoint Saul of the House of Benjamin to be king over Israel. When Samuel came to anoint Saul he did not want to be king. He said:

1 Samuel 9:21 (KJV) … Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou so to me?

Saul felt himself unworthy of the call. He resisted the Word of God. On the day that he was to be anointed King the Bible tells us this interesting fact:

2 Samuel 10:21-22 (KJV) … when they sought {Saul}, he could not be found. 22 Therefore they enquired of the Lord further, if the man should yet come thither. And the Lord answered, Behold he hath hid himself among the stuff.

Saul “Hid himself among the stuff”.
Are you hiding yourself among the stuff?

When God calls to salvation He calls whosoever will. But many are never saved. Why? Because they hide themselves among the stuff. God asks “Why do you purchase things that will not satisfy. Come to Me. I am better than the stuff you are hiding among”. God’s people should know that their blessings come only by knowing God, by learning of Him, by worshiping Him. There are many believers in our day also who, though saved, have no joy in their salvation. Why? Because they have blended God with stuff. They do not worship God, but stuff. They love stuff more than anything else. They love seeing their friends, or partying, or going to the gym or the store. Their satisfaction is not in God’s companionship, and many who profess Christ are no more blessed than the lost. What a sad thing this is!

We need the Lord. The lost need the Lord and His Word. The saved need the Lord and His Word.

Isaiah 55:3 (KJV) Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.

God says “If you come to Me in faith YOUR SOUL SHALL LIVE.” There is no true life if life is without the Lord. There is no true happiness if Christ is not living and walking with you. The Lord promises an everlasting covenant with those who come to Him in faith. He says “as I blessed David with mercy, so shall I bless you”.

We are to come to Him, to the Person of Christ. We are to receive Him by faith. The Lord says:

Isaiah 55:6-7 (KJV) Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Some Of The “Stuff” That We Hide Ourselves Among Is Foolish Philosophies
And Vain Thoughts.

God has spoken in His Word. A person says:

I was born this way, and I want to stay this way”

Were you born that way? Sure you were. You were born a sinner, a fallen creature, lost from the Father of Lights. But the Father calls you to His Son. As many as receive Him, to them I give the power to become sons of God. You were born a sinner, a lost person. God calls us to salvation. He says “let the wicked forsake HIS way and go MY way”. He says “let the unrighteous person turn from HIS thoughts to MY thoughts”. This, I believe, is the problem with America today. We are focused on OUR thoughts, on what WE think is right and wrong, and not what GOD has said is right and wrong. The Lord says:

Isaiah 55:8-11 (KJV) For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

God’s Word has spoken on what is right and what is wrong. What we think is right is wrong in God’s Word, and His Word is always true. Therefore God calls us to His side. He says “Here is what I think” and we, if we are His Children, must agree with Him. He knows best.

While we do things OUR way we experience thirst, unhappiness, and misery. When we do things God’s Way then …

Isaiah 55:12 (KJV) For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

When we do things OUR way then what we do turns to thorns and thistles. It was when Adam rejected God’s Word and heard instead the serpent that thorns and thistles came into paradise. But when we honor the Lord He promises:

Isaiah 55:13 (KJV) Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

God wants to bless you. Will you come? There is blessing in hearing and heeding God. Will you be blessed?

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Focused On Jesus’ Word In Pergamos

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Revelation 2:12-17 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; 13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. 14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. 15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. 16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. 17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

We continue to study the Revelation of Jesus Christ, so named by the Apostle in verse 1 of the Book:

Revelation 1:1 (KJV)  The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

As we continue to study through the Book of Revelation we now come to the Church of Pergamos. The name Pergamos means “a fortress, a place of refuge”. Pergamos was a besieged Church, the Church under attack by the world itself. When Jesus spoke to Ephesus He said:

Revelation 2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith HE that HOLDETH the seven stars in his right hand, who WALKETH in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;

He says “I am the One Who HOLDS You and WALKS with You”. Jesus said in effect “I love YOU and am with YOU. Will you love ME?”

Then Jesus addresses Smyrna, the Suffering Church:

Revelation 2:8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the FIRST AND THE LAST, WHICH WAS DEAD, AND IS ALIVE;

Jesus tells the suffering Church “Though I am your God I suffered too. But I also defeated suffering, and I am with you.” What an encouraging message to His people … oh how I love Jesus!

And NOW Jesus comes to the Church called “Fortress”, a Church built on the Rock that is Christ. What does Jesus say to this Church? He says:

Revelation 2:12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith HE WHICH HATH THE SHARP SWORD WITH TWO EDGES;

Out Of Christ’s Mouth Is The Two Edged Sword

Jesus has a SHARP sword with TWO edges. We saw this picture first in Chapter 1:

Revelation 1:16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and OUT OF HIS MOUTH WENT A SHARP TWO-EDGED SWORD: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

The weapon that Jesus holds is not in His HAND but from His MOUTH. His WORD smites the nations. When Jesus returns to rule this earth we are told later in this Book of Books:

Revelation 19:11-16 (KJV)  And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.  [12]  His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.  [13]  And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.  [14]  And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.  [15]  And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.  [16]  And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

Jesus will rule with the WORD of HIS MOUTH. Jesus Christ is the Living Word of God. His WORD is true. His WORD cuts to the soul. His WORD changes the heart of man. We are told in …

Hebrews 4:12 For the WORD OF GOD IS QUICK, AND POWERFUL, AND SHARPER THAN ANY TWO EDGED SWORD, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

It is Jesus Word that conquers the soul of man. His Word penetrates deep, going into the heart, changing the life. Christ conquers, not by physical killing – not now. His Way is Gracious, loving. His Word convicts. Throughout human history deluded men have dressed up in suits of armor and went out in ships with crosses painted on their sails to defeat the alleged enemy with the sword. Deluded people professing Christ have crusaded and cut their way through worlds, killing whole civilizations in the name of Christ. Yet this is not what Jesus was ever about. When Jesus told His disciples to go into the world it was not to cut and rend, to force people into the Kingdom of God. No! His way was:

Matthew 28:18-20 (KJV) … All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  [19]  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: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

No metal human sword was ever put in the hand of the Church or the Christian. We were to wield His WORD. His WORD is a two-edged sword that cuts to the soul, CONVICTING of sin and CONVINCING of the need of salvation.

Jesus has the sword with two edges. If we have Him and love Him we have the sword He has. His message – the message by which the world is conquered – is

Matthew 4:17 …. REPENT: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Mark 1:15 …. The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: REPENT ye, and believe the gospel.

REPENT because your way is wrong.

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

We are all sinners. None are superior. All are in God’s eyes unworthy.

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

We deserve death, but Jesus offers life if we but receive Him as Lord and Savior.

Romans 5:8 … God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God loves us, so Jesus took the penalty of our sin on Himself. We didn’t deserve it but He did it.

Romans 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Confess Him as Savior and Lord. Believe He rose from the grave and lives to lead you in love. You will be saved! That two edged Sword of the Word doesn’t shed blood, but it kills nonetheless. Those who hear and respond to the Gospel have their old self killed, and a new and loving self rises up in their place.

Pergamos Was A Great Fortress Of Christ’s Word

Revelation 2:13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

Even though under attack from the world Pergamos worked for the Lord. He said:

I know thy works”

They worked though working was hard.

A person who professes Christ but does not serve Him may not be a Christian at all.
A person who professes Christ but does not serve Him may not be a Christian at all.
A person who professes Christ but does not serve Him may not be a Christian at all.

What did James the stepbrother of Christ say?

James 2:17-22 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

We “confess with our mouth the LORD Jesus Christ and are saved”. Our faith is in Christ, and so we serve Him and Him alone. I heard Dr. Adrian Rogers once talk about getting on a plane to go to a speaking engagement. Before the doors of the plane closed he heard the stewardess call his name over the intercom. “Dr. Rogers, will you please come forward”. Uncertain as to why he was being called, he got up and headed to the stewardess. When he got there she said, “Dr. Rogers, we’ve all made a mistake. You got on the wrong plane, and we just caught it. You need to get off and get on the right plane.” Adrian went on to say “I had absolute faith that I was on the right plane, but though I had faith – no matter how hard I believed that plane wouldn’t get me where I wanted to go. Faith alone will not get you to Heaven. Faith alone IN CHRIST alone WILL!”

The saved love to work for Jesus. Let me say that again: The SAVED love to work for JESUS! This was a working Church. Not only this, this was a CHURCH under ATTACK. We read:

Revelation 2:13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat (or THRONE) is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

Satan’s “SEAT” is actually the word THRONOS, which means “Throne”. The city where Pergamos – God’s Fortress Church was – was actually in a place where idolatry and sin were rampant. They were Stationed in Sodom and Gomorrah and Bivouacking in Babylon. They were in a place where Satan RULED … yet they continued to work for the Lord.

Jesus said to them thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith”. They stood together as a Church under the Name of Christ. The Church was yielded to His authority, His Word, and following Him. This is what made the Church a fortress, a Pergamos. They understood that Jesus was Lord and “hast not denied MY Faith”.

Jesus Christ purchased our faith with His own Blood. He owns our faith. He owns the Church. The Church belongs to Him. He is the Overcomer, and His Church overcomes.

This Church stood strong even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you. I didn’t know who Antipas was until I studied this passage. Antipas was at one time the a faithful Pastor at Pergamos, a man ordained by the Apostle John. Some believe he was burned to death on a brazen bull shaped altar. I don’t know how he died, but Jesus did. Antipas died a martyr’s death, and stood, and so did the Church.

Pergamos was a wonderful Church …

But Pergamos Was Infiltrated By Money Loving Preachers

Revelation 2:14-15 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. 15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

When we read texts with strange names in it we are tempted to gloss them over. What is “Balaam” and “Balak” (here spelled with a “c”, but it should be a “k”) and the Nicolaitans? There are some important truths here we need to see.

Balaam” and “Balak” Refer To A Sin That Happened In Numbers 22-24. This sin is mentioned not just here in the New Testament, but also in

Jude 10-11 … But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. 11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and RAN GREEDILY AFTER THE ERROR OF BALAAM FOR REWARD

2 Peter 2:14-15 Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: 15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following THE WAY OF BALAAM …. who LOVED THE WAGES OF UNRIGHTEOUSNESS;

The “error and way of Balaam” has to do with monetary gain.

Balaam was a prophet who sold his prophecies, twisting the Word of God in order to get rich.

One day Balak the King of the Moabites contacted Balaam and asked him to pronounce a curse on Israel. He thought that if Balaam cursed Israel then God would turn His hand against Israel and destroy that nation. What is interesting about this is that the Moabites are actually cousins of Israel, being born of the Old Testament Lot whe he and his daughters escaped the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Moab existed because God’s Word is faithful, and because Lot heard God’s Word and left Sodom before it was destroyed! Though man may mess up, when we obey God’s Word there is life! Good life! Abundant life! Eternal life!

Balak should have loved the Word of God … he was king of Moab because of it. Yet instead he hired Balaam to pronounce a curse on Israel. God does not want to curse His people. His Word does not exist to curse His people. Some of those television evangelists you swear by – wearing $1000 dollar suits – selling their wares and twisting God’s Word – they are like Balaam. When Balak approached Balaam the prophet should have said: “I will not twist God’s Word.

God cannot forget His Israel nor His Church. He will not curse His people Whom He gave His life for. Balaam sold his services to curse Israel … but God would not let him do so. God will not bless anything that twists His Word. By compromising with the unbelieving Balak, Balaam “taught Balak to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel”.

The Church nor the Preacher is never to compromise the Word of God in order to profit. God’s people read, and hear, and guard God’s Word. For us His Word and His Way is what we follow. The Nicolaitans were also those who thought that “the Word of Man trumped the Word of God”. We will not be this way, but will follow His Way, declaring to our Lord and Savior …

Psalms 119:103-105 …. How sweet are thy Words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. 105 NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

What Keeps The Church A “Fortress” Is Fidelity To Christ’s Word, To The Holy Scripture. Jesus tells the Church of Pergamos:

Revelation 2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

I want you to note what Jesus says very carefully. He says “I will come to THEE wuickly, and fight against THEM with the sword of My mouth”. He’s not going to fight His Church, but Jesus will purge His Church of those who have infiltrated it who do not follow His Way. It is HIS Way or the HIGHWAY. Jesus has decreed over and over again:

John 14:6 I am THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.

Many years ago in ancient China Mongolian Hoards often came across the border to ravage villages, steal property, rape women and enslave children. Finally the Emperor had enough. He ordered a wall built across China. The Great Wall of China was built 30 feet high, 18 feet thick, and over 1500 miles long. The Wall was too high to climb, too thick to break down, and too long to go around. But during the first hundred years of the Wall’s existence China was invaded three times. It wasn’t the Wall’s fault. No one climbed the Wall, nor broke it down, nor went around it. You know they got in? The enemy bribed a gate keeper and marched in through an open door.

Jesus ends with these words:

Revelation 2:17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

One of the great believers of our age now with the Lord is Billy Graham. He reached a point in his ministry where so many were telling him to turn against the Word of God, to declare it just another human book. Billy said:

“I surrendered my will to the living God revealed in the Scripture. I knelt before the opened Bible and said, ‘Lord, many things in this Book I do not understand, but Thou hast said the just shall live by faith. All I have, I have received by faith. Here and now by faith, I accept the Bible as Thy Word. I take it all. I take it without reservations. Where there are things I cannot understand, I will reserve judgment until I receive more light. If this pleases Thee, give me authority as I proclaim Thy Word, and through that authority convict me of sin and turn sinners to the Savior.”

God’s Word rules His Church. Not popular opinion, but God’s Word. Not man’s written bylaws. God’s Word. Those who obey and follow God’s Word have “hidden Manna” – the food of God that the world cannot know. Those who obey and follow God’s Word have “a white stone with a new name written on it”. There is new life in Jesus – a clean slate – a great destination.

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