Quick Commands for Christian Living
1 Thess. 5:16-18
Intro: Paul’s epistles are filled with amazing doctrine, deep theology, concepts and truths that we are all still trying to sort out after 1950 years or so. Still, I love Paul’s epistles because they are also filled with tremendous Practical truth, personal exhortations and straight forward commands, like the three found in these three verses:
Pray Without Ceasing
In Everything Give Thanks
I call these: Quick Commands for Christian Living.
I. Live Joyfully (Rejoice evermore)
You do realize, don’t you that it is God’s Plan and Design and Will for Christians to live joyfully? There is no Biblical precedent for Christians to be constantly Sad; perpetually Sorrowful; living in a Fog of Doom and Gloom. God has done everything he can to provide every Christian with a Joyful Life.
1) Salvation Brings Joy
Ps. 21:1 The king shall joy in thy strength, O LORD; and in thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!
Ps 51:12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation...
Ps 132:16 I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy.
Isa 12:3 Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.
Hab 3:18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
If you are a Christian, you should live joyfully. In order to be a Christian you must have experienced Salvation and everything about Salvation is Joyous.
2) The Holy Ghost Brings Joy
Acts 13:52 And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.
Rom 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Rom 15:13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
1Thess 1:6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:
How about that??! Every one who experiences the presence and power of the Holy Ghost knows about JOY.
If you are saved, you should be Living Joyfully.
If you have been born again by the Spirit of God you should be living Joyfully.
If you have been Filled with and baptized in the Holy Ghost you should be Living Joyfully.
II. Live Prayerfully (Pray without ceasing)
Again, the teaching of Jesus himself and of the Bible as a whole is that every Christian should Pray. We should Pray privately. We should Pray publically. We should Pray regularly. We should Pray fervently. We should Pray patiently.
“Pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.”
“Praying in the Holy Ghost.”
“Pray without ceasing” You know that this command does not mean that we must quit our job so we can spend all day, every day on our knees praying. We are not to let the house turn into a landfill so we can spend all day every day praying. What it does mean is this: we should Live All Day, Every day in an Attitude and Atmosphere of Prayer.
D L Moody said that a Christian should be able to Preach, Pray or Die at a moment’s notice.
Certainly we need to Set aside specific time for personal prayer and devotion. BUT after that “duty” is fulfilled, we should live the rest of each day in a prayerful way.
Praying for God’s will and direction.
Praying for God’s blessing and protection.
Praying for God’s presence.
Praying for our family, our friends, our church.
Praying for our lost loved ones.
Praying for our community and our nation.
III. Live Thankfully. (In everything give thanks...)
Oh, how every Christian should live thankfully. After all, if we are living Joyfully, we realize its only because of God’s grace and blessings. AND if we are living Prayerfully, we are constantly aware of God’s great Care for us. Therefore, every Christian should be living Thankfully.
How sad it is for a professing Christian to be Pouty and Ungrateful.
How sad it is for a professing Christian to be Moody and Complaining.
How sad it is for a professing Christian to be Irritable and Unhappy.
There are at least 50 verses that exhort us to give Thanks to God from 1 Chron. - Rev. There are at least 45 more that tell us to give thanks to the Lord; from Lev.- Rev. According to Eph 5:20- we are to be “Giving Thanks always FOR All things unto God....”
Thanking God FOR all things.
James said that every good and every perfect gift comes from our Father above. God gives all good things and should be Thanked and Praised for them. The devil is responsible for sin, sickness and death and should be Blamed and Despised because of them. Because we are living a Human Life, we will have sickness and sorrow and disappointments and troubles that we must endure. However, God has already promised that he would Work all things together for our Good if we love him and are called according to his purpose.
Thank God FOR all things. And...
Thank God IN all things.
Thank God in the midst of all things; while going through all things. The old song says, “in the good times, Praise his Name; in the bad times, Do the Same, In Everything, give the King of kings all the praise.”
Paul says that living Thankfully is the Will of God in Christ Jesus concerning YOU. YOU are to live thankfully. Yes you;
Even though life has given you some bumps and bruises.
Even though affliction has laid you low.
Even though your relationships have not turned out like you desired.
Even though your family has troubles and trials.
Even though your earthly life seems far from perfect.
In everything give God Thanks.
Live Joyfully; Live Prayerfully; Live Thankfully.
Triumphant in Christ
Intro: The Christian life is Not a life of misery and sorrow; it is not a life of depression and defeat; The Christian life is a life of Triumph! Victory! Conquering! There is a very Good reason the Christian life is a life of Triumph, Victory and Conquest: JESUS CHRIST! He IS our triumph!
In these three verses Paul points out three reasons why the Christian life is a life of Triumph.
I. Our Debt of Sin has been Cancelled. (13)
You (and I) were dead in our sins. BUT Christ has quickened us together with himself; has made us Alive; brought us to Life;
“Having forgiven you all Trespasses.” Jesus has forgiven all our trespasses. The Debt of Sin has been cancelled. The Biblical and theological word for this is Justification. It is a Legal word and it means that when you repented of your sins and accepted Jesus as your Savior, God took the Payment of Jesus’ blood on Calvary and applied it to your Account. Your sins were a Debt that you could not pay; but Jesus paid your debt that he did not owe; and you and I have been Justified- our debt of sin has been cancelled.
The story is told a young Russian soldier who was away from home for the first time in his young life. He had fallen in with wrong company and gotten involved in gambling. He got deeper and deeper in debt until the gamblers were threatening his life if he didn’t pay up. Late one night, he sat at his little table in the barracks with his list of debts before him and he wrote in despair, “Who could pay so much?” He took his service revolver and decided that his only way out of debt and humiliation was to take his own life. While he sat there in sorrow he fell asleep. In the early morning hours, the Russian commander went quietly through the barracks checking on his troops. When he came to the young soldier asleep at his table he stopped and looked at the list of debts and read the sorrowful question, “Who could pay so much?” He took up the pen, wrote, “I can” and then signed his own name.
Thank God, Jesus looked at our debt list and saw our desperate memo, “Who could pay so much?” He then signed his name at the bottom of that list and forgave all our trespasses. Our sins have only been forgiven because of Jesus Christ. Our debt of sin has only been cancelled because of Jesus Christ.
This is the beginning of our Triumph in Christ; our debt of sin is cancelled.
II. The Guilt of Sin has been Removed. (14)
Paul stated that Jesus “blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us and was contrary to us,” and that Jesus Christ “took it away by nailing it to his cross.” Jesus took all the sins that we had committed and nailed them to his cross. Jesus took all the Guilt that we were suffering and removed it; took it away.
The Guilt of our sins was Real and it was Intense. The record of our sins and wrong doings was Against us; the record was Contrary to us; We were guilty and condemned. But Jesus forgave us our sins, then he took all those “ordinances” or accusations that were against us and nailed them to his cross, thereby Removing our Guilt. We Were and Are no longer Guilty for those forgiven sins.
Justification was the Legal cancelling of our sin debt. Now, there is Redemption where God removes the actual Guilt of our sins from us. We stand redeemed! We stand Not guilty. We stand un-condemned.
Jesus paid the debt for our sins, then he removed the evidence that convicted us and made us not guilty.
Remember when Peter acted rashly in the Garden of Gethsemane and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant? Peter was guilty of assault and even attempted murder. He could have been arrested and condemned and punished. BUT Jesus stooped down, took up the ear, placed it back on the man’s head and it was made completely whole. Jesus had removed all evidence of wrong doing on Peter’s behalf. He was no longer guilty of assault or attempted murder. There was No Proof it had ever happened! So Jesus removed all the evidence against us and by doing so removed our Guilt. Thank God for the triumph we have In Christ.
Our debt of sin has been cancelled;
Our guilt of sin has been removed. And...
III. The Power of Satan has been Conquered. (15)
Jesus “spoiled principalities and powers.” Jesus plundered all the forces of evil. Jesus disarmed them; stripped them of their authority.
When John saw his amazing vision of Jesus in Rev. 1, Jesus told him, “I am he that lives and was dead and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen! And I have the keys of hell and of death.”
Peter wrote that while Jesus’ body was in the tomb, he went in the Spirit into the “prison;” the abode of the spirits of the dead at that time. Jesus “preached” unto them; proclaiming himself to be the Lamb of God who paid the price for all sins; proclaiming himself to be the Lord of all and the Victor who had conquered Satan and Sin forever.
Paul said in Eph 4 that Jesus “descended...into the lower parts of the earth” and that he then “ascended up on high,” and “led captivity captive and gave gifts to men.” So, Jesus not only proclaimed to those departed souls his Payment for sin and his Victory over Satan, but he also led all the souls of the Righteous into the Glories of Heaven and Began Giving Gifts to his Body on the earth, the Church made up of all who have been saved, washed in his blood and cleansed from sin.
Paul stated in our text that Jesus “made a show of them (those principalities and powers) openly, triumphing over them in it.”
In ancient days, when a king fought against a city or another kingdom and won, he would take the defeated king and all his royal host and dress them in torn and dirty rags. He would parade them down the Main Street of his own Capital city and show everyone that he had defeated them and conquered them completely. They no longer had any authority; they no longer had any position; they no longer had any riches or honor. He made a Show of them Openly, Publically.
Jesus has already defeated Satan; Jesus has already defeated the fallen angels; Jesus has already defeated the host of demons. They are all Conquered Foes. They only have authority when someone grants it to them. They only have power over those who allow them to have such power. They have no Eternal Riches and they have no Eternal Honor; their eternal destiny is already Decreed; their eternal doom is already Sealed.
Peter declared that the angels who sinned with Satan have been placed in “chains of darkness” and “reserved unto Judgment.” Then John wrote in Rev.19 that the devil was “cast into the lake of fire and brimstone...and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”
Rev 11:15 “... there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
Rev. 19:6 “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him:” Triumph in Christ!
The Debt of Sin Cancelled; The Guilt of Sin Removed; The Power of Satan Conquered!
A Growing Child of God
1 Peter 2: 1-5, 9
I. A Growing Child of God Is Feeding on the Word.
A. A New Birth.
To become a child of God we have to experience a New Birth. We must be Born Again, regenerated, our spirit reborn by the Spirit of God; then we become a child of God, a newborn child of God. A Growing child of God must be feeding on the Word.
1) MILK- desire the sincere milk of the Word.
We must Desire the word of God like a newborn baby desires milk. A baby becomes cranky and cries until it gets milk. So, we must feed on the milk of the Word.
Read the stories- (Creation; Adam & Eve; Noah; Abraham offers Isaac; Joseph; Moses & Red Sea; David & Goliath; 3 Hebrew Boys; Daniel & Lion’s Den; Jonah)
Read the gospels- (life of Christ- Christmas story; miracles; ministry; arrest; trial; crucifixion; death, burial, resurrection)
Read the book of Acts- (stories of early disciples filled with Holy Ghost: Peter, Paul)
2) MEAT- We must also feed on the MEAT of the Word.
Heb. 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection...
These believers had become Sluggish- Stagnant- Not Growing
- Ignorance- ye have need that one teach you again the first principles...
- Immaturity- have need of milk- unskilful in the word of righteousness- babes.
- Inactivity- not exercising their senses to properly discern good & evil
We must Not only READ Bible, we must STUDY it. Look up words you don’t understand. Look up topics you don’t understand. Use a concordance to find other places where a word is used, like a Strong’s or Cruden’s. Use a Bible Dictionary like Ungers & Vines Expository Dictionary. Use a Commentary like Matthew Henry. Use a Bible Program on the computer like Online Bible or E Sword. Study Doctrine- Issues of Theology- matters of Prophecy- Great words of the Bible- Outstanding people in the Bible- Focus on a Book of the Bible-
Study for your upcoming Sunday School Lesson.
We not only have a New Birth but we become part of:
B. A New Building.
We are no longer part of this world system and we are no longer building our lives into the world’s structure.
NOW, we are built up a Spiritual House, where Jesus Christ is the Chief Corner Stone and we are Lively (Living) Stones. Vs. 9 says that we are a “Chosen Generation; a Royal Priesthood (kings & priests); a Holy Nation; a Peculiar (peri-poie-sis) People (God’s Own Possession); Showing forth the Praises of God who called us out of darkness into marvelous Light.”
A Growing Child of God is Feeding on the Word.
II. A Growing Child of God Is Forsaking the World.
Vs. 11, 12- Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation
Physically we are Earthly Citizens but Spiritually we are Heavenly Citizens. We have a Heavenly Nature inside our Earthly Body. There are earthly desires that war against our soul but A Growing Child of God is Forsaking the World; not loving it; not desiring it; not longing for it; not playing with it but abstaining from it; forsaking it; refusing it; avoiding it.
We will be Honest in our conduct (12)
Practicing Good Works (12)
Submitting to man’s laws for the Lord’s sake (13,14)
With well doing we will put to silence the ignorance of foolish men (15)
Not using our Spiritual freedom as a license to do wrong (16)
Honoring all men (17) (honor here means “placing a price or a value on;” we are to consider others “valuable” and have proper respect for them; those in positions and those Not in positions)
Loving our Brothers and Sisters (17 “brotherhood”)
Fearing God (17)
Honoring our leaders (17)
Patiently suffering even when wrongfully treated for the sake of Jesus Christ (19,20)
A Growing Child of God is Feeding on the Word and Forsaking the World.
III. A Growing Child of God Is Following the Lord.
Vs 21-24 - For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 Who 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 Christ is our Ultimate Example and we are to Follow His Steps:
- Suffering- rejection; misunderstanding; hatred; slander; physically- smiting, spitting, scourging
piercing; Crucifixion & death
- Silence- when reviled; reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; committed himself to God- the righteous judge.
- Sacrifice- he suffered for US; in his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree; he died that we might live; he suffered stripes that we might be healed
We must follow him in Humility. We too must be willing to suffer and to suffer patiently, not with revenge and retaliation; not with anger and violence. We must be willing to sacrifice for the sake of others; for our spouses, for our children, for our family, for our friends, for our brothers & sisters in the Lord, for our church, for our country, For our GOD.
A Growing Child of God is Following the Lord in humility and...
-who did no sin
- neither was guile found in his mouth. (Guile- deceit; trickery; hidden evil; “bait”)
NO we are not God in the flesh. We know that we do have a human nature and we do not achieve a status where it is IMPOSSIBLE for us to Sin. However, we do achieve the status in God that it is POSSIBLE NOT to SIN.
1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
A Growing Child of God is Feeding on the Word- Forsaking the World- and Following the Lord.
Are you a Growing Child of God?
The Committed Life
Intro: This is another great Psalm of David that encourages all of us to Trust in the Lord. David first talks about how Christians should never be envious or jealous of sinners because they will soon be cut down and perish. Remember, John 3:16 said that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever would believe in Him would NOT PERISH, but have everlasting life. Those who do Not believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord Will Perish. We should never envy the sinner, for whatever prosperity they may have is only temporary and will never be worth the eternal punishment they will suffer.
Then David encourages God’s People to Trust in the Lord and Do Good. For God will always bless his people both here on the earth, and especially in the life to come!
Vs. 5 is my focus here as I talk to you about the committed life.
5- Commit thy way unto the Lord; Trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.
I. An Act of Committal.
“Commit thy way unto the Lord.”
There must be a time when a true believer; a genuine Christian; actually “Commits” his way to the Lord. Commits his life to the Lord.
Salvation is not something to be added to one’s life while everything else goes on the same. Salvation brings God’s Spirit into our spirit and from that moment on, we are to Belong to the Lord.
Have you really Committed your Way to the Lord?
Have you really Committed your Life to the Lord?
Have you Placed it in his hands?
Have you, in the words of Paul in Romans 12, “presented your body a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service?”
The Committed Life requires an Act of Committal.
You Must Give God your Spirit- your innermost being; that invisible part of you that only God can fill and satisfy.
You must Give God your entire Soul- that inner part of you that is the REAL You; the You that’s living in that body you have.
You must Commit your Mind to the Lord.
You must Commit your Will to the Lord.
You must Commit your Feelings, your emotions to the Lord.
You must Commit your Body to the Lord.
Commit your Actions to the Lord; Your Attitudes; Your Associations; Your Appearance;
You must commit your Relationships to the Lord.
You must commit your Talents to the Lord; Your Time to the Lord; Your Potential to the Lord.
You must commit your Abilities, Your Ambitions, Your Resources, YOUR ALL.
For you are not your own, you are bought with a price; therefore Glorify God in your body and your spirit which are God’s. (1 Cor. 6:19,20)
II. An Attitude of Trust
“Trust also in him”
Once you have made the act of committal, you must LEAVE Your Life in God’s Hands.
Bro. Joseph Dutka, the academic at FGBI when I attended there, used to preach a message called Scarred Hands. He preached about people who put their life on the altar of God and then change their minds and reach out and pull their life back off the altar. In doing so, he said, they ended up with burned and scarred hands. I wonder, if we were allowed to see like God sees, how many people would be walking around with Scarred Hands? How many of Us might have Scarred Hands from taking back our own sacrifice that we one time made to God?
When you commit your Life to the Lord, Don’t Pull it Back.
Don’t take it back out of Doubt.
Don’t take it back out of Fear.
Don’t take it back out of Selfishness. (My own way)
Or Compromise; or Disobedience; Frustration with life.
Paul said in 2 Tim 1:12 ...I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
Let’s imagine that you Inherited a Million dollars in cash. You know you need a safe place to keep it. You think about putting it under the bed, or in the closet, or in your underwear drawer. Still, you know those are not really safe places. Then you hit on a brilliant idea- the Bank! There is an Act of Committal: you actually go to the bank with the money and deposit it. Then you walk away and leave it in their care. Now, there must be an Attitude of Trust where you trust them to take care of it and YOU leave it there! You don’t need to be taking it out the next day and carrying it around or hiding it in your house or yard and then taking it back to the bank and then the next day take it out again and so on. Leave it there!
Put your life in God’s hands and Leave it there!
He is Able to Keep what you Commit to Him. All the way to the Day of the Rapture; all the way to the Day of the Judgment Seat of Christ; all the way to the day of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb; all the way to the Day when we all move into the New Heaven and the New Earth. He is able to Keep it!
III. The Accomplishment of God “He shall bring it to pass”
What will he bring to pass? Well, you committed your WAY to the Lord; your life; your ambitions; your desires; your future; your eternity; He will bring it to Pass.
He will lead you; guide you; keep you; direct you; provide for you; protect you; strengthen you; comfort you and when this life is over he will Welcome you HOME.
God’s Will always brings Blessings; God’s Will always brings Dividends; God’s Will always brings Rewards. We receive Abundant Life NOW and Eternal Life then.
Commit your way to the Lord; Trust in Him; He will bring it to Pass.
The Christ of Calvary
This was one of the most tragic days in all of history; a day of man’s greatest hate but the day of God’s greatest Love. Notice some important things about the Christ of Calvary.
I. Man of Courage.
I know that some have depicted Christ as a very feminine man with long, flowing, golden hair; a face with delicate feminine features, soft and fragile. BUT, He was Every Bit a MAN! Jesus was not feminine, not dainty, not delicate and fragile. He was a Man of Strength and Courage.
Its amazing what our Lord went through physically:
- Prayed all night; was arrested illegally in early morning hours; was hustled off to Pilate; then from Pilate to Herod and back to Pilate. He was totally fatigued.
- Then he was beaten and scourged. A crown of thorns was pressed down into his head. He endured more beating; he was spat upon; he was reviled and abused. And, all of this punishment was Before he was actually crucified.
- He was forced to carrying his heavy, rugged, wooden cross. We never read in the Gospels that he stumbled beneath the cross or fell under its weight. Its possible that he did, but there is no Biblical account of it. It is recorded that a man named Simon was compelled to help him bear his cross.
- Then Jesus was Crucified. Nails were driven into his hands and feet; the cross raised and dropped into the placement hole.
- At this point, as was the custom during a crucifixion, someone brought him a drink, which Jewish history states was either frankincense or myrrh mingled in strong wine, for the purpose of deadening some of the pain; a pain killer, to make the pain more bearable. Both Matthew and Mark record this incident and both say that when Jesus had tasted what the drink was, he deliberately refused it. Believe what you want, but I believe he refused it because he refused to make his suffering any less by artificial means. He intended to pay the price for sin without any diminishing of the price; without any lessening of the pain that it required. He was a man of Courage and would not accept any drug to dull his senses. He was fulfilling prophecies by the score and still had much to do and say before death came. He courageously took on the Pain; took on the Suffering; took on the Torment with no Short Cuts. This was amazing Courage; especially for one who could have called for thousands of angels to come to his rescue. Jesus could have had his tormentors destroyed and he himself delivered but he endured to the end.
In Isaiah 53, we read of a man who is despised, rejected, stricken, smitten, wounded, bruised, chastised, scourged, oppressed, afflicted, cut off, his soul made an offering for sin, and the passage concludes with this verse: 12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Yes, Jesus was a man of Courage!
II. Man of Compassion.
Never has a man loved like Jesus Christ Loved. He had already declared that there was no greater love than that of a man who would lay down his life for his friends. But Paul reminds us in Romans 5:8 that God commended his love toward us in that WHILE WE WERE YET SINNERS, Christ died for us.
The Account here in Luke 23 especially displays the great compassion of our Lord even when he was in incredible pain and agony.
Vs. 27,28- And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him. 28 But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.
-33,34- And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. 34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
Some say Jesus was referring to the Roman soldiers who were just doing their duty and really did not know what a terrible thing they were doing; however, I feel that Jesus was praying not only for the actual executioners, but for the Jewish people who should have known who he was and what they were doing but really they did not.
One writer said, With this one statement, Jesus Christ reduced the charge against these people from murder to manslaughter.
-39-43- While Jesus was dying in physical agony, he had compassion on the thief who cried out to him and saved him.
Jesus was a man Compassion!
III. Man of Conquest.
While it seemed to all those present that day that Jesus was being Defeated; that his Teachings were being Defeated, that his Ministry was being Defeated, that his Followers were being Defeated, that his Purpose was being Defeated, Everyone found out that in reality Jesus Christ had not Conceded Defeat, He had Conquered. Calvary was not a Catastrophe, Calvary was A Conquest.
John 19:30 records that Jesus cried out, IT IS FINISHED. He was not saying, “I Give Up, I’m Done in, I am finished, I Surrender, I’m beat.” NO- He was not waving a white flag of surrender and defeat, He was Celebrating Victory and Triumph.
Sin Had Been Defeated.
Satan Had been Defeated.
Hell Had been Defeated.
The Sin that had separated man from God ever since the Garden of Eden (approx. 4000 years), was now conquered. No man need ever again to suffer under Sin’s terrible dominion. The Curse of Death had been conquered. The Way to Life had been created.
Mt. 27:50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
Sinful Man could now be reconciled to a Holy God. Saved Man now had Access to a Holy God.
The New and Living Way had been Opened. What a Conquest!
Have you taken advantage of the Victories won by this Wonderful Christ of Calvary?
His Courage, Compassion, and Conquest are your ticket to Abundant Life here on the earth & Eternal Life in the forever after.
God’s River of Life
Intro: This familiar passage is a tremendous illustration or picture of God’s Great River of Life; God’s great river of blessings; God’s great river of abundance in the life of every Christian.
Ezekiel was given an amazing vision of a future temple which was glorious and inspiring. It was part of God’s plan for Israel during the Millennium, that wondrous 1000 year reign of Jesus Christ on the earth with his saints. While the vision of this Great River of God has a future Literal Fulfillment, right now it has a present Spiritual fulfillment. God has already Sent His River of Life into the World.
It started when Jesus was born in Bethlehem and then gave his life as the perfect sacrifice for sin. It continued when Jesus rose from the dead and ascended back into heaven. It began to Flow in earnest on the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost was poured out upon believers and was given as the Comforter to the church throughout the ages of time.
I. The River’s Source.
You’ll notice in Ezekiel’s vision that this River flowed from the Temple. We know that the Temple was the earthly Dwelling place for God’s Presence and God’s Glory. In the holy of holies, God’s presence was Literal and Visible and Powerful. VERY few had ever SEEN the glory of God in the holy of holies.
The Temple was the Source of this Great River Of Life.
That reminds us that GOD himself is the ONLY source of true LIFE. No man can bring you Spiritual Life; no man can bring you Abundant Life; no man can bring you Eternal Life.
God is the Only Source of this Life.
God is the only Source of Salvation;
God is the only Source of Sanctifying Power;
God is the only Source of the fulness of the Spirit.
This great river of Life comes from God and God alone.
II. The River’s Course.
The last phrase of vs. 1 states that this river flowed at the “south side of the Altar.” Again, we know the significance of the Altar at the Temple.
The Altar was the Place of Sacrifice for Sin.
Even before the Tabernacle was created, men like Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob offered sacrifices to God on Altars they built just for that purpose.
In the Tabernacle, and the more permanent Temple, the Altar was still the Place of Sacrifice for Sin.
Ultimately, Calvary became the Eternal Altar where the perfect and holy Lamb of God was sacrificed to pay the price for All of mankind’s sin. This great River of Life flows by way of Calvary.
Without the sacrifice of Jesus Christ there is No Spiritual Life. Without the Blood of Jesus there is no Cleansing from sin.
What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
The Altar is the Place of Surrender.
The Altar is the place where Jesus sacrificed himself for us; and the Altar is the place where we make ourselves a Living Sacrifice for Him. Without the altar of surrender, you will not have spiritual life. Without the altar of surrender, you will not have the River of God’s blessings flowing through your life.
Don’t Avoid the Altar! Don’t try to bypass the place of Sacrifice for sin and don’t try to bypass the place of surrender of Self to God.
III. The River’s Force.
This River was one of Fulness and Fruitfulness.
A River of Fulness.
This river went from a small beginning in the Temple to being a River of fulness and depth. When the angel first measured the river, it was only ankle deep. That speaks to me of our initial experience with God. It starts rather shallow, so to speak. We come to God for Life and we don’t really Know much about it. We know what we experience and that’s about all; BUT thank God it’s only the Beginning, not the end. At the End this life is one of amazing Fullness.
The angel measured again and the river was up to the knees. That speaks to me of the necessity of Prayer in order to Grow and Flourish in this Christian life. There is a Deepening Interest here; and those who are serious about living for the Lord in the fulness of the Spirit will have a deepening interest that drives them to their knees.
The angel measured again and the river was to the loins or waist. This speaks to me of a Deepening Intensity. The loins in the Bible are a type of Strength and Power; of Action and Determination. Those who are serious about living for the Lord in the fulness of the Spirit will not only get into the river, they will Follow the River. The more you Follow this Great River of God, the deeper it gets; the greater fulness there is. Don’t be lazy spiritually; walking in ankle deep water is relatively easy, but wading through water up to your waist is more difficult and requires more intensity and effort. PRESS ON in God’s great River of Life. Don’t be content to Splash in it or Wade it in, Follow on to Know the Lord.
The angel measured once more and the River was so deep one had to swim in it.
Oh, that you and I would be Immersed in God’s Great River of Life! Oh that we would live in His fulness; in his abundance; in his power; in his glory and Blessing.
Don’t be content to Splash in this great river of life; don’t be content to Wade around in it; Press on until you are Immersed in it; Filled with it; Swimming in it; Living in it’s fulness.
A River of Fruitfulness.
Vs. 7- there were very many Trees on both sides of the river.
Vs. 8- the river flows through the Desert; and then to the Dead Sea which is Healed by its Flow.
Vs. 9- “every thing whither so ever the River shall come, shall LIVE.
Vs. 12 states that the trees which grow along the river, their Leaves will never fade and will serve as a healing medicine; they will bring forth Fruit on a regular basis and will never fail.
So it is that every one who really Launches Out into God’s River of Life will live a Life of Fulness and Fruitfulness. So that even when this earthly life has ended, we still Live On in the very Presence of the Lord and enjoy his Blessings For EVER! They never fade and never End. If you will really get into God’s River of Life, you will live a life of Fulness and a life of Fruitfulness!
Faith that Overcomes
1 John 5:4
Intro: In recent years we have heard a lot about “faith. There have been faith teachers, faith healers, and faith movements that have put a bad taste in our mouths about Faith. BUT Faith is of utmost importance in Christianity. Though faith is sometimes misrepresented and misunderstood, we need to study it, meditate on it, wrestle with understanding it, pray for it, and practice it.
I. Have Faith.
In Mark 11:22, Jesus told his disciples, “Have faith in God.” That sounds too simple, yet it is basis of the entire Christian Life- Have faith in God.
Salvation comes by Grace through Faith.
God’s Part- Grace
Man’s Part- Faith
Assurance of Salvation requires Faith.
The Baptism of Holy Ghost comes through Faith.
Healing comes through Faith.
Everything we receive from God comes through Faith- HAVE FAITH.
Heb. 11:6 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.
How often have you said, “I Just don’t have faith,” or “I just can’t seem to believe”
Rom. 12:3 “God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” God has given to Every person born, a “measure of faith.” There is enough faith given by God so that you can Believe on Jesus Christ and be Saved! Then you can continue in the Faith and can actually Grow in Faith.
II. Gain Faith.
In Luke 17:5 the “apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.” Hearing his wonderful teaching, they were overwhelmed by their lack of ability to live up to his standard. They knew they were unable; they knew they needed help; they needed More Faith. Probably every One of us would admit the need for MORE FAITH.
A. More Faith is Profitable.
-It will Strengthen our Relationship with our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, Holy Ghost.
-It will Strengthen our Character and make us more like Jesus.
- It will Increase our Intensity. We will have a greater vision, a greater burden, greater desire, and greater zeal.
- It will Increase our Usefulness; in our witness, in holy living, in prayer, in the gifts of the Holy Ghost.
We Know that more Faith is Profitable, but also:
B. More Faith is Possible.
We really can increase in Faith, Gain Faith. Rom 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. This is not just a One Time “coming” of Faith, but a Continual “coming” of faith by hearing and believing the Word of God. In Rom 10:8, Paul calls the gospel that he has preached the “word of faith.”
When there is Hearing, there is Knowledge.
Then there must be Doing, Obedience.
Eph 6:16- TAKING the shield of faith. Notice that word, “taking.” You and I must “take” the shield of Faith; it is very possible.
Every child of God should be Gaining Faith! You should have greater Faith today than you’ve ever had. You should believe God’s Word more than you ever have. You should be more convinced of truth than ever before. You should believe God’s promises more, trust God’s power more, and experience doubt LESS.
Four times it is recorded that Jesus admonished his disciples about having LITTLE FAITH:
1) Mt 6:30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? (anxious about personal needs)
[also in Luke]
2) Mt 8:26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. (Fearful in midst of storm)
3) Mt 14:31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? (Peter distracted by circumstances surrounding him)
4) Mt 16:8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? (Disciples not understanding spiritual truth he is presenting)
Faith that overcomes Must not only Exist but Increase!
III. Work Your Faith.
James 2:20- “faith without works is dead” James makes it clear, very clear, that our faith must be put to work. It must be in action and be used in real and practical ways.
Our Faith Works Only if We Work Our Faith.
Some Lazy Christians would SAY they would like to Have Faith & would SAY they want God to Increase their Faith, but it Doesn’t work like that. God gives to every man a measure of faith, but HE MUST USE IT. God says, More faith is available and profitable and possible, but we must pursue it.
James makes these important points concerning the need to Work our Faith:
1) Demons have “faith”- they know God and who Jesus is but they are not saved.
2) Abraham is acclaimed in Scripture for having great faith, but the way we know he had great faith was that he OBEYED God.
3) Rahab had such faith in the God of Israel though she knew nothing about Him, that she Hid the spies and asked for Mercy. Because of her faith, her life was spared, her family was spared, and she became mother in Israel and had a place in the genealogy of Christ.
Work Your Faith! Faith Requires Positive Action; Doing!
Luke’s thumbnail biography of Jesus does not say, “he went about not doing any harm,” it says, “he went about DOING good.”
The Golden Rule is not- “don’t do to another what you do not want him to do to you”, but rather- DO unto others as you would have them DO unto you. Faith is not about what I Don’t Do, but about what I Do.
Faith that Overcomes Must be Active not Passive.
Read God’s Word- Memorize God’s Word- Obey God’s Word. Pray Daily & Diligently. Pray Fervently and Faithfully. Be Faithful to Church. Be Faithful in Worshiping and Praising God. Work your Faith by paying your Tithes, by Giving Generously in offerings, by visiting the sick, by helping the needy, by sharing the gospel with the lost around you. Faith that overcomes must be Working Faith.
IV. Keep Your Faith.
Paul’s wonderful testimony at the end of life was that he had fought a good fight, finished his course and KEPT THE FAITH. It’s one thing to Have HAD faith at one time in your life, It’s another thing to have KEPT the Faith.
Will you allow the amusements of the world to take away your faith?’
Will you allow fleshly desires to take away your faith?
Will you allow disappointments of life to take away your faith?
Will you allow sickness to take away your faith?
Will you allow tribulations, trials, troubles of life to take away your faith?
Will you allow mistreatment, betrayal, or slander to take away your faith?
JOB kept his faith even when he lost everything but his very life. But the Rich Young Ruler lost his faith at the THOUGHT of giving up everything.
Some people have their Faith Overwhelmed. Some people have Faith that Overcomes.
Everyone that makes it to heaven will have faith that overcomes.
Everyone that has faith that overcomes will make it to heaven.
To each of the 7 churches in Revelation, there is a promise made and a reward given to “Him that Overcometh.” Jesus said in Mt 24:13- “He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”
Heb. 10:22,23- Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
This is the victory that overcometh the World- Even our Faith.
The Generation of the Upright
[Especially for Fathers]
Intro: This is a message especially for fathers! As I read this passage in Psalm 112 I was arrested by the things the Psalmist said would be a part of those who were in the Generation of the Upright. Clearly, we men need are the leaders of our generation so let’s look at three things that are mentioned in this passage.
You’ll notice that first of all the writer Praises the Lord, then he confidently states that the man who fears the Lord will be Blessed. The man who fears the Lord! Reverence!
Our world is very irreverent. Society as a whole was much more reverent in years gone by. Even though there has always been secular entertainment, it has not always been so Crude & so Rude; so irreverent & blasphemous. Even though early movies were not Christian by any means, at least they did not deliberately Mock God or Religion or Ministers or Priests and so on. Even though early secular music was Not Christian; at least it did not blaspheme God and godly morals; but it has now for some years. Comedians have been making people laugh for years but they didn’t use to do it by being disrespectful, irreverent, and vulgar; now that’s their common method.
Let me echo the Psalmist and Proclaim to you today- the Man who Fears God will be Blessed!
I found that the Word of God speaks about Fearing the Lord 75 times! Some of the references are Commands to Fear the Lord; some are Condemnations to those who do NOT Fear the Lord and many of them are about the Compensations that come to those who Do Fear the Lord.
Listen Dads- if you want God’s blessing in your life and in your home and in your family, you must have Reverence and Fear the Lord.
The next thing the Psalmist mentions in regard to the Man who is blessed and is part of the Generation of the Upright is that he “Delights Greatly in God’s Commandments.”
He not only Fears God; He OBEYS God.
He not only has reverence for the Word of God; he is Committed to Obeying it.
He not only teaches his children About God; he teaches them about God’s Word.
I know that the world is hopelessly lost not only in irreverence but also in immorality.
I know that most of the church world is also lost in compromise and worldliness. They dress like the world; they talk like the world; they fill their minds with the world’s movies, music, and tv shows; they drink alcohol like the world and many even live immoral lives like the world.
BUT- the true man of God will be Righteous in his conduct and behavior.
NOT because he is trying to SAVE himself; no one can save himself by his own righteousness
But because he is SANCTIFYING himself and Separating himself from this sinful world JUST LIKE THE BIBLE REQUIRES!
The Bible does say that Without Holiness, NO Man shall see the Lord.
The Bible does say that we are to Come out from among the world and be separate; that we are not to touch the unclean thing; and that God will receive us and be our God and our Father.
We must be men of reverence and of righteousness.
The next thing the Psalmist mentions is that the Upright man will be:
“His seed ( his children; those he is responsible for here on the earth) they shall be mighty upon the earth.” “The generation of the Upright shall be blessed.”
So there is a Parental Blessing- his seed shall be mighty and his generation shall be blessed.
AND there are Personal Blessings as well. “Blessed is the MAN...” We men, we husbands, we fathers will be blessed if we Fear the Lord and Obey his Word.
Verses 4-9 Give a Number of blessings for the Generation of the Upright:
(4) They get Light in the midst of Darkness.
- They have Grace in their Life
- they have Compassion in their Heart
- they have Righteousness in their character
(5) they have Provision enough to Share
(6) they are Stable in the midst of Turmoil
- they are Remembered with Favor
(7) they are Free from Fear
- They have Assurance from the Lord.
(8) They Trust in the Lord and he Brings them Victory in their Battles
(9) They will Receive Honor both in this life and in the Life to Come.
Wow! There really are Great Blessings to the Generation of the Upright. May God help us men to be Reverent, Righteous, and Rewarded.
Happy Father’s Day!
A Household Revival
Acts 10:1-8; 24; 33; 44
Intro: This is an inspiring story; especially because it is TRUE! It records a Revival that took place in a HOME! An outpouring of the Holy Ghost in a Gentile Home!
I. Personal Devotion.
In this chapter, we meet a man named Cornelius who was a Centurion in the Roman military. What set this man apart from all the others around him was this- He FEARED God!
He was a Roman; the Roman culture had Many gods; even their Caesar was considered a god and was supposed to be “worshiped” by loyal Roman citizens. However, here was a Roman who Feared the True and Living God. He didn’t know much about God but he obviously Believed that God existed; and that God would reward those who would diligently seek him. Those words sound familiar?
Here was a man with a Personal Devotion to God.
A Husband with a personal devotion to God.
A Father with a personal devotion to God.
Oh, how we men need to lead the way in our own homes in regard to this Personal devotion to God. It is not the wife’s responsibility to be the spiritual leader of the home; it is not her responsibility to have this Personal Devotion to God ALONE! Sure, every wife and mom needs to be personally devoted to God, but it Rests on the Shoulders of every man to have a Personal Experience with God; a Personal Relationship with God; a Personal Devotion to God.
Cornelius Feared God. Therefore, he Prayed regularly. Also he Gave generously.
He was A DEVOUT man; a devoted man; a man of personal devotion.
If you want the Spirit of God to work in your home you need this Personal devotion.
If you want your children to experience the Real Presence of God; to be genuinely Saved from sin; to be filled with the HG; to live their lives according to the Word of God and escape the Scars of Sin, you need to have this personal devotion and live it out as their example.
II. Prompt Obedience.
Not only did Cornelius have a personal devotion to God, but when he prayed and received the vision telling him to send for Peter, he Immediately Obeyed.
Look at vs 7- “and when the angel...was departed, he called two of his servants...(8) declared unto them all these things...and Sent them to Joppa.” Prompt Obedience!
If husbands and wives will be Quick to Obey the Lord, they will have revival in their household.
If dads and moms will be Careful to Obey the Lord and his Word, they will have revival in their household.
Sadly, there are parents who bemoan the poor spiritual state of their children who Never made it a priority in Their Own life to really Obey the Lord. If you are serious about having God’s presence in your household and in your family, You Must Obey the Lord.
Obey him in your personal devotion.
Obey him in your lifestyle.
Obey him in your church attendance.
Obey him in your business dealings.
Obey him in your Attitudes, in your Actions, and even in your Appearance.
III. Powerful Blessing.
As soon as Cornelius sent word to Peter, he also sent word to all of his family and some friends as well; he invited them to his house to hear Peter when he arrived.
His family was gathered there waiting when Peter arrived. “We are ALL here Present before God; To HEAR all things that are commanded thee of God.”
We are HERE; and we are ready to HEAR.
Their Hearts were Ready.
Their Hearts were Receptive.
They were Rewarded.
For while Peter was still preaching, they Believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; they exercised Faith in Jesus; they Believed in his supernatural birth; his miraculous ministry; his tragic death by crucifixion; and his Glorious Resurrection on the Third Day. They Believed unto Salvation and Immediately, the Holy Ghost Fell in their midst and Filled them ALL.
“The HG fell on ALL them which heard the Word and they Spake with Tongues and Magnified God.” Revival in the Household.
Oh how we need revival in our households! We are facing Pressures that have never been faced by any previous generation. We are dealing with Evil and Perversion, the like of which has never been dealt with before. Our children are growing up in a World that is Upside Down spiritually, and morally, and socially. Sin and perversion and violence and indecency Rule the world.
If we are going to survive as Christian Families in these Last Days we must have Revival in our Households.
Let’s Pray through to a Personal Devotion that will not waver.
Let’s Obey the Lord and his Word no matter what the world says; no matter what our co-workers say; no matter what others in our extended family say; no matter what the media and politicians say.
Then we will have Revival in our Households and Satan will be Repelled; and Resisted; and Removed; and Overcome.
An Angel’s Easter Message
Intro: This was a glorious morning! The morning of the resurrection of Jesus Christ! Most of the world was totally unaware of what had happened but Heaven was definitely Excited. An angel had been given the important task of rolling the stone away from the tomb and giving the first Easter Message to the world.
I. A Word of Assurance
Just as day began to dawn on that Sunday morning; Mary Magdalene, a faithful follower of Jesus, and Jesus’ own mother Mary, made the journey to the garden tomb hoping to be able to anoint the Body of Jesus; they wanted to show their love and pay their last respects; but there were a couple of things they did not know about:
1) The Pharisees and chief priests had persuaded Pilate to Seal the tomb with the official Roman seal and to place soldiers there as guards of the tomb. These ladies were concerned about being able to roll the stone away from the tomb but they didn’t know about the sealing of the tomb. They would not have been able to move that stone at all. Not only was it physically impossible for them; it would have been against the Law to do so, but they were not aware of it.
2) Even more important, while Pilate had commanded the tomb to sealed and guarded, God had commanded the tomb to be Opened and shown to the world.
So, when the ladies arrived, they were amazed to see that the stone had already been rolled away from the door of the tomb, and they were also amazed to see an Angel sitting on the stone.
I love the way its phrased in the Bible: the angel of the Lord descended from heaven and rolled back the stone from the door and Sat Upon It. As the women looked at the angel they saw his face shining bright like lightning; and his robe was brilliant white like snow.
How do you think you would react to such a sight? Amazed! Afraid! Feeling terror; Trembling in fear; not knowing what to think; surely not knowing what to say. So the first part of the angel’s Easter message was a Word of Assurance:
Fear Not! Don’t be afraid; there’s nothing to be fearful about; nothing to be in terror about.
I Know! I know why you are here; I understand your situation I am aware of your love for Jesus and your desire to anoint his body. Ye are Seeking Jesus who was crucified.
I can’t help but imagine that these women felt great assurance from these words!
I believe these words can bring us assurance today:
You are seeking Jesus; you want to know more about Jesus; you are here because you love Jesus and you desire to live for Jesus.
You and I don’t need to be Conquered by Fear- God KNOWS- he knows your fears; he knows your confusion; uncertainties; Knows your heart ache; knows your hurts; your disappointments; knows your afflictions- He Knows!
II. A Wonderful Announcement
He is not HERE! He is Risen!
He is not here in the tomb; he is not here in the place of the dead; he is not here in a grave or cemetery. He has risen from the Dead and He is Alive. What a wonderful announcement!
Do you realize how significant these few words were?
They were vitally important not only to these women; not only to his disciples who loved him; but to the whole nation of Israel; to the whole world at the time; to the whole world and all who live for ALL time. He is not here; he is risen!
- Redemption is Provided.
- Relationship is Restored
- Resurrection is Assured
III. A Worthy Assignment
- Come see the place where the Lord lay; take a personal look; see for your self that Jesus is not dead but alive; be convinced in your own heart that this is true.
- Go Quickly and Tell his disciples. Go! Don’t keep this to yourself; this needs to be told; this needs to be Proclaimed; this needs to be shouted from the housetops so to speak; Go tell it, And do it quickly- make haste; this is important; this is a priority; more important than anything else in your life right now; Do this First!
Notice vs 8- And they departed (How?) Quickly! with fear and Great Joy; and did RUN to bring his disciples word.
Also, it’s interesting to note that it was as they went in obedience to the angel’s assignment that they met the Lord Personally and were blessed by him.
I think this Angel’s Easter Message is just as timely for us today as it was for those ladies then:
God wants to assure your heart that you need not be Afraid- He knows you and your circumstances-you are not forgotten and alone
God wants you and I to remember that Jesus is not DEAD, he really is ALIVE! And because he is Alive, Redemption is provided; you really can be saved from Sin, Satan, and Hell.
Your relationship with God can be restored today.
Your final resurrection to eternal life can be secured by your trust in him.
Finally- you and I should take this message everywhere we go. It should be a priority for us to tell others about our Risen Savior and Living Lord.
For, just as he came the first time, he is coming back again and we must be ready and watching!
Even so come quickly Lord Jesus!
Intro: Acts17:1-10 gives the historical account of how the Gospel came to the city of Thessolonica for the very first time. Paul and Silas had been beaten and imprisoned in Philippi but God had delivered them in a mighty and supernatural way. They were asked to leave and went on to Thessalonica. For three weeks Paul preached in the local Synagogue. Luke records that some of the Jews believed but then he states that a “great multitude of Greeks” believed and a number of the chief women of the city. The Jews who refused to believe the Gospel, started a riot and Paul and Silas had to leave in the middle of the night.
Paul sent Timothy back to Thessalonica for a short time to strengthen the new believers and help them organize their local assembly. When Timothy rejoined Paul in Corinth and gave him the report of new converts in Thessalonica, Paul was thrilled by the great report and wrote them this first epistle; not only the first to them but the first of all the epistles he wrote.
These two verses (9,10), state briefly the Proof that these Thessalonians were Genuine Christians, even though only a short time had passed from when they had their first exposure to the Gospel of Jesus.
“How you Turned to God”
That’s what Conversion is! It is a Turning to God.
Turning to God with your Mind; turning to God with your Will; turning to God with your Heart, your spirit, your innermost being; turning to God with your life.
When someone claims they have become a Christian but their life does not Turn To God; they show that they have not been genuinely Converted! So Peter preached in Acts 3:19- Repent and Be Converted! In Acts 15:3 Luke states that when Paul returned to Jerusalem after his Missionary Journey, he “declared the conversion of the Gentiles.” They had Turned TO God.
But there is another part of being converted: They turned “TO God FROM idols.” Just as there was a Turning TO there was necessarily a Turning FROM. How could someone really turn To God without Turning From idols? It’s clear from Scripture that no man can worship idols and still be a true worshiper of the Almighty God. This was an obvious proof that these believers were Genuine Christians, for they Turned From their idols; they stopped worshiping idols; they removed any from their home; they no longer went to the Idolatrous Temple in their town; they did not practice any of the old idolatrous ceremonies anymore.
So it is that when a person becomes a Genuine Christian, they are Converted! They Turn TO God and they Turn FROM Sin, From the world and its pleasures; From the world’s associations and activities; from the desires of the flesh that are directly opposite of God’s holy Word.
The Thessalonians had been Converted.
They had turned to God from idols “To Serve the living and true God.” To Serve!
This was not just an emotional experience that lasted for a week or two and then faded. This was not just a temporary conversion. They left their idols behind and turned to the Lord, To Serve Him.
They dedicated their entire life to the Lord; they consecrated themselves to Serve Him for the rest of their lives. Now, it was no longer about ME, MYSELF and I; not about what I want to do but What does the Lord want me to do? Now life had a new Master and a new Motivation. Jesus was their Lord and the Holy Ghost was their Power.
There are three Greek words that are translated “serve” in the NT.
- One means to Worship as Lord and Master
- One means to Render any form of service for someone; to minister to someone.
- One means to be a bond servant and to serve in such a capacity.
So Genuine Christians will “serve the living and true God” by worshiping Him; by rendering acts of service to Him and for Him; and by being as a bond servant to him and serving him with total surrender and submission. Paul wrote that every Believer is to “present his body a Living Sacrifice to God;” such a surrender is only our Reasonable service; it is not too much for God to ask of us; it’s just what we Ought to do. We need to be diligent in this matter of Serving the Lord. We need to serve him with our Sincere Worship; both privately and in public in the house of God. We need to Serve Him by ACTS of devotion; to the Lord personally; to his work on the earth; and to his people! We need to Serve the Lord as a bond servant who is totally submitted to Him and to his Will. “Not MY will, but Thy will be done.”
They turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, AND “to Wait for his Son from heaven...”
A final proof of their Genuine Christianity was that they were Looking For Jesus to Come in the clouds.
They were Expecting his return.
They were Anticipating his return.
They were Watching for Him and Waiting for Him.
This speaks volumes when it comes to measuring our true devotion to the Lord. Every True Christian will be CAREFUL about how they live here on the earth. Every time the coming of the Lord to take away his church is discussed in the NT, it is coupled with an Exhortation to Righteousness and Holy Living. We cannot be truly Waiting for Jesus to come from heaven if we are not living a holy life here on the earth.
John stated clearly that EVERY Man that has the hope of seeing Jesus Christ come in the clouds and the hope of being changed to be like him, Purifies Himself even as Jesus is Pure. (1 John 3:1-3)
Oh, brothers and sisters, we are living in a very Sinful world; we are living in a very Selfish world. We must not be conformed to this world but we must be Transformed! Transformed by the Blood of Jesus; by the Holy Ghost; by the Word of God.
We must be Converted- Turn to God from Idols;
We must be Committed- Serving the living and true God;
We must be Careful- Waiting for the Son of God to come from heaven.
God is For Us
Rom. 8: 31
Intro: Here we are again in Romans 8; imagine that! Well, this familiar phrase from vs 31 just keeps ringing in my mind and in my heart: If God Be For Us...Who Can be Against Us. Or in common terms- Since God is For Us who can overcome us? I’m Glad that God is For Us; this is a Fact, not something we hope is true; not something we wish was true; it is True that God IS For Us.
Did you ever notice the first question in vs 31= What shall we say to all these things?
What are the “things” Paul is referring to? He is referring to All The Things he has already discussed in this chapter; and they are an amazing array of Proofs that God is For us. He says- In Light of All these things- God is For Us! Therefore, who can rise up against us and defeat us?
I. God Was For Us Before Creation.
Paul said in vs. 29 that God did FOREKNOW those who would be Saved. Don’t be Confused by the Foreknowledge of God; don’t confuse it with what is commonly known as predestination. God KNEW who would be saved; but he did not DECIDE in advance who COULD be saved. Still, to think that God Knew You before he even created the world is powerful!
Eph 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Nine times in the NT, writers speak of the fact that God Knew Before the Foundation of the world that mankind would need redemption and that Before the Foundation of the world he Planned for our redemption. God was For Us before the world was ever created! How wonderful is that!??
II. God Was For Us At Calvary
I already mentioned that God Knew before creation that we would need redemption and he Planned it Before the foundation of the world. What a great plan!
Paul stated in vs 3 that the Law was Weak through the flesh and could not accomplish full redemption for man. So, God sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and condemned sin in the flesh. The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has made us Free from the Law of sin and death.
God was For Us at Calvary! The Father willingly gave up his own Son to be our Sacrifice for Sin. Jesus Christ the Son, willingly gave up his dwelling place in heaven to become a man and live on this earth; he gave himself to the weaknesses of human flesh; to the rejection of his own people; to the suffering and death of the cross; AND all of it because God was For Us.
Without Calvary, we would all be Lost and without hope in this world or in the world to come.
Without Calvary we would all be under the dominion of Satan; under the dominion of Sin; under the curse of eternal torment in the lake of fire.
Do you realize that God was for you before Creation?
Do you realize that God was For you at Calvary?
Why would you doubt his love and goodness now? Why would you doubt his ability to take care of you now?
III. God is For Us in his Providential Care.
Once a person believes in Jesus Christ as the only Savior and Lord, he or she is adopted into the Family of God. We have received the spirit of adoption whereby we cry Abba, Father (15). The Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we ARE the children of God (16). Right Now- we are the children of God. Do you really think the devil has power and authority over a child of God?
Do you think the devil has the power to plan our life? To dictate what we will do and where we will go and where we will spend our eternity? Come now, what kind of God would make you his child and then allow the devil to rule your life?
We are reminded in vs 4 and 5 and 9 and 11 and 14 and 15 and 16 that God’s Holy Spirit has come to dwell within us; to lead us and guide us in life; to transform our minds and to quicken our mortal bodies.
We are also told in vs.17 that we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ; and that even though we suffer in this life we will be Glorified Together with Christ.
We are told that the “sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed in us.” (18)
We are told in vs. 26 that the Spirit of God “helpeth our infirmities;” that the Spirit of God actually will Pray through us in those times we face situations that we don’t even know How to pray about them.
Finally, we are told in vs. 28 that “all things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to his purpose.”
God is For us in Providential Care. He has given us his Spirit to dwell in us and lead us in life.
He has promised us Glory that will far outweigh any sufferings we endure in this life. He has promised that Everything that happens to us here in this life, both good and bad, will ultimately work for our good by his power and might. God was for us before Creation; God was for us at Calvary; God is for us in his Providential Care... and
IV. God is For Us in His Conquering Love.
At vs. 31, Paul looks back over the previous 30 verses and says, “Wow, what shall we say in light of All those things? Here’s what we’ll say- Since God is for us, who can be against us?”
God Loved us so much he refused to spare his own Son;
God loves us so much that he freely gives us all things.
God loves us so much that NOTHING can separate us from his love.
Not tribulation; distress; persecution; famine; nakedness; peril; sword; death; life; angels; principalities; powers; things present; things to come; height; depth; or any other creature.
God is For us in his conquering love. His love conquers all our foes; his love conquers all our fears; his love conquers Satan and sin; his love conquers even death.
God is For Us!
Behind and Before
Intro: This chapter contains some amazing and powerful prophecies concerning Christ, the Messiah and Deliverer or Israel. It also contains some tremendous prophecies concerning Israel’s final deliverance and redemption. God promised to Redeem Jerusalem and show his might in the sight of all the nations of the world. In the midst of this great prophecy, God told his people that they would not have to flee from their enemies any more; they would go forth with power and victory. God made this promise to them: The Lord will go Before You, And the God of Israel will be your rereward.
The word rereward is an obsolete English word that means Rear Guard; so God promised that he would go Behind his People and Before his people. Well, this is great news for we are leaving an old year Behind, and we have a new year Before us. We need God to be Behind Us and Before Us.
I. The Foes that are Behind
Even though we make a big deal about a new year; “celebrate” out the old year and “celebrate” in the new one; the fact is much of the Old Year goes with us into the new one. Its true that we not only turn over a new page on a calendar, we actually start a whole new calendar, BUT the Past often pursues us into the Present.
The Failures that are Behind would love to pursue us into this new year. The devil rejoices when a Christian suffers failure; whether it be in a business; in a relationship; in a financial venture; in a job or career; and especially if there has been a Failure in a Spiritual area of life. The devil would like nothing better than to bring the Foe of Failure from Behind you into the new year. However, the Lord has promised to go Behind us. He will deal with those failures in our past year IF WE WILL LET HIM.
You need not be pursued into the new year by your failures.
The Sins that are Behind us would love to pursue us into the new year. The devil rejoices when a Christian sins; and we all know that we are not immune to sin. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” I have not allowed sin to conquer my soul this past year, but I know that I have come short of the glory of God; the best God wanted of me and for me. Those sins are pursuing us from behind but the Lord promised to go Behind us; he will deal with those sins if we will allow him to. Why go into a new year pursued by sins from the past one? If we confess our sins, Jesus is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we sin, we have an advocate with God the Father, Jesus Christ.
Even the Mistakes that are Behind us would love to pursue us into the new year.
There are words we said that were terrible mistakes.
There were things we did that were terrible mistakes.
There were decisions we made that were terrible mistakes.
Most of those terrible mistakes were unintentional; we certainly didn’t mean for that to happen.
That we Meant no harm makes little difference, for Life often punishes blunders as if they were crimes. Its kind of like Fire that burns and destroys whether it is started by accident or on purpose.
Don’t allow those mistakes to pursue you into the new year. The Lord promised to go Behind you, so allow him to deal with those mistakes and do everything in your power to Make them Right! Those Foes that are behind us can handled by our Great God.
II. The Fears that are Before Us.
When we enter a new year we are sailing out into uncharted waters. I’m reminded of Israel as they prepared to cross the Jordan river and enter the land of Canaan. Joshua gave them strict instructions to follow the Ark of God so they would know how to proceed, “for (Joshua said) ye have not passed this way heretofore.”
We have never actually been down the path the new year will bring us and because of that we have Fear of that which is before us.
The future is definitely Uncertain. No one of us knows what tomorrow holds; we certainly do not know what the month of January holds and we definitely do not and can not know what the year of 2019 holds for us. There are fears of uncertainty.
There are fears of the surprises that will come our way. We love those good surprises, but we dread those other kind!
There are fears of the Trials that may come our way; the reversals we may experience; the sorrows that may overwhelm us and on it goes.
But Remember today- God has promised to Go both Behind and Before Us.
- God Behind Us Is our Comfort!
He forgives our sins; his blood covers our trespasses; he understands our weakness and our frailty; he loves us in spite of our mistakes; he gives us a New Chance; A Fresh Opportunity; He Keeps our Enemies at Bay.
You know the saying, “I’ve Got your Back?” Well, it’s really true about our God, He really does have our back.
When the people of Israel were trapped at the Red Sea, the army of Egypt came up behind them to over take and over come them. In Ex 14 we read that the cloud of God’s glory that was Before Israel, removed and went Behind them and stayed between them and the Egyptian army all that night so that the warriors of Pharaoh could not come near the Israelites. So it is that God does Go Behind Us and God behind us is our Comfort.
- God Before Us is our Confidence.
Goes before us to Clear the way. In the words of an old song: “When in service for my Lord, dark may be the night, but I’ll cling more close to him, he will give me light; Satan’s snares may vex my soul, turn my thoughts aside, But My Lord Goes AHEAD, Leads whate’er betide...When in valleys low I look toward the mountain height. And behold my Savior there LEADING in the Fight.” He Goes Before!
In Mt. 28, women came to the tomb of Jesus hoping to anoint his body with spices. When they arrived, the stone was rolled away and an angel said to them, “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” He goes before you!
That’s why Paul said in Rom 8, If God be For Us, Who can be against us?
If God Go Before Us; who can be against us? God Behind and Before! God Behind us is our Comfort and God Before Us is our Confidence.
So that we may boldly say, the Lord is my helper, I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
The Lord is my helper, I will not fear what 2019 may bring my way.
The Way to Victory
Intro: Romans chapters 6,7,& 8 are some of the most powerful doctrinal chapters in the entire NT when it comes to the Christian life; to matters of sanctification; to the issue of Full and Real Victory in the Christian life.
God is interested in the Victory of every Christian. God has made it abundantly clear the true Christian life is NOT to be one of constant defeat; one where we constantly feel like we are taking one step forward and then two backward; one where we feel like we never accomplish real victory over sin; real victory over the world; real victory over the flesh; real and abiding victory in our Christian life.
So I’m going to tackle what I call the Way to Victory that I see presented in Rom. 6 by the great apostle Paul. I think this way to victory revolves around three key words: Know; Reckon; and Yield.
I. The Foundation That Must be Laid
Rom. 6:6 KNOWING This- that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
Here is the Foundation that Must be Laid in order for a Christian to live in real Victory.
It’s the foundation of Calvary; the foundation of the Cross of Jesus Christ; the foundation of KNOWING that Jesus Christ Did die for the sins of every man and every woman who would ever live on this earth; KNOWING that when Jesus cried out It is Finished and he gave his spirit up into the hands of the Father, Our Sin was crucified with him; the sin in our nature was crucified with him; our Old Man was crucified with Him; the “body” of sin was destroyed; (not talking about a physical body; not the body of Jesus or anyone else; but the body of sin; the totality of sin; the bulk of sin; the mass of sin that covered the human race). The body of sin was destroyed; Sin’s power was destroyed; sin’s authority was revoked; sin’s dominion was broken.
You and I have to KNOW That this is True. We have to be absolutely Convinced Our Sin was crucified with Jesus; that we are no longer required to “serve sin.” Jesus already Laid the Foundation to Victory for us!
Vs. 7 says “he that is dead is freed from sin.” When we were crucified with Christ; when our sin was crucified with him; sin’s power and dominion over us Died. We died with Christ and vs 8 reminds that we also Rose from the dead with Christ and that sin and death no more have dominion over us.
Think about it- Do you KNOW that all sin was crucified with Christ? Do you know that YOUR sins were crucified with Jesus and when you trusted Jesus for your own salvation, you died with him.
There was Substitution.
HE actually, physically died in our place on Calvary; we were the sinners, he was holy; we were the guilty, he was sinless; he took our place and died FOR us- Do You KNOW That?
There is Identification.
We who have repented and taken Jesus as our personal Savior can truly say that WE died with Him on the Cross. Our sins were there; our sinful nature was there; our failures were there; our rebellion was there; and as soon as the HG convicted us and we were saved- it became an established fact that You and I were crucified with Him.
This is an accomplished fact and we must KNOW IT; accept is as true; believe it trust in it.
II. The Decision that Must be Made.
Vs. 11- Likewise RECKON ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Once you lay the foundation by KNOWING- you must make the decision of Reckoning.
This word reckon has to do with our accepting the work of God in our heart, in our inner man, and in our soul.
There must be Personalization.
I must account MYSELF dead to sin; not someone else; ME. I must trust the work of Jesus Christ for ME; I must have faith in the work of Jesus for ME. It Was for me; it Is for me.
There must be Application.
I must live my human life, my physical life, with the understanding that I am dead to sin. Sin no longer Has Dominion over me like it one time did; Sin no longer has the authority to control me like it once did; it can only dominate me and control me IF I ALLOW IT TO.
Vs. 12 gives us this strong command- LET NOT SIN REIGN in your mortal body that you should obey it in its lusts.
We must make the Decision that we will live our human life with the understanding that we are Dead to Sin and Alive to God. It’s true that I was once Alive to Sin and dead to God; but NOW I am dead to sin and alive to God. We must practice in our Life what we KNOW To be True.
There is a foundation to be laid- Knowing what Jesus did for us.
There is a decision to be made; Reckoning our life to hid in Christ; in his death and in his resurrection.
III. The Price that Must be Paid.
Vs. 13- Neither Yield your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; but yield yourselves unto God as those that are Alive from the dead and yield your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
YIELD- Yes, there is a Price to be Paid to have real and full Victory. You and I must Yield our Will to the Lord; we must Surrender our will to the Lord; we must consecrate our entire being and life to the Lord.
Now that I KNOW my old nature and its sin has been crucified with Christ;
Now that I have God’s Spirit dwelling in and working in my spirit;
Now that I have reckoned myself dead to sin and that decision has been made;
Now I must submit to the Spirit of God on a Daily Basis. I must consecrate my entire being, Spirit, Soul and Body, to living for the Lord.
You and I must refuse to allow the old man to rule our lives; we must willingly surrender to the Spirit of God and allow Him to lead us into righteousness.
One writer used this illustration:
The Captain of a ship became a tyrant. He disobeyed the owner, he mistreated the crew, he broke the Naval laws, so finally the crew rose up and officially replaced him with the First Mate, according to the requirements of the law. The old captain was placed in the hold of the ship while the new captain assumed his duties on deck. The old Captain was alive and still on the ship, and he tried every method he could think of to regain his position as Captain. He would yell out commands to any of the crew that came within the reach of his voice; but they had a new Captain and the old Captain Had NO real authority anymore so they Ignored him and refused to Obey him.
So it is that the Old Captain of our life has been demoted and put in the hold (so to speak). He blusters and threatens; he still tries to issue commands; he wants to regain his lost position; but I refuse to listen to him; he no longer has authority in my life; I ignore him and refuse to obey him.
For, Paul says in vs. 14- Sin SHALL not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law but under Grace.
Sin calls out for recognition but Grace rules;
Sin cries out for our submission and obedience but Grace rules;
Sin threatens and blusters and tries to cause Fear; but Grace Rules.
There is a Way to Victory!
Lay the Foundation- Know what Jesus already did for you; Make the Decision- Reckon yourself dead to sin and alive to God; Pay the Price-Yield to righteousness!
I. The Story of the Withered Hand.
We are not told all the history involved so we don’t know if this man was born with this condition or if something happened in life to cause it. In any case his hand was described as withered- dried up; shriveled; wasted; useless. He could not use it at all; it was a hand in form but it had no life or force, no strength or power. It was completely useless to this man.
I can’t help but think that the word withered describes a situation where at one time the man had the full use of this hand; he could eat with it; write with it; work with it; use it to play games with his children; use it shake a friend’s hand; to wave, wipe his brow, comb his hair.
After all, Luke records that it was his Right Hand- clearly a reference to the fact that it had been his Primary hand- the one he used the most- the one most necessary to normal everyday life.
Somehow he had suffered either an accident or a disease that had caused his hand to wither- to dry up- to waste away- to shrivel and become useless.
What a difficult situation for a man to be in! Those things that were so common to everyday life now became a real challenge and he had to adjust to the problem by learning to use his left hand and trying to compensate for the withered hand.
This man happened to be in the synagogue that day when Jesus entered and began to teach. All of a sudden, without any prior warning, Jesus looked at the man with the withered hand and said to him, “Rise up and stand forth in the midst.” Imagine the man’s surprise at being singled out all of a sudden right in front of the whole congregation. Immediately he rose up and stepped out into the midst of the crowd in the synagogue. There he stood silently while Jesus took the opportunity to question the Pharisees and scribes concerning doing good on the Sabbath day. Then Jesus looked around the assembly. Mark said in our text that he looked “on them with anger being grieved for the hardness of their hearts,” then he turned to the man and cried out, “Stretch forth thy hand!”
The man reacted in Faith and as he made the effort to stretch out his withered hand, suddenly it was withered no longer. It was Made Whole, Restored, put back into its original condition.
What a great miracle of power- what a glorious healing- what a blessing for this man- he had regained the Full use of his right hand- all of his inconvenience had been removed- all of his restrictions were gone- he was no longer hindered by the lack of his right hand- he was back to Full Strength and Ability.
Thank God he can Restore the Withered Hand!
Thank God he can Restore the Withered Life too.
II. The Significance of the Withered Hand.
You already know that the Bible gives us stories and accounts for more than just a historical record. The things recorded in the Bible are for more than information or knowledge in our heads. They are recorded that we might learn Spiritual Lessons for our Lives today.
This withered hand symbolizes more than a physical need. It speaks to our Spiritual needs as well. We sometimes have areas of life that seemingly have become withered; not flourishing; weak.
The Greek word translated withered was (xer an ee o) and is used in a number of other instances than in this story.
- It was used to describe the plants that grew up in rocky ground without much soil for roots. When the Sun rose up in its full force; they were withered by its scorching heat.
-It was used by a boy’s father in describing what an evil spirit caused to happen to him. He pineth away- he withers; shrivels up; becomes limp and useless.
- It was used by Jesus in describing what happens to a branch that becomes disconnected from the Vine; it withers and dies.
SO that says to me that we may suffer this withering in three ways:
1) We may be Scorched by Life’s Troubles.
The troubles of life are likened by Jesus to the heat of the sun. When the sun rises in its strength, plants are in great danger. They cannot withstand such heat without a powerful root system bringing in a constant supply of water.
So the troubles of life often rise up in their full strength and scorch our faith until we wither.
I have known numbers of people who lived for God for years, but somewhere along the way the troubles of life piled up on them; their tragedies seemed to multiply; their distress mounted up; and in spite of their former relationship with God, they Withered, they Dried Up, they wasted away spiritually and became useless.
2) We may be Shaken by Satan’s Attacks.
Just as that young boy brought to Jesus would pine away or wither under the attack of the devil, we too may wither under his persistent pressure. The Devil Hates you and me. He wants us all to be lost; to be separated from God; to be living in worldliness, bitterness, sin, and rebellion against God and his Word. He will do everything in his power to Weaken you- Hinder you- Overcome you. He will work to Dry up your spiritual life; to cause you to shrivel up and waste away; to become useless to God and the Church.
3) We may suffer from a Separation in our Spiritual Relationship with the Lord.
He truly is the Vine! We are but branches. We have no Life in ourselves. Unless we stay connected with Jesus we will Dry Up, wither, waste away, and become useless spiritually.
You don’t have to commit a horrendous sin to wither spiritually. If you neglect your relationship with the Lord you will Wither. Where there is a Lack of Prayer; Lack of time in the Word of God; Lack of church attendance; Lack dedication and commitment; there will be a withering.
- Hand of Worship will Wither! No longer active in true worship- spirit and truth. Service after service- come dry & go away dry- others raise their hands your’s remain unmoved- others shed tears but your eyes are dry- others rejoice in God’s presence but you just watch- unmoved.
Hand of Fellowship will wither! Closeness with the people of God will fade- friendships will fail- fellowship will cease- comradery will vanish- Unity will be destroyed- Friction will set in- Instead of reaching out a helping hand to our brothers and sisters in the Lord- we will withdraw into our own shell of isolation.
Hand of Service will Wither! There are believers who no longer serve the Lord with their life, their effort, their energy. They Don’t want to Sing- don’t want to testify- don’t want to teach- don’t want to invite anyone to church- won’t participate in the activities of the church- won’t be a part of the outreach of the church- Dried up- withered- shriveled- useless.
What a Tragic condition! What a Terrible state to be in.
Need to be RESTORED- Made WHOLE.
Restored to Full Strength; Renewed to Life and Vitality; Returned to Usefulness.
Worship Restored; Fellowship Restored; Service Restored.
If you have been Scorched by Life’s troubles, you can be made whole.
If you have been Shaken by Satan’s attacks, you can be made whole.
If you have become Separated from the Lord, you can be made whole.
Step into the Water
Intro: Israel had come to a Crisis Point in this account. God had revealed his plan for Israel as a nation all the way back in the time of Abraham. God promised Abraham he would be the father of a great nation; that they would inhabit the land of Canaan and that it would be theirs forever. Many years of difficulty and hardship followed; they suffered through the bondage of Egypt; then when they were delivered from Egypt and made it to the border of the Promised Land; the ten spies brought an evil report and discouraged the people from pressing forward and conquering the land.
Instead of Stepping Forward; they Pulled Back.
Instead of Stepping out in Faith; they Stepped back in Doubt.
They spent 40 more years of trouble and distress; wandering around in the wilderness while the generation that refused to trust God and obey his commands perished.
NOW- Israel had come again to the border of the Promised Land and God Gave Clear Instructions to Joshua about what Israel was to do. God commanded that the Priests take up the Ark of the Covenant; march toward the Jordan river (which was flooded and flowing out of its banks); and that they Step into the Water until all the priests were standing In the Water.
God could have parted the waters like he did at the Red Sea; before Anyone stepped in.
But, he wanted them to make A Definite and Deliberate Step of Faith and Obedience.
God said (in so many words) You’ve been wanting me to take care of you; you’ve been expecting me to be faithful to you; to move for you; to Act on your behalf; Well- Now I want You to Move for Me; to Act for Me; to show your Trust and Faith by Stepping Out even when the waters are still flowing strong.
Someone may be reading this and right now, God is wanting you to Step Into the Water.
You are wanting God to Move for You. You are standing by the over flowing Jordan (so to speak) and saying- God would you please part these waters for me? God would you please make a way for me? God would you prove your power to me?
God is saying to You- Take a Step of Faith; Take a step of Obedience.
1) Some Need to Step into the Waters of Salvation.
You have attended a number of services; you have heard a lot of preaching; you have felt that Stirring in your soul and spirit that you cannot explain; even in your mind you Know that you really need to be saved; you really need to KNOW that Jesus lives in your heart; you want that assurance; you want that peace; you want to know that you are Right with God; but you are still Lingering on the Brink of the overflowing Jordan; it looks like a Risky step; you argue with yourself; and debate with yourself and you’ve talked yourself out of it more than once; You need to Step into the Water!
Once you make that initial step; all your arguments will fade away; all your excuses will vanish; all your anxiety will be relieved; When you step into the Water; God will move for you; He will save you; he will cleanse your heart; he will renew your spirit and your mind; You will be SAVED- washed in the blood of Jesus; adopted into the family of God.
Step into the Water!
2) Some need to Step into the Waters of Surrender.
You have heard a lot of sermons too; you have felt God’s Spirit dealing with you too; you believe that you are a Christian; not lost without God; not doomed for hell; Just Not Where you need to be with the Lord.
Falling short in your commitment to the Lord.
Falling short in your obedience to his Word.
Falling short in your faithfulness to church.
Falling short in living a holy life like you know you need to.
Are you falling short in Full Surrender to the Lord? Does the river look too Deep and too Wide for you to cross? Are you lingering on the shore, saying I’m not sure I can do this; I’m not sure I’m ready; Lord why don’t you go ahead and part the waters for me- THEN I’ll step out-
Step into the Water! Make your full surrender; commit your life totally to the Lord; stop hesitating; stop holding back; stop letting the devil trick you out of making a full surrender to the Lord.
3) Some need to Step into the Waters of a Spirit Filled Life.
You’ve heard me and others preach about your need to be baptized in the Holy Ghost; you’ve heard about the infilling of the Holy Ghost; you’ve witnessed others receiving This Powerful blessing from God; but you are standing by the overflowing Jordan; saying God if you really want me to be filled, please just do it- have so and so sing that certain song; have brother so and so come and preach that certain message; have this happen; have that happen; on and on.
God says to you- Step into the Water!
God promised he would send the Spirit and God kept his promise on the Day of Pentecost; and he has been keeping that promise EVER SINCE. Through the decades and the centuries People have been filled with and baptized in the Holy Ghost.
When the Lord moves in a Service- STEP INTO THE WATER! Don’t wait for someone else; don’t wait for something else to happen; just Trust the Lord and Obey.
You may need healing; step into the water.
You may need victory; step into the water.
You may need comfort; you may need strength; you may need a closer walk with the Lord.
Step into the Water.
The Power of God
Mt. 28:18; Rom. 1:16
Intro: We all know the inconvenience of being without power. Some times it’s a real bother and some times it becomes a distress. It’s Amazing how difficult “normal” life is without power. We don’t even realize how dependant we are on it until it is gone. We have an Even Greater Need for God’s Power- need it for our physical human life but we also need for our Spiritual Life; for our Eternal life.
Jesus said that All Power in heaven and in earth had been given to him; and that he was sharing it with his disciples so that they would go throughout the whole earth preaching, teaching and baptizing converts in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost.
Paul said that the Gospel of Christ IS the Power of God. The Power of God is still Real today; still Available today; still working today; still effective today.
I. Redeems the Fallen.
Paul said in Rom. 1:16 that the “gospel of Christ is the power of God unto Salvation.”
John 1:12- To those that received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God.
In Matthew 9- 4 men brought friend who was paralyzed- Jesus said to the man- Thy sins be forgiven thee. The Pharisees murmured against Jesus for forgiving sin. Mt. 9:6 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,)Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. 7 And he arose, and departed to his house. 8 But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.
God still redeems the Fallen; his power still Saves; Forgives; Cleanses from Sin.
II. Revives the Fainthearted.
1Cor 2:4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. [Your faith should Stand]
Rom 16:25 Now to him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel...
Isaiah 40:29- He giveth power to the faint and to them that have no might, he increaseth strength.
1 Peter 1:5 we are “Kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation”
2 Cor. 12:9 And he 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
Paul makes it clear that the sufficient grace and the perfect strength come by the Power of Christ resting upon us.
III. Reassures the Fearful.
Paul told Timothy- 2 Tim. 1:7- God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of Power, Love, and a Sound Mind.
[Albert Barnes- The state referred to here is that in which the mind is well balanced, and under right influences; in which it sees things in their just proportions and right relations; in which it is not feverish and excited, but having everything in its proper place.]
[M. Henry- quietness of mind, a peaceable enjoyment of ourselves; for we are oftentimes discouraged in our way and work by creatures of our own imagination; this sound mind is a sober, solid, thinking mind which eliminates these disquieting and discouraging fears.]
I Know we are living in Uncertain Times- Wonder about Political World- Economic system- world of foreign affairs- international relations- war and terrorism- Uncertainties in our own Homes and Families. Still let me Remind us all; the spirit of fear does not come from God. Where then does it come from? From our Enemy, the Roaring Lion. Why does the Lion roar? To intimidate his prey- to paralyze them- to freeze them- immobilize them. The Words of Jesus are still True and In Force today- Let Not your hearts be troubled- You believe in God, believe also in me- In my father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so I would have told you- I go to prepare a place for you that where I am there you may be also- And if I go away I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am there you may be also. The Power of God reassures the Fearful!
IV. Rewards the Faithful.
Many of these rewards are received right here on the earth.
Acts 1:8- ye shall receive power after that the H G is come upon you and ye shall be witnesses unto me...
Rom. 15:13- Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
Some of our rewards are yet to be received.
Rom 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
1Co 6:14 And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.
1 Cor. 15:51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed
Verse 43 says that our body is sown in weakness, but raised in power.
The Rewards of the Faithful continue on throughout eternity- For God’s Power never Fails.
Mt 26:64 Jesus saith unto him,... Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power
Lu 1:33 and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
Victory Through Faith
1 John 5:4
Intro: We all know the need for Victory. Victory is the opposite of defeat, and who wants to be defeated? Who wants to be A Loser? But, how do we Win the Victory in a world full of sorrow & struggles, problems & pain, Bothers & Battles?
FAITH! It’s such a Big Word that sometimes its hard for us to get a hold of it in a practical way. Its not that complicated really. Faith is Trust in God. Believing not only that he exists but that he loves us and rewards those who will diligently seek him.
John declared that it is Faith that Brings our Spiritual Victory.
I. The Prayer of Faith Brings Victory.
Mt. 21:22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
Hebrew Gospel reads it, "in prayer, and in faith"; and the Arabic version renders it, "in prayer with faith"; the prayer of faith; or that prayer which is sent up in the strength of faith;
James 5:13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up;
M. Henry- Prayer must proceed from, and be accompanied with, a lively faith. There should be faith both in the person praying and in the person prayed for; the prayer that is effectual is not a cold and formal prayer but the prayer of living, vibrant faith.
The Prayer of Faith that Brings Victory is not just a matter of saying words that we call prayer; it is a special kind of prayer; Prayer that is Motivated by Faith- Launched in Faith- Propelled by Faith
II. The Promises of Faith Bring Victory.
Heb. 11:6 says that without faith it is impossible to please God- we must believe That HE IS- (He Exists, He LIVES)and that He Rewards them that diligently Seek Him.
Peter said that we were given Exceeding Great and Precious Promises and that by them we actually become partakers of the divine nature.
2 Cor 1:20 For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.
In Jesus Christ every Promise of God is Secure. Heb. 11:33 tells of those who “through Faith obtained Promises.” 7 times promises are mentioned in Heb. 11. The Promises of Faith bring Victory. READ the Promises
WRITE the Promises
REMEMBER the Promises
REFER to the Promises
RECITE (Pray) the Promises
III. The Power of Faith Brings Victory.
Peter said that we are “Kept by the Power of God through Faith.” (1 Pet.1:5)
Jesus said that Mountains could be removed by the power of faith. While we usually have no need to move physical mountains, we certainly have “life” mountains that need to be moved. There are
Mountains of Fear- Doubt- Worry- Uncertainty- Financial woes- Mental turmoil- Emotional Strain- Stress- Despair. It’s true that we cannot accomplish much in our own strength- BUT I Can Do All Things Through Christ who strengthens me.
2 Cor 3:5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God. [Not that we are Able of ourselves- but our Ability is of God. Not that we are Capable of ourselves- but our capability is of God.]
Isa 45:24 Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength:
IV. The Person of Faith Brings Victory.
Really, everything up this point is dependant upon this last point. The Prayer of Faith is dependant upon this Person. The Promises of Faith are dependant upon this person. The Power of Faith is dependant upon this Person.
Heb. 12:1,2 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;
Rev 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty
Acts 3:12 Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? 13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. 16 And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
Our Victory will not come in Politicians, not in Doctors, not in Lawyers, not in Bankers, not in Customers or Clients, not in Supervisors or Employers, not in Family Members, not in Wealth, not in Popularity, not in Pleasures. Our Victory will come through JESUS CHRIST and Him Alone! You can have Victory, through The Prayer of Faith; The Promises of Faith; the Power of Faith; The Person of Faith- Jesus Christ.
Christian Living in the Key of D
Intro: I know that the Bible sometimes seems very complex and the Christian life sometimes seems very complicated. Often, we feel confused and overwhelmed by it all. It’s good, every once in a while, to take a step back and get the Big Picture- the overview. (You’ve heard the old saying about not being able to see the forest for the trees) Well, let’s take a step back and see the Christian life in three simple points- in the key of D.
I. The Departing.
Depart from Evil!
That’s not too complicated. After all, that’s what Salvation is all about. When we talk about salvation we deal with words like:
- Repentance- The work of God which results in a change of mind in relation to God; change of mind about Jesus Christ; about sin; about salvation.
- Conversion- The act of turning From Sin and believing in Jesus Christ as Savior.
- Redemption- The act of God whereby Jesus Christ paid the price of man’s sin to deliver him from its curse and bondage.
- Born Again- Regeneration- The work of God’s Spirit whereby our spirit, our inner man, is made Alive in Christ Jesus and we become partakers of the divine nature.
- Justification- The divine act of God who declares Righteous all those who truly believe on Jesus Christ for salvation and repent of their sin.
WOW! Converted- Changed- Redeemed- Delivered- Justified- Declared Righteous- Born Again- Made New in Christ Jesus! What a Basis for this matter of Departing From Sin.
We are not and cannot be Saved IN our sin; to continue in sin; to live with permission to sin. We are Saved FROM sin. We change our mind about sin and Turn from it. Our new nature doesn’t even desire to commit sin, and as a matter of fact, when we do sin we immediately feel Sorrow, Remorse, Shame and should Run to Jesus Repenting; Finding that he is always interested in giving us power to Depart from Sin.
Any concept of Religion that permits regular, consistent sin is not the Christianity of the Bible.
1 John 3:6- Whosoever abideth in Him (Jesus Christ) sinneth not; whosoever sinneth hath not seen him neither known him. 8- He that committeth sin is of the devil... 9- whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin...
The Departing- Depart from Evil
II. The Doing.
Depart from evil & Do Good.
While the departing may be viewed as a negative aspect, this positive aspect of salvation is immediately evident. As we Depart from Sin- We begin Doing Good.
Now, Don’t get the Cart in front of the horse here! We cannot Do Good in order to be saved. BUT once we have repented, been redeemed, saved, born again; we Must DO Good.
Paul said in Phil. 2:10 that we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
It’s one thing to Depart from Evil- to shun sinful things- to avoid sinful activities- to refuse sinful influences; It’s another thing to Actively Do Good. Some are content if they can just AVOID sin but they never Actively Seek to Do Good.
We are to Seek First the Kingdom of God and his righteousness- we are not to be driven by the Desire for Wealth, Money, Possessions, Material things- Driven by the Desire for Acceptance, Popularity, or Fame- Driven by the Desire to Please ourselves and live only a Selfish Life.
21 times in the NT we are exhorted to Good Works.
Paul commended widows who provided lodging and provision for the saints.
James said that we are to care for the fatherless and the widows.
1Tim 6:18 says we should “do good, and be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate.”
Acts 9 tells of Tabitha also known as Dorcas and describes her as, “a woman full of good works and alms deeds...”
Titus 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Our lives are not only to show a Departing- but a Doing. We must be about our Father’s business. We are his ambassadors in this world. We are salt and light. We are to glorify God by the good works that we do.
III. The Dwelling.
Depart from evil and do good; and dwell forevermore.
In thinking about this point on dwelling, I think it has a two fold significance.
A. Dwelling in his Presence on the Earth.
We are told that we are Branches and Jesus is the Vine. We are to ABIDE in the vine; we are to Dwell in Him- He is our source of Life- he is our source of Light.
Only by dwelling in him can our lives be Pure & Productive. We can only bear the Fruit of the Spirit as we Dwell in Him and he dwells in us. We can only bear the Fruit of Souls as we dwell in him and he dwells in us. Inconsistent Christians do not win anyone to the Lord. Compromising Christians do not win anyone to the Lord. Hypocrites certainly do not win anyone to the Lord.
We must be Careful to Dwell in his presence through the Word of God.
We must to be Careful to dwell in presence through Prayer.
We must be Careful to Dwell in his presence through being faithful to Church.
We must be Careful to Dwell in his presence through Worshiping him in spirit and truth.
B. Dwelling in his Presence in Eternity.
There is not only a Requirement in those words- dwell for evermore- but there is a Reward in those words. If you dwell in his presence on the earth, you will dwell in his presence in eternity- For evermore.
What a blessed reward for every child of God. What a promise to those who Depart from Sin and Do Good Works in the will of God; they will Dwell with him forever.
There are people all over America and the world who want to dwell with him forever more; they want to spend eternity in heaven. However, there are not so many who are willing to Depart from Evil, and not so many who are willing to Do Good.
Only those who fulfill the requirements will receive the Reward. Are you living your Christian life in the key of D?
Are you departing from sin?
Are you doing good?
Are you dwelling in his presence?
Lessons from the Loaves & Fishes
Intro: The miracles that Jesus performed were certainly intended to help those who were in need right at that time; no doubt about that. When Jesus healed someone, they received the immediate tangible benefit of the miracle. When Jesus turned water into wine, those at the marriage feast received the immediate benefit of the miracle. When Jesus provided food for the multitude as recorded here in Jn 6, those present received the immediate benefit of physical food to eat when they were hungry.
However, the miracles of Jesus also provide instructions and lessons for us today. Even if Jesus does not physically multiply food for me at any time in my life, there are spiritual lessons for me to learn from the time when he Did multiply the loaves and fishes.
It’s interesting that this is the only miracle of the Lord that is recorded in All Four Gospels (not counting the resurrection of Jesus from the dead).
I. The Lesson of Partnership.
This is an amazing lesson to be learned from this miracle; The Lord ASKED for help!
- Jesus asked the Disciples for Help.
When they pointed out to the Lord that this crowd had been with them all day and had not been able to eat. They suggested that the Lord send them on their way so they could get home in time to eat their evening meal. Jesus then said to them, You give them food to eat. They protested that they could not begin to afford enough food to feed this crowd. Mark then records that Jesus asked them, “how many loaves have you? Go and see.” Jesus sent them on a mission to see if they had any food among them that he could use.
John records that it was Andrew who found out that there was a young boy there with 5 loaves and two fishes.
- Jesus asked the Lad for his help.
The gospels don’t record the conversation, but I think its safe to assume that Jesus asked the boy for his lunch of loaves and fishes.
Jesus asked for help! He asked his disciples and he asked this young boy.
Do you realize that God does want our Partnership and Co-operation? Paul said in 1Cor 3:9 For we are laborers together with God:
Certainly there is a part of this Miracle that only Jesus could do; the disciples could not multiply the food; the young boy could not multiply the food; only Jesus could do that. We are Dependant upon the Lord to do what only he can do, BUT he invites us to partici-pate with him in his work; to Do what WE can do. It is a great privilege to be a partner with the Lord.
A man was mopping the floor of the hospital where a famous heart surgeon practiced and he was whistling and singing joyfully. Someone asked him why he was so happy. “Oh I’m just excited because to day I and Dr. So and So are going to save some lives.”
Well, the janitor was certainly not going to be in the operating room; wearing a surgical gown and wielding a scalpel; but he Was doing his part to see that the hospital stayed in operation and maintained its distinction of quality service.
Are you thrilled about doing your part for God and his kingdom? Have you learned that the Lord often asks for your participation and co-operation in his work? Do you realize that like the young boy, and like the disciples, especially Andrew, when you do your part for the Lord you are part of the miracle!
II. The Lesson of Faith.
Both the disciples and the boy had to exercise faith in the Lord for this miracle to take place. The Disciples believed in his power and ability enough to start their search for any available food; the boy believed in his power and ability enough to give him the small lunch that he had.
We are often defeated because it is so hard to believe for a miracle or blessing when the available resources are So Small. Even the disciples asked when the boy’s lunch was located, “but what are these among so many?” You and I must believe the Lord in spite of appearances.
In Zec 4:10 God asked, “For who hath despised the day of small things?”
1 Cor. 1:27 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;
Have Faith! Even when all you see is a Cloud the size of a man’s hand; for out of a small cloud God is more than able to make the heavens black with clouds and send a Great Rain.
III. The Lesson of Surrender.
If we want to know the power of God working on our behalf we must be willing to Give Him what we do Have. The Lord asked the disciples what they had available; when the boy was found with his lunch he was willing to Give it to the Lord, even though it was All he had; and it had been meant for HIM. He gave it to the Lord for His use and he got more than just a small lunch, he got All he could eat!
The devil tries to make us think that surrendering to the Lord is painful and pitiful. We are told that we will have nothing to show for our life if we give it all to the Lord. What a Lie! Even the devil knows that a life in the hand of God is of much greater value than one kept for self. For he takes our weak and feeble life and makes it strong and victorious; he makes it profitable and successful; not in the world’s definition of success but in the Eternal way.
IV. The Lesson of Abundance.
- We learn that there is No Shortage when God works. The problem was that there was Not Enough; When the Lord worked his provision, there was More than Enough.
- We learn that when the Lord works, nothing is wasted. Even the fragments were useful. Even the fragments of our life are important to the Lord. The “fragments” of our time should be used for the Lord. The fragments of our material resources should be used for the Lord. The fragments of our talents and abilities should be used for the Lord.
- We learn that there is Absolutely No Limit to God’s Mighty Power. Here in this miracle he took Something and made it More; in Creation he took NOTHING and made it something Grand!
Partnership; Faith; Surrender; Abundance.
A Choice that Changed Everything
Ruth 1:8,9; 14-17
Intro: This is a wonderful story; a love story, but more than just in a romantic sense; it is a Real Love Story. It presents love for God; love between a mother in law and her daughter in law; and the love of romance and marriage. Let’s take a look at this story again and learn some lessons for our own lives.
I. Ruth Lived in a Desperate Time.
Ruth did not live in the “glory days” of Israel. She did not live in the days of conquest and victory; the days of blessing and plenty. She lived in the days of the Judges where Israel had no king; no true leadership; no real direction. It was a time when the people of Israel did that which was right in their own eyes.
- This sad state started with Apathy.
When the various tribes of Israel were allotted portions of Canaan land, they were commanded to drive out the enemies in their land and make it secure. However, they found that to be a difficult endeavor and almost every tribe was guilty of Apathy. They were not diligent and determined in conquering their enemies and allowed some of them to remain in the land.
- This Apathy developed into Apostasy.
Soon, (sadly, very soon) Israel had taken on the religion and practices of those they allowed to remain in their land. They were worshiping idols all through the land of Israel. They were practicing immorality, both in connection with their idolatry, and in the normal course of life. The book of Judges does contain some of the most morally disgusting stories of the entire Bible and they are the result of the religious apostasy that had developed in the land.
- The apathy and apostasy Resulted in Anarchy.
It was a lawless time. People did whatever they wanted to do; they were immoral; they were crooked and dishonest; they were cruel and violent. Again, some of the stories in Judges are the most violent in the Bible as well. Ruth’s great story took place in a most desperate time.
Let me remind us all that the story of our life does not depend on the time in which we live.
We too are living in a desperate time. We are living in a time of Apostasy, where people all over America are proclaiming their atheism and infidelity; where people are proclaiming their unbelief and rebellion.
We are living in a time of Anarchy, where violence is rampant and people all over our nation live in constant fear. You and I can still have a wonderful life with God’s blessings, even in this desperate time.
II. Ruth Made a Difficult Choice
Let’s think about this choice Ruth made. Why did she choose to go with Naomi? What compelled her; What was her motive?
- Well, her choice was NOT based on Riches.
- Not based on Romance
- Not based on pressure from someone in her family or from among her friends.
- Not based on personal convenience. She faced all kinds of hardships: national prejudice; religious differences; social and cultural diversities. She faced a life of hard work that would be physically demanding and not financially rewarding. She was going to Israel, a nation in trouble. She was going with Naomi, an older woman with little or no resources. She Made a Difficult Choice- Why?
Because she had Faith in God! She told Naomi Plainly- Your God will be My God.
This was a Choice that Changed Everything for Ruth. Even though she didn’t realize it on That day, she was making a difficult choice that was going to Change Her Life forever and bring God’s Divine Blessings her way.
We are all faced with choices in life. Some are relatively minor; some are significant. When it comes to choices of Faith and Commitment to the Lord; they are Vital to your life. Just about every life will make a Choice that changes everything. Some change their life for the worse; some change it for the best; because they Choose Devotion to the Lord. On that day- Ruth chose devotion to the Lord in spite of the hardships; she chose devotion to the Lord in spite of the national prejudice she faced; in spite of the religious differences; in spite of the social and cultural differences. She lived in a desperate time; She made a difficult choice; and
III. Ruth Received Divine Blessings from the Lord.
Ruth’s life was never the same after this wonderful choice for the Lord.
1) Her Choice led her to God’s People.
She was able to become part of the chosen people of God on the earth. Remember in that day, Israel ALONE had the true presence of God in their midst.
2) Her Choice led her to her Kinsman-Redeemer.
Boaz was a near kinsman who loved her and became her husband, fulfilling his role as kinsman- redeemer. He took her as his wife and Ruth found true Love. Boaz Provided for her and for the first time in her life, she didn’t have to worry about having food, clothing and shelter. Boaz Protected her and she no longer had to be lonely and afraid.
Boaz is a wonderful type of Jesus Christ who becomes the Kinsman-Redeemer for all who will believe in him. He became like us so that he could pay for our sins. He paid the price for sin at Calvary and pays the price for your personal sin when you repent and confess. When you make the choice to love and follow the Lord, you get the blessing of Salvation from our kinsman-redeemer.
3) Her Choice led her into the Lineage of the Messiah.
Ruth, a woman of Moab, who was alienated from the promises of God by birth, Chose her way into the lineage of God’s own Son. She bore a son and named him Obed. Obed later had a son named Jesse. Jesse had a son named David. All of them were in the line of the Messiah. Ruth’s faith led her right into the Messiah’s line.
4) Her Choice led her all the way to Heaven.
There are great rewards for Faith right here on the earth; there are great rewards for Faith right here in life. When we make the choice of Faith and devotion to the Lord, we get wonderful benefits right here in life just like Ruth did.
BUT the greatest and most important blessing we receive is the blessing of Eternal Life; a home in heaven; being forever in the presence of the Lord.
This Choice of Faith is Vital to you and your life here on the earth.
This Choice of Faith is Vital to you and your life After life on this earth.
I know we live in desperate times; I know the choice of faith and devotion is often a difficult one; but I also know the divine blessings are worth it all!
A Prescription for Anxiety
Intro: We are living in a time of Unprecedented Anxiety. Human life has always had its share of anxiety; of worries; of troubled thoughts and agitated emotions. After all, there is Much about life on this earth to cause worry and anxiety. We worry about our personal health and the health of our family; we have worries in regard to work and income; we have the pressures of physical life; shelter, food, clothing, and transportation; we often have anxiety in regard to human relationships and the list could go on and on. There is much about life on earth that causes worry and anxiety.
The world offers some prescriptions and cures for anxiety but most of them totally miss the Heart of the problem. I know that there are some medications that are beneficial so I try not to blast all medicine; BUT our world is Pill Crazy! EVERY problem of life has a Pill thrown at it. What boggles the mind is that the negative side effects of Just About Every Medication are more abundant than the positive benefits. Now I am human too, and I am smart enough to know that you and I are not going to live a life with NO Worry and NO anxiety; its just part of our nature. BUT there is a Bible prescription for Anxiety that Will Work!
It’s found in these familiar words of Paul to the Philippians and the prescription has Three Parts.
I. FAITH- Don’t Worry about Anything.
Our Victory over worry and anxiety begins with Faith in our Great God. Fear and Faith cannot co-exist. Where fear rules, faith is subdued. Where Faith rules, fear is subdued.
Jesus said in Mark 11:22- Have Faith in God.
Do you Believe and Know that God Does Exist?
Do you believe and know that God formed the worlds with just the power of His Word?
Do you believe and Know that God rewards those who diligently seek him?
If you answered YES to those three questions- you are well on your way to victory over worry and anxiety.
John said that Our Faith is the Victory that overcomes the world. It’s the world and its elements that cause our fear so we must have Faith in God that will overcome the world.
Paul said that Faith comes by Hearing the Word of God. We must feed our Faith and our Fears will starve. Believe in the Person of God; Believe in the Promises of God; Believe in the Power of God;
Believe in the Word of God. Have Faith; Build your Faith; Exercise your Faith; and Don’t Worry about anything. Be careful or anxious about nothing.
II. PRAYER- Talk to God about Everything.
Prayer is the Greatest Expression of Faith.
If you don’t believe in God, you don’t pray to God.
If you don’t believe God can or will do anything for you, you don’t pray. BUT When you Do Believe in God; and you believe in his Word; and his Love; and his Power; YOU PRAY!
Prayer is taking the troubles of human life to an eternal God who has all power in both earth and heaven.
Sometimes we have confided in a friend and shared some of the troubles and burdens of life and it made us feel Better just to talk to someone about it. How much more should we make it our regular practice to Talk to God about Everything! I don’t think we should pick and choose as to what we think is important enough to talk to God about. It’s ALL important to Him. He told us to Cast our Cares upon Him for he Cares for Us. So, which Cares should we cast on Him? Only the “big” ones? Only the “real important” ones? Only those we can’t handle on our own? No! Part of having victory over worry and anxiety is to Talk to God about Everything.
III. GRATITUDE- Thank God in All Things.
It may seem odd, but being unthankful Does increase anxiety.
We often get confused and we take things for Granted, instead of Being Grateful. Those are Not the same thing!
James wrote that Every Good and Perfect gift comes down from our Father.
Paul asked the Corinthians, “what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?”
In more common words he said, “What do you have that you did not receive from God? Since everything you have came from God, why do you, in Pride, act like you are the one responsible for it instead of giving God the glory for it?”
Those who Thank God in ALL things will have greater victory over anxiety. 1 Thess 5:18 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
Billy Sunday once said, “Your praying will improve if you’ll yank out a few Groans and put in a few Shouts.”
There is a prescription for anxiety:
1) Faith- Don’t Worry About Anything.
2) Prayer- Talk to God about Everything.
3) Gratitude- Thank God in All Things.
THEN, Paul wrote, “the Peace of God, which passes all understanding, will Keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
A Recipe for Victory
Intro: This is a great need for every one of us: Victory!
Sinners need victory over sin; over sinful habits; over sin’s bondage and addictions.
Christians need victory over the temptations of the devil and the world; victory over the pressure of our own fleshly nature; victory over the weak-nesses of our Spiritual life.
There is a Recipe for Victory in these verses and it has two key ingredients: The Word of God and Faith.
I. Establish your Faith by Hearing the Word of God.
Just a few verses later in our text passage, 4:12 says that the Word of God is Quick (Alive) and Powerful; sharper than any two edged sword; pierces to the dividing assunder of soul and spirit; it is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. This book is Not a book BY Man alone; this is not Man’s Word it is God’s Word. It is Absolute Truth and Active Power. It has Power to save, deliver, transform lives; power to defeat the devil and sin and the world and the flesh. This is a Vital ingredient for Victory. Too Often we fall into the Trap of Busyness and neglect the Word of God.
We need to Read it;
Meditate on it;
Listen to it;
Where there is a lack of the Word of God in a life there is a lack of victory also. You will become discouraged; distracted; defeated; and find yourself in a vicious cycle of failure.
Establish your Faith by the Word of God.
Rom 10:17 says that Faith comes by hearing; and hearing by the Word of God.
Not hearing what Everyone else has to say; not hearing what the media has to say; not hearing what some of your friends have to say; not hearing even what some other Christians have to say; but Hearing the Word of God.
The Word of God is FOOD for the spirit and soul. It is Milk and it is Meat. It is for those who have just been saved (babes in Christ) and it is for those who have been saved for a long time.
Desire the Word of God. Take it into your mind and into your heart; Let it live out through your mouth and hands and feet and Your Life.
Establish your Faith by the Word of God.
II. Exercise your Faith by Believing the Word of God.
Notice what vs 2 said- the Word was preached to them, But it did not profit them because it was not mixed with faith.
So the Word of God, as Alive and Powerful as it is, cannot do its Divine Work if you do Not Believe!
When you Do read the Word you must Believe it.
When you Do take some time to study it; you must believe it.
When you Hear it preached you must believe it.
Then when you believe it you will Act Upon it and Obey it.
Where there is a lack of Faith there is a lack of Victory, and again that vicious cycle of failure starts up.
Trying to have Victory without Believing and Obeying the Word of God is like trying to play a tune on a guitar without strings. Trying to have victory without believing and obeying the Word of God is like trying to drive your car without gas in the tank.
- Don’t be Paralyzed by Fear
- like those 10 spineless spies (who knew what God had said but wouldn’t believe it)
- like those wimpy warriors who wouldn’t believe God enough to face Goliath.
- like those mocking mourners around the daughter of Jarius? Jesus told Jarius- FEAR NOT; Believe! But the mourners mocked him and had to be removed from the room.
Don’t be paralyzed by Fear; Exercise your Faith by believing the Word of God.
- Don’t be Undermined by Unbelief.
Hebrews Ch. 3 ends with this statement about Israel: So we see that they Could Not enter in because of unbelief.
Matthew’s gospel said about Jesus in 13:58- He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
Don’t be undermined by unbelief. Be like Abraham who Paul said “staggered not at the promise of God being strong in faith giving glory to God.” (Rom. 4:20)
There is a recipe for Victory:
- Establish your Faith by Hearing the Word of God.
- Exercise your Faith by Believing the Word of God.
When you Mix Faith with Hearing, the Word of God will become Profitable in your life. It will bring God’s Blessings and Benefits to your life, and will give you Strength and Victory.
The Place of Blessing
Gen. 32:6-8; 22-28
Intro: The story of Jacob is a familiar one; he took advantage of his brother and took from him the Birthright of the firstborn; then his mother helped him deceive his own dad and he stole the Blessing of the firstborn.
Of course, Esau was furious and threatened to kill him; so he fled away and went to his uncle Laban’s. There he worked with livestock and there he married both Leah and Rachel; there he had 12 children and was expecting another. Things had not gone well with Laban for he was constantly changing Jacob’s wages and pushed the hardest of the work off on him. Jacob was discouraged and decided that he needed to return home. He stole away in the middle of the night rather than face Laban man to man and made his “escape” to return back to Canaan.
Jacob had an experience with God at Bethel when he first left home but about 20 years had passed and Jacob needed a Renewal in his relationship with God; he needed God’s Blessing on his life and in his family. The text passage tells about the Place of Blessing that Jacob found as he journeyed home. Notice: This place of Blessing did not consist of just a Great Positive experience; it was not all glory and joy and wonder.
I. A Place of Crisis.
It was a crisis that brought Jacob to his place of blessing.
I like it better when I receive blessings at random; how about you? When I think about receiving a blessing I am not wanting to go through a Crisis.
I read where Jacob was thinking about Esau as he made his way home. He knew how things had been when he left and he had No Assurance that anything had changed for the better. He was already making plans for dealing with Esau; hoping to soothe his anger and find any mercy that might be in Esau’s heart. When the messengers he sent to Esau returned, the word was not good; Esau is coming to meet you and he has 400 men with him.
Talk about a Crisis! Coming with 400 men; that does NOT sound like a peace conference; but a War Party.
Jacob was “greatly afraid and distressed.”
He immediately began making plans to minimize the damage Esau would do; he divided his all of his company into two and actually three bands or groups.
He kept himself and his immediate family as the third group; he divided the rest into 2 groups and sent them ahead with some distance between them.
He hoped that if Esau did attack the first group that the second group and his family group would be able to escape destruction.
He was in a Crisis.
I want you to know tonight that Your Place of Blessing May be in a Place of Crisis.
In other words- you feel like you are in a crisis tonight and you may be “greatly afraid and distressed.” You may feel like this is a place of nothing but trouble and defeat and you have reconciled yourself to just trying to Minimize the Damage and try to survive with whatever can be salvaged.
God wants you to know tonight that the Place of Crisis can become a Place of Blessing.
II. A Place of Conflict.
Jacob was not only in a place of Crisis- he was in a place of conflict.
He could not dictate how Esau should feel; what actions he should or should not take; he was at the mercy of Esau and it fully expected serious conflict.
There was no indication that Esau was going to be calm and peaceful at their meeting; there was no indication that Esau was interested in reconciliation; conflict seemed inevitable.
The threat of conflict drove Jacob to Desperation.
He sent even his immediate family across the brook Jabbok and there he wrestled with a man that he later realized was an angel from God.
He wrestled and struggled and fought and battled; he persisted such that the angel said to him, Let Me Go for the day breaketh; (Jacob had ahold of the angel so intently that the angel intreated him to be let go)
Jacob replied, I will not let you go except you bless me.
This place of conflict was not only a place of desperation but it became a place of brokenness also.
The angel touched the thigh of Jacob and put it out of place; no doubt Jacob felt pain; it was a physical injury that he suffered consequences from for the rest of his life.
Remember tonight- your place of blessing may bring you to desperation- you must hold on to the Lord; Don’t be deceived by the devil and let go of the Lord. Be faithful to fight the good fight of faith;
Remember tonight- your place of blessing may bring you to brokeness- you must allow the Lord to Break you so he can then Mold and Make you what he wants you to be; his plan is better than yours; his aims are higher than yours; his goals are greater than yours.
Don’t hold anything back from the Lord; surrender completely and let him have full control.
Jacob obtained his first blessing by deceit and lying; but it did not fulfill the desires of his heart and he reaped what he sowed for he too was treated deceitfully. He obtained his second blessing by earnest prayer; by wrestling with determination but in humility. This blessing changed his life forever.
The Great English preacher F B Meyer said this: the reason that some fail to attain the Blessed Life is that there is some point at which they hold back from God and desire their own way rather than his. This one little thing will mar the whole and rob the soul of its peace and of the fulness of blessing.
If you’re in a place of Crisis and Conflict tonight- don’t be dismayed- surrender everything in your heart and life to the Lord and allow the Spirit of God to break you and make you and bring his blessing to your life.
Let me close by reminding you that Jacob’s place of Blessing was also:
III. A Place of Confession.
As he and the angel wrestled intently, the angel said, “what is your name?”
Now I think you would all agree with me that the angel knew full well what his name was; he was not asking because he didn’t know Jacob’s name, he was asking because he wanted Jacob to Say IT and by doing so Confess that he really was a Deceiver; a Supplanter; one who was also trying to take advantage of others.
It amounted to a Confession by Jacob of Who He Was and What he Done.
I know how difficult it is for us to Confess OUR OWN SINS and Shortcomings.
Still, the place of blessing is a place of confession.
God already knows anyway; you might as well admit it.
We can try to make other people think that we are totally innocent and that any trouble we are having is all because of someone else and what they have done. But God knows that ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
Don’t try to confess someone else’s sins or failures; confess your own.
That’s the way to blessing.
When Jacob confessed who he was; the angel replied- You will be Jacob No More (no more the deceiver; no more the supplanter; no more the one always trying to take advantage of everyone else)
From now on you are ISRAEL- A Prince that has Power with God.
Wow= what a blessing Jacob received from God.
He was forgiven of his past sins and failures; his name that tied him to his past was taken away and he was given a new Name and an New Life- from now on he would be a Prince in the sense that he would be the Father of the nation of Israel and he would have Power with God and be blessed with the blessing of Abraham.
There is a place of blessing for you; it may be a place of crisis; it may be a place of conflict; it will almost certainly be a place of confession- but the Blessing is worth the Effort.