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.
Learning to Lean in 2018
Intro: No matter how self sufficient we think we are, there are times we need someone to lean on; no matter how strong and able we may be, there are times we need someone to lean on. However, our human nature often resists this Leaning; we don’t want to admit we need any help; too proud; or even too selfish.
Think about it for a minute: When does someone need to Lean on someone else? At what times do we most need someone to lean on?
- When we are Weak or Sick; Hurt/Injured; Lost our Balance; Fell Down or Just Got Down and Need a Helping Hand to get up.
These situations happen to us all; not just physically but spiritually as well. We all Need to Learn to Lean on the Lord; Learning to Lean in 2018
Notice these phrases in Is. 41:
1) “Fear thou not, for I am with thee.
Lean on the Lord, his Presence will Secure You.
A child is unafraid when his father is walking beside him, holding his hand; he feels secure. Having dad or mom there does not insure there will be no troubles or problems BUT the child feels secure in the Presence of a parent.
Our heavenly Father has promised that he is With Us. Jesus Christ promised that he is with us even to the end of the world or the end of the age. Jesus said the HG would be with us Forever.
We need to Lean on the Presence of God for Security- At Home, At Work, At School, At Church, Everywhere- Lean on the Lord his presence will Secure you.
2) “Be not dismayed, I am thy God”
Lean on the Lord, his Peace will Satisfy You.
The world is full of unhappy dissatisfied, discontented people. They have trusted in Money, a Job, in Possessions, in Material things, in human relationships, in pleasures and fleshly pursuits and Found NOTHING! It’s All vanity; it fades and vanishes away; it leaves them empty, frustrated and depressed.
Our God is Eternal and his Peace is Everlasting- it will Satisfy your Soul and your Mind.
Paul said that if we would stop worrying about everything and come to God in prayer and supplication with Thanksgiving- then his Peace that passes all understanding would Keep or Guard our hearts and minds thru Christ Jesus.
Jesus said he was giving us HIS Peace- not the kind the world gives which is only temporary and inconsistent- but Peace that is constant and eternal. Lean on the Lord; his peace will satisfy you.
3) “I will strengthen thee; yea I will help thee...”
Lean on the Lord, His Power will Strengthen You.
I mentioned that we all have times of weakness when we need someone to lean on physically; we all have times of sickness when we need some one to lean on physically; we all get feeble in body and need something or someone to lean on. So it is spiritually, every Christian experiences times of Weakness, times of Frailty and Feebleness. Lean on the Lord- His Great Power will strengthen you. God told Paul when he was praying to be delivered from that bothersome thorn in the flesh, “My Grace is sufficient for thee for my Strength is made perfect in Weakness.”
In other words, we really only experience the Greatest Strength of the Lord when we are at Our Weakest Point.
4) “Yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my right-eousness”
Lean on the Lord, His Promises will Sustain You.
Peter reminded us that God has given us Exceeding Great and Precious Promises; especially the promise that we can become Partakers of the Divine Nature. What greater promise is there than that one? That you and I can have a portion of God’s Nature imparted into us!
Then Peter also told us that God has promised us an inheritance that is incorruptible, undefiled, and fades not away; that God is reserving or keeping this inheritance for us in heaven; AND he is reserving or Keeping US for this inheritance while we are on the earth.
Talk about exceeding great and precious promises!
And what about the promise that he would never leave us nor forsake us;
- that all things would work together for our good if we loved God and were called according to his purpose
- that the HG would be with us and IN us and stay with us forever; that the Spirit of God would quicken our mortal bodies just like God quickened Jesus Christ and raised him from the dead;
- that Jesus would descend from heaven with a shout, voice of arch angel, trump of God, dead in Christ would rise first; then we which are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we Ever Be with the Lord.
These are great promises and they will sustain us in the most trying times of life.
Learn to lean in 2018! Lean on the Lord- His presence will secure you; His peace will satisfy you; His power will strengthen you; His promises will sustain you.
The Crib, The Cross, & the Crown
Intro: Christmas really is a Most Wonderful Time of the Year; not because we are going to get presents, but because we have already received the Greatest Gift that could ever be given. God so loved the world that he GAVE us his Son, Jesus Christ; and through Jesus, God gave us Salvation and Eternal Life. Thank God for Christmas!
This verse in Isaiah is an amazing prophecy about the Christ, the Messiah. It highlights three aspects of the Christ.
I. The Crib- The Miracle of His Incarnation
“Unto us a Child is born...”
The Virgin birth is an amazing and supernatural manifestation of God’s divine power. Jesus was conceived in the womb of Mary, not by means of human reproduction, but by the Glory and Power of the Holy Ghost. This had never happened before and will never happen again. Joseph was the earthly father of Jesus but not his father in the sense that he brought about his conception. This virgin birth bypassed the natural laws of man and insured that Jesus Christ did not inherit a nature tainted by Adam’s sin.
The Incarnation was such a major event that God sent a host of Angels to announce it. Shepherds heard the news and hurried to Bethlehem to worship this newborn Savior. Wise men were looking for the Messiah and saw a new Star in the sky. They followed it for many months and finally fell down before the Christ child worshiping the King. Oh, the glory of the Crib! Oh, the miracle of his Incarnation- God becoming man; God with us!
II. The Cross- The Marvel of His Crucifixion
“Unto us a Son is given”
Isaiah’s prophesy moved from the crib of Jesus incarnation to the cross of his crucifixion. Truly the Son of God was born to die. Though he was holy and compassionate, he was hated by the religious leaders of Israel; rejected by his own people; arrested and illegally tried; tortured and crucified; God dying in man’s place; God paying for man’s sin; God redeeming man’s soul. Thank God for Calvary! Oh, the marvel of his crucifixion and of our salvation.
III. The Crown- The Majesty of His Exaltation
“The government shall be upon his shoulders”
Isaiah’s prophesy then leaped ahead to the time when Jesus Christ would set up his kingdom on the earth and would eventually reign forever and ever.
Yes, he was laid first in a manger; and, Yes, he was laid later in a tomb. BUT both the manger and the tomb are Empty. Jesus lived a sinless life, died a sacrificial death, arose from the dead in a supernatural resurrection, ascended back into heaven and assumed his place of honor at the right hand of the Father. He will one day Come in the Air! There will be a resurrection of the saved dead and a rapture of the saved who are living. After the Tribulation, Jesus will Come to the Earth! He will then Rule and Reign Forever; exalted in Majesty.
Glory to God in the highest!
God’s Cure for Heart Trouble
Intro: We hear a lot about “heart trouble” and “heart disease.” It is a tragic fact of human life that the physical heart sometimes becomes diseased and is not able to sustain life. We also suffer at times from “heart trouble” spiritually. Our “heart”, our spirit & soul, our innermost being, that deepest part of our spiritual life sometimes becomes Troubled: burdened, worried, fretful, weak.
Cannot be cured by:
Finest Doctor or Clinic
God Has a Cure for Heart Trouble!
The teachings of Jesus in John 14 come in the same setting as ch. 13- Passover, Lord’s Supper, Communion, Announcement of Betrayal, Identifying of the Betrayer (Judas, actually gets up and goes out), the disciples wrestle with thought of Jesus’ death and its related issues, finally the word that Peter will deny the Lord... Troubled.
In John 14 Jesus gives us God’s Cure for Heart Trouble.
I. Prepared Place. (1-4)
I Go to Prepare a Place for You
God has always had a master plan for His People. God foreordained Redemption through His Son, Jesus Christ. God planned the Virgin Birth of Jesus. God planned the Anointed Ministry of Jesus. God planned the Death of His Son; the shedding of His Holy Blood; His burial and resurrection. God Prepared Redemption for Man. God planned for the conquest of Satan and Sin.
God also prepared for the Eternal Future of Man. God planned the Glory of Heaven. God planned for Redeemed Man to have a place there. Heaven is called a:
Country- signifying its vastness as a homeland for its spiritual citizens.
City- signifying the bustling life of its inhabitants.
Kingdom- illustrating its authority and rulership over all the kingdoms of man.
Father’s House- for it the place where God the Father himself dwells- the Holy Home of Jesus Christ, The Holy Ghost, the Holy Angels, and God’s Holy People.
Rev. 7:9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
Vs. 15 says that they are before the throne of God & serve in his temple; they hunger & thirst no more; the Lamb of God will feed them and lead them to living fountains of waters and God will wipe away all tears from their eyes.
My, What a Place has been prepared for You!
God Prepared Eden for Adam and Eve
God Prepared the Promised Land for Israel
God has Prepared a Place for His Children.
Jesus said, I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am there ye may be also.
Yes, he was going away- BUT He Promised to Come Again. 318 times the Coming of the Lord is mentioned in the New Testament. Jesus is coming and he has Prepared a Place for us.
II. Provided Path. (5,6)
When Jesus told the disciples of this place that he was going to prepare, they were puzzled and perplexed. “You tell us that you are going away, that you are going to prepare a place for us. Wait a minute, Thomas said, How can we know the Way?”
That Prepared Place sounds great; Those Mansions sound wonderful; Being in the Father’s House sounds marvelous BUT How are we ever going to get there?
The Path is Provided! Jesus said, I AM THE WAY, the TRUTH, the LIFE.
-Jesus, by his life, death and resurrection became our WAY to God, to Salvation, to Eternal Life, to Heaven.
-Jesus was the WORD of God in the flesh; the living Word. He lived the Truth, He taught the Truth, He IS the Truth. Contrast that with nature of Satan. He is a Liar; the Father of Lying; A Deceiver, A Destroyer.
-Jesus is the LIFE. There is no life without Him. Jesus is Abundant Life Right here on the Earth. Jesus is Eternal Life beyond the Earth. Heart Trouble? Remember! Jesus Has Prepared a Place for You and He has Provided a Path for You.
III. Personal Power. (15-19, 26)
The Place Prepared is beyond imagination; the Path is Provided to reach this wonderful place.
BUT- How will we be able to actually make this journey? Even when we believe there is such a place and we know the path to follow, we are still Human. We are Still feeble and frail. Psalm 103:14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembers that we are dust. Ps 78:39 For he remembered that they were but flesh... God knows our Weakness- Our Frailty- Our Inadequacy- Our Limitation; SO- He promised to send the Comforter that we might EACH have Personal Power.
This is Not Corporate Power for the Disciples as a Group but Personal Power for them as Individuals. On the Day of Pentecost there were 120 individuals praying for the Promise of the Father. “There appeared unto them cloven (divided) tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon EACH of them” and “they were ALL (each one) filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” The promise in Acts 1:8 was that each believer would be baptized with the Holy Ghost and would receive POWER to be a witness.
The Comforter has come in a Universal Way: He has come to the Church Age, the dispensation of Grace; He has come to the Human Race to convict of Sin and lead sinners to Jesus; He has come to the Church, the body of Christ, BUT, The Comforter Has also come in an Individual Way:
-He has come for Every Individual Believer- to be our Spiritual Companion, our Guide, our Teacher; He has come to Every Individual Believer as God’s Power in our Human Heart; He has come to us as Power from on High.
We are to Be Baptized in the Holy Ghost
We are to Be Filled with the Holy Ghost
We are to Be the Temple of the Holy Ghost
We are to Be Led by the Holy Ghost
We are to Walk in the Holy Ghost
We are to Bear the Fruit of the Holy Ghost
Then to top it all off:
IV. Perfect Peace. (27)
“Peace I leave with You” “MY peace I give unto you”
While we travel on the Path Provided to our Prepared Place in the strength of the Holy Ghost as our Personal Power, we still suffer much through trials, temptations, disappointments, discouragement, failures, fear, and uncertainty. The devil Lies to Us- Accuses Us- Attacks Us- Slanders Us- Shoots Fiery Darts of Doubt at Us and these things Cause Heart Trouble. Still, Jesus wanted us to Know that There is Perfect Peace. Isa 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
John 20- in appearances after His resurrection, 3 times Jesus said to the disciples, “Peace Be unto You.”
Romans 5:1 declares that we can have “Peace with God.”
Phil. 4:7 declares that we can have the “Peace of God” Peace that passes understanding.
Albert Barnes (on the phrase, Which passeth all understanding). It surpasses all that men had ever conceived or imagined; this peace is of the highest possible kind... The Christian, committing his way to God, and feeling that He will order all things aright, has a peace which is nowhere else known. Nothing else will furnish it ...No confidence that a man can have in his own powers; no reliance on his own plans or on the promises of his fellow-men, and no calculations which he can make on the course of events, can impart such peace to the soul as this simple confidence in God.
God Has a Cure for Our Heart Trouble: Place Prepared; Path
Provided; Personal Power; Perfect Peace.
How the Overwhelmed Can Overcome
Intro: This Psalm is part of a section (54-62) that parallels the life of David from the time that Saul was pursuing him; through the time David spent among the Philistines; and the time when he became king and began subduing the enemies of Israel. Many commentators believe that Ps 61 was written when Absalom had rebelled against his own father and attempted a take over of the nation. It was during this time that Ahithophel, David’s faithful counselor, turned away from David and joined himself to Absalom and his rebellion. David had to flee from his King’s Palace; from the city of Jerusalem; and like a vagabond he and his household took flight to escape the attacks of Absalom and those who had joined with him against David.
Talk about a Low Point of life! This was worse than being chased by Saul; worse than having to live among the Philistines; worse than being despised by Michal; he was being driven out of his home, his city and his kingdom by his own son’s rebellion.
Hear David’s urgency in vs 1 & 2 of this Psalm- Hear my Cry, O God! Attend unto my prayer! From the End of the Earth will I cry unto thee.
David really felt like he was at the end of the earth; physically he was a fugitive from his own home and his own family; spiritually he felt discouraged and defeated.
He was Overwhelmed! Have you ever been over-whelmed?
How Can the Overwhelmed Overcome? There is a Way!
David cried out in his Desperation- When My Heart is Overwhelmed- Lead me to the Rock that is Higher than I.
Lead me to the rock that is not down here in the lowlands of despair.
Lead me to the rock that is not covered over by trouble and sorrow.
Lead me to the rock that is not overwhelmed and Cannot Be overwhelmed.
For it is Higher than I am; it is above my troubles; it is above my circumstances; it is above my situations; it is above my load of sorrow. Lead me to the Rock! That’s the way for the overwhelmed to overcome. What rock was he talking about? A physical rock; a literal rock; a rock nearby the wilderness he was in? NO- in vs. 3 we find out that the Rock he was talking about is a PERSON!
“THOU” hast been a shelter for me and a strong tower from the enemy.
David realized that his God was the Rock that was higher than he was; that was higher than his troubles and his circumstances and his sorrows. Lead me to My God for he is a Rock.
1) You May be Overwhelmed with Sin.
It’s possible that someone reading this is being totally over whelmed by sin and its pressures. Have you never given your heart and life to the Lord? Have you lived without Jesus as your Savior all of your life up this point? Are you feeling the overwhelming pressure of your sin? Are you suffering from its consequences? It’s Guilt? It’s Sorrow? It’s Bondage? It’s Dominion? It’s Control?
After all the Bible declares that the Way of the transgressor is Hard. Sin brings sorrow and death; then it brings judgment and hell. If you are overwhelmed with sin, you need to Get to the Rock of Salvation. Ps 89:26- Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation.
I found that God is referred as the Rock of our Salvation 8 times in the Bible. When your sin brings you low, God is the Rock of Salvation that is higher than your sin; higher than your guilt; higher than your regret; higher than your despair.
2) You May be Overwhelmed by Storms in Life.
That was David’s case; life’s storms had not just worried him and bothered him; they had overwhelmed him. He needed higher ground to get above the Flood of trouble. God is that Rock that is higher than your Flood of trouble and cares. You need to Get to the Rock of Shelter.
2 Sam 22:3 The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and my high tower, and my refuge...
Ps 18:2 The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God,
God really is the Rock of Shelter; he is a refuge and high tower so that the storms and floods cannot overwhelm him.
[Vernon Charlesworth was an English pastor who also served as headmaster of an orphanage operated by Charles Spurgeon. He penned the words of a song and it was published in a small London paper. It just so happened that Ira Sankey (the song leader for D L Moody’s crusades) saw it in the paper, was struck by the great message, put music to it and the rest as they say is history.
The Lord’s Our Rock, in Him we Hide, A Shelter in the time of Storm. Secure whatever Ills betide, A Shelter in the time of Storm.
Jesus is a Rock in a weary land; a shelter in the time of storm.
The Raging storms may round us beat- we’ll never leave our safe retreat.
O Rock Divine, O Refuge Dear- Be thou our helper ever near- a Shelter in the time of Storm.]
Jesus Christ is a Rock of Shelter- those overwhelmed by Storms can overcome through his power and presence.
3) You may be Overwhelmed in Service for the Lord.
Are you weary in well doing? Are you fainting in the fight? Are you feeling overwhelmed and about ready to give up your work for the Lord? Is that class too difficult? Do you have too many irons in the fire? Too many demands on your time? Have you pretty well buried your talent or ability instead of using it faithfully for the Lord? You need to Get to the Rock of Strength.
Ps 18:2 The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
Ps 62:7 In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength,
When Moses was in despair because of Israel’s idolatry with the golden calf, God took him aside and said to him, There is a place by me and thou shalt stand upon a Rock.
When Elijah was in despair after his powerful victory at Carmel, God told him to Go forth and stand upon the Mount before the Lord.
Both Moses and Elijah found God to be their Rock of Strength. Their spirit was revived; their zeal was restored; their commission was renewed and they went on serving the Lord with great power.
Isaiah 25:1&4 say that the Lord is strength to the poor and needy in their distress; he is a refuge from the storm; he is a shadow from the heat when the blast of the enemy is like a storm against the house.
He will be your Rock of Salvation; your Rock of Shelter; your Rock of Strength.
The Spirit of Burning
Intro: This chapter is the final part of a powerful prophecy by Isaiah that began in ch. 2. It mostly concerns the time when God has finished his judgment upon Israel and begins to restore her as his chosen people. Isaiah speaks of God’s blessings upon Israel again; how his presence will dwell in Jerusalem and people will come from all over the world to worship the Lord and to learn of his ways.
The verses I read tonight speak of those who survived the attacks of the anti-Christ and the world’s armies; those who were delivered by Jesus Christ and his heavenly army; those who have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus and “purged” by the spirit of judgement and the spirit of burning.
It was that last phrase that caught my attention- the spirit of burning. That’s what I want to preach to you about- the Spirit of Burning- not just as a type of judgement but as a type or title of the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of God; for He is truly a Spirit of Burning.
I. The Burning of Refining
When I think of “burning” in regard to the Spirit of God, I think of His power to Refine our lives like Real Fire was used to refine Gold and precious metals. We are familiar with the process of refining. The ore would be heated to extreme temperatures until its elements began to melt. Then the impurities would rise to the top and be removed; after a number of times, the silver or gold would be PURE; without impurities and without imperfections.
So it is that the Spirit of God, the Holy Ghost, burns in our hearts and lives to Refine Us; to Purify Us; to make us Holy.
In Romans 1:4 the Holy Ghost is called, the Spirit of Holiness.
1 Peter 1:2 speaks of the Sanctification of the Spirit.
When the power of God fell in the OT for Elijah; it fell in the form of FIRE; fire that not only burned up the sacrifice, but the wood, the water, the rocks and the dust!
When the HG fell on the Day of Pentecost; there was a sound of a rushing mighty wind; and then there were Flames of Fire that sat upon the heads of each one there.
God’s Spirit of Burning will Refine our Lives. The Dross must be removed; The Impurities must be removed; That which is Unworthy must be removed.
Until those things are removed from metal it is NOT PRECIOUS.
Until these things are removed from our life, it is NOT PURE.
I know that the Blood purifies our spirit and cleanses it from all sin.
BUT, our mind is to be pure also; and the only way that can happen is to let the HG have his way in your mind. Paul said in Rom. 8 that to be carnally minded is death; and that the carnal or fleshly mind is the enemy of the Spirit of God. He says in vs. 5 that they that are “after the Spirit, do mind the things of the Spirit.” They that have the Spirit of God and follow his leading do not mind the carnal things of the world; they mind the Spiritual things of the Spirit.
He is the Spirit of Burning; he will Renew your Mind; he will burn out the carnal mind and Transform your mind so that you can Prove the good, acceptable and perfect will of God.
Has your mind been refined by the Spirit of Burning?
Is your mind Being Refined by the Spirit of Burning?
Are you allowing the HG to burn out the dross and impurities in your mind and in your heart and in your life?
II. The Burning of Remaking
In 2 Cor. 3:18 Paul says that “we all with open face beholding as in a glass (mirror) the glory of the Lord, are Changed into the Same image from Glory to Glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
This Spirit of Burning; burns the image of Jesus Christ into our life.
We LOOK at Him and To Him. We Behold him; we are captivated by Him; we love Him and long to be like Him. As we Behold the Lord in the Word of God; as we Behold the Lord in our times of Prayer; as we Behold the Lord in our Worship in the house of God; the Spirit of Burning remakes us; we are Changed; we are Transformed; we are Remade; the image of Jesus Christ is burned into our Heart and into our Life.
Rom 8:29 talks about our need to be “Conformed into the image of God’s Son.” The only way it can happen is by the Spirit of Burning; as we allow the HG to work in us, as we allow his fire to burn in us; he Refines us and Remakes us. Oh, the glory of this Change!
- Changed from a lower level of life to a higher level of life.
- Changed from “only human” to a partaker of the divine nature.
- Changed from Sinner to Saint; from a Child of Disobedience to a Child of God.
Are you allowing the HG to burn the image of Jesus into your life? Are you being Remade by the Spirit of God so that your character is like that of Jesus? Our attitudes need to be remade to be like Jesus;
Our actions need to be remade to be like Jesus; Our ambitions in life need to be remade to be like Jesus.
III. The Burning of Reflection
We all know that fire not only creates Heat but also Light.
When the Spirit of God burns in us to Refine us; and when the Spirit of God burns in us to Remake us; when it burns out the impurities and burns in the image of Jesus; We will REFLECT God’s glory.
How often are we told in the Bible that we are the Light of the world!
We are told to let our Light shine before men so that they will see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.
We are told that we were at one time children of darkness; but Now we are children of the Light and we are to walk in the Light and to Reprove the works of Darkness.
We are told in Rom 13 to put on the armor of Light.
Yes, the Spirit of Burning will cause our lives to Reflect the Glory of God, right here in the midst of a dark and sinful world. In Phil 2:15 we are exhorted to “be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.”
Are you allowing the HG to burn in your life & through your life? Are you being Refined? Are you being Remade in the Image of Jesus Christ? Are you Reflecting the Glory of God in your world?
Are You a Growing Christian ?
1 Peter 2:1-3
Intro: The Bible likens the born again experience of a Christian, to the birth of a newborn in human life. I love how God takes what we Do Know about in the experiences of human life, and uses it to teach us what we Do Not know about when it comes to spiritual life. So it is, that when we are saved, born again; we are newborn Christians, and like baby boys and girls we need to Grow.
Surely I don’t need to linger her and explain to you the growing process of children and how important it is. We are all well aware of growing disorders and how worried a parent becomes if their child is not making “normal progress in their growth and development. Sadly, too many Christians are not Growing properly; not progressing normally on God’s growth and development chart. Too many are Weak; Under Nourished; Failing Instead of Growing and Flourishing.
Well, Peter specifically states that we Need to Grow. Later in his epistle, he refers to this again and exhorts us to Grow in Grace and in the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Growing Spiritually is important; and we are not left without Biblical guidance in this matter.
I. Desire the Word of God
Peter said in our text that we should Desire the Word like a Baby Desires Milk.
Again, I don’t have to tell any mom or dad about how a baby desires milk! They do not have to be taught to desire it; they do not have to be taught to Let you Know they are wanting some; there is a built in system that when they feel hunger and thirst; they begin to sound the alarm until that need is met.
Do you have a Desire for the Word of God?
Do you Desire it like a baby desires milk?
Do you want it; and want it so much that you will do what you have to do to get it?
Will you rearrange your daily schedule to get the milk of the Word?
Will you put other things off and say “no” to some demands in order to get the milk of the Word?
When you are at church do you desire the Word? Do you really WANT to hear it; Do you Hunger for it? Do you thirst for it? Can you be satisfied without it?
Desire the Word!
II. Digest the Word.
Peter certainly implies that he is not just talking about desiring the Word, but he infers that when you desire it you will also Take it in; just like a baby who desires milk and will take it in enthusiastically!
He said in verse 3 that we have TASTED that the Lord is gracious; so clearly he expects us not only to Hunger for the Word of God but to FEED on it. After all, we all know that being hungry is not enough to Grow.
Let’s assume that when we dismiss today, you will head home; go into the house and Smell some wonderful aromas of cooking and baking food. WOW! Your mouth will water as the aroma of savory roast beef fills the air; then you’ll really drool when the aroma of home made rolls hits your senses. THEN, you pat your stomach, tell your wife, “Honey that was just what I needed, thanks a lot;” then turn around and walk out of the kitchen and out of the house Nourished & Satisfied! Satisfied??? I don’t think so.
You can’t grow just because you get hungry, you grow because your hunger drives you to nourishment.
So James said in 1:21- Receive with meekness the engrafted Word which is able to save your soul. The word “Engrafted” means, “sent into a man to become part of his being.” The Word must be RECEIVED; taken in; digested; it must become part of our being.
Take it in directly from the Bible itself in your own time of study.
Take it in from teachers and preachers who are like spiritual chefs. They proclaim the Word; and Explain; and Expound; and Exhort; You Receive it- it enters into your Ears, your Mind, and Your heart and becomes part of your being.
Then you will begin to GROW.
Desire the Word; Digest the Word; and
III. Do the Word.
Again in James 1 we are told to be Doers of the Word and not hearers only. James talks about the man who looks at himself in the mirror and then walks away and forgets the things that needed to be done to his face or hair. He is called a Forgetful Hearer; but “whosoever looks into the perfect Law of Liberty and continues therein, being not a forgetful hearer but a Doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deeds.”
Heb. 5:14 says that “strong meat belongs to those that are of full age, those who by reason of USE, have their senses Exercised to discern good and evil. When we DO the Word we are USING it; and by Using it we are Exercising our Spiritual Man and causing him to GROW.
Mt 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Rom 2:13 For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
Lu 11:28 Jesus said... “blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.
Are you a Growing Christian? Are growing in Grace? Are you growing in Knowledge? Are you growing in Experience? Are you growing in Faith?
Desire the Word;
Digest the Word;
That ye may grow thereby!
You Can’t Go Wrong by Doing Right
Intro: When it comes to living for God; there is a COST; there is a Price to pay. Jesus never tried to fool anyone when it came to being a follower or a disciple. He told them plainly that if they were going to follow him they had to forsake all; they had to deny themselves; they had to take up their cross daily.
Still- sometimes we emphasize the Cost; the Price; the Sacrifices we have to make and we Neglect to Consider the Glorious Blessings that we Receive when we live sincerely for the Lord.
For every so called Loss; there is a glorious Gain; For every spiritual investment there is a wonderful return. You Can’t Go Wrong by Doing Right!
This passage in Proverbs is a powerful reminder of What We Get From our Spiritual investments.
I. We Get Peace and Life for Obedience (1,2)
“Forget not my law; let thine Heart keep my commandments.”
Obedience is required and commanded throughout the Scriptures. Jesus himself said, If a man Love me, he will Keep my words. 1 John 1:3 Hereby we know that we know Him, if we keep his commandments; he that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him. Obedience to God and his Word is a very serious matter;
There are some who are disobeying God’s Word through Ignorance- they really don’t know what the Bible says about how we should live.
There are some who disobey even when they do know because of Rebellion- they do whatever they Want to do and insist on their own way.
Some disobey because Obedience seems difficult at times; no one ever said that Obedience to God and His Word is EASY; But it is RIGHT- and you can’t go wrong by doing right!
When you pay the price of Obedience you get a Return of Life and Peace.
Obedience to God’s commandments adds real LIFE to your life. Some want more days in their life; God gives more Life in your days. Jesus said he would give Abundant Life- life with purpose and meaning; and Eternal Life- life with no end.
Obedience to God’s Word adds real PEACE to your life. While the world stumbles thru life in confusion and fear, the true child of God has assurance and confidence; while those who are lost live in dread and turmoil, the child of God has the Peace of God that passes all understanding.
II. We Get Honor for Mercy (3,4)
It’s not always easy to be Merciful or Meek. It’s not easy to surrender our own “Rights” and not retaliate when we feel like we have been done wrong. Still, when we Bind Mercy and Truth around our necks, so to speak, and write them upon the table of our heart- We Get what Solomon called, “favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man.”
Favor is another word for mercy or graciousness; so when we show mercy to others; we get mercy from God! Rom 12:19,20 say that Vengeance belongs to God and not to us. It’s much better for us to do right and show mercy, for then we will be blessed with mercy from God and with Good Understanding or Good Success in the eyes of God and man. You can’t go wrong by doing right.
III. We Get Direction for Trusting (5,6)
These two verses are probably some of the most familiar in the whole book of Proverbs; and they contain a powerful message for us today. Trust in the Lord- with all your heart- Lean not to your own understanding- In all your ways acknowledge Him- He will direct your paths.
Trust in the OT equals Faith in the NT. The word trust is in the OT 152 times! It is vital that we Trust in the Lord.
- It means to Believe what he has said.
- It means to roll or cast yourself upon the Lord.
- It means to have confidence in the Lord.
- It means to take refuge in the Lord as a safe and secure place.
We must TRUST in the Lord and not Lean on or trust our own understanding. This is not about what I WANT; or what I think is best; this is about God wants and what God Knows is best.
We must Acknowledge Him:
- recognize and confess him as our Savior
- reverence him and worship Him as Lord
- respect his Word and his Will
In every area of life- not just church matters; but matters of physical life; home and family; job, work, income, finances, purchases, all decisions of life.
When we Trust in the Lord with all our heart and acknowledge Him in all our ways; we Get Divine Direction. He will Direct Our Paths. What a great return on the investment; we don’t know how to order our own life anyway; we Need divine direction. Isaiah said that at times we would hear a Word behind us, saying, “this is the way walk ye in it.”
I know the world thinks its crazy to Trust in the Lord and acknowledge him in all our ways- but to us it brings great blessings; you can’t go wrong by doing right.
IV. We Get Strength for Separation (7,8)
We are told to fear the Lord and Depart from Evil.
It is not always easy to Refrain from things the world promotes and takes pleasure in. We often feel “odd” or “weird” because of our separation from the World’s fashions and the world’s functions.
Many people have decided that separation is too much of a price to pay; it is too costly to them so they have given up and compromised. But look at the return on the investment of separation: We get STRENGTH; Solomon said it like this: it shall be health to thy navel & marrow to thy bones.
This is the Galiher interpretation of that phrase: It will bring power to your inner man and strength to your soul.
What a great return on the investment of separation- power in our spirit and strength in our soul! You can’t go wrong by doing right.
V. We Get Plenty for Giving (9,10)
We could be on this subject for a long time because the Bible has so much to say about it; but I will condense my remarks on this final point.
While giving seems too costly to some; while even tithing seems too costly to some; there is a great blessing that comes to us for faithful giving. After all, it’s all God’s anyway! We are only stewards of God grants to us. We are instructed to give in at least the three following ways:
- Tithing is the first 10% of what we earn that goes back to the Lord and his work.
- Offerings are given for special needs of the church; for evangelists, missions, etc
- Alms includes giving to those who are in need
So we are told here in our text that we need to Honor the Lord with our Substance and with the Firstfruits of our Increase; so shall our barns be filled with plenty...
2 Cor. 9:6-8 He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
Even when Giving seems Hard to do; remember God promises that he will supply all of our need according to his riches in glory; You really can’t go wrong by doing right.
A Full Reward
2 John 4-9
Intro: This is a very small epistle but it is full of powerful and important Truth. Let’s talk about the matter of receiving a Full Reward.
I. Receiving the Truth.
John reminds us in vs. 4 that we have Received Commandments from the Father. These are not commandments from political leaders or even religious leaders; not commandments from preachers or even the apostles; these are commandments from God the Father!
That’s why the Word of God carries such weight;
It carries the Weight of Divine Authority.
So, it also carries the Weight of Divine Accountability.
We must Receive it like those faithful believers in Berea- they received The Word as the Word of God and not the word of man. John makes it clear that Receiving the Truth is a vital part of Loving the Lord. He says in vs 5 that he is not writing a new commandment, but one which they had from the beginning, that we love one another; AND he says in vs. 6- this is Love- that we walk after his commandments.
Love and Obedience are inseparable. Love and Obedience are forever joined together by God. God and His Word know nothing of a so called Love of God that allows someone to do whatever they want to do; Love is not License to sin.
Have you Received the Truth?
Not just heard it like he mentions in vs 6;
Not just had it available like John mentions in vs. 5;
But Received it like he says in vs. 4 and Walking IN it like he says in vs.4 and vs 6.
These believers are commended because they Received the Truth.
But now let’s talk about...
II. Retaining the Truth.
John talks about the truth they have heard and had and received and are walking in; then he presses upon them the urgency of Retaining what they have received.
A. He tells them to Beware of Deceivers. (7)
“Many deceivers are entered into the world who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh; they are deceivers and anti Christ.”
B. He tells them to Be Diligent. (8,9)
“Look to yourselves that we LOSE NOT those things which we have wrought...
Who so ever transgresses and abides not in the doctrine of Christ has not God...”
We must all be Careful not to LOSE the Truth that we have received.
We must be Alert and On Guard so that no Deceiver tricks us out of the Truth we Received.
We must be Watchful and Vigilant that we do not Let the Truth that we have Received Slip Away from us.
We must be Cautious and Diligent in our Spiritual life so that we do not Transgress and Cease to Abide in the Doctrine of Christ. (Did you notice, he did not say they do not abide in the doctrine of so and so church; but not in the doctrine of Christ!)
SO- Here is the message in a single Statement:
We will only receive a FULL Reward if our life has Remained FULL of the Truth.
There are people all over America who are Hoping for; maybe even Expecting A Full Reward from the Lord when judgement time comes. BUT there are also a lot of people who are no longer FULL of the truth! Some have been deceived and tricked out of it. Some have “Lost” it through carelessness and worldliness. Some have transgressed the Word of God and are not truly Abiding in the Doctrine of Christ.
NO ONE will receive a Full Reward that is not Full of Truth. You and I must Finish with what we Started with.
I noticed an interesting incident in the life of Ezra. Ezra had a burden on his heart to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple of God. The king not only gave him permission to go, he also gave them abundant provision for the journey as well as a generous offering of silver and gold to be used in their work. In Ezra 8 the group was making its preparations to begin their journey. Ezra chose 12 of the Priests and gave them the responsibility of bearing the gold and the silver and the vessels for the Temple.
He had the gold and silver weighed before it was given to each man. Then he charged them before the whole congregation- “Ye are holy unto the Lord and the vessels are holy also and the silver and gold; WATCH ye and KEEP them until you weigh them before the Priests in Jerusalem.” Then when they arrived in Jerusalem, all of the silver and gold and vessels of the Lord were Weighed by the Priests and Levites in Jerusalem and all the numbers of the weight were written down.
Why such meticulous checking?
Each of those 12 priests who were given the responsibility to carry the gold and silver had to FINISH the journey with ALL they had when they began the trip.
YES- we will be “weighed” in the balances of the Lord; yes we will all give account of ourselves to God; yes we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and it will be Important that we Finish with what we started with.
Hear John again- Look to yourselves that you Lose Not those things which you have wrought, but that you Receive a FULL Reward.
Col 3:23; Col 3:17; 1 Cor 10:31
Intro: Be honest with yourself now; do you ever find that you divide the Christian life into at least 2 compartments: in church and not in church? Do you separate life into spiritual and secular? Do you have a “church mode” and an outside of church mode? Do you try to separate the Natural part of life from the Spiritual part of life? Some do- they “act normal or natural” thru the week days but they feel the need to “act spiritual” on Sunday. You know the malady some suffer from where they are Christians when they are at church and not so much so any other time or place.
Do you realize that if you Truly are a Christian, you are a Christian ALL the time?
If you really are born again by the Spirit of God then you are the Temple of God ALL the time.
We are Called to Everyday Christianity; 24/7 Christianity; 365 days each year and 366 days in a leap year.
Three times in the Bible we read that phrase, whatsoever you do, do all...
1) Do All In God’s Authority- Col 3:17 do all in the name of the Lord Jesus...
We Christians talk about and know about the power of the Name of Jesus Christ.
I did a quick survey of the subject and found the following:
- Jn 20 & Acts 8 we are saved in and by the authority of his name
- Acts 2 & 8 we are to be baptized in the authority of his name
- Acts 3,4 there was healing thru the authority of his name
- Acts 9 Paul preached in the authority of his name
- Acts 16 there was deliverance from demons in the authority of his name
- Acts 21 believers faced persecution in the authority of his name
- 1 Cor 1 we are to Pray in the authority of his name
- 1 Cor 5 church discipline was carried out in the authority of his name
- 1 Cor 6 we are Washed, Sanctified, and Justified in the authority of his name
- Phil 2 judgement will be conducted in the authority of his name
That’s an Impressive list of things that should be done in the Authority of the Name of Jesus and of things that can Only Be Done in the authority of the Name of Jesus. Still most of us think about this authority as being that of the Prophet or Apostle; the Preacher or Pastor; Maybe that of a Special Saint or Elder in the Lord. NOT TRUE! This authority is to be a vital part of our Everyday Christian Life. Not that we are healing someone on a daily basis, or delivering someone from demons on an average day, or preaching or facing persecution or so on; But Paul said in our Text (After all these others things have already been written about the authority of the Name of Jesus) Paul said that Whatsoever we Do- Words; Deeds; ALL that we do is to be done in the Name of Jesus; in the Authority of Jesus Christ; by the authority of Jesus.
We are Ambassadors of Christ; we are his Representatives on the earth; Every day as I live my earthly life, I am here as a Agent of Jesus Christ. I am living IN his Authority; and I am to ACT in his Authority. We are much too passive about our Christian life; much too passive in our spiritual life; we must Recognize the Authority we have and NOT BE Beaten down by the devil; NOT constantly subdued by the pressure of the world around us; NOT giving in to the flesh and its force in our being.
2) Do All For God’s Approval- Col 3:23 do it heartily as to the Lord and not unto men...
One of the most difficult things to keep in proper perspective is this matter of Pleasing GOD in all of our life. We feel so much pressure to Please People; to please family members; to please co-workers; to please associates; to please our children; to please even friends or acquaintances. HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE DISOBEYED GOD AND HIS WORD WHILE BEING MORE CONCERNED ABOUT PLEASING SOMEONE ELSE!
We often allow others to dictate how we live; what we say; what we do; where we go; what we get involved in or participate it; When in all reality we are to Do All for God’s Approval. After all, our ultimate Goal must be to hear God Say- WELL DONE, Good and faithful servant.
Remember what Paul said about Demas? He had forsaken Paul, forsaken the ministry, forsaken God because he Loved this present world. What the world said, meant more to Demas than what God said; what the world wanted meant more to Demas that what God wanted.
How about you; do you live your life Everyday for God’s Approval? Do you even consider what God thinks about your actions; your thoughts; the words you say; the clothes you wear; the activities you participate in?
I’m not saying that we should live with no regard for what others think about us (you know that); we are to be considerate of others; BUT when there is conflict between what others want of us and what God wants of us we MUST Live everyday for God’s Approval.
3) Do All To God’s Acclaim- 1 Cor 10:31 do all to the glory of God.
Everything I do in my life should bring Glory to God; not reproach.
How sad it is when Christians live in such a way that they bring reproach to the name of Christ.
1 Tim 3:7 ...he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach
1Ti 5:14 ... give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
Tit 2:5 ... that the word of God be not blasphemed.
This phrase in our text, “to the glory of God,” means that everything we do should bring PRAISE to God; it should make God “look good;” it should cause others to have a Good Opinion of God (I know there are some who are filled with bitterness and no matter what we do they will not give glory to God) But for the most part people should think better of God because of our Life and Example.
Have you ever resisted a temptation because you didn’t want to bring reproach to your dad or mom? For sake of spouse?
Have you ever bit your tongue to hold in that burning word to protect the reputation or integrity of someone else? You wanted to say it in the worst way; but you considered the feelings or situation of someone else and held your peace.
So it is that we must live our life to Bring Glory to God. If that word or that action or that participation will bring reproach to our Lord- we must Refuse it.
Do all in God’s Authority
Do all for God’s Approval
Do all to God’s Acclaim
A Lesson in Obedience
Intro: This passage is most often mentioned in the introductory part of a wedding; that’s because it is very appropriate since it took place at a wedding. Still there are other lessons involved here than just realizing that Jesus honored marriage by his presence at this wedding and by working his first miracle at this wedding also. There are some great lessons in regard to obedience in this account.
I. Mary’s Advice
When the hosts of the wedding realized that they had run out of wine for the feast, they did not know what to do. Clearly they could not just run out and buy what they needed; they were in a very embarrassing situation. No one likes for others to think they failed in their planning or preparation for such a public event. Mary became aware of the predicament and went to Jesus about it. He replied to her that his time had not fully come to launch his public ministry; he probably had not intended to do anything out of the ordinary at this wedding for he was just attending it as a guest and friend. Mary KNEW who Jesus really was and she KNEW about his divine power so she persisted and gave the servants advice before Jesus had even actually agreed to Do anything.
The words of Mary in Vs. 5 are familiar and they are full of great truth for us.
“Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” Mary’s words; her advice; her instructions called for Simple but Serious Obedience.
A. Entire Obedience.
What so ever he saith...
She wanted them to know that it Didn’t Matter WHAT he said; they were to obey;
It didn’t matter how unusual his commands might seem- they were to obey.
It didn’t matter what his commands required of them- they were to obey.
We are so hesitant at times in obeying God. We waver; we doubt; we try to reason it all out; we tend to pick and choose what we obey and what we do not obey; and it almost always depends on whether we Understand the purpose of it or not. Still, we are called to Entire Obedience. We are Not just to obey Part of what God has said but ALL that he has said. We are Not just to obey what WE Think makes sense, or what we Want to obey, but What so ever he has said.
God’s Word is our authority; it is our Final and Complete guide in all matters of spiritual life; earthly life; eternity. It is not a smorgasbord or buffet that we can pick and choose our favorites from and bypass all the rest. Paul declared that ALL Scripture is given by inspiration of God.
B. Exclusive Obedience.
What so ever HE saith...
Mary did not tell these servants to do what so ever ANYONE said, but what so ever HE said. We are not called to obey EVERY voice that offers commands or instructions or advice. We are called to Obey our Great God and our Savior Jesus Christ and the precious Holy Ghost. We are not called to obey EVERY book that has been written; not even every book by those who claim to be Christians and spokesmen for God. We are called to obey the WORD OF GOD; for it alone carries the approval and authority of God himself. John said that we are not to believe Every spirit for there is a spirit of error just as there is a Spirit of Truth. John told us to “try the spirits, whether they be of God.” He is not telling to “try them out, to experiment with them;” he is telling to Put them to the TEST; try them, test them; prove whether or not they are really of God. Only what aligns with the Revealed Word of God is to be obeyed. Paul told the Galatians that even if an angel came to them and gave them instructions, they were only to obey them IF they agreed with the Word of God they had received.
Yes, we are called to Entire obedience, but also to Exclusive obedience- only what God has spoken and revealed.
C. Exact Obedience.
What so ever he saith unto you, Do IT.
Mary wanted them to Do exactly what he said to do; they were not to change the instructions; they were not to modify them or tamper with them; they were not to think they could improve on them; and they were not to take shortcuts- DO IT. When we know God’s will, we should Do it just like he said. Since we have his revealed Word we should obey it just like he said it. These 3 lessons in obedience will help all of us to make it from earth to heaven. Do you obey entirely? Do you obey Exclusively? Do you obey Exactly?
II. Servant’s Actions.
A. They Obeyed Immediately.
Vs. 7- Jesus said unto them Fill the water pots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.
Wow, there is no time lapse; no delay; no procrastination; no arguments; no questioning; no trying to reason out the WHY of his command. They obeyed immediately.
I have not always obeyed immediately, I admit it; and I believe God has enough knowledge of our human weakness and frailty that he extends great Mercy to us. Still, we must not become self centered; we must not balk and rebel; we need to obey the Lord immediately. When we read it in the Word of God we need to obey it immediately; when we hear it preached from the Word of God we need to obey immediately. Whether you are Young, or Old; Man or Woman; Husband or Wife; Dad, Mom or Child; however God’s Word instructs us we must obey immediately.
B. They Obeyed Completely
“they filled them up to the brim”
Jesus said, “fill them,” and they FILLED them. There was no halfway obedience here; no cutting corners; no looking for loopholes. They obeyed completely. When God says, Just Do It. Do it immediately and do it completely.
C. They Obeyed Progressively.
First Jesus told them to fill the water pots; they did it immediately and completely.
Then he told them to draw out a cupful; and they did it. Then he told them to take it to the master of the feast; and they did it. An initial act of obedience is great; but progressive obedience is Vital. If we cease to obey we are lost; if we fail to continue we are lost.
John 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
Ac 13:43 Paul and Barnabas: persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.
Ac 14:22 Confirmed the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith,
Col 4:2 Continue in prayer,
1Ti 4:16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them:
2Ti 3:14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of,
This Faithful Obedience was followed by a Great Miracle of Power and Provision. Plain, common water was transformed into Fresh and Delicious Wine. There was an abundant supply and the guests testified that it was even better than what they served at the first. God will honor a life of obedience with his presence and his power. Your life will be abundant and better than it ever was before.
Exploits at the End
Intro: The Bible does paint a rather grim picture of the end times; it is sobering for each one of us to consider what the days of the End will be like.
I. Satan’s Furious Attack
The devil is already a strong foe. He is described as a serpent; roaring lion; adversary or enemy; accuser of the brethren; tempter; deceiver; liar. Paul said we are not wrestling with flesh and blood but with principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, and spiritual wickedness in high places. But as we approach the end of time as we know it; the devil unleashes a furious attack and intensifies his efforts.
In Rev 12 the devil is pictured as a Dragon who comes upon the earth with Great Wrath because he realizes that his time is short. In Mat. 24 Jesus described times that would be troubling and unsettling; times of war- famine- earthquakes- disease- and deception. Luke recorded that Jesus said men’s hearts would fail because of Fear.
Satan’s furious attack.
II. Saints Falling Away
Paul said that there would be a great falling away. I know that it refers mostly to the deception of the anti Christ during the tribulation, but the tragedy of Saints falling away has already begun. Jesus said that the Love of many would Wax or Become Cold.
Paul told Timothy that the time would come when some would not accept sound doctrine but would have itching ears and would follow teachers who would say only what they wanted to hear; turning their ears away from the truth to fables instead.
Also Paul warned us that some would depart from the faith and give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.
My what a tragic time; a time of Satan’s furious attacks and a time when some saints fall away.
Still, Daniel declared that the People who do know their God shall be Strong and do Exploits.
There are three important factors here:
“The People who do Know their God...” NOT the people who know ABOUT God but those that KNOW God- He’s THEIR God. The word “know” here is yada in the Hebrew and has the following meanings: to be acquainted with personally; to know of a certainty; to know as a familiar friend; to know intimately.
Do you know About God the Father and About Jesus Christ & About the Holy Ghost? Or do you know them personally; do you know God with certainty and as a familiar friend?
We must KNOW him in a Living, Vibrant Relationship; We must Know Him through Prayer; by attending and worshiping in His House; by Knowledge and Obedience to His Holy Word.
“they shall be Strong” Those who really KNOW their God will be Strong.
They will have spiritual health while others are sickly; they will have vitality while others are weak; they will Stand when others Fall; they will Believe when others Doubt; they will have Courage when others are Cowards; they will have Convictions when others Compromise;
Yes, in the end times the devil will be on the attack; and yes, some will fall away; BUT you can have a Glorious Experience with God and Be Strong in the midst of it all.
An exploit is defined as “a heroic act or deed; an act of courage and power.”
There will be Exploits even At the End. We are to be Thriving- not just Surviving; We are to be Believing and Battling; We are to be Converted and Continuing; We are to be Defending and Prevailing. In both Joel 2 and Acts 2 we read where God promised that in the Last Days he would POUR out his Spirit; there would be Visions, Dreams, Prophecies, & Tongues. So, right in the end times God has a Church bearing the Fruit of the Spirit and manifesting the Gifts of the Spirit.
In Rev 2 & 3 the whole Church Age is represented in 7 periods of time. The last two, Philadelphia and Laodecia, exist simultaneously in the End Times. Laodecia is Lukewarm; spiritually blind, naked and poor; Jesus stands without knocking for admission and telling them to repent.
The other Church, Philadelphia, is the true church that is still on Fire for God; still has strength; has kept God’s Word; and has not denied His Name;
Jesus says to this Church, “I have the key of David and am he that openeth and no man shutteth; I have set before you an Open Door and no man can shut it...”
Right here in the End Times, in the Last Days, not all believers are casualties in this spiritual war; not all churches have been defeated and given up in compromise. There are still those who have Genuine, Vital Experience with God; they are Standing strong in His Power and Might; they have put on the Armor of God, and are Wielding the Sword of the Spirit and Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit. They have their Hands and Voices Lifted in Worship; Their Lives are surrendered to God and His Word; They are Doing Exploits!
There is power in their Prayer; there is power in their holy lifestyle; there is power in their testimony and victory in their soul.
They that Do Know their God shall be Strong and Do Exploits.
Joshua 5:13-15Intro: This is part of a familiar story about Israel conquering Jericho; but the part in this text passage is not as familiar as the rest. However, what happened here is very important to the whole account. Let’s talk about Overcoming your Obstacles.
I. An Intimidating Crisis
It’s pretty easy to just read through the story and not realize what an intimidating crisis this was for the young nation of Israel. When they finally made it into Canaan- their Land of Promise- the first obstacle that met their eyes was the fortified city of Jericho.
Jericho was the largest and most important city of the entire region. Jericho was surrounded by a wall 6 ft. thick; then 12 feet further out there was another wall, 12 feet thick. Both of these walls were 30 feet high; houses were built all along the top of the walls and at the entrance to the city was a set of massive Gates. That is a Challenging Sight, wouldn’t you say? This city presented an intimidating crisis for Joshua and the people of Israel. This was an intimidating crisis, not only because the city was fortified and strong, but also because the people of Israel were so unprepared and unequipped. They had just come through 40 years of struggling through the wilderness while a whole generation of unbelieving adults died and were buried along the way. They had some battles but nothing to prepare them for an Obstacle like this. They did not have the experience nor the equipment to take on Jericho and there must have been a lot of Fear and Doubt in their minds and hearts when they considered the Obstacle in their Way.
Still, the verses I read to you bring us the needed transition from an intimidating crisis to:
II. An Inspiring Commander
Verse 13 states that Joshua was “by Jericho;” we are not told why he was there but I can guess. I think he was out there evaluating the situation again. He was looking again at that fortified city; at those huge walls; at that enormous obstacle in their way; and he no doubt was wondering HOW in the world they would ever conquer that city; (and if he was like us) he was wondering how they would ever inhabit the land of Canaan if they couldn’t overcome this first obstacle.
We so often doubt in stereo; we doubt in the situation we are in Right Now; and that causes us to doubt concerning situations that we aren’t even facing YET, but expect to.
Thank God, when Joshua was worrying and wondering; he had a Divine Visitation
There stood a man with his sword drawn in his hand.
Joshua stepped forward and asked him, are you for us or against us?
The man replied- I am here as the Captain of the Host of the Lord!
What a shock; what a relief. This was an ALLY not an Enemy; This was the Very Son of God appearing in the Old Testament to bring Confidence and Victory to his people.
Joshua fell down and began to worship the Lord; he was told to take his shoes off because the ground was now holy. It hadn’t been holy just a few minutes before; but NOW it was holy because the LORD was there. Oh, what a difference it makes in the time of Crisis when the Captain of the Host of the Lord shows up.
The Lord inspired New Confidence in the heart and mind of Joshua.
He KNEW That everything would be all right now. He hadn’t read it like we have but he knew that no one can really be against us when the Lord is for us.
What about you today? Are you facing an intimidating crisis?
Is your way in life blocked by an Obstacle?
Have you been thinking about it, trying to figure out how you are ever going to overcome it?
If you’ll meet the Lord here today, you can leave with New Confidence.
When you see your obstacle through the eyes of the Lord it won’t look so BIG; it won’t be so intimidating; You’ll feel New Confidence because you’ll realize that you don’t Have to Overcome it Alone!
Joshua not only received New Confidence, he was also given New Commands. He was told what Israel was to do in order to overcome Jericho. The commands were unusual, even ridiculous to the human mind, but when the Lord gives instructions you had better Obey them.
Joshua Submitted to the Lord’s Authority.
He fell down and worshiped Him as Lord; he quickly removed his shoes in humility and honor of the Lord. You are going to have to submit to the Lord’s authority if you are ever going to overcome your Obstacle; Selfishness and Self-will only bring disaster.
Joshua Surrendered to the Lord’s Purpose.
He worshiped the Lord at that moment, but when the time came to DO WHAT HE HAD BEEN TOLD; HE DID IT.
If you refuse to surrender to the LORD’S purpose you are doomed for failure.
Scripture states that ALL things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to HIS purpose.
Submit to the Lord’s authority; Surrender to His purpose and you will overcome your Obstacle. Joshua not only had a Divine Visitation, but he and Israel experienced Divine Victory! (You can also!)