Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Timeless Truth


The Bible is the Holy Word of God, inerrant in its original text, without compromise in its intent and wholly true in its account. The words were penned by men under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit from one book to another and designed by God to perfectly fit together and tell one story, His-Story … God’s Story – a story of the creation and the redemption of mankind.

The Bible reveals the plan of God for all mankind and gives detailed accounts of man’s departure from that plan. The intent of the Bible is to present the timeless truth: God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

For 4000 years after Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden and brought the curse of sin and death into the earth, God chose covenant men and women to carry the timeless truth of His love. Then, 2000 years ago God sent His Son, Jesus, into a lost world.

Jesus was born of a virgin; He lived a sinless life; He died an atoning death; He carried and buried the sins of mankind in the grave; He was raised to life the 3rd day victorious over sin, death, hell and the grave; He ascended to heaven where He sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for us until His enemies are made to become His footstool; and He is coming again in the heavens with a shout at the last trump, the dead in Christ shall rise first and we which are alive and remain shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and be caught up in the air to meet the Lord. The grave shall have no victory and death shall have no sting. Even so we say, come Lord Jesus now!

Three of the 33½ Jesus lived and ministered in the flesh on the earth was spent by Jesus teaching, preaching and healing the sick. He ministered one on one, He raised up a group of disciples and taught the multitudes as well. His passion and compassion compelled Him to do whatever He could to connect people to His Father, God. Some of His most passion-filled moments were spend with Him praying Himself and for others.

Tonight we are going to look at two places in the scriptures that give us accounts of Jesus teaching others how to connect with God in prayer. The first account is early on in His earthly ministry. Jesus is on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee near the town of Capernaum on a hillside which we have come to know as the Mount of Beattitudes. During His classic Sermon on the Mount discourse Jesus turns the attention of His listeners to prayer. This, He said, is how a person should pray:

Matthew 6  KJV
9 ¶  After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11  Give us this day our daily bread.
12  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
14  For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

·        The Praise aspect of Prayer
·        The Priority aspect of Prayer
·        The Provision aspect of Prayer
·        The Penitent aspect of Prayer
·        The Petition aspect of Prayer

Three years later we find Jesus praying and one of his disciples asked a question:

1 ¶  And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.
2  And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.
3  Give us day by day our daily bread.
4  And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.
5  And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;
6  For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?
7  And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.
8  I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.
9  And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
10  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
11  If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
12  Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
13  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Church Challenge


John 3  KJV
16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

Some Historical Perspectives concerning our Christian faith: (Expound)
·        Jesus was born in the fall around the year 5BC, give or take …
·        He was raised living in the town of Nazareth for over 25 years.
·        Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist when He was 30 years old.
·        He moved to the town of Capernaum and lived by the Sea of Galilee.
·        He preached and taught and healed people in Israel for 3½ years.
·        Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem in the spring about the year AD29.
·        He was buried in a tomb and was raised to life again after 3 days.
·        The Holy Spirit was sent by God at the Feast of Pentecost that year.
·        120 Believers in Christ began witnessing about Jesus in the streets.
·        3000 Jews were saved and the Church in Jerusalem was established.
·        The Church quickly grew to more than 8000 people in the city.
·        The Church began to have some internal growth related struggles.
·        The Romans and the Jews perceived the Church as a threat.
·        Followers of Christ began to be greatly persecuted for their beliefs.
·        Within the first few years a deacon Stephen was stoned and the Apostle James was beheaded and many Church members scattered.
·        A devout Jew, Saul of Tarsus, became a great threat to the future of the Church and was arresting every Jewish Believer he could find.
·        Saul saw a great light and heard the voice of Jesus from heaven and was converted to Christ in about the year AD32, he was 30 years old.
·        Saul name was changed to Paul and he became the Apostle of Christ to the Gentiles.
·        He traveled and established Churches throughout Asia Minor and Europe for 35 years.
·        Paul wrote much of the New Testament and was beheaded by order of the Roman Emperor Nero in about the year AD67 at the age of 65.
·        Peter was also martyred about that same time in Rome as well.
·        During the 1st century AD the Church grew in numbers and strength.
·        The Apostle John was the last of the original 12 Disciples of Christ to die. He lived to near 100 years old and he died in Ephesus.

In every generation throughout history the Church has faced three continuing challenges. Today we face those same challenges which were encountered by the early first century Church fathers in Jerusalem. We must answer them in the same manner as did they. Thankfully we have those written accounts and God’s Word to guide us and give us answers.

The First Challenge:
·        How can we as Believers in Jesus present the Church as a blessing and not as a threat to others?
o   Focus our message on the Good News Gospel … (John 3:17)
o   The Gospel of Jesus Christ is fundamentally a Gospel of love and hope. Our message and faith does not circle the gates of hell expecting God to condemn our enemies and cast them into outer darkness. Rather, the message and hope of the Gospel is that every soul come to the knowledge of the saving grace of God.
§  For this reason we pray for our enemies and those who persecute us.
§  For this reason we live a life of love and forgiveness.
§  For this reason we give our lives to serve those in need.

Matthew 5 KJV
44  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45  That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

The Second Challenge:
·        How can we keep the Church strong and unified?

Acts 2 KJV
42 ¶  And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
o   Basic Discipleship is fundamental to a Functional Family
§  There is something powerful about guidelines
·        Even in the Garden of Eden, a world without sin, there were guidelines
§  There is something powerful about fellowship
·        It is not good that man dwell alone …
§  There is something powerful about eating together
·        Whether it is the Bread of Life – Communion – or –
·        The bread of death, as Eve shared with Adam
·        The family table experience cannot be duplicated …
§  There is something powerful about corporate prayer
·        This is the power Jesus longed for and reached for in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The Third Challenge:
·        How can we take Gospel around the world?
o   The Great Commission Model

Matthew 28
18  And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

John 3  KJV
16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

Each one of us are headed for a test … every generation faces the same challenges. Thank God we know the challenges we will face and thank God we know the answer! 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Final Farewell


2 Corinthians 13 KJV
11  Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

1.     Perfect
1) to render, i.e. to fit, sound, complete
1a) to mend (what has been broken or rent), to repair
1a1) to complete
1b) to fit out, equip, put in order, arrange, adjust
1b1) to fit or frame for one’s self, prepare
1c) ethically: to strengthen, perfect, complete, make one what he ought to be

2.     Be of good comfort
        * This is one of the many works of the Holy Spirit
        * The Parakletos – The Comforter (John 14;15;16)
        * The indication is that God wants us to comfort others …
1) to call to one’s side, call for, summon
2) to address, speak to, (call to, call upon), which may be done in the way of exhortation, entreaty, comfort, instruction, etc.
2a) to admonish, exhort
2b) to beg, entreat, beseech
2b1) to strive to appease by entreaty
2c) to console, to encourage and strengthen by consolation, to comfort
2c1) to receive consolation, be comforted
2d) to encourage, strengthen
2e) exhorting and comforting and encouraging
2f) to instruct, teach

3.     Be of one mind
·        One = (Gk) autos – the same
·        Mind = (Gk) phroneo – thought; opinion; interests; view; judgements
·        An undivided common interest in harmony without division

4.     Live in Peace
1) to make peace
2) to cultivate or keep peace, harmony
3) to be at peace, live in peace

2 Corinthians 13
11  Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

1.   Put your life in order,
2.   Befriend, comfort and encourage others who need,
3.   Don’t champion your own opinion or interests to the point of division,
4.   Cultivate a culture of making, restoring and maintaining peace.

And the God of love and peace shall be with you.

2 Corinthians 13 KJV
12  Greet one another with an holy kiss.
13  All the saints salute you.

14  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Quiet Truth


Have you ever walked around barefooted and stepped on something that stuck the bottom of your foot? Most of the time you immediately know when that happens! Often either the next step or a careful brush of the hand will dislodge it and you feel instant relief. However, at times it buries a little deeper and can take more attention to remove. Why do we feel the compelling need to remove those foreign objects from our body? Because they hurt and we know from experience that if we leave them there, things won’t get better but rather things get worse.

2 Corinthians 12  KJV
7  And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
8  For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
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.
10  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

For centuries Bible scholars have debated Paul’s thorn in the flesh. Some imagined sickness while others conjectured he was small of stature or had a squeaky voice. We simply don’t know what the thorn was but we do know it was a messenger of satan sent by the devil to hinder the witness and work Paul was doing for Jesus. Paul likened this this hindrance to a thorn in his flesh … a foreign object that annoyed him and tried to slow him down. God told Paul that His grace was sufficient and Paul decided to believe God.

Fear is like a foreign object in the life of a Believer – it simply does not belong there and if left to run its course it will fester, get infected, find its way into the bloodstream and spread poison throughout the whole body.

Fear often screams at us and demands that we stop and pay attention just like a thorn sticking in our foot. Fear is like a roaring lion, although it has no teeth, it can make you stop dead in your tracks or take off running and possibly hurt yourself or others. The world has been conditioned to run from the loudest noise but the loudest noise is not always your friend and should seldom determine your direction in life.

Fear can be very deceptive. It can seem so real. Fear wants to control us. Fear screams its demands. Fear masquerades as the truth. However, the truth does not put us into bondage but the truth sets us free.

The truth may remain quietly working without much notice. You see, God’s grace didn’t’ begin when Paul finally decided to seek God. God’s grace had been there all along. Paul was simply unaware. The truth does not have to be loud or demanding to be the truth and the truth is:

1.  God’s grace is sufficient.

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

2.  No weapon formed against me will prosper.

Psalms 138:8  The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.

3.  The Lord will perfect that which concerns me.

Philippians 4:13  I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.

4.  I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.

The Prophet Elijah heard the truth speaking to him and it sounded like a small, quiet voice. Like Elijah, the Apostle Paul found the truth when He sought answers from God instead of allowing the loudest noise lead.

The quiet truth is waiting for you to listen …

Loud Lies


1 Kings 19  KJV
9 ¶  And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?
10  And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
11  And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:
12  And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

·        God was not found in the violent wind of the great tornado. Loud noises and lies masquerade as God and try to look like Him.
·        God was not found in the destructive strength of the earthquake.
·        God was not found in the turmoil of the raging fire.
·        Elijah found his comfort and direction in the still small voice of God.

The lies of the devil loom loud in the ears of the listener masquerading as the voice and the power of God. However, loud lies cannot drown out the quiet and everlasting Truth. God does not have to be loud to be God!

1 Peter 5
6  Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
7  Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
8 ¶  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
9  Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
10  But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
11  To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Verse 10: But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you.

·        Grace
o   The unearned and undeserved favor and ability of God is all we can depend on … we can depend on and trust in nothing else.
o   His grace is sufficient
o   Paul’s thorn (2 Corinthians 12:9)
·        Suffered a while
o   Greek: Suffered a little – small both in time or in degree
§  Time cannot be compared to eternity
§  Degree cannot be compared to the weight of glory
·        Make you perfect
o   Psalms 138:8 The Lord will perfect that which concerns me …
·        Establish
o   2 Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall establish you and keep you from evil.
·        Strengthen
o   Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.
·        Settle
o   Matthew 7:24 "Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of Mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock.

Verse 11: To Him give glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

We begin to hear the still small voice of God when we first decide to humble ourselves before Him and seek His face. That’s when our ears open up to the quiet truth of God’s all powerful word. Lies are like a roaring lion screaming for you to run … stop and listen … you can hear the quiet truth.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Family Sunday Nehushtan


Today we are going to read two short stories from the Bible. The first story is an account of something that happened when Moses and the Children of Israel were wandering in the wilderness about 1400 years before Christ. The second story takes place over 700 years later during the reign of a king named Hezekiah who ruled over Judah and had his palace in the city of Jerusalem.

It will be interesting to see where these two stories intersect and how they fit together to teach us some important truths for today. During our family Bible study this morning we are going to discover:
1.  God’s way is the best way even when it is a hard way.
2.  Acknowledging our need is the first step to recovery.
3.  God’s help is a blessing which may take some time.
4.  The blessings of God should never take the place of God.

The first story:

Numbers 21
4 ¶  And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the souls of the people were very discouraged because of the way.
5  And the people spoke against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loathes this light bread.
6  And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died.
7  Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against you; pray unto the LORD, that He take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
8  And the LORD said unto Moses, Make a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looks upon it, shall live.
9  And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

If the Children of Israel had have used the main road from Egypt to Israel it would have taken them only about 10 days to 2 weeks at most. The well-established trade route would also have afforded known sources of water. Of course, there were some 600,000 men between the ages of 20 and 50 plus the women, children and those who had already retired. The straight-line approach appeared the easiest but it was not the best.

The shorter way would have led them straight through the heart of the land of Edom. Edom was also known in the Bible as Esau the brother of Jacob. God knew these two sides of the family would end up fighting and killing each other or else He would have to decide which one lived and which one died. Esau and Jacob were both the sons of Isaac and God wanted the brothers to live in peace. So, God led the Children of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel, to go all the way around the land of Edom. It was harder and longer but it was after all best for everyone concerned.

When the people began to complain about God and the way Moses was leading them God counted it as sin. The serpents were a manifestation of the wages of sin. These attacks did not come upon the innocent but rather upon the guilty. Many people began to get sick and die of the poison. Thankfully some of the people had the good sense to realize what was happening. They confessed their sins and ask for prayer. Moses prayed and God gave the remedy.

However, it took some time to make a mold and pour a cast of a brass serpent. These things don’t just happen automatically. The serpent was a symbol of sin and the very thing with which the people were plagued. Moses placed the brass serpent on a pole and raised it high in the camp so that whenever a person sinned they could, if they so chose, look upon the serpent and be healed and delivered from death. Only those who identified themselves as sinners in need of salvation were delivered. Looking up at the serpent was a public acknowledgement of the need to be saved.

So far, from the first story today, we have seen how:
1.  God’s way is the best way even when it is a hard way.
2.  Acknowledging our need is the first step to recovery.
3.  God’s help is a blessing which may take some time.

Now for the second story … over 700 years later …

2 Kings 18
1 ¶  Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign.
2  Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Abi, the daughter of Zachariah.
3  And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did.
4  He removed the high places, and broke the images, and cut down the groves, and broke in pieces the brass serpent that Moses had made: for in those days the children of Israel burnt incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.
5  He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him.
6  For he clave to the LORD, and departed not from following him, but kept His commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses.
7  And the LORD was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went…

King Hezekiah was a good king and he did what was right in the sight of the God. Verse 4 says:

4  He removed the high places, and broke the images, and cut down the groves, and broke in pieces the brass serpent that Moses had made: for in those days the children of Israel burnt incense to it: and he called
it Nehushtan.

What does the word Nehushtan mean?

Nehustan = It’s just a piece of brass

That brass serpent had been among the children of Israel for over 700 years and everyone knew the story of how it had healed their forefathers in the wilderness. It had been given to the children of Israel by God in a critical time of need. But it was just a piece of brass. However, the people believed that the brass serpent possessed the power to heal, deliver and answer prayer. They took the blessing of God and misused it.
·        How can God’s blessings be turned to evil? When the blessing of God begins to take the place of God.
·        God is to be worshipped and adored. He is to hold the first and only number one place in our lives.
·        We are to appreciate the blessings of God … not allow the blessings of God to take the place of God.
·        First things first … and God is always and only first!

This brings us to our last point for today:

4.  The blessings of God should never take the place of God.

After all, they’re just blessings! Nothing more than a piece of brass …

Conclusion: When we are in trouble, even trouble we may cause ourselves, we can call on God and He will help us. However, whatever remedy God supplies, it is not meant to dominate or take over our lives or take us farther from Him. We should appreciate every blessing but never allow the blessings of God to take the place of God. I know, sometimes the way seems hard but God knows what is best for everyone concerned. Deliverance may take some time but our first step is to acknowledge our need for His help.

Let’s renew our commitment to put First things First this year:
1.   God
2.   Family
3.   The Church
4.   The World

Everything else is simply Nehustan!