Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Off the Hook!


Genesis 12

1 ¶  Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you.

2  I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.

3  I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

4 ¶  So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.

·        Abraham was 75 years old when God told him he would become the father of many nations.

·        A few years later, maybe 10 …

Genesis 15

1 ¶  After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”

2 ¶  But Abram said, “Lord GOD, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”

3  Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!”

4  And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.”

5  Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”

6  And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.

·        Abraham was now about 85 and Sarah was about 75 and like Zacharias and Elizabeth would 2000 years later, they weren’t even sure they wanted to have a baby and weren’t sure God was able.

o   Maybe it was a promise that passed it’s time.

o   Maybe it was just a little too hard for God.

o   Maybe God forgot about it and now it was too late.

o   Maybe God changed His mind and didn’t tell them.

·        Abraham loved God and respected Him and didn’t want to embarrass Him or put Him on the spot so …

·        Abraham decides maybe he can alter the promise and God’s obligation just a little to let God off the hook.

·        God said no! I don’t need you to let me off the hook. What I promised, I’ll perform!

·        Abraham believed God and God counted it to him for righteousness.

However … another year passes and …

Genesis 16

1 ¶  Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar.

2  So Sarai said to Abram, “See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai.

3  Then Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan.

15 ¶  So Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael.

16  Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.


·        Ishmael, the son of Abraham but a work of the flesh.

·        Abraham believed God but evidently Sarah didn’t.

·        Sarah talked Abraham into getting on another path of life in attempts to remedy her dilemma. How many times have we seen that?

·        Abraham loved his son Ishmael, Sarah didn’t.

·        Abraham was again desirous to let God off the hook … after all, both him and Sarah were getting older and older.

·        By the time we get to the next chapter Abraham is 99 years old and Sarah was 90. It wasn’t looking too hopeful for the promise to come to pass now…

Genesis 17

1 ¶  When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.

2  “And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.”

3  Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying:

4 ¶  “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations.

5  “No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.

6  “I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you.


15 ¶  Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.

16  “And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.”

17  Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”

18  And Abraham said to God, “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!”

19  Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.

20  “And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.

21  “But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.”

The results …

Genesis 21

1 ¶  And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had spoken.

2  For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.

This evening I want to leave us with three considerations:

1.  God does not need us to let Him off the hook.

2.  It is not over until God says it is over.

a.   Not when our body says it’s over

b.   Not when our mind says it’s over

c.    Not when our friends say it is over

d.   Not even when death says it’s over

                                         i.    Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob died without having inherited

                                        ii.    And it is not over yet

                                      iii.    All the promises of God are in Christ, yes and amen!

3.  Have faith in God.

a.   Don’t follow the “nay-sayers”, “fear-mongers”, or the disgruntled group.

b.   You are already in the middle of a miracle … cheerlead God, not the devil.

c.    Don’t believe what the world has to say about anything including

                                         i.    President Trump

                                        ii.    Former Vice President Biden

                                      iii.    The Democrats

                                      iv.    The Republicans

                                       v.    Don’t believe what the world has to say … believe the truth.

                                      vi.    How can you know which voice is which?

1.   The voice of the world is usually

a.   The loudest

b.   The most divisive

c.    The most threatening

d.   It changes stories and sides

2.   The voice of God agrees with His word, will and way.

                                     vii.    Stay right with God …

                                   viii.    God does not need you to let Him off the hook … He will do what He said He will do …

Romans 4

19  And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb.

20  He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God,

21  and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.

22  And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

Sunday, October 25, 2020

A Couple of Crumbs


This morning we will be reading our text from the twelfth chapter of the Gospel of Mark. While you prepare to read along or take notes, allow me to share a little background information on our subject today.

The Temple of God in Jerusalem was a very orderly place arranged with great care and much attention to detail. It was the center of life for those living in and around Jerusalem, as well as the hope of all Israel for generations. King Solomon built the original Temple as a home for the Ark of the Covenant of God according to the pattern given by God to Moses 500 years earlier.

Here is a little quick temple history:

·        King Solomon built the First Temple in Jerusalem about 1000BC

o   This began what is called:

o   The First Temple Period (c. 1000-586 BC)

·        Solomon’s Temple was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar II who also enslaved the Jews and carried them away to Babylon 587 BC.

·        70 years later, 516BC, according to Bible prophecy, the Jews returned home to Jerusalem and erected a modest Temple on the Temple Mount under the leadership of Ezra.

o   This Temple is referred to as Ezra’s Temple

o   Although not opulent and built much smaller than Solomon’s Temple, the erection of Ezra’s Temple officially began the Second Temple Period (c. 516 BC to 70 AD).

·        In the year 20 BC, King Herod the Great began renovating the old Temple that had been built by Ezra. Herod expanded and reconstructed Ezra’s Temple to the same dimensions as Solomon’s Temple. It was marvelous and became known as Herod’s Temple.

o   The construction of Herod’s Temple took 46 years to complete.

o   This is the Temple we find in the New Testament at Jerusalem which was often visited by Jesus and referred to in the Gospels.

o   This is the setting for our message today from Mark 12.

Herod’s Temple had different courtyards where people could gather.

·        Court of the Gentiles – into which everyone could and did come however the Gentiles could go no further than this courtyard.

·        Court of the Women – in which both men and women freely gathered but from which the women could go no further.

o   It is in this court where we find Jesus sitting to observe people in the latter portion of Mark 12.

o   The Court of Women was the place where the Offering Boxes were located.

§  There were 13 offering boxes in all.

§  Each box was designated for a different special offering.

·        There were offering boxes for various free-will offerings … wood and frankincense for example …

·        There were offering boxes for mandatory offerings.

·        Both of these are wonderful subjects for further study.

·        There were offering boxes for silver offerings; gold offerings; and brass offerings. Brass coins were the lesser valued and more common coins.

·        It is understood that the minimum amount which could be placed into the Temple treasury for the poor was two mites made of brass.

o   The word mite basically means crumb.

o   Each mite was equal in weight and value to a half-kernel of parched corn. Two mites or crumbs as they were considered, were the least amount accepted as an offering.

§  The offering boxes had a trumpet-like shaped mouth into which money could be dropped.

§  One of the free-will offering boxes was designated to be used as a receptacle for offerings given to the priests to help the poor.

§  This is where we find Jesus in our text today. He is sitting down opposite the offering box dedicated to receiving alms for the poor.

Mark 12

41 ¶  Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much.

42  Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans.

43  So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury;

44  “for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.”

Here are three truths we will learn from today’s message:

1.  God looks down from heaven on the individual heart of every person. God considers every intent and every act of every person.

Psalms 33

14  From the place of His dwelling He looks On all the inhabitants of the earth;

15  He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.

2.   The poor are not excused from good works. (2 Corinthians 8:2-3 NLT)

a.   Who could blame the widow if she gave nothing or who would not counsel her to take care of her needs first and foremost?

b.   However, no one is so poor they cannot find someone else in greater need. (Proverbs 19:17 … pity on the poor … lends …)

c.    Meeting the need of others, and not in monetary ways only, will open heaven’s window for those who give.

d.   To close our heart of compassion for others in need will dam up the flow of God’s divine goodness in a life.

e.   I am reminded of a poor widow during the days of Elijah.

1 Kings 17:9  “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.”

1.   The continued account reveals a poor woman, not the perhaps anticipated rich woman, gathering sticks so she could prepare a last meal for herself and her son.

2.   She was challenged by the prophet Elijah who presented as nothing more than a dirty homeless bum who was hungry and thirsty. What would you have counseled her to do?

3.   This woman had been commanded by God to provide for Elijah, but she was totally unaware and completely unable.

a.   Yet the Word of Almighty God spoken through the prophet awakened the command of God in her heart and gave her faith to open the window of heaven by giving her little to God’s work. (Malachi 3:10)

b.   By acting in faith she received a miracle and instead of eating the little and dying, she gave a little and lived.

When God wants to bless someone, He often finds a person who needs a blessing to bless them. This way only God gets the glory and everyone else receives the blessing. (Luke 6:38 … shall men give into your bosom …)

3.  Jesus is more impressed with how we give, than He is by how much we give.

2 Corinthians 8:12  For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.

2 Corinthians 9:7  So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

I can imagine two things about the poor widow that impressed Jesus so much and is still impressing us today:

·        She planned to give.

o   She had to save to finally get the required minimum so she could finally participate in giving to the poor when she went to Church.

o   She gave on purpose … she purposed in her heart.

·        I can also imagine she was smiling from ear to ear as she dropped her offering in that box.

o   She did not have to give, she finally got to give!

o   Not only was she proud of herself but …

o   Jesus was also proud of her and …

o   Whoever she ended up helping was proud to get it as well.

Don’t you love a story that has a happy ending? What will be the story of your life?

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

My Favorite Bible Characters And What I Have Learned From Them Part 15 – The Most Important Character in the Bible


The Bible only tells one story … it is the story of redemption. The Old Testament and the New Testament fit together perfectly to reveal God’s goodness and His love toward mankind.

During the past 15 weeks we have enjoyed the study of several of my favorite Bible characters and drawn principles of life from their stories. We have reviewed the lives of saints and sinners alike; priests, prophets, and kings; men and women of faith; both winners and losers from the Old and the New Testaments. Each character provided a wealth of wisdom which we can apply in our lives today.

This evening we are going to conclude this series by discussing what I have learned from the most important character in the Bible. We will begin tonight by reading three individual verses:

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

In order to focus on tonight’s Bible character and what I learned from them I suppose I must reveal who is the most important character in the Bible …

Some might imagine the most important character in the Bible would, of course, be Jesus. However, allow me to offer an alternate perspective. Not to take anything at all away from the Lord of all glory but, in many respects: The Bible is not a book about Jesus … it is a book about you.

I will offer you the thought this evening that Jesus is not the most important character in the Bible, you are. The truth is, the Bible is all about you and what God has done to court your love.

Hebrews 12

13  For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself,

14  saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.”

2 Corinthians 4

15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.

John 12:30  Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake.

Genesis 9:3  “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.

John 14:2  “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

Philippians 1:24  Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.

Were it not for you, all of the ‘yous’ represented in God’s Word, there would be no Bible, no need for one and no story to tell. I know this could present a stretch for some to imagine but, truly, it is about you.

·        When God created Adam and Eve … it was about you.

·        When God saved Noah and his family … it was all about you.

·        When God made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob … it was all about you.

·        When God appeared to Moses in the burning bush … it was all about you.

·        When God called David to be King … it was all about you.

·        When God delivered Daniel from the lion’s den … it was all about you.

·        When God spoke to the prophet’s Joel, Zachariah, and Malachi … it was all about you.

·        When God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary in Nazareth … it was all about you.

·        When Jesus called His 12 Disciples … it was all about you.

·        When they freed Barabbas and crucified the Lord of Glory … it was all about you.

·        When, on the third day, Jesus rose victorious over sin, death, hell, and the grave … it was all about you.

·        When Saul of Tarsus met Jesus on the Road to Damascus … it was all about you.

·        When the elder Apostle John wrote his Gospel and the Book of Revelation … it was all about you.

·        And when Jesus returns on a great white horse to defeat the anti-Christ … it will all be about you. 


You were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world and you are the main character on the heart, on the mind, and in the Word of God.

You should take the Bible personal … it is all about you!

Here are three things I have learned from all of you in the Bible:

1.  You are capable of anything.

a.   You are capable of good. You are capable of evil.

b.   You are capable of pleasing God. You are capable of displeasing God.

c.    You are capable of winning. You are capable of losing.

d.   God has placed both heaven and hell within your grasp.

2.  Your future is more important than your past.

3.  You are worth a lot to God.

a.   Since you are worth the sacrifice of His only Son

                                         i.    You are certainly worth my time and my effort.

                                        ii.    You are worth another chance.

b.   You are valuable to God as both a son and a servant.

                                         i.    Until you come to know Christ it is all about you …

                                        ii.    After you are born again, it is all about the other you’s …