The Eternal Word

John 1:1-5, 14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

Matthew 24:35 – Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

2 Timothy 4:2-4 – Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;  and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

The Word

  • Will meet your need – physical, spiritual, emotional, financial
  • Will convict of sin and cause you to repent
  • Will rise up within you and give you strength in time of need
  • Will set you free
  • Will lighten your load
  • Will take your guilt away
  • Will give you comfort in times of stress, sickness, loneliness
  • Will give you joy

Nehemiah 8:1-12 – Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded Israel.  So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month.  Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.  So Ezra the scribe stood on a platform of wood which they had made for the purpose; and beside him, at his right hand, stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Urijah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah; and at his left hand Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam.  And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up.  And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God.  Then all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.  Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law; and the people stood in their place.  So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.  And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law.  Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.”  And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.

At the time these words were proclaimed, the Israelites had just returned from captivity in Babylon.  Under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah, the people had rebuilt Jerusalem’s ruined walls.  And now they set their signs on reestablishing the temple and restoring the nation.

At this point Nehemiah called a special meeting at the city’s water gate, within Jerusalem’s rebuilt walls.  Some 42,360 Israelite men were on hand for this meeting.  Standing alongside them were 7,300 servants, including 245 singers.  Altogether, about 50,000 people were gathered.

First came the preaching of God’s Word.  Scripture says the people were hungry to hear it.  Ezra brought the Law before the congregation both of men and women and “all that could hear with understanding.”

These people did not need to have God’s Word pushed on them.  A consensus of hunger had developed among them.  They were fully prepared to submit to the authority of God’s Word.  They wanted to be governed by it, to make their lives conform to its truth.

Amazingly, Ezra preached to this crowd for five or six hours, “from the morning until midday.”  Yet no one noticed the time.  “The ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the Law.”  These people were totally captivated by God’s Word.

What an incredible scene.  You simply would not see such an occurrence in any American church today.  Yet, true revival can never take place without this kind of all-consuming hunger for God’s Word.  When God’s people grow weary of hearing His Word preached, a spiritual death begins and the joy of the Lord departs.

You may have heard the phrase “sermon tasters.”  This term is about 200 years old, originating in London during the mid-1800.  At that time, the great preacher, C. H. Spurgeon delivered sermons to 5,000 people every Sunday at the Metropolitan Tabernacle.  Across the city, Joseph Parker also preached anointed messaged.  And other fiery pastors preached throughout London, delivering deep, revelatory, prophetic words.

It became a popular sport among wealthy Londoners to hop in their carriages and race across the city from one church to another, sampling the preaching of these ministers.  Each Monday in Parliament, exclusive meetings were held to discuss which preached delivered the best sermon and who brought forth the deepest revelation.

These gadabouts were dubbed “sermon tasters.”  They always wanted to lay claim to some new spiritual truth or revelation.  But very few practiced what they heard.

At the water gate in Jerusalem, however, there was no eloquent preaching, no sensational sermon.  Ezra preached straight from the Scriptures, reading for hours on end.  As the people stood and listened to God’s Word, they grew excited.

At times Ezra was so overcome by what he read, he stopped to “bless the Lord, the great God.”  The glory of the Lord came down powerfully and everyone raised his hands in praise to God.  “All the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen’ with lifting up their hands.”  The people humbled themselves before God, in brokenness and repentance. 

Please note – this meeting did not include any exciting stories to stir up people’s emotions.  There was no manipulation from the pulpit, no dramatic testimony.  There was not any music as yet.  These people simply had an ear to hear everything God said to them.

Will last forever – God’s Word remains the same.  It is the same today as it was yesterday and will be tomorrow.  Under God, it is the ultimate source of our knowledge of God, His nature and His will.  It is also the ultimate authority in all matters of religion, faith, practice, morals and ethics.  The reliability of the Bible as the Word of God has stood the tests of time and circumstances for thousands of years.

Psalm 119:89 – Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.

Numbers 23:19-20 – God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent.  Has He said, and will He not do?  Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?  Behold, I have received a command to bless; He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it.

The Bible is, in written form, the revelation of the eternal Word of God.  The enduring quality of the Bible as the Word of God, stands in sharp contrast to the mortality of humankind.  Even those who live the longest are in this world but for a short time.  Millennia pass, generation after generation pass, even whole nations pass away, but the Word of God endures forever.

In this continuously changing world, the bible is a pillar of stability.  The Bible is old, but it is not outdated.  It is not a retired set of instructions.  It is not out of circulation.  It is in this modern world where it seems morals are declining every year as much or even more in demand than it has ever been.  It still today contains truths and principles which remain the same for every person, regardless of nationality, for every place around the world and for every generation. 

Wake Up! The Answer is Right in Front of You

Luke 24:13-27

Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem.  And they talked together of all these things which had happened.  So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.  But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.  And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”  Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?”  And He said to them, “What things?”  So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,  and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him.  But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened.  Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us.  When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive.  And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”  Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!  Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?”  And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

Wake up!

The command “Wake Up!” indicates that perhaps someone is not awake yet, is troubled and/or perplexed, or perhaps their mind is not really on what is before them.

Cleopas and a traveling companion, another disciple perhaps his wife, were traveling and a stranger suddenly began to walk with them and talk to them.  Of course, we know the story.  The stranger to them was none other than Jesus who had risen from the grave.

In the context of this story and similar stores in other Scriptures we can readily see that these two traveling the road were not the only ones that did not recognize Jesus after His resurrection.

John 20:14 – Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.

John 21:4 – But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.

The answer is right in front of you

Was Jesus’ appearance or countenance different as He appeared to the disciples, to Mary or to Cleopas and his traveling companion?  Why did they not recognize Him?  What was their problem?  How could it be that those who had been around him, some almost daily for three years, knowing His movements, His speech, His mannerisms not comprehend who He was?

Luke 24:36-38 – Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.”  But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit.  And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?

Luke 24:25 – Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!

When Thomas actually saw Jesus with his own eyes, then he believed

John 20:24-29 – Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.  The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”  So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”  And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!”  Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”  And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”  Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

When Mary heard Jesus call her name, she believed

John 20:14-16 – Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”  She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”  Jesus said to her, “Mary!”  She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).

Wake up!  The answer is right in front of you!

How is it in times of extreme frustration, sorrow, pain, sickness, loneliness, joy, trouble…Jesus is there, working His way and will in our lives, yet we do not see or recognize who He is?

  • Is our faith weak?
  • Are we failing to trust Him?
  • Are we simply ignoring the tug on our heart, the knock on our door?
  • Are we so preoccupied with the cares of this life and the situation at hand that we cannot see Him in our situation?
  • Is our life so hopeless or full of despair that we cannot see Jesus at all?
  • In the sadness and despair of lives, hopes for family, our profession, school, acceptance, meaning and purpose of life, we must remember that Jesus does care. 

Even though we have feelings of hopelessness and despair, Jesus is there.  He said He would not leave us nor forsake us.  He said to not be troubled or afraid.  Wake up!  He is there!

What Are You Seeking?

Luke 24:1-12

Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.  But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb.  Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments.  Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’”  And they remembered His words.  Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.  It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles.  And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them.  But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.

  • He is risen – Hallelujah!
  • He is risen – Hallelujah
  • He is risen – Hallelujah    

The text asks the question, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?  But that question can be changed as we take a closer look.  Why?

Why did redemption for mankind have to come about in such a drastic, horrific scene as the betrayal, the trial, the crucifixion?

Why did the Son of God have to go through such torture, misery and pain?

We find the answer to this question in the words of Jesus as He hung on the cross. 

John 19:30 – So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

“It is finished” – In those words He said, “the work that You have sent me to do has been completed.  The battle for men’s souls is now won.  They do not have to die in their sins any more Father.”

  • “It is finished” – “I have taken upon Myself the sin of the whole world.
  • “It is finished” – The price is paid!
  • “It is finished” – All men and women can have forgiveness.
  • “It is finished” – Even the worst of sinners can know pardon.  They do not have to go on day after day in their sorrow, sin and shame.
  • “It is finished” – Jesus said, “I have done the work You sent me to do. 
  • “It is finished” – There is nothing left undone.

The second question we find in this text is “Why do you seek?”  In other words

  • What are you looking for? 
  • What is it you seek in life? 
  • What brings fulfillment?
  •  What brings true contentment and joy?

The answer to this question is found also in the words of Christ Jesus our Lord.  He answers this question in this way

Matthew 6:33 – But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Isaiah 55:6-7 – Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.

God is what we need to be looking for. 

Jeremiah 29:13 – And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

  • Are we looking in the right place?
  • What do you seek after?
  • What are you looking for?

Christ is the answer!!!!

“Only one life – will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Nothing else ultimately matters.  The risen Christ is the one who can satisfy every need, every longing, and every desire you have ever had, or will ever have.  He and He alone is the answer to what man seeks for.

The question in this test asks, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”  The only thing that will give life, joy and vitality that lasts for more than a fleeting moment is Jesus and the things of God. Since Adam and Eve, mankind has been seeking for life in things that cannot satisfy.

  • Drugs
  • Alcohol
  • Pornography
  • Illicit sex
  • Money
  • Fame

Only one thing can bring true and lasting satisfaction 

  • The risen Christ
  • The one who died on the cross
  • The one who suffered pain
  • The one who gave His life

Why seek the living among the dead?  Make a total commitment to Christ who gave His life that you might live. 

Father Forgive Them – Forgive Who?

Luke 23:34

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

The King of Glory spoke these words from the cross.  These were among some of the last brief statements that He made.  Who exactly was He speaking to?

  • Of course He spoke to the Roman Soldiers.  They were standing there jeering and cursing having just nailed Him to the cross.  Of course it was their job.  They had been commanded to do so.  It was probably not the first crucifixion detail they had been assigned.  But this One was different.  This One claimed to be the Son of God.  He had stated that He would build the temple back in three days if it were destroyed.  The man was mad.  It had taken forty years to build.  They gambled for His clothes at the foot of the cross as they watched Him die.  Was it really the Roman soldiers He spoke of in His prayer to the Father?
  • Maybe, it was the Jewish crowd that He spoke to that was gathered there that day.  They had swarmed around Him as He had healed their sick, their blind and lame, cast out demonic spirits, fed them on occasion, and told them all types of parables and stories of God and His kingdom.  Now they had turned on Him because He did not fulfill their desires of who the Messiah should really be.  They had just recently shouted, “Hosanna, Hail King of the Jews.”  Then they shouted, “Crucify Him.”  Was it really the Jewish crowd He asked His Father to forgive?
  • Or, maybe it was His disciples, especially the ones who had fled and were afraid and in hiding.  Only John was present there with His mother and some other women who had been part of those who had followed Him from town to town and around the countryside.  Peter, especially, was always boasting and speaking all kind of big statements.  He obviously did not really know what he was saying.  Was it His cowardly disciples He asked His Father to forgive?
  • Or, maybe He saw ahead in time and saw that crowd as they were stoning Stephen to death, and especially that Saul of Tarsus character who was standing by as the stones killed this first martyr to His cause.  That crowd that was so full of hatred against Stephen.  Surely that is who He meant that forgiveness for.
  • Perhaps it was further on down in time when the early Christians were martyred in the coliseum of Rome by wild animals and killed by hanging, and torture of all kinds.   Surely their persecutors were included in His statement from the cross.   And on down thru the Inquisition and throughout all the persecution of the Middle Ages.  What about John Hus who was burned alive and all the others who where killed in nearly every country of the world.  Surely His statement was meant for them. 
  • What about all the wars fought in the name of religion, the Crusades, the Protestants against the Catholics and the Catholics against the Protestants?  Surely He had these in mind when He prayed His Father to forgive them.
  • What about the barbarians throughout the world who committed wholesale slaughter of whole groups and nationalities of peoples simply because they were different.  Men like Stalin, Hitler, Idi Amin, and the butchers in Rwanda.  Certainly He was speaking of them.
  • Or maybe He was speaking of all those native tribes and people in other lands, who because of their ignorance, killed missionaries and many other innocent people who were there just to preach to them the good news of salvation.  Surely that is who He meant.
  • Or maybe He looked out to our time and saw you and I when He was there on the Cross.  “Was it for crimes that I have done, He groaned upon the tree.  Amazing pity, grace unknown and love beyond degree.”  I ask myself, “Was it me He was speaking of as He hung there with His life’s blood ebbing out drop by drop”.  When He was there hanging on that Cross, could I have been on His mind?  Was my sin that I commit day by day, year by year without regard to my own eternity what He had in mind as He spoke that day.  Am I so calloused by my constant denial of wrong that I fail to grasp the total sacrifice that was made for me that day?   Surely He was speaking of me from the cross that day. 

Each of us alone can respond to that statement and cry out to Him in forgiveness. 

“Yes Lord, I need your forgiveness.  Yes Lord, I am guilty.  Yes Lord, I repeatedly do the same thing over and over again and I do it because I want to do what I do.  I know better.  I know right from wrong.  I am guilty.  I should have hung on the cross…not you Lord.  Father forgive me for I do know what I do.”

Watchful Believers

Luke 23:34-38

But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.  For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.  And in the daytime He was teaching in the temple, but at night He went out and stayed on the mountain called Olivet. Then early in the morning all the people came to Him in the temple to hear Him.

Also see:  1 Peter 5:1-11; Matthew 26:41; Matthew 24:42; Mark 13:33

Watch  WORDS  

  • James 1:26                              gossip
  • Psalms 15:1-3                         backbiting/speaking truth
  • 1 Samuel 2:3                           arrogant/pride
  • Proverbs 6:16-19                    discord/false witness/lying
  • Titus 1:10-11                           vain talking/deceiver
  • Psalms 13:6                            sing unto the Lord
  • Psalms 100:1-2                       praise & bless Lord/thankful
  • Philippians 4:4                         rejoice always
  • 1 Thess. 5:16-18                     rejoice evermore/pray without ceasing/give thanks
  • James 1:22                             be doers of the Word
  • 1 Peter 4:7-9                           prayerful attitude/hospitable

Watch    ACTIONS 

  • 1 Thess. 5:6-8                         always vigilant/sober/watchful
  • Eccles. 12:13-14                     every act will be judged
  • Romans 8:1-13                       live and walk in the Spirit

Watch THOUGHTS

  • Romans 12:2                           renew your mind
  • Ephesians 4:17-23                  renew your mind
  • Acts 17:28-31                          correct your wrongful thinking
  • James 2:4                               do not be divisive/judging
  • 1 Chron. 28:9                          God knows all your imaginations
  • Psalms 119:30-31                   establish yourself
  • Hebrews 4:12                          the Word is a discerner
  • Isaiah 55:6-11                         our thoughts are not God’s 
  • 1 Peter 5:6-8                           humility
  • 1 Peter 3:4                             inner grace
  • Matthew 26:41            watch & pray/persevere/steadfast
  • James 1:4                               patience
  • Psalms 37:3-5                         trust/commit/delight
  • Matthew 5:3-11                       the Beatitudes – “Be Attitudes”

Watch CHARACTER

  • Proverbs 6:16-18                    wickedness
  • Psalms 15:1-2                         speak the truth
  • Psalms 119:2                          seek the Lord
  • Ezekiel 11:21                          judgment
  • Matthew 15:18-19                   uncleanness
  • Mark 7:21                                uncleanness
  • Isaiah 51:7                              no fear or reproach/law of God
  • Psalms 9:1-2                           sing praise with obedience

Watch HEART

  • John 14:1                                do not be troubled
  • Matthew 6:19-21                     where your treasure is

Is Your Worship From the Heart?

Luke 19:28-40

When He had said this, He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.  And it came to pass, when He drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that He sent two of His disciples,  saying, “Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here.  And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’”  So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them.  But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, “Why are you loosing the colt?”  And they said, “The Lord has need of him.”  Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him.  And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road.  Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying:  “ ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’  Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”  But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”

Sadly by the end of the week, the crowd was calling “Crucify him!”

Is your worship from the heart, or the kind of worship that could go from mass hysteria to mob violence?

We are physical, spiritual, social creatures.

The emotions that we reflect at various times in our lives are a part of these different elements.  When we are happy or depressed, joyous or sad, these emotions are the result of

  • Our physical well being
  • Our psychological outlook
  • Our spiritual relationship with the Creator

In extreme stress due to sickness, loss of a loved one, financial difficulties, marital problems, our entire being – body, soul and spirit or physical, spiritual and social are affected.

Here is the scene – Jesus’ triumphal entry. There were those who knew this Jesus

  • Mary Magdalene
  • A blind man
  • A crippled man
  • A leper
  • Others who had been touched in some way miraculously, wondrously by Jesus
  • Then there were those who only cried out “Hosanna!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” along with those who really knew Him, who really had a relationship with Him, but were expecting a King, an earthly rule, a change from the Roman occupation they were experiencing.  Expecting someone to set them free of Rome and its bondage.  Their cries were “Hosanna”, but what did it really meant?  Was it “What can I get out of this man being King – more money, more prosperity, an easier life style, a better job without Rome breathing down my neck?  Wow!  I could have a much easier life.” 

Just a few days later those who were caught up in the emotional frenzy of the day – Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem – would be equally caught up in the emotional frenzy of the crowd who would cry out, “Crucify him!”

Who do you suppose really loved Jesus, the ones who had experienced a change in their life, their body or those just momentarily caught up in the events of the day?  It was hard to tell probably.  Their voices were all raised; they all shouted praises; it all sounded great. 

But there was a difference.

  • The ones who had really experienced a change in their life, the sinner, Mary Magdalene, the beggar, the lame man, the blind, all now restored – their praise was from the heart.
  • The others, part of the crowd, their emotional high was probably not too different to see, to hear, but there was a difference.  Their cry of “Hosanna” was for selfish reasons, was for what they wanted.

Is it really any different today?

We come into the church; we worship, we sing praises.  For those whose lives have really been touched by the Master, those whose sins have been forgiven, there is praise from the heart – the emotions of the heart, the soul, the spirit from way down deep inside.  Rejoicing, praising and worshiping God for who He is and for what He has done in their life.  Their worship is from the heart.

The others are giving lip service.  There may be emotion, perhaps frenzied, perhaps on the whole appearing not different from others, but theirs is worship from the lips, from being in the church, from perhaps longing or desire.  But their worship leaves them unchanged in their everyday life because there has not been a change in the inward man.

Their cry of praise, of worship could just as easily be cries of (do we dare say “crucify him”) for their life has not been touched by real change.

What kind is your worship?

Stewardship

Luke 12:42

And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season.

  • Stewardship – The act of being a steward
  • Steward – head, chief, captain, one who is in charge of a particular function, an activity, project or job
  • Faithful and wise steward

Luke 12:41-48 – Then Peter said to Him, “Lord, do You speak this parable only to us, or to all people?”  And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season?  Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.  Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has.  But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.  And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.  But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.

What has God given to you?

  • Money
  • Job
  • Land
  • Family
  • Ministry
  • Talent
  • Education

How are you managing those things God has given to you?

  • Are you responsible
  • Are you industrious
  • Are you lazy

Matthew 24:45-46 – Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season?  Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.

Matthew 25:14-30 – For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.  And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.  Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.  And likewise he who had received two gained two more also.  But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.  After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.  “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’  His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’  He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’  His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’  “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.  And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’  “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed.  So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.  Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.  ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.  And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

God expects us to use all He has given to us to advance, promote, to carry on the Gospel message.

Steward of mysteries

1 Corinthians 4:1 – Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.

In every part of our life we are to:

  • Be faithful
  • Always strive to be the best we possibly can in all areas

2 Corinthians 6:4-10 – But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses,  in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings;  by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love,  by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,  by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true;  as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed;  as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

1 Peter 4:10 – As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Use what you have that God has given you – He will bless you as you bless others. Minister to others with the great grace He has given you

Rules to be a good steward

  • Start where you are
  • Use what you have
  • Do all you can

Parable of faithfulness in a steward

Luke 19:12-27 – Therefore He said: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.  So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’  But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’  “And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.  Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’  And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’  And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’  Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’  “Then another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief.  For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’  And he said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow.  Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’  “And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.’  (But they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas.’)  ‘For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.  But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.’”

We are all stewards of what God has given us.  When He returns will He find us faithful?  Have we used what He has blessed us with to further His kingdom?

In that which has been entrusted to you, be faithful.  Whether it is little or much, whether you are old or young, educated or illiterate, rich or poor, be faithful to God so He can use you, bless you and reward you.

Summary:  God has given all of us who are born again much grace that enables us to give to others of His goodness.  Have we done so?  Have we been faithful?

  • Reach out and touch someone
  • Find a need and fix it
  • Find a hurt and heal it
  • Find a soul and lead them to Jesus Christ
  • S – Sincere
  • T – Trustworthy
  • E – Earnest
  • W – Watchful
  • A – Actively involved
  • R – Responsible
  • D – Diligent

Forgiveness

Luke 11:2-4

So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.  Your kingdom come.  Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us day by day our daily bread.  And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.  And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

Forgiveness is not an option

Matthew 6:15 – But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Mark 11:25-26 – And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.

Matthew 5:23-24 – Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

We need to forgive ourselves

Romans 8:1-2; 14-16 – There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

Forgiveness is not a question of how often

Matthew 18:21-22 – Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”  Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

Our example

Colossians 3:12-13 – Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

Jesus, Our Savior

Luke 8:26-49

Then they sailed to the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee. And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!” For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness.  Jesus asked him, saying, “What is your name?”  And he said, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him. And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss.  Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. So they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them. And He permitted them. Then the demons went out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned.  When those who fed them saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country.Then they went out to see what had happened, and came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. They also who had seen it told them by what means he who had been demon-possessed was healed. Then the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. And He got into the boat and returned.  Now the man from whom the demons had departed begged Him that he might be with Him. But Jesus sent him away, saying, Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.”  And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.

Why do we need a Savior?

Evil Spirits – There is only one devil, but there are many evil or unclean spirits or demons.  The New Testament says of them:

  • They are spirits – Matt. 12:43-45
  • They are Satan’s emissaries – Matt. 12:26-27
  • They know their fate is eternal doom.  Matt. 8:29; Luke 8:31
  • They affect man’s health – Matt. 12:22; 17:15-18; Luke 13:16
  • They deceive the world and blind people to Christ – Eph. 2:2
  • They entice men to a false religion of asceticism – 1 Tim. 4:1-3
  • They entice men to depart from the faith – 1 Tim. 4:1
  • They are cast out of people in the name of Jesus Christ – Acts 16:18
  • They shall participate in the final judgment coming on the earth – Rev. 9:1-11, 20

Results of sin – We see by this man’s life what the devil desires to do in our lives, and what sin can do if allowed to run its full and unhindered course.  Many in our society today are like this man – and we see the results in abused children, overflowing prisons, broken homes, hurting people. 

Romans 6:23 – “For the wages (that which is earned) of sin is death.”

  • This man had lost all sense of shame and self-respect.  He was running around naked.
  • This man had lost his friends and family.  He lived alone among the graves.
  • This man was completely under the control of the evil spirit.  He had lost his “right mind” – his sense of true identity.  Notice that when Jesus asked the man what his name was, the demons answered Him. 
  • The demons’ response to Jesus
  • They recognized who He was – “Jesus, Son of the Most High God”
  • They recognized that there was no possibility of a relationship with Jesus – “What have I do to do with You?” or “What have we in common?”
  • They recognized His power over them – “I beg You, do not torment me!”
  • They were forced to obey Him
  • Our proper response to Jesus

We need to recognize who He is.  Jesus Himself told us in John 14:6 – “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  We do not come to the Father based on our good works, on our good intentions.  We do not come to the Father by church membership, water baptism.  We do not come to the Father through Buddha, meditation or any other source but Jesus.  He is not Santa Claus, He is not grandpa, He is not our “good buddy.”  He is – just as the demons recognized – “Jesus, Son of the Most High God.” 

We need to recognize that we cannot maintain a relationship with Him and continue in sin.  Water and oil do not mix. 

Luke 16:13 – No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despite the other.

James 4:4 – Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity (hatred) with God?  Whoever therefore wants to be a friend (a loved one, speaks of a love of emotion and deep friendship) of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Galatians 1:10 – For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

John 14:15 – If you love me, you will keep my commandments…   This statement could also be made – If you do not keep my commandments, you do not love me.

We need to recognize that Jesus has power over the devil and sin.  There can be victory. 

What is a Savior?

Webster’s dictionary defines it as “one that saved from danger or destruction; one who brings salvation.”  “Salvation” is “deliverance from the power and effects of sin; preservation from destruction or failure; deliverance from danger or difficulty.”

The Greek word used in this entire chapter of Luke 8 is sozo.  It shows us the full range of the power of Jesus as Savior.  It shows us all that is meant when we say Jesus is our Savior

The demon-possessed man was freed of evil power that took control of his own rational mind and physical actions.  Verse 36 tells us that he was “healed” – (sozo).  Jesus has the power to set us free from those bondages that seem to control us – habits of the flesh (you can make your own list), wrong attitudes or thoughts in our mind (worry, fear, lust, gossip, hatred, etc.) – those things that seem to control us.  Jesus died to set us free from those bondages. 

John 10:10 – I am come that they might have life and have it more abundantly (superabundance, excessively overflowing).

2 Timothy 1:7 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Sophronismos means “good judgment, disciplined thought patterns, and the ability to understand and make right decisions.  It includes the qualities of self-control and self-discipline.

Philippians 6-8 – Be anxious (merimnao means “a distraction, a preoccupation with things causing anxiety, stress and pressure) for nothing….and the peace of God…will guard (a military term picturing a sentry standing guard) your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 

Paul then lists the things we are to meditate on (think over, reflect on, contemplate, consider)

Luke tells us in verses 40-56 of two physical healings.  One was a women who had been sick for twelve years and had spent her savings on doctors with no results.  In verse 48 Jesus tells the woman she has been “made well ” – (sozo).  The other was a little girl who had died.  In verse 50, Jesus tells the girl’s father that the little girl will be “made well” – (sozo).  In both cases, Jesus referred to the need for them to believe. 

Healing is one of the gifts of the Spirit.  We see in Acts where the Early Church experienced great healings.  James instructs us to call for the elders of the church when we are sick and states that the prayer of faith will bring about physical healing.  This kind of faith is also another one of the gifts of the Spirit.  We need to pray that we will draw close to God so that the gifts of the Spirit may once again operate in our midst. 

We also see in this chapter the parable of the Sower.  This is clearly referring to our spiritual life.  Yet, again in verse 12 he speaks of someone being “saved” – (sozo).  Here we see that one is saved – healed by the Word of God. 

Jesus has come to be our Savior in all areas of our life.  To heal our broken relationship with God; to save our broken personalities and heal us from our bondages; to deliver us from our physical weaknesses and diseases and ultimately to rescue us from death itself at the final resurrection.

What do we do after we accept our Savior?

  • The “saved, healed, delivered” man wanted to be with Jesus.
  • Jesus sent him on a mission.
  • Show what God has done in your life.
  • Go to your own house.

Matthew 5:16 – Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Acts 8:4 – That they were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.

1 Peter 3:`15 – But sanctify (set apart) the Lord God in your hearts and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.

Acts 16:14-15 – …The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household were baptized…

Acts 16:30-31 – And said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved and your house.

Exodus 12:3 – On the tenth of the month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.

Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it. 

“Train up” does not mean just bring a child to church once a week or teach them a memory verse.  It does not mean to just tell them they should be saved and serve God.  It is much more than that.  It carries the idea of a parent investing in a child whatever wisdom, love, time and discipline is needed for that child to become fully committed to God.  It assumes that the parent has the emotional and spiritual maturity to do so.  “In the way he should go” means to take into account the child’s unique personality, gifts and desires.  It also means to train the child to avoid whatever natural tendencies he/she might have that would prevent total commitment to God (a weak will, a lack of discipline, a susceptibility to depression).  This promise means that if a parent takes the time, uses wisdom and love to instruct the child in the way of commitment to God, both by words and by their own example, taking into account the child’s own personality, and then they can be assured the child will stay committed to God as an adult. 

If you want your child to go to church, how often do they see you go to God’s house?  What is your attitude when you go?  “I have to go,” or “I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go unto the house of the Lord.’”

If you want your child to love God’s Word, how often do they see you reading God’s Word?  What is your attitude when you read?  “I have to read,” or “I love learning more about God’s Word.”

If you want your child to worship God, how often do they see you worship God – both at home and at church?  Do they ever see you just stop in the middle of work and sing a song of praise or take time to pray?  Do they ever see you in church entering into worship with all your heart?  What is your attitude about worship?  “Hurry up and get on with it,” or “What a joy to worship our Savior.”

If you want your child to give to God’s work, how often do they see you giving?  What is your attitude about giving?  “I have to tithe,” or “It is a blessing to give to the cause of Christ.”

Have you taken the time to teach your child how to study the Bible, how to look up words they don’t understand, how to do research?  Have you taken the time to teach your child how to pray? 

Receive the Savior – and tell others

Why Use Symbols in Scripture

Luke 8:10

And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that ‘Seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.”

Symbols have been prevalent from the beginning of time.  Our Bible is filled with symbols.  Some we understand and some we do not.  The most recognized symbol in probably all the world is the cross.  Without even thinking we automatically know what it means to us personally and to all mankind as well.

The Book of Revelation is probably filed with more symbols that we do not comprehend than in any other book of the bible.  Quoting from chapter 5 of The Book of Revelation for Dummies

“The simple truth is that almost everyone would have preferred for John to be Captain Obvious, laying out the Revelation of Jesus in as clear a manner as possible.  Understanding the point of the book would be so much easier if specifics such as there were used.  Jesus will be coming back on March 3, 2019.  Be there or be square.  Beware, the Antichrist will be named Gilligan.  His cohort will be known as the Skipper.  The Millennium is a figurative term meant to represent the Super Bowl halftime show.  In other words, instead of Scripture, almost everyone would prefer a glorified legal document that lists out the complete facts of the last days.  After all, with such a document in hand, people wouldn’t need to wrestle with the interpretations.”

So why all the symbolism?  The Bible is filled with symbolism.  Consider the books of Daniel, Ezekiel and Zechariah in particular.  They all use a great amount of imagery.  Imagery is simply a devise used in literature, both sacred and secular.  The sacred in this particular instance is God’s Word.  God, Himself, utilized this literary method when speaking to His prophets in His Word.

Jesus may not have used the same style exactly as John did in Revelation or as Daniel or Ezekiel, but He did speak to his listeners in parables, which are, in effect, symbolic stories meant to define and illustrate truth. 

To illustrate and explain truth, the understanding of the listener must be taken into account.  Remember all of the times the scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus questions about various topics, mostly to trap Him in some blasphemy.  He answered them mostly in words or parables they could not comprehend simply because of the hardness of their hearts.  Other listeners who were spiritually hungry could understand and comprehend what He said to them.  That is why so many of them followed Him and sought out his wisdom.  He spoke their language.

1 Corinthians 2:4-14 – And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.  However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.  But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.  But as it is written:  “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”  But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.  For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.  These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.  But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Acts 17:11 – These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

2 Timothy 2:15 – Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

The symbolism throughout the Bible is there for the hungry to search out and know, simply because of their hunger and desire.  To those wanting to create a controversy or stir up a debate, the truth in God’s Word is hidden from them. 

Seven time in chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation Jesus says “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

It has been said also that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words.”  Symbolism and imagery can provide greater meaning than plain words alone.  Symbolism is also an attention getter.  Teachers of young children in particular use this style of learning.  Stories, symbols, imagery and other literary devises also make for much more interesting story.  For example, instead of saying, “The boy walked down the street,” you might say, “The young red-haired boy walked joyfully down the tree-lined street greeting friends and neighbors with a big smile and wave of the hand.’

Luke 8:10 – And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that ‘Seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.”

Symbols can be utilized to win the lost.  You be a symbol.  Be Christ like!