Running the Race

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.  Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.  But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

  • What is right and what is wrong?
    • Right – those things that bring glory to God
    • Wrong – those things that go against the very nature of God’s holiness
    • Gray area?
    • Acquired sin factor – those things taught, believed, culturally identified with wrong, but in and of itself was not wrong.

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.

1 Corinthians 9:19-22 – For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more;  and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law;  to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law;  to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

These verses speak of freedom but are followed by verses 24-27 which emphasize a life of strict discipline.  The Christ walk involves both freedom and discipline.  The goals of Paul’s life and our life are to bring glory and honor to God and bring people to Christ.

So then…glorify God, honor God, and bring someone to the knowledge of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

You might ask yourself, “Can I do this?  Can I participate in this?  Can I go there?  Can I say this?  The Bible states that we are to “abstain from the very appearance of evil.”

Paul compares the Christian life to a race.  Someone who is getting ready to run a marathon will be very careful of their diet, will exercise and get needed rest before the race.  They will not sit up watching movies until the wee hours of the morning and indulge in a huge meal the night before the race.  There is nothing wrong with sitting up late watching movie or indulging in a huge meal in and of itself.  But if they want to win, they discipline their body.

So it is with our Christian walk.  They are things that in and of them self are not wrong, but we must ask our self  will they sidetrack us or someone else?  Will they cause us to be entangled in the cares of this world?

if they hinder us from spending time in God’s Word, in being in fellowship with other Christians, in showing to our community, we need to reject them.

Freedom and discipline are both important.  We can have varied opinions on a lot of things but we must discipline ourselves and also care about how our freedom will affect others.

! Corinthians 10:1-6 – Remember our history, friends, and be warned. All our ancestors were led by the providential Cloud and taken miraculously through the Sea. They went through the waters, in a baptism like ours, as Moses led them from enslaving death to salvation life. They all ate and drank identical food and drink, meals provided daily by God. They drank from the Rock, God’s fountain for them that stayed with them wherever they were. And the Rock was Christ. But just experiencing God’s wonder and grace didn’t seem to mean much—most of them were defeated by temptation during the hard times in the desert, and God was not pleased.

The same thing could happen to us. We must be on guard so that we never get caught up in wanting our own way as they did. And we must not turn our religion into a circus as they did—“First the people partied, then they threw a dance.” We must not be sexually promiscuous—they paid for that, remember, with 23,000 deaths in one day! We must never try to get Christ to serve us instead of us serving him; they tried it, and God launched an epidemic of poisonous snakes. We must be careful not to stir up discontent; discontent destroyed them.  (The Message Bible)

Free is fine, but do not use your freedom to stray, to walk in those areas that could lead you into wrong doing. 

Take care that your freedom does not cause you to rebel.

What is Required?

1 Corinthians 4:1-2

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.

What is a steward?

A steward is one who looks after and manages the household of another. C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity notes that “Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service, you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already.

What is faithfulness? What would you consider to be faithfulness? What margin of error would you allow? Would you require 100% 50%, 10%?

  • If your auto worked 50% of the time, would you consider it faithful?
  • If your spouse was faithful 75% of the time, would you consider them faithful?
  • If your children only loved you when they needed something, how would you feel?
  • If you only received a check half the time, how would you feel?  Would you keep working at that job?
  • What about your church?  If the doctrine changes every week, the teaching flip flopping with the changing wind, would the church be faithful to the Word of God and to you?

Dr. Laura Schlessinger noted that “The path to solid, supportive, healthy relationships, self respect and a quality life starts with the usually painful decision to do the right thing.  Regardless of emotions and temptations, to be fully human and to benefit from life, you must get back to the three C’s –Character, Courage and Conscience

What is faithfulness? – I’m glad you asked!

  • Steadfast in affections, loyal
  • Firm in following the promises made or in doing one’s duty as promised
  • Conscientious
  • True to facts, constant, faithful

Do you waffle on your faithfulness to God?

Hebrews 4:12 – “Let us hold fast to the profession of our faith without wavering; for He is faithful that promised.” 

He is faithful! His love is everlasting.

Hebrews 8:13 – “I am the same, yesterday, today and forever.”

Romans 8:35-39 – “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written: “for Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”  Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

What part of “Thou Shalt Not” did you not understand?

James 1:22 – “Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourself.” 

God is not willing that any should perish, but our sin separates us from God.

Romans 12:1 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

What is your basis for trust?  Will your faithfulness stand the test?  You know that God will meet your needs, answer your prayers, keep you from harm, and heal your body because of his past faithfulness.  What of your past faithfulness to Him?

  • Question:  If God was as faithful to you as you are to Him, where would you be today?

1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 

Considering what Christ has done for me, what kind of person should I be?

The Power of God

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 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.

  • Definition:  Man’s Wisdom – learning more and more about less and less until you know everything about nothing.
  • Example of man’s wisdom:  A statement attributed to the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln:

“I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go.  My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day.”

2 Timothy 3:1-5 – “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”  

1 Corinthians 1:18 – “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

Romans 1:16 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” 

  • We talk about that power but God talks about purity, faithfulness, obedience, prayerfulness (just to name a few).  Forgiving one another, loving our neighbor as our self, mercy.
  • Wanting the power of God in our lives is fine, but the power of God will only come as a result of the manifestation of purity, faithfulness, obedience, prayerfulness.
  • Wanting the power of God in our lives or ministry is very similar to some wanting a gift.  The gifts are the manifestation of the Holy Spirit but they first need love for God and others.  Then the rest follows. 
  • What gift of ministry can God trust you with? 
  • Are you accountable?
  • The power of God does not come without some personal cost:  In Matthew 17:19-21, Jesus told the disciples that it takes prayer and fasting to overcome unbelief in some instances.  Jesus spoke these words upon the return of the 70 disciples sent out by him: 

Luke 10:19 – “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” 

2 Corinthians 11:23-28 – “Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.”

  • How many of these have you been through?  If you cannot make it out to church when it rains, do not expect any special ministry gift from God.
  • Strength/power from God comes by way of prayer, faithfulness, reading His Word, loving your neighbor, helping those in need, giving of time, talent, finances, self.

James 1:27 – “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” 

Micah 6:8 – “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” 

  • What the Word says about God’s power:

Job 26:14 – “Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways, and how small a whisper we hear of Him! But the thunder of His power who can understand?”

Psalm 66:3 – “Say to God, ‘How awesome are Your works!  Through the greatness of Your power your enemies shall submit themselves to You.’”

Zechariah 4:6 – “So he answered and said to me: ‘This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.’”

Romans 1:16 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”

Ephesians 1:15-19 – “Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.”

Ephesians 6:19 – “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”

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.”

2 Peter 1:3-4 – “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” –

God’s Word is Faithful

2 Corinthians 1:18-20

But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No.  For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes.  For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.

One thing is for certain.  God’s Word is faithful.  It does not vary from day to day or hour to hour, season to season or year to year.  His Word is faithful to all generations.  It does not change.  It is the same yesterday, today and forever.

1 John 5:12-15 – He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.  These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.  Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

The promises in His Word establishes, seals us, anoints us and guarantees to us all that He has for us as long as we walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh.  To be carnal minded is opposed to God’s will.

1 John 5:20 – And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

Hebrews 13:8 – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Hebrews 1:12 – Like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed.  But You are the same,

and Your years will not fail.”

The message found in these short passages are positive messages from a positive gospel, for His Word is positive.  To be anything else is to be negative.  There are NO grey areas.  His Word is either positive, forever unchanged or it is totally unreliable and untrue and cannot be depended upon.  Which is it for you?  You have to make up your mind.  If it is not reliable and true, then you might as well give up on your faith.  Either He really died on the cross for “whosoever believeth” or He did not.

There will always be naysayers.  There will always be skeptics and doubters.  The Word of God calls that double minded.

Where is my mind when I dwell on “I can’t”, “it’s impossible,” “there’s no way,” “it can’t happen?”

Philippians 4:8 –Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

This passage tells us to dwell on the positive, the good things in life.

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

Give your doubts to God and believe positive affirmations to what the Word says.

The weather forecast always tells you what the percentage of rain, snow or stormy weather will be for the next day or the next month.  Most people usually consider rain, snow or bad weather as a negative.  We talk about the 40% chance of rain, but what about the 60% chance of sunshine. God’s Word says “as long as the earth remains, there will be summer and winter and spring time and harvest.”  The cycle of weather was created by God for our benefit so are we not grumbling against Him when we complain about the weather. 

The stop light is always 50% green, but we do not call it a “go” light but a “stop light.”

The Old Testament referred to the children of Israel “murmuring” for 40 years in the wilderness.  Do not grumble, but be thankful.  Put a smile on your face and praise God.  All the promises of God are positive.

Farmer Jones drove his big old farm wagon to market with a portion of his bumper crop of potatoes.  Someone complimented him on all the great crop of potatoes he had harvested.  His reply was, “Yeah, but not one rotten one to feed the hogs.”  Some people just like to be negative.

Matthew 21:22 – And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

Ever hear of that old hymn of the church, “Great is Thy Faithfulness?”  His faithfulness is everlasting!

Is It Rain or Shine?

2 Corinthians 1:18-20

But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No.  For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes.  For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.

How do we view our circumstances? Is it rain or shine?

The weather forecast always tells you what the percentage of rain, snow or stormy weather will be for the next day or the next month.  Most people usually consider rain, snow or bad weather as a negative.  We talk about the 40% chance of rain, but what about the 60% chance of sunshine

1 John 5:12-15 – He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.  These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.  Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

The promises in His Word establishes, seals us, anoints us and guarantees to us all that He has for us as long as we walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh.  To be carnal minded is opposed to God’s will.

1 John 5:20 – And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

Hebrews 13:8 – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Hebrews 1:12 – Like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed.  But You are the same, and Your years will not fail.”

The message found in these short passages are positive messages from a positive gospel, for His Word is positive.  To be anything else is to be negative.  There are NO grey areas.  His Word is either positive, forever unchanged or it is totally unreliable and untrue and cannot be depended upon.  Which is it for you?  You have to make up your mind.  If it is not reliable and true, then you might as well give up on your faith.  Either He really died on the cross for “whosoever believeth” or He did not.

There will always be naysayers.  There will always be skeptics and doubters.  The Word of God calls that double minded.

Where is my mind when I dwell on “I can’t”, “it’s impossible,” “there’s no way,” “it can’t happen?”

Philippians 4:8 –Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

This passage tells us to dwell on the positive, the good things in life.

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

Give your doubts to God and believe positive affirmations to what the Word says.

The Old Testament referred to the children of Israel “murmuring” for 40 years in the wilderness.  Do not grumble, but be thankful.  Put a smile on your face and praise God.  All the promises of God are positive.

Farmer Jones drove his big old farm wagon to market with a portion of his bumper crop of potatoes.  Someone complimented him on all the great crop of potatoes he had harvested.  His reply was, “Yeah, but not one rotten one to feed the hogs.” 

Ever hear of that old hymn of the church, “Great is Thy Faithfulness?”  His faithfulness is everlasting!

What Does It Mean to Be a Separate People”

2 Corinthians 6:11-18

O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open.  You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections.  Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open.  Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?  And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?  And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:  “I will dwell in them and walk among them.  I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”  Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.  Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.”  “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

The word in verses 16-18 “akathartos” is translated into English meaning “unclean or foul.”  We get our English word “catharsis” meaning “purification or to cleanse” from this root word.

Have you ever heard that phrase, “There’s something rotten in Denmark.”  I really do not know what that phrase originally meant and am almost afraid to go on a rabbit hunt to find out, but the point I want to make is this.  Sometimes there are things rotten in our lives that God calls unclean or foul, but we excuse it as being a character flaw, misstep, accident, etc.  All demonic, moral and physical uncleanness must be removed from our lives, that is, our body and spirit, if we want the fulfillment of the promises in God’s Word.

2 Samuel 7:14 – I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. 

While this verse was a promise to King David from God.  Since God is no respecter of persons, I think we can apply the principle here to our lives.  God will assume responsibility of parental concern and give Himself to the eternal care of all His children, of all those who walk rightly before Him.  Earthly parents may lack the power and the means to supply all things for their family, but this is not true of God who owns all and rules over all.  However, there are six conditions for us to have this marvelous watch care by God.

  • Be not unequally yoked
  • Come out from the world
  • Be a separate people
  • Touch not those things that are wrong

This seems opposite of Jesus’ command to go into all the world and make disciples.  How do we remain separate from the world and yet be a witness to others?

We need to understand there are three basic meanings in the Bible to the word “world.”

First, there is the created world.  “God made the world and everything in it.”  Acts 17:24

Then there are the inhabitants of the world.  “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

Finally, there is the world system which is headed by Satan and is based on all that is opposed to God and godly lives.  This is the world we are to remain separated from.  “ And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”  Romans 12:2

Jesus prayer just before going to the cross was for all of us.  “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”  John 17:14-16

In our culture today it is easy for Christians to be deceived.  In much of our entertainment and news God is either ignored or Christian beliefs are laughed at.  Sadly even in our political world we now see men being praised and elevated by Christians – men whose lifestyle and actions are opposite of what God’s Word has said.  We must remember that when Satan tempted Jesus he quoted scripture. 

Jesus warned that in the end there was a danger that His followers would be deceived.  “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”  Matthew 24:24

Paul called Satan “an angel of light in 2 Corinthians 11:14. 

But as we seek to remain faithful to God’s Word and not be caught up in the culture around us, we do not separate ourselves from the people.  Remember Jesus ate with sinners and publicans.  Many of the people he associated with were outcasts and not part of the religious crowd.  But His goal in all of these relationships was to show love and point them to Himself. 

In 2 Corinthians 5:20 Paul called us “ambassadors for Christ.”  What is an ambassador?

One definition says:  “A diplomatic agent of the highest rank accredited to a foreign government or sovereign as the resident representative of his or her own government or sovereign or appointed for a special and often temporary diplomatic assignment.”

So to be separate from the world does not mean we act self-righteous like we are better than others.  We should live in the realization that this present culture and time is not our home.  We want to represent our king, our “world” in such a way that they will see something good and wonderful and want that something for themselves. 

Good advice on how to do this:

Colossians 3:12-17 – 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.  But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.  And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

If Anyone Can Hear – Then Listen!

Revelation 13:9

If anyone has an ear, let him hear.

Seven times in Revelation in chapters 2 and 3, we see a similar phrase:  “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the church.”  This command tells us there is something important to notice. 

James 1:19-20 – Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry.  For man’s anger does not promote the righteousness God [wishes and requires.

  • Why do we question instead of listen?
  • We want to know – this is a legitimate reason
  • We want to be heard and/or seen
  • We want to manipulate the topic of discussion to get our point of view across
  • We want to show everyone we know more than others
  • We just want to hog the conversation
  • Why do we judge instead of listen?
  • We feel superior to others (self-righteous)
  • We want to show how good we are
  • We think we know more than others

Matthew 7:1-2 – Do not judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves.  For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you [use to] deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you.

  • Why are we so quick to answer or respond, to “set the record straight,” to make a defense?
  • We think we know it all
  • We think our opinion is more important than others
  • Maybe we are guilty and are uncomfortable with topic

We never want to suppress or discourage questions – genuine questions.  But maybe our questions would be answered if we would but listen.  God gave us one mouth, two ears.  Maybe He was trying to tell us something. 

  • We want God to hear us when we pray

Psalm 5:1 – Listen to my words, O Lord, give heed to my sighing and groaning.

Psalm 17:6 – I have called upon You, O God, for You will hear me; incline Your ear to me and hear my speech.

Psalm 54:2 – Hear my pleading and my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth.

  • If we indeed want God to hear us, we should listen to
  • His Word
  • His commands
  • His ministers
  • There are some very definite commands to the New Testament Church
  • Take up your cross daily
  • Deny yourself
  • Submit one to another
  • Submit to God
  • Before partaking of communion, “examine yourself.”  We spend a lot of time examining everybody else, then we take two minutes examining our self before communion.  We take communion feeling all is okay – then we go back and repeat the cycle all over again.
  • If we go back into sin, turning from God, we are to “repent and do our first works over again.
  • Make restitution when we have failed someone
  • Ask forgiveness when we have offended someone
  • Pay our debts
  • Love one another

These are only a few of the commands in the Word of God, but we need to study His Word and obey His word.

If you can hear, then listen!!!!!!!!

God’s Love is the Key

Mark 10:17-22

Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”  So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.  You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’”  And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.”  Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”  But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

  • In all his righteousness, his obedience to do what was commanded in the Law – what was written, he lacked one thing; he failed to do what was commanded by the spoken word – sell all you have and follow me.  His possessions were worth more than following Jesus Christ.  If he had truly loved others as himself, he would have helped them rather than save it up for his own pleasure.

Luke 6:37-38 – Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”  And He spoke a parable to them: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch?  A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.  And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.

  • Judge not.  Love is the key – not trying to judge another.

Luke 22:14-23 – When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him.  Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”  Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”  And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”  Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.  But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table.  And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!”  Then they began to question among themselves, which of them it was who would do this thing.

  • Last Supper – Jesus did not exclude Judas who He knew would betray Him.  He was eating with His enemy.  He did not exclude Peter who He knew would deny Him. 

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.

I Am Not Ashamed

Mark 8:34-38

When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

1 Corinthians 1:18 – For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

The Gospel – the Word

  • Produces new birth

1 Peter 1:23 – having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.

  • Gives salvation

Ephesians 1:13 – In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.

  • Imparts grace

Acts 20:24 – But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

  • Establishes in the faith

Romans 16:25 – Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began.

  • Generates faith

Romans 10:17 – So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

  • Sets free

John 8:31-36 – Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will be made free’?”  Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.  And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.  Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

  • Nourishes spiritual life

1 Peter 2:2 – as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby.

  • Cleanses the church

Ephesians 5:26 – that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word.

  • Searches the life

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.

  • Makes partakers of Christ

Ephesians 3:6 – that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel.

  • Imparts immortality

2 Timothy 1:10 – but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,

  • Brings peace

Romans 10:15 – And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:  “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!”

  • Gives protection

Ephesians 6:17 – And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

  • Gives fullness of blessings

Romans 15:29 – But I know that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.

Behold I Will Make All Things New

Revelation 21:1-7

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.  Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”  Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”  And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.  He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

When we go to be with the Lord on that great day of His return, what a difference for us!!!

  • We have had trials – God will give us victory
  • We have had sickness – God will give us health
  • We have had sorrow – God will give us joy
  • We have had torment – God will give us peace
  • We have had lack – God will give us plenty
  • We have had hate – God will give us love
  • We have had bondage – God will give us liberty

In Christ, on that day – no more death, sorrow, crying, pain.  These are the “former things.”  They are gone, gone, forever gone, forever passed away. God will dwell with us.  What a thought! 

  • God dwelt with the Israelites in the Holy of Holies
  • God came to dwell with us in bodily form through Jesus
  • Now, God will be with us – and we with Him throughout eternity.  Forever and ever.

It is done! 

The Alpha and Omega – the Beginning and the End – He has accomplished all this for us

  • The fountain of the water of life will be given freely.  I will never thirst again.  My desire will be satisfied.
  • He who overcomes shall inherit all things
  • Nothing will be lacking
  • I will have all things – nothing incomplete
  • It’s mine – The King of Kings calls me His son
  • I will be a joint heir with Jesus Christ

What an incentive to overcome the world!!!!