How Will Your Greet the King?

Mark 1:1-11

Now when they drew near Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples; and He said to them, “Go into the village opposite you; and as soon as you have entered it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has sat. Loose it and bring it.  And if anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it,’ and immediately he will send it here.”  So they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door outside on the street, and they loosed it.  But some of those who stood there said to them, “What are you doing, loosing the colt?”  And they spoke to them just as Jesus had commanded. So they let them go.  Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their clothes on it, and He sat on it.  And many spread their clothes on the road, and others cut down leafy branches from the trees and spread them on the road.  Then those who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:  “Hosanna!  ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’  Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!”  And Jesus went into Jerusalem and into the temple. So when He had looked around at all things, as the hour was already late, He went out to Bethany with the twelve. 

(Also in Matthew 21:1-11; Luke 21:28-40 and John 12:12-19)

  • Hosanna!
  • Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!
  • Blessed is the kingdom of our Father David!
  • Hosanna in the Highest!

Part of the instructions for the Feast of Tabernacles is found in Leviticus 23:40:

And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days.

Branches of palm trees

  • Biblical symbol of rejoicing
  • The willow tree is symbol of sorrow, humiliation, captivity and death

Others who greeted Jesus

  • The two thieves on the cross

Luke 23:39 – Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.”

Luke 23:42 – Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”

  • The little children

Matthew 19:14 – But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

  • Nicodemus

John 3:1-16- This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”

  • The woman of Samaria – with many questions

John 4:25-26 – The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”  Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”

  • Thomas

John 20:25 – 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.”

John 20:28 – And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

  • The centurion

Matthew 8:8The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.

  • Stephen
    • With anticipation
    • With forgiveness

Acts 7:54-60 – When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth.  But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”  Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.  And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”  Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

How will you greet the King?

  • With joy
  • With fear
  • Speechless

What’s Your One Thing

Mark 10:21

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.

This young man was clearly following the teachings of the Law.  Jesus said he only lacked one thing.  Think of that – Jesus looking at your life and saying there was only one thing lacking in your walk with Him.  Just one thing separated this young man from possessing eternal life.  Just one thing. Yet it was something he was not willing to give up – not even for eternal life.  

For him it was his riches.  Perhaps he was afraid if he gave up all he owned he would be homeless and without any way to meet his daily needs.  Perhaps he was proud of all he had achieved and was afraid without his possessions he would be a nobody.  His very identity or sense of worth was in what his possessions.  

Whatever the reason, he was not willing to sell his what he had and give to the poor.  Possibly the rest of that statement of Jesus was too much also.  To take up the cross.  The cross was the symbol of shame and death.  For him, it was too much to ask.

Trusting in our riches, our possessions is a dangerous thing for any of us.  It is hard to trust in riches and rely upon God alone.  Paul warned Timothy of this danger.

1 Timothy 6:9-12 – But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.  But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.  Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

1 Timothy 6:17-19 – Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.  Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,  storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

One thing

  • What is the one thing that may keep you from fully surrendering to God?
  • What is the one thing you are not willing to give up?
  • What is the one thing you treasure over eternal life?

Jesus asked a very important question:

Mark 8:36-37 – “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”

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.

Hearing the Message – What Will You Do?

Mark 4:1-9

And again He began to teach by the sea. And a great multitude was gathered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole multitude was on the land facing the sea. Then He taught them many things by parables, and said to them in His teaching:  “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it. Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away. And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”  And He said to them, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

The Parable – an earthy story with a heavenly meaning.

Mark 4:10-13

But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable.  And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, so that seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand; lest they should turn, and their sins be forgiven them.’”  And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?

Mystery – something previously hidden, but now fully revealed

Mark 4:14-20

The sower sows the word.  And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.  These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.  Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.  But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”

  • Parable explained
  • Parables
  • Disclose truth exactly in the degree which men can accept; hiding it from those who would refuse its truth and imparting it to those who would obey it.
    • Parables serve the double and opposite purpose of revealing and concealing.
    • You would not try to reveal to a child in the same manner as an adult.
  • Three things are required
  • Hear the Word
  • Receive the Word
  • Bring forth fruit
  • Four categories of people who hear and receive
  • Satan steals what was sown in the heart – sown by the wayside
  • There is no root or real commitment in the hearer – stony ground
  • Deceitfulness and cares of this world choke out the Word – sown among thorns
  • Production of good fruit – 30/60 100 percent – good ground

Only one category of the four who hear and receive the Word will bring forth fruit.

For Christians there are several lessons we can take from this parable.

First, we need to be careful that we do not fall into one of the three categories.  Even though we have believed and received the Word of God, we can still be so distracted by our daily lives, our jobs, our responsibilities, our pleasures that we neglect God’s Word. 

How many times have you been listening to a sermon or a Bible lesson when you suddenly found your mind thinking about other things.  Where you will go to eat after service?  What you have to do in the coming week?  Worrying about that bill you have to pay next week?  Even thinking about the upcoming vacation?

There is a lot of false teaching out there today on the internet, on the YouTube that we can be deceived if we do not carefully check the things we hear to see if they agree with God’s Word.

Second lesson is that we are to be bearing good fruit.  There are many ideas of what good fruit means for a Christian.  Simply put:  fruit is basically the outward actions of a Christian that result from the condition of the heart. 

Galatians 5 list some of the conditions the heart should have. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

We cannot on our own produce that kind of life.  It is only as we maintain a relationship with Jesus, that we will produce that good fruit.  Bearing fruit in the Christian life requires abiding in Jesus.

John 15:4-5 – Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Bearing fruit in the Christian life requires abiding in Jesus.

What Do You Have?

Mark 6:32-44

And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.  So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.  But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him.  And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.  When the day was now far spent, His disciples came to Him and said, “This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late.  Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.”  But He answered and said to them, “You give them something to eat.”  And they said to Him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?”  But He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.”  And when they found out they said, “Five, and two fish.”  Then He commanded them to make them all sit down in groups on the green grass.  So they sat down in ranks, in hundreds and in fifties.  And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fish He divided among them all.  So they all ate and were filled.  And they took up twelve baskets full of fragments and of the fish.  Now those who had eaten the loaves were about five thousand men.

The disciples had just returned from a time of sharing the gospel as Jesus had sent them out in pairs to tell the good news.  They were probably excited about this time, but also tired.  Jesus called them to find a deserted place and rest awhile.

Jesus recognized that there is a time to work but also a time to rest.  Way back in the beginning, in creation, we need this principle of the need to rest.  After six days of creation, Genesis tells us that God rested on the seventh day.  We know God did not need to rest, but He was setting an example, a guide to us.  Sometimes we can be so busy “doing” that we do not take the time we need to “be.” 

The multitudes saw them leaving and hurried to join them.  To the disciples, this was probably a cause of stress and they may well have resented them.  But Jesus had compassion. 

Interesting that when he had compassion his first response was not to feed them, to heal them, but to teach them.  For many following Jesus was just to get their physical needs met, but Jesus wanted more for them than that.  Today, how much of our prayer time is spent on our physical needs rather than taking time to just draw closer to Jesus? 

Although His first priority was for their spiritual needs, He also recognized the physical need and wanted to meet that. 

The disciples, despite all the miracles they had seen Jesus do and despite their successful preaching tour they had just returned from, still did not truly recognize what Jesus could do.  They questioned how they could feed the multitude. 

Jesus told his disciples to give them something to eat.  But they just did not “get it.”  They felt they had nothing to give.  Their response was to send them away empty.  How many times does Jesus call on us to minister to someone but our response is that we cannot do anything?

Jesus told them to go and see what food they did have.  God always begins with what we do have.  I think of something I often told my church when I was a pastor.

  1. Start where you are
  2. Use what you have
  3. Do all you can

They ate until they were filled.  Afterwards, there was food left over.  If anyone went away hungry, it was their fault for not taking what they needed.  The Early Church clearly remember this great miracle and took comfort that Jesus would meet their needs.  Much of early Christian art, especially on the walls of the catacombs, show pictures of loaves and fishes. 

Jesus is our example of how we should respond to those in need, not the disciples who wanted to send them away.  But as Jesus, taking what we have and doing what we can knowing that with Jesus’ help we can much more than we think possible.

James 2:14-17 – What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?  If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?  Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

What If I Doubt?

Mark 16::14-18

“The Great Commission” – Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.  And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.  And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Before sending out the disciples to share the Gospel, Jesus rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart.  In order to be obedient they needed to have a firm belief in the resurrection of Jesus. 

In Scripture the heart is used often to describe the whole person – the place where a person thinks, feels, and plans.  To have a heart that is hard is to ignore, reject, refuse to believe in God’s Word. 

Unbelief hinders obedience.  Jesus is not limited by unbelief as some teach. They refer to the scripture where it says He could not do mighty works in Nazareth, his hometown, because of their unbelief.

 Yet we see many times when Jesus perform miracles in spite of lack of faith. 

Martha lacked belief that Jesus could raise Lazarus, yet he did.  We see one father who brought his son to Jesus for healing and asked for help with his unbelief. 

Mark 9:23-24 – Jesus said to him, “If you believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”  Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Jesus did not mighty works in Nazareth not because their unbelief weakened or destroyed His power.  One of the main purposes of Jesus’ miracles was to bear witness to His claim to be the Son of God.  Since the people of Nazareth had rejected him, there was nothing He could do to make them believe.  They had hardened their hearts against the very revelation they needed. 

John Calvin says, ” Unbelievers, as far as lies in their power, bind up the hands of God by their obstinacy; not that God is overcome, as if he were an inferior, but because they do not permit him to display his power.”

 So when one refuses to even entertain the thought of a miracle or of the claims of Jesus to be the Son of God, one has hardened their heart.

I am so thankful that while Jesus rebuked them, He clearly reached out to them and gave them proof of His resurrection.

First, to Thomas.

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.”

To many others

1 Corinthians 15:5-6 – He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.

They clearly saw and believed Jesus was alive!  And thankfully they were then able to obey the Great Commission so that today we have the truth.

So what do you do if you have sometimes have doubt?  Do as the father did who brought his child to God.  Confess you struggle to believe.  Be honest with God.  This idea that we cannot express doubt or God will not hear us is so wrong.

He knows our heart, He knows when we doubt.

Be honest and cry out to Him to help you.  

Do not let moments of doubt keep you from reaching out to Him.  He is able to handle your questions.  

Courtship With God

Revelation 2:1-5

To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:  “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.  Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.

  • Courtship with spouse
  • Starts out with ‘There’s nothing, there’s nobody else but you darling.  Then, there’s Monday night football, fishing and hunting with the guys, shopping trips with the girls, etc. etc.
  • Over a long period of time, the church in Ephesus had steadfastly refused to tolerate sin among its members.  This was not easy in a city noted for the immoral sexual practices associated with the worship of the goddess Diana.  We also are living in times of widespread sin and sexual immortality.  It is popular to be open-minded toward many types of sin, calling them personal choices or alternative life-styles.  But when the body of believers begins to tolerate sin in the church, they are lowering the standards and compromising the church’s witness.  Remember, God’s approval is infinitely more important than the world’s.
  • Working at our relationship
  • Budgets, growing families, time pressures.  At times we lose it; we have no more patience, no more love, the war is on.
  • Christ commends the church at Ephesus for working hard, being patient, resisting sin, critically examining the claims of false apostle and suffering patiently without quitting.  Every church should have these characteristics.  But these good efforts should spring from our love for Jesus Christ  Both Jesus and John stressed brotherly love as an authentic proof of the gospel.   In the battle for maintaining sound teaching and moral and doctrinal purity, it is possible to lose a charitable spirit.  Prolonged conflict can weaken or destroy our patience and affection.  In defending the faith, guard against any structure or rigidity that weakens love.

John 13:34-35 – A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

1 John 3:18-19 – My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.  And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.

  • Honeymoon is over
  • First love is gone.
  • Paul had once commended the church at Ephesus for its love for God and others, but many of the church founders had died, and the second-generation believers had lost their zeal for God.  They were a busy church, the members did much to benefit themselves and the community, but they were acting for the wrong reasons.  Work for God must be motivated by love for God or it will not last.
  • Settling in
  • We lose sight of our initial excitement.  There is no more enthusiasm.  (Meat loaf again.)
  • Just as when a man and woman fall in love, so also new believers rejoice at their new-found forgiveness.  But when we lose sight of the seriousness of sin, we begin to lose the thrill of our forgiveness.  In the first steps of your Christian life, you may have had enthusiasm without knowledge.  Do you now have knowledge without enthusiasm?  Both are necessary if we are to keep love for God intense and untarnished.  Do you love God with the same fervor as when you were a new Christian?

2 Peter 1:5-9 – But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.  For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

Hebrews 10:32-35 – But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings:  partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven.  Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.

  • Don’t give up
  • He/She still loves you.  After an argument, make up. 
  • For Jesus to “remove your lampstand from its place” would mean the church would cease to be an effective church.  Just as the seven-branched candlestick in the temple gave light for the priests to see, the churches were to give light to their surrounding communities.  But Jesus warned them that their lights could go out.  In fact, Jesus Himself would extinguish any light that did not fulfill His purpose.  The church had to repent of its sins.

Are You Listening?

Revelation 2: 7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

  • In Revelation chapters 2 and 3, the phrase “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’  The Word of God is very clear…we must hear and act on the Word.

A.W. Tozer “Of God and Men” –  “We must insist on New Testament sainthood for our converts, nothing less, and we must lead them into a state of heart purity, firey love, separation from the world, and poured-out devotion to the person of Christ.  Only in this way can the low level of spirituality be raised again to where it should be in the light of the Scriptures and of eternal values.”

  • Parable of the Sower

Matthew 13:19-23 – -When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.  This is he who received seed by the wayside.  But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; -yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for awhile.  For when tribulation, or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.  Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.  But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

James 1:22 – Be doers of the word and not hearers only.

James 4:17 – Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

John 13:17 – If you know these things, blessed are you it you do them.

Luke 6:46 – But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?

Walk in the Spirit

Revelation 1:9-11

I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.  I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”

  • John was imprisoned on the island of Patmos (Roman Empire’s equivalent to Alcatraz). He was imprisoned for teaching/preaching Christ.
  • John was “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.”
  • The Lord’s Day was the Sabbath.  For the Jewish believer that would be from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday.  For the Gentile believer that would be Sunday.  Which day does not matter. What matters was observing a day set aside for rest and worship of God. 
  • What does it mean to “be in the Spirit”
  • Some think it is experiencing great emotions, crying, speaking in tongues, laughing
    • Some think it is being so mesmerized with God that you are oblivious to those about you
    • Some think it is working, witnessing, worshipping in the divine flow of the anointing of the power of the Holy Spirit with power and victory over sin while at the same time doing what we need to do in this life – working, going to school, exercising, mowing the lawn.

John was obviously involved in worship on the Sabbath.  Obviously, he was in the Spirit to a point of probably being unaware of his surroundings because of the great prophecy he wrote, the great revelation that was given to him.

  • Walk in the Spirit

We can only walk in the Spirit when we are free from indwelling sin, when we are totally yielded to God’s will.  We must be consecrated to God in our mind, our purpose, our entire life.  To be carnally minded is death; to be spiritually minded is life.  You cannot be committed to the ways of the world and be spiritually minded at the same time.      

Romans 8:1-19 – 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 what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.  So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.  And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.  Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.  For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  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, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.

James 3:10-12 – Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.  Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?  Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.

Isaiah 6:1-7 – In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.  Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.  And one cried to another and said:  “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!”  And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.  So I said:  “Woe is me, for I am undone!  Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King,

The Lord of hosts.”  Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar.  And he touched my mouth with it, and said:  “Behold, this has touched your lips;

Your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.”

Only when our sins have been purged, only when our iniquity is taken away by the power of the Holy Spirit, only then can we “walk in the Spirit” and be called to serve the Lord.  To walk in the Spirit, we need to make David’s prayer ours also.

Psalm 51:10 – Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.