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.

Do You Want to Be Blessed?

James 1:12-14

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.

  • Endure temptation – You will be blessed
  • Do not give into Satan – You will be blessed
  • Do not give into temptation – You will be blessed
  • Live a holy, Godly life – You will be blessed

Ephesians 6:11-13 – Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Matthew 4:4 – But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”

Matthew 4:7 – Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”

Matthew 4:10 – Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”

2 Timothy 2:22-26 – Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

  • Temptations are like a Lay’s potato chip bag…you can’t eat just one!
  • Temptations are like a snowball rolling down a hill…it grows and grows and grows more and more when we let it have its way!
  • Temptations are like a bag of chocolates when you skipped lunch because you have just gone on a diet!
  • Temptations are near impossible to resists…but we are able to resist through the strength which God has given us.  Yea God!
  • Four steps to temptation
    • Enticement
    • Ensnarement
    • Entanglement
    • Enslavement
    • Final aim of Satan – Eternal torment!
  • Seven steps on your Christian journey
    • Encounter – Meet the risen Christ
    • Receive the engrafted Word of God
    • Let the Word be engraved in your heart
    • Be enabled through a relationship with Christ
    • Encourage one another
    • Endeavor to keep the peace with all men
    • Endure to the end
    • Eternal joy with the Lord

Remember:

  • Temptation comes from Satan, your foe, your enemy, your adversary.
  • Satan’s purpose is to pervert, corrupt, steal, kill and destroy.
  • Temptations were experienced by Adam and Eve, David, Christ, Paul the Apostle, and you will experience temptation…but if you do not yield to those temptations you will be blessed.

1 John 4:4 – …greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world!

Seven Tests of Our Walk With God

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.

It is so important that we “rightly divide” God’s Word.  Paul is telling Timothy how important it is to study God’s Word.  It takes effort (be diligent).  We need to be committed to knowing God’s Word.  

Paul commended the Christians in Berea because they did not take what they heard lightly, they studied to see if it was true according to scripture.

Acts 17:11 – These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

In 1 John we are shown seven tests of our walk with God.

  • They all begin with one of two phrases:
  • “If we say”
  • “He that says”
  • It’s not what you think
  • It’s not what you believe
  • It’s not what Grandma taught you
  • It’s not what you see on television
  • It’s not what the church might tell you
  • It’s not what your Sunday School teacher might tell you
  • It’s not what your Pastor may tell you
  • IT’S WHAT “THUS SAYS THE LORD!”
  • It’s what God’s Word states – not one verse out of context but the whole of God’s Word rightly divided.

.

  • False fellowship

1 John 1:6 – If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

2 Corinthians 6:14-16 – 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.”

  • False sanctity

1 John 1:8 – If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

James 3:2 – For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.

  • False righteousness

1 John 1:10 – If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

Romans 3:23 – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

  • False allegiance

1 John 2:4 – He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

John 15:4-7 – Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.  “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

  • False behavior

1 John 2:6 – He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

John 13:15 – For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.

  • False Spirituality

1 John 2:9 – He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now.

1 Corinthians 13:2 – And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

  • False Speech

1 John 4:20 – If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?

James 1:26 – If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.

The Whole Armor of God – Sandals of the Gospel of Peace

Ephesians 6:10-20

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

  • The first thing that comes to mind when we think of sandals and a soldier would be that the two really do not go together.  Sandals do not usually provide a lot of protection to one’s feet.  They can easily slip off and many do not have straps around the back of one’s heel.  But the sandals the Roman soldier were not flimsy sandals.  They were a sign of readiness for marching and to do battle.  The Roman sandals were made with nails that gripped the ground firmly even when the ground sloped or was slippery.  The sign of a Christian soldier is also readiness to go as the Lord directs and be a witness for the Lord.  Wherever the Christian soldier’s feet take him, he/she should be ready to share the gospel that can firmly ground a world reeling under the weight of sin and desperation in a world in much need.

Matthew 28:19-20 – “Go thereforeand make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

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.”

  • An old adage says:  Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead.  Don’t walk in from of me, I may not follow.  Just walk beside me and be my friend.
  • The French Foreign Legion’s motto:  “If I stumble, help me.  If I fall, pick me up.  If I retreat, shoot me.”

I am not advocating that we shoot our brother or sister if they fall into sin.  But we need to realize if we turn back from serving God we are spiritually dead.  No one has shot us, but just the same we are dead.

2 Peter 3:14-18 – “Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.  You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever.”

  • What actually is the gospel of peace?   When you became a Christian, the peace you experienced came as a result of the peace of God that flooded your soul.   That is the peace you are to transmit to others.  The gospel is not witnessed by brow beating,damning someone to hell or shoving the Bible down someone’s throat.  The Gospel is shared best with a healthy dose of humility and a quiet and peaceful spirit.
  • Our principle warfare is not against our circumstances or opposition from people who seem to stand in the way of our progress.  Our true enemy must be identified and then assaulted with the spiritual weapons at our disposal.  Your neighbor, boss, husband, wife, children, mother-in-law are not the reason you may be having a tough time serving the Lord.  Instead of getting upset with them, use your God given authority against the real culprit, the devil. 
  • Satan wants you and me to think that telling others the Good News is a worthless and hopeless task.   He wants you to think the task is just too great and all the negative response are too much to handle.  But God has given us power, along with the command, to charge forward with the message of salvation.
  • Remember the weapons of this spiritual warfare are both defensive and offensive.  We stand firm on the Word of God.   We fight this war on our feet.

Romans 10:14-17 – “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 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!’  But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘LORD, who has believed our report?’  So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

  • Remember this:  It is not your task to make someone repent.  It is only your task to be a witness.  He is the Lord of the harvest and He knows how to reap the grain.   

Isaiah 6:6-8 – “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.’ Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:
‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.’” 
      

Walking in Wisdom

Ephesians 5:15-21

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.

WALK CAREFULLY – The word “circumspectly” means to “walk carefully accurately, sensitively as a person would walk through thorny terrain.” 

  • Foolish man walks unthinking, thoughtless.  He gives little thought to his daily routine – where he should go – what he should do.  If he makes a mistake, he does not matter much to him.  Making mistakes is just the human way of life.
  • Wise man walks carefully.  He knows he is on a mission.  He knows God personally and he knows that he is on earth to show forth the love and the righteousness of God.  Mistakes matter to him.

Galatians 5:16 – “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust (the strong desires) of the flesh.”

Colossians 2:6 – “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established (made firm, secure) in the faith, as you have been taught….”                    

1 John 2:6 – “He who says he abides in Him ought also himself to walk just as He walked.”

USE TIME CAREFULLY

  • Do not waste the days/weeks/months/years God has given us.  We have all been given the same number of hours in a day.  We will give an account to God of how we used them.

Psalm 90:12 – “So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Ecclesiastes 12:1 – “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth; before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them.” 

  • Use the time because the days are evil and the opportunity to do well may not last.
  • Opportunity to witness will pass.
  • Opportunity to speak up will pass.
  • Opportunity to love will pass.
  • Opportunity to work hard will pass.
  • Opportunity to give will pass.

UNDERSTAND GOD’S WILL – To “understand” means to “grasp, perceive, comprehend.”

  • Know God’s Word

John 8:31-21 – “If you abide (take up residence, live in) in My word, you are My disciples indeed.  And you shall know (perceive, understand, come to know, realize) the truth, and the truth shall make you free (liberate, deliver).

2 Timothy 2:15 – “Be diligent (exert oneself, make every effort, strain every nerve) to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

2 Timothy 3:16 – “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”

Psalm 119:9, 11 – “How can a young man (or woman) cleanse his way?  By taking heed according to Your word.  Your word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”

  • Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you.

John 14:26 – “But the Helper (from Greek parakletos means “called to one’s side)”.  The word signifies an intercessor, comforter, helper, advocate, counselor.  An attorney who appears in court in another’s behalf.), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”

John 16:13 – “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will tell you things to come.”

Romans 8:14 – For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”

BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT

  • Leave drunkenness alone.  The Greek here refers to being intoxicated with drink or drugs.  This type of sin is so wrong for the Christian because it leads to other sins of the flesh.

1 Corinthians 6:10 – “Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards…shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

  • Allow the Holy Spirit to fill you.  The infilling of the Holy Spirit is the personal manifestation of Christ to the believer.  It is a consciousness of His presence, of His leadership–moment by moment.  However, this is an automatic experience.  The responsibility of being filled with the Holy Spirit rests with the individual. 
  • The term “be filled” is in the present tense which means “to continually being filled”.  It is not a one time experience.  It is an ongoing life of daily yielding to the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to lead and guide each aspect of our life.

John 14:21 – “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.  And he who loves me will be loved by My Father and I will love him and manifest (to cause to shine to reveal, to presents oneself to the sight of another) Myself to him.

Walk in the Light

Ephesians 5:8-14

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says:  “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

  • The believer is to walk as a child of Light

1 Thessalonians 5:4-6 – “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.  You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.  Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober (self controlled).” 

  • Light bears the things of life – the Fruit of the Spirit.  Just as plant life requires the light to produce, so when we have the light of Jesus Christ in our heart, we should bear fruit.

Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

  • Light changes things – Even a small light in a dark room will brighten the room, will allow you to see.  When we allow the light of God into our lives, we can see the areas in our own life where we need to change.  We can show the world what it means to be a child of God.

Psalm 119:105 – Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Matthew 5:14-16 – You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

  • Light always chases away darkness.  

John 1:5 – And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

  • Light comes from a source – that source is Jesus.  Just as our light comes from the sun, so we will find our source of light in Jesus.

John 8:12 –  Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

In order to obtain that light from Christ, we need to be awake.

Luke 21:34 – But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.

1 Thessalonians 5:4-7 – But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night.

James 1:22-25 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

One Thing I Know

2 Timothy 4:7-8

I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

There are several helpful truths we learn from Paul in this portion of scripture.

  • Finishers focus on the finish line.  Paul never lost sight of the finish line.  He knew that, beyond this short life there is a great life of joy that stretches forever into eternity, and that those who are faithful here will enter that life and get a crown of righteousness.  We have a tendency to forget that the real finish line is not in this life.  That’s the clear truth from the Bible.  The real finish line is after this life is over.  Unless you want to stagger through the gloom of a senseless existence, hold on the promise of the hereafter.  Without that hope, nothing else makes sense.
  • Finishers stay in proper spiritual shape to stay the course.  Do not waste your time arguing over foolish ideas and silly myths and legends.  Spend your time and energy in the exercise of keeping spiritually fit.
    • Are you in proper spiritual shape to stay the course?
    • Are you giving God enough time?  We live in a hurry, hurry life and sometimes God even has trouble getting through to us.  We have instant messaging on our computers, cell phones that we take with us everywhere, even to church.  We have microwaves, two jobs and instant entertainment in our homes.  Somewhere in today’s fast-paced society we must learn to slow down and listen to God and wait on Him.
  • Finishers maintain their passion.  Do you have a passion for serving the Lord Jesus Christ?  Paul had a purpose, a plan, and he maintained his passion.  He had no intention of disappointing the One who had done so much for him.  He knew he was running the race, not just to win a prize, but to bring glory to Christ.  Doing God’s will was his passion!  Is it yours?

Do you know what God’s will is for your life?  The old hymn says:

                                    I know not why God’s wondrous grace

                                    to me he hath made known,

                                    Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love

                                    redeemed me for His own.

                                    But I know whom I have believed

                                    and am persuaded that He is able,

                                    To keep that which I’ve committed

                                    unto Him against that day.

Are you persuaded?  Are you convinced you are in the race to stay?  Are you convinced you are on the right track?  Are you striving toward that goal?  Is that the ONE THING  that is first and foremost in your mind?  Is that the ONE THING that takes priority over all else.  Hang on to it and do not let it go.  Your eternal life depends on it.

  • That ONE THING could be called passion or commitment.
  • That ONE THING could be called drive or commitment.
  • That ONE THING could be called hanging on or commitment.
  • That ONE THING could be called determination or commitment.
  • That ONE THING could be called righteous stubbornness or commitment.
  • That ONE THING could be called hardheadedness or commitment.
  • Whatever that ONE THING is, hide it in your heart and do not let go.  It will get you to the finish line and help you reach the goal.

You probably need to know that finishers do not have an easier race than others.  It is easy for all of us to justify our quitting attitudes with statements like, “If only I had it as easy as so and so, I’d be successful too”  But if you read about the lives of successful people, you will find they did not have it any easier than the rest of us.

Take John Wesley, for instance, one of the greatest preachers of the last millennium.  Here is a single page from his journal:

  • Sunday AM – May 5 – Preached in St Ann’s; was asked not to come back anymore.
  • Sunday PM – May 5 – Preached in St John’s; deacons said, “Get out and stay out.”
  • Sunday AM – May 12 – Preached at St Jude’s; can’t go back there again either.
  • Sunday PM – May 12 – Preached at St George’s; kicked out again.
  • Sunday AM – May 19 – Preached at St Somebody Else’s; deacons called a special meeting and said I couldn’t return.
  • Sunday PM – May 19 – Preached on the street; kicked off the street.
  • Sunday AM – May 26 – Preached out in a meadow; chased out of meadow when a bull was turned loose during the service.
  • Sunday AM – June 2 – Preached out at the edge of town; kicked off the highway.
  • Sunday PM – June 2 – Afternoon service, preached in a pasture; 10,000 people came.

You see, finishers are not folks who do not run into difficulty.  Finishers are folks who run over difficulty.

  • What ONE THING do you think it was that kept John Wesley going on in spite of difficulty?  Whatever it was, it worked.
  • What ONE THING motivates you to come to church?
  • What ONE THING would it take to get you more involved in serving Christ?
  • What ONE THING would the Lord have to do in your life to get your attention and cause you to do more for Him?
  • What ONE THING makes you want to keep going when trouble or opposition arises?
  • What ONE THING makes you keep pressing on when others are ready to quit?

Look at the ONE THING in the following:

Mark 10:21 – 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.”

Luke 10:41-42 – And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Philippians 3:13-14 – Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 27:1-5 – The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?  When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell.  Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident.  One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek:  That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.  For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.