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.

Stretch Out Your Hand

Mark 3:1-6

And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand.  So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him.  And He said to the man who had the withered hand, “Step forward.”  Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent.  And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other.  Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.

Also in Matthew 12:9-14 and Luke 6:6-11

Jesus knew that He was being watched by the religious leaders trying to find an excuse to harm Him.  But His compassion for the man was greater than any concern for Himself.

He gave a command to the man.  First, he called him to step forward.  Step out from the crowd.  This would draw attention to him – perhaps not something he wanted.  Then Jesus told him to stretch out his hand.

This was a direct instruction from Jesus.  Not “If you want to.”  “If you would like to.”  Of course the man had the choice of obeying or not.  But if he was to gain his healing, he had to do what Jesus said.  By stretching out his hand he was acting in:

  • Obedience – Do what God has told you to do.  Do what is right.
  • Faith – Believe God will do what He said he would do.

Believing and obedience go hand in hand.  To truly believe is to obey.  The man could have believed that Jesus could heal him, but it was only as he obeyed and stepped forward from the crowd, then stretched out his hand that healing came.

What is it Jesus is calling you to do?  Would it require you to “step away from the crowd”, to open yourself to possible ridicule or rejection by others?  Would it require you to take belief to the final step of obedience?

John 14:15 – If you love me, obey my commandments.

We can take this idea of stretching out our hand a further step.  We do not know what this man did after Jesus healed him, but we hope that we began to share the good news with others.

That is what Jesus has commanded us to do – to stretch out our hand and share the love we have received from Him.

John 15:12-13 – This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

  • Stretch out your hand – Rescue and Save –

Jesus told us that we were to be sent just as He was.

John 20:21 – So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

  • How was Jesus sent?
    • In obedience
    • In faith
    • In love and compassion
    • To rescue and save

We can take this idea of stretching out our hand a further step.  We do not know what this man did after Jesus healed him, but we hope that we began to share the good news with others

Who do you know that could use a helping hand today? 

  • A word of encouragement
  • A meal
  • A card saying “thank you”
  • An offer to babysit and give parents a date night
  • Just a smile

Too often we tell others “I’m praying for you” which is good, but let us put legs on those prayers.

1 John 3:16-18 – This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

James 2:14-17 – What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, 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.  

Believe in the Gospel

Mark 1:15

Mark 1:15 – and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

  • Repent – The word “repent” in the Bible means more than being sorry.  It means “a turning around.”  It involves both turning from our old way of living and turning to God.  Jesus began His ministry with this call to repent.  The reason for this need of repentance (change of living) is that Jesus has come to usher in the Kingdom of God.  A total change of purpose and living would be required to be a part of this kingdom of God. 
  • In order to really repent and be a part of God’s kingdom required belief.  A total and complete confidence in the message of Jesus Christ.  The story of Charles Blondin illustrates what true belief in Jesus Christ is all about.  The story is told that Blondin walked 160 feet above the falls between Canada and the United States.  After crossing to the United States he then returned to Canada pushing a wheelbarrow while blindfolded.  It is said that he asked his audience “Do you beliee I can carry a person across in this wheelbarrow?”  The crowd enthusiacally shouted “Yes!”  Blondin then asked “Who will get in the wheelbarrow?”  Nobody was willing to do that.  Their faith was not total and complete.  Jesus is asking us to “get in the wheelbarrow” and trust Him to take us safely across.
  • Jesus declared that the time was fulfilled.  The perfect time for the Son of God to come..

Galatians 4:4-7 – But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,  to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”  Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

  • There are several reasons we might see that Jesus came at this particular time in history.  At that time there was an international language that all the citizens of the empire spoke – Greek.  The Roman Empire had created a great road system and there was peace making travel easy.  Although these are reasons that we might think made this the “fullness of time” ultimately we cannot know for certain why God felt this was the time.
  • God sent Jesus for one purpose – to make us his sons and daughters and to thereby have a relationship with Him.

BUT

  • We must accept that redemption
  • We must believe in the Gospel – the Good News
  • We must believe and receive

Galatians 3:26 – For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

  • Repent and believe in the Gospel
    • Repent – to change one’s way of living; to confess wrong; to change one’s mind or purpose – Turning from sin – turning to God
    • Believe – commit; entrust; agree; obey; persuade; trust; yield

2 Timothy 1:12 – For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

The Whole Armor of God – Shield of Faith

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 word “shield” does not mean the small round shield which the soldier held in his hand to fight off the enemy.  That is called a buckler.  The shield is a large oblong shape worn by the soldier to protect his body from the fiery darts thrown by the enemy.  The darts were dipped in pitch or some other combustible material and set afire.  When they struck, they served the purpose of small incendiary bombs.   Satan has his fiery darts—those things that cause the believer…
  • to question his salvation
  • to question his call
  • to question if he is worthy
  • to question if he can really serve
  • to question if the project can really be done
  • to question, doubt, and wonder
  • to become discouraged, depressed, and defeated
  • to burn with passion and desire.
  • Such fiery darts often assault the mind—one doubting and evil thought after the other—fighting against the will—struggling to get hold of the mind and subject it to doubt or evil.
  • However, the sign of the Christian soldier is that of the shield of faith.  Faith in God—a complete and perfect trust that God will quench the darts of doubt and evil that attack him, that God will help him control his mind and conquer the evil doubts and thoughts.  The Christian soldier’s consciousness of God’s presence is so great that God’s presence itself becomes his shield and defender.

Genesis 15:1 – “After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”

Psalm 3:3-4 – “But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head.  I cried to the LORD with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill.  Selah”
 

Psalm 84:9 – “O God, behold our shield, and look upon the face of Your anointed.”
         

Psalm 84:11 – “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

Romans 10:17 – “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”

Hebrews 11:1 – “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Romans 1:17 – “The just shall live by faith.”

2 Corinthians 5:7 – “We walk by faith, not by sight.”

2 Timothy 4:7-8 – “I have fought the 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.”

  • Hebrews 11 has much to say about faith.   In Hebrews 11:6 we are told “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
  • After hearing of all the great men and women of faith in chapter 11, Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Endure to the End – Enter into His Rest

Hebrews 4:11-15

Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. 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. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.  Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Be diligent, keep the faith, hold steady, keep on keeping on.  The end is in sight, keep your eyes on the goal, the race is almost run.  Hear what God is speaking to us through His Word.  Note the signs of the times (but the real signs are as stated in God’s Word

Speculation is constantly going on about the end of the world.

  • Planets lining up – What does the Word say?
  • False prophets saying this and that – What does the Word say?
  • Apocalyptic (end time) teachers and groups and movies – What does the Word say?

Be diligent, careful, watch out, be on guard.  The Bible is our sole source.  Any other source must line up with the Word of God.  “You know not the day nor the hour.”

Matthew 24 gives us Jesus words to His disciples about the end time.

  • Verses 3-14 – Signs of the time and the end of the Age.
  • Verses 15-28 – The Great Tribulation
  • Verses 29-31 – The Coming of the Son of Man
  • Verses 32-35 – Parable of the Fig Tree
  • Verses 36 – No one knows the day nor the hour
  • Verses 37 – As it was in the days of Noah (eating, drinking, marriage, violence)
  • Verse 44 – KEY – Be ready!!!

Many of the Scriptures telling about end times (Matthew 24, Daniel, Revelation) are difficult to understand.  They are open to a lot of various interpretations.  In all of the Scriptures we can read, it comes down to this final analysis.

  • Be watchful – Be careful what you get involved in that you are not totally consumed and lose sight of the time and lose your vision.
  • Be holy – “Be holy as I am holy.”  No clothesline doctrine, no manmade rituals, no rules.  Just ask yourself “Should I or would I do this, go there, say this if Jesus Christ Himself was with me.  Well, he is.
  • Be ready – Be forgiving, be without sin, be like Christ. 
  • Have the fruit of the Spirit in your life

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.

  • Put on the whole armor of God.

Ephesians 6:10-14 – 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

Note:

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

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

The Word of the Spirit – the Word of God –

  • Divides, cuts away the truth from the lies (Beware of half-truths, you may have heard the wrong half)
  • Divides, cuts away the important from the trivial
  • Divides, cuts away the specific requirements from the optional
  • Divides, cuts away the “must do” from the “can do”

For Me To Live is Christ

Philippians 1:12-26

But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.  Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.  For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again

THE WITNESS OF THE BELIEVER

  • The Example of Paul, the Apostle
  • Circumstances were bleak; he was a prisoner in Rome.  The circumstances were immediate, not something in the future.  He waited for trial, day after day, not knowing the outcome.  For over two years he waited.  One of the most difficult of all circumstances is knowing the problem is there, but not being able to do anything about it except to wait and wait for the final resolution.   
  • Note the following:
  • in spite of waiting trial,
    • in spite of being under house arrest,
    • in spite of false accusations,   
    • in spite of trumped up charges,
    • in spite of not having his freedom;
    • Paul did not grumble or complain,
    • he did not question God and wonder why,
    • he did not whine and murmur,
    • he did not fall to pieces,
    • he did not curse God and give up his faith.
  • Paul, instead, used this two years, with a dark cloud hanging over his head, to spread the Gospel.
  • One of the saddest verses of Scripture is found in Jeremiah 8:20 – “The harvest is past, the summer has ended and the gathering of fruit is over, yet we are not saved!”  Paul used the time that he had to the best of his ability.  He could not go to distant cities and spread the Gospel message.  He could not travel land and sea as he had done before.  He could not because of his imprisonment but yet he used the time he had to do all that he could.  He realized that he might not have much time left to do the work to which he was called.

Matthew 9:37-38 – “Then He (Jesus) said to His disciples. The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

Mark 4:26-28 – “And He said, ‘The Kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how.  For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head.  But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.’” 

Luke 10:2  – “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months, and then comes the harvest?  Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!’”

  • Perhaps, we should follow Paul’s example.  Maybe we could use the short three phrase statement that in times past we have mentioned.
  • START WHERE YOU ARE!
  • USE WHAT YOU HAVE!
  • DO ALL YOU CAN! 
  • If you have not yet done what you are to do as a Christian, witness, invite, and tell others of His great love, START WHERE YOU ARE.
  • If you don’t seem to have any strength, no power, no energy, no talents, no nerve, USE WHAT YOU HAVE.  As you begin to exercise the little bit of ability that you do have, God will give more ability as you begin to do for Him.
  • Then, you must DO ALL YOU CAN for the Lord, everywhere, every time, anyway that you can do. 

Acts 28:30-31 – “And Paul lived two years in his own house, (he was under house arrest), and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.” 

Mark 16:15 – “And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” 

John 20:21 – “Then Jesus said to them again Peace be unto you: as my Father has sent me, even so send I you.” 

1 Peter 3:15 – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” 

OUR STATEMENT OF FAITH BEFORE THE WORLD

  • Are we positive, upbeat, joyful, at peace, or are we negative, down, sad, in turmoil?   In our behavior, actions, lifestyle, are we at peace with ourselves or are we always in a dither?  When we are conducting ourselves in any position of authority, small or great, do we come across to others as God’s great gift to humanity in our know-it-all style or is there a prized possession of humility at work?
  • Paul stated “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  We all know of course what the last portion means.  It will definitely be our gain when we go to be with Christ.  No more problems, heart-ache, pain and trials will we have to go through.  But what did he mean “For me to live is Christ?”  What does that question speak to you?  I believe Paul was saying that he had a purpose in life.  He had a reason to live.  Christ was his most prized possession.  Christ was first in his thoughts.  Is that our feeling about life?  Is life more than a meager existence on this earth, then it is over?  Is life drudgery?  Is life something that must be endured or is it to be lived – lived in its fullest sense, in Jesus Christ?   

Romans 14:1 9 – “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.”

Romans 15:2 – “Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification.” 

  • Let us be ready to always glorify Christ in this life by the way we live.  Let us be ready to hear Him say – “Well done, good and faithful servant; because you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things; enter into the joy of the Lord.”  Matthew 15:23         

The Soldier’s Charge – Part IV

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 WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD

  • There is an enemy of the Christian soldier.  It is Satan.  He is real and he exerts strategies to wage war on all believers by means of deceit, craftiness and all sorts of various tricks.  He knows your weakness because of your habits and he uses them against you.

I Peter 5:8 – “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

Luke 22:31 – “And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.’”

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 –  “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”

Eph 6:12 – “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.”

  • We must put on the armor of God. 

Eph 5:16 – “redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

  • because of the onslaught of evil that is all about us
  • because of the temptations and trials that confront us
  • because of the barrage of evil
  • because of the lateness of the hour
  • We must withstand the evil and prepare ourselves … with the whole armor of God.

Romans 13:12 – “The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.”

2 Corinthians 10:4 – “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.”

I Timothy 6:12 – “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.”

  • There is an enemy of the Christian soldier.  That enemy is Satan and his evil works. 
  • The lust of the eyes is one way that he tempts us:
  • Overeating
  • Outlandish dress
  • Possessions
  • Positions
  • Power
  • Satan will present something so appealing that the believer is doomed unless he is clothed in the protective gear that God has provided for us.  

James 4:1-4 – Amplified Version – “WHAT LEADS to strife (discord and feuds) and how do conflicts (quarrels and fightings) originate among you? Do they not arise from your sensual desires that are ever warring in your bodily members?  You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your desires go unfulfilled; [so] you become murderers. [To hate is to murder as far as your hearts are concerned.] You burn with envy and anger and are not able to obtain [the gratification, the contentment, and the happiness that you seek], so you fight and war. You do not have, because you do not ask.  [Or] you do ask [God for them] and yet fail to receive, because you ask with wrong purpose and evil, selfish motives. Your intention is [when you get what you desire] to spend it in sensual pleasures. You [are like] unfaithful wives [having illicit love affairs with the world and breaking your marriage vow to God]! Do you not know that being the world’s friend is being God’s enemy? So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world takes his stand as an enemy of God.”

 Romans 6:19 – “I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.”

 Eph 2:2-3 – Amplified Version – “In which at one time you walked [habitually]. You were following the course and fashion of this world [were under the sway of the tendency of this present age], following the prince of the power of the air. [You were obedient to and under the control of] the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving, who go against the purposes of God].  Among these we as well as you once lived and conducted ourselves in the passions of our flesh [our behavior governed by our corrupt and sensual nature], obeying the impulses of the flesh and the thoughts of the mind [our cravings dictated by our senses and our dark imaginings]. We were then by nature children of [God’s] wrath and heirs of [His] indignation, like the rest of mankind.”

John 8:44 – “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”

 Romans 6:16 – “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?”

  • The forces of evil are the rulers of darkness, they blind the minds of men lest they believe the glorious gospel.
  • Think for a moment of all the wickedness and evil, the wrong and selfishness in the world.
  • The divisions, prejudice, favoritism immorality, arrogance, bitterness pride, hate, anger, war killing arguing, stealing, cursing, favoritism, divisions, lying, backbiting, and gossiping.
  • The list could go on and on.  The evil of man consumes the papers and airways every day.  Do we not all know better than to behave in this matter?  There are enough good people out there that could change the world if we would, but the sad thing is the church is often not much better than the world.

Ephesians 6:12 – “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.”

I John 2:15-16 – “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”

  • Another strategy of Satan is to send a false teacher.  We must never forget that Satan is not a fiery red person with horns, a pointed tail and a pitchfork.  He is the living being in the spiritual world who is able to appear as an angel of light.  He has ministers who walk about as ministers of righteousness.  However, their righteousness is not of Christ.  Their message of self-righteousness will doom your soul.  It is based on human goodness and works, ego and self image, personal development and growth, self improvement and correction of the mind and will.  Such messages appeal to the flesh.  However they cannot deliver man out of the evil darkness.

2 Corinthians 2:11 – “lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.”

2 Corinthians 11:3 – “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”

2 Corinthians 11:13-15 – “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.”

Ephesians 4:14 – “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.”

Ephesians 6:11 – “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

2 Thessalonians 2:9 – “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders.”

Revelation 12:9 – “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”

  • The forces of evil are powerful forces
  • The forces of evil are numerous
  • The forces of evil are organized into a satanic hierarch
  • However, there is a greater force, a force for good, a higher force…It is the power of God that is able to change and empower man.

The Soldier’s Charge – Part III

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.

In this passage of Scripture there is another way to look at the same picture.  When a person begins his Christian Walk he is now a solider in combat and therefore a combatant in a continual conflict.  Foes to his spirituality reside within and without.  From the beginning of our Christian life to the end, we are in a fight.

In the spiritual warfare of the believer it is the believer, with God’s help, that needs to be in control, not the elements of this world.  There is absolutely no way the believer can survive spiritually if he does not heed the charge and the guiding message of this passage.  Otherwise he will cave in to the temptation and sin and begin aimlessly foundering.  Unless this battle is fought, the Christian will not experience the joy and abundance available in life nor the power and deliverance, the care, concern, love and fellowship with God’s daily presence.  He will forever be uncertain and unsure about the future; nor will he have the confidence that He is accepted by God or has an eternal home.

He must determine in his own heart, mind and soul a long-range plan – eternity with the Lord.  He must decide now – today.  The Word says “Now is the day of salvation.” He may put off his decision for a more convenient time, or just decide “later” or “I’ll wait.”  But listen to this:  The road marked “Tomorrow” will reach the destination called “Never.”

If the believer is to survive, is to be victorious and conquer the enemies that confront him, he must do what God says to him in this passage.  The believer must be strong, not in his own power and might, but “in the Lord and the power of His might.”

In verse 10 the word “strong” means “power, might and strength” which the believer must possess.  “The Lord’s power” simply means “His sovereign, unlimited power and dominion over all things”.  How much power does He have?  It is at the believer’s disposal.  Use His power to be victorious.  Use His power to be overcoming.  Use His power for life itself.  Use His power for without it you will fail.  Use His power to be successful.  Use His power.  Do not be a spiritual wimp…be a man or woman of God and stand up for what is right, do right, live right, and be right.  “The Lord’s might” means “His strength, force and ability.”

Ephesians 6:10 (Amplified Bible)

“In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides].”

Ephesians 6:10-12 (The Message) – A Fight to the Finish

“And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.”

Simply put, the believer is to be strong in the sovereign and unlimited power of the Lord, in the power of His might, in His ability to use His power exactly as it should be used.  This might and power is not fleshly power or strength for it is a living, dynamic relationship with Almighty God who is the source of his strength.

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

The believer must be clothed with God’s power and might before attempting to take up the battle.  Remember the story in the Book of Acts about the seven sons of Sceva who tried to imitate Paul’s preaching and when they tried to cast out devils…the devils turned on them and stripped them and beat them.  Without God’s power the believer is hopelessly without a chance. Only when armed with the power and might of God can he wage war effectively against the spiritual wickedness of this world.  One critical point must be that he take “the whole” armor of God, leaving out nothing.  Otherwise he exposes himself to his enemies, Satan and his host.  .

Luke 1:37 – : For with God nothing will be impossible.”

Ephesians 3:16 – “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man.”

Ephesians 3:20 – “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.”

Colossians 1:11 – “strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy.”

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 Samuel 22:40 – “For You have armed me with strength for the battle; You have subdued under me those who rose against me.”

Names of God – Jehovah Shalom

Philippians 2:5-11

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jehovah Shalom – The Lord Our Peace

Judges 6:22-24 – Now Gideon perceived that He was the Angel of the Lord. So Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For I have seen the Angel of the Lord face to face.”  Then the Lord said to him, “Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die.” So Gideon built an altar there to the Lord, and called it The-Lord-Is-Peace. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

Judges 6:11-16 – Now the Angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!”  Gideon said to Him, “O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.”  Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?”  So he said to Him, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”  And the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.”

Gideon questioned:  “If the Lord is with us, why?”

Do we not often question God?  Why has all this happened?  Why am I going through this?

  • In the midst of the struggle He will be with you – He will be your peace
  • In the midst of the testing, He will be with you – He will be your peace
  • In the midst of the turmoil, heartache, loss, bereavement, loneliness, pain, sickness, He will be with you – He is your peace!

It is only in times of struggle, turmoil, hurt, defeat, that we truly know His peace.  (If everything was always great, if nothing went wrong, you would not know His peace because you would not have known pain and sorrow.)  Could the Kennedys, the Rockefellers, the Queen of England ever know poverty?  They have everything they want at the slightest whim.  How can they really measure wealth?  They have known nothing else.

The reason for the Israelites’ affliction by the Midianites can be found in Judges.

Judges 2:1-5 – Then the Angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said: “I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you. And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this? Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be thorns in your side, and their gods shall be a snare to you.’” So it was, when the Angel of the Lord spoke these words to all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voices and wept.  Then they called the name of that place Bochim; and they sacrificed there to the Lord.

Their affliction was due to their lack of obedience to do what God told them to do.  They had idolatry to continue in the land they had been promised.

Gideon was being prepared to exercise obedience.  God saw in him a desire to do what was right.  God used him to destroy idolatry.

Judges 6:25-26 – Now it came to pass the same night that the Lord said to him, “Take your father’s young bull, the second bull of seven years old, and tear down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the wooden image that is beside it; and build an altar to the Lord your God on top of this rock in the proper arrangement, and take the second bull and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the image which you shall cut down.”

When you are going through a time of trouble ask yourself:

  • What is God trying to prepare me for?
  • What is God trying to show me?
  • What can I learn from this experience?

He will be your peace.  This “Prince of Peace” will be your peace.

Ephesians 2:14-15 – For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,

John 14:27- Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

2 Thessalonians 3:16 – Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.

Psalm 4:8 – I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Instead of counting sheep, talk to the shepherd.

1 Corinthians 7:15 – Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.

Isaiah 26:3 – You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.

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.

Colossians 3:15 – And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.