I Am Not Ashamed

Mark 8:34-38

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

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

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

The Gospel – the Word

  • Produces new birth

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

  • Gives salvation

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

  • Imparts grace

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

  • Establishes in the faith

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

  • Generates faith

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

  • Sets free

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

  • Nourishes spiritual life

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

  • Cleanses the church

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

  • Searches the life

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

  • Makes partakers of Christ

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

  • Imparts immortality

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

  • Brings peace

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

  • Gives protection

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

  • Gives fullness of blessings

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

Hearing the Message – What Will You Do?

Mark 4:1-9

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

The Parable – an earthy story with a heavenly meaning.

Mark 4:10-13

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

Mystery – something previously hidden, but now fully revealed

Mark 4:14-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Do You Have?

Mark 6:32-44

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What If I Doubt?

Mark 16::14-18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First, to Thomas.

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

To many others

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

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

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

He knows our heart, He knows when we doubt.

Be honest and cry out to Him to help you.  

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

He Who Has An Ear – HEAR

Revelation 2:1-7

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.  But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”’

  • The Loveless Church – Ephesus
  • Challenge:  repent and regain your first love
  • Reward:  eat from the tree of life = eternal life

Revelation 2:8-11

And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life:  “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.  Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”’

  • The Persecuted Church – Smyma
  • Challenge:  persecution
  • Reward:  crown of life = eternal life

Revelation 2:12-17

And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, ‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword:  “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.  But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.  Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.  Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”’

  • The Compromising Church – Pergamos
  • Challenge:  repent and remove the false teachers, the immorality
  • Reward:  hidden manna to eat, white stone with a new name = eternal life

Revelation 2:18-29

And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass:  “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.  Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.  And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.  Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.  I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.  “Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden.  But hold fast what you have till I come.  And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’—as I also have received from My Father;  and I will give him the morning star.  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’

  • The Corrupt Church – Thyatira
  • Challenge:  repent and remove the corruption, the sexual immorality, worship of idols
  • Reward:  power over nations and the morning star = eternal life

Revelation 3:1-6

And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘these things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.  Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.  Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.  You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.  He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’

  • The Dead Church – Sardis
  • Challenge:  repent, return to God, strengthening the life that is about to die
  • Reward:  clothes in white garments, Jesus will confess their name before His Father and His angels = eternal life

Revelation 3:7-13

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,  ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”:  “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.  Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.  Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.  Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.  He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’

  • The Faithful Church – Philadelphia
  • Challenge – no commendation
  • Reward:  make a pillar in the temple of God and have Jesus write on them His new name = eternal life

Revelation 3:14-22

And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘these things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:  “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.  Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.  To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’”

  • The Lukewarm Church – Laodicean
  • Challenge:  repent and be zealous for God once again
  • Reward:  sit with Jesus on His throne = eternal life

These messages was to the seven churches, more specifically to the pastors of the seven churches.  They represent all of God’s churches.  Seven = fullness/complete.  They represent churches of all ages from John’s time until the return of Christ.

Revelation 1:20 – The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.

  • Spiritual math:

Born twice     =     Die once

Born once      =     Die twice

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?

In The Beginning (in art form)

Studying the Creation story in Genesis I wanted to somehow capture the first verse where the earth is dark and void and the Spirit of God is hovering over the face of the waters. How to do that?

Here is my interpretation in art form. I pictured the Holy Spirit as a flame of fire. Often in the Bible fire has represented the presence of God. Remember Moses and the burning bush. Also on the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit appeared as tongues of fire on the people gathered in the Upper Room.

I was privileged to show my entire collection of the Creation Story last year at a local art gallery.

Since then I have painted this picture of the beginning of Creation for two others who have requested a copy.

I love painting seascapes and lighthouses but this series of Creation is probably my favorite.

You can check out more of my paintings at https://www.facebook.com/PaulWLaneArtGallery/

Listen Up!

Hebrews 2:1-4

Since all this is true, we ought to pay much closer attention than ever to the truths that we have heard, lest in any way we drift past [them] and slip away.  For if the message given through angels [the Law spoken by them to Moses] was authentic and proved sure, and every violation and disobedience received an appropriate (just and adequate) penalty,  how shall we escape [appropriate retribution] if we neglect and refuse to pay attention to such a great salvation [as is now offered to us, letting it drift past us forever]? For it was declared at first by the Lord [Himself], and it was confirmed to us and proved to be real and genuine by those who personally heard [Him speak].  [Besides this evidence] it was also established and plainly endorsed by God, Who showed His approval of it by signs and wonders and various miraculous manifestations of [His] power and by imparting the gifts of the Holy Spirit [to the believers] according to His own will.

Listen, pay attention, take note, as well as other similar admonitions, are warning signs of possible danger.  Salvation is free to all of us, but it was not free for Christ.  A great price was paid for all.  Therefore, we must pay attention to all we have heard, read and know about the things of God. 

  • Lest we drift away
  • Lest we miss out on His blessings
  • Lest we fall back into great sin.

Be sure you are on the right road.  Get out your map…the Word of God.  Watch the warning signs…the signs of the time and your own reckless conduct, and be aware of danger.

Have you ever been day dreaming and missed your turn –

  • While playing a game
  • A chance to own your own home
  • A great job possibility
  • The spouse of your dreams

all while your mind was somewhere else?

That can and does happen in regard to your spiritual life also.

Romans 12:1-2 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Did you hear the words “holy” and “acceptable to God?”

Ask yourself, “Am I presenting my body a living sacrifice?

In the Old Testament the lamb that was offered was to be spotless, without spot or blemish…pure… undefiled…not diseased or crippled.

When we dare to come into God’s presence with worship and praise, are we offering up a pure sacrifice?

We would not dare invite some important dignitary to our home for a great feast and prepare them a meal that was not properly cooked or was spoiled?  In fact, we would not allow our families to eat of the same kind of meal.  We would offer our best.  The best that we could afford.  We might even go out and buy new dishes, table linen, or silverware if our guest was really an important dignitary. 

Have any of you ever left out a key ingredient, like baking powder, when baking a cake, or put twice the amount of one ingredient into the mix?  How did it turn out?  Terrible!  I had a sister that baked a pumpkin pie using salt rather than sugar.  The salt had been put in the wrong container and, needless to say, it was totally ruined.

Your Christian life gets messed up too if you leave out God, or if you put in too much of the world’s practices.

Or, maybe you were distracted by a member of your family, the phone, your own negligence and you missed your warning signs. 

Should our offering of worship to God, or our lifestyle, be any less than our offering for man?

What is the good, the perfect, the acceptable will of God?  His Word.

What about the term “permissive will” of God that we all have heard.  What a copout!  Permissive will is not in the Word of God nor is it even implied.  Men have come up with that term to justify their own actions and behavior.  God’s will is God’s will.  What part of “Thou shalt not” did you not understand?

How can you hedge or change perfection?  You just ignore what God wants and do what you want.

Is that right?  NO!

God is not pleased with our doing our own thing.  He wants us to do His thing!  He wants you to live right and to live holy.  Part of my prayer normally includes the words, “In all I think, say and do, let my life be pleasing to you.”

Praise God, there is hope for sinful man.  He is not willing for any to perish.

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.

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  • 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 – Sword of the Spirit

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 sword of the Spirit is the Word of God.  The sword was a weapon used for both defense and offense.  The sword was used both to protect and to fight off and slay the enemy.  The sign of the Christian soldier is his use of the Word of God.  By living in the Scriptures, he protects himself from the onslaught of the enemy; and he fights and wins battle after battle, day after day.  Remember:  Jesus Christ Himself overcame the onslaught of the devil by using Scripture.

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.’”

Hebrews 4:12-13 – “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. 

Psalm 119:9 – “How can a young man cleanse his way?  By taking heed according to Your word.”

Psalm 119:11 – “Your word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You.”

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

1 John 1: 5, 14 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

  • The Word is your true offense/defense.
  • In Matthew 4:  “It is written; It is written; It is written.”
  • Psalm 119:89 – “Forever, O LORD, your word is settled in heaven.”
  • God said it, that settles it!!!!

MY NEVER AGAIN LIST:

  • Never again will I confess I can’t, for “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Philippians 4:13
  • Never again will I confess lack, for “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:19
  • Never again will I confess fear, for “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  2 Timothy 1:7
  • Never again will I confess doubt and lack of faith, for “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”   Romans 12:3
  • Never again will I confess weakness, for “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?” Psalm 27:1; and “the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.”  Daniel 11:32
  • Never again will I confess supremacy of Satan over my life, for “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”  1 John 4:4
  • Never again will I confess defeat, for “God who always leads us in triumph in Christ.”  2 Corinthians 2:14
  • Never again will I confess lack of wisdom for “Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God.”  1 Corinthians 1:30
  • Never again will I confess sickness, for, “by His stripes we are healed.”  Isaiah 53:5; and “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.” Matthew 8:17
  • Never again will I confess worries and frustration for I am “casting all my care upon Him, for He cares for me.”  I Peter 5:7
  • Never again will I confess bondage for “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”  2 Corinthians 3:17
  • Never again will I confess condemnation, for “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Romans 8:1