One Thing I Know

2 Timothy 4:7-8

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

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

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

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

                                    I know not why God’s wondrous grace

                                    to me he hath made known,

                                    Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love

                                    redeemed me for His own.

                                    But I know whom I have believed

                                    and am persuaded that He is able,

                                    To keep that which I’ve committed

                                    unto Him against that day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Look at the ONE THING in the following:

Mark 10:21 – Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”

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

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

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

Thanksgiving

Ephesians 5:20

Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Psalm 34:1 – “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

Isaiah 63:7 – “I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which He has bestowed on them according to His mercies, according to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses.”

Hebrews 13:15 – “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”

I Peter 2:5 – “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

Colossians 3:17 – “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

INSTANCES OF THANKSGIVING

  • Jacob – Genesis 32:10 – “I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant; for I crossed over this Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two companies.”
  • Samuel – 1 Samuel 7:12 – “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”
  • David – 2 Samuel 9:1 – “Now David said, “Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”
  • Daniel – Daniel 6:10 – “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.”
  • One of the ten lepers – Luke 17:15-17 – “And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.  So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?”
  • For victory over death – 1 Corinthians 15:57 – “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Names of God – Jehovah Rophe

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 Rophe –The Lord Who Heals You

Exodus 15:22-26 – So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet.  There He made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there He tested them, and said, “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.”

At the Red Sea, Israel witnessed God’s incredible destruction of the Egyptian army.  The Israelites rejoiced in this victory, playing their instruments, dancing and singing, “I will sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously!  The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!”

Immediately after this miraculous deliverance, Israel began a journey into the desert toward the Promised Land.  In three days’ time they covered some forty miles…yet they quickly realized they had been going in circles.  To their dismay, they had progressed only about twelve miles from where they had started.  To make matters worse, they found no water.  After two days in the desert, the supply they had brought with them was gone.  In this brief amount of time, they descended from the heights of praise and ecstasy to the depths of despair.  How easy it is to forget some great victory when something goes wrong!

Then someone spotted a body of water ahead.  You can imagine the stampede that took place to get to it.  I can see the fastest and healthiest Israelites arriving first, quickly dunking their faces into the water, taking in big gulps.  A few seconds later, however, they are spewing the water from their mouths.  They cry, “This water is bitter, undrinkable.  Do not swallow it – it’s full of poison.”

The people trailing behind them do not believe their claim.  They also quickly drink in big gulps.  But soon they are spewing out the bitter water too.  Scripture says, in Exodus 15:23 – “Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah.”

Isn’t it amazing how Christians will not listen to warnings of other Christians?  They have got to find out for themselves.

What did God’s people do (yes, God’s people) in this situation? 

Exodus 15:24 – And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?”

The very same people of God who had rejoiced in the Lord’s glory just days earlier were now murmuring and complaining against Him. 

These people had seen God perform awesome miracles on their behalf in Egypt.  First, the Lord supernaturally protected them, while all around them he devastated Egypt with plagues.  Then, as they made their way toward the wilderness, God delivered them with the greatest miracle ever witnessed by man; the opening of the Red Sea with giant waves piled high, held back by incredibly strong winds.

In my mind, God provided an even greater wonder.  He removed all sense of reason from the Egyptian army.  Who but a supernaturally blinded army would rush in under such great walls of water?  Any sensible soldier would have seen this wonder and thought, “Wait a minute, this is supernatural.  Only God could do this.  The same God who sent the plagues.  Everybody else can move ahead if they want to, but I’m not going anywhere.”  Yet the entire Egyptian army proceeded and was destroyed. 

Do we ever forget God’s supernatural warnings and march right into trouble?  Then we cry out, “God, why are you doing this to me?”  If we could hear Him, He might be saying, “Hey, you did this to yourself.”  But He still continues to love us anyway in spite of our continued stupidity, in spite of continued stubbornness, in spite of our continued neglect to obey Him.

I ask you, how could any Israelite ever doubt God again, after witnessing such a miracle?  Here’s how:  As soon as the Israelites grew thirsty in the desert, they forgot all about God’s awesome miracles on their behalf.  It took them less than three days to begin to doubt Him.  How long does it take us?  Do we really know our heavenly Father’s nature?  Did He not say, “I will never leave you nor forsake you?”

This is why so many believers rush all over the world looking for signs, miracles, and deliverances.  They are trying to get to know God through supernatural works and wonders.  But nobody truly gets to know the Lord that way.  The apostle Paul tells us in no uncertain terms that faith does not come through witnessing supernatural works or miracles, but through God’s word. 

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

You may ask, “What is the specific word that produces faith?  It is the word that reveals who our heavenly Father is.  This is how we discover who He is – by seeing and believing for ourselves who He claims to be.  This occurs most often as God meets us in our trials. 

You may wonder, why did God lead the Israelites directly to the waters of bitterness at Marah?  Why did He just not take care of them as He had at the Red Sea?  He took control of an entire sea of water for them so clearly He could have easily changed the waters at Marah as well.  Why did He not do that?

The Lord had brought His people to Marah in order to deal with them.  He was about to begin building His wilderness church.  But He could not begin that work because the camp was filled with a deadly disease, infecting virtually everyone.  What was this disease?  The Hebrew root word for Marah means “corruption of bitterness.”  A spirit of bitterness had spread throughout Israel and it had to be dealt with.

Try to picture the scene at Marah, as the people spewed out the bitter water.  They must have been utterly confused, trying to figure out why God’s blessing and favor had disappeared from them so quickly.  They may even have tried to worship the Lord, but they could not muster up the spirit to do it.  They were unable to quench their thirst, physically or spiritually, no matter how hard they tried.

This is what bitterness does to people.  It brings on confusion, a sense of God’s disfavor, and an inability to worship.  God is trying to warn us about the deadly disease and consequences of an embittered heart. 

Most bitterness among believers can be traced back to a disappointment with God.  Most Christians who are bitter have experienced a deep disappointment with the Lord.  A time of crisis, marriage problems, family upheaval, a financial struggle, a tragic illness slowly draining the life of a loved one.  You were in need, hurting, crying out to God for help, believing for a miracle, doing the best you knew how.  But the Lord didn’t seem to be here for you.  Your trial dragged on, and over time things just got worse.

After a while you begin to wonder, “How could God allow this to go on?  I’ve loved Him, believed Him, and prayed to Him.  But nothing seems to change.”  You did not dare allow yourself to get angry at the Lord.  You made sure you did not do anything to cut yourself off from Him.  But deep down, you were disappointed.  Soon, a seed of bitterness took root in your heart.  Over time that root sprang up and blossomed.  Now it continues to grow and spread in your soul.

Childhood wounds can fester into roots of bitterness.  Certain traumas – abuse, molestation, abandonment – all leave their marks deep inside.  They often leave a trail of bitterness and unforgiveness in their victim’s lives.

Here is what I find most amazing about this passage.  The Lord could have wiped out Israel at Marah.  God had given these people incredible, undeniable miracles of deliverance.  Yet, all through the supernatural plagues and the miraculous parting of the Red Sea, they continued to cling to doubt, fear and unbelief.  First, they did not believe Moses, the Lord’s servant.  Then they constantly questioned whether God was with them, behaving at every turn as if He had forsaken them.  When they got to Marah, God directed Moses to cut down a tree and cast it into the bitter waters.  Then Exodues 15:25 tells us:

So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet.

When we look to the tree – Calvary – life is no longer bitter.  We see once more that our God comes to us in our crises and failures, bringing us into a new discovery of who He is and giving us another revelation of His loving kindness.

It is at Marah that we discover Jehovah Rophe – “the Lord who heals you.”  The root word for heal here means “to fix or mend.”  God told Israel,

Exodus 15:26 – If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.

The Lord is telling His people here, “I am a God who wants to heal your diseases, to mend you completely – body, soul and spirit.  I want you to know Me!

What do you need to be healed of?  A trial, a difficulty.  Are you angry at society or certain individuals?  Do you have an unforgiving spirit toward someone who has hurt you?

What is the most important healing to receive – physical or spiritual?  What purpose is there in being healed of bodily sickness if we are not supernaturally healed of our bitterness, resentment and pride? 

Even if you harbor bitterness in your heart, you are still the Lord’s possession.  He is offering you total healing. He has revealed Himself to you as Jehovah Rophe – your healer and mender.  He is waiting for you to trust Him.  He longs to restore you to a clear conscience, to good physical health, to His divine peace and favor.  He stands waiting for you now, wanting to forgive you, cleanse you and give you a new heart.  Your physical healing is included, but the healing of your spirit must come first. 

Just cry out to God:  “Lord, I’ve carried this bitterness for too long.  Now I know it’s time for me to be delivered.  I want to be free.”  He will take it the rest of the way.

“I am the God who heals you.”

Behold I Stand at the Door

Revelation 3:20

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.

  • Behold – consider, discover, perceive, contemplate, view attentively
  • Who?  Not a magazine salesman, but THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE.
  • What kind of door?  Is our door a locked door, a closed door, a revolving door, an open door?
  • What will happen if we open the door?
  • Jesus Christ, the creator of the universe, the one who died on Calvary the one who rose from the dead, the only one that I can call on and confess my wrong doing and be forgiven, is only responsible for one part of the process.  The Holy Spirit does the convicting and the convincing, but he is only responsible for one part of the process. 
  • We are the one who must respond to the knock.  We are responsible for our own decision.  We can choose to ignore Him.  We can refuse to open the door and allow Him to come in and dine with us and we with him.  (Note:  dine with Him/me and me/Him – not a one sided fellowship or relationship).  The Savior of the world desires to have fellowship with us.  WOW!
  • Absolute truth

Do you believe if you were to jump out of an airplane at 10,000 feet you would eventually hit the ground?  That is an absolute truth.  The law of gravity cannot be changed.  Neither can the truths of Scripture.  He is at the door…He is at your heart’s door…If your door has been locked, closed or revolving, just open it.  If you are already a Christian, perhaps there is one thing that separates you from having the complete, open fellowship with Him that you desire to have.  Open the door!

  • There is the standing Christ – He stands at the door.  This symbolizes His readiness to enter the life of a person.  He is the One who takes the initiative to save man.  He has come to man; man has not approached Him.  Jesus Christ stands before the heart of man as the Savior of the world, as loving man so much that He has come into the world to save man.  He is the One who has travelled such a great distance from the majesty of heave down to man’s heart.

Psalm 34:18 – The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.

Psalm 145:18 – The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.

John 6:50-51 – This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die.  I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.

  • There is the knocking Christ – He stands at the door and knocks.  This symbolizes the seeking Christ.  Christ has not only come to earth and walked over to man’s heart, He actively seeks to enter man’s heart.  He knocks and knocks at the man’s heart and He refuses to give up.  Christ knocks so much that a person has to either open up or deaden his ears to the knock.

Matthew 18:12 – What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?

Luke 19:10 – for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.

  • There is the pleading Christ – He pleads for entrance.  This symbolizes the compassion of Christ.  He not only knocks, He pleads and begs for man to open His heart.  He is merciful and full of compassion.  He knows what life should be for He created life.  He knows that life must be lived in wholehearted commitment to righteousness or else it is wasted and doomed.  He longs for man to have real life, abundant and eternal life.  Therefore, He knocks and keeps on knocking at the door of a man’s heart.  While He is knocking, He pleads and begs for the man to hear Him.

Matthew 11:28 – Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 23:37 – O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!

Revelation 22:17 – And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

  • There is the penetrating Christ – This is the most glorious promise imaginable!  Imagine the Spirit of Jesus Christ living within the heart and life and body of a person.  When a person hears His voice and opens his heart, Christ enter; He penetrates the life of a person.  This symbolizes the life changing presence and power of the living Christ.  When he enters and penetrates a person’s life, He causes the most radical changes imaginable. 
  • He causes the person to be born again.

John 3:3-5 – Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”  Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

  • He causes a new creature out of the person.

2 Corinthians 5:7 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Colossians 3:10 – and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.

  • There is the companion Christ – This symbolizes fellowship.  When Jesus Christ enters and penetrates a person’s heart, He lives forever within the life of the person.  He is always present with the person.  When Jesus Christ enters a life, he has the richest fellowship possible, fellowship and communion with the Son of God Himself.  And the person has it forever and forever.

John 17:23 – I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

1 Corinthians 3:16 – Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Ephesians 3:17-19 – that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—  to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

The Whole Armor of God – Belt of Truth

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.

John 14:6 – “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’”

John 1:14 – “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.”

John 17:17 – “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”

Ephesians 5:26-27 – “That He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”

  • TRUTH:  Over one hundred years ago a French atheist stated that in 100 years no one would read the Bible and it would only be found in museums.  Today Voltaire is wrong – the Bible is and has been the best selling book in the entire world, printed in practically every language of the world and preached and quoted more than all the other philosophies combined.
  • TRUTH:   The Russian Revolution in 1917 was to be the beginning of a world-wide cause that would stamp out religion (the opiate of the masses) around the world.  Khrushchev stated on a visit to the United States when Nixon was President, “We will bury you.”  He was talking about the United States while banging his shoe on the desk.  Today, where is the Russian Federation called the USSR?  Disbanded…we now have military bases in some of those countries.
  • TRUTH:  We now have missionaries and churches and Bible Schools of various denominations in some of those countries.  Romania alone has a much larger Christian population in some denominations than does the US.  Indonesia, the most populated Moslem country in the world has two of the three largest Christian Churches in the world.  One of these churches has over 50,000 members and another has over 80,000 members.
  • QUESTION:    Why should we read and study or listen and hear the Word of God?  I’ll answer that question with another question.  What else are you going to read and study or listen to and hear that will do for you what the Word of God does for you?

Psalm 119:11 – The Psalmist David said “Your Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against You.”

John 14:6 – Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except by me.”

John 8:32 – Jesus said “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

  • TRUTH:  God’s Word will stand the test of time.
  • TRUTH:  The Word of God will set you free.
  • TRUTH:  The Word of God will deliver you from all kinds of bondage.
  • TRUTH:  The Word of God will be your stay in time of trouble
  • TRUTH:  The Word of God will do for you when all else fails.
  • TRUTH:  The Word of God will do when you are dying.
  • TRUTH:  The Word of God will be your comfort in the storm.
  • TRUTH:  The Word of God will be your strength in times of stress.
  • TRUTH:  The Word of God will be your hope when all else is hopeless.
  • TRUTH:  The Word of God will be your help when all seems helpless.
  • TRUTH:  The truth is God’s Word.

When the Baptist and the Methodist disagree, when the Catholic and the Lutherans disagree, when the Pentecostals and the Nazarenes disagree, we need not look at their various denominational rule books but look at the Word of God.

God’s Word will stand the test of time.  God’s Word is the final authority. 

  • The truth is not what you think.
  • The truth is not what you believe.
  • The truth is not what you have been told.
  • The truth is not what you have heard.
  • The truth is what “Thus says the Lord.”  That truth you will find in the pages of His Word.

God’s Word is our only source.  It will keep you on track.  It will keep you from straying.  It will keep you from guessing.  It will keep you from questioning.

Hide the Word of God in your heart.  Make it your guide.  Make it your source book.  Let the Word of God dwell in you richly.

  • Truth does several things for the Christian solder.
  • Keeps him from being deceived by false teaching
  • Helps him grow up in Christ

Ephesians 4:14-15 – “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, but speaking the truth in love may grow up into Him who is the head – Christ.”

Ø  Gives him freedom

John 8:32 – “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”

Ø  Sanctifies him

John 17:17 – “Sanctify them by Your truth.  Your Word is truth.”

Ø  Helps him truly worship God as God requires

John 4:24 – “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Ø  Is his protection

Psalm 91:4 – “He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge;  His truth shall be your shield and buckler.

THE TRUTH OF GOD’S WORD IS THE ANSWER!

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.”

The Soldier’s Charge – Part I

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.

“BE STRONG” IN THE LORD (IN THE POWER OF HIS MIGHT)

Ephesians 4:16 – “That He would grant you according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His spirit in the inner man.” 

Isaiah 40:31 – “But those who wait for the Lord (who expect, look for, and hope in Him) shall change and renew their strength and power;    they shall lift their wings and mount up (close to God) as eagles (mount up to the sun); they shall walk and not faint or become tired.” The Amplified Version                 

Ephesians 4:20 – “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 – “We pray that you may be invigorated and strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory (to exercise) every kind of endurance and patience (perseverance and forbearance) with joy.” The Amplified Version

“PUT ON” THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD

  • Why are we, the soldiers in Christ’s army, instructed to put on the whole armor of God?  Because we are in a spiritual battle.  We are not fighting a physical battle.  We don’t need knives, guns, tanks, bombs, planes and so on to fight this battle.  We need spiritual armament. 
  • Here in this command we are to “put on the armor of God” and the very next command we are to “take up the whole armor of God.”  What is meant? Let us read this same passage from the Amplified Version

Ephesians 6: 11-13 – “Put on God’s whole armor (the armor) of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies), that you may be able successfully to stand up against (all) the strategies and the deceits of the devil. For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood (contending only with physical opponents), but against despotism, against the powers, against (the master spirits who are) the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere, therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day (of danger), and, having done all (the crisis demands), to stand, (firmly in your place).”  The Amplified Version

“TAKE UP”  THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD

  • “Stand” with a girdle of truth.
  • “Stand” with breastplate of righteousness.
  • “Put on shoes” (your foundation) of the Gospel.
  • “Take” the shield of faith.
  • “Take” the helmet of salvation.
  • “Take” the sword of the Spirit, the word of God.
  • “Praying always” with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.
  • “Be watchful” with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.
  • Many sermons have been preached from this passage and there are many different thoughts about what each of the different pieces of armament mean.  Without going into great detail I believe what the Bible is trying to tell us is that we must have the whole armor of God.  The shoes won’t help if we forgot the breastplate and that is where we receive an attack.  Likewise the helmet left off and everything else in place will not keep us from sustaining a head injury.  We must have all the armament that God demands for us to be a successful soldier.
  • Truth, righteousness (or right living before God), a basic under-standing (the foundation) of the Word of God, faith, salvation, the Word of God (the meat of the Word where it spells out in detail our privilege in Christ), all covered with prayer and supplication and watchfulness with perseverance and supplication for our brother and sister soldiers will sustain us.  

1 Peter 5:8 – “Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring (in fierce hunger), seeking someone to seize upon and devour.” 

Psalm 3:3-4 – “But you, O lord, are a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter of my head.  I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of His holy hill.” 

Romans 8:37 – “In all things we are more than conquerors through Christ who loved us.” 

Isaiah 54:17 – “No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me says the Lord.” 

THE COMMANDS

  • Everyone of the commands tells us something to do.  Put on, take up, stand, stand, put on, take, take, praying always, be watchful are all commands of action.  Many Christians come to know the Lord and do nothing except warm a pew and soak in the worship and message.  A sponge does the same thing.  However if the sponge soaks it all up and is not put to work, it does one of two things.  It either dries up and is not good for anything, or it becomes soured and begins to stink.  The reason for the action commands is evident.  We are in a war and you must act.  No soldier came back from the front lines of the battle without having performed some type of action. 
  • You, the Christian, must be a man or woman of action.  You must remember to get involved in the battle.  There are no desk soldiers in God’s army.  There are only soldiers of action. 
  • Notice the particular type of action in these action commands. 
  • “Take up”  the whole armor of God indicates we must not leave any of God’s armor off.  We must put it all on.  We must take all of God’s instructions.  Pick and choose and you will lose. 
  • Twice we are told to “stand.”  Why?  We must stand for the truth.  We must stand for right living before God and man.   If it is against God’s Word, then it is wrong.  I don’t care how much we try to justify what we are doing.  It doesn’t matter what everybody else is doing.  If God’s Word says do not, we better listen to what it says.  Society, or the signs of the time, should not dictate to us morality and right and wrong.  God’s Word is our only rule of law.
  • “Put on” indicates we are to clothe ourselves with something.  Since we are to “put off” the old life style, then we must “put on” the new life style. We can only do that with a basic understanding of the Word of God.
  • Three times we are told to “take” which indicates that we must reach out for, we must grasp, we must exert energy to obtain.  No soldier ever won a fight without taking charge of the situation.  That is exactly what you must do.  You must take charge of the situation and defeat the enemy through the power that God has given you.
  • There is no way we can over emphasize the power of prayer.  The passage says here that we should be “praying always” with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.  Prayer is spiritual warfare.  A soldier enters the conflict fully dressed and armed for battle.  Something else is needed, is essential.  Confidence, assurance and courage are needed in the battle and they only come by way of prayer.

Romans 13:12 – “The night is far spent, the day is at hand; let us therefore 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 through God to the pulling down of strong holds.”  

1 Timothy 6:12 – “Fight the good fight of the faith; lay hold of the eternal life, to which you were summoned and (for which) you confessed the good confession (of faith) before many witnesses.” 

2 Timothy 2:4 – “No soldier when in service gets entangled in the enterprises of (civilian) life; his aim is to satisfy and please the one who enlisted him.” 

Matthew 7:7 – “Ask and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” 

Colossians 4:2 – “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.” 

1 Chronicles 16:11 – “Seek the Lord and His strength, seek His face continually.” 

  • We are told after all these varying commands to “be watchful.”   All the armor in the world will not help us if we do not watch.  Further, we are to watch in “perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”  Why?  Because they are going through the same battles you are going through.
  • W – Watch your WORDS
  • A – Watch your ACTIONS
  • T – Watch your THOUGHTS
  • C – Watch your CHARACTER
  • H – Watch your HEART   

Names of God – God All Powerful and All Sufficient

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.

EL SHADDAI – God All Powerful and All Sufficient

This name for God is used seven times in the Old Testament.  The first usage is in Genesis 17:1

Genesis 15:1-6 – 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.”  But Abram said, “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!”  And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.”  Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”  And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.

Genesis 17:1 – When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.

Abram (Abraham) – “I know Lord, you are El Elyon, the Creator and Possessor of all things.  So where is my child?  Where is the one to be born in my house from out of my loins?  You told me I would be the father of many nations.  Well, I’m getting old God.  I’m still childless after all these years.”

Years before Abram had been confronted with another crisis.  After years of trying Sarah was still unable to have children.  At that point Abram gave up waiting on God and took matters into His own hands.  He had a child by Hagar, Sarah’s maid. 

Abram thought he was helping God out but it only caused problems.  He hoped the child by Hagar would be the promised heir to Abram.   He was not in God’s eyes.  This child was illegitimate because he was not the child of faith and promise.  The Lord told Abram “this shall not be your heir.”

  • Any time you began to doubt the promise God gave you – you are headed for trouble.
  • Any time you take matters out of God’s hands and do your own planning, you are in trouble.
  • Any time you try to get ahead of God, you are asking for trouble.
  • An illegitimate answer to your dilemma as a result of your manipulation of the situation will result in calamity.

Descendants of Hagar and Abram – the Arabs/Palestinians.  Abram’s solution to God’s promise is still causing problems today.

  • Short cuts do not work
  • Your answers are not always the right answers

There was no sign that Sarah would ever bear a child.  And Abram was just getting older.  By the time Ishmael turned thirteen, Abram was ninety-nine years sold.  This man had to be on the verge of losing all hope that God’s promise would ever be fulfilled.  Once again, his faith was being tried.

Scripture makes a point here to everyone who has chosen to follow Jesus.  It says that God uses our crises…the most difficult, trying times in our lives…to give us hopeful revelations of who he is.  Each revelation is like a separate beam reflecting out of a diamond.  It reveals a different aspect of our Lord’s nature, giving us fresh views of his character and power toward us.

As Abram faced yet another crisis, the Lord decided once again to give his servant a fresh revelation of Himself.  He wanted Abram to be fully persuaded of His faithfulness.  So, scripture says, “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God (El Shaddai); walk before Me and be blameless.”

El is another name that is translated as “God” and can be used in conjunction with other words to designate various aspects of God’s character. Another word much like Shaddai, and from which many believe it derived, is shad meaning “breast” in Hebrew (some other scholars believe that the name is derived from an Akkadian word Šadu, meaning “mountain,” suggesting strength and power). This refers to God completely nourishing, satisfying, and supplying His people with all their needs as a mother would her child. Connected with the word for God, El, this denotes a God who freely gives nourishment and blessing, He is our sustainer.  What an incredible revelation for Abram to receive at this time.  God was speaking very personally to his servant here, saying,

“Abram, you already know I have power over every condition in your life.  I’ve convinced you that I’m in control of all things…that there are no accidents in your life, no situations that are merely fate or luck.  I am the head, the chief, the boss of all creation…and my word is eternal.  Now I’m going to tell you something else about my nature that you need to understand to continue in faith.

“I am not only in control of all things…but I also keep my word.  No obstacle can keep my word from coming to pass.  I’m not bound by the laws of nature or fettered by any man.  I can do anything at any time.  There are no mountains too high for me, no valleys too low, no rivers or oceans too wide.  I’m supreme above the power of all nature, men and devils.  When I say something is going to be done, it’s already done.  Nothing can keep my promise.  I am El Shaddai…all-powerful, all-sufficient keeper of my promises.  I guarantee my word.”

God saw that Abram was focusing on all the impossibilities of his situation.  Abram simply could not see past his age, his dried up body, Sarah’s dead womb.  So the Lord specifically revealed Himself to Abram as the God who gives life to the dead.  He opened Abram’s eyes to the part of His nature that performs the impossible, that calls into existence things thought to be non-existent.

Once Abram received this revelation, he believed God was who He claimed to be.  And, afterward,

Romans 4:20-21 – He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.

This godly man knew that God could not lie.  The Lord had sworn to make him a father of all nations.  Surely God would do what He said He would do.

Abram’s newfound faith eventually brought forth the child of promise.  Your faith in God who always keeps His word will cause you to see the promises of God.

May God help us to discover the secret that Abraham knew about walking uprightly before the Lord.  Here is the secret to a godly walk; we are to receive…to acknowledge, believe, embrace and act upon…the revelation God gives us of who He is.  That is the secret, plain and simple.  We are able to walk uprightly before the Lord…not because we have willpower, knowledge, or even a covenant promise in hand; we walk uprightly because we are fully persuaded that El Shaddai will keep His promises to us.

Are you fully persuaded?

Names of God – El Elyon

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.

EL ELYON – God Most High

A name of God used in a number of OT books but especially in Genesis and the Psalms.   

 It first is used in Genesis 14.

Genesis 14:10-20 – Now the Valley of Siddim was full of asphalt pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled; some fell there, and the remainder fled to the mountains. Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. They also took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.  Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, for he dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner; and they were allies with Abram. Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, and he and his servants attacked them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people.  And the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley), after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him.  Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said:  “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”  And he gave him a tithe of all.

How is that God always reveals Himself mightily in our distress, in times of trials, in times of hardship or sickness?

Let me say this:

  • I am not always happy and content in times of distress.
  • I am not always happy and content in times of trial.
  • I am not always happy and content in times of hardship
  • But I sure do love it when God shows Himself great and mighty.

Let’s face it – we grow most in difficult times.  Let us take a closer look at what has happened in the passage we just read in Genesis.

Background in chapter 13 shows that Lot and Abraham separated because of strife…strife will lead to separation, but often separation will lead to a greater problem. 

Verses 11-18 in chapter 13 show us how quickly living in close proximity to sin will put in danger.  Stay away from sin; as far away as possible.

God had just given Abraham a great promise and Abraham worshipped God.  If and when God gives you a great promise, it will cause you to want to worship Him.  Well, that is what Abraham did.

All of heaven is yours, eternal life is yours, ruling and reigning with Christ is yours, reunited with loved ones is yours in heaven.  But, as great as all that is and will be, kneeling at the feet of Christ our Savior will be the greatest experience yet.  So worship Him now.  Why wait until you get there?  We can be rejoicing on our journey.

Chapter 14 tells us about a war between several different city states; four kings against five.  Sodom and Gomorrah and three smaller kingdoms lost the battle.  Some were captured.  Some killed.  The people ran for their lives.  The victors took the spoils of war and went their way.  They also took Abraham’s nephew, Lot, and departed.  At the time of this war Lot was living in Sodom.  Remember, this all started back when Lot and Abraham and their workers and families could not get along.  Strife of any kind causes division; between individuals, families, clubs, nations, and worse yet, churches.

At one point, Lot was only in close proximity of Sodom…now he is in Sodom.  He first looked toward Sodom and thought it would looked like a pleasant and pleasing place.  Then he moved in that direction.  Finally we find him sitting in the gates of the city along with the leaders of the community.  There is a logical and sure progression to falling into sin.  You do not just wake up one morning and decide to sin that day.  Something proceeds your fall.

Abraham went after and won the release of his nephew all the people of Sodom and Gomorrah and all the spoils of war with only 318 trained servants.  It appears guerilla tactics at night were used.

Note this:  Abraham and his 318 servants defeated the men of the four cities.  Some of Abraham’s men pursued their enemies as far as Damascus, nearly 150 miles north.  When you are on God’s side, do things God’s way, and have the blessings of God on your life, God will give you the victory.  You may be outnumbered, but God will see you through.  Why did God allow Abraham to rescue Sodom and Gomorrah, very sinful cities, when He was going to destroy it later?

You know the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah.  If those people had been allowed to become captives and remained in the city states they had been captured by, they would have spread their sin.  God used Abraham to bring them back to one location and later destroyed the cities.

In Abraham’s return from battle he was met by two kings, the king of Sodom and he king of Salem (later renamed Jerusalem).

In the first part of chapter 12 Abraham had been blessed by God; now he is blessed by Melchizedek, the king/priest of the Most High God.  This dual title and description is a type of Christ.  As priest, Melchizedek served Abraham a covenant meal of bread and wine and blessed him.  He then told Abraham God was just not God…He is the “God Most High”  He is the Creator of the universe.  Everything belongs to Him – all the wealth, cattle, and possessions.  He is in control of everything you see around you.  In the Hebrew He is El Elyon which means “God Most High, Creator and Possessor of Heaven and Earth.”  WOW, what a title!

After this blessing, the King of Sodom, who had fled the battlefield in the face of war told Abraham, “Just give me my people, and keep the spoils.”  Abraham’s response was “El Elyon is my God…I don’t need your possessions.  I’ve got all the promises of God”

We do not need the possessions of the world has to offer.  We have the promises of God.

In verses 22-23 Abraham said, “I want nothing from you.  I have raised my hand to the Lord God Most High…I’m on His side…nothing you have to offer is going to influence me…I won’t settle for second best.”  Abraham was convinced.

We must be convinced that God is on our side and He can and will supply our every need.

Never accept, even if it looks good to the eye, even if it looks good to the touch, even if it is flattering…never accept what Satan has to offer.  God’s promises are so much better.

God Most High or LORD Most High means there is no idol, god, or created being that should be worshiped or exalted over the Lord because He is superior in every way.

In the New Testament we see that Jesus has been given this place of honor.

Philippians 2:9-11 – 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.