The Word of God

Luke 8:4-15

And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city, He spoke by a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture.  And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.” When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”  Then His disciples asked Him, saying, “What does this parable mean?”  And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that ‘Seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’  Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.

Jesus Attracted Large Crowds – Multiples of people were flocking to hear Jesus speak and see His miracles.  But Jesus knew most were not sincere.  They did not have a real sprit of repentance which led to a changed life.  They had no honest commitment and no willingness to sacrifice.  Many followed Jesus, just as they do today, because of family and friends, for the social identification, to get their needs met by the church members or because as some have put it, “for insurance just in case the Bible is true.”

Jesus Taught a Parable to Explain the Difference in People’s Responses to His Teachings

  • The seed planted was the same in every kind of soil.
  • The sower was the same person in every kind of soil.
  • The difference was not in the seed or the sower, but in the soil that received the seed.

Seed by the wayside.

  • Near to field.
  • They “hear” but they never apply the Word or pay close attention.
  • The Word is soon forgotten.

Acts 28:27 – For the hearts of this people have grown dull.  Their ears are hard of hearing,  and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.

Hebrews 3:13 – but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

Proverbs 28:14 – Happy is the man who is always reverent, but he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.

People like this may well be in church every week.  They “hear” the Word but they pay little attention to the warnings, they do not involved themselves in the study of the Word.  Church is only something to ease the conscience or fill some time.

Seed on the rock.

  • They receive the Word when they hear it.
  • They are excited about the Word.
  • They fail to consider the commitment required – and they do not apply themselves to learn and grow.
  • When trials and temptations come, they fall away.

Matthew. 24:12 – And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.

Luke 9:62 – But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Galatians 4:9 – But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?

2 Peter 2:20-22 – For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”

Seed among thorns.

  • They receive the Word when they hear it.
  • They make an effort to be part of the church.
  • They are unwilling to separate themselves completely from the world.
  • They may have some fruit – but their fruit never ripens.
  • Their spiritual life is eventually choked to death by cares of this life or by riches of this life (either the actual enjoyment of them to the point of leaving out God or the constant pursuit of them to the point of leaving out God) or the pleasures of this life.

Matthew 6:25, 31 – Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

Luke 21:34 – But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.

Mark 4:19 – 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.

Seed on good ground.

  • Honest heart – “kalei” means fair, just, holding fast. 
  • Good heart – “agathei” means devoted, committed, given over to truth.  Once they know the truth, they hold fast to it.
  • Hear the Word.
  • Keep the Word.
  • They bear fruit – with patience.

Joshua 1:8 – This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

John 14:23 – Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

Colossians 1:10 – that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

Psalm 92:13-14 – Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.  They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing,

Mary, Example of True Submission

Luke 1:26-38

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”  But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”  Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”  And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.”  Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Gabriel sent to Mary at Nazareth – God is no respecter of persons.

Messenger sent to Nazareth as well as Jerusalem.  Jerusalem was the site of the Temple, the place where God’s presence dwelled, the religious center.  Nazareth was far to the north, near the influence of the Gentiles.  In fact, Galilee was often referred to as “Galilee of the Gentiles” by the religious leaders.  Two of the major roads of the world passed within eyesight of the surrounding hills near Nazareth.  The north/south road which stretched between Rome and northern Africa and the east/west road that stretched between Babylonia and the western cities of the Roman Empire both crossed near Nazareth.  Some Bible scholars believe there was a Roman outpost at Nazareth.

Messenger sent to a young girl as well as a priest.

Gabriel sent to a virgin engaged to be married.

The birth of God’s Son required both a divine nature and a human nature.  If He had been born in the natural way, He would have been no more than other men.  Jesus already existed with God the Father.  He just needed a body.  Hebrews 10:5 – ….a body you have prepared (set in order, equip, make fully ready, fitted) for me…

The birth of God’s Son required that He come through a woman.  That was the only way He could share with the man nature.  Genesis 3:15 – And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head and you shall bruise His heel.

The birth of God’s Son required both a divine nature and a human nature.  Today we see all the “miracles” of modern science – the test tube babies and other means of fertilization of female eggs.  If man can do such “miracles” certainly God can.  If God could create all the universe by His Word, could He not create a body for His Son by His Word?  Even our “new birth” spiritually comes about because of faith in His Word.  I Peter 1:23 -“Having been born again, not of corruptible (perishable) seed but incorruptible (unperishable) through the word of God which lives and abides forever.

Mary received great pronouncements of blessing

  • She was highly favored. 
  • The Lord was with her.
  • She would be called blessed (granted favor with God) among women.

Note:  We look at Mary from the benefit of 2,000 years later.  We recognize the honor that was given to her to be chosen to be the mother of Jesus.  We know that God was truly with her in a closer, physical sense than any of us can ever claim.  Yet, we need to look at Mary with a fresh look. 

Imagine yourself a young girl (probably no more than 15 or 16) engaged to be married when you suddenly find yourself pregnant.  This was in a society where pregnancy outside of marriage was almost unheard of, where such events led to both the young woman and the child being considered “outcasts” of society, where fornication was a terrible sin punishable by death by stoning. Engagement in that society was as binding as marriage.  The only way to break an engagement was by a divorce. 

Matthew’s story of Joseph’s response indicates that he did not believe Mary at first.  In Matthew 1:20, we are told that “he thought about these things.”  It was only after an angel appeared to him to reassure him that Mary was telling him the truth when she said she was still a virgin that he believed her. 

All of Mary’s life they probably gossiped about her in the village.  Jesus was probably looked upon with scorn as an illegitimate child.  Their opinion of Joseph is not known.  They may have viewed him as a noble man willing to marry Mary and raise Jesus even though he belonged to another man, or they may have scorned Joseph also thinking he was guilty of committing fornication with Mary before their marriage was finalized.  Either way, Mary’s lot could not have been an easy one walking living among the people of Nazareth with the gossip and scorn they would have heaped upon her and Jesus.  Even her family probably laughed about her, or secretly grieved for the shame she had brought on them and on herself. 

Then, look at the hardship imposed upon her while carrying Jesus.  Because prophecy had to be fulfilled, she had to travel to Bethlehem on a donkey’s back while nine months pregnant.  She had to give birth to Jesus far from home in a stable with only the animals and lowly shepherds to celebrate with her and Joseph.  No mother or sisters to help her with the birth, no family to rejoice with her. 

It appears that being His mother brought her no special position during Jesus’ earthly ministry.  Matthew 12:46-50 – While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.”  But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

She is mentioned only in passing in the story of the Early Church.  Acts 1:14 – These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

Finally, look at the ultimate pain of seeing her son die such a cruel, painful death with the shame of the cross. 

Maybe we need to take a new look at what it means to be highly favored and blessed by God.  In America, we think it means material blessings (new homes, cars, clothes, good jobs) and great happiness (fame, success, lots of friends).  WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE FAVORED AND BLESSED BY GOD?

Mary Submitted to God’s Will

  • She was troubled by the angel’s greeting.
  • She had questions about the message:  “How shall this be?”
  • She submitted to the message:  “Let it be to me according to your word.”  She called herself a “maid servant” which literally meant “slave girl.”  She was saying that she was willing to completely surrender to God.  She would no longer control herself and her destiny.  It was all in God’s hands.

We can learn from this:

  • God expects us to believe Him and His ability to do what He says.
  • God expects us to obey Him – without knowing what lies ahead, without knowing where that obedience will take us.
  • God expects us to surrender to Him and allow Him to have control of our lives. 

Psalm 115:3 – But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.

Proverbs 23:4-5 – Do not overwork to be rich; because of your own understanding, cease!  Will you set your eyes on that which is not?  For riches certainly make themselves wings, they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.

Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct (straighten out, be right, pleasing, good) your paths.

1 Samuel 15:22 -. . . to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.

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

John 15:15 – If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

John 15:21 – He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.  And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest (reveal, exhibit, make visible, present oneself to the sight of another, be conspicuous) Myself to him.

Being favored and blessed by God does not mean that our lives will be one success after another, one moment of happiness followed by another.  It does not mean that we will receive the recognition and praise of men.  It does not mean that we will get all our wants met, that life will be easy.  It does mean that God will use us for His glory, for His purpose.

Luke 9:23 -“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

Luke 14:26-27,33 – If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.

Of course, in the long run, we will see that success, happiness and even recognition does come.  Today Mary is honored all over the world.  She has been remembered and honored more than Herod, Pilate, Caesar and the other great men of that time.  She is rejoicing in heaven for all eternity.  In the long run, we will find that believing God and obeying Him is the ultimate success.  But, in the short run, we must, like Mary, believe and obey – regardless of the circumstances.

1 John 2:17 – And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Obedience in Action

Matthew 28:16-20

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them.  When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.  And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen

Acts 16:25-45

But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.  Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.  And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself.  But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.”  Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.  And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”  Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.  And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized.  Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.

The Great Commission  – The followers of Jesus were given a task to do

  • Go
  • Make disciples
  • Baptize
  • Teach others to do what Jesus had taught them

Mark 16:15-18

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.”

Signs will follow those who believe

Power was given

Luke 24:46-49 – Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  And you are witnesses of these things.  Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”

Promise of Holy Spirit was given to those who believe

Acts 1:8 – But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Acts 2:4 – And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Throughout the remainder of the Book of Acts and the rest of the New Testament we see that power was manifested through the disciples and the followers of Jesus.  There were several things common to almost everywhere the followers of Jesus went.

  • Boldness
  • Power
  • Holiness
  • Integrity
  • Faithfulness
  • Dependence on God’s Word
  • Uncompromising
  • Love
  • Trust in God
  • No fear
  • Obedience
  • Total commitment

Questions we need to ask ourselves as proclaimed followers of Jesus Christ

  • How is your boldness?  Do you speak of Christ when you have an opportunity? 
  • How is your power?  Have you prayed lately?
  • How is your holiness?  Are you living for Jesus like Jesus would have you to live?
  • How is your integrity?  Are you honest and forthright?
  • How is your faithfulness?  Are you faithful in every walk of life?
  • How is your dependency on the Word?  Do you hide God’s Word in your heart?
  • How is your uncompromising?  Do you bend and twist with what others think or are you true to your convictions?
  • How is your love?  Do you love others as you do yourself?
  • How is your trust in God?  Do you rely on God or on yourself or others?
  • How is your no fear?  When Christ comes in, fear must flee.
  • How is your obedience?  Do you do what is right and what God directs you to do?
  • How is your total commitment?  Is serving God the number one focus in your life?

What Does It Mean to Believe?

Romans 10:9-10

– that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation

Believe – What does it mean when we say we believe.  Is belief enough?  James 2:19 tells us that “You believe that there is one God.  You do well.  Even the demons believe—and tremble!”  When Jesus was on earth, the demons often acknowledged him as Lord.  See Matthew 8:28-29; Mark 1:23-26; Luke 4:40-41.

So what does the Scripture mean when it says if we believe in our heart and confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus, we will be saved?

The Greek word used here for believe is pisteuo (pist-yoo-oh).  It is the verb form of the Greek word pistis which means “faith.”  It means to trust in, have faith in, be fully convinced of, acknowledge, rely on.  It is more than belief in church doctrine or some systematized form of religion.  It is more than just an intellectual agreement that Jesus is the Messiah.

It expresses reliance upon and a personal trust that leads to obedience.  It includes submission to and a positive confession of the lordship of Jesus Christ. 

I may look at a chair and say “I believe that chair will hold me up if I sit in it.” But true belief will be when I actually sit in the chair.

True belief in Jesus Christ will lead us to true obedience.

The Wise and the Foolish Builder – Which Are You?

Matthew 7:24-27

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.

  • A wise builder – Hears the instructions and obeys them. He builds a house
  • We all have a house (a life) to build.  We cannot get away from that fact.  We are building our lives. We can hear and obey the instructions, or we can hear and disobey. 
  • The words of Jesus (his instructions) are the materials which determine the structure of our house.  The security of our house (our life) depends upon our response to His words. 

John 15:6-7 – 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.

  • He chooses the right foundation. 
  • Jesus is the only foundation that lasts.

1 Corinthians 3:11 — For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ…

Ephesians 2:20 – having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.

1 Peter 2:4-5 – Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 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.

  • Building on the rock takes time and effort.

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.

2 Peter 1:5-11 – But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

2 Peter 1:10 – Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

  • He faces a storm.
  • No one is exempt from problems.

John 16:33 – These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

  • Many sources of problems
  • Just because we are in the world

Matthew 5:45 – that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

  • Attacks of Satan

1 Peter 5:8-9 – Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

  • Our own failings

James 1:13-15 – Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death

  • His foundation holds.

2 Timothy 2:19 – Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity

2 Timothy 4:18 – And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Philippians 4:19 – And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:31-39 – What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written:  “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”  Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Psalm 32:7 – You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah

  • A foolish builder – Hears the instructions and disregards them.
  • He builds a house. 
  • He hears the instructions. 
  • He chooses to disregard them and do his own thing.
  • He is in a most dangerous position. 

Prov. 28:26 – He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered.

Romans 6:21 – What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.

Proverbs 14:12 – There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Jeremiah 17:5 – Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord.

  • He chooses the wrong foundation. 

1 Cor. 3:11 – For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

  • Foundation of material possessions

James 4:13-14 – Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

Luke 18:24-25 – And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

Luke 12:15-21 – And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” ’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’  “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

  • Foundation of pleasure of the flesh

Mark 7:20-23 – And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.

Galatians 5:19-21 – Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

  • Foundation of fame and recognition

Matthew 6:1-2 – “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward

  • Foundation of religion and self-religious

Matthew 7:22-23 – Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Ephesians 2:8-9 – But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.

Titus 3:4-6 – But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,  whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,

Galatians 2:16 – knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

  • He faces a storm.
  • His foundations falls. 

Luke 12:9 – But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God

Hebrews 10:29-31 – Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God

Luke 13:5 – I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

Matthew 22:13 – Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 24:51 – and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

John 15:6 – 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.

Which are you? Wise or foolish?

What’s Your One Thing

Mark 10:21

Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”  So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.  You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’”  And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.”  Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”  But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

One thing

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

Jesus asked a very important question:

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

Stretch Out Your Hand

Mark 3:1-6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Stretch out your hand – Rescue and Save –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?

Don’t Listen to the Devil’s Tricks

Hebrews 2:1-4

Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?

  • Don’t Disregard His Word

Hebrews 2:1-4 – Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?

  • Don’t Doubt His Word

Hebrews 3:12-15 – Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said:  “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

Hebrews 4:13 – 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.

  • Don’t Depart From His Word

Hebrews 6:4-6 – Once people have seen the light, gotten a taste of heaven and been part of the work of the Holy Spirit, once they’ve personally experienced the sheer goodness of God’s Word and the powers breaking in on us—if then they turn their backs on it, washing their hands of the whole thing, well, they can’t start over as if nothing happened. That’s impossible. Why, they’ve re-crucified Jesus! They’ve repudiated him in public! Parched ground that soaks up the rain and then produces an abundance of carrots and corn for its gardener gets God’s “Well done!” But if it produces weeds and thistles, it’s more likely to get destroyed. Fields like that are burned, not harvested.

  • Don’t Despise His Word

Hebrews 10:26-29 – For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?

  • Don’t Disagree With His Word

Hebrews 12:25 – See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven.

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.