Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

The Centurion’s Faith

Luke 7:8 “For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.”

There were very few times the Lord dealt with the Gentiles during His ministry on earth,……but in this instance, He is very pleased with this Centurion’s faith!

Luke 7:9 “When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned Him about, and said unto the people that followed Him,

I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.”

So let us consider this Centurion’s faith.

First his faith sought out Jesus.

The Centurion had a servant, “who was dear unto him”, who was sick. He wanted him well…..and having heard of Jesus, Who had healed many….this Centurion asked the elders of the city to ask Jesus to “come and heal my servant”.

Then, the Centurion’s faith led him to see,….that Jesus did not need to “come and heal” him…..

….Jesus had but to say in a Word, and it would be done.

But why did he come to this conclusion….surely he knew Jesus was coming to his house to do as he asked…..

….why then, did he change the request to: “but say in a word, and my servant will be healed”?

Was it a challenge….testing if Jesus could heal?

No, for that would not be faith….but trial.

When faith really gets into our hearts….it does two things. It shows us God, His Might and Wisdom…..

….and it shows us….us, in our meanness and lack.

Faith had open the eyes of the Centurion to Christ Jesus as God’s Son….and to himself as “unworthy”…..

…..this alone is amazing faith….for it takes us out of ourselves….and anchors our expectation in God.

But notice the message he sends to Jesus: “…but say in a word,…”

A word….not prayer, sentence, words…..but “a word”.

His faith had come by hearing of Jesus (Romans 10:17).

Then it had shown him Who Jesus was…..which had humbled him. (James 4:10)

Then it had anchored his heart in belief in His Authoritative Word….and so he asks for “a word”.

And he showed Jesus by an example that he understood and believed His authority to speak that Word.

“I am a man under authority…..and I say, “Go…and they go”. I say, “Come, and they come”. I say, “Do this and they do it”.

I understand about the word of authority……my authority is from Rome….because I am under the authority of the Empire.

I understand that Your Word will be done……because You have Authority from God, Your Father.

Speak a Word, and it will be done.”

You will notice that this Centurion did not say….”of Authority”….or “in Authority”…..but “under Authority”.

“For I also am a man set under authority…”

This is a faith that is now set firmly on the Rock…..for this Centurion knew that the Man Christ Jesus spoke for God….even as he spoke for Rome.

And this man’s faith was honored….

……as he honored the Lord Jesus before the elders of the city…..his own servants….and ultimately the crowd that followed the Lord.

The servant was “whole”…..completely healed.

Luke 7:10 “And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick.”

What of our faith?

Surely, as we have heard of Christ Jesus, and have believed in Him….we have faith.

But how far have we yielded to this faith?

Have we let this faith show us God…..and ourselves, and been humbled?

James 4:6 “But He giveth more grace. Wherefore He saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”

Are we founded on Christ…..and His Word…..for us? (Matthew 7:24-25)

At the Centurion’s faith….Jesus “marveled”…..which means in the Greek….He admired it.

Jesus had come to Israel as their Messiah……telling that the kingdom of God has come…

…..they loved His miracles and provision…..and His parables….they loved hearing Him….

…..but faith had not been grasped by most of them….and Jesus Christ had not been honored by them.

“…I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.”

But the Centurion’s faith was received into the heart….and the results were “amazing”!

Let us, who have faith, yield to the many things it brings to us…..and honor our Lord with it.

(Romans 5:2-5 “By Whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand,

and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations (trials) also;

Knowing that tribulations worketh patience;

And patience, experience;

And experience, hope:

And hope maketh not ashamed;

Because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”)

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Direction for our Christian Lives

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.”

This trust is of the heart, not the head. Trust is the hanging on to Jesus Christ.

If we will acknowledge Him in all our ways…He will direct our paths.

And acknowledge here, means that we are to seek Him in everything concerning our lives.

Good things, bad things,….we are to “see” that Christ knows about it and about us, being in this situation.

Then, we are to tell Him about everything in it: our side, and wants concerning it; and the other side as well.

This is, again, for the heart: for this command is for us, if we love the Lord, and really want the Lord’s direction.

To have this direction aright, we must do this in everything, not just the big important things,……but the little everyday things, as well.

Because this is the fellowship that is offered us, as we go along with Jesus.

It is constant fellowship:

And fellowship in the Greek means “a sharer, partnership”.

Are we a partner with Christ in all we do?

We need to lean on Him:

We can “lean on our own understanding” pretty easily. We have intelligence, and we are here in the situation; who better to figure this out?

(We all know how this turns out.)

But to “lean” on the Lord Jesus is to trust Him.

Real direction comes to us by the Holy Spirit within us. That is a matter of the heart, again, not the head.

You ask for direction, then you hear His Voice.

Light comes.

You see what to do.

And if there is anything which clouds the light…..you quickly remove anything that would hinder that light….

That Light brings the knowledge of what pleases Him in this situation; and you do it.

And you also know what displeases Him, and turn away from it.

The gift of wisdom is a great gift from the Lord.

He directs and helps us in our “path”.

Isaiah 43:19 “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”

There is no place or time He does not know, and does not make preparation for.

Isaiah 42:16 “And I will bring the blind by a way that they know not;

I will lead them in paths that they have not known:

I will make darkness light before them,

and crooked things straight.

These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.”

(Four times He says He “will”…….and promises to: “not forsake them”…..what more can we ask for our path?)

God sees to us,….our hearts…..our direction…..and to our path,…..as we acknowledge Him….

……Who He is….what He can do for us…..and His partnership with us……..in all the “ways” we go.

And He will not forsake us, ever.

He loves us with an everlasting love.

Jeremiah 31:3 “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.”

Let us acknowledge Him in everything, everyday…..and let Him lead us.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Sanctification is not imitating Christ; but Living by Christ’s Life

Romans 12:1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

Sanctification is the setting ourselves aside to God.

Sanctification does not require us to fulfill the will of God as He makes it known to us, without the power to do so.

That would be like the Egyptian taskmasters which required Israel to make bricks without straw. (Exodus 5:9-11)

Instead, Sanctification is the growing life of Christ, in our life; whereby we experience by His Holy Spirit, the holiness, patience, love, peace, and power that is in Christ;……over the enemy of our souls.

When Paul said:

Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life that I live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

This is what he meant. That the life he used to live as the self-righteous Pharisee was over. He saw himself dead in Christ’s death.

“Good riddance” was probably his thought, for the life he had before, did not bring him closer to God, though he worked hard at it.

He also saw that now he lived by Christ’s life. That the life of Christ was so powerful that, not only for himself; but everyone who trusted in Christ, could have His character formed in them.

Years ago, after being born again,….my husband prayed about sanctification.

He thought this must be some sort of holiness experience, which we have at some altar; or with some crisis experience in our lives.

Then he heard a man who was teaching a Sunday School class about:

Matthew 16:24-25 “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”

And, if no one else got the message; he did.

This was the means of being sanctified…..to deny myself.

We think, that when we talk of denying ourself, we mean: just not doing what we want. We think it means denying “things in our life.”

When Jesus speaks of “denying ourself”,…..He means denying our intention to rule our life.

And denying every way it shows up in our lives.

It is not just things, we deny,……but ourselves we deny.

(How many times have we done the Lord’s Will with the attitude…..like children….ok, ok, I will do it….but I will not like it.

For it our attitude toward God’s Will is not changed…..can we say we are really “growing up” into the Lord?

For adult children of God…..set aside their opinions, and see God.

If I wanted to follow the Lord, then I must co-operate with God, when He shows me His will. I must put aside my thoughts in the matter and do what He commands.

I must be honest about my attitude toward what He shows me, and ask for the power to change.

But again, Christ does not demand that we do His Will,…..without His enablement.

Christ has given us His Holy Spirit, not only to indwell us, but to give us the grace and power we need.

That power comes from our Risen and Glorified Christ. He has all spiritual blessings for me in Him, in Heaven.

Ephesians 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:”

Ephesians 2:6 “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:”

They are there in Christ, for us.

But how do we get them down here into us, especially in these circumstances?

Matthew 6:10 “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven”

Notice, it is “in earth”, in us.

This is the means whereby we receive into our lives what Christ has for us.

As we yield to His authority in our lives, we become His servants, in obeying our Master;……His soldiers, in standing with Him;…..and His ambassadors, honoring and speaking for His Kingdom and authority, here.

Sanctification is the setting aside of ourselves….not just

our things of our life…..to God, for sacred use.

It is the practical work of having Christ’s Kingdom come within our hearts, and lives.

Where He rules, there is peace, joy, patience, and all the characteristics of Christ, in our lives, for us…(Hallelujah)……and through us, into our circumstances.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Who shall speak for the Lord?

Matthew 28:18-19 “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.

Go ye therefore,…”

(I want to stop here for a moment and stress, as we belong to the Lord Jesus…..that it is only because all power is given to Jesus Christ…..that we can “go” forth to a lost world….in His Name.

He is in us….and we in Him….and we go in His power…..that is what He is telling His disciples and us, here.)

Matthew 28:19-20 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

There are two Greek words for “teach, and teaching” here.

The first “teach” means to disciple….to bring under the discipline of Christ.

The second “teaching” means to instruct, teach.

We are to go and make disciples to Christ Jesus. To bring them to the place in their understanding that they submit themselves under the discipline of Christ,….that they hear the Lord for themselves.

This takes effort….effort in prayer and the use of God’s Word.

For we are to teach them what Christ has said….”whatsoever I have commanded”….

(I have found over the years, that Christ’s Words hit a spot, like nothing else.

He spoke to sinners, lepers, Pharisees, rich young rulers, fishermen, the dead, and the sick.

He preached, rebuked little faith, prayed much, and taught His disciples how to pray, and honored any belief in Him….corrected the unbelieving….and blessed children.

His words are amazing…..and it is as we know them, that we are instructed and learn how we should be.)

“….and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

Alway means day and night, everyday….for the whole of time.

This commission was, of course, first to His disciples….but it is also for us.

If we are born again, then we are to have His Words in us by obedience…

….spiritual reality is always…first in me.

We are to know the Authority of Christ for me….being in subjection to it.

Then we can pass on to others what we have in our own experience…in that which we have obeyed.

Then He can require it at the hands of those we speak to…for we are speaking with authority.

They may reject the Word….and the Christ of the Word,….but that has nothing to do with us….we are just “sent”…..being obedient.

1 Corinthians 3:7-8 “So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor.”

As the Lord Jesus spoke that which His Father commanded Him, so we must speak that which He commands us.

I have often gone to pray with people, and end up speaking to them about what is really troubling them.

(I told a woman once, to just get honest with God about her trouble…..and she told me she would never talk to God that way!)

(My husband was talking to a young man once concerning God and His claims…the young man taking the view that God had no right to demand from him anything…..and he talked….and he talked.

My husband could see this was going nowhere…..but felt the need to deal with this man….so he said, “I am going to kneel and pray. Why don’t you join me and tell God everything you told me?”

He was not sure he would do it…..or the outcome….but,…

….when this young man knelt, it was if a battle had been won, and he said, “Well, God, it is about time!”

That young man was converted that night.)

We should pray as if the work all depended on God….then work as if it depended on us.

John 20:21 “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.”

The Father “sent” His Son into the world….not to condemn the world (they will do that themselves, if they refuse Christ)…

….but to save the world.

So we are sent to give the gospel out…..our testimony of Christ Jesus our Lord….in word, and in deed, and in prayer, and in Scripture…

…and may God bless His means.

Who shall speak for the Lord?

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

An evil report

Deuteronomy 1:22 “And ye came near unto me every one of you, and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land, and bring us word again by what we way must go up, and into what cities we shall come.”

Are we like the ten spies? Who, though carrying some of the blessings of our inheritance…

….”and they took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down”……

…..still murmur and complain about the trials and “giants” in our walk?

We all know the story…..

Israel had come to the land to possess it.

Moses told them to “Go up and possess it….as the Lord God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged.”

This should have been a grand celebration! “We’re here…..we made it! Now we can have all that God has for us!”

But, instead, they thought to “search out the land”.

Why?

God had already chosen it…..and was ready to stand with Israel against everything in their way….

….but unbelief in God made them seek something other….than His Word.

So, the elders came to Moses, and said…..”We will send some men to spy out the land….so we know the way to go up.”

Notice, “we will”…..they were not asking the Lord…..they were plainly seeking their will.

Maybe Moses just heard the “and go up”…..because he agreed.

So for forty days and nights….the camp of Israel stayed close to the inheritance God wanted to give them….

…..and waited….

…..for twelve men to tell them what God should be telling them….which way to go, to have their possessions.

Ps 106:24-25 “Yea, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not His Word:

But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the Lord.”

[It is important in this day, that we understand…….What Voice? How did the Lord speak to them?

First, they had the promise given Abraham and his seed for Canaan.

Second, they had Moses who spoke to them God’s message, even as they asked (Ex. 20:19)

Third, they had God’s Word in His law and commandments. “Which if a man do, he shall even live in them.” (Ezekiel 20:11,13,21). Obedience grows faith, and faith makes us to know God’s Will. (John 7:17)

Fourth they had heard God speak from the Tabernacle.

Fifth, they had the cloud and fire pillar which lead by day and night, leading them there.

Yet, they “hearkened not unto the voice of the Lord”]

So when Moses said:

Deuteronomy 1:21 “Behold, the Lord thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged.”

They were to go in and possess it.

(I believe that if they had said, “yes, Lord, tell us how”…..they would have been directed how…..and possessed the land immediately.

What do we “say” when God tells us to do something?)

But instead, their own idea of “search and see”….

….lead them to “see” by sight and not by faith….the giants of the land.

Our plans…..giving way to our way…..giving way to “seeing” without faith…..

…..giving way to an evil report about God’s Will…..”we are not able”.

That is what our natural sight would tell us. (Numbers 13:31)

But faith says, “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.” (Numbers 13:30)

What of us?

And has not the Lord given us “great and mighty promises” (2 Peter 1:4) that we are to get into our experience….in a word, to possess them?

2 Peter 1:4 “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

Do we want to escape the corruption of the world’s system?

Then we must “partake”…get into our own experience, the promises of God.

The stress of this lesson is this: Why are we looking for some other way….than God’s Way?

God’s Way is faith. That is first….”….to them that have attained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:1)

Then, by giving all diligence…..we are to use our faith in God, and get virtue….or yielding to the force of the Holy Spirit within,…..giving us courage to obey.

Then, knowledge of Christ and His promises worked out by obedience….it is amazing knowledge to know what God will do for you….and you learn this here.

Then temperance….or moderation….not running or stopping but just walking with God.

Then patience….and this is a big one….for if we can not learn patience with God’s time,….and ourselves…..and others, we can not go on to godliness.

And we must “learn” it.

Godliness is taking on Christ’s character…..which we are promised will happen if we do these things…..(Romans 8:29)

Then when we love our God, we love our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Then love….”Beloved, let us love one another : for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” (1 John 4:7)

God has promised us some amazing life promises…..but we must possess them.

As Moses said, “…go up and possess it..”.

So with our promises…let us believe God…give all diligence……and get the fulfillment of these promises….in us.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Afterward

Hebrews 12:11 “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

Hebrews 12:17 “For we know how that afterward, when he (Esau) would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.”

Twice in Hebrews 12, we have the word “afterward”.

Afterward, here, means simply that something happened before; God chastened; and something happened as a result of the chastening: or “afterward”.

You will notice for both cases, it is a matter of the will, willing one way or the other.

To explain:

We will begin with “them that are exercised thereby”.

Now, God does not chasten, if there is not been sin in our lives.

Something which needs to be set right before Him.

Otherwise we will experience spiritual weakness in our life,……..then spiritual atrophy sets in.

(in the next verses it describes the beginning of this: “Therefore lift the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet,….” Hebrews 12:12-13)

But with the chastening from God, comes the knowledge that He does it out of love.

(When God “rebukes” us, He does it with words….His Word, or through messages, devotions, testimonies from others.

But when God chastens, He allows things to happen to us, to awaken us to the fact that He is trying to speak to us….but we will not hear. Psalm 89:30-33)

Hebrews 12:6, 10 “For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he recieveth.

For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he (God) for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.”

Although this does not make the chastening pleasant; it does work within us a great and good knowledge of our God. He loves us so much that He interferes with things, to keep us in the right way.

His love gives us the desire to learn from it: to be exercised by the chastening, so that we will not have to go through it again and again.

Because He loves us, and He is doing this to help us grow in grace; we stir ourselves up to learn all we can in this chastening; to please Him.

By this, we gain fruit….the fruit of repentance, which is a cleansed conscience and renewed fellowship with God, and other Christians;…..

And the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)….more peace, joy, love, etc.

This is the afterward of those who are exercised thereby.

Now for Esau:

Hebrews 12:16 “Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.”

Esau and Jacob were twins. Esau, being older by a few minutes, was the inheritor of the birthright.

This did not mean riches or cattle; but it meant the Spiritual blessings that God promised Abraham,…..a people separate to God, the land of Canaan, and mostly:

The birthright meant that Christ, the Savior, would come from his line, in the future.

It was a blessing, only the one who wanted Spiritual ties with God, would desire.

Jacob did. Esau did not.

Esau had been out hunting, and came by Jacob’s tent, without game. He was hungry, and saw Jacob (he was more of a farmer and cattleman) cooking something on the fire.

It was a pot of red beans, and Esau asked, that he be given some.

Jacob, always trying to figure out a way that he might inherit the blessing instead of Esau, told him; “Sure, but only if you sell me your birthright.”

Now any Spiritual person would have said, “No, I will wait, even though I feel faint, till I go to my tent.” (maybe on the other side of the camp)

But not Esau.

He was not Spiritual, but thought more of his belly, than the privilege of being the holder of the Promise of the Lord to come.

Genesis 25:32-34 “And Esau said, Behold I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do for me?

And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright to Jacob.

Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.”

Now for the afterward for Esau:

It is time for their father, who was nearly blind, to bless the one who would inherit; so he calls Esau, who was firstborn, in, and told him to prepare a special feast for him, and he would bless him.

I will not go into all the details, but Jacob, afraid to trust God, dressed up as Esau.

He fooled his father and received the firstborn blessing.

Then Esau came in (afterward) and sought the blessing, but could not receive it.

He cried……then.

Genesis 27:34,38 “And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father.

And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept.”

Esau had not wept, and sought repentance for his foolish behavior when he was hungry and wanted Jacob’s food;….no.

He had not wept when he thought of the bargain he made with Jacob,…..for he thought he could still have everything, even though he despised it in his heart.

He would still be the elder.

He did not need to have a change of heart before God about anything.

After all, who knew, but Jacob?

You never hear of Esau building an altar or seeking God.

Even in the tears that flowed when he was denied the blessing, he did not cry to God;…..just to his father.

Afterward, when he was rejected by the God he rejected,…..he cried; but only for self-pity, not for despising the promises of God (the birthright).

Afterward,…..

…….will we receive God’s correction, and learn from it?

Or we will go on thinking we are alright, till…afterward, there is no more time to have what God wants for us.

God corrects us for our profit.

What is “profit” for us…..what is for now? Or what is for our spiritual life?

And we must always consider profit and loss; only Spiritually consider it.

Esau said, “What profit is this birthright of God’s promises?”

He did not care for a Christ to come….only his belly now.

And despised it. And lost it.

The one who is exercised (weighs profit and loss by God’s thoughts)……will gain more of the fruit of the Holy Spirit…..for that is what profit is in God’ sight.

More peace….could we not use it, in these days.

More love toward God and others…when all around us is anger and contempt of persons.

More patience and joy….in our lives, this is real gain.

God says, He chastens me for my profit, and although I do not feel like it, now; I can trust Him.

So I will pick up my hands and my feet……and take the next step with Him…though it is hard now…

I know that “afterward”, I will feel differently about this correction.

“Afterward” I will rejoice, because God has seen me through it, and given me His promises of more life in Him.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

If Thou Wilt.

James 4:13-14 “Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and by and sell and get gain

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeared for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”

Only God can say “So be it”. For it is His Will alone, that stands every test.

We, as Christians, may say, “If God wills”, we will do this or that.

How many plans have been destroyed or laid aside, because we have not considered what God wanted with our time?

That we should not walk through life “Willy nilly”:…..this way, then that way.

We should have a definite goal to head toward, and find out God’s way to get there.

Philippians 3:12-14. “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Paul “followed after”;…..not knowing what lay ahead.

But knowing that Christ Jesus did; and that whatever was ahead, was prepared for. Grace was laid up for him to get through each situation.

This should be the goal we are headed for: what Christ Jesus has saved us for.

We are to grow up into Him. For we are all called to go from babes in Christ to full grown Spiritual Adults.

We should ascertain our calling. (We are all called as witnesses, if nothing more. A witness is a personal testimony of what Christ has done for me.)

And this should be the way we go: forgetting those things which are behind me—really putting them behind me—failures and successes;

And reaching forth (in heart, in mind, and in will) to those things He has before me, today, tomorrow, and on.

We have family. We have jobs. We have friends. All of these, we are not to neglect—that is not God’s will.

But before all of these, as Christians, we have our personal duty to God, and His Will.

1 Corinthians 4:2 “Moreover it is required of stewards, that a man be found faithful.”

God’s stewards, are Gospel Stewards. Their duty is to live the Truth of the Gospel.

Truly, if we put God first, He will see to it, that all the other people, and things in our life are not neglected.

Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

God never forgets our faithfulness to Him. Never.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

A new creature in Christ!

2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

A new creature….yes, but still a creature. A creature brought into the path of light……and for the Creator’s Purpose.

None of us is without purpose.

2 Timothy 1:9 “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,”

Now He has a purpose for us through grace.

It is not of merit,….we do not earn it….we do not deserve it….but we are given it.

And we are given the grace to fulfill it….as it is made known and comes to us….and a blessing for being faithful in it.

“A fool is he who through this life,

Pursues the clouds he cannot own;

And leaves a wealth of things undone,

His tomb, a final stepping stone.”

We would deal with the “wealth of things undone”.

I would not want anyone to look back….never a good thing, unless the Holy Spirit is pointing our something to you that needs to be dealt with….

….but we all have promises unkept…..things we have prayed for, yet not held on to…..

…people we come into contact with that we have felt we should witness to….yet we are not diligent in the time, and miss it.

When we are His Will,…..we manifest His presence, without saying a word…..when the Holy Spirit is unquenched, or unstifled within us….His Light shines through us in our actions and attitudes.

Romans 8:32 “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

This is to be a creature…..but a new creature in Christ Jesus, showing what Christ has done for us…..in our everyday lives.

The moving finger writes

And having writ, moves on…

And all your piety nor whit,

Shall lure it back…

To cancel half a line,

Nor all your tears wash out a word of it.”

We reap what we sow, to one degree or another.

Galatians 6:7 “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

As Christians we have all been given seed to sow…..yet are we sowing seeds to eternal life, or seeds of strife, envy, and bitterness?

Psalm 126:6 “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”

This we are to do…..going out and sowing seeds of the gospel….to eternal life. You may not see fruit immediately, but when the harvest is come, you will certainly receive your reward for your faithfulness.

Galatians 6:8 “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

To sow to the flesh….is to put our feelings, our desires, our lives before Christ and His Will.

To sow in the Spirit is to yield to the Spirit in word, and deed…..leaving any fruit bearing to Him.

As the creature, we must accept from His hand, that which He sends to us.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

How many times the Lord has reminded me to “give thanks”!

And when we “give thanks”, we show that indeed we are a new creature in Christ Jesus.

Others may sing when things are good,…..but giving thanks for even the trials and “bad things” is only given us by the Holy Spirit…..and there is a blessing attached to it…..for it is the Will of God in Christ Jesus

Some day all will be concerned about their standing before God.

In that day, some will be grateful that God kept after them……”well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

And in that day some will wish they had never been born…..

Would some winged angel, ere too late,

Arrest the yet unfolded scroll of fate;

And bid the stern recorder otherwise…

Register….or quite obliterate.

But once we are born….we are eternal creatures.

We will exist for eternity in heaven with Christ Jesus;

Or in the Lake of fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

My prayer is that none that goes to the Lake of fire will be able to point to me and say…..”if you had only told me!”

Let us, as His new creatures in Christ, pray and witness, and give thanks….let us be what His Salvation has made us……new.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Can two walk together except they be agreed?

Amos 3:3 “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”

This is God speaking to his prophet about Israel; His own people.

Can He say the same about us? Are we trying to walk with God, without bringing ourselves into that “agreement” with Him.

Maybe, in general, you agree with God. But do you agree with the way He is bringing His will to pass in your life?

Do you agree with the circumstances you are having to pass through?

Don’t we at times reject the way God presents His Will to us?

And then we, in some way, refuse it?

We want God’s will. But just not that way……or with these people,……or at this time.

Can two walk together except they be agreed?

Paul says:

Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

You begin this by presenting your bodies to God, the Holy Spirit.

As Christ gave over control to God, the Father, in the garden of Gethsemane, for the sacrifice He was going to make.

So we do the same.

We give the Holy Spirit control: “Not my will, but Thine be done.”

Then we are to stay away from conformity to the world’s system. That is stated in:

1 John 1:16 “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”

Lust here is desire. What we desire in our flesh….perhaps to lose our double chin….or have that large burger with a half pound of bacon…..or a larger house, truck, etc.

These are desires that would please our flesh.

That would not add honor to God, but would just please ourselves.

What we desire with our eyes……Eve started this with a look a the Tree of knowledge of Good and Evil. It looked so good.

So does the newest movie star, or that car, or that job.

And we desire to make us a “Someone”. Whether by ability, fame, wealth, or notoriety. (Pride is the sin which caused Lucifer to become the Devil. Isaiah 14:12-15)

We are to stay away from these things, for they are of the world.

We are to renew our mind: Col.3:9-10, Eph.4:22-24, Titus 3:5 All talk of putting off the old man, and by the Holy Spirit, being renewed, by putting on the new man.

The new man is the “Christ in you, the hope of glory”. (Col. 1:27)

That means we are to use the faith given us, and in the power of the Holy Spirit within us,…..to live as Christ did:

Loving our Heavenly Father, and doing His will;

Loving the brethren and seeking their good.

Telling the world of God’s will and way, as the Lord directs.

We really can “agree” with Christ, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit and His Word, everyday.

Bringing everything to Him: every desire, every need, every promise…..and the Holy Spirit will make us pliable to God’s Will…..with contentment.

1 Timothy 6:6 “But Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Have you Settled Things with God?

In the garden of Getheseme, Christ Jesus “settled” with God that He would finish the work.

Matthew 26:38-40 “Then saith he (Jesus) unto them, my soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.

And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.

And he cometh unto the disciples and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?”

How much it hurt Him, that He was the only one praying….at such a time as this.

He had told them of the circumstances to come…..perhaps they thought “surely not tonight”….

….He had told them to pray….yet for grief….they slept instead….leaving Him alone in this duty.

…He had told them of the betrayal and denial to come….yet they did not pray, even for those things….instead, they closed their eyes to these things…and then slept.

Yet it was there, praying alone….that our Lord Jesus settled with the Father, all that was to come….and the how it was to come.

A settled mind is looking ahead in hope…..a settled heart is looking ahead in believing obedience to the One Who can bring us through.

And so it was at Getheseme for Christ….and so it can be for us, too.

What are you going through….or what it ahead?

Our Heavenly Father knows, and is ready to give the settled peace and hope of mind, and heart.

The life our Lord Jesus lived was not a easy one. Holy and undefiled, He lived in a world which was corrupt, perverted, and in bondage.

But in the garden, Jesus was to face the hardest battle. Alone, He struggled with the upcoming pain, and humiliation (imagine having the power to destroy, or even change the mind of those who arrested and tried Him; yet having to be silent in defense.)

John 19:10-11 “Then sayest Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?

Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.”

He struggled with the fact that Judas betrayed Him, and His disciples couldn’t stay awake.

He struggled with the fact that the very people He came, in love, to; had rejected Him and His Word about the Kingdom of God.

He struggled, knowing the beatings, both by Romans, and Israelites, He would be subject to; the crown of thorns being pushed into His head in cruel mockery. He was a King, but refused to show it.

He struggled most: with the awful fact that on the cross He would be deserted by His Father, who had always been with Him:

For all our wicked sin, was placed upon Him; as our substitute. All God’s wrath, which should have been placed upon our heads for our sins, was placed on His.

Yet at Gethesemne, He settled the matter. He had come to do these very things, so He willed to do them;…..He came to the place of wanting to go through them for His Father’s sake…..and for ours. (Hebrews 12:2)

So it was settled there, that He would do them. For they were the Father’s Will. And that is what He wanted.

And He did all His Father’s Will, even unto death.

So we must “settle it”, that we will stand in the place God has for us, and do His Will.

1Peter 5:10 “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”

Grace is the unmerited favor of power; His power within us. It is ability to do, as an old Christian once said….God’s ability in and through us.

He will help us, by His grace.

He is the God of all grace, so He has enough for us.

He can help us in suffering: to endure, making us “perfect”, which means complete.

He can stablish, giving us the firm foundation of His love, and peace in all the circumstances of our lives.(And how much we need His peace in our days!)

He can strengthen us, for out of weakness we can be made strong, to will and to do His will.

He can “settle” us; which is to make the way for the rest of our lives into a path that is plainly seen, and give us power to walk in it,……and to want to walk in it “for His sake”.

Christ settled things in the Garden; the fear and amazement was there. All that came after, was just the doing.

We, too, can settle things with God; so that we can do His Will, without fear, by grace;…..in confidence, that He will be with us, and that He will empower us by His grace for all that we face.

But, because of Jesus’s atonement; we will never be alone. Amazing grace and love!

He will always be with us;…..in, and through us in everything in our lives.

Have you settled things with God?