The Two Thieves

Mark 15:27 “And with Him they crucify two thieves; the one on His right hand, and the other on His left.”

Matthew 27:41,44 “Likewise also the chief priests mocking Him, with the scribes and elders…..

The thieves also, which were crucified with Him, cast the same in HIs teeth.”

Luke 23:39-43 “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on Him, saying, If thou be Christ save thyself and us.

But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?

And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.

And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thee kingdom.

And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with Me in paradise.”

The two thieves are a picture of every person born.

We are either persuaded of Christ…….as Lord and King…..

….or we are with the crowd which mocks and hates Christ.

You will notice that they were thieves…..men who had stolen something which did not belong to them.

We, too, are thieves….for we have stolen God’s honor from Him….we have usurped HIs throne of authority.

We have chosen to be in control of our destinies…..so that we decide what is “right” and what is “wrong”…..for us.

This is theft in the Kingdom of God…..we have taken from God the honor due HIs Name…

….stolen it for ourselves.

The thieves both mocked Jesus, at first…

….they “cast the same in His teeth”.

Which means they were throwing insults, just like the chief priests and scribes and elders.

They were not good men,…..they were glad to be able to mock the Son of God, the Son of Man…..

….maybe it would make their pain less.

(Of course, it did not….and it does not for us, as well)

But a change came….first innocence was recognized.

Luke 23:39-41 “And one of the malefactors…railed on Him….If Thou be Christ, save thyself and us.

But the other….rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?

And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds:…”

Here was a recognition that he was a sinner…..that God judges right!

Though it was a simple confession…..yet anytime we get honest about ourselves…..light is given…..for Truth is Light…..

…..and God’s grace is offered. (John 1:17)

Luke 23:41 “….but this man hath done nothing amiss.”

This, too, was a confession…..only about Christ. He had mocked few minutes ago….

….but now he begins to recognize Christ’s purity and goodness.

(Grace does this….it brings us the ability to see Christ as He is, not as we have thought of Him.)

Luke 23:42 “And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.”

I love this,…..”Lord”…..not “king” in a mocking tone…..but “Lord”…..in subjection to Christ, and HIs Will for him.

“Remember me”…..

Psalm 25:6-7 “Remember, O Lord, Thy tender mercies and Thy lovingkindness; for they have been ever of old.

Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; according to Thy mercy remember Thou me for Thy goodness sake, O Lord.”

For God to remember someone, is for God to fix that person in His affections.

Is 49:15-16 “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.

Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands;…”

Christ’s graven palms, speak of His remembering all for whom He died…..the penitent thief…..you, me…..for our names are there where the nail prints are.

Luke 23:43 “And Jesus said unto him, Verily (Truth) I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with Me in paradise.”

This thief died…..but lived by faith in Christ Jesus.

We all, too, are presented with Christ Jesus.

To some He is nothing more than an object to mock and insult….

To others, they begin to see the goodness and holiness of Christ, and are drawn to Him…being honest about themselves….and receiving Him as Lord and Savior…

….they ask to be remembered of Him.

And He will….always.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

The Battle of the Ages

1 Corinthians 15:24-25 “Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.

For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet.”

The battle of the ages rages all around us, and we all,….aware or unaware….are part of it.

The battle of the ages is that battle between God and evil….

….it is a battle that God knew would come when He first decided to create.

The Godhead saw by their omniscience the rebellion of Lucifer and the fall of one third of the angels with him.

They saw a perfect earth turned to chaos:

Genesis 1:1-2 “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”

Complete destruction of it’s original beauty and perfectness,….then re-creation.

They saw the fall of man and the evil that flowed out, after that…..and the necessity of the flood….yet saved, by grace Noah and his family.

Genesis 6:7-8 “And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth;….

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”

They saw the call of Abraham and the establishing of a Jewish Nation….and their failure to follow Him and His Laws.

They saw me and you….our birth, our call….and our twists and turns in the Way God wants us to walk.

They saw when we followed the world to our hurt….and They saw the price Christ would pay to get us back.

They saw our spiritual steps till now…..

…and they see our end.

And at the beginning of it all….the Godhead saw all these things….yet…

..decided to save us:

God the Father would draw us to God the Son.

God the Son would….at the fullness of time to become the Man Christ Jesus and pay the price of our salvation.

And God the Holy Spirit would become the indwelling instrument of His Eternal life to us day by day….for all eternity.

We are either for God….or against Him…..

….there is no neutral ground….before the Throne of God….

…for that is where we all will be….one day.

For Christians….the Throne of God is a throne of mercy and grace:

Hebrews 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly to the Throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

For unbelievers….the Throne of God is the place they will be judged….for all those things done….in their rejection of Christ….

Revelations 20:11-12 “And I saw a great white Throne, and Him that sat on it , from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

(What an terrible thought….no place before Him, now….no place in His mercy or long-suffering love, now!)

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dad were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”

What we must understand, is that the battle is a spiritual battle….yet fought in spirit, soul and body.

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.”

The body is the Temple of the Lord, for God, in the person of the Holy Spirit indwells us.

People believe that the spiritual life is only in the spirit….they think they can ignore the body.

But the body is an extension of the spirit and soul:

The feet for walking at His direction,

The hands to work HIs Way,

The tongue to speak for Him,

The ear to hear HIs Words,

The eye to look at everything, under His control.

This is how the body…the whole life finds itself under the kingdom of Christ…..we are to bring our body to the Holy Spirit and deny ourselves….

…for our eyes and ears affect the heart.

So when our eyes wander, or our ears are tuned to the world…we have allowed an occasion to the Adversary of our souls…and he has already gained a small victory.

The attack is against our affections, our reasons, our thought life, our anger—past and present, and what we believe.

It is one where we are under attack,…for the sole purpose of getting us to give up on God…..to forsake His Will and way for us….

….to defeat the Lord’s Will in our lives.

Here in Romans, the mercies of God (the kindness of God to sinners)…call us to offer up our bodies in love to the Holy Spirit….that we might be free.

True freedom is to be free from sin.

We are not to be conformed to the world…..or “the age” we find ourselves in.

(Has anyone noticed the sadness, the anger since Covid? Or the frantic seeking for entertainment for the moment….afraid of what’s next?)

We can be transformed…..amazing word….from the natural inclination of “the age”.

We have had our part in it,…..yet again mercy comes with “renewing”….

…producing a order and attitude….in our lives…

….this is the reign of Christ through our bodies.

(This is not just refreshment and strength….but the actual saving us…and the real giving of another temperament for our lives, altogether.)

This is what the Everlasting Covenant was for:

Hebrews 13:20-21 “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant.

Make you perfect (complete) in every good work to do His Will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Go down to the Potter’s House.

Jeremiah 18:1-2 “The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord saying, Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there will I cause thee to hear My words.”

Jeremiah was God’s Prophet. He spoke to Judah for God. But when called to go to the potter’s house, he did not refuse,…..because God spoke to him.

He went, without question, to hear what God would say,……he didn’t say. “Hey, Lord, I am your prophet. I don’t need to go to a potter’s house. He only makes pots, but I give your message to priests, the king, and the people….You just speak to me.”

No,……Jeremiah wanted to hear the Lord’s Word,…..no matter how or through who it came.

Jeremiah 18:3-4 “Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.

And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel as seemed good to the potter to make it.”

Now the potter uses clay and water (lots of water) to make the clay very pliable in his hands.

The two are mixed together, and when the clay seems soft enough;…..the shaping starts.

The potter starts the wheel and puts the clay on; and begins to shape the vessel he wants to make.

But the vessel was marred, because the clay had a hard spot.

The water had not been absorbed into that part of the clay, so when the potter’s hand was trying to form it,……it refused to bend, and so it destroyed the pattern, marring the vessel.

Often we are the same way.

The Holy Spirit has spoken to us, trying to work the “water” of the Lord’s Word in us,…..and we just refuse to hear….at least in some spots of our life.

(In scripture water is a picture of the Holy Spirit working through the Word; Ephesians 5:26 “That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word.)

When we do not yield to the Word, it becomes a dry, hard spot in our life.

Then when the Lord is forming us according to His Will, we become marred, and unable to be molded into what He wants.

(Sometimes the hard part tears a hole in the vessel, sometimes it just will not bend, or yield to the Potter’s hand.)

“……So he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.”(Jeremiah 18:4)

So what does the potter do? What did He do with Israel? And what does God do with us?

Does He give up on us? No.

Jeremiah 18:6 “O house of Israel, can not I do with you as this potter? Saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in Mine hand, O house of Israel.”

He takes the hard clay out , and then adds more water till the clay is completely pliable, so that the rest of the clay is reusable: to be able to be made into what the Lord wants.

The hard spots in us are varied:

They are those things the Lord has told us to do, and we have put off.

We know what the Lord is telling us. We know what we should do;…..but we think we have a better plan.

We even come to believe that the Lord will not care…it is such a small thing.

But it becomes a hard place, and comes between us and God in our lives, until it is removed.

Or this hard spot is a resentment we have left unconfessed (why should I confess this attitude? They did this to me. Let them apologize first!),………so it festers into something between the Lord and us.

[I will tell you, speaking from personal experience, that these things are deadening. They make you insensible to God’s voice. Any attitude , hurt, or affections which pushes you away from God (His call, His love, His power to do for you) causes real separation.

Forgiveness is freedom—do not let anyone tell you different. Forgiving someone frees you from their control. They can not hurt you anymore; for forgiveness lifts you above them.]

But once these (and any other “hard” places) are removed, the Holy Spirit can add the water of the Word to us, making us pliable in His hands; so He can form us into a Vessel unto honor, meet for the Master’s use.

(Pliable to His hands. See what He does! His hands in us, and for us—for He shapes our circumstances, our path, as well as us.)

2 Timothy 2:19-21 “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, Let every one that name the the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor and some of dishonor.

If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.”

Do you want to be “prepared”? Nothing coming between you and your Lord?

Ready to face any challenge, or call?

Then yield; give yourselves into the hands of the Almighty Potter, and let Him work within you—and see what He will work for you.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

An Expected End

Jeremiah. 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

This expected end here, is “the thing that the Lord longs for”.

This expected end is to hear when we get to heaven: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”. (Matthew 25:21)

God expects us to follow Him, and to this end He works within us and on us; so that He can bless us.

When we are first born again, our love of the Lord Jesus is very strong……
…..something, or someone has come between our heart’s affection and the Lord……our sight becomes affected.

We no longer see Christ as our all.

First it is “Christ and….everything else in their place.”
But then, it is “something…and Christ”

He has already slipped into a second place.

Jeremiah 29:13 “And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart.”

Jeremiah is telling God’s people that God will be found of those who seek for Him.

For you see, “seek” and “search” are words used only when something is lost. Israel had lost true fellowship with God.

But the Lord says: “seek” Me:
The word is used as though we must go out of our comfort zone and look around us.
When we do,…..we can begin to see all the abundance of things He has done for us……and said to us.
To seek, is to think on these things, and on Who He is.

And as we do, we will “find Me.”

We are to “search” with all our hearts:
That is to take everything apart if necessary, to find the most valuable Object: Christ Jesus, Himself.
It is to throw away the other things we trust in, or have looked to.

We must tear away the pretenses we have wrapped ourselves in. (I’m OK, sure I’m not as close to the Lord as before, it seems as though something has come between us; but I’m sure it will work itself out? Right?)
When we do get these things out of the way:

“And I will be found of you, saith the Lord:…” (Jeremiah 29:14)

I have been as the Prodigal son, in a “far country” from God. But when I, too, “came to myself”, and saw things as they really were; I came home to the Father. (Luke 15:17-24)
The Father does not berate him, but runs out to meet him….and restores him.
So He does with all who will “seek” and “search”; and come home to Him.

There is an expected end for each believer. The thing He longs for.
That He may say to all of us: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

True North on the Compass of your Life

There is a magnetic north, which is not true north.

You can navigate with magnetic north for short trips. It will get you in the general vicinity.

But to navigate across the vast spaces, you need true north…..for that is calculated by lines of longitude.

So to navigate accurately, especially for long trips, over long distances and time; you must be able to ascertain true north.

As Christians, we have a long journey ahead of us. Whether we are born again as children, or adults; we have the rest of our lives to be guided as we are on our way to heaven.

This is called Eternal life….for it is a condition of life…now and forever in heaven, with God.

As journeymen in this life, we are all given a part in the Purpose of God….a personal calling and gifts, from the Lord; who gives us His Holy Spirit to enable us to do.

He give us a “goal or prize” to head for…

Philippians 3:13-14 “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things where 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.”

All are called as witnesses….some as teachers of His Word, some as prayer warriors, some as preachers, some as peacemakers….etc.

We are never without purpose each day.

Ephesians 2:8-10 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Not of works, lest any man should boast.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

For we are His workmanship,…..and that means that we are molded into the character of Christ Jesus,…..for good works:….and He has made full provision, so we might walk in them.

(Full provision? How? First…The Lord has provided us with His Holy Spirit, Who gives us faith by which we can overcome the way of the world (1 John 5:4-5)

Second…There is guidance….by His Word.

Third…the Holy Spirit enables us with His “fruit” in our lives: peace, joy, long-suffering, gentleness, etc. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Fourth…there is love…His love encouraging, and yes, empowering us to go on.)

Our purpose is to walk in those good works, He has given us to do.

This includes our words, and actions:

Titus 3:8 “This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.”

So, if we are to navigate our life through this wicked world; from here all the way to heaven, we need to find true north.

What is true north for each Christian?

True North for each of us is making Jesus Christ, Lord of our lives.

And He is not Lord of us, until we determine to obey Him….in all our ways.

If we were talking about a car; His Lordship is the power in the engine…submitting to Him gives us power in our lives to do anything……and our obedience is the wheels,….they are in the world…but going forward.

And of course He is driving.

John 7:17 “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whither it be of God, or whither I speak of myself.”

John 7:17 (LNT) “If any of you really determines to do God’s will, then you will certainly know whether My teaching is from God or merely My own.”

I rarely use any other translation but the King James Version. But this translation in the LNT describes what I have found to be so: We need to “really determine” to do God’s Will.

This is a picture of digging in : “I’m going to do this no matter what it cost me” determination.

That is what making Jesus Christ our Lord takes.

We know His will by doing it. If we do it today, then tomorrow when we seek His Will, it will come easier.

(And of course, if we hesitate and put it off, tomorrow it will be harder to find it)

The world’s influence, and our old selves, and the devil are against us.

The old me will tell me, “Well, if I was still in charge, I would not require you to pray so much. After all, we’re busy. God knows what we need.”

And the world will say, “Why not laugh at that joke? So what, it was a little “bad”. A little won’t hurt.”

But if Jesus is Lord to me, it is not what I would do, or what the world says is OK, but where He leads, and how He would have me to go.

It is a process. I believe you can commit yourself to the Lord, as Lord; but then it is a matter of putting everything in our lives in His order.

What is first for me to see to…and sometimes it comes down to what is first today, Lord?

(I have found that the five minutes to pray at the breakfast table for my family, places them before God, today. Of course, He knows what is ahead for each of us….but placing them in His hands for their conversations, actions, and the influence of the Holy Spirit in their lives….is our responsibility as their mother and father.)

No, it is not a list that is handed out; but a conviction from the Holy Spirit within which shows us the way.

This is His order:

Philippians 2:12-13 “Wherefore my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling:

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”

Notice that we are to work out what God works in.

We are to work out, practically, the power to be saved from our sin that Christ Jesus works in us, by His Holy Spirit.

We are to work out that grace God gives….putting it to use in our lives.

We are to work out that peace which should be a hallmark of “Christ in us the hope of glory”.

Then we have that true north on the compass of our lives;……His guidance will guide us for today….tomorrow….and we will surely get to our destination…..in the joy and peace He has for us.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

The Work of the Spirit of Truth

John 14:16-17 “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever,

Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world can not receive; because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you; and shall be in you.”

The first work the Holy Spirit does in us, as Christians, is to come and be with us forever.

This is one of the greatest blessings we have.

God is with us, by His Holy Spirit, so that we are never alone, never deserted, never apart from His love and care for us.

John 14:26 “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

The next work the Holy Spirit does within us, is to teach us things:

He brings to mind the Word we have heard, reminding us of what Jesus has said to us;…..and telling us what we should do.

He teaches us about the circumstances around us; for He gives us His wisdom concerning the people and things of our days.

John 15:26-27 “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me;

And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.”

The Holy Spirit teaches us how to witness of Christ. We do this in two ways.

First, by our lives showing all we come into contact with, that we belong to Christ.

(There are many who will never get a glimpse of Jesus, except we show Him to them.)

Second, by our testimonies about what Christ has done for us.

The Holy Spirit gives us the words to say, and also the enablement to say them.

John 16:13-14 “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.

He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine and shall show it unto you.”

The Spirit of truth will guide you into all truth…..

This is personal, private truth;….that which you need to know, each day.

How many things we could avoid, if we were more sensitive to Him, and what He is telling us?

And how much more we could have enjoyed other things, if we could have seen that this was what He wanted for us, at the time?

And He will show you things to come.

I’ve been warned by the Holy Spirit within, concerning certain circumstances that were coming up. Warned against being part of them; also warned about what to say.

“He shall glorify Me”, the Lord Jesus said.

As I die to self’s demands, the Holy Spirit lifts up Christ in me. He glorifies Christ by this.

For He shall receive of Mine, and show it unto you. It is His Spirit within us, making all the things of Christ real to us.

The Work of the Spirit of Truth is to guide us into all truth concerning God….concerning ourselves,….concerning the situations of our lives.

He lives within us, giving us the reality of the truth of God.

He enlightens us, so we can know where to go, and how to go. And with the enlightenment, He gives us power to live the life we have been given to do.

And He shows us Christ.

Again and Again and Again, the Holy Spirit brings to our minds and hearts, our dear Lord Jesus, His love, and His peace.

He shows us Christ, as our example, and encourages us to follow Him.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth….He will open up the light of truth to us…shall we yield to Him?

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

The Work Goes On

Acts 5:12 “And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch.”

To be of “one accord” is to be in complete subjection to Christ Jesus. The accord is with Him. We “agree” with what He wants for us.

This is what they all were here.

On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Ghost was given to the believers gathered in Jerusalem, as Jesus had told them to do. Many were saved under Peter’s message of:

Acts 2:38 “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

But as soon as there was a church, there was also opposition. (Our Adversary, the devil, seeks to wreak anything of God.)

Acts 5:17-18 “Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees) and were filled with indignation.

And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.”

Peter and John had been threatened before, and told by the religious rulers, not to preach in Jesus name.

(It is a Name at which every knee shall bow one day. Philippians 2:9-11)

But they continued to speak and preach in the Name of Jesus; for they told them “we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

So now they were put in prison.

Yet, The Lord sends His angel and delivers them.

Acts 5:19-20 “But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said,

Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.”

A command was given them to go right back in the temple,…….right where these religious rulers would be able to find them,…..and preach “all the words of this life”.

What Jesus had taught, and how He had been crucified, and raised up the third day; to save all who would receive Him.

Acts 5:21-22, 25 “And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together,…and sent to the prison to have them brought.

But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison,…

Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people.”

This was what the Lord wanted, both to encourage His disciples, and to awaken the religious rulers (if they would be awakened) to His Presence with His own, and the power of His Word.

When they were brought again from the temple to the council, the high priest asked them:

“Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name?”

Now, under the Old Testament Law, they should have obeyed the high priest; But…

Acts 5:29 “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”

Then Peter begins to preach to them:

(How many times have they heard? Yet Jesus Christ is presented again…how long-suffering He is, “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9)

Acts 5:30-32 “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.

Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

(But you have to acknowledge you are a sinner)

And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him.”

Hearing this, the council “was cut to the heart”—simply they knew absolutely within themselves, that Jesus was God’s Son, and they were being offered forgiveness and a way to come to Him….again.

But they refused this mercy: “When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.” (Acts 5:33)

Yet one man, Gamaliel, stood up. He knew the Law, and trusted in the God of that Law.

He spoke of how God brings to nothing those who say they are something, when they are not.

He gave some examples, and concluded:

“Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:

But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” (Acts 5:35-39)

Very good advice….but not spiritual advice…

…perceptive, but not submissive to God.

Wait and see….is never a good idea when God comes knocking on your heart, saying…”This is Me, let Me in.”

Now I believe that each man knew they were fighting against God: had been and were.

So they agreed with Gamaliel, hoping to ease their guilty conscience.

What did they do? They could not kill them, or imprison them (if God wanted them out).

But they beat them, and threatened them again, not to speak in Jesus’s Name.

Acts 5:41-42 “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His Name.

And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.”

These religious rulers could not stop the spread of the gospel….for the disciples had more than a knowledge of the truth of these things….they had fervent love for Jesus Christ.

Joy and rejoicing should be our heart’s reward for obedience. Courage and strength also come to those who obey Him.

Today the work goes on, as well.

Are we entering into our part?

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

The sin of sitting under an oak

1 Kings 13:1-3 “And, Behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the Lord unto Beth-el: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense.

And he cried against the altar in the word of the Lord, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the Lord; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee….

And he gave a sign….saying, This is the sign….Behold the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out.”

The kingdom has been torn in two after Solomon’s death. His son reigns in Judah….and Jeroboam reigns in Israel.

This split would cause many problems….deaths….and finally the downfall of both Judah and Israel…

…..though through God’s mercy (sending prophets to awaken them to return to Him)…..it would be several hundred years before it happened.

Israel was the worst of the two….for Jeroboam began setting up a rival religion immediately….afraid if Israel went to worship at Jerusalem, he would lose his power.

(Sadly,….for you would think that Israel would know better….he set up two golden calf’s, saying…..and doesn’t it sound familiar? Exodus 32:4….that these are the gods that brought them out of Egypt. 1 Kings 12:27-28, 30)

A man of God was sent to prophesy against the wicked altar that Jeroboam in Israel, had set up.

This man was not named…..nor his tribe….nor anything…..except that he was sent by the Word of the Lord.

The man of God did that,…..and as he spoke the king pointed to him and cried, “Lay hold on him” (1 Kings 13:4)

….suddenly the kings hand and arm, was dried up, so he could not move it!

The king, so eager to imprison him a moment ago…..begged for healing….

….and the man of God prayed…and the kings hand and arm were healed!

At the same time, the altar was rent in two, and the ashes of their sacrifices poured out!

Just as the Word of God had said,……which was spoken by the man of God.

Very amazing!…proving that what this man of God said, would truly come to pass,….later. And it did. (2 Kings 23:15-16)

Now, if this was all the story…..it would be grand and glorious….but it was not the end.

When we are given God’s Word to share….

….we are not only to speak God’s Word…..but we are to obey everything we have been told about it…..

….it is God’s Word, and there should be reverence about it.

(How many times the Lord has said to me, to preach His Word….

…..and I want to add an explanation….”it will make it more understandable, Lord”…..as though the Holy Spirit needed my help in explaining things! Crazy, I know. Praise God for His correction and help to me, always.)

….but the problem was….this man was to give his message….and leave.

Get back into Judah….about eleven miles away.

Don’t eat or even drink water in this place!

(God was manifesting the evil of that place….whether people believed His Word, or not.)

1 Kings 13:9 “For so was it charged me by the Word of the Lord, saying, Eat no bread, nor drink water, nor return again by the same way that thou camest.”

This man left…..and got about half way there, when….

….. this man sat down under an oak…..not yet to Judah….not yet fully obedient.

1 Kings 13:14 “And went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak:…”

What was he doing?

Thinking about what he had just seen….

……about the grand things the Lord had just done!

Thinking about the wonderful things God had done through him…..

(which is always amazing….that God can use us to speak to someone to show them God’s Word)

And in doing so, this man got tricked by someone who lied to him (“…an angel spake unto me…” 1 Kings 13:18)

An old prophet in Israel heard of what happened….and went after this man of God….whether for news of Judah, or companionship, or curiosity….it does not say.

Now the prophet would never have caught him if the man of God had kept going….back to Judah….which the Lord had told him….specifically.

But this prophet found him sitting under an oak….

….and lied to him.

“Come home with me….have some food and drink…..an angel told me to come after you,”

Sadly, the man of God….who was glad to have someone to talk to…

…..decided to be obedient to the prophet, rather than God’s guidance to himself.

When he became disobedient (“so he went back…and did eat…and drank water.” 1 Kings 13:19)….

….”Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the Lord, and hast not kept the commandment which the Lord thy God commanded thee,….thy carcass shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers.” I Kings 13:21-22.

The man of God left….but on his way back to Judah….

…….”a lion met him…and slew him…” 1 Kings 13:24

…..he was never to return to Judah!

And all these things are written for our learning:

How easy it is for us, to get caught up in our own thoughts of things:

Of how they “should” be.

Of what happened…

Of what they could have been….

Of our part in it all.

We can go over and over and over it…..but that will not change it…..or enlarge it….or diminish it, in reality.

Only in our perspective will it change.

What we can do, is strive to set everything we do aside to the Lord….

…..before…

…..during…

…..and after….it it in His hands.

For if it is in His hands,….it and we, are safe.

As Paul said,……and I am sure it was through much experience,….

Philippians 4:11-13 “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

I know both how to be abased, and how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

And this is what each Christian is to do:

All the things we have to do in our life……through Christ Jesus’ strength.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

God’s Recipe for Obedience.

Hebrews 4:2 “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.”

The Word….not mixed with faith….

My Grandma had a recipe for gingerbread….which had to be done in a certain order….exactly like she showed me….or….poof…all the ingredients and work was for nothing….it would fall….and be ginger-goo.

Obedience is more than just doing….

….if it was just that, God would have been happy with the many sacrifices Israel made….while they were cheating their neighbors…..(Jeremiah 7:21-23, Amos 8:4-7)

Obedience is willingly doing what you are told….and that is a matter of the heart, mind, and will….the whole of us, serving the Lord wholly.

John 14:15, 21 “If ye love Me, keep my commandments.

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.”

When the writer to the Hebrews says…”the word preached did not profit them,”……he meant it did not benefit them…it was not useful to them….for they did not “mix it with faith”.

Instead they “mixed” His Words with doubt and unbelief….

So it was in Nazareth, when Jesus came back for a visit….

Mark 6:1, 5-6 “And He (Jesus) went out from thence, and came into His own country (Nazareth); and His disciples follow Him.

And He could there do no mighty work, save that He laid His hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.

And He marveled because of their unbelief. And He went round about the villages, teaching.”

This tells the same recipe……unbelief hindered the “mighty” works of Christ….the works of spiritual reality….though He could still heal some of the people.

Our unbelief limits the outflow of God’s grace….for faith is the open door to God.

When faith in God and His Word is “mixed” properly with circumstances….things happen according to God’s blessing….we begin to make the things which God has said would be,….our own….and enjoy them.

We all have particular weaknesses. And without faith to hold on to Christ….we will fall under them.

The particular weakness for Nazareth….

Mark 6:2-3 “And when the sabbath day was come, He began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing Him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? And what wisdom is this which is given unto Him, that even such mighty works are wrought by HIs hands?

Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary,………And they were offended at Him.”

They thought the “mighty works”, were the healing by His hands….

……but God thinks “mighty works” are believing in Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior.

In Luke it says, that He shows to them that He is the Messiah:

Luke 4:17-19, 21 “And there was delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written,

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

And He began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”

But they hindered faith…..refused His grace….and were not obedient to His Word.

They had known Him before, as the carpenter……and they refused to believe what they heard….though they said, “what wisdom is this!”

And they refused to believe what they were seeing……”He laid His hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.”

So, by unbelief “the Word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it”.

How often our unbelief limits the grace God wants to give….and grace is the unmerited favor of power….or the ability to do what He requires.

If our faith is weak, or lacking….our obedience is limited….for the power of God is lacking through it.

We may be “going through with it”….but unbelief stifles the Spirit, and hinders the blessing.

A limited obedience prevents us from enjoying what God has for us….and when we are not enjoying the things God has for us, then we experience discouragement, and discontent.

(We are discouraged….without courage. Faith gives us courage to stand with and for God….but without it we are not standing for anything.

Discontentment leads us to look somewhere else for satisfaction, than in the Lord’s Word to us.)

So what is the recipe for Obedience?

We need to “mix” faith with His Word to us…

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

Faith is substance….it is real. It is not “I wish, I wish, I wish”…..

….faith grabs our heart, mind and will….and fills them with the knowledge of God, and His mercy and might.

But we have to yield to it…

Faith gives evidence in our lives that we belong to Christ….by leading us into believing obedience.

God’s recipe for obedience is to use the faith He has given us, by His Holy Spirit……and hang on to His Word.

Lean heavily, if necessary, on Him….He can carry every weight….but keep believing in Him…

Hebrews 10:35 “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.”

(If you will read Hebrews 11, the faith chapter,….person after person continued in faith….and received the blessing of God.)

We all have weaknesses….but faith is given us, to lead us out of them….into the joy….of God’s Will done, in me.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

They mocked Him, beat Him, and Spit upon His Face

Three times Jesus had to endure the humiliation of the mockery, and the cruelty of the various beatings:

The chief priests and elders:

Mark 14:63-65. “Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we of any further witnesses?

Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned Him to be guilty of death.

And some began to spit on Him, and to cover His face, and to buffet Him, and say unto Him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike Him with the palms of their hands.”

They first spit on Him, covering His face with their spit.

They struck Him and said, “Tell us who hit you?” “Tell us which hand hit you, left or right?”

But notice it is the servants of these priests and elders which do the striking. The chief priests and elders would not get their hands bloody, so they could say they were “clean” when it came to His blood.

(How they fooled themselves!)

Then they led Him away, so they could get Rome to kill Him.

Herod and His soldiers:

Luke 23:11 “And Herod with his men of war set Him at nought, and mocked Him, and arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him again to Pilate.”

Herod did the least, but mocked Him in his court.

He made Him contemptible in front of his soldiers, by putting a robe on Him. Then they bowed, and called Him king. Laughing at the sight of Jesus with such a beautiful robe.

But Jesus was a king.

The King of kings: as He said later, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence…..To this cause I was born….that I should bear witness of the truth. Everyone that is of the truth heareth my voice.” (John 18:36-37)

Pilate and His soldiers:

John 19:1 “And Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged Him.”

The scourge was made of the sinews of oxen. Sharp bones were intertwined in places, so that every time the lash came down, these small bones would tear into the flesh of the prisoner.

Though Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent, yet he commanded Him to be scourged.

The cruelty of this is seen in Pilate washing his hands; saying he is innocent of Jesus’s blood.

Matthew 27:27-31. “Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto Him the whole band of soldiers.

They stripped Him, put on Him a scarlet robe.

And when they had pleated a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head, and a reed in His right hand: and they bowed the knee before Him, and mocked Him, saying, Hail, king of the Jews!

And they spit upon Him, and took the reed, and smote Him on the head.

And after that they had mocked Him, they took the robe off from Him, and put His own raiment on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him.”

First they beat Him with out mercy with the scourge. Tearing into His flesh, and making the blood run.

But that was not enough sport: They stripped Him naked, giving only a scarlet robe and a crown of thorns to wear. They gave Him a reed as a scepter, but there was a cruel reason.

Bowing and mocking, first. Then taking the reed the whole band of soldiers beat Him on the head with it.

Isaiah 52:14 “As many were astonished at Thee; His visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men:”

(This was the prophesy concerning the beatings. His face was so beaten, they could not tell it was the face of a man.)

Jesus was beaten in cruel mockings. But He endured all of this for us.

Isaiah 53:5 “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.”

[Sometimes we are “beaten up” in our social life, cruel things happen.

Sometimes we are in troubles from finances, or “pressed down” under circumstances which seem without a solution.

Sometimes we are depressed, in darkness, because of the past, present, or what we see as a hopeless future.

Life is very hard at times…..impossible for us….alone.

Let me remind you, here, that the Lord never belittles our pain, or our anxieties.

On the contrary, the Bible says:

Hebrews 4:14-15 “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

For we have not a high priest which can not be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

He knows how we feel. He knows pain and darkness…and trusted in the only One who could bring Him through it, to do so.

And God, the Father, did. He is our God, and Father, too.

And that is not all. Because Jesus went through this, we now can go through these things, too. He has gone before us, and had the victory over them already….so we can.

But He also goes with us….

God, the Father, is our Father….

Jesus is our Mediator, and Counselor….

The Holy Spirit is our inner light……Hold on to Him, and He will not fail you.

He knows, and since He knows, He is already working in us, and for us, to bring us through.

Hebrews 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Mercy is God’s kindness (spiritual and temporal) to sinners; And grace is His unmerited favor of power (ability to do).]

Imagine, He did all of this for us, for me.

Hallelujah, What a Savior!