Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Matthew 25:1 “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.”(page)

This begins the parable of the ten virgins…..

…five which are wise…for they not only brought their lamps….but extra oil for them….”in their vessels”….trying to be prepared for every good work (Ephesians 2:10)…..while waiting for their Bridegroom.

(In scripture, wise means reverent to God and His commandments. Only the Holy Spirit works this awe in us.)

….five which are foolish….for they brought lamps but no extra oil for them….”shining”,…..only looking forward to their reward and happiness forever.

(In scripture foolish means “heedless”….turning a deaf ear to God’s commands….as though they could bypass them. The Lord said, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments”. It is not agreeing with His Will, but doing His Will that shows our love to Him.)

They were all …..full of excitement for the celebration to come….at the first.

They thought that they were all ready to light their lamps when He came!

But the bridegroom tarried. He did not come when expected….so they first sat down…..then they fell asleep….all of them.

But there was a shout, to wake them up….(praise God that He sends some to wake us up! How many awakenings and revivals have come by the voice of….”the Bridegroom cometh!”)

So they all got up….and tried to “trim their lamps”…..

That is, they began to be diligent in the outward forms of religion….Bible study, going to church, praying.

But the error was not in the lamps……in the outward actions……but in the oil (a picture of the Holy Spirit)…..

…..some had Him….some did not.

The wise had extra in their vessels…..for the Holy Spirit is always with us…..and when we yield to Him there is abundant power for enlightening, and courage.

It is true they were guilty…..they did not stay awake and shine for Christ as they should…..but when they were awakened…..they got themselves right with God, yielding to the Holy Spirit……and right with others…..

….standing ready for the Bridegroom’s coming.

But the foolish had none. Why? Did not they have lamps? Yes….there are many which have the outward form of Christianity…..many good works are done by people who love what Jesus stands for….yet who have never given themselves to Christ Jesus the Lord.

Weren’t the foolish prepared at first? No, for they never had a supply of oil….or the Holy Spirit.

Many have a ‘spirit’ of enthusiasm….or a ‘spirit’ of happiness at being part of something larger than themselves….

….but only the wise had the supply of oil (Holy Spirit) that would not run out.

Matthew 25:8 “And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.”

You would think this the right thing to do…..but the wise said that they could not provide for them…..

….Only God could…and that is what these foolish refused to do from the first…they would not “go” or submit to God…….for “foolish” is heedless.

Matthew 25:10 “ And while they went to buy, the Bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with Him to the marriage: and the door was shut.”

Jeremiah 8:20 “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”

Time runs out for every person on earth.

These foolish virgins had let their time of “seeking the Lord” go by…..without doing it….till time had run out.

Like Jeremiah, I often look at our generation and feel:

Jeremiah 8:21, 9:1 “For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt;….astonishment hath taken hold on me.

Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!”

How many around us need to hear the gospel?

How many we meet, can see the Light of Christ shining in us?

Jeremiah 8:22 “Is there no balm in Gilead: is there no Physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?”

Yes, there is a balm to heal every ailment.

Yes, there is a great Physician to mend and heal every sin…..Jesus Christ the Lord.

Let us awaken…..and…..be wise and receive Him and His Word to us…..and shine as lights in this world.

We can not give the “oil” of the Holy Spirit to others…..but we can sure lead them to the Lord Jesus Christ….before it is too late.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Spiritual Warfare: Our thought Life.

Our thought life is important. We often just think that what we do is important, and it is. But what we think, and what we allow ourselves to think on, is important to God.

2 Corinthians 10:3 “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: “

Our flesh is our natural self life.

It is what we have become over the years as Adam’s children.

It is our habits, our desires, our plans, and our way of thinking; all of which make us do, and say, and act, the way we do.

This is the flesh.

When we become born again, and Christ’s life is within us by the Holy Spirit, then our flesh fights against the new life; so that it will not have to obey Christ, but can continue to do what it pleases.

A warfare takes place within us:

Galatians 5:17 “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”

“The things that ye would”, are those things that Christ leads you in, for you are born again, and want to serve Him.

But, because there is warfare within, it hinders the joy of service, and often the service is marred.

What to do?……..we can not get rid of the flesh, it will always be with us.

But we can win the battles to bring it into subjection to our King, Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;)

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”

What are these “strongholds”? They are those thoughts that take hold in our minds and do not let go.

They could be a “good” reason; or by the emotions flowing and toward a certain motive.

In the Spirit, we may know it is not right, though we can not tell how; but how ever it comes; if it is not dealt with,…….it builds a fortress in our thoughts.

It could be about the value of a certain thing. Simple in itself; but given power over the thought life by the flesh,…….and built upon again and again, because every time you go to get rid of it;…..and don’t,….it’s value becomes stronger.

(I once knew a Christian who became convinced that there was no hell. He, of course, did not want to think about some of the people he knew who would go to hell, because they were not born again. It became a big snare in his life; and dulled his sense of urgency where dealing with the lost was concerned.)

If you refuse, once, to deal with it; then the Adversary inflates the object with all sorts of affections, or opinions……to keep it.

“Casting down imaginations”. Our imagination is a faculty which brings to our minds, in pictures, the things we are dealing with.

We can let our thoughts “go”, and pretty soon, we are in a world of our own making; no reality; where the truth is what we want it to be.

Dangerous…….because the truth can then be twisted to be what the Adversary wants it to be….into a lie.

Casting down imaginations is tearing them down, to reveal the Truth that is in Jesus for this situation.

It can be a tough fight,…..

But again the fight is not with carnal or natural weapons, but mighty through God, by His Holy Spirit, to cast them down in our affection………. for so that we can be free from the influence of the Adversary through them.

In a world where “virtual reality” is accepted everywhere, we need to be especially careful, if we want to please the Lord Jesus Christ; Who is the Truth.

John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Or we may end up like those Paul warned of:

2 Timothy 3:5 “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

The power of God is mighty to pulling down strongholds with in our minds;…..and to cast down imaginations which have given a alternate view of Reality.

The power of God is through the Holy Spirit….working in our hearts.

“Every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God”.

God will tell you something; through His Word, the preaching and teaching of ministers, or personal communication. Then you hear, “You don’t really believe that do you?”

That is a high thing which is exalting itself against the knowledge of God.

God has said something to you, He is dealing with you about this situation; and the Devil would sent a doubt, and a hesitation, or a “very good reason, not to do what God said”.

What is it that we must do? Try and reason with the Devil? No! Eve tried that and sin was the result.

We can not reason in the flesh, or try and work up affections for God in the flesh; but we can yield to the Holy Spirit within us, and let Him lead us, in bringing every thought and affection, into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

When we do, we will be captives of God’s reasons, And captives of His love.

If ye love me, keep my commandments; Jesus said. (John 14:15). And when we do love Him, we will. This is where God’s power comes in.

His Power is given to us as we bring ourselves into captivity by the Holy Spirit to have His Life.

To have His Light, to see reality.

To have His love shed abroad in our hearts. (Romans 5:5).

To have His peace, shelter us.

To have His joy, make us strong.(Nehemiah 8:10)

We can make ourselves our own lord; and every time we refuse to yield to the clear command of God, that is what we are doing.

But that is bondage of the worst kind. Strongholds, Virtual Reality for Reality, and a form of godliness.

Or we can yield to the Holy Spirit, and have the power of God, which is mighty, working within us, to bring us into captivity to the Life of God.

Which will we have?

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Obedience

God is Sovereign…..and He claims His right….His prerogative, to rule.

Sometimes His rule is unseen, with those who are unthankful, and disobedient….for He rules and overrules in all circumstances.

Sometimes His rule is seen, with those whose obedience to His commands bring down peace, love and joy.

Obedience then is the one thing in life that will decide man’s destiny.

In the life of man, to obey God is the one thing needful.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep HIs commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”

In our obedience, we “side with” God,…..or in our disobedience, we “side with” the Adversary of our souls, and his principal of rebellion.

(He said to our first parents……“Ye shall not surely die”. Genesis 3:4

“It won’t be like God has warned,…don’t worry….just do what you want…and I will tell you what you want.” So the Adversary tricked Adam and Eve…..and so he has tricked us down through the ages. Are we still listening to him?)

1 Samuel 15:22-23 “And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected thee from being king.”

No amount of religious activity can ever take the place of simple obedience…..no matter what it costs you.

To fail to obey is to reject His Word to us……whether it is for a “better” idea, or reason, or just going after our lusts…..to fail to obey God is a rejection of His Word.

Jeremiah 7:21-23 “Thus saith the Lord of hosts,…

For I said not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices:

But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be My people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.”

When the Lord first brought Israel out of Egypt, He did not give them a system of sacrifices, at first (actually it was months later, at Sinai)……but He told them to obey Him (Exodus 15:26)

And this is what He requires of us, as well…

…….because we love Him.

◦ John 14:21 “He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me:….”

Obedience is our choice to follow Christ…..to give unto Him our hearts and hands….

…not just in words, but in real love, which believes His Word, holds on to it, and does it, though the whole world refuses Him.

Jeremiah 7:28, 9:3 “But thou shalt say unto them, This is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the Lord their God, nor receiveth correction:…..

And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth…..for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not Me, saith the Lord.”

They do not receive correction….and they know not Me, saith the Lord.

One criteria for spirituality…..is to be able to receive correction. (Hebrews 12:5-8)

God corrects those He loves…..for how much we need it! So that we may walk with Him closer,….with more blessing.

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.”

The expected end for His purpose for us.

Though His purpose goes through trials, or storms, or corrections, or blessings….He does it to lead us to our expected end:

The Lord’s “well done, thou good and faithful servant”.

Will we be obedient and choose Him?

The Faithful and True Witness says of Us.

Revelation 3:18 “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thy eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.”

Consider this very carefully: All these things spoken of here, every Christian should have.

We should have the gold, which speaks of God in our lives; and how rich we are with Him in our lives!

We should have the white raiment of Christ’s righteousness, to cover us; and the righteous acts of our obedience to our Lord, to adorn His mercy to us.

We should have eyes that see, by faith; for darkness brings blindness. So Christ says to anoint our eyes, by the Holy Spirit, using that honesty which removes the darkness, and brings us to the Light.

Yet the Faithful and True Witness says we lack these three essential things; and are not even aware of it.

How can this be?

It can only be if the letter of the promise is claimed; without the personal experience of that promise.

Christ promises Eternal Life to all who come and receive Him into their hearts and lives.

John 1:12 “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name:”

It is receiving Him, not heaven, which gives us the power to be saved.

In Christ is Life. We open our lives to Him, as sinners in need of a Savior from our sin.

We do not come to Christ to receive heaven, He will not give us “pretend” life, but real life, in Him.

In Laodicea, the Church is seen as gathered in a place which does not have Christ in it.

It is not that He does not have first place there; He does not have any place there.

He is out side the door of His own Church asking that each individual that hears His knock and voice, will open to Him.

It is not the Church door they open, but the door to their hearts and lives; for He offers communion and power to “any man” who will open to Him.

Revelation 3:20″Behold, I stand the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.”

This “sup” is communion, and fellowship.

And then He says that all who overcome will receive throne authority.

Revelation 3:21 “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”

But what do we “overcome”?

We are to overcome anything which stands in the way of God’s Will for us. Just as Christ overcame everything which stood in the way of His Father’s Will for Him.

Will you….give Christ a life open to and receptive to Him?

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

To be Saved Spirit, Soul and Body

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly, and I pray God your whole spirit soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Faithful is He that calleth you, Who also will do it.”

Sanctification is when we are “set aside to sacred use”; to God’s use.

We are sanctified by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; for in their purpose and Will for us, they are One….

“Sanctified by God the Father…” (Jude 1)

“Sanctified in Christ Jesus…” (1 Corinthians 1:2)

“Through sanctification of the Spirit…” (1 Peter 1:2)

Sanctification is done by God and us, cooperating together…….by us yielding to the Holy Spirit’s “artea” or force within….as He manifests the Will of God to us.

Now the very God of Peace sanctify you wholly.

We can not be at odds with God in anything and know this peace. This peace is not judicial (the peace between us and God we get, when we are born again: Romans 5:1)…….but this is personal peace….the peace that garrisons our hearts. (Philippians 4:7)

And this sanctification begins with our spirits. We bring ourselves into subjection to the Holy Spirit, which indwells our spirit.

You yield to the Holy Spirit within…..and when you do, you are empowered to do.

He manifests a “force” within us.

Luke 9:54-56 “And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt Thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elijah did?

But He turned, and rebuked them and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.

For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.”

Jesus turned to his disciples, and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are manifesting. For it is not what I will to do…..for I came to save men, not destroy them.”

The spirit they were showing, was the spirit of anger and revenge. They wanted to “show them”, for rejecting Jesus, and them.

But Jesus said, that it was not the Spirit He would show…..and walked away.

Let us talk of the spirit we show, and how the Lord wants us to be, by the power of the Holy Spirit:

A proud and haughty spirit…..which is surprisingly easy for us to manifest…..we can even be proud that we are born again!

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

An indefensible spirit….we go this way, then that way,….letting circumstances rule us….and our conduct.

Proverbs 25:28 “He that no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and without walls.”

We are responsible to rule our own spirit, by keeping the walls of separation from the world…..up.

An unforgiving spirit….how hard it is to let go of hurt and anger…..until the Lord helps us.

Matthew 18:35 “So likewise shall My Heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not everyone his brother their trespasses.”

We must through the power of the Holy Spirit, forgive from our hearts….and know we have forgiven. To forgive is to not feel the influence of the hurt or insult any more.

The spirit of faithlessness and unbelief:

To start well, and backslide….to come to some temptation which is too strong for us….. unless we give it to the Lord, and get the victory,…..in Him.

Hebrews 3:12 “Take heed brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.”

2 Timothy 4:10 “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world,….”

And a broken spirit, which the Lord will not despise

Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite spirit, O God, Thou wilt not despise.”

The Soul is next:

The Lord Jesus taught that those that truly follow Him, must lose their “life” in themselves,…..in order to gain it….in Him.

We must lose our own way of reasoning and looking at things…..and then….we can begin to value things from an entirely different viewpoint…..His.

The will is dealt with by denying ourselves: saying no to our attitudes and thoughts and going with the Lord in His.

Luke 9:23-24 “And He said to them all, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it.”

In this, the mind and heart is also dealt with….till our minds are “renewed”,…….so we want to think about things the way the Lord does…

Romans 12:2 “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.”

And our hearts are brought out from the prison of worldly lusts (I want this, and I want this now)….to the open sunshine of His love….

Jude 21 “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”

1 John 5:21 “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”

This requires honesty between the Lord and us….but…

…..when this happens our souls quiet ourselves under the loss of anything it formerly loved, and lives….peacefully and joyfully….upon God, and His grace.

Yet these are not separate from our body…..they are seen in our body. The facial expressions we use….the reactions to comments, and to people.

All these are seen in our body.

And our body is to be the temple of the Holy Ghost.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “What! Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own.

For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

2 Corinthians 4:8-10 “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed: we are perplexed, but not in despair,

Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.”

We manifest through our bodies….which we are to give to God,….His character.

Here is where the ordinary living comes in.

As an old preacher once wrote:

“We may enjoy the heavenly things now and again…..or we can elevate the ordinary things we do, each day.

Doing each act as a sacrifice to the Lord….whether sleeping or waking,…..working or resting,….whether with others or by myself; I am walking with the Lord, and all I do, is for Him.”

Sanctification is to set ourselves aside to sacred use….to be used by God anywhere or any how.

And we only set ourselves aside, as we yield to God’s influence, by the Holy Spirit, His Word, and His working:

Philippians 2:12-15 “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.

Do all things without murmurings and disputings.

That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;”

Shining as His lights in this world…..is HIs use of us.

We are taken from darkness, and given light.

Then we are to shine all the light we have, in a world which is in darkness.

What a purpose we have!

And we accomplish it by letting God sanctify us….yielding to Him….and letting His life be manifested,…..in us.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

God’s Correction of the First Church

Revelation 2:4 “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.”

This verse was written toward the end of the Apostolic Age of the church.

The apostles had gone forth into the world, preaching the good news of Christ.

Their hearts were so full of love to Him;….many suffered persecution and death, to show forth Christ, to a dying world.

But time had past. Some believe the Apostolic Age to have lasted only 100 years, before it was plunged into the persecution of the the ten Caesar’s, where thousands of Christians were beaten and fed to lions, to please the bloodthirsty crowds of Rome.

But before the persecution, there was the error of putting work, for Christ,….of putting service in the place of devotion to Christ.

(Now we all need to work for Christ…..there is a work for each of us. But we easily get “wrapped up” in what we are doing…..and lose sight of Who we work for. Service becomes doing…..when Christ says, Obedience to Me, is love service.)

The Apostle Paul had warned this Church about such men that would come in and lead them away, from what was really important: devotion and obedience to Christ, Himself.

Acts 20:28-30 “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

Also of your own selves shall men rise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”

Notice, it is “take heed” unto yourselves…..we are responsible to grow in grace and the knowledge of Christ Jesus.

If you love Christ; what wouldn’t you do for Him?

But if you are doing a work for Christ without great love to Him, what good does it do?

The value of any work, is that it is done out of love to Him: to please and honor Him, as it says in Corinthians…..”….it profits me nothing.”

1 Corinthians 13:3 “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity (love to Christ), it profiteth me nothing.”

The Problem:

Like all of us,…….that church had become focused on one part of our lives. (It is so easy to do)

Revelation 2:2-3 “I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear with them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

And hast borne, and hast patience, and for My Name sake hast labored, and hast not fainted.”

This is all really great stuff! But…..

…they had become so busy in their responsibilities to others (so they thought), that they had set Christ aside.

He was no longer first…..He was no longer the goal to which they “reached forth”

Philippians 3:7-8 “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.”

(This is not for Salvation,….but for a relationship which draws me nearer, nearer still, My Beloved Lord. And we do need to “hang on” in this; for so many things try and lead us away from Him.)

Sadly, for this church, He was no longer the reason they did what they did.

They had fallen short in the loving fellowship and devotion to Christ, Himself,……for themselves.

And there is no bigger step out of the Way of God, than this.

Revelation 2:4 “Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.”

Jesus warns them to repent: To turn around and remember their first love;……the warmness and sweetness of clinging to Christ,…..for themselves in everything.

If we do this, we won’t forget others; but they will be in their proper place.

Behind Christ.

Christ first, everything else next.

How sweet our lives are, as we are walking hand in hand, arm in arm with the “Someone” we love.

Christ calls them to repent. To stop placing their personal relationship with Him after others,…..and do “the first works”.

The very first “work” we do, is to look to Jesus, and Believe and Trust Him; opening our hearts to Him, and our lives to Him.

A life open to and receptive to Him.

All our lives should be an expression of love for Christ. Whatever we are, think or do; it should be out of love to Jesus.

Then He promises them to eat of the Tree of Life.

Revelation 2:7 “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”

Life is personal; you can not eat for someone else. You can only have it for yourself.

This is what Jesus is saying:

Come and have as much of Me as you want. This is My personal invitation and promise……for I will not take second place, in your life.

When God takes our lives and puts them into His balance:

He puts in one side, our love to Him,

And in the other, what we do for Him.

The balance only comes out even, if the love we have to Christ is the reason we do what we do.

John, the Beloved Apostle, wrote to warn the church about anything which should take Christ’s place in our hearts. It is short, and inclusive:

1 John 5:21 “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

They made me the keeper of the Vineyards, but mine own Vineyard have I not kept.

Song of Solomon 1:6 “….they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.”

In Scripture, there are three gardens of note:

The first, is the garden of Eden…..

…a paradise that God had made for man to live in, and have fellowship with Him.

There man (Adam and Eve) were rulers under God…..over the garden itself, and the animals, and their circumstances.

They were cared for, and caring for the garden for Him….and in the evening, were having fellowship with God.

They only had one…..just one….law that they were to obey,….

…..but in everything else they had abundance.

But here, in this garden, the upright man threw off the law of God, and rebelled…..he sinned, and through Adam’s sin, we all became sinners, separated from God…

….”dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1)….from which we would never have the Purpose God created us for.

They were thrown out of this paradise garden, into a world of “the sweat of thy brow”…..never to return.

The last garden is the garden of Gethsemane…..

….a garden which Jesus Christ often went to, when He was by Jerusalem….to pray.

He went the night He was betrayed,….falling down on the ground to seek HIs Father’s company…..and final Will….before the great work of expiation (taking away the sin of His people)…….and propitiation (the appeasing of God’s Holy wrath and anger )…….by His sacrifice was to be done.

Jesus came as man, bowing before His Heavenly Father,…..seeking HIs Will.

This was the opposite of Adam…..who rejected God’s Will.

Here in this last garden, Jesus Christ, replaced……in man (Himself and from Him to everyone who comes to Him)….the Way to Paradise….by fellowship and submission to God.

He opened up the way to God the Father in HIs prayer of….”not my will, but thine be done”.

He made the garden bring forth the choicest fruits of purity, holiness, and sacrificial love…..by His prayer there.

And He did it for us.

The second garden is the garden of our souls….

…it may be the place of thistles and thorns (Hebrews 6:7-8)….for we all grow something in our soul’s garden….

…or it is a place of flowers, fruit trees, and the place God will walk with us again.

Song of Solomon 4:12, 16, 5:1 “A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse;….

Let my Beloved come into HIs garden, and eat HIs pleasant fruits.

I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse:….”

This garden of our soul is tilled and planted and seen to by the Great Husbandman, God our Heavenly Father…..for His Son’s sake.

But we are called to tend to it, as well. It is a garden “inclosed”…..for the Lord Himself to enjoy….not to be trampled on by another.

We are not to be so busy with the affairs of this life, or the work of others, that we will forget to tend our own garden for Him…

…for it is there that we are to learn of Him, have fellowship and the company of God, and rule there.

(You say, “no one can rule their own circumstances”…..and it is true. But we can rule our response and actions to circumstances. We can rule for Him in all that comes to us.)

How do we look to Him in the garden of our soul?

Through prayer, and our devotions.

Through asking, seeking, and knocking.

Through Obedience to His commands.

Song of Solomon 4:13-14 “Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard,

Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices:”

Here is abundance….pomegranates with the juice and sweet seeds.

….camphire, a henna plant used for dyeing….spikenard, made into the ointment Mary poured on Jesus,….saffron….calamus and cinnamon, both rod spices….

(No, I am not setting forth a recipe for anything…..but showing that God sees to every need, every hunger and thirst, every grace and help, in every way.)

Sometimes we cry out:

“They made me the keeper of the vineyards”……”but mine own vineyard, I have not kept.”

“I am so busy seeing to everything in my life….how can I have this personal relationship with God?”

Set aside time…..five minutes, even. “Let my Beloved come into His garden” should be our prayer.

Bow our heads, as Christ did,….and seek Him and His Will…

…and bring forth fruit to God…for His pleasure.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Have you Heard the Lord call you?

Song of Solomon 5:2 ” I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.”

This is a story of a believer, who has gone to sleep. But she hears the voice of her Lord, in her heart, and she awakes.

So far, so good.

Then with her understanding, she hears Him call to her to open to Him.

This opening up of her life, is different than the Salvation she has already experienced. For He calls her, His sister; being joint-heirs with Christ.

Romans 8:16-17 “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.”

She has had fellowship with the Lord; and has gone on in that fellowship to be called His dove.

Now a dove can see only one thing at a time, and this has been her experience in Christ; keeping her eyes on Him.

Song of Solomon 1:15 “Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves eyes.”

Matthew 6:22 “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.”

He calls her His undefiled. This shows, that in that love relationship, she has gone on with Him;…..so she is being saved from the defilements of the world, and self.

1 John 2:15 “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

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.”

But this calling, here, is a deeper calling, for Jesus calls her, as the One who sweat great drops of blood as in the garden (Luke 22:44).

But there seems to be a hinderance to His call,….

Song of Solomon 5:3 “I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?”

It would seem that having experienced so much of Her Lord, she has become a little proud. (Remember, one of the things the Lord deals with His own about is the “pride of life”)

“I have put off my coat”…….simply means she had begun to put off the old man with it’s deeds.

Colossians 3:9 “Lie not one to another, seeing ye have put off the old man with his deeds;”

Was she now to be defiled by working in the world?

“I have washed my feet”……..All her sins were confessed, up to date. And she had been cleansed from them. If she ventures out into the world to work for Jesus, won’t she again be contaminated by it?

These might have been very good questions,…..if…..Jesus were not the One calling her to go out with Him,…..to the work of bringing souls to Christ.

Song of Solomon 5:4-5 “My beloved put his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.

I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.”

The ancient doors used to have holes in them by the handle, so that when someone dear would come, they would put perfume (myrrh) on the inside of the door handle, to show they had been there.

Though she had hesitated to go further with the Lord,…..for what she thought were good reasons;……still she loves Him and is moved to go and open her hearts door again to His Call.

When she does, her hands drip with the perfume of myrrh.

(Myrrh was used to anoint the bodies of the dead, before burial, and was one of the treasures brought to Jesus at His birth by the wise men.)

So Jesus Christ is calling this loved one to go with Him into the experience of intercession, and travail for those He wants saved…..

and to work for those who are babes in Christ,….to help them grow up in Him.

Often, this is a hard work, for it recognizes our imperfections, as well as those of others.

Also, it is a long work; it is not done in a day, or even a week; but till Christ be formed in them.

Galatians 4:19 “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,”

But she had opened,……..but she found Him gone.

Christ never retracts a calling; but He often withdraws the feeling of His presence, to prove us.

Will we become angry?

Or will be seek Him?

Song of Solomon 5:6 “I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer:”

She seeks Him. She sought Christ Jesus in the usual means….of prayer and church services…..hoping to find Him there.

She calls to Him to speak to her again, but it seemed as if He was refusing to call again.

She had come so far with Him, and now she had failed Him, the dearest Friend she had ever had.

She wanted to go back to the way things were….but the call had come, and she was either going to seek till she did find,……or yield to the pride she had shown earlier.

What follows is a conversation between her, and those who would seek Him also.

“What is thy beloved more that another beloved?” They ask. (Song of Solomon 5:9-16)

Then she describes His Greatness, His strength in times of her weakness,…….and that He is the altogether lovely One to her.

Song of Solomon 5:16 “His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”

When she describes Him, she realizes that He has never left her, but proved her love to Him.

Did she love Him?…….Or His gifts?

She loved Him, and found Him.

They were united in the work as well as in life.

Theirs was a love relationship; And true love follows to the end, for the Loved One.

Have you heard the Lord call you? Perhaps you have hesitated, too. Listen to the love in your heart for Jesus, and answer His call.

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

His, has been, and is an everlasting love, for us.

Will we answer His call?

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Diligence

Diligence is eager, earnest doing;……till the job is done.

2 Kings 13:14 “And Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died. And Joash the king of Israel came down unto him, and wept over his face, and said, O my father, my father! The chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.”

Elisha was a prophet of God to Israel. He lived in a time of wickedness. But there was still some which worshipped the Lord. He would travel around and gather them and preach to them. But now, after years of ministry to Israel, Elisha is dying.

And the king of Israel came down to him, to get some sorely needed help.

Assyria was their bitter enemy, who had destroyed most of their army; and had taken cities away from Israel.

Israel’s king was not godly; he had followed the sins of Israel’s kings before him, and kept the worship of two golden idols.

(Notice the wonderful names he calls Elisha! Had he really thought that way, this would not have been his last call,….but the first.)

God had not forsaken Israel,yet…..for God knows when enough is enough.

He had a remnant in Israel, under Elisha, called the sons of the prophets, who still followed Him.

But the king needed help, and what he was doing was not working.

So the king came down to get the help of Elisha. Maybe Elisha would seek God and get deliverance for Israel.

2 Kings 13:15-17 “And Elisha said unto him, Take bow and arrows. And he took unto him bow and arrows.

And he said unto the king of Israel, Put thy hand upon the bow. And he put his hand upon it: and Elisha put his hands upon the king’s hands.

And he said, Open the window eastward. And he opened it. Then Elisha said, Shoot. And he shot. And he said, The arrow of the Lord’s deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria: for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Apek, till thou hast consumed them.”

Hurrah, a promise of deliverance! And it was so simple. Just shoot an arrow; a very manly, kingly thing to do!

But wait; God was not through with this king. God was going to require subjection to His Word, from this king.

2 Kings 13:18 “And he said, Take the arrows. And he took them. And he said unto the king of Israel, Smite upon the ground. And he smote thrice, and stayed.”

This was not very manly, or kingly; and he had gotten the promise already. What was he doing hitting the ground?

Well, he would humor the old guy, but why do this, he could not see.

His lack of diligence (the eager, earnest doing, till complete) cost him.

One arrow shot, with his hands covered with the hands of the prophet, was enough for the promise of victory, from God.

(Wasn’t that what Elisha had been doing for the whole nation? Covering them from complete judgement from God?)

But now, something more was going to be required from the king and his nation. Elisha was dying, and with him, a great deal of “covering” was gone.

Would the king subject himself to God’s Word and do what was humbling?

Would he pound the ground with the arrows, like he was fighting the Syrians because God said so?

Bending down and striking the ground? What good would that do? The king thought.

Diligence is eager, earnest doing; till the job is done.

But the king had no real diligence. He wanted promises from Elisha’s God, not instructions in perseverance.

He had not come to finally submit to God, but to get something from Him.

God was telling him to do something which seemed demeaning.

The king had said the right words, he had finally come to the right place; wasn’t that honor enough?

No. Real honor to God is doing what He says, no matter how it looks.

Oh sure, he would fight the battles which God would give him victory in; but pound upon the ground with arrows, in obedience to God’s Word?

No, that was not for him. After all he was a king.

(How often we are the same way. We want promises: which God is glad to give. But to do the work of praying for them, and being obedient everyday for them; we would rather not. How soon our enthusiasm disappears!)

2 Kings 13:19 “And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hast consumed it: whereas now thou wilt smite Syria but thrice.”

Think of it! Two or three more times, was all he had to do, to get complete victory over his worst enemy!

But now, he would have victory—as God promised; but only three times.

The amount of times he hit the ground.

The effort he showed there, would be the victories the Lord would give!

(Remember, only his hand was on the arrows, which were to strike the ground.)

How important our diligence is, in our walk with Jesus Christ.

Are we like Joash here, incomplete in what God has given us to do?

You could say he was not diligent because of unbelief, or not wanting to humble himself under the Word of God.

Or for a number of reasons; but in the end, God would not honor him more than he was willing to be diligent.

What about us, as Christians?

Proverbs 4:23 “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”

In other words, with your own hands, hold on to the emotions which come out of your heart, like the reins of a horse—so they will not run away with you.

The Lord will give us victory, but the diligence to obey Him, comes from our hand.

Do, and I will strength you.

Speak, and I will give your words weight.

Stand with Me, and I will encircle you with peace and courage.

We must take God at His Word, and diligently obey Him.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Blessing and Cursing

Deuteronomy 11:26-29, 32 “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse;

A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day:

And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.

And it shall come to pass, when the Lord thy God hath brought thee in unto the land whither thou goest to possess it, that thou shalt put the blessing upon mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount Ebal.

And ye shall observe to do all the statutes and judgments which I set before you this day.”

This was what the Lord had commanded Moses to tell Israel, on the far side of Jordan; right before he died.

Now Israel had come in to Canaan by crossing Jordan…..been circumcised (for during the time in the wilderness, they were not),…

…held the first Passover since Sinai

…and taken and destroyed Jericho, and Ai.

Then,…..though there was hardly any land that was theirs….

……they believed God and went to Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim…..all of them….all Israel went up to the place appointed.

Here the blessings and the cursing was to be read before all the people.

Joshua 8:30-34 “Then Joshua built an altar unto the Lord God of Israel in mount Ebal,

As Moses the servant of the Lord commanded the children of Israel,…..an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lifted up any iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings.

And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel.

And all Israel,…..stood on this side the ark and on that side before the priests the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord,….half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against mount Ebal;…..

And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursing, according to all that is written in the book of the law.”

Here on mount Gerizim, they were to read aloud the blessings God would perform if they were obedient….in the land He was giving them.

(Deuteronomy 28:1-14, it is a beautiful record of prosperity, and fruitfulness to themselves, each other, and the nations around them, in their obedience and devotion to the Lord their God.)

Here on mount Ebal, they were to read aloud the cursing God would perform if they were rebellious and disobedient.

(Deuteronomy 28:15-68; it is a terrible record of people gotten “fat” or comfortable in their lives, so that they forget God and His goodness….coming under the hand of idol worship, famine, diseases, and then their enemies…all because they forgot and forsake God:

Deuteronomy 28:47 “Because thou servest not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things;”)

It is a beautiful thing to see Joshua so diligent and eager to perform this duty, which Moses commanded them to do.

And there, on mount Ebal (where the curse was read) they sacrificed burnt offerings,….offerings for sin, and whole burnt offerings, showing they were completely His.

There they sacrificed peace offerings, showing that they celebrated the peace they had with God….even before their enemies.

It was a spiritual seal on the land God gave them.

It was to show that God’s Law and commandments were now to rule in this land.

All would hear about it, and know these Israelites were different…(in the middle of the conquest of the land, they were claiming it in the name of God, and His Principles)….

….their God was different….He was letting everyone know that He would be honored in this land.

Joshua wrote the words of the law upon the stones he used for the altar, so all could read….and remember them.

This honoring God’s Word, would have taken a whole day, at least; maybe more, for all of them went.

Their camp was at Gilgal, yet they were at Mt. Ebal and Gerizim.

The enemies could have come up against the women, children, as well as the troops among them….

….but according to God’s Word, they went up and honored the Lord…and His law, here in Canaan….

…….and God honored and protected them.

God has set before each man by His Word the blessings in His Son, Jesus Christ….

Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

….and the cursing by refusing Him.

Mark 16:15-16 “And He (Jesus) said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature:

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; and he that believeth not shall be damned.”

They are written plainly for all who will read and see….to come to Him.

And we Christians, as Joshua, are to be diligent in our duty of manifesting the Word….

….even in the midst of our battles….we are to honor the Lord’s Word….that they might be seen and heard of all.