Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

What do we mean when we pray…Thy Kingdom Come?

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

This is the second petition, in what is commonly called the Lord’s prayer.

The first was (and always should be our first thought to our Father which art in heaven)…..”Hallowed be Thy name.”

We are to pray for God to be “hallowed” or to venerate.

That God, with us….and everywhere,…will be seen as Holy and Almighty….in other words, to be seen as our God.

It says “hallowed be Thy name”…..

….for the name of God, represents Him to us.

HIs name should be as in the Song of Solomon 1:3….”…Thy name is as ointment poured forth…”

…with all the beauty of smell,…and the healing of it’s application,…and the anointing unto separation to Him….

…..this is what HIs name, and our attitude (hallowed) to it, means.

Then the second petition comes from the first…..as we glorify God…as God, in our lives…then:

“Thy kingdom Come. Thy will be done in earth (in me), as it is in heaven.”

In praying “Thy kingdom Come”, we are asking that the power and blessing of the Holy Spirit….who has come to us show us the things of Christ….will open Him more to us, through the preaching of HIs Word.

His power and authority should always be in us, first….before it can be manifested by us, to others.

(And what do people see when we are under His power and authority….

….they see a servant, who loves and serves Christ….not for things….but for the privilege of fellowship with Christ Jesus.)

Then, we are looking also to the church, when we pray Thy kingdom come….that the preachers and teachers will be sent by God, and filled with the Spirit….(Ephesians 4:11-12)

When we pray this, we are asking that when we are baptized, and have the communion service….they will be a blessing….not mere doctrinal service (because I should)…

…and that the gifts and the graces of the Holy Spirit will increase in Christ’s believers….

….”Till we all come in the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:13)

When we pray “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven”, we are asking that His enemies may be overthrown….practically.

We are praying for a extension of His kingdom here….that all the elect may be brought into it….

2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

That our hearts may not only want this….

….but that we may live, so as to lift up Christ, that the lost may be drawn to Him.

John 12:32 “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.”

When we pray Thy kingdom come…..we are asking for these things…

…but when we have Thy kingdom come….our lives become a sanctifying influence to those we come into contact with….that His kingdom may be seen, not just heard of.

His kingdom come is my subjection to Christ….

…and the practical yielding of my life to the Holy Spirit as His servant (Romans 12:1-2)….

…..as HIs soldier (2 Timothy 2:3-4)….

…..and as His ambassador, speaking for King and country (2 Corinthians 5:20-21).

What do we mean when we pray “Thy Kingdom Come”?

We show that we mean business with Christ Jesus….that we are going to go all out….with all diligence, to do His Will; in fact to be HIs Will wherever we are.

Let us further the Kingdom of God….let us be in subjection to Christ our King, and yield to our place, by the Holy Spirit, in HIs kingdom here.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

What do we mean when we pray…Thy Kingdom Come?

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

This is the second petition, in what is commonly called the Lord’s prayer.

The first was (and always should be our first thought to our Father which art in heaven)…..”Hallowed be Thy name.”

We are to pray for God to be “hallowed” or to venerate.

That God, with us….and everywhere,…will be seen as Holy and Almighty….in other words, to be seen as our God.

It says “hallowed be Thy name”…..

….for the name of God, represents Him to us.

HIs name should be as in the Song of Solomon 1:3….”…Thy name is as ointment poured forth…”

…with all the beauty of smell,…and the healing of it’s application,…and the anointing unto separation to Him….

…..this is what HIs name, and our attitude (hallowed) to it, means.

Then the second petition comes from the first…..as we glorify God…as God, in our lives…then:

“Thy kingdom Come. Thy will be done in earth (in me), as it is in heaven.”

In praying “Thy kingdom Come”, we are asking that the power and blessing of the Holy Spirit….who has come to us show us the things of Christ….will open Him more to us, through the preaching of HIs Word.

His power and authority should always be in us, first….before it can be manifested by us, to others.

(And what do people see when we are under His power and authority….

….they see a servant, who loves and serves Christ….not for things….but for the privilege of fellowship with Christ Jesus.)

Then, we are looking also to the church, when we pray Thy kingdom come….that the preachers and teachers will be sent by God, and filled with the Spirit….(Ephesians 4:11-12)

When we pray this, we are asking that when we are baptized, and have the communion service….they will be a blessing….not mere doctrinal service (because I should)…

…and that the gifts and the graces of the Holy Spirit will increase in Christ’s believers….

….”Till we all come in the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:13)

When we pray “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven”, we are asking that His enemies may be overthrown….practically.

We are praying for a extension of His kingdom here….that all the elect may be brought into it….

2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

That our hearts may not only want this….

….but that we may live, so as to lift up Christ, that the lost may be drawn to Him.

John 12:32 “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.”

When we pray Thy kingdom come…..we are asking for these things…

…but when we have Thy kingdom come….our lives become a sanctifying influence to those we come into contact with….that His kingdom may be seen, not just heard of.

His kingdom come is my subjection to Christ….

…and the practical yielding of my life to the Holy Spirit as His servant (Romans 12:1-2)….

…..as HIs soldier (2 Timothy 2:3-4)….

…..and as His ambassador, speaking for King and country (2 Corinthians 5:20-21).

What do we mean when we pray “Thy Kingdom Come”?

We show that we mean business with Christ Jesus….that we are going to go all out….with all diligence, to do His Will; in fact to be HIs Will wherever we are.

Let us further the Kingdom of God….let us be in subjection to Christ our King, and yield to our place, by the Holy Spirit, in HIs kingdom here.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Ask, and You Will Receive.

Luke 11:9 “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

The disciples have just asked. “Teach us to pray” after seeing Jesus pray.

Then Jesus tells a story:

The story of a friend who comes to his neighbor at an inconvenient time. “At Midnight.” (Luke 11:5-8)

He has company. Someone who has come from a long journey and is in need of bread. But the man has none to give.

So he goes to his neighbor and knocks.

“Forget it…it’s midnight, I am in bed, and I’m not getting up!” Is basically the word given the knocker.

But he keeps knocking.

So…..not because he is his friend (he might not be, after this);……but because he kept knocking; the neighbor opens and gives the man what he has asked for.

Then Jesus says, the way to get from God is the same:

Ask, like you really need it.

Seek, like you really want the reply.

And knock, till the answer comes.

When we pray to God, Jesus is saying that we should come believing God will hear,……and expect that He will make known His will.

Ask, and you will receive. Ask till you receive an answer as to what and how you should ask. (How many times we think we know what we need, but as we are praying we receive what we really need to know)

Seek, till you get the means of getting your petition answered. (Sometimes there is a verse to claim, or a prayer promise to use: Hebrews 4:16, 1 John 5:14-15)

Then knock, using those means, till you get the answer that you were seeking.

Just to be clear, “means” are those parts of the promise that we must use:

Matthew 11:28 “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy ladened, and I will give you rest.”

“Come unto me”, is the means; His rest is the promise.

When Jesus healed the ten lepers: (Luke 17:14) “When he saw them, he said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.”

Jesus healed them by His word, but they were only healed, as they went to do what He said. That is the means.

Luke 11:10 “For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”

As Christians, our lifeline is prayer.

Paul said:

Philippians 4:6-7 ” Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

The promise is: you will receive, find, and have an open door set before you.

The means is: ask, seek, and knock.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

By His Word

Mark 11:2-3 “And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, wherein never man sat: loose him, and bring him.

And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? Say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither.”

This is, of course, the colt that Jesus rode into Jerusalem with the shouts of “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord”. “Hosanna in the highest”.

This is where Jesus presents Himself to all who were coming to the Passover in Jerusalem, as King, according to prophesy:

Zechariah 9:9 ” Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”

As King, although unrecognized by the rulers, He goes into the temple:

Mark 11:11 “And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve.”

And as King, He sees all that needs to be set in order in the temple.

But He does not stay in Jerusalem….but goes out of the city.

The next day, coming into Jerusalem, to do the work that needed to be done; He was hungry.

Mark 11:12-13″And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry:

And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find anything thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.”

Here Jesus was hungry, and walked out of His way to have some figs.

(On fig trees, the figs come on before the leaves; and there were leaves, so there should have been figs.

It was not the time of figs, but there were leaves; so there should have been figs.)

But He found none.

So by His Word:

Mark 11:14 “And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter forever. And his disciples heard it.”

You will notice “And Jesus answered”; Why this term?

Because the tree had “spoken”.

It had no fruit for the Son of Man, for there were no figs, therefore Jesus “answered” it’s fruitlessness, and made it continually barren.

(Some say the fig tree is a figure of Israel: Religiously looking good, but without fruit unto God.

But is there any among us, that can say that the Lord has not looked for fruit from them, and found leaves, only?)

So they continue into Jerusalem, where yesterday they had praised and blessed Him.

Mark 11:15-16 ” And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves;

And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.”

Yesterday it was to manifest Himself as King, today it is to do the work of His Father, for His house. Setting in order that which was wanting in the service of God.

He did this Himself, casting out those that sold animals in the Temple……and refusing entrance to those who would violate the temple.

He had done this once before at the beginning of His ministry (John 2:13-16).

Now He would do it again, as a witness against the hardness of their heart.

Then by His Word:

Mark 11:17 “And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? But ye have made it a den of thieves.”

Not only did He cleanse, He spoke concerning God’s will for His house….God’s House was not for the greed or convenience of buyers or sellers; but to come and meet God in prayer.

To set in order.

Mark 11:18-19 ” And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought out how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.

And when even was come, he went out of the city.”

But here again, He was rejected.

The people were amazed at Him speaking with authority the doctrine of God. Amazed but unresponsive.

And the rulers, instead of submitting to God’s Word, only sought to destroy Him….for His “interference” in their business.

The work He was to do that day, He again leaves the city.

He would not stay a night in Jerusalem, until the night of the passover feast.

By His Word the fig tree was cursed, and by His Word the temple was cleansed.

Mark 11:20-21″And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.

And Peter calling to rememberance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree that thou cursedst is withered away.”

By His Word it was all done.

Then the Lord Jesus, wanting to set forth the importance of our words, showed His disciples what it was all about.

Mark 11:22 “And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.”

Faith is that active ingredient in our life which makes real the things of God.

God will act for you if you have faith in Him. For real faith, trusts Him.

Are you doing and saying because God wants you to?

Leaves are words……Fruit is obedient deeds.

A temple serving man……is not God’s temple.

Have faith in God….don’t just look good, or go along with everyone else. But believe God’s Word and obey Him.

Mark 11:23 “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.”

What a wonderful Word from our Lord Jesus!

What an encouragement to His disciples, for soon everything was going to change. The reality of their faith would soon be shown.

There were going to be plenty of “mountains” that would need to be removed in front of them, to bring them past Jesus crucified…..to Jesus resurrected…..to Jesus ascended….to the Holy Spirit given….and onward.

Here is faith in action.

And what is the mountain that I want to see cast into the sea?

It is that “mountain” (within me, and within my circumstances) that hinders me from seeing done, what I’ve been called to do by the Lord.

I want that mountain or mountains removed!

It is according to :

“And shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass.”

Faith sees God; “shall believe” is the hearts response to God’s Word to us.

The disciples were called to put their faith in action and believe God’s Word to go on in their callings.

So are we.

Mark 11:24-26 “Therefore I say unto you, What things so ever ye desire, when we pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any; that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

To believe when you pray, asking God for your requests, is to place yourself at His disposal to bring them to pass.

To do this, nothing must come between you and God.

Therefore, forgive, if you have anything against another person; and God will forgive you.

Everyone is on the same level: we all need forgiveness. And Jesus was plainly teaching that sins are to be forgiven, that our prayers will not be hindered.

We need to pray…we have mountains to be removed. So have faith in God, and believe when you pray, forgiving all; that you may be forgiven.

Then those mountains will be removed!

By His Word: He has said these things that we might put them into practice.

What will we do with them?

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Appointed

Hebrews 9:27 “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement:”

By God’s appointment, every life shall end in fire:

For the Christian, it is the purifying fire of the Bema of Christ,….before we enter the eternity of Heaven:

1 Corinthians 3:13. “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.”

For the unsaved, it is ultimately the Lake of Fire:

Revelation 20:13, 15 “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

[Matthew 25:41 “Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:”

Notice: God made the Lake of Fire for the devil and his angels. Not man. Man chooses to rebel against his Maker, and refuses the only Savior.]

God has appointed this day: it is not for anyone to know, when it is…

Acts 1:7 “And He said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power.”

But it is put into God’s appointment book; it will happen.

As John the Baptist warned those Pharisees and rulers that came to be seen, when John baptized in repentance:

Matthew 3:10-12 “And now also the axe is laid to the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

Whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat unto the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Yet they would not accept his word….or his baptism unto repentance….and so perished in their sins.

As Job said:

Job 23:14. “For He performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many such things are with Him.”

God performs the thing appointed.

For every Christian, this is a blessed fact.

Every trial, every person, every circumstance which is in the path that I am to take, following Him,……is appointed for me.

1 Thessalonians 3:3 “That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereinto.”

Paul was writing them about the persecution he was facing…..and that they were going through…

….God has put in the appointment book of each of us….certain trials….and troubles….and even persecutions….

…but we should not “be moved” (to shake or be disturbed) by them….

….instead Paul was praying…

1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:

To the end that He may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”

So because God has appointed this day of judgement for each of us….

He would have us as His born again ones to receive the reward and crown He has for us.

In that day: He will purify us with fire.

Today: He wants to purify us by trials.

Faith must be tried to show us that it is there, and how much we have. That is the way we learn what God will do for us.

Micah 6:8-9 “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

The Lord’s voice crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom shall see Thy name: hear ye the rod, and Who hath appointed it.”

[The rod here is the same as “Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23). They are given the Shepherd, both to correct the sheep…and protect them.]

Our path is one in which we deal with ourselves, and others.

We ask for mercy, and deal with others in mercy.

We ask for forgiveness, and forgive others.

We ask for help, and pray for help for others.

(Giving it in comfort, and encouragement, as we can)

Our path is one which follows our Lord,………”to walk humbly with our God”, in the many “appointments” He has made for us…

….including the appointment of the day of judgement.

We agree with Him in this path, leaning on Him and His Word to us, to see us through in safety……And in joy…

…that we might hear, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”

He has appointed for me, and for you. Let us receive a full reward (2 John 8), and enter into all He has for us: both here,….and there.

Stephen, the Church’s First Martyr

Acts 6:3-5 “Wherefore brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Phillip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch;”

Here we meet Stephen, born again and willing to minister as he is called…for he is chosen to “serve tables”, or as a deacon.

There had been a argument between the Grecian Christians and the Hebrew Christians about how the widows of each were being treated. Some felt that the Grecian widows were not given the same treatment and food, as the others.

(Remember that the Christians, here, had given all to the apostles for the common good. Acts 4:34-35)

If this was to be overseen as it should be, the apostles would have to leave preaching and teaching the gospel, to see to it.

That could not be….so they told the church there to pray and see who they could choose to deal with the business and practical part of the matters of the church…they became the deacons.

Stephen was one of these. He was a man of faith and who was filled with the Holy Spirit.

He was not offended because he was given the task of seeing to the food distribution, or dealing with the strifes which come up between brethren.

Faith sees God and deals with all, in the same light: what does the Lord want done?

He looked on everything he did for the Lord as equally important.

Acts 6:8 “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.”

He also did miracles, whether these were of the practical nature of food, or for illness, it does not say.

But it does bring into the picture those who wanted to prove him wrong. Notice they “disputed” with him, not he with them.

But they could not, for “they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.”

Acts 6:11-12 “Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.

And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council.”

So here is Stephen before the council, accused falsely by jealous men.

(This council had spoken to Peter and John months earlier, and had beaten them and let them go, but now….)

He stands before them, in peace; calm. They “saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.” Simply, they could tell that he was filled with the Spirit of God, that he was not a blasphemer.

This should have told them that these accusations were false….but, let’s face it, they wanted to believe the accusations.

Acts 7:1-2 “Then said the high priest, Are these things so? And he (Stephen)said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; the God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran,”

In the next 52 verses, Stephen, by the wisdom of God, showed again and again God’s choice of His people by grace, not works.

God’s use of men who were not reckoned in men’s esteem, but chosen of God to go out, to lead, to save, to build…

There was:

Abraham, to go out to a land that was given in promise, but which he never possessed….

Then Isaac who was circumcised…

Jacob, the younger son, chosen, and his sons being brought into the covenant; even though they sold their own brother, Joseph, into slavery…

Yet God saved them, and their whole family by the very man they were jealous of…

Moses’ birth and his rejection when he would have helped his people. His flight into Midian and God’s call to the very one they refused:

Acts 7:35 “This Moses whom they refused saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? The same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the Angel which appeared to him in the bush.”

Stephen told of when Israel, in their further refusal of God’s Words, which made a golden calf.

And even when they were brought in by Joshua, to the promised land, they turned to idols.

He told of David as king, fighting their battles, desiring to build a house for God, but God chose Solomon to do it.

Yet, Stephen shows exactly what Solomon said after he dedicated it:

1 Kings 8:23, 27 “And he said, Lord God of Israel, there is no God like Thee, in heaven above, or on the earth beneath, who keepest covenant in mercy with Thy servants that walk before Thee with all their heart:

But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens can not contain Thee; how much less this house that I have builded?”

Simply: the Most High dwells not in temples made with hands, but in the love and devotion of His people’s hearts.

Stephen wanted his brethren to remember their God, not their heritage.

He had not blasphemed Moses or the Law, but was a servant of the Lord of both, Jesus Christ.

So the conclusion of his message?

God’s grace had chosen them as His people.

God’s grace had chosen and sent men to save and lead them, into all God wanted for them.

But how did the people react?

Which of the prophets had not been persecuted by their fathers, which had told them of the Messiah to come?

All this is leading toward one goal….that Jesus was the Messiah, Who had come to show the way into the Kingdom of God, by Himself, as their King.

He was the One whom all the prophets spoke.

He was the One to whom all the other of God’s choices, pointed.

What would they do with Him now, that He was risen and manifested by the Holy Ghost among them?

Stephen wanted his brethren to see that God was even then dealing with them.

He wanted them to acknowledge God’s choice…..Jesus, Whom they betrayed and murdered…and that He is now at the right hand of God, the place of power.

The Spirit of God was leading many in Jerusalem to salvation…..God was giving them another sign of His love to them.

Would they hear it?

(How many today, hang on to tradition; even Christian tradition, rather than being gathered to the Lord God, Himself.)

Yet even as Stephen spoke, he sensed in the Spirit the hardening of their hearts….

So he openly rebukes it, and faithfully deals with them for their rebellion against the “Just One”.

The name: Just One, implies Christ Jesus’s holiness and righteousness. He did not deserve to be crucified. He deserved to be King, both of His people and the world.

He was and is the Just One, and the justifier of all who come to Him.

Romans 5:8-9 “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”

The outcome?

Their history they listened to; but the rebuke, which might lead them to repentance and true salvation……they refused,…and in great anger.

Acts 7:54 “When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.”

“Cut to the heart”

Stephen’s rebuke (rebuke means “back striking them into the right way”. It is never pleasant to be rebuked….but to those who “hear it”….it gives life.)

Stephen’s rebuke opened to them the state of their own hearts, like a knife.

And instead of letting it heal them, like a surgeon; they let it unleash the anger within…which quickly turned to hatred of God’s servant.

He was unaffected for himself; but totally immersed in the Will of God, for them.

God then blessed him with more of the Spirit of God, and a vision:

Acts 7:55-56 “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.

And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God.”

The council would not hear….stopping their ears, they dragged him out, and stoned him…as though that could stop his witness….No! (Remember Saul/Paul was witnessing all of this)

Acts 7:59-60 “And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”

Stephen, with the same ruling peace (Philippians 4:7) with which he began; he ends, looking unto Jesus for himself…

“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Acknowledging before all, that the Lord Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and risen, in heaven.

And then, in the character of Jesus, he forgives those that stoned him.

“Lay not this sin” (yes, he called it what it was; but still asks…)

“Lay not this sin to their charge.”

“He fell asleep”. You see, when Christians die, they are said to fall asleep. For they close their eyes here, and in the next second, open them in heaven.

Stephen was the first of the churches martyrs, but not the last.

Many have died, looking to Jesus the same way.

Because He is the Son of God…because He lives, we do and will, eternally, too.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Reality, or Virtual Reality; Which?

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 “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 ever thought to the obedience of Christ;”

What is the difference? They both have reality in them, don’t they?

Reality (and we are talking about Spiritual Reality, here) is truth. It is what I have in my experience….not what I want….or even what I believe the scriptures say…..but what I have in my experience.

Spiritual Reality is to have in your experience, what you think you have.

We are born again.

We are growing in grace, and in the love of Jesus; both to Him and His people. We are denying ourselves, and picking up our cross.

We are being obedient to His Will.

Imaginations plague everyone….there are carnal imaginations we must place on the altar to God (“casting them down”, as the verse says).

And there are spiritual imaginations….

…we dream about doing great things for God….but never do them. (Or perhaps we begin, with great enthusiasm, but never finish)

We speak about doing great things; but we put them off, for “a while”.

(Hesitation is a wile of the devil that often works, because our minds say, “yes, I should think about this”…..or our hearts want to know what the reaction of others will be. Hesitation is stealing the time of power from the Holy Spirit….for doubt ever quenches Him.)

Paul is encouraging these Corinthians to finish what they started:

2 Corinthians 8:9-11 “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich.

And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before,…

Now therefore perform the doing of it, that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.”

(Here, Paul is speaking about a gift for the poor brethren; but I have had the Lord use these verses on me about a job I needed to see done. Like I spoke of: I had started, then just put the rest off. I needed to finish it.)

Virtual Reality is to believe you have something, you do not.

This is to believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ, but never submit to His power……to bring me into obedience to His teaching.

2 Timothy 3:5, 7 “Having the form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

How do they “deny the power thereof”?

Certainly, it can be unbelief at work.

Many people believe in God, but not a personal God which has fellowship with His people. A God that probably is up there somewhere, but would not take any notice of things here, especially specific people, especially them.

But it can also be an deliberate choice to keep God away from “interfering” in their lives.

They sit and hear the Word of God,……and let it flow over them…..

….they hear the doctrine; but never let it take root in their hearts.

There are those who…

……let one lesson, push out the other. “Ever learning”, and yet never coming to the place that they have in their experience what the Lord Christ has for them…….what He has already said to them.

Usually this type of decision is made because the heart is “taken up” with something else.

There is no room for Christ Jesus,….for they choose to continue in this life of Virtual Reality.

(No this is not the video games; but it is the “games” people play in their minds.)

2 Timothy 3:14-17 “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of Whom thou hast learned them;

and that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

That the man of God may be perfect (complete) throughly furnished unto all good works.”

Paul wrote Timothy, encouraging him to continue in the Word of God,……because God will make it profitable to those who truly choose to follow it.

God’s Word is a Living Word….when we hear it, the Holy Spirit takes it and applies it to my situation,…..my attitude,….the people around me.

It cleanses, not just by showing me what is wrong…..but the Spirit moves in me to seek and reach out in faith, to what the Lord wants….and as soon as we do, we feel enlivened….seeking forgiveness and power.

Reality is that what we have….for then we are able to use it…for Christ’s sake.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Eternal Life

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

John 17:1-3 “These words spake Jesus, and lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may also glorify Thee:

As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him.

And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent.”

Eternal life is a a condition of life now……it begins the moment we are born again…..and continues throughout our life….and onward throughout eternity, forever, with God.

It is a gift from the Eternal God to His people.

Deuteronomy 33:27 “The Eternal God is our refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and He shall thrust out the enemy from before thee and shall say, Destroy them.”

[It is interesting to note here, in this verse….there is the promise of His protection (our refuge),…..and care (underneath are His arms)…..but also the assurance that the victory shall come from Him (He shall thrust out)……yet, He calls for our personal cooperation, in our wills and by His Word. (destroy them)!]

And what does Eternal life bring to us, now?

1 John 5:11, 20 “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

And we know that the Son of God is come, and has given us an understanding, that we know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”

First, eternal life gives us the knowledge that He is with us! We are in Him, and He is in us.

In eternal life, we have “understanding”:

Ephesians 1:18 “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.”

(How much we need this, in a world which blinds us with glitter; and calls us to do as it does. “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” 1 John 5:21)

And in eternal life, we “know truth”:

John 1:17 “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (When truth is faced, grace is given to us for it.)

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

John 17:17 “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy Word is truth.”

(The Truth, sanctifies all who receive it: It sets them aside to God, and His Way to go.)

And eternal life “purges” our conscience. His sacrifice cleanses us from our sin (in power, as well as legally, from punishment)……..but His life, gives us peace and power for the work ahead (1 John 3:19-21).

Hebrews 9:12-15 “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh. (Under the law)

How much more shall the blood of Christ, Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

And for this cause He is the Mediator of the New Testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first Testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.”

This is a complicated section…for it contrasts the relief under the Law: which had to be repeated again and again……..and the cleansing under Christ, which is eternal, once for all.

But notice here, that three times, “eternal” is used to describe what Christ did for those that look to Him for redemption.

1. Eternal redemption (vrs. 12) by His own blood. We are eternally bought back from sin and death….we are HIs purchased possession….none can take us from His hand (John 10:28).

2. Who offered Himself through the Eternal Spirit (vrs.14). This speaks of His consent…continual consent, by His own will, in offering Himself to God as the Sin sacrifice.

He consented in the Everlasting Covenant to come and die for us….

He consented in the garden, when He said, “Not My will but Thine.”……

He consented before the men who took Him away (or they would not have been able to)….

and before the Sanhedrin, Pilate, and the beatings…..

And consented, even when the mob cried, “Crucify Him”….

He consented when they made Him carry the cross….and when they nailed Him to it….

He consented when the people around the cross mocked Him….and the thieves which were by Him….leading one to believe and be saved.

Yes, through His Eternal Spirit He offered Himself.

And it was He, the Son of God, Who said, “It is finished”……and He consented to all He had to do……till it was completely finished.

3. That they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance (vrs. 15). This eternal inheritance is a pardon from the guilt of our sin….and a cleansing of our minds, hearts, and wills from sin.

It also includes the Holy Spirit, and reconciliation and fellowship in life to God.

And it includes heaven, and the bliss that is to be found with God forever.

Eternal….the Lord never does things by halves. What He promises us, through His Son, He will do…..He is faithful.

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 “And the very God of Peace sanctify you wholly, and I pray God your whole spirit and 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.”

And His life…..His eternal life for us….this condition of our lives, now…and throughout eternity……comes to us, as we look to Him, Who was lifted up for us,…..and believe.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

On the Way to Gethsemane

It was the night Jesus was taken, arrested, illegally tried by the Sanhedrin, and taken to Pilate.

Jesus was to have the passover feast with His disciples. He had washed their feet…Judas still being there.

(John 13:4-12. What an act of great mercy;….rejected mercy…..but it shows the mercy of God….one last act to Judas, though his heart was too greedy to receive it. It is either sin or Christ which rules within us.)

Then Jesus sat down and announced that one was there that would betray Him. None knew that it wasn’t them…..

(All thought they would be loyal…..but they did not realize their own weaknesses.)

Jesus shows the betrayer is Judas….giving him the first piece of the passover bread.

Judas goes out:

John 13:30 “He then, having received the sop, went immediately out; and it was night.”

(Terribly, it would never be “light” for him again.)

Then the Lord goes on to begin a new service;….what we call the communion service: the disciples given broken bread….to symbolize His body being broken for us….and the wine…symbolizing His blood being shed in sacrifice for our sins; and their being partakers of His gift….

Matthew 26:26-28 “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.

And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;

For this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”

They left the house, and began to walk to Gethsemane.

On the way, Jesus explains to them of His coming death and resurrection:

Mark 14:27-28 “And Jesus said unto them, All ye shall be offended because of Me this night: for it is written, I will smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.

But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee.”

Peter emboldened by the fact that Jesus had not said he was the betrayer, confidently says he will never leave Him….

But Jesus speaks to warn…..and comfort him….

Luke 22:31-32 “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:

But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not; and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”

Then Jesus begins to speak of the future….

…..a future without His bodily presence with them…..

…..beginning His final conversation with them, before His crucifixion:

John 14:1 “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me.”

He begins to turn their eyes to Someone else….always with the provision of His love and peace.

“Trust Me that I will not leave you as Heavenly orphans,……but will send the Holy Spirit to take My place”…..(John 14:16, 18)

Twice He says that “whatsoever ye shall ask in in My name, that will I do….”(John 14:13-14)

The theme this part of His discourse is: peace….don’t be afraid, I will give you peace.

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, giveth I unto you, let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Then Jesus speaks of their future work, letting them know….even in this, He will not leave them….He will be their strength and life, in the time to come;…..as the Vine is to the branches.

He promises them fruit.

(Seven times He mentions the “fruit” that comes by abiding in Him….once He mentions the end of those branches which do not bear fruit, even though they are in the vine.)

John 15:5 “I am the Vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without Me ye can do nothing.”

And what is that fruit?

First the fruit of joy….

John 15:11 “These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”

Then the fruit from bearing witness of Jesus….

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 He also shall bear witness, because ye have been with Me from the beginning.”

(Once He says to ask in His Name.)

Jesus turns now to showing them what the world will do, now that He will go away…

John 16:2 “They shall put you out of the synagogue; yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.”

But even in this,…..He has provided for them.

The first provision being the Holy Spirit….

John 16:7 “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.

The other provision: the truth….

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

In the truth, there is great safety…..we know what the Lord says,…..therefore we know what we need to ask for….

And again, three times He says to ask in His name: John 16:23, 24, 26.

He here tells them beforehand that He had overcome the world.

Remember, this is even before they took Him,…He was beaten,…He was mocked and given over to the cries of the mob,….and crucified……

….He knew all that was going to happen to Him; and He said they would treat His disciples the same way….

John 16:33 “….but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

(This He calls us to do in Revelation 3:21)

And then, as He grows closer to Gethsemane….(for He will be arrested before they leave)…..

He becomes very, very intimate….for He begins to pray to the Father:

John 17:1 “These words spake Jesus, and lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee:”

He was showing us the pattern for our lives….glorify God, and He will honor us.

Telling how He had finished the work God had given Him to do….so we should “finish our course”.

He tells the Father that He had manifested His Name (verse 6)…..and His Words (verse 8, 14)

And then, right then….He begins to pray for them:

John 17:9 “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine.”

He prays that they will be kept:

John 17:11, (15) “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to Thee, Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as We are.”

He prays they will be sanctified,

John 17:17, (19) “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy Word is truth.”

Five times He prays that “they may be one, as We are.” (John 17:11, 21-23 )

That they may know God’s love through Christ Jesus.

John 17:26 “And I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it; that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”

(Sixteen times in these chapters Jesus speaks of love

Six times He speaks of joy)

In this last part of His talk with them, He prays also for us: You and me, there, on His walk to Gethsemane….

John 17:20 “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word;”

Then He came to the garden: All the things He needed to say, were said….everything would proceed according to the Father’s Will (Acts 2:22-23).

The Nation stood on the brink…..what would they do with Jesus, Who was called the Christ?

But it was in this very important, intimate discourse with His disciples….that Jesus showed His Father’s heart and plan for them…..and us.

Jesus wants us to know His peace…..

…..His purpose for each of us: abide in Him and bear fruit……

…He wants us to know His overcoming amidst the tribulation and suffering of this present world;…and because He has, we can too……

……and HIs prayer—intimate and full of tender love for those who follow Him.

Will we walk with Him this day, and hear these things for ourselves?

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Will we believe Jesus? But refuse to submit to His Authority?

John 8:51 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.”

The religious rulers had come demanding of Him: “By what authority do You do these things? And who gave You this authority?”

(Matthew 21:23)

So Jesus is talking Authority. Would they….will we…submit to His authority to do what He will, and lead us where He will?

They had heard so many times of His authority…Who He was, and why He was come. Who had sent Him, and given Him the message He spoke:

Jesus had dealt with the woman taken in adultery, and with those men that had brought her. (John 8:3-12)

They had sought to condemn her…and Jesus! But it was they who were condemned…by His Light.

His presence and words sent them away from the Light He was giving….but drew her to stay.

And because she submitted to the Light, she was forgiven.

“I am the light of the world:..”. And He was showing that light into all those hearts.

“…he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

A simple truth He had just proved before them all.

But, it seems, they would not receive His “proof”, His Light.

They argued, that He can’t go around saying that, for it was proving Himself, by Himself. What?!

John 8:14-16 “Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of Myself, yet My record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.

Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.

And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent Me.”

(This is a wonderful conversation….probably the longest Jesus gave about He and His Father, to the people. Will they receive it?)

John 8:25-26,28-29 “Then said they unto Him, Who art thou? And Jesus said unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning..

I have many things to say and to judge of you: but He that sent Me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of Him.

….When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father hath taught Me, I speak these things.

And He that sent Me is with Me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always the things that please Him.”

Jesus was very clear, here. His Father in heaven had sent Him, and He was speaking the Words the Father wanted.

As Jesus was speaking, many believed on Him. (John 8:30) They started to see the truth, and believe that He was the Christ…..would that continue when that truth was applied to them.

For authority acknowledged, should be authority submitted to.

John 8:31-32 “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed;

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Real freedom, is freedom from sin. Sin is bondage. It ties you to something or someone, or some attitude, or some habit. It ties you to death, for every sin brings darkness and death to each of us.

John 8:33 “They answered Him, We are Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest Thou, we shall be made free?”

What we do not often realize (like the Jews here) is: bondage is never felt; until you try and move away from it.

Like a chain that is around the leg of the slave, tied to a tree. Until the slave tries to run from it.

And when they can’t….then they find that they are bound; and with each moment…you are more bound.

We are all slaves of sin….till Jesus Christ frees us.

John 8:34-36 “Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.

And the servant abideth not in the house forever: but the Son abideth forever.

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

True freedom from sin is through the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Jesus was trying to explain to them, so they could continue, and be free.

And the real problem for these men?

John 8:37 “I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because My word hath no place in you.”

What did Jesus mean: “My word had no place in you”?

You see, we only understand with our minds and hearts, what our wills receive.

If we will not receive a truth….we do not understand it; for understanding…spiritual understanding has to do with experience.

Jesus goes on to say:

John 8:47 “He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.”

Understanding comes from submission. There is a definition for “spiritual understanding”, which is: Light + Experience = Understanding.

Light is what we receive from God….these Jews had that. They had light that Jesus was the Christ, He had told them that the Father had sent Him.

Experience is submitting to the light, and putting it to work in our lives. This they refused to do; So…..

They had no spiritual understanding. Jesus’ words had no place in their lives; for they refused His authority….over themselves.

Sadly, though they ‘believed’ on Him in general, they refused His authority over themselves….and because of this….over the sin in their lives

John 8:54, 59 “Jesus answered, If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing: it is My Father that honoreth Me; of Whom ye say, that He is your God:

And then they took up stones to cast at Him: but Jesus hid Himself, and went out from the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.”

I believe this is a mini parable:

Jesus gives light; the people turn for more.

Jesus shows His authority; the people back up.

Jesus shows them the sin of unbelief and calls all who will be free from sin, to Himself; the people defend themselves.

Jesus rebukes their defense, and again calls them to submit to God, and to the Truth about Himself, and themselves: the people refuse and seek to get rid of Him.

Jesus hides Himself, but turns and goes through the midst of them, without their “seeing”.

Jesus Christ calls all who believe in Him, to submit to the Light He shows, and to His authority.

Will we?