Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

The Leper

Mark 1:40 “And there came a leper to Him, beseeching Him, and kneeling down to Him, and saying unto Him, If Thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.”

The fact that Jesus healed many, was well known. He had been preaching the Gospel of the kingdom of God. (Mark 1:15). Wherever He went, He healed the sick, and crippled, as well.

As He went, a leper came asking for cleansing. “Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean”.

Jesus was moved with compassion. Leprosy is a terrible disease. How far along in the disease he was, is not said here….but in:

Luke 5:8. “And it came to pass, when He was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy; who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought Him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.”

This man was “full of leprosy”. In other words, this man’s case was hopeless. Leprosy starts as a “rising,(swelling), a scab, or bright spot” and continues till “raw flesh” appears. (Leviticus 13:2, 14)

It destroys and eats away the flesh, until fingers fall off, etc.

Leprosy is like sin. It begins small–a “swelling”. Wherever it breaks out, it puffs up the flesh.

But it is small–something you could ignore, if you chose to. Till it needs a scab.

That means there has been a open sore. It still could be small…but open, open to the contaminants of the world…..and growing.

And so it goes on, eating up our souls, destroying us; unless it is cleansed.

1 John 1:9 ” If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Yet, this man cried for mercy from the Lord Jesus;…..and received it.

Not only the Word of Healing;…….but Jesus “put forth his hand, and touched him”.

Mark 1:41-42 “And Jesus moved with compassion, put forth His hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.

And as soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.”

Isaiah 59:1 “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it can not save; neither His ear heavy, that it can not hear:”

This was compassion only the Son of Man/the Son of God, could do:

Hebrews 4:15 “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

Jesus touched the leper, and gave His Word, “I will”. That cleansed him.

Jesus heart reached out and touched him,…..a leper, who should never be touched. (Most would not even let them come near them.)

Jesus willed, and spoke the word,…..and he was cleansed.

I am emphasizing this, because we feel that God’s Will, and His Word have different power…..no. What God wills, His power is already sent forth to do….in us, and by us.

What God’s Word says, is certain.

He did not need to speak….but stressed His compassion, by word.

He did not need to touch….but stressed His love, by His hand.

But now the Lord wanted him to do what God required for the cleansing, for a testimony of God’s goodness:

Mark 1:43-44 “And He straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away;

And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: Go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.”

We can not save ourselves from our sin. We must come to Christ for that.

But we can be obedient to what He requires us, afterward, as a testimony to His Love and Word.

The leper was cleansed:

He came to the right person, and in the right way; seeking mercy.

And he was cleansed.

Then he went and did as Jesus required, as a testimony to Jesus as Lord and Savior,….and as the One who healed him.

We, too, are in need of cleansing: from small sins or large sins. We need forgiveness and cleansing.

But we can come to Jesus for His mercy……bowing down to Him, we can be cleansed of all our iniquities….receiving His grace (the unmerited favor of power).

The Leper was no longer a leper…..that is what he sought from Jesus….and what he got, by Jesus will, word, and touch.

Christ Jesus has the same, for all who will come to Him.

John 1:17 “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”

Romans 10:13 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Know the manner of the love of God

1 John 3:1-2 “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not.

Beloved now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.”

What manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!

He could have simply called us servants in His house.

For us sinners, that would have been a great mercy.

But He calls us “sons of God”.

In this, He gives us the privilege of “access”.

Romans 5:1-2 “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

By Whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”

Access…..we many come before His throne, anytime….

And He says we may come “boldly”.

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

The Lord says,….Come and get My mercy and help for now…..

….”in this time of need”, is the way I pray….when I claim this verse.

He gives us a place in the household of God.

Ephesians 2:19 “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;”

He blesses us with all spiritual blessings in Christ.

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

In Christ we have an inheritance of blessings….not cursing.

He has so many for us: peace, joy, strength, courage, patience…etc.

He gives us authority to speak in His Name…we are His ambassadors.

2 Corinthians 5:19-20 “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”

He gives us an inheritance; the Holy Spirit being the earnest or downpayment of all which is to come, here, and in heaven.

Through the Holy Spirit, we are lead, comforted, graced, and corrected all through this life to the life in heaven.

Ephesians 1:13-14 “In Whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in Whom also, after that ye believed ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise,

Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.”

1 Peter 1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,

Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

And as a Father, He corrects us, that we might become all we can be.

Hebrews 12:9-10 “Futhermore, we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence (respect): shall we not much more rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure, but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness.”

God’s character in sending His Beloved Son to die for us, is love.

God’s purpose in sending His Beloved Son to die for us, is that we might be “the sons of God”; conformed into His likeness.

1 John 4:8-9 “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.”

What manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us!

“Bestowed” here is in the present tense: which means He is always giving us (has given, is giving, and will give), because we are His sons.

One of the last exhortations before the Revelation; is…

Jude 20-21 “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,

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

Hold tight onto the Father’s hand, as His children.

Receive from the Father’s hand all He wants to give, and use it.

Hear His correction and become conformed to Christ’s image.

Keep ourselves in the love of God.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Today!

Hebrew 3:15 “While it is said, Today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts as in the provocation.”

All our lives comes down to ‘Today’. Tomorrow is not yet. Yesterday, with its success and failures, is done.

But today we have. Today we have the opportunity to turn to God and do His Will.

We never know what a day will bring. We should, therefore, determine which direction our lives will go, while we have today.

So today, if you will hear His Voice.

We can hear God’s voice in nature; many have seen the changing seasons and heard God speak to them:

Psalms 74:17 “…Thou hast made summer and winter.”

If the seasons change, all over the world, surely that means that the sadness of today is not permanent; but will give way to rejoicing.

We can hear God through His Word. It is His revelation of Himself and His Ways to us. The Holy Spirit will help us understand it, when we ask Him.

And we can hear His Voice to us, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit within. He is Light, and will make known to us, HIs Will.

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

Jesus said, If we really want to know His Will, we can know.

God considers our “heart” the throne of our mind, emotions and will.

So when we hear Him, we are to “soften” our hearts by yielding to His Will.

To “harden” our hearts is when, we will not to do it; for whatever reason.

Zechariah 7:9-11 “Thus speaketh the Lord of Hosts, saying, Execute true judgement, and show mercy and compassions every man to his brother:

And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor, and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.

But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear.”

A hardened heart is not caused by circumstances, or birth;…….but a choice of will.

When Israel hardened their heart: they first refused to listen, for they did not want to be responsible.

They thought that if they had not heard, God could not require His Word to be obeyed.

They pulled away from the work of “shouldering” the burdens of prayer, faithfulness, and love.

Finally they stopped their ears,…..or filled their ears with other voices,…..so they would not have to know God’s Voice in the circumstances.

Again, God considers our heart, the throne of our mind, emotions, and will.

But He can give us “hearts of flesh”; or tender hearts, which will return the love He gives us,….back to Him.

Ezekiel 11:19-20 “And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stoney heart out of the flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh:

That they may walk in My statues, and keep Mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be My people, and I will be their God.”

The Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Godhead, is given to us in our hearts to make alive again, and guide. He rules, and over rules, in circumstances which affect His People.

Without Him we can do nothing.

But with His Almighty energy, the most extraordinary results can be produced.

Everything depends upon His manifesting or concealing His Power.

Are we anxious to obtain His help?

Are we watching so we will not provoke Him to be silent?

Oh how much we need Him to speak to our inner man and give us courage!

The Holy Spirit is not a temporary gift; He abides with us.

He does not weary of us (Amazing Love!).

But He waits to be gracious at times, till we really see our need, and seek Him.

It is love which makes a hard heart into a softened heart, yielding to God’s Spirit.

It is God’s love given to our hearts,……and then returned to Him, by us.

In love, He speaks of “Today”, if…..you will hear His Voice.

Turn to Christ Jesus, and yield to HIs Spirit within.

Receive His love,….and return it to Him.

He wants to bless each heart given to Him,……”Today”.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Ephesians 6:15 “And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;”.

The Roman’s hobnail sandals, were for their sure footing in all kinds of terrain.

They were hard on the bottom, with little spikes to grab into the earth.

They had leather straps which tied the leather leggings….so that their ankles and legs were supported, and protected.

In the Christian life, we need sure footing, if we are to walk through this world,….and all it’s situations;

….and resist the Adversary of our souls.

That solid footing is provided by the gospel of peace. The gospel of peace, is that Word from the Lord to us about our peace….

…Judicial peace because we are born again…Hallelujah

…”Peace be still” to the storm around us.

…Hold your peace, and let Me fight for you.

We stand in His Word….on His promises to us….to uphold and keep us.

(In the world we have all sorts of things….”bombarding” us.

Not just temptations….although they are there…

….but things of our common life….bills, illness, fights with family and co-workers,….all the things with cause us to worry, and become fearful.)

But there is a place of rest, and peace of mind for every Christian.

John 16:33 “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

(Notice here, that Jesus is speaking of Himself…but seeing us, as in Him,…He speaks of the overcoming peace He has for us.)

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

This peace is God’s hiding place for every believer….

Psalm 91:1 “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

That “secret place” is a place of covering and protection….so is His promises to us.

Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Isaiah 26:3 “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.”

Peace “keeps” us….

For it settles our “ruffled feathers”…..it soothes our weary minds….it keeps us from sinning with our lips…..it protects us from charging after the “pie in the sky”…..

….and mostly…..importantly….it keeps us attached to God….for He is our peace….it is His arms about us.

If we do not learn how to depend upon the promises of God for peace,……than we will not have sure footing……to be able to stand against the wiles of the Adversary.

For that is the “digging in” of the hobnail sandals…in every place.

Why is it our feet? Why not our minds, or breastplate?

Because it is in our everyday life….our everyday circumstances….that we run into strife, anger (ours or others), hurt, and worry.

It is as we are walking along in the Lord’s Way, that we are attacked…..and if we do not have sure footing in God’s promises to us….then we can be thrown off balance and knocked down.

Worry, anxiety, tension, fear….meet all of these with the Gospel of peace…a promise for you from His Word.

One that you can get a hold of…and one that can get a hold of you.

The Lord wants to garrison your walk with Him….with His peace.

This is of the Holy Spirit, not something you do…..it is not your hanging on to Him….but your yielding to Him….His Word…..His promise to you.

Then He does the guarding and protecting. And He does all things well.

(My daughter, when she was just beginning High School, was in a study room that was chaos. She could not do her work for the constant noise, and antics.

The teacher that was suppose to monitor the room, just ignored the situations.

The teacher would enter in if there things being thrown around….but mostly, the noise she would ignore.

Finally, my daughter became so frustrated, she began to just sit there, waiting till the time was up.

I told her, that what she needed was peace……

She said, “yes, peace and quiet, so I can get my work done.”

So I told her to pray…..right before she went in….asking for peace for herself.

A few days later, she told me that the noise was not any better….

….but that, instead, she had like a barrier to it in her mind…..she could really concentrate on her studies!

And get them done.)

God’s peace comes to us….and grounds us….in Him. We feel His presence,….we know His help,….we rest in His keeping us.

This is God’s sure footing for us.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

The Centurion’s Faith

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

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

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

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

So let us consider this Centurion’s faith.

First his faith sought out Jesus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speak a Word, and it will be done.”

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

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

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

And this man’s faith was honored….

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

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

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

What of our faith?

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

But how far have we yielded to this faith?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

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

Knowing that tribulations worketh patience;

And patience, experience;

And experience, hope:

And hope maketh not ashamed;

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

Faith gives us all these things…let us have them and use them.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

He that hath an ear to hear,….let him hear

Amos 3:8 “ The lion hath roared, who will not fear? The Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy?”

(To Prophesy is to tell God’s people what is on His mind for them…whether for now or future)

(I love Amos, for he was an ordinary man….a herdsman—a shepherd of sheep and goats…..and a gatherer of sycamore fruit—which is like figs. Amos 7:14-15.

Yet God called him, and told him to “Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.”

There was still time, before God would bring judgement upon them, (they would be taken away into captivity)…to repent and do what was right.

Yet it was an odd time to send Amos….there was prosperity in that land. Riches and wine…..were everywhere. Yet Amos went….in his shepherd garb….and made a great effect on the people he preached to….so much so that “the land is not able to bear all his words.” Amos 7:10)

The only ones who would not fear, or would not speak His words….are those who refuse to hear.

Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding.”

There is fear….and there is fear of the Lord.

Many confuse the two. They are easily defined:

Fear is being gripped with terror, and panic, for what might happen to you or yours.

Fear of the Lord is reverence and a watchfulness to not offend the One who loved us so much that He died for us.

He is Sovereign,….and all things work to His Sovereign Pleasure or determination.

We would change this or that…..make “improvements” here or there…..

…but what God wants in all circumstances….is to change us.

We want deliverance, out of our circumstances…..He wants to deliver us in our circumstances….and through our circumstances.

(I remember a time, when God was dealing with me….and I kept bumping heads with Him….giving Him all sorts of reasons to not go through this trial.

But when I….finally…..submitted, I was helped….I was given peace…..I was led through….and through I went. I can not say I had the victory…..but I can sure say He had the victory over me! Hallelujah!)

Amos 3:6 “Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people’s not be afraid? Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?”

Things do not just happen. God has a purpose for each person.

God’s general way of dealing with HIs people is to speak first….”rebuke….and chasten” (Revelation 3:19)….but when those to whom He speaks refuse to hear….

….then He chastens…..to awaken them to His Word.

Amos 7:8 “And the Lord said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said , A plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more:”

Here is chastening.

God measures how straight we are. Are we in line with HIs Word to us?

If we are not, we are ready to fall…as a wall leaning in places.

All who have ears to hear, let him hear…..is spoken many times in the gospel by the Lord Jesus.

And again in every church age…..He that ears, let him hear.

What is the Lord speaking to us about? Are we running after riches to our hurt? Are we seeking the wine of worldly life….and forgetting to be filled with the Spirit of God?

As Amos said to Israel….

Amos 8:11 “Behold the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:”

It came to pass for them…..God gave them a time to repent….to turn to Him and HIs Words.

“Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the Lord, the God of hosts shall be with you….” (Amos 5:14)

Revelation 3:19 “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”

Because He loves us…..He will rebuke….let us hear.

God will have His godly remanent in this age as in all others.

Be zealous therefore, and repent of what He is showing you….Hear and your soul shall live.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Our Treasure.

Paul said he believed in the power from the “treasure” of the Holy Spirit within, against all that came to him: including suffering, hurt, trials, and peril…

Often we are so involved with “fixing the earthen vessel”…..and we miss the blessing of the treasure within. The earthen vessel is necessary….and it must be cleansed from the debris of the world….but the treasure is the beauty and practical value of our true life….as Paul experienced….

….and so can we.

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

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.”

I want first to speak of the things which came against Paul….

…and as he tells Timothy:

2 Timothy 3:12 “Yea, and all that shall live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

Troubles….everyone has them.

But Paul was “troubled on every side”. There was no place he could turn to get away from them….it was a case of “stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord”….for no where was there any relief….

…yet he was not distressed….he was not in anguish or cramped in spirit….he relied on the Lord’s life within him…and Christ’s Will outwardly.

Perplexed….it is hard to think of Paul this way….but it means to be at a loss mentally, doubt. How often do we doubt when circumstances are other than we think they should be?

But he was not in despair….he was not giving up….on God, or God’s Will. He just kept stepping forward.

Persecuted….in how many ways was Paul sought after for his hurt…to slander, imprison, beat, mob him, or stone him! For Christ and the gospel’s sake.

Yet….not forsaken in any of those things.

He was also delivered, rescued, looked after by some which had been his enemies, and given opportunity to preach of Christ.

Cast down…discouraged by the attitudes and actions of those he preached to…

…but not destroyed.

How many sought to “destroy” him….yet before his countrymen, before Felix, Festus, King Agrippa, centurions, and Caesar….he stood for Christ.

(One of my favorite set of verses along this line, is when Paul is before king Agrippa and Festus.

Festus and his courtiers….and king Agrippa and Queen Bernice with all their attendants…. “with great pomp” (Acts 25:23) come in……they sit on thrones with all the others around them.

In comes Paul, no regal robes, in chains…..standing in this great hall. They are all looking at this man, waiting for him to speak….

…but when he does….wow!

Acts 26:6 “And now I stand and am judged of that hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:”

Then he honestly tells of his persecution of the Christians…..of the Lord Jesus knocking him down and speaking to him…..of his calling to “open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light,”…

How many there, were in that darkness?

….”that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me (Jesus)”

(Picture this). Festus cries that Paul is mad with too much learning! (Perhaps convicted himself?)

Paul calmly says. “I am not mad….for I speak the words of truth….the king knows of these things, for they have not been hidden”.

The kings says, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”

And then…and to me this is the amazing part.

Paul says, “I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day,….(Perhaps his eyes look over all the people there)

……were both almost and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.”

Here a man, no royal robes and in chains….declares that life in Christ is something to be greatly desired….so that he wants everyone there…..no matter what station in life….be be saved as he is…..

….except for the chains. That to know Christ Jesus is better than anything else!

This is power.)

And now let us speak of the “treasure” within him….the Holy Spirit.

This treasure was the “excellency of power”. It is an interesting phrase.

Paul is saying that this power…..by the Holy Spirit…..was so amazing….so wonderful…so full….that it was “excellent”…or above every other power in his life….for it was the same power that was in the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 1:19-20).

Think of it. In the world….power is seen by the amounts of things, the strength of body, the influence over others.

But Paul is saying that power belongs to God….and God, by the Holy Spirit is in him (and all who are born again)….and it transforms our life into the greatness, goodness, and peace of Christ Jesus.

For Paul…that was the goal of everything…..

2 Corinthians 4:10 “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.”

Christ Jesus was willing to suffer and die, that we might live….

….and we are to manifest that willingness to suffer for Christ’s sake…

….that the life of Christ….

….the power to change and save from sin and self….might be shown in me…and by my life.

What excellency of power is the Holy Spirit within us….giving us what we need,….as we need it….when we need it!

Paul writes that:

2 Corinthians 11: 25-28 “Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;

In journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;

In weariness and painfulness, in watching often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.”

Paul was busy….and “troubled on every side”…..yet, there was always within him the treasure he could use…..the One who would stay with him and strengthen and empower him with peace and joy.

That treasure is within each of us, as well. Let us cleanse our vessel….and let the excellency of power by the Holy Spirit within us…..empower us to manifest His light and life…in all the troubles, and situations of our lives.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Repentance

2 Corinthians 7:10 “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”

Repentance is a wonderful gift from the Holy Spirit to us. He takes our feet from the miry clay…..from drowning in our own choices……and He sets our feet on the Rock that can not move.

He convicts us of sin (which is a great mercy, otherwise we would continue in it to our hurt)….

….and by that conviction, He works the desire within us, to leave our sin.

Repentance is a turning from our sin….we bring it out into the light before God, and confess it…..then will to turn from it, and the habit of doing it…

….turning instead, to God.

(To turn from the sin, and the turning to God,…is once for all…..

….but the battle with the Adversary, often includes the day by day refusing to yield to the temptation….and getting the grace and help from the Holy Spirit at that time….

…..till the victory is complete…for God never leaves us in sin….but His deliverance is powerful and complete.)

True repentance is sorrow over the sin……

….not sorrow for ourselves…..or for the consequences of our sin.

True repentance leads us out of sin, and into a new life of victory.

But there is the sorrow of this world….

…..a sadness for our “mistakes”.

Seeing them as “wrongs”, “faults”,……which really blames our parents, our circumstances, and God….for making us what we are.

We are here, in this mess, because of them.

And there is another sorrow of this world…..a sorrow for what might happen because of our sin….

….this is not repentance….but self-pity.

These are “sorrows of this world, which worketh death”….for they do not lead to Christ….but to despair or resentment.

Let us again state: Repentance is a choice gift from the Holy Spirit.

It is a gift….it can be received and the fruit of that, is salvation in Christ.

Or it can be rejected, and the fruit of that, is self-importance….my opinion of myself or what I want, is more important than the truth of God in my life.

An example……Simon the sorcerer:

When persecution started against the believers in Jerusalem,….many left the city,…..and went other places, preaching the gospel.

This was the beginning of…”to all the world”.

Acts 8:5-6, 12 “Then Phillip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.

And the people of one accord gave heed unto those things which Phillip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.

But when they believed Phillip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.”

But….

Acts 8:9, 10 “But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:

And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.”

Simon was the big man of the city. He had influence, and by that influence….he had power.

The people there had thought that he had God’s power….but when the true power of God came, along with the preaching of Christ….

….then his power was shown for what it was….and many believed in the truth, and on Christ Jesus.

You might think that here was going to be the battle…

…but the battle was not outwardly….but inwardly…..in Simon.

Acts 8:13 “Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Phillip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.”

This sounds wonderful….and it appeared that Simon was a true believer….but was he a believer in Christ….or in the miracles?

….For you can not reach out to Christ….

….without leaving your world behind…

…that is repentance.

When we say we believe in the Lord Jesus as our Lord, and Savior……then, soon, something will come up to show that….to evidence our faith (Hebrews 11:1)

And we will choose:

Christ and His Way…..or self, (self-glory, self-esteem, self-pity,….but self, in some form).

The Apostles, Peter and John, came down to Samaria, hearing the good news that they had received Christ.

They prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit,….for it had not come upon them yet.

And when Simon saw that…

Acts 8:18-19 “And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the Apostles hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,

Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay my hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.”

Now I would like to give Simon the benefit of the doubt…..

But this was exceedingly wicked…..

…….you can not purchase God, the Holy Spirit.

You can not put Him in your pocket and draw Him out….when you want to….like a servant to you…..no!

Simon only wanted to “use” the Holy Spirit, to make himself look powerful again!

Peter, looking at Simon….got right to the heart of his problem: his heart had never been given to Christ….just to the power he had seen….

…secretly wanting it…..so he could be that important man in the city again.

Acts 8:20-21 “…..Thy money perish with thee because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchase with money.

Thou hast neither part or lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.”

Nothing Simon had seen….the joy of people converted, the healing of the sick, the giving of the Holy Spirit….

….had drawn him away from lust of power….for himself over others….to make him the center of their lives.

What could be done?

Simon had never repented of his true life and lust….

….so Peter tells him to do so…there was hope, if he wanted it.

Acts 8:22-23. “Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God that perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness (a hardness of heart) and in the bond of iniquity (the lust of sin).”

Here is real mercy…..for to repent, is to clear away the old…..by confession to God……so that when we reach out to the new…..our hands are empty.

Acts 8:24 “Then answered Simon and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.”

I want to tell you how sad this makes me…..

…Instead of being joyful that there was still the opportunity for repentance….

….Simon merely asks Peter to pray for him.

Not for the repentance….but that he would not suffer “these things”…..

….Oh, how much we lose when we do not repent.

Again, repentance is a choice gift from God to us…..by it, He takes our feet from the miry clay….from drowning in our own choices……and leads them to the Rock of Jesus Christ.

Are we receiving the Lord’s gift of repentance?

The Godly sorrow for a time, reaps eternal rewards, if we will have it.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

The Spirit-filled walk of a Christian

I speak a lot about the Holy Spirit in us….it is one of the great things of Christianity, I believe….that a Person of the Godhead is present with us….always.

God, the Father willed our salvation in it’s fullest terms: being born again, being sanctified, being brought into His Presence forever.

God, the Son paid the price for our salvation in His perfect life, sacrificial death, and resurrection life;….and He stands before His Father now, interceding for us….that we might have all the blessings of His Life given to us. (Ephesians 1:3)

But it is….

God, the Holy Spirit that comes to each heart that receives Christ as Lord and Savior,…..and stays there. He is the One who speaks, and nudges, and reminds us of scripture. He is the One who puts up with our moods, and ignoring Him. He is the One who empowers as we yield to Him….now….for He receives all that Christ gives for us….and imparts it, to us.

How important He is….are we working, so we will not quench Him (1 Thessalonians 5:19),…..or so we will not grieve Him (Ephesians 5:30)?

Ephesians 5:18 “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;”

This is something we are told to do!

When we are “drunk with wine”….we are in subjection to the wine….it is in charge.

When we are “filled with the Spirit”….we are in subjection to the Holy Spirit….He is in charge.

(Subjection in the Greek means…”to be under, subornation”….

……yet the world would turn this word…..into bondage.

Which are we going to believe? Which are we going to do?)

Song of Solomon 3:6 “Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant?”

This is a picture of those that are coming “out of the wilderness”.

The wilderness in scripture always speaks of trials and testings.

(There were the forty years of wilderness wanderings for Israel, after coming across the Red Sea.

Jesus was in the wilderness for forty days, during His temptation by the devil. Mark 1:12-13)

But here, there is one coming out of the wilderness…..out of the ups and downs of emotion and mind…..from the trials and testings of faith in the world,…..

……into the peace and joy of established subjection to God.

This one seeks to leave the world behind her (the church is always spoken of in the feminine.)….getting deliverance from the world, and it’s claims upon her.

“Like pillars of smoke”.

Smoke is very weak stuff….a puff of wind blows it one way or another.

But here it is a pillar….strong and straight….because it is a supernatural strength….the strength of God, by the Holy Spirit within her.

Joel 2:28, 30 “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh;…

(This is the promise that anyone who believes in Christ Jesus, God’s Son, will receive His Holy Spirit)

And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood and fire, and pillars of smoke.”

(This is the same pillars of smoke as in the Song of Solomon……His children who are filled with the Spirit, manifesting His control in their lives.

“Wonders” in the Hebrew here, means “conspicuous, bright, miracles”)

“Perfumed with myrrh and frankincense” (Song of Solomon 3:6)

Being filled with the Spirit, we manifest Christ’s death ( myrrh…they used it to put on dead bodies),….

….and Christ’s kingship (frankincense….was the spice of kings….very costly).

We “perfume” our walk by denying ourselves (Matthew 16:24-25), and losing our self-lives, that we might find our Christ’s life…..and showing His life through us.

Christians are filled with all the Spirit of God, as we are emptied of all the fullness of ourselves….and this is an act of our will, willing with the Lord….coming out of the wilderness….of our world situation….under more and more of the influence of the Holy Spirit’s power.

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

If Christ is not King of your life, you may be doing the “right” thing….but you are not letting the Holy Spirit’s power flow in you, by you and through you. You are not the pillar of strength and grace, that He wants you to be.)

“With all powders of the Merchant”. A Merchant deals with things for a price. Simply, you obtain from Him for a price….and here, Jesus is that Merchant.

This is not for salvation….that is a free gift. But, as Christians, we are to come to Him for all we need.

He has all we need, but it must be obtained from Him….”obtain promises” (Hebrews 11:33)….by an act of faith.

“Add to” (2 Peter 1:5)….by giving all diligence.

In Reality, it comes down to His Will done…..in our everyday situations….by yielding to the grace, words, patience, peace, power….all coming from the Holy Spirit within.

This yielding makes us into a pillar….a pillar of smoke.

There may be something the Lord requires at our hand, that would be very important to Him,…..which we would think very lightly of…..but at Thy Word we willingly obey.

The Holy Spirit shows substance and strength through our words….even a word in due season….when we are yielded to Him.

He shows Hope (that confident expectation that God will do what He says) through us….when we are under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

We are told to be “filled with the Spirit”….and come under His influence in all our thoughts, words, and deeds.

And the Song of Solomon shows us what we will become, if we do…..a pillar.

We do not change into a pillar of stone….no….God wants us….to use us.

We are changed into a pillar of smoke….weak in ourselves….and strong in Him.

Paul’s prayer for the Colossians:

Colossians 1:8-11 “Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His Will and wisdom and spiritual understanding:

That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful unto every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness;”

They had the Spirit…love in the Spirit….and now he prays that they might be filled with the Spirit….

And there is always more of Him we can have…..

….less of our self-life…..to have more of Christ’s life by the Holy Spirit, in us.

His life gives us Eternal life…..peace and joy….working in us patience….and forgiveness for others….long-suffering toward their failures…..and love….

….love by the Holy Spirit within.

Why are we so afraid of subjection to Him?

Is it what He will require? What does it matter if He enables us?

Is it a rebellious place in ourselves which does not want to let go of “this”?

For each of us…..He saves,….then He calls….then He leads….then He fills us with His Spirit, as we willingly yield….to enable us to overcome every difficulty…..

….will we come out of the wilderness of this world, and be pillars of smoke in this time,….for Him?

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Edification, Exhortation, and Comfort.

1 Corinthians 14:3 “But he that prophetieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.”

Paul is speaking concerning prophesying….or preaching what is on God’s mind for His people.

1 Corinthians 14:4 “….but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.”

As preachers, we are to bring before the people we preach to, three things:

Edification….which is to build up.

We are to preach the Word of God in such a way that the people will grow in grace. That they will grow from children…tossed to and fro in doctrine…..to grown men of God.

Ephesians 4:13-15 “Till we all come in the unity of the 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:

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things which is the head, even Christ:”

God’s Word is full of “building blocks”….that will fortify us against this world’s tricks and allurements….for through His Word, and by HIs Spirit, we will know our God.

Daniel 11:32 “And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.

Psalm 61:3 “For Thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.”

Psalm 62:2 “He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.”

To know the Lord, and HIs Word to us….builds us up. We are not tricked….for we know HIs Will.

We are not “greatly moved”….it does not say we are never moved by emotions, troubles, or adversity…..but we are not greatly moved….because Christ is our Rock and fortress.

Then we are to Exhort.

Exhortation is to awaken….

Hebrews 13:22 “And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation : for I have written a letter unto you in few words.”

When we exhort, we are preaching to wake our hearers up. It is so easy to fall asleep, or settle down in what we consider a time of rest.

The Adversary of our souls, the devil, never rests….but seeks to trick or beguile us.

So we must be watchful of our souls….and awake to hear the calling of our Lord for the next step.

Paul wrote the Ephesians in the early part of his first imprisonment….a letter of affection….reminding them of the Will of God from “before times eternal”….and the blessings He has for us. But he exhorts them to be awake….not comfortable in their spiritual lives….but staying in the light.

Ephesians 5:14 “Wherefore He saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”

Paul wrote the Romans about the Purpose of God….and the importance of continuing in it.

Romans 13:11-12 “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.

The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.”

Exhortation is an important element in our growth in grace….for it we are not awake to Christ’s call and direction….we may surely take a wrong turn.

Then we are to Comfort.

How important this is to godly growth in grace! For to comfort a Christian is to turn their eyes upward to Christ….and His love and peace.

Romans 8:35, 38-39 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?…

….For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

To see and feel the needs of others….their grief, sorrow, pain,….tiredness even. As a Christian, we are to pray for….and speak the words of Christ which will heal, and give something to lean upon.

For God is the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3)

Paul, when the Thessalonians were sorrowful about those who had died already…thinking that perhaps since they were dead, the Lord would not raise them up when He came….wrote to them.

1 Thessalonians 4:13, 16-18 “But I would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

The Holy Spirit is the Comforter (John 14:16, 26)….for He abides with us forever.

The scriptures are for our comfort…..

….”…that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”(Romans 15:4)

And we are to comfort each other.

2 Thessalonians 5:11 “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.”

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 “Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,

Comfort your hearts and stablish you in every good word and work.”

We are called help each other grow in grace…..

Maybe you can not preach or teach…..but you can witness to God’s grace and comfort to you….and pray for His people, that they may know Him as they should.