Lost

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

Lost. That which was lost.

Lost to God, and all His plans and purposes.

For He purposed life and fellowship for each one of us. But we are lost to it, by sin. The sin of Adam, our father in the flesh. And our sin of choice.

And more, we are even lost to ourselves.

Our minds, which could have thought God’s thoughts after Him,……is now filled with our plans, and desires…..or the world’s plans and desires……all without consideration of what God wants for my life.

Our hearts, which could have loved God, and our fellow man with respect and care,……is now filled with love of myself, my friends, my…my…my…

Our hearts experience wrath and violence against God and others.

(We all need to test ourselves here: what do you feel when people cut you off, or speak rudely to you, etc.)

Our wills, which could have willed to do God’s will, in joy and peace……now seeks only to go along in the world.

(All going closer and closer to the pit.)

But Jesus Christ came to seek and to save us.

First He seeks us out in our own circumstances.

He sends the Holy Spirit to Awaken us to Christ, and His way; then to give us truth.

This is usually quite a shock, to see where we are. Who we are. And where we are going.

(No, I don’t mean Hell, here. I mean the downward spiral of our lives, into selfishness, and confusion: remember the “my..my..my”)

Then, He draws us to Christ. The loveliness of the person of Christ, we begin to see.

The fact that He loved us, enough to come and save us, we begin to believe.

The Light that He will save us, we begin to have.

The Holy Spirit then opens our hearts to hear the Word of Christ to us:

John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, Verily,(Verily means Truth. Jesus is saying: Truth, Truth.) I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he can not see the kingdom of God.”

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your soul.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

John 7:37-38 “In the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.

He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”

And when we hear Christ Jesus’ voice to us……..we reach out in faith…

(and the amazing thing is God gives this to us so we can!)…..and receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, to be born again.

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

Romans 10:9 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

As this happens, we are no longer lost to God, or to ourselves. We have a reason to live….a purpose for our existence and lives……and the beginning of a way to go.

We are Found.

We can begin to fulfill the purpose for which we were created: God’s Purpose for us, personally; for He has one for us.

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

Not of works, lest any man should boast.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus (this means molded into the same image in the Greek) unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

Ephesians 1:13 “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.”

The Holy Spirit is placed within us the moment we are born again…as Comforter, Guide, Helper….and Power.

He will never leave us…….but we are told to…

“Quench not the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19).

Simply, do not stifle the fire of His life and love within you.

1 John 4:19 “We love Him, because He first loved us.”

And by His life and love, we are guided through this world and all it’s traps, and taken to heaven.

God saves us spirit, soul, and body…to the uttermost; for 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 until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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

From Lost to Found by Christ Jesus! Hallelujah! What a Savior!

The Heart’s longing after the Lord, Himself

Psalm 27:4 “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, and behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.”

David was called the man after God’s heart, for his love to Him.

Despite David’s many failures, some terrible, David always returned to God.

Notice the action of this verse:

“One thing have I desired of the Lord”; this is of the heart. He wanted it so much that he asked the Lord for it.

But he did not just ask. He said, “I will seek after.”

He put his actions with his heart, and did everything he could to “dwell” with God.

That is what it means by “I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life”. He did not want to lose his fellowship with God. Or the joy of His presence with him.

Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

We praise God for the mercies we receive, the grace given….that is good…

….But how much do we love Him?

Love is willed. It takes in the whole of man…..for once we really will something, it moves our heart and mind to follow.

David said, he would keep loving and seeking after the Lord; for the Lord was beautiful in all His glorious character:

The Lord is merciful, for He had heard David’s prayer, when he was under a sky as a shepherd, or fighting the Lord’s battles, or in the palace.

(The Lord hears our prayers, too.)

The Lord is powerful, for the Lord strengthened David against a bear, a lion, Goliath, king Saul, and the many enemies he came against.

(The Lord strengthens us by the many graces He gives us, in all our circumstances.)

The Lord is present, always. In help,….and in correction.

The Lord did not forsake David when he sinned; but brought him back in love.

(He has promised to forgive and cleanse us from our sin: 1 John 1:9

And He has promised us that He will never leave us. Hebrews 13:5)

We can deny ourselves and do our duty, as Christians, because we know we have to, or should.

Or maybe, for a benefit;…….perhaps the Lord will answer my prayer and give me what I want, if I do what He wants.

But those that love God, sees things differently….willing to follow after….not a set of rules,….but Christ Jesus…for I know Him, and want to know Him more.

The Lord always blesses obedience.

But He loves to be sought after; and gives double blessings to those whose obedience is in love.

“I will seek after” is the willed heart’s response to the Lord, Himself.

David began this psalm with:

Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

Here is the beauty David saw when he looked to the Lord….light for him, and salvation…..strength so that he did not need to be afraid….even of his many enemies.

And David ended this psalm with:

Psalm 27:14 “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thy heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”

The Lord will always answer our desire and seeking of Him….

He will show Himself more, in all His attributes and character,…to all those who want to have it.

Wretchedness.

Revelation 3:17 “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:”

The Faithful and True Witness calls us this.

So let us consider the facts of the accusation:

First, to understand the term “Wretched”….it is “To be deserving strong condemnation in condition or circumstances.”

(This is the Bible’s definition…..the world has added “pitiful”…..but that is not what God thinks. We are wretched because we choose to be….for everyone there is a way of being saved from it.)

And we, Laodiceans are wretched….for we could be different.

First, we are sinners, and as such, all our righteousness is as filthy rags ( Isaiah 64:6).

True, we are saved sinners, if we are born again; but are we acting like it?

We are also the Church, but living among a world that thinks the Bible is out of date, and that Christ’s words can be ignored.

Do we agree?

Aren’t we just what, He says we are?

Now the only other place that this term wretched is used in the New Testament, is:

Romans 7:24 “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

Now just what is it that Paul wants here?

He wants to be saved from himself.

Self examinations are for the most part useless; because it is calls upon self to examine self! What?!

It is:

“How could I ever do such a thing?”

“How can I change to be a better I?”

But when you begin to see you are wretched, in the same way Paul saw, by the power of the Holy Spirit, then you also see that Christ Jesus is the only hope for deliverance.

It is not a “better” I, that I need…..it is to lose all the “I’s” in my life and exchange them for “Christ liveth in me” (Galatians 2:20)

Woe is me! Paul said.

And so does everyone who realizes that they can not deliver themselves, from themselves.

And when this happens, then we turn to the Lord to be saved from ourselves.

Romans 7:15, 22-23 “For that which I do, I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”

Paul saw his natural man (flesh), fighting against his spiritual man; and winning a lot of times.

This is the wretchedness Paul saw in himself…….does any of it ring true to us?

Do you know anything about this, personally?

Wanting to do the will of God;….

……but finding that root of bitterness (Hebrews 12:15),……

……or that anger turn to hatred,……or finding that you are willing to do anything, but that…

……all the things which deal with covetness (the desire for something we do not have: Whether it is prestige, riches, other people in our life, different circumstances, or great ability.)

This was the sin in Paul’s life which showed to him, his “wretchedness”: it was the sin of covetousness.

(Romans 7:7)

Romans 7:18 “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”

Paul is saying, “I do not have the reality of His power working in my life, now.”

Paul later wrote concerning some who stayed in this position:

2 Timothy 3:7 “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Because that is the crux of the matter.

Will you stay in the same position, when you see your wretchedness?

James 1:23-24 “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:

For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.”

God in Christ has offered us so much; how much have we obtained?

How much of Christ’s deliverance from ourselves, have we sought after?

We are as Christ says:

Revelation 3:16 “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold or hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.”

Our lukewarmness, is our lack of zeal.

We set so little store by the things God has given us; the things we are called to do.

They are just not that important.

Maybe we think…….”We don’t really count for much; God does not really care about my obedience.”

This is lukewarmness in our Spiritual Life. We are sick….and we do not even know it.

And Jesus Christ, the Faithful and True Witness, says we make Him sick because of this. (I will spue thee out of My mouth.)

So what do we need to do?

We need to see in honesty, our condition before the Lord; like Paul did.

We are what He testifies to: wretched. Sad, but true.

But what are we going to do about it?

We can:

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

This is how we repent:

We turn from our ways, our thoughts and our feelings…..and yield….give in to the Holy Spirit….in all our ways, thoughts, and feelings.

Romans 8:2 “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”

Romans 8:13 “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”

Being lukewarm, and wretchedness…….or repentance, and being boiling hot towards God, and getting His life.

Which will we do?

Are We Like the Morning Cloud?

Hosea 6:4-6 “O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? For your goodness is as a morning cloud, as early dew it goeth away.

Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain by the words of My mouth: for thy judgements are as the light that goeth forth.

For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”

The morning cloud promises much. “Maybe there will be the rain we need.”

But the day gets hot and the morning clouds go away.

The early dew evaporates as soon as there is a little sun.

Both look good, but give no lasting benefit.

So were the “revivals” and changes of Ephraim and Judah.

God would send a prophet to preach repentance to them; to restore them to His fellowship and blessing.

But though they would often “repent” when God was chastening them; yet as soon as that was removed, they would resume their idol worship.

We all know what an idol is: it is a fabricated god. We worship it. It is what we put into first place in our lives.

Worship is worthyship: counting God, or whatever, worthy of ourselves. (Our time, our awe, our confidence.)

Worship comes from the Hebrew “to fall down before”.

Sadly, though Israel saw miracle after miracle in deliverances, and blessing; yet they kept choosing to put their confidence in stones, and wood; rather than the Living God. (Jeremiah 10:10-11)

(If you really want to see God’s thoughts about the idols, read: Isaiah 44:15-17. One part of the tree, warms the man, another he bakes bread with, and the rest he fashions into a god! God is laughing at their devotion to stocks!)

Many even came and brought sacrifices to the Lord; and then went out and offered sacrifices to idols.

God said, “If your heart was not in the sacrifice you offer Me. It is nothing……

I desired mercy and not sacrifice.”

The Lord wanted them to obey Him….with their hearts….then the sacrifice they brought would really be looking forward to the great sacrifice, Christ Jesus.

He wanted them to give mercy….had not He given them mercy many times?

This is what He wanted for them:

For Israel to know Him,……to get their hearts right with Him,…and their brothers.

He has always wanted this: for His people to know Him.

To “see” Him as He is: the Almighty God, who rules the heavens and the earth; and yet loves us.

And with this love, He seeks fellowship with us.

So God says:

Hosea 5:15 “I will go and return to My place (heaven), till they acknowledge their offense, and seek My face: in their affliction they will seek Me early.”

When God leaves us (though not really, but in our feelings)……when we quench the Spirit by unbelief, disobedience, or seeking some other way to do His Will;…….then He will wait to see if His absence makes us “wake up” to our need of Him.

The prophet Hosea calls to his people “to return”

Hosea 6:1 “Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up.”

The call to everyone who has gone away from God is always: “return”.

Return to God, and return to His way for you.

He will heal us; and will restore (bind us up).

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

The Comforter

John 14:16 “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever;”

When we are born again, the Holy Spirit comes within our spirits to live there. He is the Paraclete; which means, “to come under, to support”. He is our Comforter.

He places us in the family of God.

Galatians 4:5-7 “To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoptions of sons.

And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

Wherefore thou art no more servants, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”

This He does, by giving us faith: the substance of things things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Plainly, by faith, the Holy Spirit makes God real to us, in our everyday life.

Ephesians 1:13, 17 “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also, after that ye have believed, you were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise,

that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him:”

He is in our spirits, and turns the light on within us, so we can see the truth, and do it.

John 15:26 “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.”

1 Peter 1:22 “Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:”

He speaks to us through the Word of God, and by working in us the knowledge of God’s Will for us.

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

He empowers us, sanctifying us to God.

Ephesians 3:16”That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man;”

2 Thessalonians 2:13 “But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:”

He gives us the fruit of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, and faith,

Meekness, temperance; against such there is no law.”

And as we yield to the Holy Spirit within, He works through us. (People will see a change; not in word only, but in our manner of life.)

Romans 8:13-14 “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”

1 Thessalonians 1:5 “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sakes.”

When we sin, the Holy Spirit stays after us, showing it to us again and again.

If we grieve Him (Ephesians 4:30), He does not leave us, though He may withdraw the comforting feeling of His Presence; till we have sought forgiveness and cleansing.

1 John 1:7,9 “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

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

He teaches us to rejoice and give thanks.

1 Thessalonians 5:18-19 “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Quench not the Spirit.” (Don’t put out the fire of God burning within you by the Holy Spirit)

He teaches us how to pray.

Romans 8:26 “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which can not be uttered.”

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

As the Holy Spirit is in us, we have fellowship with other believers. The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, and we are to love one another, as He loves us.

2 Corinthians 13:14 “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.”

1 John 2:10 “He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.”

And we can be filled with the Holy Spirit, having the power of His influence within us (as as a man is under the influence of wine).

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

We are filled by the Holy Spirit, to the degree we are empty of self-seeking.

Galatians 5:24-25 “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lust.

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

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

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

The Holy Spirit was given us, that we will never be alone: Not spiritual orphans.

He comes to us, to hold us up, giving us joy and peace; and He supports us in God’s Will, giving us the faith to overcome.

,

True North

Proverbs 29:28 “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”

There is on the compass….a magnetic north, which is not True North.

True north is the fixed point where the lines of longitude meet at the North Pole….somewhere out in the Arctic Sea. (The North Star is fixed over it, and was used for centuries.)

You can navigate with a compass, for short trips….

….but to navigate accurately for long trips over any time or distance, you have to ascertain True North.

So for the long distance trip….which is our life, we need to ascertain True North.

And just what is True North for our lives?

Just what should we use for the long journey of our lives?

For most people, our moral compass is True North….but for Christians, True North is

….that Jesus Christ is your Lord.

This is to ascertain True North. This is to have our guide till the end of our days.

The term “Lord” means many things to the people of the world…

….but what it means in the Bible, is “God, controller”.

Now when I say this, that does not mean He is just like a boss, to tell me what I need to do, so I can get the work done…..

But Lordship is in every area of my life,……He is in control of the circumstances I have been, am, and will come into.

I preach on Matthew 16:24 a lot,…..

…..which speaks of denying myself, picking up my cross, and following the Lord.

For it is the beginning decision in making Christ, Lord of my life.

And it is something we must continue to do while we are in the world, and surrounded by so many enemies.

Our example is Joshua…for the battle of Jericho.

Joshua had a big job. He was to take the children of Israel into Canaan….and win the inheritance God had given them….

….and the first battle was Jericho.

Joshua had done all he could…..where Jericho was concerned, so far….

…he had sent two men to spy out the city….and received their report:

Joshua 2:1, 23-24 “An Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho…

So the two men returned,….and came to Joshua…and told him all things….And they said unto Joshua, Truly the Lord hath delivered into our hands all the land; for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us.”

Now he had some information…..but he had not heard from God about this city….so…

…..he went out to reconnoiter the city….

It is interesting that Jericho….a walled, fortified city…..

….is the first battle that the Israelites were faced with!

(They say the the top of the wall was wide enough that two chariots could travel around it unhindered….people’s [Rahab’s Joshua 2:15] houses were in the wall, it was that wide.)

I believe it was to show to Israel…..and all the inhabitants of Canaan….that God is with Israel.

If it had been an easier battle (not that any they fought, were “easy”)….then Israel might begin to feel that…..”Yes!….we can do this!” And boast of their accomplishments.

Also, fear of God from the inhabitants……was one thing that would be on their side…..as long as they were on God’s side.

The Way God deals with things is always amazing…..and always for the best….

……although Joshua, looking at this towering fortress of a city…..might have had other thoughts…..

….but….though he was not sure what he would, or even could do against such a city…..

……he knew God had a plan….and he knew the fear of the Lord was already in the city.

This is True North….to do all we can do…..always looking up to the Lord….not to do the rest….no……but to be in charge….of me, first….then of everything else….leaving the details to Him.

When we do this, God bless us with encouragement, as He does Joshua, here:

Thinking on these things he sees a Man, with a sword drawn

Joshua 5:13-15 “And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold there stood a Man over against him with His sword drawn in His hand: and Joshua went unto Him, and said unto Him, Art Thou for us, or for our adversaries?

And He said, Nay, but as Captain of the hosts of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto Him, What saith My Lord to His servant?

And the Captain of the Lord of hosts said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.”

Notice Joshua’s attitude in everything….

…he was busy looking over the city….although not looking at the problem….for he “lifted up his eyes and looked”….

….which meant he was looking up to God to hear what He had to say about Jericho…

….then when the Man appeared….he was not a slacker, but instantly challenged Him….”for us or for our adversaries?”…

….And when The Lord introduced Himself as Captain….Joshua “fell on his face” and worshipped….

….following that, with the complete subjection, by taking off his shoes before the Lord.

This Man is the Captain of the Lord’s hosts….Our Lord Jesus in human form……already having gone before in the battle….to see His Will and glory manifest…..

…….and now ready to give instructions and encouragement to His servant.

He is there to command the battle…..not just Joshua’s troops…..but the battle on both sides…..for He is the Lord of all.

Everything is under His control….every stone in that wall,…..every heart in that city….all is under His control.

(If you ask, If everyone is under His control, why then, did God let Achan sin? Joshua 7:1

And yes, “let” is the right word.

For God deals differently with those who are His…..

….He can make anyone do anything….but for those He has called to nearness to Him….He says “If any man will, let him”….”My son, give Me thine heart”……

….He wants our hearts to obey His commands….and that requires “will you?”.

And Achan would not.)

And this is what “Lord” means in the Bible…..He commands everything around us…..and with us…..as well as us.

Have we made Him Lord?

Our response should always be,…..worship!….

….and “What saith My Lord to His servant?”

Hebrews 2:10 “For it became Him, for Whom are all things, and by Whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect (complete in the Father’s Will) through sufferings.”

God is the first and the last…….and as such, He worked out HIs Victory for our redemption, through the Captain of our salvation.

The battle for our inheritance is won, by our Lord Jesus Christ.

He has seen to it all….

…and now, He stands at the right hand of the Throne of God for us.

Let us fall before Him, and worship.

Let us subject ourselves to the Lord, and take the instruction He has for us….

…. as how to get our personal inheritance…those heavenly blessings He has in Christ (Ephesians 1:3)….into us.

For every battle….for every encounter….for everyday.

True North in our lives is making Christ Jesus….my Lord….in control of all in my life…..in charge of all, in my lifeare able to go the distance, without getting lost in the world of changing circumstances.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Paul’s Practical Preaching

Paul had begun this last bit of Romans, not with more doctrine, but with the practical.

How we are to live in this world, as Christians; belonging to Christ.

In Romans 12:1-2, Paul shows that presenting your bodies to God, and refusing to be conformed to the world, will strengthen you to find and do the will of God in your life.

Romans 12:3 “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”

Paul was saying that God has given every man, by His Holy Spirit, a “measure” of faith and grace.

(We can, as Peter said in 2 Peter 1:5 “…add to your faith…”. This will increase our measure, so we “grow in grace”. We learn to use what we have, by the Holy Spirit’s instruction, and are given more.)

Our “measure” is given to us; so we should not be proud that we know something, but instead, we should use that measure of faith to:

Romans 12:6-18: “…according to the grace that is given…” we are to do the work God has given us to do.

Let love be true, and not phony:….turn away from evil……love the good.

Be kind to one another,…..preferring the fellowship of believers.

Working hard to do our job, because we serve the Lord in it.

Yield to the joy of the Spirit, and be steadfast in the trials of the day.

Pray always.

Minister to the needs of others, as you are told: both spiritual and temporal.

Bless those who seek our hurt. Do not seek revenge.

Be honest. And try and live at peace with all men.

How can we do these things?

They seem impossible!

And in our own strength, they are.

But God has given, with the measure of our faith….a Leader to show us how and when to do….but also to give us the grace and inclination to do….He has given us His Holy Spirit.

We must go back to:

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

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

You see, it all starts with giving ourselves to God. It says “bodies”, here; to illustrate how we need to yield to the Holy Spirit, completely.

The Lord Jesus was given a body to come to earth and suffer and die, and be raised again…..in His body.

But the Holy Ghost, the Comforter,…..has come to earth, without a body….but instead to indwell and empower our bodies (which include our spirit, soul, and body).

Paul is saying here, that we are to “present”…..which in the Greek means to “stand by, to be at hand, to offer something intangible (our friendship, ourselves)” to God the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit will then take our offering, and work with us to perform the will of God, and to mold us into the likeness of Christ’s character.

Our hands need to be His; not doing things which they should not.

Our feet need to be His; not going places we should stay out of.

Our mouths need to be His; not saying unkind things or lying.

We could go on,……but you see the reason Paul said this.

We need to give ourselves, inside and out, to the Holy Spirit; so we are no longer under our own management….but fully yielded to Him.

But thankfully when we do: we are “transformed” (changed) in motive ,…..in the inner most thoughts and attitudes of my being.

And then given power to “prove” His Will…..by doing it, in the circumstances of my life, day by day.

How good and acceptable it is in our lives!

He wants us to get “our measure” of all we need,…..to live the life He has for us.

A life of goodness and power.

Will we present our bodies to Him?

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

The Rich Ruler

Mark 10:17 “And when He(Jesus) was gone forth into the way, there came one running and kneeled to Him, and asked Him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”

Here is a man seeking eternal life (In Luke 18:18 he is called a ruler). And he comes to the right place: to Jesus….and he calls Him a name of respect for His work…..”Good Master”.

But…..respect for Him is not enough if this man really wants eternal life…….so Jesus first points this young man to God.

Mark 10:18 “And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou Me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.”

He was showing this seeker that eternal life, does not come through following a certain set of rules.

But eternal life comes by receiving, and following Him. Through the Son of God, Who was right before him.

If He was good, and none was good but God: then He was God (which He was).

But since this rich ruler was asking what he should do, Jesus also stresses…..what He always points to…….honoring God’s Word.

God’s Word has been given to guide men to God and His life.

Jesus was drawing out of this man what his heart was really like, for it is only as we see our real need, that it can be met.

Mark 10:19 “Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honor thy father and thy mother.”

Jesus quotes the second half of the Ten Commandments. The part that deals with our relations with people.

(The first half deals with honoring God, and not worshipping idols, not taking the Lord’s name in vain, and the Sabbath rest, to honor God’s works)

Mark 10:20 “And he answered and said unto Him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.”

This young man falls short of getting what Jesus is really telling him. Standing right before him was God’s Way of Salvation, in His Son; yet this ruler is intent on finding something to do.

“I have kept them all. Yet, I know I do not have eternal life by doing what I am doing. So, what more can I do. What don’t I have?”

Instead of asking, “what more can I do?”…….he should have been asking, “Can I come after You? For only You can lead me into eternal life.”

Mark 10:21 “Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”

Jesus loved him. Jesus could look into every heart and He knew that this man really wanted Eternal life.

But Jesus also saw the problem. He had given this man the part of the law which dealt with people, for a reason.

The problem was: his riches and possessions.

They had his heart all tied up. Nothing could get in, he was so full of them.

So the answer was: give away to other people your possessions. Free up your heart from the grip of them, and come and follow Me.

This man had followed the Law: he had not taken from any one, whether by false accusation, or theft. He had not committed adultery. He had honored his father and mother.

But he was very rich—he had “great possessions”.

Let me make this point very plain……..Jesus was not bargaining with this man.

He was telling him what hindered his heart from finding eternal life.

Mark 10:22 “And he (the ruler) was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.”

Whether this man ever did what Jesus said,……or whether he let eternal life go, to hang onto his riches;…….he went away.

He turned from the Person Who was the answer; and went away; for his possessions actually possessed him.

Mark 10:23-25 “And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto His disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!

And the disciples were astonished at His words, but Jesus answereth them again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

Jesus is saying,……that it is very hard for people who have “trusted” in other things,……to let go of them,……and “Come and take up the cross, and follow Me”.

It is Jesus that saves,……not Jesus and…

But you have to let go of what you are hanging on to,….to take hold on Christ.

“Who then can be saved?” His disciples asked.

Mark 10:27 “And Jesus looking upon them saith, With man it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.”

Again Jesus points to God,…..and God’s only Way of Salvation in His Son, Jesus Christ.

God knows every heart…..and how to free every heart from all that would keep it from eternal life….but we must come to Christ.

I hope this rich ruler came back and received eternal life by Jesus Christ; but the answer is the same today for everyone who seeks true life:

“Come unto the Lord Jesus for eternal life…….and take up your cross, and follow Him.”

For only in Him is eternal life.

John 17:3 “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent.”

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Blessed

Jeremiah 17:7 “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.”

Blessed means twice your happiest moment!

And we are blessed the nearer we come to Christ Jesus our Lord.

But this “nearer” is of the heart and will, not just of word.

Mark 5:24 “And Jesus went with him, and much people followed him, and thronged him.”

Here are many who want to be “near” Jesus…..but for what reason?

Mark 5:25-28 “And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,

And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,

When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched His garment.

For she said, If I may but touch His clothes, I shall be made whole.”

Here was a woman in need.

She had done all she could, and gone to others who did all they could; but she was none better, but worse.

Hearing of Jesus (all the great miracles He had done, and the many He had healed), she came after Him.

Seeing the crowd (for they all were pushing to be around Him), she thought she would sneak up behind Him, and just touch His clothes.

She came, not just to see, or hear Him,….she was not curious about Jesus…..

…..but, by faith she came near…… to touch His clothes,….to be healed.

She thought that if she could just touch the hem of His garment (Matthew 9:21), she would be made whole.

So she came, pushed forward, and leaned down and touched the hem of His garment. (Some say, that she was crawling through the crowd to get to Him)

Mark 5:29 “And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.”

(Luke 8:44 “immediately her issue of blood stanched.”)

Finally, wellness!

She touched His garment, and she felt the fountain of blood dry up, and that she was made whole. She was overcome with joy and wonder!

But then she heard Jesus say:

Mark 5:30 “And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of Him, turned Him about in the press, and said, Who touched My clothes?”

I want to take a moment here, and point out exactly what the disciples are going to say:

There are many who are “touching” Him. There is a large crowd, pushing to be around Him.

(It is an interesting point that none of them were healed.)

But the Lord knows those who really come to Him in faith…….and they will always be blessed.

Mark 5:31-32 “And His disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched Me?

And He looked round about to see her that had done this thing.”

Jesus was not looking for those who follow for position, or for curiosity, or to see the next greatest thing.

He was looking for her, who had come to Him, believing that He could meet her desperate need.

That is faith.

And faith in Jesus,….always brings us “near” in heart, and will.

And again, faith in Jesus will always be blessed.

Although right now she is afraid, she does not run away, or try and hide in the crowd: but came, again, in honesty, and told Him all.

Mark 5:33 ” But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before Him, and told Him all the truth.”

She did not know what He would do. He might revoke His healing. He might be angry at the way she had been healed.

She does not know; she fears and trembles:…..but she comes to Him, and tells Him all the truth.

She should not have feared; the One who heals, saves.

The One who saves, receives us again and again, despite our weakness.

And so He does here.

Mark 5:34 “And He said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace (always a sign from God that she is saved), and be whole of thy plague.”

The Lord always rewards faith. His first thought is, for her peace with Him (salvation); then He doubles the healing by speaking, “be whole of thy plague.”

He heals body, soul and spirit. He heals mind, heart and will.

Blessed is twice happy; and she was. Both saved and healed, because she came to Him; first in secret faith, and then in honesty.

Her faith was given the healing that she sought.

Her honesty was given blessing; To be brought near to Jesus in Salvation, and to be made whole.

(The God of peace will sanctify us wholly: body, soul and spirit:

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, and who makes their hope in the Lord.

It is in our coming to Jesus Christ, that we are blessed. We shall be satisfied as we abide with Him.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Who can turn God from His Purpose?

Isaiah 14:24 “The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand:”

Can anyone win an argument with God?

Is there any Christian that believes that they can have the last word with God?

These might seem like odd questions….after all we believe in the Sovereignty of God….

…..to accept the Sovereignty of God is to take our place as His creatures…..before the Creator…..and agree that He can do what He will with His own.

Do we?

Hear the Word of the Lord…

Isaiah 14:27 “For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it?….”

(Who shall break God’s purpose….who can set it aside?

None.)

“…..And His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?”

(When He is ready to judge…..or ready to bless…..who will be able to stop Him?)

Romans 8:35, 37-39 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.

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.”

Do we believe this for ourselves? I see it quoted….and hear it,…often..but do we believe it?

If God has saved you…..He will not give up on you….

Psalm 138:8 “The Lord will perfect (complete) that which concerneth me: Thy mercy, O Lord, endureth forever: forsake not the works of Thine own hands.”

(He may leave us in our sins for a while, because we are slow to leave them……to show us the terrible defilement of them.

He may be silent…..making us feel His absence [even though He never really leaves us].

He may use circumstances to awaken or correct us….

….but everything He does…..is to bring us to Himself….the only place of safety….because He loves us.

Hebrews 12:5-6 “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children,

My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou are rebuked of Him:

For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son who He recieveth.”)

The same principle of God’s faithfulness to us…..to see us complete in Him….

…is spoken of by the Apostle Paul:

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.”

(When we consider that Paul was a Persecutor, and a blasphemer, yet found mercy from our Lord Jesus Christ….

….who then became persecuted, and slandered,…for Christ’s sake…..gladly!

He was someone who could say that Jesus will “sanctify you wholly”…..

….for Christ did this for Paul.)

Wherever we are at in our spiritual growth…

(and if you are born again….you are called to “grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” 2 Peter 3:18)

….there is more. As long as you live….He has more for you to accomplish….to experience with Him.

Who can know all of His mercy….or grace….or blessings?

Are there not people you know, who do not know Him…..or who have “fallen” on hard times, as the prodigal?

Then let us seek His purpose for them….by prayer, and witness.

And in doing so….let us remind ourselves of His great patience, mercy, and love to us.

The mercy of God finds us wallowing in the muck and mire of the world….and shines a light on Christ.

The grace of God brings us out of the muck and mire of the world….in Christ’s power and gives us joy.

The patience of God works His Will in us….HIs character in us….and His love in us.

Amazing God we serve.

Let us yield to His purpose (which includes correction and blessing)…..His call for today….His leading, even though we do not know the Way….and His love for ourselves, and others.