Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Almost Persuaded

“Almost persuaded now to believe,

Almost persuaded Christ to receive;

Seems now some soul to say,

Go, Spirit, go Thy way,

Some more convenient day, On Thee I’ll call.”

Acts 26:28 “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”

We have heard it said, “Almost does not count”;….and it doesn’t.

To almost do… not to.

To almost say….is not to.

To almost anything……is in the end, not to have anything done.

Jesus warned:

Luke 8:18 “Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.”

To “seem to have” is like “almost”;….it is nothing for eternity.

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

We have been called to “walk” in those good works that God has placed before us, in our lives.

Yet often we shrink back, hesitating to begin that first step…..which is simply to obey His Word to us.

“Almost persuaded, come, come, today;

Almost persuaded, turn not away;

Jesus invites you here,

Angels are lingering near,

Prayers rise from hearts so dear, O wanderer come.”

Acts 26:26-28 “For the king knoweth of these things, before whom I also speak freely; for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.

King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.

Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”

King Agrippa knew the facts…..they were not called in question.

So where was the hesitation?

To “hesitate”, is to simply and knowingly wait for some other force to help you decide….it is to wait for something to happen to force your hand……to make you do, what you know you should do……but have not, as yet done.

Agrippa’s hesitation was sad…..

….above everyone else there, in that hall, he could do or believe what he wanted…..he was a king, a honored guest there,…what he would do, would not be questioned or scorned….but honored….

Yet, he was “almost” still.

What about us? Isn’t it time we stop hesitating and start standing with the Lord, in our everyday lives….before all we meet?

For in those few words, lies the direction we must go to enter into eternal life…..”with the Lord”….the Lord Jesus Christ.

(and eternal life is a condition of life here, and now… well as for eternity in heaven)

Acts 26:29 “And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.”

Paul, even with his bonds, had more freedom then anyone there.

He was free, to be and say what the Lord had called him to……

……which was to speak to any and all of the glorious gospel of Christ Jesus;…..who died an accepted sacrifice for our sin…..and was raised, of the Father, the third day….and who is even now at the right hand of God interceding for all who believe on Him.

We, as His born again ones, need to stop hesitating….waiting for Him to push us…..

….waiting for a better argument or reason to do.

It is now…..that you receive His Word or reject it.

Pray about it…..think about it…..however you say it….it can come to, putting it off….till, it is never done.

2 Peter 1:3 “According as His divine power hath given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue.”

This knowledge of Christ Jesus is not head knowledge,……king Agrippa had that;…..but ended in “almost persuaded” only.

This knowledge that leads to life, is heart knowledge……which comes by receiving Him, once for all…….and His Word personally, day by day.

An old preacher said, “We have gotten the message backwards. We tell people to ‘read the Bible’, or ‘go to church’;……..when the Bible plainly says we are to receive Christ Jesus, before we can do anything that will please God.”

Have you heard His voice to you, calling you to come… stop hesitating…but instead, “to altogether” believe, and receive Him?

Then do it…..just do it.

“God, be merciful to me a sinner; and save me for Jesus sake. I receive You into my heart and life, Lord Jesus.”

Almost persuaded, harvest is past!

Almost persuaded, doom comes at last!

Almost can not avail; almost is but to fail;

Sad, sad, that bitter wail, Almost but lost!”

Which will it be?

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

The Lord that healeth thee


Exodus 15:25-26 “And he(Moses) cried unto the Lord; and the Lord shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there He made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there He proved them,

And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in His sight, and wilt give ear to His commandments, and keep all HIs statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.”

The first time this Name is given is wonderful!

Israel had just come out of Egypt,….

…..had seen God part the Red Sea….and had crossed over dry shod, while Egypt’s army had been destroyed (all the while they had done nothing….they had not lifted a hand in their deliverance!)

….they had sung God’s praise and danced for joy!

Then….three days into the wilderness they ran out of water…..pretty serious stuff.

But then they came to Marah, here there was water! Hurrah….but no….it was bitter (undrinkable)!

What! Would God bring them out to kill them with thirst?

Of course not! He brought them here to “prove them”.

It is one thing to be ecstatic by circumstances…..and another to plant your faith in God, no matter the circumstances. And this He wanted to teach them.

Trust should be our answer to God when things don’t look good…

Though the people did not trust…..Moses did. He “cried unto the Lord”….where else can I go but Thee, O Lord?

The emblem of a tree cut down and cast into the waters for the people….is a symbol of Christ cut down and cast into the drowning waters of our sin…..

….and the waters were made sweet.

And has not Christ made our lives “sweet” by His salvation? Yes, hallelujah, yes.

He is Jehovah-Rapha. The Lord that healeth thee.

I want to stress….that if you consider the terms “heal, healeth, healed” in the scriptures…..that they are concerning, or for, God’s people.

Healeth means “to mend, to cure, to thoroughly make whole.”

Ps 103:2-3 “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:

Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; Who healeth all thy diseases;”

(Now I want to explain….that sin has caused the sickness and death of man,….not God.

Man was made upright (righteous before God) but he sought out many inventions (devices) Ecclesiastes 7:29…..and we are still inventing or finding them!

God will chasten us….and sometimes has used illness to get our attention:

Hosea 6:1 “Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for He hath torn, and He will heal us;….” but it is always to bring us back to Him.

Psalm 41:3-4 “The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: Thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.

I said, Lord, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee.”)

There are spiritual, mental, and physical ailments which the Lord heals….(all healing comes through HIs hands)…..whether by normal means or extraordinary means….and He wants us to come to Him in prayer, for healing.

Ps 147:3 “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.”

This has to do with heartaches…..discouragement, depressions, anxieties, stress, and grief.

These deal with our past experiences, attitudes, and our own plans….what we expected.

(Remember, after the Red Sea,…the Israelites thought God would provide with no problems…..

……and when He proved their faith and obedience….

…..they had a “fit”….which caused discouragement, murmuring and failure to trust. What about us? )

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

“And with His stripes we “are”….(present tense)….healed.”

This is not stated in the past tense….as though the healing had already been done.

This is not in the future tense….as though it was only for a time ahead.

But it is in the present tense which suggests that it is for all time…..for all who will receive Him…

Healed…..a word so complete….it takes in our spirits, our minds, our hearts, our bodies. By His stripes we “are” healed.

Israel ran forward to the springs of Marah…..only to find them bitter….a time of testing from the Lord Who redeemed them.

And when we find our circumstances bitter…..what are we to do?

Look to Jehovah-Rapha….the Lord that healeth thee.

For if the Marah experience that we are going through, is sent to prove our faith….that it may stand and grow….

….we can count on Him to give His blessing and victory in it, if we trust in Him.

Anyone can murmur and complain…..that is the way of this world.

But as Christians, we are called to follow Him wherever He leads…..through the wilderness, by way of Marah’s bitter waters….into the promises and healing He has won for us.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Be not unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Ephesians 5:17-18 “Wherefore be not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;”

When you are “drunk with wine”; you have brought yourself under the influence and power of that wine.

So it is to be filled with the Spirit of God; you have brought yourself under the influence and power of the Holy Spirit. He is, in fact, in charge in your life.

Paul writes here that to understand what God’s will is, you must put yourself under the Holy Spirit’s control.

He will tell you the truth.

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

The Holy Spirit impresses us through our spirit, if things are true, or if things are not what they say they are.

He will remind us of verses from the Bible (how important it is for us to know the Scriptures), and He will remind us of what Jesus said when He was here.

He will warn us of things coming up in our life, so we can prepare for them, or against them.

Wisdom in the Scriptures is from God. Paul is saying “Get the wisdom you need, to know and do My will, by yielding to the Holy Spirit.”

We are given the Holy Spirit at new birth.

But we are “filled” with the Holy Spirit; only as we are emptied of self.

Not emptied of our personality…that is precious to God. He died to save our souls, which are our personality.

But emptied of self: self-righteousness, self-pity, self-exaltation, selfishness in so many ways.

Basically, it is putting self first in our life.

As we are emptied of this attitude, we can be filled with the attitude of putting Christ, first.

And this is an attitude that is given us by the faith and trust of the Holy Spirit within….but we need to cultivate it by submitting to it.

How many Christians go through their lives, wanting to know God’s Will….they kinda, sorta, know….in general;……but do not know for themselves, for today, for now.

Perhaps you’re not even sure there is a plan and purpose for your life.

Well, Paul says there is, and to know it, you need to submit to the Holy Spirit’s influence from within.

This is a step by step process.

First, acknowledging His right to tell you what to do.

Second, begin to hear aright what He says to you. (And for this to happen, you need to become readers of His Word.)

Third, we need to yield. Yield as in:

Romans 6:13 “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”

Yield means to assist.

We are to assist the Holy Spirit in His work in us, and through us.

Why do we need to “assist” the Holy Spirit? He is Almighty!

Because, though He is Almighty, His desire is that we cooperate with Him…willingly. To come, to walk with, to talk to, to stand with….these are all the terms of willing, in practice.

He wants to fill us to our capacity; and give us more and more understanding.

This is the wisdom of God…yield, assist the Holy Spirit and learn to be under His influence in your life;….and know God’s Will, personally.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Micah 6:10 “Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is abominable?”

When God speaks to us….He speaks to us in things we can understand.

(Once my husband went with his niece to deal with a woman who had recently become interested in the Lord Jesus. She was not born here, and spoke English somewhat….but he went, and spoke to her about being born again.

He read verses…..but saw that she was having trouble understanding everything.

She understood about sin, she had heard about Jesus….but beyond that it became difficult.

Turning to…

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

My husband spoke of Jesus standing at her hearts door….and told her to listen.

She bowed her head…and…then, she started to cry.

Then, in her own language….she asked the Lord Jesus to forgive her sins and come into her heart and life.

All this she did, almost as though no one else was there….then she raised her head and said, “Jesus spoke to me in my language….He knew me! And now I know Him!”)

When Israel sinned…..God spoke bluntly about it.

The rich were bringing sacrifices which were purchased by the cheating of their neighbors.

Micah 6:9 “The Lord’s Voice crieth unto the city and the man of wisdom shall see Thy Name: Hear ye the rod, and Who hath appointed it.”

This word for “rod” here, is the same as in Psalm 23:4 “…Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me….”

As Israel’s Shepherd, the Lord spoke to them of what was wrong….then as Shepherd, He would use His rod to correct them….get their attention to do something about the wrong….before He would chastise them.

Is there something in our lives that needs to be seen to?

The scant measure that is abominable. Giving a little less than what the customer paid for. Their weights and measures were wrong.

Are we giving to God our all? Or are our “measures” off a little?

God’s weights are:

Luke 6:38 “Give, and it shall be given unto you;

good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.

For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

These are the measures God uses. And this is how He would have HIs people do, as well.

He would have us… all our dealings with Him, and all our brothers and sisters in Christ….do this:

To give to each, that full measure of devotion.

As God would have it. To God, first. And to our brothers in Christ.

This is not to the letter of the law….but to His Spirit in the command.

Hear ye the rod and Who hath appointed it. Appointed here means to summon for trial.

There are trials we go through because we belong to Christ….praise God for everyone of them and His presence through them.

There are trials we bring on ourselves by trying to “take short cuts”….or by trying to be at ease, when there is work to do. Then the Lord “appoints” a rod…to awaken us to our duty.

The rod of correction must be accepted…for just what it is. A tap on the shoulder,…a bump in the way,…a panic in the night.

The Lord would have us be His Will….and the “rod” of The Shepherd has that view in mind….always.

The Lord wants “an expected end” for me…..for you….will you have it of Him?

Jeremiah 29:11

“Expected”…this is only time this word is used in the Bible… is a compound word

meaning…a cord…to bind together..a thing to live for, a thing that I long for.

Jesus wants all of us….are we giving Him a scant measure?

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Isaiah 43:21 “This people have I formed for Myself; they shall show forth My praise.”

As Christians, we are here, by His appointment.

He has placed us, for His own purpose.

And of course, His first purpose is?

“They shall show forth My praise”!

But how?

Romans 8:29 “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

“Foreknowledge” has to do with us….it means He saw us in Christ Jesus before the world began (2 Timothy 1:9)

“Predestination” has to do with the personal Will and Way we are to go….God has chosen…will we follow along?

Here, wills collide.

Your will and God’s revealed will for you. And His way of bringing His will to pass, through you.

Our battle may be short, or it may be long; but it is finished when He has had the Victory over us, and we see (with the eyes of faith, willingly):

Revelation 4:11 “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things,…

(Usually, we have no problem with this. We shout hallelujah!)

….and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”

(But here, is where we squirm a little)

We do not like to think of ourselves as “creatures”.

It is true, we are blessed, for we were made in the image of God.

We were the only creatures that He formed, by His hands; and so an intimate bond was given us.

But we are creatures, and God is the Creator.

Therefore He has the Right to do what He wills with His own.

For the Christian, there is the double right, that He bought us with His own precious blood, from the penalty of sin.

The word “pleasure” here, is really “determination”.

God has a determined Will for each, He has created. For you and me.

And He works,… see that Will performed within us.

We must be brought to the place in our experience with God, that we throw down the weapons of our warfare against Him, and as the creature, yield to the Creator.

You say, What weapons?

How about the weapon of self-pity.

If we do not lose “sympathy” with ourselves,…..we will lose out on many joys, and blessings.

They will simply be ruined, for we are too wrapped up in what “we thought” should be.

How about the weapon of “You can’t ask me to do that!”

Pride is a terrible king.

(It makes us do the stupidest things: because “I” can’t be made to look silly, or embarrassed, or wrong.

“Why should I forgive? They were the ones who were wrong.”).

Isn’t it enough that Christ Jesus asks you to?

How about the weapon of “I’m sure someone else can do that,…and probably, better.”

We look for ways to get out of our duty, and one of the easiest is,….giving the job to someone else.

There are many “weapons” we use against Christ and His Will for us.

Little things we give in to; which hinder our joy.

(They are called “little foxes” in Song of Solomon 2:15….for they sneak in……and nip the blossoms of the grapes, which is the grapes in embryo……destroying our fruit bearing, just when we were beginning to be fruitful.)

Sometimes we are praying about things, we already know the answer to…..just putting them off a little while longer.

The Lord showed me once, that I was like “a certain lawyer”:

If you read Luke 10:25-37, you will hear how a certain lawyer asked Jesus, “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

Pretty good question,……very pious….till he got Christ’s answer. “What is written” in scripture?

He knew the answer:

“To love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thy self.”

That is right….Jesus said, “This do, and you will live.”

“Whoa, wait a minute….You don’t want me to take that literally, do you?!”

(Of course those were not his words….but mine, when the Lord showed me something from the Bible)

And like this “certain lawyer” it had to do with “and thy neighbor as thy self”.

I doubt he treated his neighbor as himself”….but neither did I want to.

He was not willing to obey, but to justify himself.

[10:29] “But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor?”

Of course, that wonderful parable of the Good Samaritan came from that conversation…..where the brotherly-kindness of a Samaritan (one who was not thought well of) was better than the religious people.

I doubt that “certain lawyer” learned anything….but I did.

I got Jesus’ point,….to me.

We are often not even aware we are arguing with the Lord,…..over this….or that.

But, He reminds us…..You are My people….I have formed you for Myself. That you will show forth My praise.

For me it was enough….to know this, from Him. And I stopped making excuses, and did what He wanted.

Isaiah 43:18-19 “Remember not the former things, neither consider the things of old.

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”

Forget all your fast failures. All those things that did not turn out the way you thought they should have.

The past, is just that: past.

So cast off the former things; and determine to face today.

To do His Will.

And let Him make a way for us in the wilderness of this world,…..and to see Him give rivers of living water of the Holy Spirit… us and through us, because we are yielding… Him,…and His determination for us.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Three things God calls us to do, to come out of childhood.

Ephesians 4:13-15 “Till we 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:”

Childhood for every Christian is slightly different, but basically,….

…….it is the time where we are more concerned with His taking care of us…..than we are, in following after Him.

There are several things we need to do, to come out of childhood.

“Be strong and of good courage.”

You say that sounds like something an adult, not a child would do…..

….but we will never give up our childish ways without….strength and courage.

Joshua was a young man when Moses took him as his helper. Yet now he had been given the leadership of Israel.

But being a helper to Moses, is one thing, but leading by himself, is another. Hence, Joshua needed to “grow up” into his calling…..

…..and God tells him:

Joshua 1:5-6, 7-8 “….as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage:….

Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe according to all the law,…..thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for……then thou shalt have good success.”

(The command to be strong and of good courage is repeated again by God Joshua 1:9,…..and once more to Joshua by the tribes which stayed across the Jordan. Joshua 1:18)

That is four times Joshua hears these words….this was the way he was to “grow up” into the leadership position….and finish his course.

“Be strong” here means to persevere… finish what you start.

How many children start something and drop it, for one reason or another. But God calls us to finish our course….complete the work….

Joshua needed to forge ahead in strength….that which he had, though small….and let God give him more…

….and with courage….which is the actions of a person who knows the goal….and heads toward it….

….not with boasting….but with determination…..this is courage.

And the way of strength and courage…..was God’s acknowledged Presence and God’s Word.

Read it, think upon the promises in the things that come up….and follow it.

God would increase both his, and our strength and courage….as we do.

The other thing we need to do to grow up, is to see the enemy of God’s people……as though they are standing next to God….how ineffective they will seem, then….

….Just like David does with Goliath…

1 Samuel 17:26, 45-46 “And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?

Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou has defied.

This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and will smite thee,….that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.”

David was not meant to be there…..he was sent on a simple errand, and came into these circumstances unexpectedly…..yet he did not see Goliath as a giant….but as a uncircumcised Philistine that was hindering God’s Will.

And he knew that anything that hindered God’s Will could be overcome….

….and as soon as he realized how….or the means (the sling, and the rocks)….

….then he was ready to stand and do it.

Children, when they come into unexpected circumstances, often withdraw….or run ahead blindly….

….but when we begin to grow up, then we see all our circumstances as opportunities to serve the Lord….and find out how.

And the last example about growing up is: To Continue

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

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

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

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

Paul was writing Timothy about “perilous times”…..about times when many will be “lovers of their own selves, covetous,…unthankful to God, unholy” (2 Timothy 3:1-2)

About trouble that will come…..”Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12)…

And he told Timothy, “my dearly beloved son” in the faith… continue…to stay the course… all that he had learned from God…..from the Holy Scriptures.

The Word of God has every situation in it…..enemies, lies, hypocrisy and false friends, joy, instruction for being born again……and the way into sanctification….

… has examples of depression, and of overcoming….

… has laid out before us, the road Jesus took while He was here….and we are told by Peter to “follow His steps” (1 Peter 2:21-23)….

In the Word, Timothy was to continue….and all who would grow up into Christ, our head, must continue….must stay the course laid out for us in the Bible.

Each of these examples….Joshua, David, and Timothy were younger men. They were men that had come to know God, early.

(And we should all be praying for our children…..those who are dear to us, and this generation in our country….that they may come to know Christ Jesus the Lord as their Lord and Savior….and grow in Him.)

Yet, each had to grow in grace and the knowledge of God….into their respective lives and ministries.

They had to grow up.

So do we…..

……each of us must face our responsibilities as servants of God….and persevere with courage…..

… unexpected situations, we are to see things in comparison to Him and His might…..and find out what we are to do there…..

……and we are to continue in the Holy Scriptures…..seeking out all that He would tell us, teach us, and help us, with them.

Peter, who knew failure, wrote in his last letter….

2 Peter 3:17-18 “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever. Amen.”

So let us “beware!” (It is if he is shouting down the ages of the church)…

…”beware lest ye also” (yes, that is us)…”fall from your own steadfastness”…

“But grow in grace”…..we need to grow up in Him.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

God is Sovereign

What does sovereign mean? It means over all….seeing all… control of all….ruler of all.

As sovereign, God has set forth a Purpose for each one of us….with the responsibilities that that purpose entails.

Man is responsible to use the prescribed means to bring about God’s foreordained ends.

There was Moses rod….a means he was to use before Pharaoh, and with Israel all through the wilderness. (Exodus 4:2)

David was to wait for the “moving of the mulberry trees”, before he went to fight the Philistines. (2 Samuel 5:23-25)

Jeremiah was to speak before for the people sometimes….write what God said at other times. (Jeremiah 7:1-2, Jeremiah 36:1-3)

Jesus did not ride into Jerusalem, as the Scriptures said, as a king, in the first year of His ministry….but the last week. ( Matthew 21:5-9)

Paul was told, that if everyone did not stay in the ship, they would not all be saved in the shipwreck. (Acts 27:24-32)

There are many examples of God’s sovereignty….but what God is stressing by them, is that we are personally responsible to God for the purpose He has given us…..and we are to use the means at hand to fulfill the work.

Once I was impressed to study Hebrews, and chose a commentary which went over every little phrase. I loved it! The Lord at that time was dealing with me, that every word in His Word was important.

I started, and…..while I was reading, I was coming across words I was unsure of.

(Here is the important part)….the Lord told me….if I wanted to teach this way….I would have to look up every word I was not sure of!

Plainly that was going to be a lot….but it lead me in a way I had not gone before.

There are many words in Scripture that do not mean what the world has defined them.

So I looked up the words I did not know, and shared the definition of them with the class. (How expressive the Scriptures are!). I do not know how much of the study the class took in…..but some of them still know the definitions I shared….because the Lord led me that way…that time!

Responsibility to God: Everyone is responsible to God.

(For He is the Creator. He is Sovereign….overall in Wisdom, Power, and Goodness….and HIs Will…not only is best….but His Will will be done.)

The lost are responsible to hear about God….even in Creation….and seek Him. (Psalm 19:1-3).

The saved are responsible to love God….and to love God in action.

“If ye love me, keep my commandments” John 14:15

1 John 5:3 “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous. (Or burdensome)”

One example of God’s Sovereignty and man’s responsibility where the work of soul winning is concerned (harvest) is the householder who needed his harvest of grapes picked….today. Matthew 20:1-16

(And how often we put off saying that word of witness, or giving a tract, or inviting them to church? We think there is time….but Paul says, “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake our of sleep:….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.” Romans 13:11-12)

So the Householder goes out to the marketplace where men who need work are gathered….and agrees with them for a day’s wage (a penny)….and sends them to his vineyard to begin the harvest picking. (Matthew 20:1-2)

As the day goes on…..he needs more workers…so he goes back into the marketplace three more times, and hires more….agreeing that he would pay them….”whatsoever is right”. (Matthew 20:3-5)

The eleventh hour….one hour before the sunset….he went out and hired those that were there…..”Why stand ye here all the day idle?”

They said, “Because no man hath hired us.” (Matthew 20:6-7)

(Some people say this is a picture of the Church age….the different times of awakening and revival. The workers going out are those called to bring forth fruit for the Householder….our Lord Jesus Christ.

The eleventh hour workers are us….in This Laodicean age. We haven’t had Rome’s Colosseum where Christians were thrown to the lions. We haven’t had the Dark Ages to deal with.

We have the Scriptures in every language…..not like when brave, holy men fought for them to be given out to the people.

We have so many good books of commentaries and expositions.

For Laodicea….our harvest has been “easy” in comparison to some times…..except that we have become idle…all the day….feeling that others have and can do the job.

I believe that God is still coming and sending out workers into His “vineyard” to win souls for His kingdom….and the question comes….will we go?)

Matthew 20:8 “So when the even was come, the Lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the laborers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.”

(Now at the judgement seat of Christ, where everyone will be seen as they are….and rewarded according to their love of Christ in their works….will only begin at the Rapture. All of them are waiting till the last workers are brought in!)

Here in this parable, everyone receives the same pay! The first, and hardest workers….the workers from the third, sixth, and ninth hours….and even the workers who labored only one hour! Everyone receives a full day’s wage! And they start with the laborers which were there last!

The first workers cry, “Why are they paid the same as us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day?”

But the Householder simply says,

Matthew 20:13,15 “….Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?

(Haven’t I given all that I have promised….both in your labor and in your reward?)

Is it not lawful for Me to do what I will with Mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?”

(Are you going to let my goodness to others cause you discontent?)

(First, let me say, that we are not judged according to the amount of works….although we have been given grace to see every work done….but we are judged according to the devotion and obedience to Christ, through all our works.

Therefore, though one work long and hard….has not the householder given the grace to do it? And though one work a short time….has not the same grace been given?

How this levels the field! It is not our sweat God rewards….[not that we are to be idle]…..but our hearts, which follow the Lord wherever He goes!)

Now here is Sovereignty and responsibility…..

….for God in His Sovereignty has placed us in our circumstances and called us…as Jesus said:

John 4:35-36, 38 “….behold, I say unto you, Lift up you eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.

And he that reapeth recieveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.

I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labor: other men labored, and ye are entered into their labors.”

Some may have heard the Word at some time…..and had no response…..and we may give a witness to that person….and God gives grace to the Words spoken….and the fruit to eternal life is born.

We are responsible to God, to use the means He gives to bring about His foreordained ends.

God is Sovereign…..and it is as we enter into subjection to His Sovereignty that we are brought into the joy of our responsibility.

He called us…..and we can bring fruit for Him! He gives us grace….and we can stand in that day….full of devotion to Him….

….that we might cast our crowns at His feet…for He is worthy.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Be ready to give an answer

1 Peter 3:15 “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”

In my ladies prayer meetings, we include this prayer….”That we might be given a word in due season, that we might know what to say…at any given time, to anyone…about Christ.”

How important our words are to the Lord:

Matthew 12:36-37 “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”

First notice….that we are to sanctify the Lord God in our hearts….for out of the abundance of the heart,…the mouth speaketh. (Matthew 12:34-35)

If Jesus is sanctified in our hearts….then our mouths will gladly answer all who ask about Him in our lives.

Sanctified here, means venerated. Do we honor our Lord in our hearts….enough that it comes through in our speech?

We think we need a prepared testimony…..(not that those are bad,they are not)…but sometimes we simply need to answer the question asked…..from our own experience.

Be ready always….

Give a reason for the things you do, and don’t.

(We always bow our heads to pray over our food….and we have had some interesting remarks about it. But we always just say….”God is worthy. This is what we do at home in thanksgiving for our food and blessings….and we are just as grateful here.”)

Peace, kindness and gentleness (fruits of the Spirit within us) are great witnesses….bringing out many comments and questions.

How many witnesses are “stored” away by the Holy Spirit….until the right moment…..when they are remembered….and a difference made!

Give a reason why you expect Christ Jesus to return soon. “Surely, I come quickly…” (Rev. 22:20)

Ecclesiastes 12:11 “The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.”

There are words which cannot be gotten around. They prod the hearers, until there is a decision made. God fastens them to the hearer’s hearts and minds.

Psalm 40:10 “I have not hid Thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared Thy faithfulness and Thy salvation: I have not concealed Thy lovingkindness and Thy truth from the great congregation (those assembled).”

God is Sovereign… is responsible. Responsible to use the means God provides….to bring about the ends He sees and purposes.

Responsible. The root word is “response”. God expects us, as His servants……to respond to His love and commands. We respond in heart….then in word and deed.

Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.”

Our hearts and our mouths are always linked together.

What we love and honor, comes out.

Colossians 4:5-6 “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”

But we are not left without help to speak, no…..

Matthew 10:19-20 “But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.

For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.”

Proverbs 15:23 “A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!”

A word spoken in due season… good is it!

It can bring life to the lost… can be just what the hearer needs to hear to return them to Christ.

And it begins in our hearts…..honor the Lord there….and the tongue will speak with grace…seasoned with salt….knowing how to answer every man.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

The Importunate Widow

Luke 18:2-7 “Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:

And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.

And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;

Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.

And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.

And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though He bear long with them?”

Here is the story of a widow, a Jewish widow before a Roman judge. (Jewish judges were usually in threes)

He would not care about her, for he thought she could do him no damage, for she had no money, or influence.

But she kept coming back, she was often in his court.

“Avenge me of my adversary”, is not a request for punishment of her enemy;……..but for a court appointed decree that would give her protection from her adversary.

To keep him from harming her, like a restraining order today.

Now he feared not God, nor regarded man; so anything he did, he did out of personal motives.

Her cry of, “Avenge me of my adversary”, he ignored, till he thought that she might ruin his reputation, because she was often in his court.

He, therefore, looked for a way to get rid of her; because she “weary me”. In the Greek, this means that she gives him a “black eye”.

She will ruin his reputation, make him stand out to those in authority. She must be gotten rid of, before people get the wrong idea about this judge.

He cared for nothing but himself. Yet from purely self-involved motives he thought it best to give her the restraining order. Exactly what she asked for.

Jesus says that prayer is to be like this. We are to come to God our Father with the same importunate prayer as this widow came to this unjust judge…..

…seeking a restraining order for the Adversary of our souls, the devil, as he seeks to hinder and harm us.

“Avenge me of my Adversary, Lord!”

Luke 18:1 “And He spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;”

We are not to give up on God, which is what “faint” means.

After all the widow came to an unjust judge;…..but we come to our Heavenly Father,……which for Christ’s sake hears our trouble and will “avenge his own elect.”

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes


We never hear of Ezekiel, until he was taken captive, and called of God, by the River Chebar. He was of the priestly family.

Ezekiel was in the second mass of people Nebuchadnezzar carried away to Babylon.

(It is interesting to note: that God did not leave Himself without witness to His people, wherever they were.

Daniel to the kings in the captivity….but also his actions and writings encouraging fellow Israelites there, and in generations to come.

Ezekiel to the Israelites, as slaves in Babylon.

And Jeremiah, still in Jerusalem, warning kings, priests and the people to “Return ye backsliding people”; till, when they would not, Jerusalem was destroyed…for a time.)

Ezekiel was with the other captives which had been herded to the River Chebar.

But God showed Himself to him, in a magnificent way.

Ezekiel 1:1, 3 “Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.

The word of the Lord came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest….and the hand of the Lord was there upon him.”

If you read through the rest of the chapter, you see the color of the rainbow: “the color of amber, the color of burnished brass, the color of beryl, the color of the terrible crystal,”….till…

Ezekiel 1:28 “As the appearance of the bow (rainbow) that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of One that spake.”

When God gives His light……it can show itself in many “colors”….knowledge, joy, words, peace, love, etc.

God is Light, and in Him is “no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17)…..but how the light manifests itself to us is in amazing, various ways.

(Do we need to see which way to turn in any situation? He opens the Word and shows an example which suddenly is the answer.

Need help in dealing with a co-worker, a boss, a teacher, a friend? Suddenly He gives you grace to say and do, exactly right.)

When the Lord gives us His light we see things in their “true colors”. We are not looking through the dark glasses of the world, or the rose-colored glasses of illusion…..but truth is set before us… the true colors of the Almighty God.

2 Corinthians 4:6 “For God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Ezekiel also saw motion…..but it was all according to the Spirit: “ a whirlwind (tornado), they went straight forward, it went up and down, ran and returned as lightning, the wheels going on their sides, the wheels were lifted up”…..

….but all “whither the Spirit was to go, they went.”

All the things which are “moved” in heaven, and on earth; are according to the Permitted Will of God; either above the earth, or on it.

So any real movement in our lives comes by the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit of God.

We go straight, or turn, or go up or down……..we can mount up as wings as eagles; or run and not be weary; or walk, and not faint (Isaiah 40:31)

We hear a word behind us….”this is the way, walk ye in it.” (Isaiah 30:21).

And all by the Spirit of God.

God is showing Ezekiel that He is in charge,……whether he was in Israel or in Babylon….nothing hinders God’s power for Ezekiel,….or for His people.

And above all these: the Voice of God (Ezekiel 1:24), then a throne and a Man on it, in the brightness of fire.

“….and when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of One that spake.”

Ezekiel was then spoken to. He is the only recorded one to see such a sight….maybe the only one there, that believed God was still God,….even in Babylon.

(What do we believe when circumstances change and things get hard?)

Ezekiel 2:1-2 “And He said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee.

And the Spirit entered into me when He spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard Him that spake unto me.”

The Lord told Ezekiel that He would send him with His message to the children of the captivity…

It would be a hard message…nothing they would want to hear,….

……although you would think, now, they would,…..

“….repent, and seek Me, and do My will.”

Ezekiel 3:10-12 “Moreover He said unto me, Son of man, all My words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thy heart, and hear with thine ears.

And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of My people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord God; whither they will hear, or whither they will forbear.

Then the Spirit took me up, and I heard behind me a voice of a great rushing, saying, Blessed be the glory of the Lord from His place.”

Repentance,….and consequent peace and joy from this; was what God was offering them again.

He wanted them to know Him as their God….and all He was, and would do for them….anywhere.

Ezekiel 3:17 “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at My mouth, and give them warning from Me.”

(Ezekiel means “strengthened of God”; and he was. He preached for at least twenty-two years…maybe more…warning His people against the sins which brought them into captivity.

And to return to the Lord God.

His message, though often refused, set a line in the sand for those who really wanted God’s Will….and when it came time for them to return to the land,…..they, at least, had already returned to God, in their hearts.)

He was to warn them against sin and rebellion.

Ezekiel 3:21 “Nevertheless, if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also, thou hast delivered thy soul.”

Ezekiel 18:27-28 “Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.

Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.”

They may think God had forsaken them….they may think God did not see them in this foreign land….but God was there, and would continue to speak to to His people through Ezekiel….

Offering them life, real life…..even in captivity,….with Him.

(It is interesting to note….that the outward form of their religion was not there….but God was…and He was speaking to all who would hear Him.)

If they would hear, and turn, they would be healed…

Or they would “forbear”.

Forbear means to be idle or lacking….they just would not come:

Maybe it was lack of concern…indifference…for their situation…..we are here, what does it matter?

Or by putting if off….I will repent tomorrow.

Through various types, Ezekiel spoke to God’s people….warning them; encouraging them to “turn to God, and His ways”.

We, too, have been exhorted through God’s Word to “continue in the faith” (Acts 14:22).

We are to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…”(2 Peter 3:18)

2 Thessalonians 3:13 “But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.”

1 Peter 3:15 “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear:”

2 John 8 “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.”

Hebrews 10:35-36 “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.

For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.”

At the end of the book of Ezekiel….he is giving a prophesy of the coming reign of the Messiah (it will be in the Millennial).

But Ezekiel ends the book with a name of God: Jehovah-shammah.

It means…”The Lord is there.”

It is fitting for this:

This has been his message from the vision at the first…to the end; God is there….He has never left us…..will we believe that, and turn to Him?