Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice

Psalm 27:7 “Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.”

Psalm 20:9 “Save, Lord: let the King hear us when we call.”

One of our great blessings, as Christians, is that God hears our prayers, and answers them.

1 John 5:14-15 “And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His Will, He heareth us.

And if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.”

They may be short like Peter walking on the sea: “Lord, save me”(Matthew 14:28-30).

Or they may be long petitions, laying out our troubles before Him (Psalm 142:1-2).

Psalm 86:7 “In the day of my trouble I will call upon Thee: for Thou wilt answer me.”

True prayer is finding out what God wants us to pray, and then praying in accordance with His Will…..for ourselves and others. Lifting up to Him, His Will; by our will and words.

Psalm 27:8 “When Thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.”

During the ministry of Isaiah, the Lord corrected His people….when after giving a wonderful promise to them, they did not ask Him to do it:

(The promise: “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean…..a new heart also will I give you….and I will put my Spirit within you,…” Isaiah 36:25-27)

Isaiah 36:37 “Thus saith the Lord God; I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them;…”

They did not ask for what He promised them.

Do we take for granted His promises, and not ask, for what He wants to give?

Sometimes the Lord asks us what we want:

David, after his sin in numbering the people, was given a choice as to the correction he was to receive,……..and his answer was:

“let us now fall into the hand of the Lord; for His mercies are great:….” (2 Samuel 24:12-14)

And I ask all who know the Lord Jesus……..where else can we feel safe….but in His hand……..even, when we are being corrected?

One of the things the Lord requires, when we pray…..is to listen for His answer.

Isaiah 55:3 “Incline your ear, and come unto Me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.”

Isaiah 30:21 “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.”

One of the great parables Jesus told about prayer is:

Luke 18:10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.”

I want to mention here, that both men went to the right place, to do the right thing: To pray…….both of them.

When men would go into the temple, they would look toward the mercy seat. It was hidden, in the Holy of Holies; behind the first curtain, the Holy Place (where only the priests ministered), and a second curtain.

It was where the blood of the sin offering was poured out for the sins of the nation. And to this mercy seat, all were to look, to pray. (Exodus 25:21-22)

The Lord tells of the Pharisee’s prayer first:

Luke 18:11-12 “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank Thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.”

This man begins with praise to God…..but it is for himself, being so much better than so many others.

He was not a gross sinner, and he thanks God for that….and goes on to tell God: that he was a good man….certain that God appreciated him,….and his good works.

“…for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” (Luke 6:45)

This man’s heart was full of himself…..so the words spoken praised God,…..yet his heart came out….and showed that the only thing he was praising was himself.

(Frankly, he was stuck with himself, and his thoughts of God…a bad place to be in:

Matthew 16:25 “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it:….”)

Luke 18:13-14 “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

This man was a tax collector: usually they were a cheat or thief….taking more than Rome demanded….for themselves.

But his prayer was of repentance: “God be merciful to me a sinner”.

Mercy is God’s kindness to sinners. There are temporal mercies: the sun, rain, harvests, etc., for all.

And there are spiritual mercies, which include sending His Son to save us, His faith and grace to help us, and His Holy Spirit to guide us.

Titus. 3:4-5 “But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared,

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior;”

That is what this man wanted…..God’s mercy to him, spiritually, as a sinner…..one who had rebelled and offended God, and His Way.

He would not even look up….”would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven”.

Those that humble themselves under the hand of God, will be exalted in due time. (1 Peter 5:6)

“…for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5)

This man wanted mercy for forgiveness, and grace for salvation……

And he got it. “This man—the publican—went to his house justified.

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

Real repentance does not go out and do the sin all over…..and that is what this man wanted….he wanted mercy for his sin, and salvation from it……and he got it.

Sadly, the Pharisee did not. He went home the same, as when he came….thinking he was in God’s favor…..but, he neither received mercy, nor justification.

Psalm 85:7-8 “Show us Thy mercy, O Lord, and grant us Thy salvation.

I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for He will speak peace unto His people, and to His saints: but let them not turn again to folly.”

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

The worst words anyone will ever hear: “Depart from Me”

Matthew 7:23 “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

This was in the Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus started by preaching about those that would follow Him. (Matthew 5:3-16)

“Blessed” is the theme. But it is not to the strong and witty; but to the seekers after God.

The poor in spirit, the mourners and those that hunger and thirst after being right with God, that will be blessed.

Then He contrasted “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time”, with “But I say unto you”. (Matthew 5:21-22)

There is always a pull on us, to do what we have always done, especially if it has been a good thing.

But Jesus makes the contrast between traditions and His Word, very plain.

In this message He gave us the Family Prayer: Our Father which art in heaven”.

(Matthew 6:9-13)

Here He introduced us to the Father God. Before He had been the Mighty God, or the God of Sinai; but now we can know Him as Father—our Father.

And then He stressed that they should be more concerned with “laying up treasure in heaven…for where you treasure is, there will be your heart also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

He said, “Judge not”, and told us to check out our own faults, before pointing out other people’s faults.

(Matthew 7:1-5)

Jesus said that we should ask, seek, and knock for the things we have need of.

(Matthew 7:7-11)

Then He ends His message with:

Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter ye in at the straight gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat:

Because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

He goes on to expand the subject with examples: The fruit of anyone’s life is what you should look to;…..not what they say they believe, but how they live. For that is what they truly believe.

And then, the last the example of the two houses.

Both built to last; but the foundation of each was the only difference: one on the Rock, the other on sand. Both were put under the trials of every house: rain, wind, flood.

But one lasted, because it was founded on the Rock.

Jesus said that obedience to His Word is building on that Rock. And that is what those that follow Him, should do.

Build on Him (His Word, His example, His love)

But in between these examples, He puts a warning.

Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have we cast out devils? And in thy name did many wonderful works?

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

It is not saying, “Lord, Lord” which proves that He is Lord of our life.

“It is doing the will of My Father”, that proves Jesus is Lord of our life.

John 5:23 “That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father, he that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father which hath sent him.”

Some use good works to cover their sin;…..but it remains, if it is not brought to the cleansing power of Jesus Christ and removed. For He is the only Savior.

But some will not come. They refuse to submit to Someone else.

They may do many “good works”, or “religious works”, but they do it for their own honor or gain. (And this is a matter of the heart.)

If they continue to refuse to come to His Son, Jesus Christ;

Then in the day of Judgement they will hear the most terrible words that will ever be spoken:

Matthew 7:23 “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

“Depart from Me.” Out of the Presence of God forever. No light, no joy, no peace, no safety, no love.

Only the terrible condemnation of loss, aloneness, and torment; because they have refused the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

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

But now, …..it is still:

“…….And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely…” (Revelation 22:17)

Jesus said, “….If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.” (John 7:37)

“….I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

“…I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.’” (John 14:6)

“…I am the good Shepherd: the good shepherd giveth His life for the sheep.

And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (John 10:11, 28)

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 souls.

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

Have we come to Christ Jesus the Lord?

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

To Find a Resting Place for Us

Numbers 10:33 “And they departed from the mount of the Lord three day’s journey; and the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord went before them in the three day’s journey, to search out a resting place for them.”

Israel is on the move….heading toward the promised rest in Canaan.

They had just been at Sinai for about a year….receiving the Ten Commandments, and the Law….and building the Tabernacle according to the pattern God gave Moses on the mount.

But now the Tabernacle had been built and God’s presence in the cloud by day and the fiery cloud by night, was upon it (Exodus 40:33-38)…..and it was time to go forward.

(The narrative of their journey, goes from Exodus to Numbers….Leviticus being the book about the sacrifices, and laws)

But how to go? And where were the best places to rest, on the Way?

Moses turned to God, and when they first left Sinai, the Ark of the Lord led them forward….for three days.

This would not be repeated, until the priests carried it before all the people,….at the Jordan River…..to cross into Canaan.

It was a unique time, for Israel….

…..they weren’t just a large family, now,………but a nation under the Kingship of God.

He had given them the Ten Commandments, that they might know His holiness, and their weakness….

…and given them the laws of His kingdom….concerning sacrifices for sin, for consecration, for tithe, for rejoicing before their God….

…and concerning how they were to treat each other, and strangers.

So now the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord led them:

Numbers 10:35-36 “And it came to pass, when the Ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, Lord, and let Thy enemies be scattered; and let them that hate Thee flee before Thee.

And when it rested, he said, Return, O Lord, unto the many thousands of Israel.”

They were now Israel. They had promised to obey His commandments (Exodus 24:6-8)…….and follow His leading….

….so for three days (interesting number, for it is the number of the Godhead, and of the days Christ was in the tomb, before the Father raised Him up.)…..God’s Presence led them forward, “to search out a resting place”.

[And hasn’t Christ Jesus done this for us? After we are born again, we are conscious of His Presence going with us…and giving us rest….His resting-place in His peace?

John 14:23, 27 “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him and We will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

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

Moses had said, “Rise up, Lord”, pointing to the One Who would always lead them aright…..they were to follow.

And when the cloud stopped, he said, “Return, O Lord unto….Israel”.

(It is that word, “Return”, that God spoke again and again to Israel….when they had turned away from following Him….right before He sent them into Captivity. In Jeremiah there are at least ten times He calls for them to “return”. Also there is the promise given…..that He will give them a heart to “return” to Him.)

The Ark led them at this time.

But after this, they would be led differently………six tribes, beginning with Judah (the tribe Jesus Christ would be born in) would lead…….then the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord,…….then six more tribes, in a procession;…..going through the wilderness

Numbers 9:15, 17-18 “And on the day that the Tabernacle was reared up the cloud covered the Tabernacle namely, the Tent of the Testimony: and at even there was upon the Tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire, until the morning.

And when the cloud was taken up from the Tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed: and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents.

At the commandment of the Lord the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the Lord they pitched: as long as the cloud abode upon the Tabernacle they rested in their tents.”

Little by little, The Lord was teaching them that He is their God,…their King,….their Leader,……and He would be in their midst.

When the cloud by day and the fiery cloud by night stopped….they stopped. And when it rose up and went….they went.

Numbers 9:22 “Or whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the Tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents, and journeyed not: but when it was taken up, they journeyed.”

This was the way they traveled all the time, as a nation, from Mt. Sinai to Canaan, their permanent resting place.

(Yes, there were failures….many…..but God was faithful)

We, too, are traveling. We are on a journey of our lives. What has He taught us?

Have we come to know Him as our God? Our Lord and Savior? Our King?

And He is so much more: our Guide, our Strength, our Peace, our Light….our Resting Place…..because He is with us….Alway (Matthew 28:20)

He knows the Way we should go….and He knows how to show us. And He will teach us to know Him more, as we go along.

It is not a “cloud by day or fiery cloud by night” where we can see it……

….but by His Holy Spirit within us, and His Word,……which brings us to our permanent resting-place.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

The Power of God unto Salvation

Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”

The Thessalonians were shining examples of the power of Christianity.

From gross immorality and idol worshippers….they turned to Christ.

They were deeply loved by Paul.

For when Paul came and preached the gospel to them…..many believed, and were saved.

The persecution that began immediately….against Paul and all who believed in Christ in that city…..did not sway them….

…..but they took a firm hold on Christ….and…

….instead of growing angry or hateful….they loved each other and even their enemies, fervently….

….this was a testimony given them throughout Macedonia. (1 Thessalonians 1:2-8)

Yet no one is ever out of need of awakening and growing in grace….so….

…..Paul writes them in small exhortations….

….certain they will listen and obey.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-22:

“…know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;….and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake…”:

(Admonish means to “put you in mind” of God’s Will)

Paul begins with those “laboring among you”….

…..these are those God has given a responsibility to pray, or speak to us…”in the Lord”.

They were to see their work, and love them for it.

“Be at peace among yourselves”…..”warn them that are unruly”…or disorderly:

The first line of attack against any church is to cause arguments, or cliches….divisions between members….

…and Paul warns against this.

“…comfort the feeble minded (faint-hearted)”. This has nothing to do with intelligence,….but courage or weakness. “Sustain the weak”

Some are faint-hearted because of unbelief. They are to be taught and encouraged in God’s faithfulness.

Some are faint-hearted because of fear…..they will not take the next step….wanting to stay in a place they know. They are to be awakened to the Holy Spirit’s enabling…..His support in their weakness.

(There may be no inclination to give way to evil….but no courage to step out in faith…..they are to be helped in prayer and comfort)

“Be patient toward all”.

We may think we know what the problem or solution is for others…..but misjudging is easy….and patience gives us time to find out what our place is in each situation (Do a say something? Or stay quiet and pray?)

This reminds us that we are all different….yet put together in the body of Christ, as He wants.

“See that none render evil for evil…..but ever follow that which is good….”

Only good overcomes evil. And this is both to the church and outward to “all people”.

We should not show one face in church….and another in other places. We are to be lights, and representatives of God’s mercy to the world.

“Rejoice always”

The joy of the Lord is our strength. This is in trials, as well as good times.

When we lose it, our peace wavers….and we are tempted to look toward other things for “happiness”.

Re-joy….in other words….the Lord’s joy by the Holy Spirit comes to us…and we receive it….

…then it has a chain reaction…..it warms our hearts and affections…..it calms our minds….it brings stability to our wills. The Lord’s joy is our strength.

“Pray without ceasing”

This is an acknowledged dependency upon the Lord as….Creator, Savior, Keeper, Almighty, Friend.

It is the attitude that we are in His presence all the time, ready to get direction,…. or give a prayer for someone else.

“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you”. “Quench not the Spirit”

We might have thought that this would have been next to “rejoice always”…..but actually it is a prelude to:

“Quench not the Spirit”.

If we are giving the thanksgiving that we should…..we will not put out the fire of God’s Spirit within us by being miserable about things….

…..for we will see (and this is important for all Christians to see), that whatever comes to us….comes through the Will and Hands of God.

The Spirit is likened to fire within us…..warm, light,….blazing a way within ourselves to purify us……for His power and mercy to be shown through us….

…..but we are charged not to “quench” Him…..not to shut Him off….not to murmur against His Way….not to be unthankful for Him.

“Despise not prophesying”

When the Bible speaks of prophesy…..it is not just speaking of future events…….it is telling God’s people what is on His mind for them for now.

Speaking out of the fullness of the Spirit of God. (1 Corinthians 14:24-25)

“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”

Prove means to examine, weigh, try what you hear by the Word of God.

And we are responsible to read and know God’s Word.

When we know the truth…..we are to hold it fast, maintain our walk in His light.

“Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

This is to stay in the light;……keep away…..run away if necessary, from the darkness.

Would you walk through a dark alley if there was a brightly lit way to home?

Then stay away from what God warns about…..walk in the sunlight of His love. (Jude 21)

There are one hundred and thirty words in these ten verses…..yet they incapsulate how we, as Christians, are to follow our Lord through this wicked world….which is full of temptations and traps.

Paul was writing a faithful and loving church…..which was under persecution.

He did not pamper them…..but with great love for their continued growth in Christ,….he exhorted (awakened) them to further godliness and joy.

What of us?

Are we content with our position in Christ….or are we…

……”reaching forth unto those things which are before,….

…pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus” as Paul, himself, did? (Philippians 3:13-14)

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Occupy Till I Come.

Luke 19:12-13 “He (Jesus) said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.

And He called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.”

This nobleman gives ten servants, one pound each….. to use while he was away.

Of course Jesus is giving this story about His going back to heaven after being raised again;…..and what He gives His servants here.

Each of us, as Christians, have been given something…..

….we all have the Holy Spirit

….we all have faith to overcome

….we all have grace to use

….we all have His Word to read, study and get into our lives.

We all have a lot….what are we doing with it?

“Occupy till I come” is a merchandise term.

It is to use what we have, or what we have been given(as in a loan),….to get more,….just as in a business.

But the thought here, is that you are gaining for Someone else.

As Christians, we are not our own. We have been bought and redeemed with the high price of Jesus blood. (1 Peter 1:18-19)

And we are given His life and power by the Holy Spirit within. He enables us with His grace.

This is the “pound” we are all given as His servants.

The work is all to be done, as servants of our Lord Jesus Christ, out of love to Him.

So how do we “gain” to show our love to Christ?

By using what we have…

……as these servants gained with their “pound” for their nobleman master.

Luke 19:15-16 “And it came to pass, that when He was returned, having received the kingdom, then He commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom He had given the money, that He might know how much every man had gained by trading.

Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.”

This servant had yielded to the Holy Spirit and done all he could for His lovely and blessed Lord.

(It is not counting souls won, or jobs done; but the diligent effort of a life lived to God’s glory.)

Luke 19:18 “And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds.”

This servant had difficulties.

His gain had been smaller,……maybe because of doubts and cares which hindered him at the first;……but he had finally overcome by the faith given him, and he had gained five times more than he had been given!

Luke 19:20-21 “And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin;

For I feared thee, because you art an austere man: and takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou did not sow.”

What!! This servant did not gain anything!

His dishonor was because of the wrong thoughts about the Lord.

He thought that if he did what he was told and tried to gain with the pound he had been given, he might lose it.

He thought that he was better off just forgetting about it….till he could give it back……because the Lord was a very severe, and demanding God…..

……The Lord would have what he gave….he could not complain.

But this was not what the Lord had wanted for the man.

He wanted this man to use the “pound” (which is the power of the Holy Spirit within), and “gain” in his heart love, peace, and joy in the fellowship with Himself….by faith.

This is gaining for the Lord; for we are His inheritance.(Ephesians 1:18)

Luke 19:22 “But He saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow:”

Sadly the Lord of this man judges him……..according to what that man had wanted to believe about the Lord.

For you see, by the next question, the Lord shows that any gain would have been blessed.

Luke 19:23 “Wherefore thou gavest not my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury (interest)?”

What the Lord was really asking this man, was:

Why did you not show some interest in My gift of the Holy Spirit?

You grieved My Holy Spirit by your not wanting my gift;

So, since you never really had it; you will never have it.

Luke 19:24, 26 “And He said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds.

For I say unto you, that unto everyone which hath, shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.”

There are many who want to appear as the Lord’s servants, which never really love Him, or receive Him into their hearts and lives. (John 1:12)

They want to look good, but never honor the Lord in their hearts. They really hate the thought of doing anything for the Lord Jesus Christ!

Every thought they have is self….self-pity, self-preservation, self-love.

This man was one of these; and he was seen at last for what he was.

He was not judged by anyone else, but the Lord judged him according to the man’s own thoughts.

We are told by the Lord to use His gift of faith by the Holy Spirit and gain joy and peace in believing.

In every gain we make in our lives, we rejoice the Lord’s heart….and “gain” for Him.

“Occupy till I come.”

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Borrow Vessels, not a Few

Elisha was a prophet in Israel.

There were many who, though contrary to the “popular religion”, followed God.

They would gather together to hear Elisha, as he traveled the country.

He ministered to the people with the Word of God, and instruction.

Many followed the teachings of God, and they were called the “sons of the prophets”.

Some set themselves aside for ministering, and prayer.

Others had families, and lived for God in their jobs.

A widow of one of these men came to Elisha in dire straights. After her husband had died, things had gotten very tough financially, and they had come into debt.

2 Kings 4:1 “Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the Lord: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen.”

This was very serious. Both sons being taken, must have meant a large debt.

But she came to Elisha;…..he would be able to pray for her, or tell her what she could do by the Word of the Lord.

2 Kings 4:2 “And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee?

Tell me, what hast thou in the house?

And she said, Thy handmaid hath not anything in the house, save a pot of oil.”

At first, it is as if Elisha is not asking the woman at all….but rather praying for direction…”What shall I do for thee?”

Then, he asks her, according as the Holy Spirit showed him, “What do you have in the house?”

She had nothing to sell, nothing to trade. She only had a pot of oil.

How often we think we need something more, before we can serve God.

More knowledge, more courage, more understanding.

But really, we just need to use what we have: God’s grace which He has already given us, by the Holy Spirit.

When we do, then God will enable us,…..and He will supply more of what we need.

2 Kings 4:3-4 “Then he said, Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbors, even empty vessels; borrow not a few.

When thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee, and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full.”

Here was the answer:

She would have to be obedient,……and God would supply her need.

She would have to borrow empty vessels; for the Lord was going to work a miracle for her.

But it was to be for her and her sons. No one else was to be present, or even see through the door.

Elisha was not present. He did not do this.

The Lord did this for her, and her sons;……..using empty vessels……and their obedience.

Did God supply the need? Yes!

2 Kings 4:5-6 “So she went from him, and shut the door upon her and upon her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured out.

And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet a vessel.

And he said unto her, there is not a vessel more. And the oil stayed.”

Abundantly the need was met! All the vessels they had borrowed were filled,…..till there was no more.

God would have us bring our “empty vessels” to Him to be filled with His Spirit, for our everyday needs.

Shutting the door, so we may be alone with God in prayer and devotions, is often the means He uses to supply our need for the day.

The oil of joy, and strength, and peace…..and increased faith is often given as we close the door on the world, and seek Him, only.

2 Kings 4:7 “Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest.”

After the miracle, she did not get “swelled head” and say, I know what I will do.

No, she came and asked for guidance as what to do next.

Amazingly, the answer was an answer for the rest of her life.

God saw to the need, and more. He gave to her, so that she would be able to live beyond this debt.

That is what God always gives us: life. It is what He supplies, even as He is supplying a specific need, for now.

Our life as His children, here and now; and every time we need it.

It does not say whether the oil came drop by drop, or poured out fast from the vessel she had.

Only that the oil came, the need was met. He supplied it for her and her son’s life.

Let us look to God to supply the need of our life, bringing our “empty vessels” for His Spirit to fill….that we may have His life for us,…..and live by His direction.

He never SlumbersPsalm 121:1-2 “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.My help cometh from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.”As Christians where should we look for help? There is only One who can really help us.And our testimony should be: “my help comes from the Lord…”He is the creator and sustainer of heaven and earth.He rules and overrules in the affairs of men, whether they acknowledge Him or not, for He is God, and there is none else.Isaiah 45:22-23 “Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.”Isaiah 50:7 “For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.”And how does He help us? By a guidance in the Holy Spirit, which keeps us from “being taken” in the devil’s traps. And gives us courage to follow Him.And if we are tripped up; He keeps us from being “utterly cast down”.Psalm 121:3-5a “He will not suffer thy foot to be moved; He that keepeth thee will not slumber.Behold, He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.The Lord is thy keeper:…”He, who numbers the hairs of our head, will watch the steps that we take.The illustration here, is as children are watched by their parents; ever ready to intervene if needed.And as sheep are watched by their Shepherd to protect, as well as guide into right paths.He is called the Keeper of Israel…He guides and preserves those that are His.(It also suggests that He fights for us: as David did against the lion and the bear. [1 Samuel 17:34-36])Proverbs 3:23, 26 “Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble.For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.”Psalm 37:23-24 “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand.”God neither sleeps nor slumbers.He neither sleeps at night….so we can.Nor slumbers during the day….when it is time to work, He is right there to help us.The Keeper of Israel is a covenant Name of God. When He looks at us, He sees us in Christ, covered by His blood and righteous, in Him.His eye is ever toward the righteous.Psalm 33:18 “Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear Him, upon them that hope in His mercy;”Psalm 121:7-8 “The Lord shall preserve thee from evil: He shall preserve thy soul.The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.”Three times in these two verses, it says: preserve. Preserve means to hedge about with thorns, so nothing can come in, to harm.He shall preserve from all evil. From sin, the world, and the devil. (“The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation…” 2 Peter 2:9)He shall preserve thy soul. With all its emotions, thoughts, and actions; He shall keep us by His Spirit. (1 Peter 1:5 “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to revealed in the last time.”)He shall preserve thy going out and coming in. Our every day life is here spoken of.We go out of our prayer times to face the world and all that comes to us;…..…..and we come in to seek Him for strengthening fellowship and love.(John 10:9 “I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”)The Lord our Keeper shall preserve “thee”. It is always personal.He shall preserve you. He shall preserve me.Praise Him for all His wonderful works.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Jonathan

We first meet Jonathan when his father, Saul, becomes the first king of Israel.

Saul had reigned three years, when the Philistines became overbearing and impossible to stay at peace with.

So Saul called out three thousand men to be soldiers…..two thousand were with Saul, and one thousand was with Jonathan (1 Samuel 13:1-4).

Jonathan was a brave man, and one which believed in God.

He had a battle with the Philistines over a fort….and won. (Saul took the credit, but Jonathan was content in the victory, whoever got the credit.)

When the Philistines heard of this loss on their part, they gathered together to fight Israel, and it’s new king.

This was terrifying to Israel…..and many in the army deserted.

But again, Jonathan was the one who stepped up and gave a victory.

1 Samuel 14:6 “And Jonathan said unto the young man that bare his armor, Come, and let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the Lord will work for us: for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few.”

Notice Jonathan’s faith……it was an active one…..it did not just speak of God, but acted upon what he believed….

….and this encouraged others.

1 Samuel 14:7, 13, 15 “And his armor-bearer said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart.

And Jonathan climbed up….and his armor-bearer after him: and they fell before Jonathan; ad his armor-bearer slew after him.

And there was trembling in the host, in the field, and among all the people: the garrison, and the spoilers, they also trembled, and the earth quaked: so it was a very great trembling.”

The Lord honored Jonathan’s faith, and gave a victory over the enemy, in those that kept guard……and even down into the field of Philistines.

The Lord sent an earthquake to terrify the enemy, as well.

But Saul hindered the battle with the Philistines by making everyone swear not to eat! Or be put to death!

(When people fast for God’s good, the Lord blesses it…..but fasting just to twist God’s arm, so to speak, is worth nothing…..even hinders…as here)

But Jonathan was not there when the order was given. (1 Samuel 14:24-27)…and ate some wild honey he found in the field.

When Saul found out….he was going to kill Jonathan…..but the Israelites stepped in and stopped it.

Saul’s love of admiration became his downfall….and when he refused to obey God’s command….

….and let the people take spoils of war that were not to be saved….he lost his kingship.

(although it would be years before God took it from him….so much time to repent….but he died, as he lived without God.)

Jonathan was there when Goliath came and dared Israel to fight him…..and when David did just that,…..

Jonathan recognized a David’s courage was in the Lord…..

…and loved him for it. (1 Samuel 18:3)

They were fast friends and Jonathan defended David when Saul became jealous and angry over the people’s love of David. (1 Samuel 18:8-9)

…..reminding Saul of David’s loyalty to God and him….in battle and in life.

1 Samuel 18:14 “And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the Lord was with him.”

This is what Jonathan loved about David…..his love and devotion to God….and his courage because of it.

Several years passed, where Jonathan and David worked together…..for God and Israel.

Yet Saul’s jealousy raged….till he wanted to kill David.

Jonathan came between Saul’s murderous thoughts and David, several times…..always siding with David…..because he knew the Lord delighted in David.

1 Samuel 19:4,6 “And Jonathan spake good of David unto Saul his father, and said unto him, Let not the king sin against his servant…..

And Saul hearkened unto the voice of Jonathan: and Saul sware, As the Lord liveth, he shall not die.”

Notice that Jonathan was concerned lest the king….sin.

As I said, Jonathan was a believer in God.

Jonathan stood, so far, with the Lord and David.

But there was a day, when Jonathan had to choose between God and David, in hiding…..and Saul, in the palace, with his men.

1 Samuel 20:42 “And Jonathan said to David, Go in peace, (not: I will go with you), forasmuch as we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, The Lord be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever.

And he (David) arose and departed; and Jonathan went into the city.”

What a difference in their direction!

The outcast David….and the son Jonathan….

….one to caves and hiding…..the other “to the city”.

I want to mention here, that it was not the throne that came between Jonathan and God…..but time and circumstances.

Jonathan did not care that David was to be king…..he would be at his right hand as he had been with his father.

It was not praise that he sought.

But the circumstances of Jonathan’s life were what stopped him.

Jonathan had a wife, but David did too….and had to leave her.

Jonathan felt an obligation to his father,…..but did not seek God’s Will concerning it…..

….he just felt that a short time would pass, and God would remove Saul….and put David on the throne…..and David would remember their covenant….and all would be well.

But it would be years….two or three years….before that happened!

And though Jonathan never entered into any chasing of David…..he never joined him and put the weight of his status with him.

This is called settling for second best…..leaning on our own understanding…..being double-minded.

(In Psalms 12:2 it is called “double-heart”)

This is what Jonathan should have done…..and so should we, for we are all warned of this:

James 4:7-8 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, yet double minded.”

How could this happen to such a brave, and God fearing person, as Jonathan?

Time and circumstance.

When we expect things to happen in a certain time…..and they don’t

When the days roll by and we just stay in our habits…..without diligently seeking God’s Will….and Way of bringing that Will to pass.

(Perhaps he thought he could change Saul’s mind….how many times we have good reasons for doing the wrong thing!)

And how many times do these put hinderances between us and God’s Will, for us?

Jonathan should have left the palace…..taking his family to safety and followed David.

How much sooner would the kingdom have come to David…..because the king’s son had decided for God’s Way.

Yet Jonathan did not…..choosing to stay with his father…..and he died following him into an impossible battle:

Saul had brought his army into a valley…..surrounded by Philistines in the hills around! The army tried to flee up into mount Gilboa…..but were slaughtered.

What kind of leader brings his men under the enemy?

But Jonathan was there…..and fought bravely…..but died.

1 Samuel 31:3 “And the Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Malachi-Shula, Saul’s sons.”

(David kept his covenant with Jonathan….and took his son into the palace with him, when he was king of Israel. 2 Samuel 9:1, 6-7, 13)

God’s Will leads us in varied and often hazardous places.

As one writer, years ago said…..”we are not called to beds of ease….but to the battlefield of life…..wherever that takes us.”

Let us keep our armor on…..and know the Lord’s Will…..and Stand with Him….wherever that takes us.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Manna,…or the old corn of the Land.

Joshua 5:11-12 “And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the marrow after the Passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the self same day.

And the manna ceased on the marrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.”

On this day the manna stopped. They did not need it any more. It had been God’s miraculous food for His people, in the wilderness. (Exodus16:14-16)

But now there was the old corn of the land, stored up from the harvest of the inhabitants.

When they entered Canaan, the people had fled into Jericho, and had left this supply of food behind.

Now Israel had a supply, not from heaven each morning…….but from their enemies.

Certainly, both supplies came from God:

One was directly from Him, each morning.

The other was a supply He gave from the land which they were entering.

I want to talk for a moment about the different ways God supplies our need…..both spiritual lessons and graces….and physical needs…..

….there is the “ordinary way”…from our jobs, or inheritances….these, though of course, supplied by God is not in a miraculous way.

….then there is the “surprise way”….where some gift or extra money or supplies are given for a specific time.

….then there is (and I think this is amazing!) the way God supplies our needs…through our very enemies.

How many times have we learned a lesson in courage, or peace, or strength…by our enemies?

Our God is an Almighty, and Wise God…..He knows when and where and what to “feed” us….and from what source!

These supplies were also different in the way they were presented to feed Israel.

The manna was on the ground, right outside the tents of each Israelite. So he could walk on it if he so chose.

This is a picture of Christ when He came in His humiliation as the Man Christ Jesus….He was presented in an earthly manner…..and many people “trod Him underfoot”.

John 6:33-35 “For the bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

Then said they unto Him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life; he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.”

He came, presented Himself as the Son of God, and was despised and trampled on, as often the manna was to Israel.

John 6:41-42 “The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am bread which came down from heaven.

And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?”

As the manna was given directly from heaven, but placed upon the ground round their tents for them to honor and receive,…..

…or to walk on…..

…..so Jesus Christ came to this earth to be received or rejected, as Savior to sinners.

The old corn of the land was discovered, as they came to possess their possessions in the Promised Land.

It was part of their inheritance,……and so they received it with thanksgiving.

This is like Christ being presented as Lord and Savior to a lost and dying world….

……after He had ascended into heaven again, receiving all power, and set down at the right hand of God, with all authority.

Matthew 28:18-20 “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and , lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

(You must remember that the apostles began the work of the gospel to the world in Jerusalem, among the very ones who had crucified Jesus.

They preached Christ there, and on the first day of Pentecost three thousand were saved.

From Jerusalem, it was Judea, Samaria [the places Jesus had preached] and to the uttermost part of the world from there. [Acts 1:8])

Christ Jesus was presented to the lost world, and where He was received, there was thanksgiving.

Was their battles? Yes, in both cases:

Israel in Canaan….

…..the Gospel of Christ to the world.

(I do not believe there has never been a time when Christians have not been persecuted somewhere in the world…..for Christ’s sake….we should expect it….and not be caught off guard.)

Yet Christ is set before us as our inheritance;

He nourishes us; builds us up; and sustains us.

Let us give thanks for His Salvation, and all He has done for us….each day.

Christ is still the Bread of Life. He is still being presented to the world.

Both supplies of food represent Christ…..one sent from heaven to be presented to Israel, on the ground.

One sent by heaven through the very enemies they were to overcome, as they entered into their possessions in the Promised Land.

Let us praise God for all the ways He sees to us, to His Gospel, and to the honor of His Son.

“Praise Him, praise Him….sing of His excellent greatness:

Praise Him, praise Him! Ever in joyful song!”

Are we enjoying our portion?

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Jesus Christ Stands Without the Church, Knocking

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 will sup with him, and he with me.”

In the letters to the Churches in Revelation, Jesus is sending messages to instruct them about what they were facing in their times, and what they should about it.

The last one, Laodicea, was given more proof that He was speaking,….and more correction.

For He could not find anything to approve, in this Church.

Yet He also set one of the greatest rewards before them, “if” they would respond to His Voice.

Let us look at the proof He sent, of Who Spoke. He uses three Names: to none other Church He authorizes, like this one.

Revelation 3:14 “And unto the angel of the Church of Laodiceans write; these things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.”

All of these Names are Christ’s.

He is the Amen: He alone is the affirmation and confirmation of God. He declares God in all His perfections and purposes; and then proves that God is faithful in them.

So Christ is the Amen to Laodicea, who is so far from God, they didn’t recognize He wasn’t in their midst.

He is the Faithful and True Witness: This Church is on trial, and as such the Witness against them is not of the world, but Christ, Himself. He witnesses that He knows their hearts, and minds; and finds wretchedness, instead of holiness or zeal.

He is the Beginning of the Creation of God: From Eternity Past God the Father and God the Son made an Everlasting Covenant. This concerns Christ’s becoming the Man, Christ Jesus; and coming to the earth they would create, and saving a people for Christ’s Name sake.

So in the very beginning of thought concerning Creation, there was the Plan of Salvation:…..which first included the agreement of Christ to become our Redeemer by His Sacrifice;….and the agreement of God the Father to give Christ a people for a reward, because of His becoming the Man, Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 12:2 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him (that is us) endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Hebrews 13:20-21 “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the Everlasting Covenant,

Make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

This is Christ as the Beginning of The Creation of God.

Now these Names begin in manifesting God,…..and then go to witnessing against our lukewarmness,……then finally giving another invitation in His purpose and provision for these…..and us.

Christ gave ample proof that He was speaking. Then He moves on to the corrections:

Revelation 3:15-17 “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold or hot; I would that thou wert cold or hot.

So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold or hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.

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:”

He corrects them, because they are lukewarm.

Now we think: Lukewarm isn’t so bad. We think it is just good enough to get us by.

But Christ does not think so…..

He died that we might be saved to the uttermost (Hebrews7:25).

Since they are not,…….and are not working to be,…(since they are so conceited as to be in “need of nothing” Revelation 3:17),….they will be spewed out of His mouth.

In other words Jesus Christ will vomit out these lukewarm Laodiceans.

How can He spew out a Christian? Who said they are true Christians…they are wretched,…..naked…and blind….

I personally believe, that for these Laodiceans who refuse to hear and obey the Voice of Jesus Christ, and repent; that the little bit of knowledge of salvation that they had will wither and die,…….the Holy Spirit will be grieved for they will not submit to Christ……and they will stand as rebels against God, instead of servants of Him.

They will be “spewed out” by their own choice in turning their backs on His offer of peace.

They will find, then, that His Salvation was not just a salvation from Hell, but from sin, (which they would not give up.).

And self, which is true liberty of spirit. To be saved from every proud, angry, bitter, and hateful attitude, which eats away at our souls.

He saves to the uttermost, He saves all of us–spirit, mind, heart, will and body; or nothing.

Now, it is true, we are often in need of correction; but it is how we take Christ’s correction, which shows true Salvation.

Do we “murmur and complain” continually; for the children of Israel did, and lost out. (Hebrews 3:10-11)

Or do we: “Come let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18) with the Lord.

We will not always like what we hear from Jesus. How often did He rebuke His disciples?

But if we are going on with Him,……we will not lose out.

Jesus said this:

John 8:31-32 “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

But Christ does not just correct, He gives life, to those who follow His way of life:

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

Many people disagree with Christ here, and say He should not have said “buy of me”.

But, the articles He refers to, are those of righteousness. The righteousness which we are to do, not be. If we are truly born again, then we are righteous, because we are in Christ Jesus.

But we are also to do righteousness, because we have His Spirit within us, enabling and directing us.

The “gold, tried in the fire” speaks of God manifested in our life. We are to show forth our new nature, the nature of God, within us in our daily life.

We are to deny ourself and pick up our cross and follow Him into a life of Godliness. Receiving the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), and using them.

If we don’t, we are refusing Him.

The “white raiment” is not His garment of purity applied to us…..but the purity of love and motive to the commands and word of Christ.

And the “eye salve” is honesty, which tears away the veil of our own conceit; so we see ourselves, the world, and our place in it clearly.

This, the Holy Spirit helps us with. We are such dishonest people without His help. But with His help, we see.

The means to get these is clear: “buy”. But with what do we buy?

It is obedience to the next verse, simply stated by Jesus:

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

Repent…..be zealous and repent of our lukewarmness…and get boiling hot for Christ.

But even here, He does not desert us. He goes on to call us with His arms of love outstretched:

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 will sup with him, and he with me.”

This is a personal call, to individuals in the Church. To open their lives to His Voice, and let Him in, to lead them on, (yes, in correction and instruction), in fellowship with Him.

Promising one of the greatest rewards, “if we will”.

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

We are to overcome everything which stands in the way of doing Christ’s Will for us.

His power is there for us: remember He saves to the uttermost, those who come to Him.

Christ requires not an answer of words, but of a life open to and receptive to Him.

We may not be the greatest Christians, but are we going on with Him? Or refusing His Voice?

He has made it clear what He will do. What will you do?