Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Christ’s last command to us: love one another.

John 15:17 “These things I command you, that ye love one another.”

On the way to Gethsemane, Jesus held His last conversation with His disciples before His crucifixion.

He had more to say after this command….about the Holy Spirit….

…about the persecution which would come…..and the peace they should have in Him (John 14:27)…..and about asking in His Name…..and about joy (John 16:24)…

…but this was the last command Jesus gave His disciples…..and us.

That we should love one another.

Love in scripture means the heart’s determination to do for the one who is loved….all the good we can….no matter the cost….

….that is true love….and spiritually, it is a willed determination.

Some people say that love is just an emotion…..that it is the heart’s response to someone or something.

And I say,….yes, naturally, that is true.

But when it comes to us, spiritually, God deals with us through the will….

“If any man will come after Me, let him…” Matthew 16:24

“If any man will do His will, he shall know…” John 7:17

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

Therefore when He says that we should:

Love the Lord with all thy heart….Mark 12:30

He means we should will to do so…

….and when He commands us to love one another….He intends that we should will to love each other.

And why was this the last command?

I believe, that the Lord was stressing His absence….He would soon be crucified, then raised, and ascended….gone from being in bodily presence.

But the other believers….brothers and sisters in Christ….would be here. And He was showing that if we love them….we are loving Him.

John 13:34 “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another, as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”

John recorded more instances of Jesus speaking about love than the other three gospels (Matthew—ten times; Mark—six times; Luke—ten times; John—nineteen times)….to love God, to love your neighbor, to love each other.

It is interesting that John is the gospel where Jesus asks Peter;….after His resurrection….”lovest thou Me more than these?”

Almost the whole last chapter is taken up with the story of Peter leaving Jerusalem…to “go a fishing”…..leading the other disciples to go, too.

And Jesus, manifesting Himself to them, on the shore….

….and restoring Peter….who had denied the Lord three times,…..

……with three affirmations of faith, and love….”yea, Lord (there is the faith), Thou knowest that I love Thee (there is the love).”

This chapter is almost a “P.S. I Love You”……to the whole book…..for John ends the chapter before this, with:

John 20:31 “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name.”

Yet it could not be left hanging…..what would become of the one who denied the Lord Jesus, the night He was betrayed….

…..so the record of Peter….telling the Lord (not that he believed in Him; for Peter was a believer, though he had sinned greatly)….but he told the Lord that he loved Him.

Even Peter could be forgiven….what tender mercies the Lord always shows.

John continues to stress that last command of the Lord’s…..

1 John 3:23 “And this is His commandment, That we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as He gave us commandment.”

(1 John is the fellowship book….it stresses the light and love of God….in us and through us.

It is also called the “know so” book….at least twenty-three times it says we “know”.

1 John 2:5 “But whoso keepeth His Word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him.”)

John was mending nets when Jesus called him to follow Him (Matthew 5:21)…….and throughout his ministry, John sought “to mend” the doctrine of faith…..because of those who would add to, or subtract from the simple gospel of Christ.

He preached, and reminded the Church of the Words of Christ, the ministry of Christ…the death and resurrection of Christ…..and the commandments of Christ….always pointing to Him, who is Eternal Life…..

….for this is the ministry of everyone of us….to point others to Christ,….and remind them of Christ

1 John 4:7-11, 16 “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

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

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.”

Christ’s last command was to “love one another”….

We should seek the welfare of all men….

…..but for the household of faith; we should love them….to do for them all the good we can….

….for Christ’s sake.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

The Whole Duty of Man

To begin this, I want to explain mercy.

Mercy is God’s kindness to sinners.

There is temporal mercy (Matthew 5:45) where God sends rain on the good and the bad.

There is spiritual mercy for the saved (Titus 3:5-7). It is the lovingkindness of God as our Father, seeing to us, as His children.

Encouraging, and reproving us; to help us attain to all He has for us.

Some time back I was having a study in Ecclesiastes. At the end of this book we find:

Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”

Ecclesiastes is a book Solomon wrote about all his experiments into the “grand purpose of life”,….”under the sun”.

Which simply means, Solomon, given wisdom from God, tried to find the purpose for life, by natural means.

(It was after the twenty years he took to build the Temple; a labor of love, which his father, David, charged him to do.

Solomon saw to every detail…loving every minute; and the dedication of the Temple was the highlight of his reign. But then….what was he to do?)

So Solomon began a trial of many things. And what did he find?

Ecclesiastes 1:2, 13-14 “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

And I gave my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.

I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.”

“Vanity” is nothing. At the end of his trials into building, and mirth, and wine, and knowledge; Solomon found that the greatest wisdom is to “Fear God, and keep His commandments”.

For he could not find any greater purpose than to serve God in the work He gives.

He had built cities. Fortified them.

He had written books of proverbs for instruction. Many had come to hear and see him….for the wisdom he expressed.

He had wisely ruled his people, and they had been at peace.

Yet he says:

Ecclesiastes 2:18-19 “Yea, I hated all my labor which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me.

And who knoweth whither he shall be a wise man or a fool? Yet shall he have rule over all my labor wherein I have labored, and wherein I have showed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity.”

Nothing he tried, seemed to satisfy him.

And he sees that God has set eternity in man’s heart, and no man can be satisfied with anything but God and His Will.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He hath made everything beautiful in His time: also He hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”

“The world” here is actually “eternity”. God has placed eternity in the hearts of man, so that they will know there is more to life than “eat, drink and be merry”.

Man can not naturally find out God’s Will for himself. No, it is spiritually discerned. In other words, the Holy Spirit must show it to you.

1 Corinthians 2:12, 14 “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

1 Corinthians 2:9-10 “But it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.

But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”

And in the end, Solomon realized that real life and wisdom came only in the personal relationship to God.

That is what “Fear God” is. It is the personal heart of man, bowing in subjection and dependence on God, in a personal relationship—fellowship.

It was too late for the good he could have done (1 Kings 11:4, 9-11) for his people and for his children.

(Years had past in all this experimentation…..and when he was an old man, his many wives (which was a sin)…led him astray….so that he let them worship the way they wanted….a great sin…for it introduced idols into Jerusalem.)

But some people believe that Solomon co-wrote the eighty-ninth Psalm (I do).

There you find him rejoicing in the God of mercy, and His faithfulness:

Psalm 89:1 “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever: with my mouth will I make known Thy faithfulness to all generations.”

Remembering God’s goodness to him in speaking to him:

Psalm 89:14-15 “Justice and judgement are the habitation of Thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before Thy face.

Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound (His voice and word): they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of Thy countenance.”

There you see his confession:

Psalm 89:38, 44 “But Thou hast cast off and abhorred, Thou hast been wroth with Thine anointed.

Thou hast made his glory to cease, and cast his throne down to the ground.”

And you have his cry for God’s mercy for himself and his people:

Psalm 89:47, 49 “Remember how short my time is: wherefore hast Thou made all men in vain?

Lord, where are Thy former lovingkindnesses, which Thou swearest unto David in Thy truth?”

And finally his submission to the Lord:

Psalm 89:52 “Blessed be the Lord forever. Amen (Let it be whatever You will), and amen.”

He only prays for mercy, here. For as a sinner, he needed that spiritual lovingkindness of his Heavenly Father for himself.

Solomon has left us a lesson: the world and all it’s greatest things, can not fill our hearts. Only God can satisfy to the full.

We can be happy in the moment; but we always want more happiness.

But in the Lord, is contentment and joy. (Joy is the Presence of God in my life, springing up in newness and light.)

No matter where we are in our spiritual experience; we may also pray for mercy from our Heavenly Father. He may correct; but He will come and restore the peace and joy we need.

Solomon says: Let us hear….

After growing old trying all sorts of things….Let us hear the conclusion of the matter:

Fear God (reverence….be in awe….see His Holiness….see His Almightiness….and bow. Someone has said, “If you fall on your knees before God, you won’t ‘fall’ for every trick of the world and the devil”)….

…..and keep His commandments,…

….for this is the whole duty of man.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

The Peace of God

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

The word “keep” here means to protect, to garrison.

That is what God’s peace does for us. It protects our hearts, which are our emotions. (How often they run away with us!)

And it protects our minds, which are our thoughts, both random and reasoned.

His peace puts us in a strong place, where things don’t upset us; or hurt us, like they usually do.

His peace gives us rest of mind; not panic or wild imaginations of what could happen.

But it is His peace. We very often have none of our own.

But He comes and speaks to us, calming our fears; and delivering us by His protection.

It passes all our understanding, for we can try and reason away bad thoughts or anger….but it usually does not work.

But, when we let His peace come, we know real power and rest in the situation.

He has it for us; He says:

Philippians 4:6 “Be careful for nothing (do not worry);

but in everything (yes, everything, big and little)

by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”

He hears and gives us His peace. Just talk to Him, and receive His peace, and praise Him for it.

Preaching, Teaching, and Note

The lessons of the wilderness

Now I want to start out by saying….the Israelites going to Canaan is a great study to the Christian.

They had been redeemed from Egypt and bondage….like when we are born again….we have crossed a great Sea, which drowns all our old enemies in the cross of Christ.

They sang the first song written in the Bible….a song of praise to their Redeemer:

Exodus 15:13 “Thou in Thy mercy hast led forth the people which Thou hast redeemed: Thou hast guided them in Thy strength unto Thy Holy habitation.”

They were then to go into the wilderness…..go to Mt. Sinai….become a nation under God’s rule and law (where they spent a year, learning these, and setting up the Tabernacle)……..and go to Canaan.

The whole trip should have taken about two years……but…..unbelief made the journey…(or rather wanderings till the unbelieving generation died)……a lot longer.

Our journey from the time we are born again,….till we begin to realize all our portion and inheritance in Christ….having His power and stability in our lives…..varies.

It depends on our belief……will we learn the lessons of the wilderness?

Or murmur,…in unbelief….?

What are those lessons?

First, (and I think most important)……just because we are in God’s Path, does not mean we won’t have problems.

The children of Israel left their praise to the Lord after the Red Sea,…..and three days later began murmuring because of water troubles….their barrels of water were empty…and the water they came to….was bitter….undrinkable.

Here, at Marah (bitterness)….they found that it is what we do about the troubles that matter…

…..for they murmured….but Moses cried unto the Lord…

….and the Lord turned the bitter waters, sweet.

There the Lord told them, trying to get them to see the value of learning lessons:

Exodus 15:26 “And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord they 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.”

Second, that the Lord uses everything to teach us lessons…if we will learn…

A month and a half later, they are in a wilderness, far from everything…and they are running out of food….

….instead of praying, seeking God, remembering God provision from before….they murmur (it seems they have learned how to do that, very well)…

God uses this time of testing, to give them Manna,….a miraculous bread from heaven, which is outside their tents every morning to gather….

…to show them the importance of the Sabbath,….for they were to gather double the Manna on the day before, so they would not gather on the Sabbath….for it was a day set aside to fellowship with the Lord…

…..and to give them an abundance of quail….providing a delicacy in a wilderness.

Exodus 16:12 “I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God.”

Third, that warfare was necessary to defend what God gives you.

Israel came out of the barren wilderness and started ascending into a mountainous area….where there was no wells of water.

The Lord gave them water from a Rock (which speaks of Christ, crucified….opening a well of living water for us John 7:38-39)…

…but that brought an enemy which wanted to drive off Israel from the water….so they could have it. They attacked Israel….

Understand, these Israelites were a slave people….they were not warriors;..

….yet they were going to have to fight to obtain the land God would bring them to….and God would begin to show them how to fight….God’s way:

Exodus 17:9-11 “And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.

So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek:…

And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.”

Joshua fought with sword….but Moses prayed with the rod lifted up to God.

Both are necessary to win the Lord’s battles.

Fourth, God is Holy….and it is in acknowledging that….that we can have fellowship….as God draws us to Him.

Israel went on to Mt Sinai…where they camped before the mount.

The Lord said to Moses…to tell the people:

Exodus 19:4-5 “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagle’s wings, and brought you unto Myself.

Now therefore, if you will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then shall ye be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: for all the earth is mine:”

Here was an invitation to be the people of God, which was promised to Abraham….

….but God would first show them His holiness…

Exodus 19:10-12 “And the Lord said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow; and let them wash their clothes.

And be ready against the third day: for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai.

And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about…”

Why? Because God is not our “buddy”….He is our God…Holy and Almighty.

A right relationship with our Lord begins with us seeing ourselves as sinners…then….as His people, with the privilege of fellowship.

Exodus 24:1, 10-11 “And He said unto Moses, Come up unto the Lord, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off.

And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under His feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in His clearness.

And upon the nobles of the children of Israel He laid not His hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.”

(We, too, can “sup” with Him….Revelation 3:20 “…I will come in to him, and will sup with him and he with Me.”

But only as we,…”be zealous therefore and repent.” Revelation 3:19)

But what did they do with these privileges?

To be His people…they agreed.

Exodus 24:7 “And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said we will do and be obedient.”

But to have that personal relationship….

…they refused…another lesson they would not learn…

Exodus 20:19-20 “And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.

And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God has come to prove you, and that His fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.”

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10)…..that awe of His Person, that reverence of His Ways…leads us to complete surrender and trust.

But they chose….again…their way…not God’s.

Fifth, time is in God’s hands…and we should be in step with Him, even when we can not see what is going on.

(I might add here, if they had learned the other lessons…even the lesson of personal reliance on the Word of God for themselves…they would not have suffered such a chastening.)

Exodus 32:1 “And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.”

Let me say, this is so wrong on so many levels:

The term “delayed”, is wrong….for the timing was God’s not theirs.

They were in a very pleasant place to wait…water, food, their families….what delay?

Then, they had just heard God say…several times…not to make idols, or worship any other god, but Him.

Moses was not the One who brought them out of Egypt….but God had saved them from Pharaoh, slavery, and the Red Sea.

What were they thinking?

(Yet, can we say we have not failed, by looking at what we consider a delay…rather than to the Lord?)

Aaron makes an idol…which they had seen in Egypt…and they make themselves naked and defiled before it (Exodus 32:19, 25)

God sends Moses back to camp to deal with the people…

Exodus 32: 26-27 “And Moses stood at the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord’s side? Let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.

And he said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.”

This is the first judgement on the people where a fellow Israelite has to do the punishment.

Here is where God separates the Levites for the priesthood, because they were “…on the Lord’s side”…..repenting of their sin…

They went through the camp….and those that did not run and hide in shame in their tents…were slain as these met them. (Three thousand died because they heard God, but refused to honor His claims upon them)

Sixth, When God is ready to bestow a blessing, do not ask “to check it over”……but believe Him, and enter into it.

Israel had left Sinai, after building the Tabernacle and seeing God’s glory come down upon it,…..and had crossed another bit of wilderness….

….they had come to Canaan, the promised land….to a place called Kadesh-barnea…..

…here, they were to make their entry into the land.

(They would not cross the Jordon, next to Jericho (as the next generation did)……..but instead were about 100 miles south of that….coming into a beautiful fertile land….a land that, when taken, would reap great benefits…supplying all Israel with food and water, till they conquered the rest.)

It was a beautiful place….mountains on one side, and the fertile land on the other.

Moses tells them that we have arrived….it is now time to possess all that God has for you!

Deuteronomy 1:21 “Behold, the Lord thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath said unto thee: fear not, neither be discouraged.”

God was reminding them that He had promised the land to Abraham….and He had brought them to it….He would surely give it to Abraham’s children.

But….Israel had other ideas….

Deuteronomy 1:22-23 “And ye came near unto me everyone of you, and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land, and bring us word again by which way we must go up….

And the saying pleased me well:….”

In Numbers 13:1-2, it says, “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Send thou men, that they may search the land…”

When the Israelites came to the land…..they refused to go and possess it at once…..but spoke to Moses about sending men to “search out” the land….

….oddly, he thought it a good plan….he should have recognized their hesitation to obey……

….but he asked God about it…

….and God allowed it….telling Moses to do it.

But that was not the original idea. They were there to possess…..not to search. “Go up and possess it..”

Dividing the land was after the conquest….

….yet, it seemed like such a good idea….

….let everyone know the beauty and plenty of the place!

Yet….it turned out all wrong….for all they saw……was the strong people that lived there….so when they returned….they made all the people afraid…

Numbers 13:31 “But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.”

There was only two men that believed God….and wanted to go in to possess,….now.

Numbers 13:26-27, 30 “And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me?…

Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.”

Israel was to turn back into the wilderness,….and all that generation….twenty years old and older, except Caleb and Joshua….would wander for thirty-eight more years…till they died.

(The next generation came in, and under Joshua, they got the land, as God had said.)

The lessons they could have learned….they refused.

The land they could have had….they refused.

The God they said they would obey….they refused to believe….and so refused to obey.

“…and how long will it be ere they believe Me, for all the signs which I have shown among them?” (Numbers 13:11)

What about us? Are we learning the lessons which come to us?….

…lessons which show us about our God, and about the Way He would lead us.

They are often hard….but necessary to walk in…..

…and we should always remember: we are walking in this Way, with HimOur Christian walk here, is about growing in grace….to grow up into Christ….and have all those blessings He has for us (Ephesians 1:3)….if we will believe Him.

Preaching, Teaching,

Paul’s Conversion, and a Certain Disciple.

(To convert, is to change one thing, into another…

Conversion, here, means to spiritually change the direction of your life, by placing yourself on the foundation of Christ Jesus.)

To begin this, we must understand that Saul was a “up and coming” Pharisee.

He was going to be somebody in the Jewish Religion!

He was zealous concerning the Law; “a Hebrew of the Hebrews”. (Philippians 3:5)

But things began to “change”, when he heard, and saw a follower of Jesus Christ, die a martyr’s death.

For the man, Stephen, asked God to forgive them; and Saul knew that this is how a true follower of God would act. (Saul was there as a representative of the Council who judged Stephen. Acts 7:54-58)

But the “change”, then,….was not toward the Light he had seen,….but sent him fighting against it.

Vicious was his attack on all of “this Way”.

Acts 26:9-11 “I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.

And I punished them in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.”

And why was he “exceedingly mad against them”?

Because, as we shall see, God was pricking his heart; and telling him that “this Way” was the right way.

That Jesus Christ was indeed the Son of God.

But he refused to listen, or to bow to God’s Way. Instead he would fight against it.

By destroying Christ’s followers; he would destroy this Way. (So he thought)

Acts 9:1-2 “And Saul yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest.

And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whither they be men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.”

So he is going to take his hatred of this Way to other cities; to Damascus. He gathers men to come as escorts for the prisoners he will bring back.

Everything is proceeding according to his plan.

But he has a surprise in store;…..for this is not according to God’s plan.

Acts 9:3 “And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven.”

Almost to his journeys end, close to Damascus; God shines a light down upon him that he can not ignore!

Acts 9:4-6 “And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, Why persecutest thou Me?

And he said, Who art thou Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.”

Here, Saul falls to the ground. The Light is blinding, and he can not stand against it.

He falls (finally in the right position before Jesus Christ), and then he is spoken to: Why are you persecuting Me, Saul?

(Notice that Jesus always identifies Himself with His people: Their persecution is His, as well.)

Saul is quite shocked! He thought he was just fighting against people; Who was he fighting against?

The Lord Jesus Christ then tells him, “It is I, you are trying to destroy. And I am here to tell you, you can not.

I have been pricking your heart with the truth of Who I am for some time.

You just keep kicking against it.

Stop fighting My Way. Stop fighting the Light I have given you.”

Saul, having heard Christ Jesus for himself, gives himself over to Him: “Lord……What would You have me to do?”

Yielding simple allegiance, and seeking to obey; Saul gives up his life into the hands of Jesus Christ.

“I am Yours, what do you want me to do? Go on, or go back, or what?”

The Lord then calls him on to Damascus, not as persecutor of His people, but as brother to those of this Way.

The rest would be “told” him, when he got there.

Acts 9:8 “And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they lead him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.”

Refusing to see the Light God first gave him, Saul is now blinded for a time. They lead him to Damascus.

Saul is now fasting, waiting to hear from the Lord the instruction he was promised.

And now to the “certain disciple”:

Acts 9:10-12 “And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision; Ananias, and he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.

And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,

And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.”

Ananias spoke up;….he did not say he would not go, for he had called Jesus, Lord. (He is not Lord to you, if you will not do what He says.)

But he prays a prayer that we all would be well to imitate, when we are afraid about doing God’s Will:

Ananias told God what he had heard about Saul, the evil he had done in Jerusalem, and that he had come to do the same here in Damascus.

In other words, Ananias told God his fear, and ask what to do about it.

Now God knew this, but as Ananias prayed this information to the Lord, peace came upon his heart. A peace that passeth understanding.

Ananias was then ready to hear what Jesus said to him: “Go”

Acts 9:15-16 “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.”

And so Ananias, went; doing exactly what Jesus had commanded him to do for Saul.

Praying for him to receive his sight, and to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

(And because he went and prayed for Saul; every reward Saul [His name was later changed to Paul] will receive from the Lord,…..Ananias will receive a part, too.)

And what did Saul do?

Acts 9:19-20,22 “…Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.

And straightway preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.

And Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which were at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.”

Acts 26:19-20 “Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision:

But showed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coast of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.”

Saul continued on, doing the Will of Christ Jesus, his Lord, through many afflictions, and persecutions of his own;…..till, at the last he could say:

2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:”

Conversion meant for Saul that he spiritually changed the direction of his life by placing himself on the foundation of Jesus Christ, his Lord.

Have you been converted to Christ?

Is Jesus Christ your Lord?

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

To Fail of the Grace of God.

Hebrews 12:15 “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;”

Grace is the unmerited favor of power. It is a gift from God to His children. God’s grace saves, upholds us, and strengthens us for the work.

So how can we “fail of the grace of God”…if it comes from God?

Simply, by not using it.

How many times have we asked for help; and refused it, when it came, because we did not like the way it came?

(“I will not take help from that person, they always think bad of me anyway.” Really? If God has sent that person to help you, so what if you don’t like them? Or even if they don’t like you? Wouldn’t that make the miracle of help, so much better?)

How many times has God sent a trial for us to pass through, and we have refused to do so, because we don’t think we can “handle it”?

When you do this, you are failing of the grace that God wanted to give you to go through this trial.

He sends us trials to make us stronger in His love, and faith.

1 Peter 1:5-7 “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:”

And how many times have we thought that we are O.K. We don’t need help with this situation. We have done this many times.

And then, because we have refused to take the fresh supply of God’s grace, we fail: either in our speech, or in our reactions to something.

(The disciples thought this, when they thought they would go back to fishing, after Jesus was crucified, and had arose.

John 21:3 “Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.”)

We fail of the grace of God, when we allow the bitterness and resentment to “spring up”.

Hebrew 12:15 “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;”

There are resentments which are buried in our emotions. Time has passed, and so we think that they are gone. But they are just gone underground. Someone’s actions may bring them all out again.

They are there, because we have not removed them. It is by the grace of God giving us forgiveness for the person that has hurt us, that removes them.

This is hard, impossible in some situations, without His grace enabling us to do it!

But, if we won’t remove them (and of course this is by the Lord’s enabling within us); they will “trouble you”.

They will “spring up” (This is such a good description of how they suddenly appear.)

A little thing can remind us of these. And once it is in our heads again, it needs to be taken to the Lord.

God’s grace is a gift from our Lord, for now. The grace of this day. The grace for this hour, even.

How much we need it!

Let us seek to receive all He has for us, and stop failing of the grace of God.

Let us seek to yield to the Holy Spirit within, and receive His revelations of the things which hinder our walk with Him.

(I know I mention this a lot…but “yield” in the Greek means “to stand beside, to recommend, to aid”…and this we are to do with the Holy Spirit within us.

When He gives patience, we stand beside Him and use it.

When He gives strength, even when we are so weary, we aid Him in the work we are to finish and lay hold on that strength.)

And mostly, let us receive all the “power of God through faith unto salvation” ……..kept from the deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil; and kept close to Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:5 “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

This is the Way…walk ye in it

Isaiah 30:21 “And thine ear 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.”

Have you heard that Word?

Do you know this is the Way? Then….”walk ye in it”.

Walking in the Christian Way is the real work. It is the going along, taking each step as it comes with the Lord….continually, without growing weary or faint in the steps.

Not becoming impatient, or sleepy…..but just continuing to walk along with the Lord….in His Way.

To walk sets forth the fact of everyday living. The tasks and duties of today, and tomorrow.

We often think of special occasions….of doing some great work for the Lord….when our reality before Him, is in our everyday living to His honor….in our words and in our deeds.

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

There is in our everyday paths, the means of the fulfillment of the Way.

If we are born again, we do not need to seek special arrangements, but we just have to be found faithful in what we have at hand….(His Word, the Bible…..and prayer….gathering together….or faithful ministers giving out His Word…)

1 Corinthians 4:2 “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”

To be faithful, we need to take stock of our supplies:

Are you ready to give a word in due season to those in need?

Do you know God’s Word?

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 (reverence to God).”

There are many who hunger for reality….for the knowledge that there is indeed God, and that He is Lord.

Do they pass from us still hungry?

Acts 16:30-32 “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

And they spake unto him the Word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.”

Are we showing them that He is our Lord?

Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

There are others, shaking their fists in the face of God,…..but cross our paths.

(Can anyone win an argument with God? For God always has the last Word.)

2 Timothy 2:24-26 “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient;

In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”

Philippians 2:15 “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;”

(I have found that people may find away around what we say,…..but they can never get away from what God says, through us)

How many people do we meet with…..who God is dealing with….even though we may not know it?

If we wait for great days…..amazing works….or special times…..

…..we may wait….and they may never come.

The twelve disciples followed Jesus for three years. There were miracles, and healings, and many came to hear….to follow for a while…and go away…

….yet the real value of those three years……

…..where most of the twelve were concerned,…

….was their personal, growing affection and devotion to Jesus Christ, and His Word to them…..

…..that Word they were able to preach about the Lord Jesus, after receiving the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

John 6:68-69 “Then Simon Peter answered Him, Lord, to whom shall we go?

Thou hast the words of eternal life.

And we believe and are sure that Thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”

What of us? Are we following after the Lord,….and is our affection and devotion to Him and His Word growing?

Are we hearing His Word to us…..and able to give it to someone else?

Well, all we have to do is “walk” in His Way….and He has promised that we will hear His Word to us.

Preaching, Teaching. and Notes

A more excellent Way.

1 Corinthians 12:31 “But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way.”

Love to God is that more excellent way. We should love Him, for He first loved us.

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

Where serving the Lord Jesus Christ is concerned,….He looks to our hearts….do we love Him?

1 Corinthians 13:1 “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity (love), I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal”

Though I could speak in every language of this earth; proclaiming the gospel far and wide.

And if I could testify of the gospel story in angels language:

If love for Jesus is not the motivation for all that talk…

It would be just so much noise.

Loud noise; “sounding brass” like trumpets. “How great!” man will say; but to God it would be just noise.

Soft noise; “tinkling cymbal” like the end of a orchestra piece. Empty and just noise….without love to Jesus.

1 Corinthians 13:2 “And though I have the gift of prophesy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.”

This is the one that used to shake me up. I am a preacher; and I study a lot. I would say I know a lot…but all of that would be useless if I don’t use this knowledge,….even in preaching His Word, out of love for Him.

And faith to remove mountains; that’s something that everyone wants….but without love to Jesus as our motive; we will be nothing. (Remember Paul was writing this; and he had great knowledge, and understood many mysteries.)

But Paul also understood, that to do for God, without love to God;……is to really doing for a reward from God.

Which is another way of saying, you are doing it for you.

1 Corinthians 13:3 “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”

If I give all my possessions to God’s work of feeding the poor; and if I die a martyr’s death.

Though it cost me everything, as well as my life; if love for Jesus is not the reason I do it; then it profits me nothing.

I am none the better, for eternity, for it.

1 Corinthians 12:31 “But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way.”

The “more excellent way” is to love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. The first and greatest commandment.

1 Corinthians 13:13 ” And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”

To truly love God is the greatest work, greatest gift, greatest sound we can do.

This is what He looks for in all our obediences…..our love to Him.

He did His work of Salvation for us, out of love for us…..and He wants us to do our work for Him….out of love to Him.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Faith and Hope

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

Faith is the substance of things hoped for….so it is reality….it is real knowledge of God, for ourselves……for faith always sees God.

Faith is the evidence of things not seen….for with faith, we prove within us that what God says….will be. (Hebrews 11:1)

If you are born again, then you have this peace with God by Christ Jesus,….and we are ready to proceed further.

Romans 5:2 ” By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

“Access”, think of the doors of heaven opening;….and help, strength, encouragement, whatever you need; coming down to you.

This is this access that faith in our Lord Jesus Christ gives us. For it opens into “grace”.

“Grace” is the unmerited favor of power.

Grace is the power of God to save, of course.

But it is also the power of God to keep, change, to do what He has called you to do in your life.

Zechariah 4:7 “Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.”

2 Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:”

This is the grace we have access to, through faith, by our Lord Jesus Christ.

This is the grace that empowers us to stand.

And if you are experiencing this grace, you should also be experiencing:

“And rejoice, in hope, of the glory of God.”

This hope is from the Holy Spirit…you can’t work it up, it is given.

It is the confident expectation that God will do what He said.

He will work glory out of my life, as I yield to Him, and stand with Him.

2 Corinthians 12:9 “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Paul was rejoicing in that power, even though it meant his prayer was not answered the way he wanted.

Romans 5:3 “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience;”

(When you are kept–sustained is a better word. Kept is taken care of like we are still babes in Christ.

Sustained is upheld, and that is for maturing Christians.

Our Rock is Christ…and He is always strong for us.)

So when you are sustained by this faculty of hope (that confidence from the Holy Spirit that God will do what He said), you can indeed glory in tribulations–for you see that they are all to the glory of God.(though you may not see how at the time)

Tribulations work patience within us. These tribulations aren’t just those which lead to martyrdom. No, they are also the trials, which are really trials of the way.

Places so hard to overcome (they are often called mountains in Scripture) that they are seen as impossible to us.

But they work patience within us, by waiting on God to do the impossible.(and how many times He has done so for us!)

“Worketh”. That doesn’t mean we will be instantaneously patient—Oh, No.

But worketh patience.

If we are having a “fit”; or rebelling against a certain set of circumstances; you need to go back and “access” more grace.

Grace is enabling; and how much we need enabling in our work, and life.

God does do the impossible,

If not for us, the way we want…….then in us, to yield in a mighty way, to these circumstances…..and have the victory in them.

Romans 5:4 “And patience, experience; and experience, hope:”

And how much experience we will have in our walk with God!

That patience that He has worked within us, will gain us experience.

Knowing what God will do for us; because He has done it before.

You will know, as you receive from your Father’s Hand all that comes to you; His grace abundantly, and His love.

Romans 5:5 “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

This confidence that God will do what He says,….is being proved again and again;…..and the Holy Spirit within us lights up the love of God for us,…..so that we are blessed by His Presence, in all our circumstances.

We are not ashamed of our God and His working in us, though the way be rough or smooth….God’s love encourages us.

We begin to have more of His boundless joy, peace,….and Presence.

All of this is by the Holy Spirit within.

Stifle not the Holy Spirit.

Yield to Him, and enjoy His gifts of faith and hope.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Not willing that any should perish

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

The Lord is not willing that any should perish….but that all should come to repentance.

But, what are we willing?

It is an interesting way of saying it: “…that all should come to repentance.”

How many times does Jesus say, “Come”……here it is come to Him for repentance!

He is so willing to save….He will help you repent….if you will come to Him!

He does not say…..you must give up this, to come to Me….but….

….He says, Come to Me…and I will help you give up this.

Our sin separates us from every good thing….from God, first….but also from true sight….true understanding….true hope and love.

And God is not willing that we perish in our sins….so He sent HIs Son to save all who will come to Him.

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

Matthew 1:21 “For she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins.”

It is also interesting that God always seeks us, first.

He did in the garden with our first parents….Adam and Eve…when He came down…knowing they had sinned…

….yet giving them the opportunity to come to Him and confess it….

…”And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden….And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” (Genesis 3:8-9)

And He does with us….He sends His Spirit to wake us up, to our sin….and then calls…

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

So the question still remains…..will you come to repentance…..come to Jesus Christ, and give yourself to Him?

John 6:37, 40 “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.

And this is the will of Him Who sent Me, that everyone which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.”

Coming to Christ is believing,…that is in the heart……

….and calling out to Him to save us,…with the mouth:

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

God is not willing that any should perish….will we hear His call to come…..to come to Him?

Revelation 22:17 “And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”