We are called to love one another. Jesus says this is how men will know we are His disciples.
“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35
The two greatest commandments He says (paraphrasing) are to love God with everything and love everyone else as ourselves. No one does either. We disobey God showing we can’t love Him as He commands and hence we can’t truly love neighbor. But Jesus fulfilled this and by His love we can love.
As we celebrate our independence in the United States of America lets remember those who fight for freedom everyday. Let’s remember those who have fallen in battle. I thank you. You put it all on the line for freedom.
There is One who can give true freedom.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36
February 7th sermon at IBC
Sermon title: Truth! Do we believe?
I recently had the opportunity to preach my first sermon. It was an honor to be asked by my good friend Pastor Luke Fraser at Island Baptist Church in Beach haven, NJ. I wanted to share the video along with my written notes on this blog. If you read and watch you will notice there are differences as I had to cut some things out and I might have gone on in other areas in the actual sermon. In any case may the Lord bless this message. May His voice be heard.
I am a seminary student at Whitefield Theological Seminary. This seminary is named after George Whitefield. He was possibly one the greatest evangelists in church history. I will talk a little more about George Whitefield later.
I came to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ August 24, 2012. I remember this because I was watching the movie “Fireproof”on a weekend that I wasn’t sure my wife was coming back home from a trip with her sister. This movie was given to me by a friend who I asked “when do you get divorced?” She told me you don’t and she gave me this movie. In the movie I heard the gospel for the first time. Maybe I heard it before, but I grew up Roman Catholic, and they do not preach the true gospel. (I may touch a bit of that later) I heard it clear in that movie.
Then I broke down on my floor and on my knees and cried to God. I cried He would change me. He did. He changed me to start to become a better husband, father, and man. But that was not the goal of His change. The goal and His purpose of change in me was to allow me to have a new heart to receive the gospel. To receive the message that I was a sinner who needed a savior and the only savior, His Son, Jesus Christ. I have never been the same since that day as God began to make me into the image of His Son.
I have since been in pursuit of knowing and loving God more. I now have Christ as Lord and I have become the guy I used to make fun of. I picked on people who spoke to me about the Bible. I picked on people who posted Scripture on Facebook. And now I’m the guy who posts Scripture and talks of the Lord Jesus and His good news of salvation and the Kingdom.
I am in the Word daily. I watch sermons and read books about God. I can not help but speak of what I have experienced and learned in His Holy special revelation, His Word the Bible. I do not say this to boast in me but to boast of what God has done in me.
That is why I am pursuing more of Him in seminary. I have been given a heart, by the grace of God, to want to know Him more so I can share Him more. There is no other way to explain it then to say that salvation is truly of the Lord and I brought nothing to it but my sin.
God took a blind, deaf, in-prisoned to sin, wretch like me and gave me sight, hearing, and freedom in the life, death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ. WHAT A GIFT! And if it wasn’t for His grace and His truth in His Word, that leads us to saving knowledge of His Son, there would be no anchor of hope of which we could hold, and it is actually what holds us.
As Warren Wiersbe says “it is the Word of God that does the work of God.” If it wasn’t for the gospel message in the movie “fireproof” I would probably be a lonely, bitter, divorced man. But by God’s sovereign grace, His Word was proclaimed in that film, and the Holy Spirit quickened my heart to receive the message. Now all I want is for others to hear and to be quickened by the Holy Spirit. And the only way that will happen is by God raising up more to be sent. And those being sent need to stand on the message that comes from the mouth of God in His Word.
We have this before us today as the Bible. That is what I want to preach today, and for that matter, everyday. The Truth of God’s Word found in the pages of the Bible.
It is only in the Bible that we find the truth about the world and everything in it, and out of it. It is only in the Bible that we find the truth about who we are. It is only in the Bible that we find the truth about Who God is as He exists as the beautiful trinity. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is only in the Bible that we find the Words that make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
The Bible is authoritative, inerrant, and sufficient. As John MacArthur says “the Bible is the only source of divine truth.” The question is, as Christians, do we believe this? That brings me to the title of the sermon.
“Truth! Do we believe?”
What I pray you come away with is a firm answer of “absolutely yes!” What I pray you come away with is an answer to all who ask of the hope in you that starts with Christ as Lord found nowhere else but His Holy Word. What I pray you come away from this with, is more of a desire to know the God, who not only reveals Himself in all of creation so all are without excuse, but speaks to us in the pages of His Holy Scripture. I also pray, Lord do I pray, that if you do not have a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, that the Holy Spirit quickens your heart, opens your heart, to receive that knowledge as we expound on His Word and His gospel.
The text today I’d like to start with is
2 Timothy 3:14-4:5
I know there is a lot in this Passage to cover, but I just can’t help it sometimes. I love the Word. Let’s set it up. The apostle Paul is writing to Timothy. Timothy is Paul’s young coworker in the faith. Paul calls him his child in the faith in 1 Timothy and here, in this epistle, his “beloved child.” This is obviously someone the apostle has spent much time with and has a fatherly affection for. This letter is written by the apostle Paul while he is in prison in Rome and Timothy is in Ephesus. This is the second of two letters we have of Paul writing Timothy. The first addresses false teaching and holy living brought about by the true gospel. This second letter focuses on persevering through suffering, while it still addresses false teaching. Paul focus on perseverance also attests to where he is at this point, awaiting death in prison. And the apostle focuses on the Word of God in the Scriptures to be sufficient for everything, especially knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
So let’s read the Word.
The Word of God says:
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
4 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5
Let’s dig into this text.
Vs 14 the apostle points out that Timothy has learned and believed, knowing he learned from Paul as well as probably his mother and grandmother, as pointed out in 1:5. This shows the importance of training our children up in the Word. Laying the foundation of truth is crucial in the development of a child and their faith. Next Paul points out the great importance of Scripture and the power there in. Paul makes a statement about the Scriptures “making one wise for salvation through faith in Jesus.” This is a pivotal point in this text. One that I hope you remember. It is not humans means that makes one wise for salvation. It is God’s Word and Holy Spirit.
Let’s see what the great bible commentator Matthew Henry has to say about this section. He makes 4 points.
1. It is a great happiness to know the certainty of the things wherein we have been instructed (Luke 1:4); not only to know what the truths are, but to know that they are of undoubted certainty. What we have learned we must labour to be more and more assured of, that, being grounded in the truth, we may be guarded against error, for certainty in religion is of great importance and advantage: Knowing, (1.) “That thou hast had good teachers. Consider of whom thou hast learned them; not of evil men and seducers, but good men, who had themselves experienced the power of the truths they taught thee, and been ready to suffer for them, and thereby would give the fullest evidence of their belief of these truths.” (2.) “Knowing especially the firm foundation upon which thou hast built, namely, that of the scripture (2 Tim. 3:15): That from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures.”
2. Those who would acquaint themselves with the things of God, and be assured of them, must know the holy scriptures, for these are the summary of divine revelation.
3. It is a great happiness to know the holy scriptures from our childhood; and children should betimes get the knowledge of the scriptures. The age of children is the learning age; and those who would get true learning must get it out of the scriptures.
4. The scriptures we are to know are the holy scriptures; they come from the holy God, were delivered by holy men, contain holy precepts, treat of holy things, and were designed to make us holy and to lead us in the way of holiness to happiness; being called the holy scriptures, they are by this distinguished from profane writings of all sorts, and from those that only teach morality, and common justice and honesty, but do not meddle with holiness. If we would know the holy scriptures, we must read and search them daily, as the noble Bereans did, Acts 17:11. They must not lie by us neglected, and seldom or never looked into.
Matthew Henry holds the word in such high esteem, even saying it is the way to get true learning. Basically, without learning the Scriptures and believing what they say, all other learning in futile. We can learn things but we have no basis to justify why we know them.
Vs 16 gives us the reason why we can rely upon the Word as the source of divine knowledge. God has breathed the Scriptures out, theopneustos in the Greek. Put your hand up to your face. Breath out. Can you can feel it? That is what is meant here. God literally breathed out His Word and men wrote it down as His pen. Peter puts it this way.
2 Peter 1:21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
This is where Scripture comes from. God! And, as the rest of the vs says, it is good for teaching, reproof, correction and all training in righteousness that the man of God may be complete. It’s good for everything because it is the very Word of God. This makes it sufficient.
Let’s continue on. The end of chapter 3 tells us what Scripture does. Here now in chapter 4 the apostle Paul tells Timothy, and now us, how to apply this. With false teaching appearing in the church, then and now, it is important we hear the next words of the apostle breathed through him by God.
Vs 1 of chapter 4 is a serious charge to Timothy to “preach the Word!” He doesn’t just charge him personally. He charges him in the presence of God, Jesus, and the Kingdom. Paul sees all the false teaching and knows the only truth are the Scriptures and the only salvation is in the Lord Jesus Christ who is the fulfillment of the Scripture. The gospel is the core meaning in all of Scripture.
Vs 2 he tells Timothy to be ready in and out of season. When is this? ALL THE TIME! Ready for what? To preach the Word as to Reprove, rebuke, exhort, and teach with patience. Theses are all the things he also lists in vs 3:16. This also reminds me of what the apostle Peter says here:
1 Peter 3:15 the Word of God says, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
It is interesting to note that here and the end of vs 2 it says with patience, and the apostle Peter says with gentleness and respect. This is because when we teach the Word of God to the believer and unbeliever it will reveal sin. To the unbeliever it crushes their world view, how they believe things to be. We must be patient, gentle, and respectful, sharing the truth with love. Or else they may go elsewhere no matter how much we are right.
But back to the text. Why must Timothy Preach the Word in Ephesus? Vs 3 false teachers were there and have also come today. I see them on tv all the time. Their “churches” are filled with people, and it breaks my heart because they are lead astray. Those people are having their ears tickled hearing that they can have their best life now. To quote John MacArthur again “this is your best life, if your next life is in hell”. This is what the apostle is warning Timothy of. Doctrine being taught that lead people to damnation. And the scary thing is these false teachers talk and look like true Christians. Wolves in sheep’s clothing. They have the same vocabulary. They hold bibles. But they don’t speak truth. That is why the apostle charges Timothy to preach truth and endure and continue to believe in faith the things of Christ he has learned and believed.
The apostle knows in vs 4 many will go away from the truth into myths. Coming from the Roman Catholic church I know more now about what they teach then I did attending the church. They teach myths. From Marian dogmas to the saints to the papal infallibility. They teach myths and do not teach the truth of Jesus Christ. They use the same terms, and yes teach grace, but not the sufficiency of grace as they add works to salvation. They do not teach what the Scriptures teach that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone for the glory of God alone according to the Scriptures alone, (but that is a sermon for another time.)
And in vs 5 The apostle Paul reminds Timothy to stay sober minded, to keep his mind focused in all times, to endure suffering. With holy living, and when you proclaim the truth in the holy name of the lord Jesus Christ, suffering will come. Then he tells him to do the work of an evangelist. He is saying be a herald of the good news of what he has learned through Scripture. Tell people the truth. Tell of the gospel. Not all of us are called to be evangelist in the sense that they are called to go out in the streets and publicly proclaim the good news, but we are all called to evangelize and tell people we know and meet that good news. Just like pastor Luke has preached, it is like talking about your favorite store, movie, or hair product, but even better because those things go away. The Lord Jesus Christ never will.
And the apostle Paul sums it up by saying fulfill your ministry. he’s telling Timothy to do what God has called him to do. He has the grounding in the Scriptures. He knows the Lord Jesus Christ. Now believe and obey. Go do it!
The apostle in this letter, and many others, emphasizes the importance of the Word of God in the believers life. At the end of chapter 4 in this epistle he requests his books and parchments. Even near death the apostle knew he needed to continue In the Word of truth. Here is an interesting side note. I was recently listening to a lecture on the formation of the canon of Scripture, that is how the Bible we have was put together, by Dr Michael Kruger. He said in 2 Timothy 4:13 when the apostle Paul requests his books and parchments, the greek word for books is “biblia” which would refer to the scrolls, but the greek word for parchments is “membranas”. These “membranas” would be either his notes and letters, or those of others. This is what the epistles and gospels have been found to be written on. It was the preferred method, and some theories have been speculated as to why, but what Dr Kruger and other scholars conclude is this is evidence the cannon and acceptable NT books were already forming at this time as on pair as Scripture. (I love it when the Bible proves the Bible.)
Ok so we have taken a look into what the apostle Paul says about the authority of the Word of God. Let’s take a look elsewhere in the Bible to see what it says about God’s Word.
Psalm 19:7-11 the Word of God says: 7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; 8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
Psalm 119:105-107 this entire psalm is about God’s Word
The Word says: 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. 106 I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules. 107 I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your word!
Let’s look at OT prophecy. Can they prove authoritative and God breathed?
Also in Psalms
Psalm 22:1-18 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? 2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. 3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. 4 In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. 5 To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. 6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. 7 All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; 8 “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!” 9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts. 10 On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God. 11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help. 12 Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me; 13 they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion. 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; 15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. 16 For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet— 17 I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me; 18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.
The opening v. is what Jesus said on the cross as He felt the wrath of God poured out on Him in replace of all who believe. But He also said this knowing that those around Him knew this Psalm. The next vs’s describe that scene. We know from the gospels that His hands, being His wrists that were considered part of the hand then, and feet were pierced as they nailed Him to the cross. We know water and blood came out of Him when the soldier speared Him. We know His bones were not broken as they did to the other two when they broke their legs. And we know they cast lots for His garments. Those around the lord Jesus, as He said My God my God, probably had this Psalm in their head and looked and saw it play out in front of them.
How about Isaiah 9:6 the popular Christmas vs the Word of God says For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
He has been born and given and He is alive ruling and reigning at the right hand of the Father now.
I can keep growing but let’s do one more. Back to Isaiah.
Isaiah 53 let’s turn there.
I saw a video of a Christian evangelist in Israel asking Jewish people to read this passage in the original Hebrew. They do not teach this passage in the Jewish synagogue. It is forbidden. They do not learn of a suffering messiah in their texts. It is 10 minute video I recommend it so look it up when you get home on One For Israel. It brought me to tears to see their reaction. But you can see why the harden hearts of the Rabbis don’t want them to learn this. It so clearly speaks of the lord Jesus Christ and what He would do hundreds of years later. It is the clear gospel in the Old Testament and the gospel is all over the Old Testament.
Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? 9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. 11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53
So we have what The apostle Paul has said of the authority of Scripture. We have Old Testament prophecy that shows the authority of Scripture. What does the lord Jesus Christ say of Scripture?
Turn to Matthew 4:1-11
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written,“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and“‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,“‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. Matthew 4:1-11
The Lord Jesus Christ, being 100% man and 100% God, used the Word to drive away Satan. This is what Adam failed to do at the fall. Adam did not stand on the authority of what God said. The authority, inerrancy, and sufficiency was brought into question, as it has been ever since, and Adam failed to say “God said not to eat of it so we will not.” But the Lord Jesus Christ said “it is written” and He followed what is written because it is written by God. Many times in the gospels the Lord Jesus says “have you not heard?” Or “have you not read”. He points continually to the law and the prophets because the law and the prophets speak of Him.
Matthew 5:17 -18 Jesus says, do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
Luke 21:33 Jesus says, Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
The Lord Jesus even taught directly from the scriptures in His home town in
Luke 4:16-17 The Word says, And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And he began to say “today this Scripture has been fulfilled in you hearing.”
And one more I will share with you is from John 17:17 that should ring in your ears because the Lord Jesus prayed this for us. Jesus prayed:
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
If that doesn’t tell you what the Lord Jesus thinks of the Word of God I don’t know what will. If God is the ultimate authority for the believer, than His Word, the Bible is authoritative. If God is perfect, then His Word is perfect. And if God’s grace is sufficient so is His Word. Our lord and savior Jesus Christ, when asked, or not asked, says so.
So do we believe the real truth that can only be found in the Bible? If yes then how does a believer live to reflect this?
Let’s look at a believer named George Whitefield. This is the man who my seminary is named after. He was a preacher from the 18th century. He went to college at Oxford where he joined a group known as the ”Holy Club” of which John and Charles Wesley were members. When he started at the school, and in the club he was not a saved man. It was not until he read a book on regeneration, explaining that biblical doctrine, that he realized it is not by his holiness that God would accept him, but by the holiness that comes from being born again to believe in His Son. It was at age 21 that he was saved and he preached his first sermon at age 23. He preached to hundreds of thousands over his preaching life from England to the colonies. He preached to 80 thousand people at one time and this was way before amplification. People would flock to see him preach and this was before Facebook was used to advertise. He was a very devotional man and it is said he studied the Bible on his knees. He preached with his major point being “you must be born again.” Unless you are born again of water and spirit you will not see the kingdom of heaven. He preached even to the clergy that they must be born again. This got him kicked out of many churches by the clergy. He decided to go preach in the open field. It is said he went to a field outside a coal mine in England. As the coal miners would come out with black sooted faces they stood and listened. White streaks ran down many of their faces as they heard about the kingdom and the need to be born again. Whitefield is credited with being a huge part of the first great awakening in the colonies as well as reviving England.
Why am I telling you about George Whitefield? Because he preached the Word of God. He was born again to believe the Word, by the Word, and he knew that by the Word everyone must be born again. He was a 5 point Calvinist believing in sovereign election and he was probably the greatest evangelist outside of the apostle Paul. What was his secret? He preached Christ and Him crucified, and you must be born again. He read the Bible, believed what it says, and obeyed what it says.
This is all from the authority of Scripture. It can be found nowhere else. It is what makes a person wise for salvation. The Word will bring about awakening and revival when preached. The Word preached is the means by which the Lord Jesus will build the Church. It is not music, gimmicks, or any means of man. It is not our clever worldly wisdom when speaking to our lost friends. It is preaching and staying true to the Word. It is what the apostle Paul tells Timothy. “Preach the Word!”
Do we believe?
If not for the Word of the gospel in the movie “Fireproof” I’d still be unsaved. This Word is proven to be true. It is from God and by His Grace I believe. That Word I received that night was exactly what the bible says.
I am not a good person. No one is. The Bible says None are good. I thought I was. I thought my good outweighed my bad and I’d get heaven on that. But God says my good deeds are dirty rags. If I stand before Him and show Him my good deeds he says. I do not know you. This is bad news.
BUT GOD! sent His only Son, fully man and God, to live a perfect life of no sin. He died on the cross for my sin because the penalty for sin is death. That should be me on the cross because that’s what I deserve. Instead it was His life for mine. He takes my punishment and I get His righteousness. It doesn’t seem fair. But it is mercy because I don’t get what I deserve. I also get something more because it doesn’t end there. He rose after 3 days in the grave defeating sin and death. Now when we turn from our sin and to Jesus Christ we are forgiven. We are set free from sin. We are adopted as sons and daughters. We are now to follow Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives. Jesus took the wrath of God for His people to bring them to Himself. To this I say amen. To this I say hallelujah.
The word of God says in Ephesians 2:8-9: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
But to see this we must be born again. When you are born again you are made new. The old passes away. The old is put to death. The new creation will desire God and not sin. The new creation will desire His Word of truth and build their life on the rock. The new creation will have a hope that can be explained by more than experience. Repent and believe the gospel and be born again!
When asked, the believer can talk about lord Jesus Christ and say with full confidence “I know I am saved because God tells me I am in His Word the Bible and I believe the Bible.”
As the Word of God says in Romans 8:28-39
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died-more than that, who was raised-who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things past nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ jesus our Lord.
This is what the Bible says, and this is our source of truth. We must believe it, not only on Sunday, the Lord’s day, but everyday.
When you leave here today know that you have the answer. Know that the Bible is the authoritative, inerrant, and sufficient Word of God. To be an effective apologist, defender of why you believe, or evangelist, or even just live as a Christian, it is as simple as this. To quote the apologist Sye Ten-Bruggencate. “Read the Bible.. Believe what it says.” and obey!
If you are here today and you are not sure you are saved by the grace of God, if you are not sure you have been born again unto new life, do not leave until you are sure. Talk to Pastor Luke or one of the elders. Talk to me. I will give you my information on how to contact me. You can be sure. The Bible says so on the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I know many people who say they follow the “Golden Rule”. They say they live by what Jesus has taught in the Bible and they love others as they love themselves. Or they do to others as they would want done to them. Many of these same people consider themselves Christians just because they claim to follow this teaching. Is that all it takes in life? Is that all it means to follow Jesus Christ and thus this makes a person a Christian? Perhaps the most important question is, is that what the Lord Jesus means when He laid out this commandment, to just simply do unto others as you would have them do? Or is there more to this and more to being a Christian?
Let’s take a look at a few places where the Lord Jesus has said this.
27 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. 30 Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. 31 Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. 32 If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:27-36
Here we have Dr. Luke recording this account. In vs. 31 the statement appears. But in context, what is the Lord Jesus saying? Is He saying do good so you can have good back? Is He saying don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want done to you? Or is there something bigger that the Lord Jesus wants those who hear to grasp? I believe the answer is in vs. 35-36. Let’s take a look at what Matthew records.
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! 12 “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:7-12
Here in vs. 12 we have this command again. Matthew records it at the end of the Lord Jesus teaching His disciples about prayer and asking God in faith. Then vs. 11 leads right to the point of vs. 12 and vs. 12 to the point of this great sermon delivered by the Lord Jesus. Are you starting to see it yet? Is it about doing good to get good? Also in vs. 12 the Lord Jesus mentions the Law and the Prophets. This referes to the Old Testament writings of which the Lord Jesus has fulfilled. I pray you are starting to see. Let’s take a look at a few more places this “Golden Rule” is mentioned.
34 But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. 35 One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:34-40
Again, Matthew records here the Lord Jesus answering a lawyer (scribe) when asked about the great commandment. The Lord Jesus gave him two. The second is the “Golden Rule” in vs. 39 and again He states the Law and Prophets (Old Testament) depend on this command. But wait, what is the first? What is the greatest? Let’s take a look at one more record of the Lord’s 2 commands.
28 One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31
Here the Lord Jesus gives the same “Golden Rule” answer for the second, but the first He states slightly differently. “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord”. What the Lord Jesus is quoting from is Deuteronomy 6 in the Old Testament. This is also the Shema that the Jews would pray daily, and still do. The Lord Jesus knew this and He was stating how important it is to obey this command over every command. He was stating here, and as recorded in Matthew, that there is no other God and He is to be loved with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. This is the most important. And this God we are commanded to love is the God of the Bible. He is the same God of the Old and New Testament. To love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength is to obey all that He commands. That is to obey all of the Bible and not just what we decide to obey. In deciding for ourselves we create a god in our image and we don’t obey the true God who created us in His image.
But what does that mean for the “Golden Rule”? This rule is not “Golden” unless we obey the first. We can not truly love others until we truly love God. We can not do to others as we would have them do until we understand the love of God and His grace and mercy. Notice in Matthew 7:11 the Lord Jesus talks about evil people giving good gifts to their children who show love back. God goes beyond and gives gifts to those who do not love Him to start. Those who do not love Him do not ask because their hearts do not love God. In Luke 6 the Lord Jesus is explaining how the love of God is unconditional. Giving to those who do not deserve and being merciful to those who deserve wrath. God wants us to be Holy and imitators of Him.
The point of the “Golden Rule” as truly taught by the Lord Jesus is not for human gain. It is not a simple guidline to go through life. It is not what Christianity is as many may believe it to rest only on this command. It is not the gospel. It is not any of these becuase it needs the Shema. It needs the person following the “Golden Rule” to submit to the will of the One true God. In order to do that a person must have their heart changed. They must turn from their sin of creating their own god and put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ to be forgiven and born again to know God.
What does this mean? The Lord Jesus became a man. He lived a perfect life of obedience, loving the Father with all His heart, soul, mind and strength, the way we are commanded to but can not. Through this He also loved neighbor. This we also truly can not do on our own either. Then He was crucified on the cross. This is the death you and I deserve for our sins. This is what all sinners, of which i am the worst, deserve. The penalty of sin is death. But God, being merciful, poured His wrath out on His Son. His Son, showing us how to truly love God and neighbor, laid down His life. The He defeated death rising from the grave after 3 days and He is now seated at the right hand of the Father ruling as King over heaven and earth. Now when a sinner believes that this life, death, and resurrection was for them, they are forgiven. His heart becomes regenrated to be able to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength. Then inturn, they can begin to truly love their neighbor and do unto them as they would have them do unto themsleves. Then the repentant sinner will also recieve the grace of eternal life in paradise with the loving God of all.
This is GOOD NEWS. This is the GOSPEL!
I pray you recieve this message and truly love God so you can love neighbor and be a true Christian and a son or daughter of God.
The bad news first. I am a sinner. I am a liar. I am a thief. I have pretty much broken all Ten Commandments. I am doomed! I am a sinner!
How did this happen? How am I this bad? Is there hope? Where is the good news??
You see, along came a serpent that asked a simple question, “Did God really say?” And then he replied to the answer “that is because you will be like Him.” Often this continues to be what plays out when we sin. The question gets asked and then we choose to try to be our own God. Our sin separates us from God because He is so Holy. But He gives us a way to be next to Him.
In the Old Testament God kept coming for His people. He chose a nation for Himself to make holy. Through this nation a redeemer would come to the world. Even though this nation kept disobeying, God kept saving them. He chose Moses to lead the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt. He did not give them a law to obey before he rescued them. He saved them from the rule of Pharaoh then He gave the law. The order of redemption is Salvation, Obedience, and Blessing. This is a theme throughout the Bible.
Knowing that the law couldn’t be kept God allowed animal sacrifice to atone for sins. The penalty of sin is death. Blood is the source of life. It must be spilled to atone for sin. A sacrificial system was laid out by God, but it pointed to something greater.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
As time went on Israel kept falling. The whole time this was going on God kept pointing to one moment in history. The Holy Spirit led some to prophecy about it hundreds of years before it happened.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law. Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” Isaiah 42:1-9
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!” Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts. On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God. Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help. Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me; they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet— I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. Psalm 22:1-18
These are just a few examples of the many. God has always been pointing to His plan to redeem. This wasn’t just for Israel. His plan is for all the nations. He gave us His only begotten Son. He came and did what the law could not do. He came and did what sacrificing lambs and goats could not do. He is the perfect Lamb. He is the scapegoat.
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5
God, knowing that we couldn’t keep the law, came down to us and became a man. He kept the law His entire life, being tempted as we are tempted, feeling the same suffering we do, yet He did not fall.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15
He lived a perfect life without blemish. He did so knowing the pain of the cross was His main mission. He did so amongst many who hated Him. Many spit on him. Many thought He was just crazy. Yet He lived a life of perfection rooted in the Word and abiding in the Holy Father.
Then comes the humiliation. The scourging. The Cross. His death was the worst in history. The beating and the scourging took Him inches away from death. Then He had to carry His cross with a crown of thorns placed on His head. Then they nailed Him to the cross. Nails through His wrists and feet and the He was raised up to hang there suffocating.
On the cross came His Words:
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. Luke 23:34
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46
When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30
His blood is the blood of the perfect Lamb. It was spilled to cover sins. Every sin committed and yet to be committed. His sacrifice is what the old system pointed to yet could not fulfill.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthian 5:21
This took place for whosoever believes in Him. He suffered the worst death one could suffer so our sins can be forgiven. He suffered the worst death one could suffer so whosoever believes can have eternal life.
This is Good News!
It doesn’t end here. After this happened Jesus was in the tomb for three days and three nights.
For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Matthew 12:40
Then He rose. Not just spirit, but bodily. This is Good News! This is the resurrection. This is what Sunday is all about. He has risen! Risen indeed! Now we have an advocate with God. Now we share in His resurrection. Now we are free from the slavery of sin. Now death has been defeated.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 1 Peter 1:3
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7
I pray you believe.
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17
Holy Father, You are almighty God. You set heaven and earth in place. You make all possible. I pray that the readers of this believe in Your Son. I pray they are “whoever”. Lord, work in their hearts. There is nothing we can do. You have done it all. Others say “do, do, do,” you have said “it is finished.” Holy Spirit, work in hearts to take out hearts of stone and make them flesh. Let us put our faith in Christ Who died the worst death, taking on the sins of the world, so whoever believes and repents can be forgiven. Thank You so much for Your Son, giving us forgiveness, a way to turn from sin with a hearts of repentance, and eternal life with You. Thank You for giving us the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us. Thank You for Your Word to show us the reflection of who we are and the way to know Who You are. May we always find You there. I pray all of this according to Your will being done on earth as it is in Heaven. I pray all of this in the Name above all names. In the only Name that saves. I pray in the Name of my Lord, Savior, Healer, Sanctifier, coming King, Yessuah AhMessiach, Jesus Christ. Amen
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In lovehe predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insightmaking known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christas a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. Ephesians 1:3-10
I am a personal fitness trainer and strength coach. Clients come to my gym to lose weight and get stronger. Some may think it will happen just by coming in. Some may think they will get results by doing just enough. Some may think there is some magic trick that only the trainers know. These people often don’t last long. They don’t understand that in order to get stronger you have to lift things that you haven’t lifted before. In order to get results you have to be challenged. Many trainers have used this great saying “if it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you.” So in order to get stronger you need to lift heavier weights. I look at faith in a similar way. If there are not challenges in your life how can your faith grow? How can your faith increase? If things continue on in a nice status quo manner is anything making you stronger spiritually?
So we pray for our faith to be increased. This is one of the best things to pray for. Just be ready and understand what that may mean. Understand that in order to increase your faith, it may be challenged. This should not discourage you from praying that prayer. In fact, let it encourage you knowing that Jesus will be with you every step of the way.
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
I wrote a post a few months ago about faith being a gift from God. For Him to increase our faith is a huge gift. It comes with many blessings. But like I stated, it may come with trials. Persevering through those trials is what we need to do .
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. James 1:2-3
The enemy will try to attack. He will come at you and tell you to give up. He will come and tell you to run away from your faith and not to trust anyone. He will show you the dangers that having faith will bring. But much like lifting a heavy weight and being under the barbell when you are on the bench, you know when you lift that weight you will become stronger. You know that you have a spotter, a coach, a Lord and Savior named Jesus Christ, who will be with you as you press that bar of trial off of your chest and high to the sky. Then you pray for more faith and put some more weight on that bar.
Remember this too, Jesus won’t give you what you can already handle. No! He is looking to get you stronger. Prepare for more than you think you will get. Why? Because He is there with you.
Let’s take a look at Peter. Here is a man who was out fishing. Jesus said to him “follow me” and He did. Throughout each Gospel story Peter is asking many questions. Even after just following Him without asking why at that moment. Even after walking on water. When Jesus asked the Apostles who they thought He was, Peter gave an answer.
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. Matthew 16:15-18
This answer that Peter gave was of faith. Jesus even told Him this faith was given to him by God and not man. He then called him a rock and said on this confession of Him as the Christ the church will be built.
Something I find interesting about Peter was even after these miraculous things, his faith was tested even more. Tested to the point of him denying to know Jesus even after he told Jesus he would not. Even after this Jesus still loved him. He was not done with him.
But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you. Mark 16:7
Peter went on to do many great things in the face of persecution. He preached, healed, raised to life, all by the power of the Holy Spirit. Everyday his faith must have been challenged and everyday his faith must have grown. In fact he wrote:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:3-9
I can pick several people in scripture who faced trials and tribulation, all the while their faith increased. God could have just left them alone. He could have turned His face from them. He can turn His face from us. But He loved them and loves us. He blessed them and he blesses us. He sent His Son to die on the cross just so we can be with Him. We are sinners who deserve death but we get life, freedom, grace, mercy, love, and faith.
There are many promises in the bible. One way I know it is true is because we are promised tribulation. We see that everyday. But we also see hope. We believe in hope because after three days in the grave our Savior rose from the dead. He is alive and in every believer. He can raise our broken spirits back from the dead. He can raise our broken relationships back from the dead. He will leave the 99 sheep to get the one. He will welcome you home meeting you on the road as He sees you in the distance.
Your faith may be under the bar right now. The weight may be more than you can handle. Stop trying to lift that bar alone. Those hand that are helping you lift it have wrists that have been pierced so you can know you are not alone under that bar. I might have a day where I miss the spot and the bar crushes you. Man will fail. God will not. Sometimes He will just spot you with 2 fingers instead of pulling the bar off quick.
I pray that if you are reading this and don’t know the Savior I speak of, that you desire to know Him. I pray He is at work in your heart right now. I pray that you get on your knees and talk to God. Ask Him to show Himself to you. Tell Him what you are feeling. Tell Him what you want. Ask Him to give you faith, and if you have it, ask Him to increase it. If you are under the heavy barbell press hard. Jesus is with you. A funny thing about faith, it really doesn’t take much for miracles to happen.
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you. Luke 17:5-6
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:13-16
It is hard to live a Christian life when you try. It is very difficult to try to live a life following Jesus. It is hard to live a life discipling people. It is hard to be salt and light. It is hard when you rely on your own power to do it.
I find myself praying to be salt and light. I pray to be His hands and feet. But I do not allow the Holy Spirit to work in me to bring the Gospel to people. I rely on my own power and I feel bad at the end of the day because I was not salt. I was not a city on a hill.
I want so much to share the Gospel, but I feel sometimes I try too hard. When opportunities show up that I miss, I regret not taking them. Maybe I over think it and I do not give my life to the Holy Spirit to work through me. Maybe my pride gets in the way of the Holy Spirit.
Maybe this happens to you too. Let’s give up our control and give it to Him. Let Him guide us to be salt and light. After all, we are called out of our slavery to sin and into slavery to Jesus Christ.
I can’t begin to pretend to know how the people in Connecticut feel after the devastation from Friday December 14, 2012. I have a young child of my own and I do not even want to imagine how they feel. I do know it breaks my heart. I hope the majority of people agree. This is such a terrible event that I hope never gets duplicated or done worse.
As Newtown, CT mourns, we try to put together reasons why this happens. What causes a person to take so many innocent lives? What is in a person’s head as they make this decision?
Some want to blame the gun laws. Some will blame violent video games. Others will blame movies, television, and the internet. I hear some saying the world is messed up and blame society. Is it guns, violent games, websites, movies, and television?
These things are prevalent in the world. I am 33 and these things were a controversy when I was a kid. They still are now. Violent acts by a single person went on then too. Was it all of these things causing the violence? Is it the negative images and access to guns that cause people to commit such disgusting acts?
While I agree guns do kill people, and video games and violent programs may warp a person’s mind, the answer is not that simple. It may not be what we have. The answer may be where we lack. There is a great lack of positive influence in young lives. Positive behaviors to model may not 100% prevent these heinous acts, but they will go a long way to helping.
Where does it start? Where will society be rebuilt? Where do we start?
We start in the home. We start with parents that are engaged in a child’s life. “But it is hard because we need to make money to keep our house and our cars and our stuff.” Yes I agree. I am a husband and a father. I know how hard it is. But I also know that if I work all of the time, and do not give time to my daughter, the work is for nothing. I also know that if times get tough with my wife I cannot run from them. I made a covenant before God to be with my wife. I believe some people forget that covenant and give up. I know it is not easy. Some married couples should not stay together if there is abuse of any nature going on but it just seems like so many give up so easily. “For better or worse, sickness and health” actually should mean what they mean.
Divorce is very harmful to a child. A child needs both parents in their lives. Not just to go to games and events, but to be fully committed to them. Parents need to be the example. Parents need to care. Parents may need help!
“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.” Ghandi
Just staying together is half the solution. As a man I know I can’t just be present, I have to be engaged. I have to be supportive. I have to provide discipline. I have to love unconditionally. I have to protect her. I have to provide for her. I have to lead by example.
Too many men are casual parents. They either work, work, work, or play, play, play. Life as a husband and parent is all about themselves and not family. They are just boys and not men. A job, a car, a house, a wife, and kids do not make you a man. Families need husbands, fathers, MEN.
I know in some families a father has left. This is may not even have been a decision made by both husband and wife. The parents may have never been married. In these situations there still needs to be a man. There still needs to be a positive role model. This is for boys and girls.
I am reading a book called “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters” by Meg Meeker MD given to me by my friend Dan Huff. It has some startling facts but the biggest thing I am getting out of it is I have to be fully committed to my daughter. When you are committed, kids are less likely to try drugs, smoke, drink, engage in sexual activity, and are less rebellious among other things. Making yourself an example of how you want them to be is a must. You are a teacher. You are a trainer. You are a parent.
One other important thing that is lacking in families is God. Many families may go to church or temple, but still don’t know God. They don’t have an anchor in faith. They don’t live a life with moral values and they let society shape their thoughts and actions. Society is trying to take God out of everything. Even out of our homes. I do not think prayer needs to be in school but it needs to be done. We should not just pray when things go bad but also when they are good. Reading the word of God is a must, but following it is an absolute.
I do not know the home lives of these people who cause such destruction. I do know that these things do not happen that often, but they happen often enough. I do know that crime and drug use are still a problem. I do know that our jails a filled a lot more than our churches. I do know that there are bad people who need love. I do know that there are mentally ill children and adults that need help and love. Is it too late? No!
I have been reading reports and in many of these terrible killing sprees, the killer has a history of mental illness. In these cases some of the parents feel helpless before this occurs. Many do not have the money to get proper treatment. Some moms or dads run away from the problem or ignore them all together. I read one article saying that an official told a parent there was nothing they can do to help unless the child commits a crime. Is it too late by that point? These kids and adults have committed the worst crime then kill themselves. Too late for help. We need to help these parents with their kids that have mental illness. We can’t ignore them. We have to be Jesus to the least of these. These children may be disturbed mentally and some might say they are not under their own control. They need Jesus.
Matthew 5:1-13 They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.
If you think the world is broken then lets fix it. Let’s get in the trenches and change the world. If we are to make the world better for the next generation we need to start with the next generation. I challenge parents to step up. Myself included. I challenge people who see kids heading down the wrong path to do their best to intervene. Talk to them. Hang with them. Take them to church. Take them to a youth group. Read them scripture. Most of all, show compassion. Show compassion for the parents. Help them if you see they have a child that is having problems. We need communities to be a compassionate communities and not just when things go haywire. We need it before the killing spree starts. If you see a kid as weird and they look crazy there may be more to the situation. We are not supposed to be mental health care providers, but we need to take care of others in need.
Start in your own house.
I vow to be an example of what I want for my daughter. I vow to be faithful to God so she may see what that looks like and what it means. I vow to do for others what they can not do for themselves. I vow to do my best to do as Jesus does for the least of these. When I see a kid that needs help I will help them. Jesus says to take care of widows and orphans. Just because there is a mom and dad at home does not mean you are not an orphan.
If you are aware of the needs of kids in this situation and do nothing it is a shame. I encourage you to reach out to them. Make them aware of programs you know of like youth groups. Bring them to church. Get the parent help. Do something.
If you know and do nothing it is even worse than not knowing. It is like knowing you’ve sinned and have repented and know what you are supposed to do but still continue to do the same sin. 2 Peter 2:21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
Again my heart breaks for these children and these families. I know Jesus welcomed them. As it says in Mark 10:16 And He took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.
Jesus is our hope.
I encourage you to be engaged with your family. Help those who need help. Take responsibility for society. Instead of complaining about it begin to change the world. Get others to take up this cause. There is strength in numbers. Even Jesus sent his disciples out two at a time. And lastly, structure your family around a solid faith in the Lord. Live a life following Jesus and getting to know Him and not just know about Him.
May your faith grow stronger to live a stronger life.
Lord, please be with the families and the entire community in Newtown Connecticut.
May they mourn, grieve and heal.
May we all be forever changed for the greater good to do what is right by them.
Lord give us wisdom, strength, and courage to change the world as it is a crazy place.
We are living in the world but we are not of this world.
Lord I pray that your son Jesus welcomed these children and all of those who come to the kingdom.
Lord please let these families know you are there as the rest of us grieve for the loss of lives.
I know your heart breaks Lord. Again I ask for wisdom, courage, and strength to do my part in this mess. I pray to continue to follow and know Jesus and live a life that will not accept these actions here on this earth.
Lord thank you for my life and every breath I take for your glory. I pray that every email, blog, video created through me is for Your glory and Your works to help change this world we live in so we may all one day be with You in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Pain is Pain.
What you are going through hurts.
Others may see it as small, but it is big to you.
Others may say “you don’t know pain.”
But it hurts so much.
Others may say “that guy has it worse than you. Why are you crying?”
But that guy may not know your pain.
Pain is Pain.
A mother sends her child off to school hoping she taught him how to treat people.
She sends him off hoping he will grow to be a man making good choices.
She knows she can’t watch over him all the time but just hopes she did her job.
Pain is Pain.
One night he doesn’t come home till after curfew.
She worries the entire time.
Calls the police for help.
He is ok but was not where he was supposed to be.
There is worry. There is frustration. There is pain.
Pain is Pain.
A young boy struggles to find his way in life.
Not sure of his purpose he tries everything.
Looking to belong he falls in with a dangerous crowd.
He experiments with things to take the pain of not being accepted away.
His parents love him but he still feels this pain.
He wants to escape.
Pain is Pain.
A women diagnosed with cancer isn’t ready for that news.
She has to tell her family and prepare for chemo and radiation.
She stays strong and has the support of her family but still has fear.
She still has doubts. She questions why?
“Why me? Why anyone? Why cancer?”
Chemo and radiation knock out her energy still she stays strong but it hurts.
She is a warrior but,
Pain is Pain.
A house blown away by a hurricane.
A family left sleeping in a shelter.
No more toys.
No more tv.
No more beds.
They are thankful for their lives but losing a house they have had for 15 years hurts.
Pain Is Pain
A man struggles to do what is right.
He wants so much for his family.
He goes trying to help others and follows his passion.
He knows that things will turn around but still feels, at times, he is letting the ones he truly loves down.
It pains him to have a hard time providing.
At times he fears losing them.
Pain is Pain.
A woman that is a wife, a mother, an artist, a worker struggles to find her identity.
One minute she is happy the next she doesn’t know.
She wants to please everyone and herself.
How does she find balance?
How does she find herself?
Pain is Pain.
A child born to this world for us.
He grows up to teach many.
He knows what his destiny is and faces it head on.
He dies a bloody, torturous death, taking all of our sins with Him.
He felt all of our pain.
Pain is Pain.
Pain is your pain. It hurts.
It feels like it will last forever.
It will not.
The best way out may be through.
Faith is Faith
Faith is tried during moments of pain.
Questions are asked to God of “Why? How Could You? When will it stop?”
But Jesus hears you and feels your pain. He felt it all. He is proof of it being temporary.
He overcame His pain and will help you overcome yours.
1 John 5:4-5
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
This world has pain. Jesus overcame the world. Believe in Him.