April 11, 2019

BIBLE READING: MATTHEW 4

1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

We are all familiar with the story. Satan is desperate in his attempt to gain leverage over Jesus and to manipulate a situation by temptation. You and I will probably never fully understand the difficulty and task that Jesus faced at these moments. Let me give just a couple reminders today about how Satan works against us.

SATAN ALWAYS TEMPTS YOU WHEN YOU ARE WEAK
The Bible tells us that Jesus had just fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. He was hungry, tired, weak, and both spiritually and physically exhausted. Sure enough, that’s when Satan shows up. Do not be fooled today. Satan knows your weaknesses. Satan knows the areas that you struggle in. Satan also knows when you are weak, frustrated, tired, and fragile. Satan likes to jump on us when we are down.

SATAN TRIES TO MAKE US DOUBT
Although we are only discussing a couple of these verses, throughout this entire experience of Satan tempting Jesus, Satan continues to make the statement, “if thou be the Son of God”. It reminds me of how he came to Eve in the garden and said, “hath God said”. Satan always wants to put a question mark in our head. He wants us to doubt God’s Word, doubt God‘s power, doubt God‘s promises, and just doubt God in general.

SATAN TRIES TO GET US TO OBEY HIM
It is interesting to me, what Satan specifically asked Jesus to do was not sinful. It wasn’t sinful to make bread out of a piece of stone. Now there are many other reasons why Satan asked him to do this, but the point here is that It wasn’t really the act that would have been the problem, it would be the fact that Jesus would follow Satan’s instructions. Do you know often Satan begins tearing our lives apart, not by asking us to do wrong, but by making us to simply follow his instructions. He knows if we will obey him in doing something right, very soon we will obey him in doing something wrong. That’s why the Bible says it is so important to be led of the Spirit. No, we do not have time to deal with all the points in this passage but let me just finish with this. The way Jesus responded to Satan’s temptation, was with the very Word of God. The other thing I want you to notice, all the way back in the first verse, the Holy Spirit is always with us. We might go through temptation in the wilderness, but we do not go through it alone. As the Sprit was with Jesus, the Spirit is now “in” us. Are you weak today? Be careful!

April 10, 2019

BIBLE READING: MATTHEW 3

1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

I saw yesterday that they have invented a robot that can play ping pong with an individual on a regular ping-pong table. It can literally sense the movement of the person, his paddle, and the movement of the ball, and react by hitting the ball back. It amazes me what they always come up with next in the world of technology. Whatever you purchase today is out of date tomorrow. It is a constantly progressing world. Things are continuously changing. Golfers hit the ball further than past generations have, basketball players jump higher than previous generations, and baseball players are hitting the ball further. People are running faster, technology is advancing quicker, and culture and trends change daily.

In the middle of all that is something that has never changed. John the Baptist was the first person to daily preach of the coming, arrival, and power of Jesus Christ. He was known as the “forerunner“ of Jesus Christ. The message that the first real evangelist preached was very simple. John said “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. In a world of ever-changing things, this message has always stayed the same. Repent, because Jesus is coming. While religion has advanced, church facilities have modernized, and Christian organizations have profited, the true message is still simple. People are confused today because we have confused the message. We have watered down, misinterpreted, and avoided this simple clear message. No one wants to be told that they must repent. No one wants to be told that Jesus is the only way. Everyone needs to be told that Jesus is coming again. So, in a complicated culture, let’s keep things simple. “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”.

April 09, 2019

BIBLE READING: MATTHEW 2

1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

“They…fell down, and worshipped Him”
We all have heard stories and sermons about the wisemen in the Christmas account. There are numerous outlines, applications, and lessons for us to learn from every piece of information given to us. Today, I would like for us to notice just one small phrase. “They…. fell down.”

I certainly understand that we are to humble ourselves and the side of the Lord. I do understand that these Wiseman knew who Jesus was, and acted in submission and respect. But I was a little bit surprised to understand what the words “fell down” really meant. These two English words come from one Greek word. It is the word “pipto”. It literally means to fall, or to fail. That carries the meaning that when these wise men walked into the presence of the very Son of God, their physical strength failed. They were in such awe, that their bodies literally gave out. This was no act, or false admiration, or predecided protocol. it meant so much to them to be in the presence of Jesus, that their bodies literally followed their heart.

Often in church, we must work to get our hearts to follow our bodies. We go through the motions, do our duties, and follow our traditions, while our heart is nowhere to be found. As a pastor, I constantly must highlight to our people to keep their heart in their ministry. To serve the Lord out of a heart of love, not out of a sense of duty. Would it not be great if we were so thrilled and thankful to be in the presence of Jesus, and to get to serve Jesus, that our actions would literally happen without thinking. That we would worship without having to work it up. That we would serve without having to stir it up. That we would not have to be motivated every Sunday to keep our heart right, but that our own hearts would keep us right. Has it been a while since you showed up at church and “fell down” to worship? Has it been a while since it just happened without you thinking about it? That your heart was so full, that your body could not stop it? This is the kind of heart that “wise men” have.

April 08, 2019

BIBLE READING: MATTHEW 1

1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.

In verse seventeen, we are told how the generations in the lineage of Christ are laid out. There are three sets of fourteen generations, all the way from Abraham till Christ. Did you notice however that it stops with Christ? The word “generations” is used in all the descriptions until Christ is born. What marks a generation? There is a birth and a death.

If you notice in verse one, it does not say the “generations” of Jesus Christ. It says the “generation” of Jesus Christ. It is a singular word. In other words, there is only one generation in Christ. You see, there is birth in the family of Christ, but there is no death. Anyone who is born again into the family of God through the blood of Jesus Christ will never die. “Absent from the body…present with the Lord”. Dear friend, if you are saved, do not fear death because you will never face it. If you have been born into the family of God, you will never die out of it. There has never been a death in Jesus’s family. Remember, the first “Adam” created sin, the “second Adam” covered sin. The “first Adam” created the need for a grave, the “second Adam” conquered the grave. The “first birth” leads toward eternal death, the “second birth” leads toward eternal life. Are you in the “generation of Jesus Christ” today?

April 05, 2019

BIBLE READING: JAMES 5

2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.
3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days

As compared to most of the rest of the world, America is a wealthy country. Not everyone in America is wealthy, but we have it far better than most of the world. Because of our culture, there is great pressure to accumulate wealth. It consumes some people. Either to be wealthy, or to at least appear to be wealthy. These verses warn us about the danger of allowing the desire for wealth to consume you. You do not need to be wealthy for wealth to consume you. There is nothing wrong with wealth, or being wealthy, or being wise with your wealth. Some of the greatest men in the Bible were wealthy. And yet, some of the greatest men in the Bible had nothing in earthly possession. Look at these principles:

WEALTH CAN BE FLEETING
“Your riches are corrupted.” This word corrupted means to putrefy, or to perish. It means temporary. Many have spent their whole life getting wealth and have found out how quickly it can be taken away.

WEALTH CAN BE FRAGILE
That is why he says, “your garments are motheaten”. Here is a picture of an individual that has given so much effort to accumulate something, and yet just a little, meaningless moth takes it away. This person thought it was safe in the closet, and yet the whole time it was fragile.

WEALTH CAN BE FAILING
“Your gold and silver is cankered”. Cankered means to corrode and rust down. He says, “the rust of them shall be a witness against you”. This means that if you do not invest your wealth and accomplish something eternal, it can literally rust away. It means that the accumulation of rust on this wealth will be proof that the wealth had consumed you.

WEALTH CAN BE FATAL
“Your gold and silver…..shall eat your flesh as it were fire”. You can literally be burned by the control of wealth. It can consume you like fire. It can stress you out, discourage you, worry you, make a dishonest person out of you, and obsess you. It can eat you up and spit you out. So here is the advice given in verse seven:
* “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord.”

April 04, 2019

BIBLE READING: JAMES 4

1. From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?

Lust seems to be the main subject mentioned in these first verses of this chapter. It shares many of the problems that it can cause in our lives. Notice with me:

LUST BRINGS DAMAGE (1)
List brings “wars and fightings”. It causes battles “among us”. It causes battles inside us. It causes battles around us. The Bible says “sin when it is finished bringeth forth death”.

LUST BRINGS DISCONTENT (2)
2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

The word lust in verse two is the Greek word “epithumeo”. It means to covet. Different word for lust than verse 1 and 3. We “desire to have”, which means we become jealous. Lust brings discontentment.

LUST BRINGS DESOLATION (3)
3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

Lust messes up our motives. It prevents not just our prayers from being answered, but it prevents us from praying for the right things. We “receive not”. Lust brings desolation.

LUST BRINGS DEBT (3)
“Ye may consume it”. This is where we get the idea of “consumer spending”. It means “to incur cost, or to waste: to be at charges, consume, spending”. Lust for things causes us to be consumed with consuming, and eventually we must pay for it. Can I get a witness?

LUST BRINGS DIVISION (4)
4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

Lust brings division between us and God. The closer we get to lusting after what the world has, the further from God we get. This is the greatest damage of all!