Gospel Truth

Jesus Heals on the Sabbath: Luke 13:10-17

10 One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, 11 He saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight. 12 When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said, “Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!” 13 Then He touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!

14 But the leader in charge of the synagogue was indignant that Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath day. “There are six days of the week for working,” he said to the crowd. “Come on those days to be healed, not on the Sabbath.”

15 But the Lord replied, “You hypocrites! Each of you works on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water? 16 This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?”

17 This shamed His enemies, but all the people rejoiced at the wonderful things He did.

INTRODUCTION

Again, we have a story in Luke’s gospel that is not in the other three and it is a wonderful story about a woman who could not look up. This story is filled with refreshing, wonderful truths that inspire and motivate.

I. THE FIRST THING I WANT YOU TO NOTICE IS: JESUS HAS COMPASSION ON THE HURTING.”

  1. Jesus saw her…


    10 One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, 11 He saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight.


     Sometimes we feel conspicuous and at other times we feel invisible and alone. Regardless to how we feel, Jesus sees us. He not only sees us, He sees our pain, our disappointment, even our shame and failure. This woman was sitting in a congregation much like you tonight and yet amidst this crowd of people, Jesus saw her. When Israel was in bondage in Egypt…God saw their affliction. When Hagar ran away from Sarah, the Angel of the Lord found her in the wilderness and she said, I will call God El Roi, the God who sees. He is a God who sees and He sees your pain today. Whatever you are feeling, He sees it!

  2. Jesus called her…


    12 When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said, “Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!”


    Jesus not only saw her, saw her pain, distress and suffering but HE CALLED HER. It is very important for Jesus to call. There is a group that teaches limited atonement. They say that Jesus died only for the elect, the chosen few. He does not call everyone and He may not call you. Well the scripture makes it clear that He called all the Israelites but some did not hear because they were not listening. Francis Crosby wrote on poem based on Hebrews 4:7…


    1. Jesus is calling the weary to rest—
      and He is calling today,
      Bring Him your burden and you shall be blest;
      He will not turn you away.
    2. Jesus is waiting, oh, come to Him now—
      Waiting today, waiting today,
      Come with your sins, at His feet lowly bow;
      Come, and no longer delay.
    3. Jesus is pleading, oh, listen to His voice:
      Hear Him today, hear Him today,
      They who believe on His name shall rejoice;
      Quickly arise and away. {I guarantee you the reforms don’t sing this hymn, actually, there are that many that they can sing}


  3. Jesus touched her….


    13 Then Jesus touched her and instantly she could stand straight.


It is one thing to see a person is need but to touch them is something else. Our willingness to touch those who are hurting is an indication that we are not afraid to get involved, touching is a show of affection. You don’t touch people who you despise, do you? You don’t, you avoid them as if they had the plague. As a matter of fact, some folks in our society are known as untouchables. They had them is Jesus day. The lepors were untouchable, yet Jesus touched them. He is not afraid of your infirmity. That is great news! Wonderful news!


II. JESUS HAS THE POWER TO STRAIGHTEN US OUT

13 Then He touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!


This message is filled with Gospel Truth. Sin had messed this woman up, big time. Luke said she was “crippled by an evil spirit.” It is just a way of saying, SIN HAD MESSED HER UP. Sin twisted her, broke her down and that is what sin has done to me. This woman and I have a lot in common. Sin has messed me up. It has mangled and twisted me. I battle the sin that is rooted in my flesh every day and it is a battle that I am weary of fighting. Inside me there is a greedy little fellow and a lustful one at that: my twisted fleshly nature is constantly trying to pull me down but Jesus is fixing me. When He comes, He is going to touch me and straighten me out. I know there are those who pretend to be straight now: the pretend to be fixed but I’m not fixed. Jesus is in the process but He has not completed the project but this story gives me hope. There are many things about myself that I don’t like and there are things that you don’t like. The truth is: I can’t fix myself and you can’t fix me either. Ask my wife how much progress she is making in straightening me out.

I ran into one of these wise guys the other day who ask me, “Have you got those folks at Danville straightened out.” I remember his question because it has been asked before but I don’t remember my answer. What I normally say is “No, I don’t have them straightened out but I can’t straighten myself out.” There are a lot of things I can’t do.

  • I can’t forgive sins, can you?
  • I can’t heal the sick or raise the dead, can you?
  • I can’t make it rain, can you?

Neither can I straighten myself out but Jesus can and that is GOOD NEWS!

III. JESUS LOVES US MORE THAN RELIGIOUS DAYS, ANIMALS OR PROFIT

15 But the Lord replied, “You hypocrites! Each of you works on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water? 16 This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?”

There is absolutely nothing wrong with loving animals and generally speaking, people who mistreat animals have a problem. The Jews who Jesus was addressing were not animal lover in the sense that you are; they were money lovers and they took care of their animals because it would be a huge lost financially for one of them to die. Jesus was simply pointing out that they showed more compassion on animals than they did people.

This is what is so sad about the story, the synagogue leader and the Jewish Religious Leaders as a whole had no compassion on people. They were cold and insensitive when it came to hurting people. They cared much more about Sabbath Observance than they did people. They were not happy for this dear woman. They were angry that Jesus did this miracle on the Sabbath and they directed their anger at the crowd who was rejoicing.

Basically the leader of the Synagogue said, “Go on home. Get out of here, this is not a hospital. You have six other days in which to get healed. Go to Dr. Jesus on one of those other days but don’t come here on the Sabbath and turn this into a healing service.

Can you believe that any human could be so insensitive? I can, I have seen it up close and personal. Some people care more about their assets {livestock in this story} than they do lost or hurting people. They care more about their reputation and pride than they do lost or hurting people. I’ve seen grown men d0 hurtful and harmful things to the fellowship of a church simply because their pride was offended or reputation was damaged.

CONCLUSION

Jesus not only called them hypocrites, He shamed them by making it obvious to the people that they loved things more than people. Jesus illustration of the animals was vivid and clear and everyone understood what He was saying…

17 This shamed His enemies, but all the people rejoiced at the wonderful things He did.

There were two responses to Jesus miracle and words:

  1. His enemies got angry [later convicted and ashamed]
  2. The people rejoiced at the wonderful things He did.

This is prophetic: these are the same two responses we will see in judgment. Those that have not believed are going to be convicted and ashamed. Those who have put their trust in Christ are going to be rejoicing, not because of what they have done but what Jesus has done for them.

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The Sweet Exchange

SCRIPTURE

II Corinthians 5:21

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. [NLT]

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. [NASB]

INTRODUCTION

Growing up in the middle of the last century, I had a legendary uncle by the name of Charlie. As children, we simply knew him as Uncle Charlie. Looking back, I am sure he was about my present age [66] when I came to know him. He was a great uncle, my grandmothers baby brother. He lived at Bridgeport, Alabama which was about half-way from our home to Chattanooga, Tennessee. As kids, we loved the trip to Uncle Charlie’s. He seemed to be a rather jolly man, he cut hair for a living and called himself a preacher. Our image of Uncle Charlie was all positive and my parents did not tell me the truth until I was grown.

In fact, Uncle Charlie had been a pistol. He married a woman, got her pregnant and then skipped the country. A few months later, he came home, got her pregnant again and then disappeared for a second time. You will fine this hard to believe as I did, but she let him come back for a third time and he got her pregnant for a third time and then skipped the country for good. This time, he did not come back. The poor woman raised the three children by herself. She never received one dime of support from our infamous Uncle Charlie. My grandmother and others tried to help but those were tough times. I am thankful to say, the woman raised the children but they never knew their father. He did try to establish a casual relationship with them after they were grown but they wanted nothing to do with him and who could blame them. I was at his funeral and none of his children were present. I knew of only the three but there could have been more.

Some men are like Uncle Charlie, they bring nothing to the table. They are bums and deadbeats. They are more than willing to get a woman pregnant but once the child is conceived, they want no part of the huge responsibility of raising the child. These irresponsible men, known as characters, take what they can get and then get out of Dodge. They are masters at evading responsible. It still happens today. Men marry and then refuse to provide for their wives and children. They want to hunt, fish, play ball and spend time with the guys but they leave all the responsibility of parenthood and providing to the wife and this eventually takes its toll on the woman who was not created to provide, protect and manage the home. This is not to say that some women do not do a stellar job at managing everything because some do but it is not the perfect design.

Folks, we do not want to see ourselves in this light but when it comes to our relationship with Christ, we are like a deadbeat husband, we bring absolutely nothing to the table. We have nothing to offer other than our honest confession. The only thing we can give Jesus is our sin and shame and the amazing thing is that he is willing to take it.

We give Him our sin and shame and He gives us His righteousness. F.B. Meyer calls this the GREAT EXCHANGE and he wrote a book, “THE CHRIST LIFE FOR YOUR LIFE” on 2 Corinthians 5:21. F.F. Bruce calls it the SWEET EXCHANGE.

When it comes to this text: I think there are some things we must acknowledge. To acknowledge is to accept or admit the existence or truth of something. It is to confess, to agree, concede, admit or recognize said reality. There are several things in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that we must acknowledge.

I. JESUS IS SINLESS–SON OF GOD

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

  • Isaiah 53:9–He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone.
  • I Peter 2:22–He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.
  • I John 3:5–And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in Him.
  • Hebrews 4:15–For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

The virgin birth is a fundamental Christian doctrine and it cannot be denied. Jesus was born of woman but not from the seed of a man. We all know that children are conceived by the seed from the male but in Mary’s case, she was impregnated by the Holy Spirit. Did she feel anything? Was there any sensation? I don’t know: I doubt it but it is immaterial, doesn’t matter. Jesus is the proof of the pudding.

What this means is simple: Jesus did not have Adams blood coursing through His veins, He was born without a sinful nature. Although Jesus was tempted by sin or to sin by the devil himself, Jesus did not think of sin the way we do. He had a pure conscience which none of us can boast about and we know that anyone who pretends to have a pure conscience is lying. {If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. I John 1:10}

The Old Testament teaches Lev 22:21 (NASB)When a man offers a sacrifice of peace offerings to the LORD to fulfill a special vow or for a freewill offering, of the herd or of the flock, it must be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no defect in it. A holy God demands perfection.

John 8:46, Jesus said to the Pharisees…“Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me?  We live is a crazy upside down world which shows little respect to Jesus. Most think of Him as a good teacher or revolutionary but can anyone explain why no one, not even one, found fault with Him during His 33 years. Not even the Pharisees could find a fault. Pilot, the Roman governor, could not find one single fault. Why? Because there was NO FAULT TO FIND. It is hard to find something that is not there.

So: acknowledge with me that JESUS IS THE SINLESS SON OF GOD!

II. JESUS BECAME A SACRIFICE [OFFERING] FOR OUR SINS

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

  • Isaiah 53:6–All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on Him {Jesus} the sins of us all.
  • Isaiah 53:10But it was the LORD ’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when His life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD ’s good plan will prosper in his hands.
  • I Peter 2:24He personally carried our sins in His body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.
  • Hebrews 9:28–Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.

On the cross, Jesus literally became sin for us. He took all our sin and shame upon His own person and suffered like a vile criminal. He didn’t only take our preferred sins such as greed, gossip, jealousy, envy, vain ambition, lust and selfishness: He took the most vile sin imaginable. Jesus knows what it is like to feel guilty. There are sins that we love but there are sins that we loathe and do not want to be associated with. We tolerate lust for women but we loathe lust for children. Pedophilia is loathsome, disgusting and intolerable. Jesus didn’t just feel the guilt of an adulterer, He bore the shame of a pedophile.

I am a history buff and I do love to watch War movies during the Memorial Day weekend. I was watching a documentary the other night about the Nazis. I was not aware of the fact that they starved Holland. That set up a blockade and didn’t allow food to come in: people died by the thousands. When the allies got there, they said the starving bodies were like skeletons with skin and breath. Some were still alive but they appeared to be ghost. Their eyes could focus but they were too weak to talk. 

One America soldier said, “It shook my faith. How could God allow such atrocities to happen? I didn’t lose my faith, eventually, it became stronger but I could never erase the image of those starving people from my mind. It will haunt me until the day I die.”

Jesus felt the guilt of Nazi murderers. Jesus felt the guilt of hate filled Muslims who primary goal in life is to destroy other humans, namely Jews and Christians.

Chris Tomlin says it best–We’ll never know how much it cost to see our sins upon that cross.

Will you acknowledge that Jesus died for our sins

III. WE BECOME RIGHTEOUS BY GRACE

[This is the most difficult thing for me to acknowledge]

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. NLT

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. [NASB]

There is a wonderful passage in Romans 8 that tells us about God’s purpose…And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. For God knew His people in advance, and He chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.  And having chosen them, He called them to come to Him. And having called them, He gave them right standing with Himself. And having given them right standing, He gave them his glory.

The world is confused about SALVATION. We think in terms of being saved from out sin and from hell and this is as far as some people get but there is much, much more. God did save us from something, namely self, sin and hell but He also saved us to something, namely Jesus, righteousness and heaven. God’s intended purpose for you is for you to be righteous like Jesus. He is accomplishing this purpose through Jesus Himself. The only way we can be saved is by grace. We cannot deserve forgiveness or love. The only way we can become holy is by grace, God is going to make us righteous through Jesus.

Whereas, we are instantaneously forgiven of our sin, we do not become righteous in an instant, not in the sight of others. We become righteous to God instantly due to His foreknowledge but in time and history, it is a process. The NASB translates the verb, “Might become,” which speaks of a process. We are not righteous [in view of others] but we are becoming righteous.

The NLT states it in a slightly different way, “We are being made righteous.” Sanctification is God’s doing, just like justification. I can no more sanctify myself as justify myself. This is totally a work of grace.

What if a person declares: “I don’t want the righteousness of Christ, I just want forgiveness. I don’t care to be like Jesus, I just don’t want to go to hell.” I would imagine that the church is filled with just such people.

What can we do about such an attitude? My solution or answer would be to “Tell the truth.” No man can come to Christ and get salvation without repentance and faith. I am very afraid that a lot of professing Christians have never repented of their sins. Authentic faith takes place only after repentance. There is no real faith without repentance of sin. We have far too many people relying on a past experience. I don’t care what kind of experience you had, goose bumps on goose bumps, bright lights with angelic music, if you had no sorrow over your sins, you are unrepentant and the proof will be in your present attitude. I preach to people every Sunday who never move. They don’t sing, clap, celebrate and they don’t repent. I have folks that I have never seen come to the altar and we are talking 37 years. If you haven’t repented of a sin in the last 37 years, something is wrong. I had to stop and repent during my quiet time this morning.

Dr. Graham believes that the majority of church members in America are lost and he may be right: the majority is certainly carnal. Their salvation is not working out. There is no visible evidence that they are saved. Several years ago, we had a young man who came to the altar every service. He was struggling with assurance and we tried to help as best we could but I don’t worry about those who struggle with assurance nearly as much as I do those who are cock sure but never display one ounce of humility or repentance. I know preachers who do not have a spirit of repentance.

You cannot get the Son without the Spirit and the Spirit bestows a spirit of repentance. If you do not have this spirit of repentance, then obviously, you have never repented.

Not only will a true born again person have a spirit of humility and repentance; they will, by grace, have a desire to be like Jesus. It is one thing to admire Jesus yet another to want to be like HIM. Jesus was fearless and I suppose we would all like to be fearless but Jesus was also holy: how many of us want to be holy.
By grace, God is going to make us holy. In exchange for our sin and shame, you and I will get the righteousness of Christ. He got our very sin and we get His very righteousness. He didn’t take a part of our sin and we will not take a part of His righteousness, we will get it all. How is this possible?  It is a God thing and all things are possible with God.
Paul said is Galatians 2:16….Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.”

Jesus by grace will make us right with the Father. Are we there? NO! But we are to take encouragement in God’s purpose more than in our progress. God says we are going to get there and share in His glory and I believe it.

For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all His glory. [Colossians 3:3-4]

CONCLUSION

Mary is a good example of our salvation: regeneration, sanctification and glorification. Mary was impregnated by the Holy Spirit. Unaffected by physically senses, she in time knew that a person was indwelling her. First, she was given God’s word to believe but eventually, there was visible evidence. Jesus grew in the sanity of Mary’s womb. He became bigger and bigger until He came out. Her motherhood was undeniable. What began in a seemly small way, invisible to the eye became grand and glorious. Who did this? Who is responsible for the INCARNATION? You know the answer: Mary didn’t pull this off, nor did the Jewish Religious Establishment. This was the work of God. Impossible, you would think but not with God.
Jack Bailey, becoming righteous, impossible! You would think but with God all things are possible.

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus

MORE JESUS AND LESS RELIGION

Scripture: Luke 9:37-43

37 The next day, after they had come down the mountain, a large crowd met Jesus. 38 A man in the crowd called out to him, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, my only child.39 An evil spirit keeps seizing him, making him scream. It throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It batters him and hardly ever leaves him alone. 40 I begged your disciples to cast out the spirit, but they couldn’t do it.”

41 Jesus said, “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you and put up with you?” Then he said to the man, “Bring your son here.” {Mark…Bring the boy to Me.}

42 As the boy came forward, the demon knocked him to the ground and threw him into a violent convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit and healed the boy. Then he gave him back to his father. 43 Awe gripped the people as they saw this majestic display of God’s power.

INTRODUCTION

Life can turn chaotic and confusing in a brief period of time. When Jesus came down from the mount of transfiguration; He found his disciples in an argument with the Scribes, a man following them, begging for the healing of his son and then there was a curious crowd following the man. It was utter chaos and confusion until the Prince of Peace descended from the Mountain and brought peace and healing to the entire situation. What an awesome thought: Jesus, the Prince of Peace, coming back to earth and restoring order. I long for the day.

TRANSITION

I love Luke’s gospel, it is story after story about Jesus and today is no different. This story is not about the scribes, not about the disciples, not about the doubting father nor the sick boy–this story is about Jesus. If you subtract Jesus from this story, it is not worth telling. Hallelujah, what a Savior.

I. THE FIRST THING I CALL YOUR ATTENTION TO IS JESUS CONDESCENSION

[Verse 37] The next day, after they had come down the mountain, a large crowd met Jesus.

There was peaceful solitude on the mountain; there was even glory on the mountain. On the mountain top, Jesus had the cover of the shekinah glory cloud; He had the sympathy of Moses and Elijah but Jesus came back down to the hurt and pain in the valley below.

Jesus could have stayed in the glory of heaven. He volunteered to be our paschal Lamb, the sacrifice for our sins. He laid His life down by His own admission. No one forced Him to die on the cross. It was His comprehensible love that kept Him focused on the cross. Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.” [John 6:51]

Paul said in Philippians 2….Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Jesus, Son of God, became a man to save men. Would you be willing to become a rat to save the rats or a snake to save the snakes. There is a greater gap between God and man than man and a mouse. We cannot fathom how low Jesus stooped to save us. If we had any sense at all, we would all be on our faces thanking God for such a loving Savior as our LORD Jesus Christ.

II. THE SECOND THING I WANT YOU TO NOTE ABOUT JESUS IS HIS COMPASSION

 [Verse 38] A man in the crowd called out to him, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, my only child.”

We don’t know a lot about the man but we do know that…

  1. He had an imperfect faith…Mark tells us the man said… “If You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” {Jesus said} If You can? All things are possible to him who believes.”
  2. We know this was his only child.
  3. We know that he was persistent: this thing had been going on for hours, perhaps even days.

The word ‘look at’ means to to regard, to look upon, to study, to pay special attention. Jesus heard the father’s prayer, overlooked his imperfect faith and He studied the boy’s situation.  If you have a friend that is willing to stop and study your situation, you are fortunate. How much more blessed are we whom Christ has looked upon our pathetic condition. Jesus did not just come down to where we are; He cares deeply about our plight.

III. THE THIRD THING I WANT YOU TO NOTE ABOUT JESUS IS HIS COMPOSURE

[Verse 41] Jesus said, “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you and put up with you?” Then he said to the man, “Bring your son here.” {Mark…Bring the boy to Me.}

Jesus is always in control. No tantrums, no fits, no dramatics…He calmly addresses the problem. I’m not saying that Jesus was not somewhat moved with righteous indignation, He was a little stirred but He did not lose His composure. The scribes were a pain in the rear. The disciples were immature. The man was begging profusely. It is more than enough to tick me off. How many times had He taught the lesson on faith yet none of His disciples seem to get it. Jesus was dealing with a rebellious and unbelieving generation. They saw more miracles than any generation in the history of mankind, yet for the most part, they rejected Jesus. The word corrupt means, twisted, perverted, rebellious or distorted.

Everything Jesus said about them, He can say about us.

IV. LAST, I WANT YOU TO NOTE JESUS COMMAND

As the boy came forward, the demon knocked him to the ground and threw him into a violent convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit and healed the boy. Then he gave him back to his father. 43 Awe gripped the people as they saw this majestic display of God’s power.

The Greek word for rebuke means to to admonish or charge sharply.  Jesus commanded the evil spirit to leave the boy and it left. Mark gospel clearly states…When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.” 26 After crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out; and the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, “He is dead!” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up.

The evil spirit showed out before leaving but it did leave. The boy appeared to be dead. For a brief time, it appeared that the demon had won but not so. Jesus reached down and too the boy by the hand and then gave him back to his father.

CONCLUSION

You know at times it does appear that the devil is winning. The mysterious death of Anthony Scalia. He was in a West Texas ranch motel. They found him Sunday morning with a pillow over his head. No autopsy was performed and the body was embalmed before family had the opportunity to have a say. Sounds pretty fishy to me. Kind of strange, Obama and his left wing radicals want to appoint another liberal before Obama leaves the White House. I wouldn’t be shocked if he didn’t pull it off: no one has stopped him thus far. Shelby runs these fictitious ads about stopping Obama which is a lie. No one has stopped him. I think we would know it if someone had. When you look at the moral decline of America it is frightening. How much more before God says, “Enough! Have your own way.” It does look bad but that is from our earthy perspective. Jesus is not in panic mode. I don’t know what kind of future America has but followers of Christ have a bright future. Things may appear to be out of control but they are not.

I like the way this story ends…The crowd is awe struck by Jesus majestic display of power. They saw His glory, splendor, and majesty. This story is prophetic because this is how it will all end, we will see Him in His glory, splendor and Majesty.

{This sermon is unedited}

God Is Great, Demons Are Real and People Are Crazy

Scripture: Luke 8:26-39, NLT

26 So they arrived in the region of the Gerasenes, across the lake from Galilee. 27 As Jesus was climbing out of the boat, a man who was possessed by demons came out to meet him. For a long time he had been homeless and naked, living in a cemetery outside the town.

28 As soon as he saw Jesus, he shrieked and fell down in front of him. Then he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Please, I beg you, don’t torture me!” 29 For Jesus had already commanded the evil spirit to come out of him. This spirit had often taken control of the man. Even when he was placed under guard and put in chains and shackles, he simply broke them and rushed out into the wilderness, completely under the demon’s power.

30 Jesus demanded, “What is your name?”

“Legion,” he replied, for he was filled with many demons. 31 The demons kept begging Jesus not to send them into the bottomless pit.

32 There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby, and the demons begged him to let them enter into the pigs.  So Jesus gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned.

34 When the herdsmen saw it, they fled to the nearby town and the surrounding countryside, spreading the news as they ran. 35 People rushed out to see what had happened. A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been freed from the demons. He was sitting at Jesus’ feet, fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid. 36 Then those who had seen what happened told the others how the demon-possessed man had been healed. 37 And all the people in the region of the Gerasenes begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone, for a great wave of fear swept over them.

So Jesus returned to the boat and left, crossing back to the other side of the lake. 38 The man who had been freed from the demons begged to go with him. But Jesus sent him home, saying, 39 “No, go back to your family, and tell them everything God has done for you.” So he went all through the town proclaiming the great things Jesus had done for him.

INTRODUCTION

About 5 years ago, our granddaughter Mylee was saying her night prayers [I think she was like three years old] and she prayed…”God is great, beer is good and people are crazy.” I didn’t understand until one of my children told me that it was the title of a country song. Billy Currington came out with this hit in 2008. Billy and Mylee got two out of three: God is indeed GREAT and people are definitely CRAZY. Since beer is a drug and does untold damage to the family, I had to edit that part out–so the title of my sermons is GOD IS GREAT, DEMONS ARE REAL AND PEOPLE ARE CRAZY. You will see all three clearly from our text.

I. GOD {JESUS} IS GREAT

I love stories about Jesus and this is one of my favorites. I don’t know how anyone could read this story and not admire Jesus…He is Great!

  1. Jesus has “Great” courage–[verse 27] As Jesus was climbing out of the boat, a man who was possessed by demons came out to meet him. [naked as a jay bird and screaming]. Matthew adds that he approached Jesus screaming and Mark said “he ran toward Jesus.” So you step out of the boat on to the beach and here comes a man running straight toward you naked, bleeding from cutting himself, and screaming at the top of his lungs. What would I do, “Get back in the boat ASAP and get the heck out of Dodge. What did Jesus do? He stood calmly waiting on the demoniac to approach. Do you have that kind of courage?
  2. Jesus has “Great” compassion–As soon as Jesus saw him, He knew what the problem was and began speaking to the demons that inhabited this poor man. Not only is Jesus not afraid of our problems, He loves us so much that He intercedes and stands between us and the problem.
  3. Jesus has “Great” power–Jesus spoke directly to the demons and they obeyed His command. Jesus had authority over demons. There were 6,000 demons but they were not match for Jesus. He sent them packing, thus liberating the poor tortured man.

II. DEMONS ARE REAL

I not here to talk a lot about demons; I don’t know much. I don’t major on demonology and I don’t advise you to either. I do believe in demons. Jesus recognized them and although I understand much less than Jesus, I believe they exist. From this one story, I can tell you seven things about demons;

  1. Demons always recognize Jesus [v.28]
  2. Demons pray–three times they beg Jesus [v.28, 30,32] and Jesus answers their prayer. Figure this out theologians. I can’t explain it, I’m just telling you what is in scripture.
  3. Demons are frightening–demons can scare people, they shriek, they scream, they disturb your mind and your peace. They are experts at torture. You want nothing to do with demons. Stay away from the occult-fear it like the plague.
  4. Demons will enslave–When they get a hold on you, they do not let go. This man was enslaved to destructive habits, he cut himself with stones.
  5. Demons can empower–this man had incredible strength, they community had put him in chains but he could break the chains.  The antichrist will be empowered by the devil. You would not want to confront demons in the flesh. You will end up like the seven sons of Sceva, beaten to a pulp and stripped.
  6. Demons are destructive–when Jesus allowed them to enter the swine, they ran down the clefts into the sea and drowned. It was like Jesus hit the fast forward button and said, “When you do business with demons, this is what happens.” Avoid drugs, any form of meditation that is not Christ centered.
  7. Demons are subject to Christ–they are not all powerful.

III. PEOPLE ARE CRAZY

This story begins and ends with crazy people. Listen folks, if you:

  • In you Streak-Go without clothes: run all over the country naked…you might be crazy!
  • In you Slash your wrist and cut yourself with sharp objects just to inflict pain and see blood…you might be crazy!
  • If you Shriek and scream to the top of your lungs…you might be crazy!
  • If you Sleep in a grave yard or a funeral parlor…You might be crazy!
  • If you have supernatural Strength and can snap chains…You might be crazy!

But the demoniac was healed of his craziness. He was sitting calmly and in his right mind. The real crazy folks in this story are the Gerasenes [ge-rä-sā-no’s ]. [gee-raw-so-nos]

  1. Sanity, defined by some is being in touch with, or facing, reality. Thus insanity would be the denial of reality. The Gerasenes [gee-raw-so-nos] were out of touch with reality. They saw the miraculous transformation of a demon possessed man. Instead of screaming and running naked, he was sitting calmly, with clothes on and carrying on a conversation. He was a radically changed man and they knew it. Have you or I seen anything so radical as this man’s transformation? The Ge-ra-se-nes were denying reality.
  2. Crazy people make bad judgments: the Gerasenes valued the price of hogs more than the value of a human soul. William Barclay: “No thing [including animals] in this world can ever be as important as a persons soul.” Tell that to PETA or Planned Parenthood or should I say, tell that to the democrats. This country has gone nuts. We are crazy. We slaughter babies like they are sheep and it is sanctioned by our courts. Spotted Owls and Polar Bears have more protection than the unborn. If that is not insanity, I don’t know what is!  We elect a sleaze ball like Bill Clinton; for the first time in American history we have a president that flaunts his sexual immorality and then we elect him again. Is this not crazy? Then we elect a community organizer which means a person who knows how to organize a mod and he is supported financially by the other mod, one that we here before he began organizing and we elect him to be commander in chief. He never served in the Military. We don’t know for a fact that he is even an American citizen, he never had a job, never ran a business and never paid taxes until he became a politician. Then after he does what he said he would do which is to destroy American by destroying its foundations: the family, the forefathers and the constitution and we elect him again. Now tell me the general public is not crazy. What we are doing is insane.
  3. But the Crazy of the craziest is to ask Jesus to shove off. They invited Jesus to leave: they insisted that He leave and He left. If the LORD speaks to you today and you tell Him to but out and leave you alone, how insane is that? When we banned scripture and prayer from classrooms, was that not an invitation for Jesus to leave?

The First WMS

THE WMS…WOMEN’S MINISTRY SOCIETY

TEXT: Luke 8:1-3, NLT

Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with Him, along with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases. Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons; Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager; Susanna; and many others who were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples.

INTRODUCTION

In Luke 8 Jesus kicks off a tour of towns where he moves through towns and villages preaching the good news. As a point of emphasis, Jesus usually entered these town one day and departed the next. This reminds us that some opportunities are very brief. There is one redeeming factor, if a person missed Jesus while He was in town, they could seek Him out.

Jesus takes two groups along with Him on this mission: one is male {Disciples} and the other is female. Luke mentions three: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna. Mark adds Mary mother of James {son of Alpheus or James the less} and Salome. We believe there were at least three Mary’s in the group and that doesn’t include Mary the Mother of Jesus who probably joined them before their final trip to Jerusalem.

Mark 15:40-41

 Some women were there, watching from a distance, including Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James the younger and of Joseph), and Salome. They had been followers of Jesus and had cared for him while he was in Galilee. Many other women who had come with him to Jerusalem were also there.

Notice: both gospel include “Many Others” so we don’t really know how large this group was. In preparing the message, I discovered something that I had never noticed. Both Luke and Mark use the same Greek word in reference to these ladies. In the NLT it is contribute in Luke 8 and in Mark, it is minister. It is translated: Ministering by all the old translations, some of the modern translation say Contributing, Providing and Helping. Here is the point of interest: the Greek word is diakoneō. Do you recognize this word, you should. It is the word for Deacon. When you go to word deacon in I Timothy 3:12, the word is diakonos. As you can see the only difference is in the ending. Diakonos is a noun and diakoneō is a verb. Men are nouns and women are verbs.  The root word diako means to run errands. The general meaning of the word is “Servant.” Serving others is one form of ministry.

TRANSITION

I could talk about this a month but I am going to squeeze the message into five brief point which I think you might remember. The WOMEN’S MINSTRY to Jesus SOCIETY is made up of women who….

I> THEY WERE GRATEFUL FOR WHAT JESUS HAS DONE FOR THEM.

We know more about Mary Magdalene than the others so we will use her for an example. Mary had a serious mental condition that was associated with demon possession in the ancient Jewish world. It may be a form of demon possession but what I want you to understand is that the Mary Magdalene’s are still among us. People who’s minds are disturbed, they battle gross insecurities daily and they have no peace. Jesus healed her mind and saved her soul and she never forgot what He had done for her. Mary and the other were serving out of gratitude and love.

II> THEY WERE HUMBLE SERVANTS.

The word  diakoneō  means they took care of his needs. Prepared His meals, washing his clothes, waited on HIM hand and foot. They were complaining like the modern liberated woman–they were thrilled to serve.

III> THEY WERE GENEROUS WITH THEIR MEANS.

This group of women contributed to Jesus ministry financially. I doubt that Jesus took up an offering although there is nothing wrong with taking an offering. I would imagine that the ladies keep a tab on things. Working through Judas the Treasurer, they gave money as it was needed. Why would the Son of God need financial support? Listen to Paul’s words to the Philippians…2:5-6

Although He existed in the form of God, {Jesus} did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

The Greek word  is kenoo from which we get kenosis the doctrine of divine emptying. In order to be our SAVIOR and High Priest, Jesus had to experience what we mere humans experience. Yes Jesus created the earth and all the silver and gold is HIS. What about the Apostles, what about Joe David and myself. Do we have the power to reach up and pull money out of the sky? Can we transform a hundred dollars into a million?       ..  which     I

This is not God’s way, He wants us to live by faith and take support from those we have blessed. A lot of people don’t like it but it is God’s way. Do you think these women had any regrets: “I just wish I hadn’t given so much to Jesus and His disciples.” What kind of reward will they have in heaven? I’m going to go out of the limb and say, “A big one.”

IV> THEY WERE FAITHFUL

We are thankful to Mark for telling us about these women being at the cross. They never abandon their ministry. They did not stop following They were with Him in death and waiting for the resurrection.

V> THEY WERE JESUS LOVERS

Jesus loved them in a personal way and they knew it and they were compelled to love Him in return.

Jesus: Gentle Jesus!

17 As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside privately and told them what was going to happen to him. 18 “Listen,” he said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die. 19 Then they will hand him over to the Romans to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. But on the third day he will be raised from the dead.”  20 Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor. 21 “What is your request?” he asked. She replied, “In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.” 22 But Jesus answered by saying to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?” “Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!” 23 Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup. But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. My Father has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.” 24 When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant.

INTRODUCTION

This is the third time Jesus mentions His death [Matt. 16:21, 17:22] and each time He has mentioned the resurrection but this is the first time that He mentions the means of death which will be crucifixion. Although Jesus is very serious, His words seem to fall on deaf ears because immediately or so it seems, Salome {James and John’s mom} comes to Jesus and kneels before Him. It was obvious that she wanted something and so Jesus asked her, “What is your request?” Holman translates it “What do you want?” Then she proceeds to ask Him for special seats of honor for her sons in the coming kingdom. Like the other ten disciples, we are prone to think her request was very vain and selfish. I think we could agree that basically the question is flawed but it reveals several things:

  1. THEIR UNDENIABLE VANITY….James, John and their mom Salome [Mary’s sister] are human. They wanted to be first in line since they were related to Jesus by blood. They simply adapted to the world’s philosophy of looking out for number one. It is root, hog or be left out. It’s a poor dog that can wag its own tail. God helps those who help themselves, etc.
  2. THEIR INCREDIBLE FAITH…They do believe in Jesus. In Matthew 19:28, Jesus said“I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne, you who have been my followers will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” So Salome and boys are guilty of taking Jesus at His word which is not a bad thing. Although the question has a vain motive, it does indicate faith on their part.
  3. THERE ENDURING LOYALTY…They told Jesus that they would drink the cup and He did mention that it would be bitter. They did indeed drink the cup and they are to be commended for doing so.

Let me say in passing that [1] the CUP is real, not literally but real nevertheless; [2] The CUP is bitter; [3] The Cup is mysterious and [4] the CUP is for every follower of Jesus.

BUT today, I want to put the spotlight on Jesus, our Wonderful Savior. I love this story. I love any story that focuses on the goodness and mercy of our LORD and Savior.

I. FIRST OF ALL, THIS STORY REVEALS THE UNBELIEVABLE PATIENCE OF JESUS.

Notice Jesus response to the very untimely and inappropriate question.[v. 22] “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?” Jesus is focused on the cross and His eventual last trip to Jerusalem as the Passover Lamb. This a sobering moment for Jesus and He attempts to engage His followers in a conversation about His mission on this earth but it is as if He said nothing. After such a shocking announcement, here comes Salome jockeying for position for her sons in the coming kingdom. How insensitive! How rude!

I should allow Jason to tell you how I would handle this: “Good night a living Salome; you have to be kidding. I am talking about my death, about sacrificing my life for you selfish jerks. Are you crazy? You must have fell out of a stupid tree and hit every limb on the way down. I can’t believe you could be so selfish and insensitive. I was talking about my sacrifice and you walk up here with this ignorant question. How dumb can you get? [That’s how Jack would have handled it]

Notice how Jesus handles it. It does not chew her out. He would have been within His rights to chew her but He simple explains, “You don’t know what you are asking.” He doesn’t embarrass her, her doesn’t call her names. He gives her a gentle answer in spite of the fact that she has expressed more interest in herself than in Him.

II. THERE IS A SECOND THING I WANT YOU TO NOTICE ABOUT JESUS: HIS UNQUESTIONABLE INTEGRITY

There are so many things to love about Jesus: even His enemies respected Him for be honest and candid. In Matthew 22, one of the Scribes said about Jesus…Teacher, we know You are a man of integrity and You tell the truth about the way of God. We know You don’t cotton to public opinion. You can always count on Jesus to tell it like it is. The big difference between me and Jesus is I tell it like I think it is: He tells it like it is.

  1. “You do not know what you are asking.” Jesus knew that the basic problem was a lack of understanding.
  2. “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup.” James was the first martyr. John spent years in prison. Salome stood by her sister Mary at the cross.
  3. “I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left.” You will not get your request. It is not mine to give. This is Jesus gentle way of saying “NO!”

III. THIRD AND PERHAPS SHOCKING: NOTICE JESUS UNSAKABLE CONFIDENCE IN HIS DISCIPLES

Jesus expressed no doubt that these brothers would drink the bitter cup. He did not doubt them. He did not despise them. He did not ridicule them…”You’re just a couple of losers…who needs you?” They may have loathed themselves for what they did, once the full impact of their selfishness sunk in but Jesus did not loathe them, He loved them. He did not put them down for their mistake, He put confidence in them…“You will indeed drink from my bitter cup.

I was not a great athlete in my youth but I was a want-to-be. I had the desire but I was not exuding with ability. I do OK in the county system but there the level of competition was low. I transferred to a larger school as a sophomore hoping to get a scholarship in football. That dream turned into a nightmare. For some mysterious reason that I have not figured out to this day, I became one of the coaches whipping boys. They used me for a practice dummy for two years and then cut me my Senior year. For three years this coach was in my face tearing me down. I have no doubt that he did his best to see that I would fail. The summer after I graduated, some of my buddies talked me into playing Pony-Grad baseball. It is the only year in my entire life that I played on a baseball team. I can see my coaches face but I cannot remember his name. He was a gentle man and I will never forget his kindness. I should have looked him up years ago and thanked him. I was much more comfortable in the outfield but we had no one to play shortstop. We had one guy who could field but did not have the arm. The coach move me to short against my protest. I figured I would make a half-dozen errors per game until he moved me but somehow he sensed my lack of confidence and this is what he said, “Jack, I need you at short. I know you had rather be in the outfield but I have no one else to play this position. Do not worry about errors. It doesn’t matter how many you make, you are the best I have and that is where you will play.” I have always wondered what he would have done had I made a dozen errors in the first game but I have a good season, better in the field than with the bat. I think of Jesus as a great coach: He believes in me even if I make an error.

IV. ONE LAST THING I WANT TO SAY ABOUT OUR BELOVED SAVIOR–HIS UNEXAGGERATIBLE GOODNESS!

Jesus is patient, gentle, honest and He instills confidence but perhaps above all HE IS INFINITELY GOOD. I cannot take you to a verse because there is no verse for this point, not in this text. His goodness is manifested it what He does not say. Jesus was honest and He did say that it was “A bitter cup,” and Jesus knew what was in that bitter cup but He kept it to HIMSELF. Jesus knew that He would die on a cross with Mary, Salome, James and John watching helplessly in agony. He knew the day was coming when Herod would slay James with the sword. He knew that John would live when he wanted to die. He knew he would be locked up as an old man and treated as the scum of the earth. He knew all this but did not say a word. We don’t have to know everything. We don’t need to know everything. I don’t think we could handle it.

As a parent, do you tell your children everything. I keep things from my grown children. I sure would not tell everything to my little grand children.  There are times when reality is to harsh for a child. Harold Morris spent 20 years of his life in prison for a crime he did not commit. He let a gang from high school talk him into driving the get away car for a liquor store robbery. He had no idea that someone would be shot and killed in the hold up. Long story short, they did not get away. All were arrested just hours after the robbery. What Harold did not know was the they had conspired in advance to make him the scape goat. They interviewed them separately but each had the same story, “Morris was the trigger man.” They got probation and Harold Morris went to prison for murder. After 20 years he got out on good behavior but a part of the deal was that he had to work as a coach at a children’s home. Harold was an all state athlete and he became the track coach for this institution that also had a school. His best athlete was a boy named Mike. Mike qualified to go to the Georgia State Track meet. Harold was excited because it meant a trip but Mike refused to go because the meet was on Thursday which was visitation day at the Institution. When Harold ask Mike why he wouldn’t go, Mike said, “Thursday is visitation day and my mama may come to see me.” Harold said, “Son, you have been here for ten years, how many times in that 10 years has your mama come to see you?” Mike dropped his head and said, “Not once.” “That is right” said Harold, “and she is not coming this Thursday or the next Thursday or any Thursday and the sooner you get that in your head the better off you will be.” Harold said, he dropped his head and went to his room and never spoke to me again. He said, “I did not realize that I had committed the unpardonable sin. That child was clinging to the hope that his mother would come get him someday and I dashed his hopes. He never forgave me.

Jesus could have put enough reality on Salome and her boys that it would have crushed them but He refused to tell them what was in the cup.

CONCLUSION

I want to close by going back to the beginning… [v.17] As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside privately and told them what was going to happen to him. 18 Listen,” he said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die. 19 Then they will hand him over to the Romans to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. But on the third day he will be raised from the dead.”

Jesus begged them to listen but they did not listen. They were insensitive to His plea for sympathy. What about you? Are you insensitive to Christ passion, to His suffering and death? You eternal destiny depends on how you respond to His death.

Four Things That Only Jesus Can Do

I love the minor prophets: I love all the prophets but somehow I am fascinated with the minor prophets. Micah was a member of the 8 century quartet consisting of himself plus Isaiah, Hosea, and Amos. Prophets are different; rarely do they fit in. They are a bit strange, austere; not give to small talk or chit-chat. They are not interested in winning friends and influencing people; they are more into raw truth. They have a knack of telling like it is instead the way folks want it to be. They are faithful at rebuking sin, preaching judgment and the holiness of God but they always have a message of redemption and hope.

Micah saw the exile coming. He knows that Israel is in for a tough time and he tells them as much but chapter four is a sun burst of hope as Micah looks into the future. Those in my profession that consider themselves experts in the area of prophecy will probably have a different take on Micah four but I can be dogmatic about what I am going to share and no one in their right mind would be dogmatic in their interpretation of prophecy. I would venture to guess that Micah 4 has something to do with the millennium but I know that it has something to do with Jesus. The bible is a Him book; it is a book about HIM, that is Jesus. I see Him on every page and He is certainly visible in Micah 4.

Tonight I want to talk to you about four things that only Jesus can do. No one else in existence can do these four things and of course it is as the Father ordains.

Jesus Can Give Us Unity

Micah said, In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s house will be the highest of all—    the most important place on earth. It will be raised above the other hills, and people from all over the world will stream there to worship. People from many nations will come and say,“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of Jacob’s God. [4:1-2b]

There is no question that our world is divided. We are divided by culture, language, ethnicity, religion, philosophy and taste just to mention a few. Not only is our world divided, our nation is divided. Several years ago, following a presidential election, the red/blue map denoting democratic and republican states was a graphic reminder of how clearly we are divided. The South and middle America are conservative and the Northeast and West Coast or liberal. Conservatives believe it is wrong to kill and unborn baby whereas liberals see nothing wrong with abortion–matter of fact, they promote it. Abortion, homosexuality and many other things are controversal and divisive subjects. It was not that way 50 years ago. Sometimes I think we were better off when there was no TV. The liberal news media exonerates the left and bad mouths the right. Now we have a president, maybe the first in history, who plays on our division and is seeking to divide us even more by constantly using his class warfare rherotic.

To be frankly honest: a divided world and a divided nation do not grieve me as much as a divided church. As a pastor of 42 years, I have to be honest–I do not know if I have ever seen a church that was unified. In every church that I have served there has been a faction, a force, a pocket of resistance. I do admit that preachers don’t always help matters. I know that for my first 20 years of trying to pastor, I thought that I was supposed to play the “Authority” card–“I am your pastor, do as I say.” Needless to say, that does not work. I have discovered that only one thing will bring a church together and that is Jesus. If I can faithfully follow Jesus myself, I have discovered that most will follow. They will help build His kingdom but most of them are too intelligent to help a preacher build his own kingdom. My philosophy is really simple: preach Jesus, teach Jesus, live Jesus, obey Jesus and exalt Jesus. If Jesus does not bring them together, they are not in His fold.

I believe Micah was talking about the later days. In regard to the last days, I believe Jesus is going to be the great unifying force of the ages. He is going to bring nations together and Jerusalem is going to be the center of worship. I am sure that it is Jesus who is going to bring this about, not Judaism. Jesus said, “No man can come to the Father except by Me”. Jesus is not a way, He is the only way. I believe that the Jews have a future but that future is bound up in Christ, not a part from Christ. You don’t put new wine in old skins. Judaism is a religion–Christianity is not. I am quite sure that God is not going to lead us back into religion. I am certain, Christ is the way, the truth and the life. God is not going to run Judaism and works on one track and have Jesus and grace on another. Jesus will bring Gentile and Jew together.

Jesus Can Give us Peace

Micah said, The Lord will mediate between peoples and will settle disputes between strong nations far away. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore. Everyone will live in peace and prosperity, enjoying their own grapevines and fig trees, for there will be nothing to fear. The Lord of Heaven’s Armies has made this promise!

Can you imagine a kingdom of peace: no war, no conflict, no killing, no violence…wow, it is hard to picture a world at peace. You and I have never seen a world at peace but it is going to happen some day and Jesus is going to be the Prince of Peace. He is going to do what no one else has ever been able to do–bring lasting peace. Jesus is going to bring WORLD PEACE.

I know, we have a hard time waiting on this to happen. We want it to happen and it will eventually but what do we do in the meantime. The good news is that you do not have to wait on Jesus to be your personal Prince of Peace. Jesus can give you peace now. The moment you cast all your care on Him, He will give you peace.

No one other than Jesus can give you peace. You can not get your doctor to prescribe peace. Peace doesn’t come in a bottle or a capsule. You can pop pills every 15 minutes and still live in a hell on earth. The problem is not the world; not really. The problem is not your neighbor or your church. The problem is that you are not trusting Jesus. You have been living life your way; you have turned aside to your own path, you are following your own agenda. Stop being angry with others and cast all your care on Jesus. He is the only One who can give you peace.

Jesus Can Give Us Eternal Security

Note Micah verse 4…Everyone will live in peace and prosperity, enjoying their own grapevines and fig trees, for there will be nothing to fear. The Lord of Heaven’s Armies has made this promise. [CEV reads, “This is a solemn from the LORD All-Powerful.”]

Did you catch that…there will be nothing to fear. We are talking perfect peace and security. Feeling secure, knowing you are secure…wow! Note also verse 5…Though the nations around us follow their idols, we will follow the Lord our God forever and ever. Also look at verse 7…”Then I, the Lord, will rule from Jerusalem as their king forever.”

Listen friend, if Jesus does not have the power to keep you saved, then He is not a Savior. I do not understand these people who think you can be saved and lost, saved and lost and they base it on our behavior. I got news for you friend, you are not saved by good behavior–you are saved by the grace of God. Grace is God’s Riches At Christ Expense. It is ludicrous to talk about falling from grace. Jesus saves and keeps me and He is the one I give the glory to. If I have to do something to get saved or to stays saved, then it is up to me. If it is up to me, then it depends on me, if it depends on me then I deserve the credit. I am telling folks, any form of works glorifies man not Christ. You and I are not fit to be saved. We are saved by the redeeming power of the blood of Christ and He gets all the glory. He does not get 90% or 99% or 99.99%–He gets all the glory. God will not allow it to be any other way.

Jesus Gives Us Victory Over Our Enemies

You will soon be sent in exile to distant Babylon. But the Lord will rescue you there; he will redeem you from the grip of your enemies. [4:10b] I am reminded of the great hymn, “O victory in Jesus, my Savior forever” [there is that word forever again].

I guess you might say, the devil is having his hay day but it is only a day. I love the movie, “The Scarlet Pimpernel”. Percy, the noble Englishman that comes to the aid of the French aristocracy plays a trick on the villain whose name has eluded me. The villain has Percy before a firing squad but unbeknown to him, the firing squad is made up of Percy’s men. You can imagine the horror and shock that the villain felt when Percy comes back into the room after the shots have been fired. “Why this charade?” Says the bad guy…”Ah” said Percy, “I could not deprive you of your moment of glory [pause]…but alas, a moment is all I could spare”. The devil may be having his day but it is only a day.

There is victory in Jesus now but even more so in the future. We still have to face the fury of the flesh, the wickedness of the world and the animosity of the adversary but Jesus is going to put and end to it all: He will vanquish every foe. When He comes O glorious day, all our enemies will be defeated. The world, the flesh and the devil will be put down forever and ever, hallelujah.