The Celebration of Life

Scripture: John 11 {Selected}

INTRODUCTIONS

Those of you who have attended COLS that I am involved in know that John 11 is my favorite chapter and I use it a lot at Celebration of Life Services but I have always had a desire to share it with the Sunday morning crowd…so here goes.

I. A COMMON PROBLEM

1 A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. 
2 This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair. Her brother, Lazarus, was sick. 
3 So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.” 

II. A STARTLING PROPHECY–“Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death.”

 4 But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” 

III. AN ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE–“Lazarus has fallen asleep.”

11 Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.” 
12 The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!” 
13 They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died. 
14 So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 

15 And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.” 


We humans have a problem: we view everything through the lens of time… We even project time into our thoughts of heaven but there is no time in eternity…if there was, there would be a starting time and finishing time. Jesus had His feet on earth but His head was in heaven: He could see both worlds. He could see the future as well as the past. Think of it as a continium…At present [Lazarus is sick]…then Lazarus dies…Future, Lazarus is alive and well. Death is a barrier for us–we can’t see beyond it–but it was not barrier for Jesus. What appears to be death to us is simple sleep to Jesus…a temporary state of repose…everyone dies but we do not stay dead. Yes, from our perspective, death seems and appears to be final but not from God’s.

IV. AN INFINITE POWER–“I AM the resurrection and the life.”

Notice the focus of Mary, Martha, the disciples and the mourners. They are focused on circumstances, problems, grief, sickness, mystery of unanswered prayer, dates, promises, prophecies about the future. There is nothing sinful about focusing on the great resurrection day in the future unless we are more focused on the date than we are the person of Christ.

Look with me if you would at these verses…

  • Verses 2-27–Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.” 
  • Verse 33–When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. [NASB,  He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled] The first of these two words [anger in NLT] means to snort with anger, to groan with displeasure or to sigh with chargrin. The second word means to be agitated, stirred up, troubled or distressed. To my knowlege, used only here in reference to Jesus.
  • Verse 38 —Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. 

Over the years, hundreds have tried to discount Jesus emotional state at the tomb: some have even said that it was due to his grief that Lazarus was dead and others believe that he felt emphathy for Mary and Martha but this is clearly not the case. JESUS IS RIGHTEOUSLY INDIGNATED over the unbelief of the entire bunch. No one there believes a thing He has said…He told Martha plainly, “Your brother will rise again.” He told His disciples plainly, “This sickness will not end in death.” And yet no one believes. Martha did not believe…When Jesus told them to roll the stone aways…she protested…”By now he stinks.”

What does this tell us? Unbelief is offensive to God. Hebrews 3:12–Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heartof unbelief in departing from the living God.

  • It was unbelief that kept Israel from the land of promise.
  • It was unbelief that caused the Jewish Religious Leaders to call for the crufixion of Christ.
  • It is offensive to God when we mistrust His word or even doubt it.

CONCLUSION

Let me tell you what I love about this story….No one in the cemetery that evening believed that they would be eating supper with Lazarus that night: no one but Jesus. Not even Mary or Martha believed that Jesus was the Resurrection and the Life. When Jesus commanded them to roll the stone aside, Martha protested….”By now there is a stink.”


It doesn’t matter what you think or what you believe about any given situation. The Jewish mourners believed that Jesus had failed his friends. The disciples believed that Jesus was committing suicide by returning to Jerusalem. Not one soul in this story believed that Jesus was going to raise Lazarus by the power of His spoken word. Practically all believed that Jesus was a healer but even Mary and Martha believed that He had showed up too late.


Here is what is important: God had a sovereign plan and Jesus carried that plan out. God intended to get glory this day and He did…in spite of the unbelief.

ARE YOU NOT GLAD THAT OUR IMPOTENCE AND FAILURE PUTS NO RESTRAINT OR RESTRICTIONS ON GOD’S OMNIPOTENCE.

Hallelujah, HIS Kingdom is going to come and His will is going to be done because it has been spoken and in spite of man’s sin, wickedness and unbelief—it will happen.

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The True Market Value of Faith

 Scripture 1 Peter 1:7-12

7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 
8 You love Him even though you have never seen Him. Though you do not see Him now, you trust Him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy
The reward for trusting Him will be the salvation of your souls.
10 This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. 
11 They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and His great glory afterward. 
12 They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen. 

INTRODUCTION

How much to you value your faith? What kind of price tag would you put on your faith? I bet most of you can tell me the value of your 401-K but what is the true market value of your faith? Peter tells us that our faith is more valuable than gold [v.7]. Job had a ton of money but money did not get him through the horrible crisis that he experienced. I hope you never lose one child, Job lost ten and on the same day. How did this man survive such a tragic ordeal? He had a strong faith. It was his faith that enabled him to endure the suffering which was later transformed to joy. His wealth failed him in the most critical hour of his life but his faith kept him going.


Many of us do not know how valuable our faith is because our faith has never been put to the test. We do not know if our faith is genuine until it is tested.  Warren Wiersbe says, “A faith that cannot endure being tested, cannot be trusted.” There are people here today who know the value of their faith because their faith has been put to the test.  You know because your faith has been put to the test and you are still here: singing, praising and worshiping God. Had your faith not been real, your sorrow would have turned you bitter and you would not be here.

TRANSITION

Faith is a precious gift and it is invaluable. Celebrate your faith.

TONIGHT, I WANT TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT YOUR FAITH

I. THE REWARDS OF FAITH v.9

  1. A New Birth…v.3, It is by His great mercy that we have been born again[Ephesians 2:8-9]  For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
  2. A Great Expectation…v. 3…Now we live with great expectation {NASB, Living Hope}
  3. A Priceless Inheritance…v.4
    1. It is in heaven
    2. Beyond decay or change…will not grow old or lose its value.
    3. Protected: this word ‘kept’ means under guard.

II. THE FRUITS OF FAITH

  1. Inexpressible joy…v.8….You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The Greek word for joy here is exuberant joy. It is joy that cannot be repressed. A joy that cannot be contained.
  2. Optimistic outlook….v.6...So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. 
  3. Brings praise and glory on the day of Jesus return...v.7… So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world

III. THE MYSTERY OF FAITH

Peter said, This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and His great glory afterward. They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen. 

Hebrews 11:6…And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.


Paul said in 1 Timothy 2:5…For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.


There is only one currency that heaven will except and that is FAITH and we are not saved by FAITH in and of itself, we are saved by putting FAITH in Jesus.


We have a world filled with Cains and they, like the Jews, are trying to establish there own righteousness and it is not going to work. Many of these Cains are in our churches. They are benevolent souls who stay busy doing good works but it is not going to work. Jude talked about the WAY OF CAIN: what exactly is it?

  1. Cain refused to acknowledge his sin and depravity.
  2. He attempted to serve God his way. He is the father of self-will.
  3. He presented the fruits of his own labor and he wanted credit.

Things We Need

Scripture text: Psalms 138, NLT

1 I give you thanks, O LORD, with all my heart; I will sing your praises before the gods. 
2 I bow before your holy Temple as I worship. I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name. 
3 As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength.
4 Every king in all the earth will thank you, LORD, for all of them will hear your words. 
5 Yes, they will sing about the LORD ’s ways, for the glory of the LORD is very great. 
6 Though the LORD is great, he cares for the humble, but he keeps his distance from the proud. 
7Though I am surrounded by troubles, you will protect me from the anger of my enemies. You reach out your hand, and the power of your right hand saves me. 
8 The LORD will work out his plans for my life— for your faithful love, O LORD, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.

INTRODUCTION

We are driven by our needs, it is human nature. When we come to church, we aren’t thinking about others or even the LORD, we are centered on our needs. This is what makes “Seeker” churches so successful. They use market place skills and they target the needs and desires of this current generation. They have thousands each Sunday while we have hundreds.

Tonights sermon is seeker friendly: I want to talk about our needs and how the LORD is ready to meet those needs.

I. FIRST OF ALL, WE NEED A POSITIVE ATTITUDE 

{Biblically speaking, a positive attitude is a thankful heart}

 I give you thanks, O LORD, with all my heart; I will sing your praises before the gods. 
2 I bow before your holy Temple as I worship. I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name. 

Note first of all that David had a thankful heart. I am an Alabama fan and I have been convicted about the amount of anxiety I have over such silly things. I did a lot of praying last week and God answered my prayer and I am thankful. I didn’t watch the game {Iron Bowl} and I didn’t lose any sleep. I was thrilled with opportunity to preach Sunday night and I was focused on Sunday’s activities. That’s not me folks, that is God’s grace. You probably think I should be embarrassed to talk with the LORD about such trivial things as ball games: I am not. I talk to HIM about everything. There are worse things than being an Alabama fan such as gossip, slander, a critical judgmental spirit, greed and on and on but I just felt it was time for me to move on and from. Yesterday moring, I woke up giving thanks. All Alabama fans have more to be thankful for than we do to regret. Think about all the Teams that have never made it to a final four, or a National Championship. Why can’t I celebrate what the LORD has already done? That’s it, I can. I know everything is not perfect in your life but you can still be thankfull.


There is a man in this church who will remain nameless that was helping me a few years ago. He was giving me his time and his undivided attention. Later that week, I found out what was going on at his house. He was dealing with a problem that made mine look like a scratch. I went an appologized. I reprimanded him, “You should not have been helping me, you have problems of your own.” He shook it off with a grin. This is the kind of attitude that we need. We need a GRATEFUL HEART, a THANKFUL SPIRIT. If our heart is filled with gratitude to the LORD, our attitude will be POSITIVE.

II. WE NEED CONFIDENCE WHICH MEANS WE NEED A QUIET TIME

{David was not a perfect man but he was a praying man}
3 As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength.
David was a great leader because he had a positive attitude and a bold confidence. Where did these two strengths come from? David tells us in verse 3, his strength came from the LORD. As he relates later in the Psalm, “It was the power of God’s right hand that saved him.” {v.7}
Early into Jesus ministry, His disciples associated His strength with His quiet time. This was made obvious when they came to him and said, “LORD, teach us to pray.” Note, they did not say, “LORD, teach us to preach, to heal, to cast out demons, etc.” They ask Him to teach them the art of prayer because they associated His power with His prayer life. There was one black man in my seminary class. He was a tall, dignified, astute and gracious man. He peached one night at the Seminary chapel and he preached on prayer. He said one thing I have never forgotten–“Where there is much prayer, there is much power, where there is little prayer, there is little power.” The reason I have seen so little power in my life and ministry is that I have done so little praying.
Folks, I need my quiet time. I need it as much as I need a place to sleep or something to eat. I go to bed at night thinking about my QT the next morning. My confidence and strength does not come from within me, nor do I draw from my experience, althought that helps. THE LORD IS MY STRENGTH AND MY SALVATION. He is the bubbling spring that I drink from.
David could not have accomplished what he did without confidence. A leader must have confidence. If you lose your confidence, it is over. David was surrounded by enemies. The Jebusites still lived in the land along with six other nations, most of them Canaanites in orgin. These people did not want a united kingdom, a strong Israel. They wanted a divided and weak kingdom so they could do as they pleased.
We too are surrounded by enemies, the world, the flesh and Satan. His goal is to destroy our confidence and he was use whomever is available to do the job. All God’s servants have to be wise as serpents. The serpent’s enemy is mankind: 99% of the people you met hate snakes and the other 1% are devil worshippers {just kidding}. Snakes are still around in abundance because they know how and when to stay out of sight. They have mastered the art of hiding.
Criticism is like the ice that builds up on the wing of a plane: if you don’t do something about it, learn to defrost or deflect it, it will bring you down. Your wings are your confidence: when the devil is able to destroy your confidence, your flight is over, you are coming down. This is exactly what he did to Elijah. He used Jezebel to accomplish his mission. Elijah got so discouraged that he quit. His only assignement after the Jezebel fiasco was to find and anoint his replacement. NO ONE CAN AFFORD TO LOSE THEIR CONFIDENCE and the LORD is the source of our strength and our confidence.

III. WE ALL NEED HOPE 

{We need the ability to look beyond our present circumstances}
4 Every king in all the earth will thank you, LORD, for all of them will hear your words. 
5 Yes, they will sing about the LORD ’s ways, for the glory of the LORD is very great. 

David lived among pagans. They worshipped idols and idols were everywhere. Idols were repulsive to David, He knew that God deserves all the worship and praise. Although God was not being praised by other kings in David’s day, David was able to look beyong his present circumstances to a day when all kings would praise God. As we look back over history, we learn that since David’s time, there have been fewer and fewer pagan kings. This move away from pagan worship has been accelarated since the Reformation. Most of Europe’s kings have been Christians, as least in name. But there is coming a time when every king will give God glory.

IV. WE NEED ASSURANCE

6 Though the LORD is great, He cares for the humble, but he keeps his distance from the proud. 
Though I am surrounded by troubles, You will protect me from the anger of my enemies. You reach out your hand, and the power of your right hand {Jesus} saves me
8 The LORD will work out His plans for my life— for your faithful love, O LORD, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.


I love CHRISTMAS and I wanted to preach a Christmas message but to this point the LORD has not given me a new one. But meditating on the verses above brought the incarnation to mind.
  • David is right: THE LORD IS GREAT, infinitely great, greater than any of us or all of us together can imagine. You could put every great intellects in the world along with all the great scupturers and they would not be able to make a image in God’s likeness or anything close. God is transcendent, like the Stars but moreso. There is an infinite gap between who He is and who we are. The earth itself is but a speck to God which would make us a microspeck, yet….
  • GOD REACHED OUT HIS HAND. He sent His son, born by Mary. The Word became flesh and pitched His tent among us. Wow! The incarnation blows my mind…God becoming one of us to save us from our sin and the destruction that come with our sin.
  • THE POWER OF HIS RIGHT HAND SAVED ME. Who is seated at God’s right hand? Psalm 110:1….”The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.” Peter repeated mentioned the fact that Jesus is now seated at the right hand of the father seven times[Acts 2:25,33,34; Acts 3:7, 5:31, 7:55,56]. Paul said in Romans 8…Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Jesus has interceded in our behalf…He has taken a position between us and hell and He is the only one capable of keeping us safe and secure.
  • THE LORD WILL WORK OUT HIS PLANS…and He has a plan for your life. Jeremiah 29:11 comes to mind, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” David Livingston the great missionary believed in the PLAN, he said, “I am immortal until the will of God for me is accomplished.” We need this same assurance; it would relieve us of a lot of useless anxiety.

CONCLUSION

To wrap it up: we need, desperately need:

  1. A Grateful Attitude
  2. A Strong Confidence
  3. A Vibrant Hope
  4. A Bold Assurance

God can give us these things, if we humbly asked. The greatest miracle, other than our atonement just may be prayer.

The Law Of The Harvest

SCRIPTURE: 2 Corinthians 9:1-15

1 I really don’t need to write to you about this ministry of giving for the believers in Jerusalem.
2 For I know how eager you are to help, and I have been boasting to the churches in Macedonia that you in Greece were ready to send an offering a year ago. In fact, it was your enthusiasm that stirred up many of the Macedonian believers to begin giving.
3 But I am sending these brothers to be sure you really are ready, as I have been telling them, and that your money is all collected. I don’t want to be wrong in my boasting about you.
4 We would be embarrassed—not to mention your own embarrassment—if some Macedonian believers came with me and found that you weren’t ready after all I had told them!
5 So I thought I should send these brothers ahead of me to make sure the gift you promised is ready. But I want it to be a willing gift, not one given grudgingly.
6 Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.
7 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”
8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.
9 As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”
10 For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.
11 Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.
12 So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.
13 As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ.
14 And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you.
15 Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!

INTRODUCTION

I am doing something tonight that I don’t normally do, trying to cover an entire chapter in one message. I feel like I am preaching to the choir on Wednesday night: if this was the Sunday morning crowd, I would feel differently. We have been on this subject of “Stewardship” for two months and I think it is time to move on but I cannot do that in good conscious without sharing with you what little I know about the LAW OF THE HARVEST.


We will use verse 1-5 as our introduction:

1 I really don’t need to write to you about this ministry of giving for the believers in Jerusalem.
2 For I know how eager you are to help, and I have been boasting to the churches in Macedonia that you in Greece were ready to send an offering a year ago. In fact, it was your enthusiasm that stirred up many of the Macedonian believers to begin giving.
3 But I am sending these brothers to be sure you really are ready, as I have been telling them, and that your money is all collected. I don’t want to be wrong in my boasting about you.
4 We would be embarrassed—not to mention your own embarrassment—if some Macedonian believers came with me and found that you weren’t ready after all I had told them!
5 So I thought I should send these brothers ahead of me to make sure the gift you promised is ready. But I want it to be a willing gift, not one given grudgingly.


Paul is holding the Corinthians accountable for promises made. I don’t know how you interpret what Paul said, but to me, it is a subtle form of pressure.

  1. He is putting words in their mouth… I know how eager you are to help, and I have been boasting to the churches in Macedonia that you in Greece were ready to send an offering a year ago. In fact, it was your enthusiasm that stirred up many of the Macedonian believers to begin giving. Eager and enthusiastic givers don’t need prodding.
  2. Paul is sending a team to collect the offering…I am sending these brothers to be sure you really are ready, as I have been telling them, and that your money is all collected. I don’t want to be wrong in my boasting about you. Now, if I got a letter in the mail next week from an evangelist who said he was sending a team here to collect an offering, I would take that as a form of pressure. Paul also added, “Don’t embarrass me.”
  3. Paul is holding them accountable for a previous promise…So I thought I should send these brothers ahead of me to make sure the gift you promised is ready. But he adds, “I want it to be a willing gift, not one given grudgingly.” I see a tad of humor in Pauls appeal. How do you pressure someone to give cheerfully?

    There is a way to pressure someone into giving cheerfully. Well, it is actually not a form of pressure so much as understanding. I think a lot of people would get eager and enthusiastic about giving if they understood the LAW OF THE HARVEST. Getting folks to understand this truth is not easy. The moment you begin asking for my stuff, I get defensive. When I get defensive, I don’t listen, don’t hear, don’t absorb, don’t take in, etc. I prefer to give to those who don’t ask.

Tonight we are going to talk about the LAW OF THE HARVEST which is a simple law.

  1. The LAW OF THE HARVEST is the law of proportionate giving. [ Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.] Its the same rule as that of a farmer, you  harvest in proportion to what you sow. If you sow many seeds, you will reap an abundant harvest: if you sow only a few seed, you will reap a small harvest. If a farmer is to expand his operation, he sows more seed, not less. The more generous he is in sowing the greater his harvest.
  2. The LAW OF THE HARVEST is the law of reciprocal giving. This is where a lot of folks misunderstand the law of the harvest. You do not GIVE TO GET…YOU GIVE TO GET TO GIVE AGAIN. Same as in farming: for the farmer to expand his operation, he plants more acreage which means a greater investment in seeds. Before all these hybrids, farmers saved their seed for the following year. Thus the bigger the harvest, the more seed you have to sow the next cycle, or year. In Luke 6:38, Jesus tells us that we cannot out give God…Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. ” There is a problem, a human problem and it is called greed. At no point in this process can we become greedy and save all our seed. The moment we begin hording, the law of the harvest breaks down. We must continually remind ourselves that we are not giving to get but giving to get so we can give again in a greater purportion.
  3. THE LAW OF THE HARVEST is faith-based giving. The farmer [in the old days, before crop insurance] had to sow in faith. There was never a guarantee of rain or of an abundant harvest. Some years the yield was very good, some years good, some years fair and some years bad. The farmer never knew what the yield would be so he planted in seeds in faith. I can guarantee you a return, based on the word of God the return depends upon [1] your motives and [2] God’s methods. We do normally reap in kind: if we give money our return is in money. If we sow kindness, our return is in kindness but there is no guarantee that we will reap in kind. God has many, many ways of blessing us. If our basic motive is the return, in getting or reaping the harvest, we will probably miss the truth and miss a blessing. Paul explains in the latter part of the chapter, the results of our giving: 

    [1] Our gifts meet the NEEDS OF OTHERS {So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.} I have been studying and trying to impliment the principles of good stewardship for over 45 years and one of the things I have wrestled with time and again is “Motive.” I know that motive is important to God, so what do we do when we suspect impure motives. I always look at the need. Will my gift met a need? This is the first question. I give on the basis of need whether my motives are pure or not. True, there will be no reward for me but the persons needs are met and that is a reward within itself.


    [2] Our gifts produce THANKSGIVING in the heart of the recipent. {And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.} …..To be perfectly honest with you: June and I recieve a lot. I don’t say a lot about it because I know that there is a thin line between being thankful and praising and being proud and boasting. Last week on vacation, our meals were paid for by one of our church members or maybe it was two, our hotel was paid for by a family in this church. June writes the thank you notes to them and I write the thank you notes to the LORD. When you give to a Christian brother, this is going to happen: he or she is going to praise God and give HIM thanks. I recieved one love offering while we were in Seminary and then went some 20 years are more before I got the second. Most churches in the old days paid a set fee, called an honorarium and sometimes, it barely met expenses. Then, after my kids were grown, not gone, but grown, a little church in a neighboring county invited me to preach a revival. I don’t like missing Sunday morning but I gave them a full Sunday and preached at night through Wednesday. I expected the usual honorarium which would be around $200 in most churches. I don’t recall ever getting more than $300, so is was generally in the 2-3 hundred range. That last night of the revival, the pastor got up and said, “We are going to do something I had not planned to do, we are going to take up a love offering for Bro. Jack. I was both shocked and impressed but with my experience in the ministry, I did not expect much. After the service, the pastor gave me an envelop and I just stuck it in my pocket. When we got in our vehicle to leave, my wife said, “hand me the envelop, I want to see what’s in it.” She started counting and her face lit up like a Christmas tree. She said, “You are not going to believe this.” I said, “What, you have to tell me now.” She gave me the amount and I thought I was going to have pull off the road. I was elated, filled with praise and thanksgiving and in a celebrative mood. We went on to Cracker Barrel in Cullman and celebrated. Folks, this has happened to me in some shape, form or fashion more times than I can recount. FIRST OUR GIFT MEETS A NEED, THEN IT CREATES AN ERUPTION OF PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING TO GOD. But that is not all…


    [3] Our gifts will produce GLORY TO GOD. {v.13,  As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God.} This truth consoles me in my giving. I think to myself, “Someone is going to be helped and You will get glory so what difference does it make if I get a reward for giving, my motive is unimportant.” In other words, I have made up my mind to give whether I get a reward or not. Believe it or not, there is a 4th reason…


    [4] Our gifts will produce intercession in our behalf {v.13-14…For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you.}…. My father in the ministry was Calvin C. Inman and he was a prayer warrior. He had a prayer room, a prayer calendar and a prayer note book. After he retired in the late 80’s, I bumped into him at a meeting. He said, “Jack, I pray for you every Wednesday.” I pulled him aside and said, “I appreciate your prayers. I just weathered a crisis and it just dawned on me that your prayers could very well have made the difference.” Bro. Inman was not perfect but I covets his prayers. I have some wealthy friends. They can buy anything they want and they are super generous to me. They have given me thousands of dollars. I would be embarrassed to tell you how much they have given. I cannot give them anything because they have money to get whatever they want. BUT I CAN PRAY FOR THEM. They have needs just like everyone else. Just last year, a church member family [one that has been very generous with us] came to visit June and I concerning our little crisis and they never mentioned what was going on in their life. I found out just hours later that their crisis was more severe than ours and immediately, my prayer focus changed. Folks, you cannot put a price tag on an INTERCESSOR, they are priceless.

CONCLUSION

Once again, Paul points us to Jesus in verse 15, “Thank God for this gift to wonderful for words.”

  • AV–Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift!
  • NKJV/NIV–Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
  • ESV–Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
  • CEV–Thank God for His gift which is too wonderful for words!
  • NIrV–Let us give thanks to God for HIS gift which is so great that no one can tell you how wonderful it really is!

The bottom line: God is a giver, He is a generous benevolent God and no one can outgive HIM. He has infinite pockets and HIS gift is Christ speaks for itself–how are we going to top this wonderful gift that we cannot even describe.

 My advice to you is: Don’t worry so much about your motives, just respond obediently to God’s command and give, someday you will thank me for challenging you.

Fear God

Luke 12:4-5, NLT

4 “Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that.
5 But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, He’s the one to fear.
6 “What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins ? Yet God does not forget a single one of them.
7 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
8 “I tell you the truth, everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, the Son of Man will also acknowledge in the presence of God’s angels.
9 But anyone who denies me here on earth will be denied before God’s angels.
10 Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man can be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
11 “And when you are brought to trial in the synagogues and before rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how to defend yourself or what to say,
12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said.”

Introduction

June and I had the pleasure of seeing the Niagria Falls in person some twenty years ago. It is an awesome sight and I highly recommend that you save your beach money and go see the falls.  I have not had the priviledge of seeing the Grand Canyon from the ground, only by air and from 35,000 feet, it looks line a line in the sand. I have loaded us a picture and I understand that from the observation tower to the bottom of the canyon is 6,000 feet. I have been told by those who have seen it in person that it is an awesome breath taking sight.

Grand-Canyon-Skywalk-View

King David said, “Let the whole world fear the LORD, and let everyone stand in awe of him.” {Psalm 33:8} 

In an infinitesimal way, the Grand Canyon is like God: by that I mean it is awesome in its presence but it must be feared. An average of 6 people die at the Canyon each year. No mere human can survive a 6,000 foot fall, not even if they land in the Colorado River below. It is an awesome breath taking sight that could rob you of speech but it must be respected.

David wisely puts these two words–Awe and fear together in relationship to God. Just as it is foolish to disrepect the danger of the Canyon, so it is exceedingly more foolish to disrespect the power of God. Abraham feared God, Job feared God and hated evil, so I too fear God.

I can only imagine what my eyes will see when His face is before me. Surrounded by His glory, what will my heart feel? Will I dance for Jesus, or in awe of you be still?
Will I stand in His presence or to my knees will I fall? Will I sing hallelujah or will I be able to sing at all. I can only imagine but if I had to guess, I would say His presence will leave me in stunned silence and amazement.

TODAY, I WANT TO TALK TO YOU FOR A MOMENT ABOUT FEARING GOD

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I. FIRST OF ALL: LET ME SAY, WE ARE NOT TO FEAR MEN {or women}

Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORD means safety. {Proverbs 29:25}

Insecurity is really our biggest problem

  • If we crave comfort–we will fear discomfort
  • If we crave approval–we will fear criticism
  • If we crave acceptance–we will fear rejection
  • If we crave admiration for our attractiveness–we will fear getting old and fat

Let me put it another way

  • Why don’t we share our faith?
  • Why don’t we confess our sins?
  • Why don’t we put passion into our worship?

The answer to all these questions is we have a man fearing spirit and Jesus tells us not to fear man.

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Today, I am going to tell you how to overcome your man fearing spirit.

ONE: Admit your fear of man–confss it.

The first step to recovery is heonesty. You cannot hope to get better unless you are willing to confess there is a problem. Some of you men are as henpecked as all get out and you will sit here today and deny you have a problem. Come on, get real!

TWO: Ask the LORD to help you begin to grow in your fear of God.

{Psalms 34:11–Come, my children, and listen to me,and I will teach you to fear the LORD} Fearing the LORD is a learning process and there has to be a starting point. That starting point could be today.

THREE: Assess your motives and goals.

What do you want most from life and who do you want to please most?

Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. {John 12:42-43}

FOUR: Act today and begin small.

Don’t put this off, begin today working on your man fearing spirit. Worship is a good place to start. Sing with all your heart no matter who is sitting near you. Move to the front if that makes it easier. Don’t start with the firing squad or a martyrs heroic death. Start small and grow big. {Peter is a good example}

FIVE: Acknowlege that your fear of man is driven by your selfish desires.

As Ed Welch and Geoffrey Kirland have said, Exchange your Need for others for a passion to love others more.” In other words, stop focusing on your needs and begin to focus on the needs of others. [All five points came from the insights of Geoffrey Kirland, [http://thecripplegate.com/the-fear-of-man-how-to-destroy-it/]

Jesus said, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. Perhaps you are thinking, this doesn’t comfort me but think about this way, beyond physical death, man has no power over you. Yes, Obama could have the CIA eliminate me but that is in this world. In the next world, he has absolutely no power. I am comforted to know that ultimately, no man has power over my eternal destiny other than Jesus.

II. SECONDLY AND IN CONCLUSION: WE ARE TO FEAR GOD

Jesus said, I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, He’s the one to fear.

Man has the power to murder, to kill to execute but man has no power after death. They can kill us but that is as much as they can do. God has the power to take life and to cast us into hell. He is the One we should fear.

Let me tell you briefly how hell or gehenna got its name. It was a narrow ravine located Southwest of Jerusalem and was known first as the valley of Hinnon, meaning it belonged to someone in the family of Hinnon. Then Solomon brought in Molech and Chemosh and it became a place where the charred bodies of innocent babies were disposed. By the time of the incarnation, it was the city dump where the fire burned day and night

I have just described to you a hideous and horrible place where no one would want to go but the real hell is infinitely worse. We cannot imagine the horror of hell. It is far worse than any movie or picture you have seen. Hell was not created for you: it was created for the devil and his followers.

God does not want you to go to hell. 2 Peter 3:9 clearly states…The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

There can be no heaven without a hell, just as there can be no freedom without prisons. Lucifer destroyed any hope of that in eternity past. God is going to encarserate evil someday and confine it to this awful place called hell. I can promise you, there will be no jokes in hell, no laughter, no fun, no merriment. It will be the ultimate horror movie, worse than anyone can imagine.

So today in Christ behalf, I beg you to repent of your sins, turn from your selfish ways and interest and turned to Christ. He is our only hope. I don’t know exactly where heaven is so I cannot know the way. Some think it is beyond space, others think it could be as near as our atomosphere but I know Jesus and He is the way.

Turn from self and sin and turn to Jesus, today! Hell is for those who demand their way.

The Baptism Of Shame

SCRIPTURE: Luke 12:1-3, NLT

1 So many thousands of people had gathered that they were stepping on each other. Jesus spoke first to his followers, saying, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, because they are hypocrites.
2 Everything that is hidden will be shown, and everything that is secret will be made known.
3 What you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in an inner room will be shouted from the housetops.”

INTRODUCTION

I want to make several observations in introducing this message. Actually, the introduction will be the message.
  1. I would feel more comfortable if this verse and others like it were not in the bible. It is a disconcerting verse to me personally.

    • By disconcerting, I mean this verse makes me worry and wonder. Will all my thoughts, words, and deeds be played back before me and a watching world or believing church on the day of judgment?
    • I have not only done a lot of dumb, stupid, sorry, low down things, I continue to say and do things that I should not. I don’t even want last week played back, let alone my entire life.
    • Lets face it, we all have a secret life and according to Jesus, we have no right to privacy. He is going to hold us accountable for every impure thought, every unkind word and every devilish deed. 
    • I cannot get excited about my secret life being made public. What about you? Do you have anything in your life or past in which you are ashamed? So, this is a jolting verse, a sobering thought.
  2. It is not an isolated thought or principle, it is taught in Old and New Testament and repeated again and again.

    • Eccl. 12:14–God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.
    • Luke 8:17–“For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.”
    • Matt. 10:26–“But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all.”
    • Mark 4:22–“For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light.”
    • Romans 2:16–And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life.
    • 1 Cor. 4:5–So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.
    • 2 Cor. 5:10–For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.
  3. How do we explain this verse or How do we reconcile it with the doctrine of GRACE?

    • Is it a bad translation? No, same message in all translations. Luke 12:2, KJV–For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. I have checked every English translation available and they all state the same exact principle.
    • Is it in the original manuscripts? Yes, Jesus actually said this. It is not something that a Scribe inserted later.
    • There is no cut and dried explanation of this verse. It is one of those verses that remains a mystery. I do not believe, actually, I know that we humans with a finite mind cannot reconcile everything that is taught in the bible which was inspired by the Infinite.
    • In all my research and study, the only explanation that has ever given me any satisfaction is the idea proposed by C. S. Lewis in the GREAT DIVORCE. Lewis views this judgment before Christ as a BAPTISM OF SHAME were we for a moment are immersed in the shame of our earthy conduct and totally humiliated before God and man. This baptism of shame has nothing to do with the forgiveness of our sins, that has already been taken care of by Christ. It is merely an initiation rite for heaven. I think Lewis is on to something. We know that there will be no pride in heaven. This baptism of shame would be our final act of cleansing. After are evil deeds are made public, we will have no strut in us, none. We will crawl into heaven on our face. We will be like the woman caught in adultery, we will not look up until Jesus touches us on the shoulder and speaks gently to us. I don’t look forward to this baptism, but I see its necessity. It will be a refining fire that will purge us from all pride which is the very thing that got Satan kicked out. We must keep in mind, our security is not in the heaven the place but Christ the person. The devil was in heaven but he got expelled because of pride. I am glad that God will not allow our pride into heaven: if would not be a safe and secure place if pride were there.

CONCLUSION

This verse or verses– Everything that is hidden will be shown, and everything that is secret will be made known.  What you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in an inner room will be shouted from the housetops.” [Luke 12:2-3] do not nullify grace, they substantiate the need for Grace. In light of our sin and evil, we must have grace.

NOTICE:

The warning Jesus gives is about hypocrisy…“Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, because they are hypocrites.” The Pharisees were play actors, pretenders. The word hypocrite means to act, to play a part, to dissimulate, to deceive, to impersonate. The word was used in reference to actor on the stage. We have the same thing in today’s culture. Remember Sylvester Stallone in FIRST BLOOD where he played John Rambow, Vietnam vet. Stallone was a draft dodger who fled to Canada during the Vietnam war.

What if the movie people had shown a 30 minute documentary on Stallone’s real life prior to the movie, how well would that have gone over? Do you think any real Vietnam vets would have watched or their families. To a child or someone who is ignorant of Hollywood’s hypocrisy, Stallone would be very convincing as a real Vietnam vet. So the warning given here by Jesus is to be as REAL as possible. When was the last time you told some one how sorry you really are? I know, you can’t give details without hurting others but just as a reminder, you can confess that you deserve death and hell. You don’t dare name the women, but you can confess lust or you can pretend to be pure and holy. This is the point: for all pretenders, let it be known, “The truth will come out.”

The BOTTOM LINE: Jesus doesn’t want us to be pretentious period. Stop pretending to be better than you actually are and begin working on being real. Really, your play acting is in vain and the longer you pretend, the more your stock goes down. We are not prefect and we should pretend that we are. In time, actually eternity, Jesus will make us perfect and a part of that process will be our baptism of shame.

 

 

From The Inside Out

Scripture: Luke 11:37-44, NLT

37 As Jesus was speaking, one of the Pharisees invited him home for a meal. So he went in and took his place at the table.
38 His host was amazed to see that he sat down to eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony required by Jewish custom.
39 Then the Lord said to him, “You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness!
40 Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside?
41 So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over.
42 “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.
43 “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you love to sit in the seats of honor in the synagogues and receive respectful greetings as you walk in the marketplaces.
44 Yes, what sorrow awaits you! For you are like hidden graves in a field. People walk over them without knowing the corruption they are stepping on.”

Introduction

The Pharisees were very devoted people. When it came to externals like tithing, giving alms, attending synagogue, practicing the traditional rituals like hand washing they were front and center and were admired by most people. There is a sharp contrast between a Pharisee and a Sadducee and not just in doctrine. The Sadducees were the upper class filthy rich Jews who were nominal believers in Yahweh. They accepted only the first five books of the bible [Torah] and they interpreted them in light of priestly tradition. The Pharisees accepted the law and the prophets and interpreted the law through Moses. During the time of the incarnation, Josephus estimated the total Pharisee population before the fall of the Temple to be around 6,000. The Pharisees were the middle class. The Sadducees were the elite ruling class and they were not so concerned with public opinion as were the Pharisees.
We know there were some good Pharisees: Paul, Nicodemus, Joseph and Gamaliel but you cannot find a good Sadducee: they were evil and corrupt. Where the Sadducees were invested heavily in politics, the Pharisees were focused on Judaism or religion. Somewhere along the way, the Pharisee’s lost their original focus and evolved into a very sectarian and legalistic group who had very little to no compassion on those they deemed beneath them.
To set tonight story: Jesus is invited into the home of a Pharisee and Jesus did not wash His hands before He ate {ceremonial hand washing}. The Pharisees were on that like ugly on an ape. I don’t know if anything was said, but Jesus knew their thoughts and He unloads of these religious frauds…“You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness!  Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside?  So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over.
He pronounces three “woes” on the Pharisees and each is an indictment on a an inverted religious faith.

I. THE FIRST IS IN VERSE 42–WOE TO THOSE WHO MAJOR ON MINORS

“What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.
There are things, good things and then there are more important things. Some things are more important than others, would you not agree?  Our LCBS lesson dealt with this today. Life is about choosing between what matters most and what is optional. Some things have major significance and some minor. We would be wise to know which is which. The Pharisee’s were into the external things: rituals, ceremonies, alms, customs, traditions. They were obsessed with these things. The goal of Judaism should have been inward purity but the Pharisee’s neglected the inward and the spiritual. Jesus said they were fools full of greed and evil. Their religion wasn’t working: instead of becoming better, they were becoming more depraved by the day. Washing our hands in front of a group does nothing about the problem of the heart.
There is nothing wrong with tithing or doing alms but there are more important things such as loving God and treating your fellowman with kindness. The Pharisees were hung up on the externals, especially things you touch. You couldn’t touch anything related to death, a tomb or a corpse. They would not touch certain foods. They refused to touch certain people, those who were ritually unclean. They would not eat until they had washed their hands. They were more concerned about germs on the finger than sin in the heart. They were obsessed with performance not purity. They had it backward. They needed to be worrying about their hearts not their hands.

II. SECOND WOE, VERSE 43–WOE TO THOSE WHO LIVE FOR MAN’S APPROVAL WHO PUT REPUTATION BEFORE CHARACTER

“What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you love to sit in the seats of honor in the synagogues and receive respectful greetings as you walk in the marketplaces.
We live to please others when possible, but when there is a conflict between pleasing God and others, we must please God. When Peter and John were forbidden to speak any more in Jesus name, they said, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him?  We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.”
How much have things changed since Jesus ate with this Pharisee? Not much, we are still performers just like the Pharisees. We crave recognition just like they did and we love the point system because it makes us feel entitled, like we deserved this or that. Every denomination out there has an advantage over Baptist because we don’t have a point system. You can’t earn salvation, you cannot merit God’s forgiveness. The only way for you to relate to God is by grace or to each other. The only thing we deserves is death and hell. This kind of rhetoric does not play well in this world where everyone admires an achiever. 
The Pharisees had a point system and the person with the most points sat in the set of honor and from that point, they were ranked. This is contrary to everything Jesus taught. Matter of fact, He said, “Many that are first will be last.” At some point, we have to stop caring what others think and begin to focus on what God thinks. When we get to craving recognition and honor each other’s achievement, we becomes slaves to a point system that invariably produces pride. Pride leads to arrogance and contempt for others.

III. THIRD WOE V.44–WOE TO THOSE WHO ARE SELF-DECEIVED

Yes, what sorrow awaits you! For you are like hidden graves in a field. People walk over them without knowing the corruption they are stepping on.”
Jesus told the Pharisees, You are like unmarked graves, you defile people without them or you realizing what you have done.” Jesus said, “You are like dead men’s graves.” You are the source of defilement. You defile others. Ironic, that the Pharisees avoided others who they deemed unclean and yet they were defiling others without even knowing what was going on. The Pharisees who prided themselves on doing good where actually doing harm by their bad example. The sad thing is: they were totally unaware of their guilt.
Jesus was hard on the Pharisees because they refused to acknowledge their sin. The sins of others grieved them but not their own sins. One sure way to know if you are a child of God is your attitude toward sin. If your sin does not grieve, bother or burden you, something is wrong.
This morning LIFE CHANGING BIBLE STUDY had a couple of brilliant illustrations. One was about the inverted funnel and the other about sand castles. How many of you have spent hours constructing a sand castle only to have one wave destroy it and it you went to the same spot the next day, you would find no evidence that a sand castle ever existed.
The Pharisees spent their entire life building sand castles. Surely, you do not want to waste your life on trivial pursuits.

The Grace Equipment

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 6:6-7

6 We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love.
7 We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense.

INTRODUCTION

Last week we talked about verses 4-5 where Paul commends his ministry with proofs that he is authentic. He mentions [1] Internal conflicts [troubles, hardships, distresses], things which press upon us, things that must be endured. Then there are the external tribulations or trials [beatings, imprisonments and mobs or riots]. [3] Finally, the strenuous effort required to be a follower of Christ and a minister of the gospel [hard work, sleepless night and deprivation].
Now Paul turns from the trials and tribulations that must be endured to the equipment God graces us with to accomplish our purpose. Once again, we have a trilogy of trilogies.

I. THE GOD GIVEN QUALITIES OF MIND

  1. Purity [hagnotēs]. This purity involves chastity but it speaks more of intention and motive than chastity. It comes from the same word used for Holy Spirit. The word holy is hagios which is holy. The root word is häg-no’s which means clean, pure, chaste. The word hagnotes is a synonoum from integrity, a clear and pure motive. Remember the quote by E.G. Rupp I shared last week, “The Christian church stands or falls on the integrity of its ministers.” Albert Barnes also said, “To succeed in ministry, a man must have integrity.”
  2. Knowledge {gnōsis} {Understanding} Paul was a very educated man and he put no premium on ignorance. Not only must the Gospel Minister be a man of integrity, he must have an understanding of the gospel he preaches. It is hard to communicate what we do not understand. Barnes says, “The idea is, that the ministry should not be ignorant, but that if they wished to commend their office, they should be well informed, and should be people of good sense. Paul had no belief that an ignorant ministry was preferable to one that was characterized by true knowledge.” My Father in the ministry was Calvin Inman and he believed that a call to preach was a call to prepare. I heard him say that so much that I didn’t pray about going to seminary, I just went but I did some praying after I got there. If I had my way, those who boast about their ignorance would not be allowed in the pulpit. Only a fool would boast of his ignorance. I am deeply ashamed of mine.
  3. Patience: As I have often explained, The AV translates two Greek word for patience and one of them is used in verse 3 and translated endurance by the NASB. The second word is here, makrothumia which means slow to get hot. Some translate it long suffering. I can assure you, a Christian minister will have his patience tried. The devil always has advocates and they know how to pull your string. Dr. Landrum Level use to say, “A horse fly cannot not hurt a horse but he can agrivate the horse until the horse hurts himself.” Dr. Level is right, many a preacher was sent packing because he lost his cool. One outburst is all it takes. Again, my father in the ministry caustion me again and again, “More preachers get out of sorts with their church due to building programs than anything else.” I can give you a recent example: a friend of mine has pastored a church for close to 20 years but he got invested in the plans for a new building and would not compromise. The results: the church fired him and got a new pastor. He lost his cool in a business meeting and they would not forgive him. By the time he realized his mistake, it was too late.

II. THE GOD GIVEN QUALITIES OF HEART

  1. Kindness {chrestotes}. I love this word. William Barclay says it is the opposite of severity…“a sympathic kindness or sweetness of temper which puts others at ease.” Have you been around someone who made you uneasy, unable to relax, to be yourself and then there are those who are the opposite, they free you up and make you feel at ease. None of us fear kindness. I am convinced, that next to humility, kindness may be the greatest virtue. Kindness is next to irrisistable.
  2. Holy Spirit: F.F. Bruce makes the point that all Christian virtues imminate from the Holy Spirit. In the OT, the Holy Spirit is the Ruach ha-kodesh, Spirit of Holiness. I think it is this idea that Paul conveys. We ministers need the Spirit of Holiness and the spirit of holiness. An unholy minister is not a model that Paul would pursue. Barclay agrees, the minister need a spirit of holiness. His highest motive must be to please the LORD whom he serves.
  3. Sincere Love. This one needs little commentary; out love needs to be real and without hypocrisy. The word love is agape, which is love from above. It is not a natural love, it is supernatural. It is not an inherent love, it is an imputed love. It is not a conditional love, it is an unconditional love. Naturally, we love those who love us, we love the lovable but agape loves the unlovely. Two OT stories illustrate this love: the story of Joseph and the story of Hosea. Both Joseph and Hosea are types of Christ: Joseph’s brothers and Gomer are types of sinners like you and I. Joseph’s brothers were liars, thugs, murderers and outlaws. They were devoid of character. Their own father couldn’t trust them. Gomer was a whore. She abandoned her husband and children to play the mistress for men of wealth. Over time, she lost her attractiveness and became a slave. She was a dirty, haggard, ugly slave. There was nothing lovely about her and yet Hosea loved her and took her back.

III. THE GOD GIVEN QUALITIES FOR MINISTRY

  1. Truth: All of this equipment that God has given us came via grace and these things enable us to minister to others. Among them is the TRUTH. What a wonderful gift! I love truth and I hate lies. It is because of a lie that we have abortion on demand and millions of innocent children have died since 1973. Roe vs. Wade was based on a case from Texas involving Norma McCorvey who I met personally some years ago. Norma was not raped: she lied. When she confessed, the judgment was already on its way to the not so Supreme Court. Sarah Weddington, the feminazi lawyer, told Norma to keep her mouth shut, it wasn’t about her. At least Weddington told the truth about that but Roe vs. Wade is base on a fabrication. Are you surprized? We know the truth and the truth will set men free. This world needs Jesus. He is the only One who can fill the vacuum.
  2. Power of God: Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians, “For the message about Christ’s death on the cross is nonesense to those who are being lost; but for us who are being saved, it is the POWER OF GOD.” Again is chapter 2 Paul says, “When I came to you, I was weak and trembled in fear and my teaching and my message were not delivered by skillfu7l words or human wisdom but with convincing truth of the power of the Holy Spirit.” There is worldly power, no doubt about it but like the sun, it has less energy everyday. Worldly power is deminishing. It has no long term future: God’s power is eternal in nature. George Washington refused to take credit for the war of independence, he knew it was God’s doing. He followed the example of Henry V who refused to allow his minstrels to write songs of praise to him, saying instead, “To God be the glory, great things He hath done.”
  3. Weapons: The Roman soldier had weapons for the right hand and the left. He used his right hand to wheel his sword and the left to hold his shield. The rights was the aggressor, the left was the defender. We need the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God but we also need the shield of faith to keep the darts of doubt from getting to our vitals. We must ward off the incoming projectiles or else we will fall to the enemy.

CONCLUSION

It is truly amazing when we see the God who calls us equipping us with every thing we need to preach the gospel of peace. I have people tell me, “There is not enough money in the world to get me to do what you do.” I usually say, “I fill the same way, there isn’t enough to get me to do it either.” I can’t imagine the horror of doing what I do without the call and equipment that God gives by grace when we surrender to His will.

People keep asking me what I am going to do when I retire and I say, the same things I’ve been doing: preaching the gospel and helping people. That is, as God gives me grace because a part from His power and grace, I can’t preach a lick. You don’t know just how much I marvel over what God does in and through my life. Every time I preach an anointed sermon, I sit down amazed.

 

Spiritual Claustrophobia

SCRIPTURE: 2 Corinthians 6:3-13

3 We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry.
4 In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind.
5 We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food.
6 We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love.
7 We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense.
8 We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors.
9 We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed.
10Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.
11 Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you, and our hearts are open to you.
12There is no lack of love on our part, but you have withheld your love from us.
13 I am asking you to respond as if you were my own children. Open your hearts to us!

INTRODUCTION

E.G. Rupp said, “The Christian church stands or falls on the integrity of its ministers.” I think the criticism that hurt Paul most was that which casts doubt on his integrity and impugned his motives. That Paul’s opponents would accuse him of lacking integrity was bad enough but what really hurt, was the Corinthians piling on. Paul says, “We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry.  In everything we do, we show or demonstrate that we are true ministers of God.”

How do you test the quality of a product or a person? You run a series to test: you apply pressure, to see if there are flaws, cracks, leaks, weaknesses, etc.

Barclay believes that Paul primary concern is to show himself to be a sincere minister of Jesus Christ. To offer proofs, he shares what Chrysostom calls “The Blizzard of Troubles.” Paul introduces this section with one of my favorite words, found in verse 4,We patiently endure  [hupomone] troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind.” It is translated patience in the KJV but the NASB always translates it “endurance” so as not to confuse it with makrothymia {Slow to anger} which is also translated patience in James 5:10 by the KJV. Makrothymia is displayed by self-control, it is the opposite of quick tempered. The AV translates it “long-suffering” except in James 5:10. Hupomone is the tough, tenacious, I will not quick spirit. It is the ability to stay under the burden, the pressure and to hold firm. Burdens can be hard to bare and irresponsible people just drop their shoulders and chunk the burden to the ground. Hupomone is the ability to stay under the burden and bear the pressure.
I really like what John Chrysostom,  Archbishop of Constantinople, said about the word hupomone…“It is the ability to bear things is such a triumphant way that it transfigures them and transmutes {to transform in nature or substance} them. Hupomone is the root of all goods, mother of piety, fruit that never withers, a fortress that is never taken and harbor that stands fast in time of storm. It is the queen of virtues, the foundation of right actions, peace in war, calm in the tempest and security in plots.” Then Barclay adds, “It is courageous and triumphant. It is the ability to bear up under pressure when all else is giving way. It is the alchemy {Formula for taking one or more substances and changing them to something else} which transmutes tribulation into strength and glory.” [We will come back to this in the conclusion]
What are some of the test we need to endure to become strong in character; to become men of integrity?

Paul mentions 9 and they come in sets of three

I. TRIALS OF A GENERAL NATURE [Go with the call] 

[v.4] In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind.

  1. Troubles: [Thlipsis] NLT –troubles, NASB–afflictions, NKJV–tribulations. All are good. The word thilipsis comes from the image of the wine press: it means to be caught between two immovable forces, to be squeezed, in a tight, to feel pressure from every side. Life is all about pressure, some manage it well while others do not. There is pressure in every profession I suppose. I know there is in Athletics and to some degree in politics. There is a lot of pressure in the ministry. One of the greater pressures of the ministry is unrealistic expectations which other impose on their pastor. If you need a lot of sympathy, encouragement and coddling, you don’t want to be a Baptist preacher. If you cannot stand scrutiny or criticism, you need to avoid the ministry. It has never been easy and it is not getting any easier.
  2. Hardships: [AnagkēDistress: must needs, of necessity, desperate needs, needful. Matter of fact, the KJV reads ‘necessities’ and NKJV reads ‘needs.’ The NASB, RSV, NIV, ESV and NLT translate in ‘hardships’.
  3. Calamities: [stenochōria] KJV, NKJV and NASB translate it ‘distresses’. ESV and NLT ‘calamaties.’ A Calamity is an event causing great distress or damage. Barclay suggest that these calamities are the cause of much of our anxiety. They can cause us to have spiritual claustrophobia because it seems that the walls are coming in on us.

II. THE SPECIFIC PROBLEMS THAT PAUL ENDURED [Inflicted by others]

[v.5] We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs….

  1. Beatings: {plēgē} stripes. For Paul, physical suffering was a part of the call, he expected to be persecuted. The church always does better in times of persecution. Prosperity has never been a friend to the body of Christ.
  2. Imprisonments: {phylakē} Clement of Rome tells us that Paul was in prison no less than seven times. Barclay: There have always been those who would abandon their liberty rather than to deny Christ. Thank God for men like Paul. Much of what we enjoy today is a result of what these men suffered.
  3. Angry Mobs: {akatastasia} ‘Tumults.’ John Wesley was mobbed at Wednesbury and barely escaped severe injury. George Fox, the founder of the Quaker movement, was mobbed inside a church building by professing Christians. They almost killed him and would have had they gotten him outside. I am not a passivist but to attack a man over his views of war is not Christian. Today, the mob [masses] ignore us or mock us. We don’t do anything to stir them up.

III. THE SELF DISCIPLINES THAT GO WITH THE CALL

[v.5] We have…worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food.

  1. Labor: [kopos] a beating, a beating of the breast with grief, sorrow,

    labor, trouble, weariness from labor. The word kopos was used to describe a person who was worn out, depleted of energy, spent. The Christian minister uses body, soul and mind in his work so when he gets tired, he is really tired. Sunday night is my favorite part of the week. I don’t do as much now as in my earlier years but I get just as tired. As a matter of fact, I have to rest on Sunday evening before preaching on Sunday night.

  2. Sleeplessness: [agrypnia] Sometimes are minds are so troubled that we cannot sleep. Sometimes we are in such discomfort that sleep is impossible. As a young preacher, I stayed up all night before my Sunday activity. I laid down but did not go to sleep. I have gone for as many as three nights without sleep. I sleep 5-6 hours now. Would I like to sleep 8-9? Yes, I would but I can’t. I’m in a bad habit presently: I go to beg from 11:00 pm to 1:00 am and get up at 7:00. There are times when I can study all night or pray most of the night but those are rare occasions. Generally, I lay in the bed with my eyes closed. I prefer sleep but I have learned that rest can keep me going. Will this get better when I retire? I hope! Deadlines make me anxious and anxiety can keep us awake.
  3. Hunger: [nēsteia] To hunger from fasting. I can fast a meal but it doesn’t do me any good because I make up for it the next meal.You can tell by looking at me that I don’t fast regularly or in the right way. I have always struggled with fasting. In the past, when I fast, I think about food constantly. The purpose of the fast is not to think about food, it is to focus on prayer…these two go together. I can do one or the other but not both, not right. Fasting always gives me a headache and then I end up in bed with a pillow tied around my throbbing head. So I have tried to fast from other things such as the internet. I did a three day fast from the internet last year. I dreaded it but it turned out good. I have fasted from TV and games. The bottom line: I am not a good example on fasting but I do not discourage it.

CONCLUSION

Let’s get back to this word Alchemy. If I understand the word, it is a chemical or lab word involving the use of one or more substances to make a new substance. So here is Paul’s formula: you take trouble, hardship, calamity, beatings, jail time, angry mobs, total exhaustion, sleepless night and hunger and put them together and the process results in STRENGTH and GLORY.

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.