Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year New Challenge (Part 3)

The mind of Micah is that if I pick out parts of the Law and do them I will win God’s favor, after all it is more than other people do. Micah doesn’t realize God is good in his nature and will be good no matter what you do. But pleasing God and God being good are two different things. The only thing truly pleasing to God is his Son Christ Jesus. His life in us is what pleases Him and that is total submission not picking and choosing to gain his favor.

Let us apply this to the church today. We can do all kinds of things the word says we should do. We can pick out and perform and point to them as reasons God should bless us, but one thing alone will please Him, His Son. We can build some great building, have a great program, but if the life of Jesus is not manifesting Himself in us we stand could very well be standing in Micah’s place
ncourage you to read chapter 18 - the tribe of Dan steals the idol and gives the priest a better job offer. He takes the position, onward and upward. Must have been pleasing to god because god is giving him a bigger church. With Moses own grandson the whole tribe of Dan takes this little 5 pound idol as their god. Now we have the denomination of the idol of Micah, verified by Moses own grandson, which all began with a man stealing from his own mother. The tribe of Dan is doing as they see fit.

We can grow in numbers but if we do not grow around the living Lord Jesus it is not just worthless but counterproductive to the Kingdom of God. I’m still looking forward to the day of worship when each of you come with something to share from your walk with God this week. Or something the Lord has spoken to you through His word. When we are walking with our Lord in a living personal relationship every day we will see his hand and marvel at what He is doing in and through and to us. How exciting when we become more aware of his hand in our lives each day! It will change our attitude as we see discern Him working in our situations.

It starts with a premise of faith that He is good and working for the good in your life on a daily basis. And so with eyes of faith we begin to see with Abraham – Him who is invisible – to discern his working. As we compare those workings with the characters in his word we see similarities and because the ways of God do not change. He is always holy, just, righteous, working constantly to change us to his image. He is always more concerned with our relationship with Him than our temporal comfort. The more we see Him at work the more peace we possess. I think Jesus must have been the most peaceful person to walk the planet because He fully discerned the work of God in Him, around Him, and knew things were in his Father’s capable hands. No running around in a panic, just a trust and calm assurance.

This year let us continue to drink deeply from the Word but can I add this challenge today, that we make 2012 a year in which we yield ourselves and our fellowship more fully to Jesus as Head of His church? Let us watch day by day to see his hand and learn from Him of his ways. Rejoice in what He is doing and share with each other what He is speaking to us even more than we have till now? That requires a personal commitment of time to contemplate and be still, knowing He is God. That time each day is needed to reflect on how He is working and maybe even to write down what You sense the Holy Spirit is speaking, so you can share it with us. James tells us to be quick to listen.


New Year New Challenge (Part 2)

"Now this man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and some idols and installed one of his sons as his priest. In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit" (Judges 17:5-6).

Well there you have it. Who needs to go to the tabernacle in Shiloh when you can have idols and an ephod right here at home? How convenient! You see, when Israel refused to let JEHOVAH be king over the nation and were their own kings, chaos reigned. Convenient, “spiritual”, selfish chaos. Hey, if your son is priest he isn’t going to ask you to change. He’ll hear from god anything you want him to hear. Christ Jesus is Head of the true church. Today there are huge religious governmental structures, machines that crank out the formulas and the plans for all their branch offices to follow. Setting aside the word, they operate in a way that brings the results they want. “We’ll still call him LORD but we will run the show. It’s much safer, much more predictable and besides it goes where we want it to go.” It is kind of like England or Japan’s monarchy. We have a king in title, we just don’t let him have anything to do with the way things are run. We can take care of that. I’m not pointing this out to condemn any group but to caution us that we remain clear in determination to let the Lord Jesus be the Head over us, give us his direction, and not dictate to Him how we will operate, but earnestly seek his leading and instruction, that will line up with his word.

"A young Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, who had been living within the clan of Judah, left that town in search of some other place to stay. On his way he came to Micah's house in the hill country of Ephraim. Micah asked him, "Where are you from?" "I'm a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah," he said, "and I'm looking for a place to stay" (Judges 17:7-9).

The problem isn’t just in Micah’s house it is everywhere. This Levite and his family were assigned a town by Joshua. He was supposed to minister in the tabernacle, supported by tithes and offerings. What is he doing wondering around looking for (a call)? Perhaps Judah no longer paid enough tithes to support him, or maybe he felt he wasn’t paid enough, but whichever, this was not God’s design.

"Then Micah said to him, "Live with me and be my father and priest, and I'll give you ten shekels of silver a year, your clothes and your food." So the Levite agreed to live with him, and the young man was to him like one of his sons. Then Micah installed the Levite, and the young man became his priest and lived in his house. And Micah said, "Now I know that the LORD will be good to me, since this Levite has become my priest" (Judges 17:10-13).

What just happened? Micah hired a personal priest. The priest is in search of a new call, and gets one, likes the salary contract, takes the position, idols and all. That doesn’t happen today of course?! You all realize that God has made each of you a royal priest and when we come together you don’t look to a paid professional to take care of things. But the heart of man never changes and this is true in so many places. And notice how Micah now expects God to bless him because he has a Levite priest. How twisted and yet this is how much of the church operates today. We just need the right man to tend to things and God will be good to us, cafeteria Christianity.



New Year, New Challenge! (part 1)

The custom of self-examination at New Years, the setting of goals and even the resolutions are healthy things. Israel had three times a year when everyone had to stop and celebrate a feast of the Lord and examine where they stood with the Lord. They were times when all who were able would come together to the Temple. They feasted, reflected, sacrificed an offering to God and then returned to their day to day life.

What would we have done without that strength that came from the direction God’s word has given us? On the other hand I think some of us wish we would have gone a little deeper as we needed that direction from the Word to face the challenges this year presented.

Throughout the book of Judges we read the words, “Israel had no king, and every man did as he saw fit.” The terrible consequences of that are throughout the book – especially in the last four chapters. The point was not that they needed a king like the other nations, for when they finally insisted on a king, the Lord told Samuel they were rejecting God as king. Israel was meant to be truly one nation under God. But instead, they had a nation of individuals being their own king. Isn’t that what this nation of ours is trying so hard to be?

But lets look at this shadow of today in Judges 17.Now there was a man of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Micah. And he said to his mother, "The eleven hundred pieces of silver which were taken from you, about which you uttered a curse in my hearing, behold, the silver is with me; I took it." And his mother said, "Blessed be my son by the LORD." He then returned the eleven hundred pieces of silver to his mother, and his mother said, "I wholly dedicate the silver from my hand to the LORD for my son to make a graven image and a molten image; now therefore, I will return them to you." So when he returned the silver to his mother, his mother took two hundred pieces of silver and gave them to the silversmith who made them into a graven image and a molten image, and they were in the house of Micah" (Judges 17:1-4).

This Ephraimite named Micah stole about 28 pounds of silver from his own mother. He hears his mother curse the thief and so he starts worrying. He confesses and decides to give the silver back. Mom is so touched she says, “I dedicate this entirely to the Jehovah for you to make an idol. But when she gets the silver in hand she only gives a five of the 28 pounds to the silversmith to make an idol.

What a perfect example of man playing his own god, being his own king. It begins with theft, followed by the fear of a curse of man not the judgment of God. The mother looks all ‘spiritual’ and dedicating it to Jehovah until you find out what for, to break His very first two commandments! To add injury to offense she only takes a portion of what she promised to give, but since it is for an idol, maybe that is a good thing? I don’t know, it is so contrary to God and his ways the whole thing is a chaotic mix of sin and selfishness. That is what happens when we set aside the Word of God to play god ourselves.

He is Coming Again!


The first appearance  of Jesus was a mission of humility and sacrifice. The second will be a mission  of triumph and transformation. He often described it as a groom returning for  His bride. The Church, He said, is "the bride of Christ." And what eager brides  we are!--eagerly awaiting our Lord to come take us home! According to 1 Thessalonians  4, He will break through the clouds with a great shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.

But  He must also come to judge the world. Jesus spoke several times of the final judgment,  when He would come to judge the living and the dead and to separate His faithful  children from those who refuse to follow Him.

He'll also return to establish  a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness. How eagerly we're awaiting  His new universe with its shimmering capital city described in Revelation 21 and  22 as the New Jerusalem.

Friday, December 30, 2011

New Beginnings (Part 2)


God wants to restore that life and living relationship so that we walk in that newness of life. Hezekiah is about to restore the true worship of God to Judah through obedience to the Word. I truly believe the heart of God aches for this for our sake. His desire is to bless us and make us into that church that reveals His love to the world. But we must do in reality what was done in shadow by Hezekiah.

Let’s read on: verse 4-5, If you have flung the doors open and repaired them, then as priest of the Lord – and you are – consecrate yourselves and the Temple. Lay yourselves again on the altar and declare our lives are His and we desire to be His instruments out of loving adoration and obedience. There very well may be many Christians are fooling themselves when they say they are consecrated. Are we fooling ourselves as to our consecration? If someone watched our life secretly, would it be obvious you were consecrated? Why or why not? We have to be serious about facing these questions honestly.

Those things that would make them wonder or doubt you were consecrated are the defilement of the sanctuary in verse 6. Verses 15-16, They tossed all the unclean things they found in there into the Kidron Valley. They trashed it, whatever was not for the Lord’s service. Are there things in the Sanctuary of your soul that must go? According to the Word of the Lord: It is the Word that brings conviction and shows us what should be in the Sanctuary and what should not. But are we reading it and letting it speak to us. Take time this year to be in the Word every day. The gate can be open but we need to let the King of Glory in. Read the Word and let Him speak, yes Him, the Word made flesh – Christ Jesus is the Living Word.

It took 8 days to get the outer area cleaned up and another 8 the inner area. You have an outward life of actions and an inner life of thoughts, ideas and desires. It took as long to clean up one as the other. Both had to be taken care of. In verse 18 they tell the King the entire Temple has been purified. This is what restoration is needed today. Verse 11 We are not to be negligent for we are a chosen priesthood. He chose you to stand before Him, to minister before Him, to burn incense. Does this describe you?

Now look at the life in the worship after they are faithful to open the doors, consecrate themselves, remove the defilement. Verse 20 – Early – they can’t wait 25 every one is in their assigned ministry, 27 As the offerings begin the singing begins, 28-29, Kneeling in worship. Verse 30 Singing the Psalms, they praise the Lord with gladness, for they understand in the sacrifice that God himself will provide the sacrifice, and after praise for what He has done and will do they bow their and heads and worship. We have praise songs followed by worship songs because it is a natural order for our spirits. We praise Him for who He is and what He has done and then we worship Him for who He is.

Verse 31 – I didn’t read any dedication ceremony but as they entered the Presence of God in praise and worship they all must have had the sense that they were dedicating themselves to God. Don’t we experience that?

Look at verse 35 – reestablished, restored. Again God is after a restoring work for his bride. He wants her worshipping in Spirit and Truth, gates flung open to Him, consecrated to Him alone, all the garbage tossed out. In this restored state the incense is burning and the sacrifice is on the altar.

Let us dedicate ourselves this year to ‘conscientious consecration’ as mentioned in verse 34. Then God can bless us with LIFE, with overflowing Joy, with praise and worship that is sincere and in an undefiled Temple.

New Beginnings (Part 1)


What is going to change in the coming year, and what do you desire to change in 2012? This is a time when we make resolutions and think about life in one year intervals. There can be value in that, although I think the Christian ought to regularly assesses where they are at with the Lord. We should always know we are walking in the Spirit as long as we are faithful moment by moment. He should reign in our hearts at all times. I want to look at another king as we look again at new beginnings.

2Chroniles 29, the last king of Judah was the wicked Ahaz. He fed his sons to the Baal altars, closed the temple and stole its sacred instruments. Three armies that were each victorious invaded Judah. In one day a third of his army was slaughtered. Families were separated and taken as slaves. Judah was on it’s last leg and that leg was wounded.

Ezra is again driving home the point that if we forsake God, He will allow our demise to draw us back. Ahaz’ son, Hezekiah is now on the throne. In verse two we breath a huge sigh of relief because we have seen this verse over and over and it indicates what is about to happen to the nation. Just when it looks like it is too late for any hope, God sends someone that has a heart after Him, a new beginning for Judah.

Hezekiah’s first act is to open the Temple doors and repair them. This has to be our first act as children of God. We have to open the doors of the Temple. You are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Are your doors opened? Is God welcome in every corner of your life? Will you give Him complete access to every recess, every desire, every dream and plan? PSALM 34 Lift up your head oh ye gates! Has the King of Glory come in? Who is on the throne? The only reason you would not let Him have access is that you don’t understand the love He has for you – how He longs to see you freed.

Let me speak for a moment on repaired gates. Gates that are shut too long don’t swing freely. Their natural position is closed. We may have to apply the oil of the Holy Spirit to the hinges. Love may need to pry the door from its closed position. It may take some replacement of attitudes, like hardware, to see it moves freely again. And then it must be worked back and forth until the rust is worked out, closed to what should not be allowed to enter, open to the Lord, closed and opened again and again till they swing freely. Are you willing? Or is ‘locked and closed’ a more comfortable position?

We read the book of Acts and wonder, don’t you wonder? What happened? Where did the power go? Where is the zeal and life of God today? Why don’t we see a church that is as dynamic today? The Temple our fathers turned their faces from is that in their very hearts, to have a living worship that is a work of the Holy Spirit. That is how all the great movements of God began and soon we turn them into rigid structures that are no longer able to be moved by the Holy Spirit for we have drawn parameters as to how God is allowed to work and no longer walk into the Temple to see and hear. Our backs are toward Him and our faces toward the things of the world. We may have snuffed out the light or it may have died for lack of attention. No light for our path remains so we read about someone whose path was lit and imitate their method.

The incense is prayer that has stopped flowing from the heart. Oh we pray our perfunctory prayers because we are suppose to, but they are full of memorized phrases that we repeat without much thought or heart. Burnt offerings, we know Christ died for us but it is certainly not fresh for us today. And so we have our difficulties that are from our own actions, allowed by God to wake us up and draw us back, to purify and purge.      

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Steward of your Health

The English author Daniel Defoe may have said it first, but it's Benjamin Franklin's version that has become the standard: "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." Setting aside taxes, we can agree regarding death: "And as it is appointed for men to die once ..." (Hebrews 9:27).


The real question is not whether we die, but how. The picture painted for Job by one of his friends is a strange one when compared to modern reality. Eliphaz pictured life as a growing season, with the harvest of full fruit coming at the end. In a garden, harvest only happens when plants are nourished richly and consistently to encourage the bountiful fruit God intended. Gardening is a matter of stewardship of soil and plants together. And so is life and health a matter of good stewardship. As stewards of the gifts of God, we are called to care for our physical life just as faithfully as our spiritual life; to nourish our bodies with good food, exercise, and plenty of rest.

As you look toward the coming year, what new practices can you bring to bear on the stewardship of your health?

Monday, December 26, 2011

A New Year: How Much Time Do You Have Time (Part Five)

5        The Accepted Time
 
We find this phrase in (2 Corinthians 6:2) “Now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation”.  Someone has said;
 
Yesterday is history – You cannot erase or change the past.
Tomorrow is a mystery – You do not know what will be in your future.
Today is an opportunity – Now is the time for action.
 
You can be saved today.  This is the meaning of “the accepted time”.  Today, now, you can find acceptance with God.  The time is coming when the “door of salvation” will be closed and “the day of vengeance of our God” will come.  This is the day of God’s grace when God’s salvation is offered to whosoever will receive it.  Will you accept God’s offer of salvation?  It is a New Year; will you be a New Person?  You cannot make yourself a new person by any New Year’s resolution or reformation by your own efforts.  You cannot inherit or merit God’s salvation.  God says in His Word (2 Corinthians 5:17) “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation (creature)”.  Are you “in Christ”?  Are you saved?  The good news is that your need has been met by the substitutionary sacrifice of the Son of God.  On the cross He bare your sins, took your place in judgment and died in your stead.  On the third day He rose again.  If you believe in Him, and receive Him as your own personal Savior, you will be justified or declared righteous by God.  You will be saved and be a new person in this New Year.
 
Why not, just where you are, and as you are, own yourself before God as the ruined sinner He declares you to be?   Believe the good news of the gospel.  Receive Christ as your own Savior and rely entirely on His work on the cross for your salvation.  If YOU remain unsaved it will not be because God does not love you or because God’s Son did not die for you, but it will be because you have not believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. Which will it be for you, reception or rejection of the Savior?  You are traveling the “HIGHWAY OF LIFE”, passing through time (a very brief time) into eternity.  Now that you have read this message you have come to the “CROSSROADS”.  Which way will you go?  Will you continue to reject the Savior and God’s free gift of salvation?  Or, will you believe in Him and receive Him as your Lord and Savior?  It is your decision and your responsibility. 
 

A New Year: How Much Time Do You Have Time (Part Four)

4. The Fullness of Time
 
This phrase is found in the Scriptures, in (Galatians 4:4,5) “When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons”.  Note from this verse, we have the following important points;
 
The time of His coming – “When the fullness of the time was come”.
This refers to the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ came into the world at the time appointed by the Father.  It was the “time of divine appointment”. He did not come into the world too early or too late.  The time of His coming was divinely determined.
 
The plan of His coming – “God sent forth His Son”.
This speaks of the deity of Jesus Christ, that He is the Son of God.  (John 3:16)”God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life”.  God had a plan to redeem sinful man.  Back in (Genesis 3:15), when Adam and Eve first fell into sin, God promised a Savior through the “seed of the woman”.  The hymn writer wrote the words;
 
Oh the love that drew salvations plan
Oh the grace that brought it down to man
Oh the mighty gulf that God did span, at Calvary.
 
The manner of His coming – “made of a woman” – “made under the law”.
He was “born of a woman”.  This is how the Son of God was incarnated.  This refers to His virgin birth and speaks of His humanity.  He was man.  He was man without ceasing to be God and He was God without ceasing to be man.  (1 Timothy 3:16) “Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh”.  He was “born under the law”.  He was born a Jew, born into the Jewish race.  He was subject to Jewish law and was the only person who ever kept the law of God.
 
The purpose of His coming – “To redeem them … that we might receive the adoption of sons”.
Sin is slavery.  Sinners are slaves, (John 8:34).  By nature, men are the slaves of sin, (Romans 6:17, 20) (Titus 3:3), and Satan, (Hebrews 2:14, 15) and are absolutely powerless to free themselves.  The Lord Jesus Christ is the “redeemer”.  The word “redeem” means “to buy”, “to ransom”, “to rescue from loss”.  The work of Christ on the cross, the laying down of His life, the shedding of His precious blood was the ransom price that was paid to free the sinner from the guilt and power of sin.  Notice the following scriptures, (Ephesians 1:7) “We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace”.  (Titus 2:14) “Who (Jesus Christ) gave himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity”.  (Matthew 20:28) “The Son of Man (Jesus Christ) came … to give His life a ransom for many”.  God has made adequate provision for the blessing of all, yet multitudes still reject His offer of mercy.  Dear reader, have you availed yourself of the redemption that is in Christ Jesus?  Are you saved?  Have you been born again?
 
Since the work of salvation has been completed and the redemption price has been paid, God will now receive all who accept Jesus Christ as their own personal Savior.  Notice our scripture again “that we might receive the adoption of sons”.  The Biblical meaning of adoption is very different to the way it is used in the world.  All believers are born into the family of God by the new birth, thereby imparting to them a new and divine nature.  In the Bible “adoption” means “son placing”.  Believers are placed into the family of God with all the blessings and privileges of son ship.  Have you been received into the family of God?

A New Year: How Much Time Do You Have Time (Part Three)

3. The Misuse of Time
 
The Lord Jesus Christ issued a warning to anyone who is covetous. He said in (Luke 12:15) “Take heed, and beware of covetousness, for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesses”. He continued to speak a parable about a certain rich man who had ground that brought forth plentifully. The man became totally preoccupied with his success, his wealth and possessions and his desire to accumulate more and more.  The plan of the rich man is recorded in (Luke12:19) “I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink and be merry”. In verse 20, we have God’s response to the retirement plan of the rich man. “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee, then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided”?  The rich man had his future all planned, but God said that for him, there was no future.  By not preparing for eternity the man had misused and wasted his time.  The world measures men by their bank account.  In the eyes of man’s fellowman, success or greatness is measured in proportion to a man's ability to gather wealth.  Have you been misusing your time?  Do your plans end at the grave? Have you been preoccupied with obtaining material possessions while neglecting the eternal well being of your soul?  God says in His Word, (Mark 8:36) “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul”?  Did you know that you are in danger of losing your own soul?  God’s indictment of all humanity in general, and you individually, is found in His Word, in(Romans 3:10-23) “Both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin … There is none righteous no, not one.  There is none that that understandeth; there is none that seeketh after God.  They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good no not one … For there is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”.  There is no difference in the spiritual condition of all men by nature.  All humanity comes into this world by means of a physical birth and all are possessed of a sinful nature.  Over time, all become sinners by practice.  All are guilty, lost and helpless to save themselves. Dear reader, have you ever acknowledged your sinful condition before God?  Have you repented of your sins?  Have you ever trusted Jesus Christ as your own personal Savior?  The Word of God is very clear as to the danger of all who have not trusted Christ as their own Savior.  To reject Him is to die in your sins, and to die in this condition is to be lost eternally. God has provided a way of escape in the Person of His Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  This leads us to another important “time” revealed in the Bible.  It is called;
 

A New Year: How Much Time Do You Have Time (Part Two)

2.  The Passing of Time (The Brevity of Life)
 
Time passes by quickly, does it not?   We are about to embark on another new year.   Job alluded to life passing by so quickly in (Job 16:22)”When a few years are come, then I shall go the way whence I shall not return”.   Ask any elderly person, and they will tell you that life seems like just “a few years”. You have heard the phrases as I have, “time is short”, “time is running out”, “we are out of time”, etc.  It says in (James 4:14b) “What is your life? It is even a vapor (a puff of smoke), that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away”. The apostle Peter also wrote about the brevity of life.  It says in (1 Peter 1:24) “All flesh is as grass, and the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away”. It is a description of the brief and transient quality of natural life which is presented as withering grass.  Human life is as impermanent as grass.  The glory of man, their physical beauty, etc, is brief, like a flower that will soon droop and die. The hymn writer, William Kirkpatrick wrote the following words regarding mans need to be saved before it is too late;
 
Fairest flowers soon decay, youth and beauty pass away
Oh, you have not long to stay, be in time.
While God’s Spirit bids you come, Sinner do no longer roam
Lest you seal your hopeless doom, be in time.
 
Time is gliding swiftly by, death and judgment draweth nigh
To the arms of Jesus fly, be in time
Oh, I pray you count the cost, ere the fatal line be crossed
And your soul in hell be lost, be in time.

A NEW YEAR: How Much Time Do You Have? (Part One)

Another year has come to a close.  Another new year has begun.  Is it just me, or do you also feel that time goes by quickly?  The changing of one year to another certainly makes us think about “time”, does it not?  Our creator God exists in eternity, outside of time.  Time is meaningless in eternity.  Time is part of the physical universe and we, therefore, live in time.  God has given an equal amount of time to each of us every day.  Have you used your time wisely?  Was there a time when you were saved from your sins and the wrath to come?  The Bible, the Word of God, has much to say about “time”. We read for example, in the book of(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die, a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted …a time to break down, and a time to build up, a time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance ..A time to keep silence and a time to speak, a time of war, and a time of peace”. It reminds us of the affairs of life to which each of us have experience.  There are many other things the Bible has to say about “time”.  There are five particular aspects of time that are mentioned in the Word of God that we will be looking at in the next few posts:
 
1. THE ALLOTMENT OF TIME – We each have a divine allotment of time.
2. THE PASSING OF TIME – Time passes by quickly.
3. THE MISUSE OF TIME – Time is often misused or  wasted
4. THE FULNESS OF TIME – The time when God’s Savior came into the world.
5. THE ACCEPTED TIME – The time of when God’s salvation is to be received.
 
 
1. The Allotment of Time
 
We read in (Psalms 90:10,12) “The days of our years are threescore years and ten (70), and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years (80), yet is their strength labor and sorrow, for it is soon cut off, and we fly away”. We are reminded from these words of the “divine allotment of time” for mankind, for each of us.  We are reminded too, of the frailty of life, its shortness of 70 to 80 years in normal circumstances.  How short life is in the light of eternity. Why is it so?  The answer is a word of three letters – SIN.  Note (verses 7 & 8) of this Psalm, “We are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled”.  “Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance”. God knows we are sinners by nature and by practice. God is able to see our sins and our sinful acts, even our “secret” sins.  It says in (Job 14:5) that God has set bounds on the life of man. “His days are determined, the number of his months is with Thee, and Thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass”.  And (Psalm 31:15) “My times are in thy hand”. Our times are in the hand of God.  (Job12:10) speaks about the hand of God and says “In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind”.  Many people do not get 70 years, for one reason or another. A walk through almost any cemetery will make this very apparent. The prophet Isaiah, being sick, recognized his time of life would be shortened and said (Isaiah 38:10) “I said in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave, I am deprived of the residue of my years”.  There is “a time to die”, as we mentioned above.  None of us know when that day will be. It says in (James 4:14a) “Ye know not what shall be on the morrow”.  How important it is, therefore, to be saved, to be ready for eternity, to be prepared to meet God.   

Saturday, December 24, 2011

How do you Spell CHRISTMAS?

Christ Jesus was born in a stable, in a feeding trough. This reminds us of 2 Corinthians 8:9 "For we know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

Hope, He came into a world without hope and without God (Ephesians 2:12) to provide us with hope- HIMSELF (1 Timothy1:1).

Righteousness- He was completely righteous, sinless. He knew know sin (2 Corinthian 5:21), He did no sin (1 Peter 2:22), In Him was no sin (1 John 3:5) and He was without sin (Hebrews 4:15).

Inn- This reminds us that there was no room for Him in the Inn (Luke 2:7). At the cross the world said away with Him, even today the world has no time for the Lord Jesus. Do you?

Savior Luke 2:11 reminds us, "Unto you is born... a Savior, which is Christ the Lord." There is salvation inno other name (Acts 4:12) Christ Jesus came into this world to Save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). He died for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

Trust in Him-Each of us have to "confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved" (Romans 10:9).

Messiah- He is God's annointed, the Christ. Peter declared that "God has made this same Jesus both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36). This reminds us that God has given Him the authority as Lord of Lord's and that our live's ought to be surrendered and submitted to Him.

Accepting all; who come to Him! All need Him and He accepts all

Shepherds and wise men sought Him and so should you! They brought Him gifts, what are you bringing Him today? Have you given Him your heart! Wise men still seek Him today

Friday, December 23, 2011

His Name Shall be Called Jesus

His name was called JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
Luke 2:21

There's just something about that name! As He is King of kings, so His name is above all names. "Jesus" is a simple word--five letters in the English. Yeshua in Hebrew. Joshua in the Old Testament--the name of a warrior (Joshua 1:1) and of a priest (Zechariah 3:1). Yet somehow His name stirs the deepest passions in humanity. To believers it's a holy word; to others it's a curse.

The Bible says, "Call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). We're to forsake all for His Name; and though we'll be hated of all nations because of His name, yet the message of repentance and remission of sins is to be preached in His name to all nations (Matthew 19:29, 24:9; Luke 24:47).

Peter reminds us, "There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). And at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).

Jesus! Because of His name, ours are written in Heaven.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

For Me To Live

Finish this sentence: For me to live is _________.

Now, don't give an answer that you think should be there. Think of the thing that means the most to you because that is what it means for you to live.

You might fill in the blank with money, family, pleasure, finishing your education, fame, popularity, your spouse, closing the next big deal, or even church work.

For me to live is ________, to die is ________.

If you put anything other than Christ in the first blank, then you must finish the sentence with the word loss because you can't take anything else with you when you die.

Leave Differently

Just sitting here pondering Matthew 2, the account of the wise men coming from the east. After they had saw the child, the Lord Jesus and was divinely warn that they should not return to Herod, "they departed for their own country another way."

Just thinking after we've been to Jesus, each time we've been to Jesus we ought to leave differently than we came as well! They went another way because of Herod, but we ought to leave differently because God has spoken to us through His Son!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Three Foundational Stones of Christianity (Part Three)

3. THE THIRD Foundational Stone– THE RESURRECTION – HE LIVES
 
“Unto you is born a Savior, WHICH IS CHRIST THE LORD”.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ was the essential sequel to His atoning death.  Westcott wrote that “taking all the evidence together, there is no single historic incident better or more variously supported than the resurrection of Christ”.  I would recommend that you take time and open your Bible and read (1 Corinthians 15), which is the great chapter on the resurrection of Christ.  His resurrection validated a number of things, including the following:
 
The resurrection validated that the Savior’s death on the cross was a voluntary sacrifice, that He laid down His life and He took it back again. (John 10:17,18) “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again”.  “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.  This commandment have I received of my Father”.
  
The resurrection validated that the Savior completed the work of salvation.  It says in (Romans 4:25) He was “delivered for our offenses and raised again for our justification”.
The resurrection validated that God was perfectly satisfied with the work of His beloved Son.  God put His “seal of approval” upon His perfect sacrifice for our sins.  It was the working of His (God’s) “mighty power which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places”.  Read (Ephesians 1:19-23).
The resurrection validated that Jesus Christ is indeed the person that He said He was, the eternal Son of the eternal God.  Jesus is “Christ the Lord”.
 
“Unto you is born a Savior, WHICH IS CHRIST THE LORD”.  Peter stood up and preached in the first days of this dispensation of grace, (Acts 2:36) “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ”.  Jesus is not only the Savior, but He is “the Christ”.  He is the anointed of God.  He is the Messiah of Israel.  Jesus is not only the Savior, and the Christ, but He is the Lord.  That is, He is God manifest in flesh.  In order for you to be saved you must acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ and believe in His resurrection.  It says in (Romans 10:9,10) “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, (Jesus as Lord), and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved”.  “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation”.  It says also in, (Romans 10:13) “Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved”. Have YOU ever called upon Him to save you? 
 
This Christmas season you will likely be busy with family and friends.  You will, no doubt, be giving and receiving  gifts.  Why not take some time and be mindful of God’s great gift to you.  It says in (James 1:17) “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father”.  He gave you that “good” gift, that “perfect” gift, He gave you His well beloved Son.  Will you receive Him?  (Romans 6:23) says, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”.  What a wonderful gracious God we have to offer to us, so unworthy and undeserving, the gift of eternal life.  Because it is a gift we can not work for it or merit it by anything we are or do.  Will you receive this gift?  If you do, you will be able to say like the apostle Paul, (2 Corinthians 9:15) “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift”.
 

 

Three Foundational Stones – THE CRUCIFIXION – HE DIED (Part Two)

THE SECOND Foundational Stone – THE CRUCIFIXION – HE DIED
 
“Unto you is born A SAVIOR”.  Because of the commercialism of Christmas and the busy activities associated with the holidays, very few people take time to consider the Savior.  Little thought is given as to who He His and what He accomplished when He suffered bled and died on that cross at Calvary.  The Lord Jesus Christ is called a Savior.  The Bible frequently talks about “salvation” and man’s need to be “saved”.  These words mean deliverance or rescue from a danger which threatens.  All humanity is in peril, and therefore needs to be delivered or saved from that danger.  The danger is God’s judgment that will surely be visited upon sin and the sinner that dies with his sins not forgiven.  The Bible declares this judgment to be confinement to the “lake of fire” (see above) and eternal banishment from God.  Are your sins forgiven by God?  Jesus Christ is the Savior.  He is the one, and the only one, who can save the sinner from his sins.  It says in (Acts 4:12) “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other Name (Jesus Christ) under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved”. There is no salvation without Him.  He is the exclusive Savior.  What are you depending upon to get to heaven?  Are you depending on your religion or your religious activities?  Are you depending on your church, your priest or your pastor?  Are you depending on infant baptism, doing the best you can, keeping the “golden rule”, tithing, etc, etc?  Dear reader, none of these things will bring you salvation.  You need a Savior, and God has provided His Son.  “Unto you is born a Savior”.  It says in (1 Timothy 1:15) “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”.  This is the reason that he came, “to save sinners”.  How could He do this?  Not by His perfect life, not by the wonderful words He said, not by the mighty deeds He did.  The divine declaration of a holy and righteous God is (Hebrews 9:22) “Without shedding of blood is no remission”.  It was necessary that the Lord Jesus Christ be “obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8).  He came to provide salvation for sinners, and this could only be done by the sacrifice of Himself on our behalf.   We read in (1 Peter 3:18) “Christ…suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God”.  When He hung upon that center cross, He was bearing our heavy load of sin and He suffered, bled and died in our guilty room and stead.  He went under the wrath and judgment of a holy, righteous and just God.  The hymn writer wrote the words;
 
“All my sins were laid on Jesus,
Jesus bore them on the tree;
God, who knew them, laid them on Him,
And, believing, I am free!”
 
This is the very heart of the Gospel message (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4) “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, He was buried, and He rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”  This is God’s good news to you.
 

Three Foundational Stones of Christianity (Part One)

It has been said that Christianity rests on three great foundational stones.  These three foundational stones are all found in these words in (Luke 2:11) and they consist of the following:
 
1.     THE  INCARNATION – HE CAME -  “Unto you is born”
2.     THE CRUCIFIXION – HE DIED – “a Savior”
3.     THE RESURRECTION – HE LIVES – “which is Christ the Lord”
 
1. THE FIRST Foundational Stones – THE INCARNATION – HE CAME
 
“Unto you IS BORN”.  The birth of Jesus Christ is indeed, “the reason for the season”.  His birth was a natural birth, like anyone else born into the world.  It says in (Galatians 4:4) “When the fullness of the time was come, (the time of His birth was divinely determined) God sent forth His Son made of a woman, made under the law”.  And, (Luke 2:7) says, “She (Mary) brought forth her firstborn Son”.  The conception of His birth, however, was supernatural.  He was born of a virgin, in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, seven centuries earlier.  (Isaiah 7:14) “The Lord Himself shall give you a sign, behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His Name Immanuel” (meaning “God with us” or “”with us God”).  The virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ is confirmed in the New Testament, for we read in (Matthew 1:18) “Before they (Mary & Joseph) came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost”.  Also, it says in (Matthew 1:20) “that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost”.  When we speak of the Lord’s incarnation, we refer to the fact that He became man.  He became man without ceasing to be God.  (Isaiah 9:6) reminds us of a very important aspect of the birth of Christ.  It says “Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given”. Not only was a child born, like the birth of any other child, but, unlike any other birth, unto us a son is given.   (John 3:16) “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life”.  Was there ever a time when you believed in the Lord Jesus Christ?  Was there a definite time when you put your faith and trust in Him?  It says in (1 Timothy 3:16) “Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh”. God gave His Son. Why did God give us such a wonderful gift?  Notice again what our verse says.
 
“UNTO YOU is born”. This is the reason that He came. (1 Timothy 1:15) “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”.  God says in His Word that we need a Savior because we are all sinners, both by nature and by practice.  We are sinners by nature because we are all born into this world with a sinful nature within us.  That means we are sinners by birth.  It says in (Romans 5:12) “By one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned”.  Because of the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve, the whole human race is infected with sin and the consequence of sin which is death.  Being born into this world, we are in the flesh and God says (Romans 8:8) “They that are in the flesh cannot please God”.  If you are not saved, you have never thought, said or done one thing that has pleased God.  It says in (Isaiah 64:6) “We are all as an unclean thing and all our righteous nesses are as filthy rags”.  Not only are we sinners by nature but we are sinners by practice as well.  Note what the Bible says in the following verses:
 
·        (Romans 3:9) “Jews and Gentiles alike, they are all under sin”.
·        (Romans 3:10) “There is none righteous, no not one”.
·        (Romans 3:23) “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”.
·        (Ecclesiastes 7:20) “There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good and sinneth not”
 
These verses are sufficient to show mans sinful condition in the eyes of a Holy God.  It is true that all may not have sinned alike, or to the same degree, yet all alike have sinned in some degree.  We have stated that the consequence of sin is death, but death is not the end.  It says in (Hebrews 9:27) “It is appointed unto men once to die but after this the judgment”.  God will judge the sinner who dies in their sin.  (Revelation 20:11-15) describes the “great white throne” judgment. The solemn scene ends with the words “whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire”.  (Revelation 21:8) describes “The lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death”.  Is your name written in the book of life?  This is the reason that we need a Savior and God’s salvation.

“Unto you is born …a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11)

You probably have noticed, as I have, the changes taking place in the past few years, to remove “Christ” from Christmas.  The erection of Nativity scenes at government locations have been under relentless attack by the ACLU as being a violation of church and state.  Public Christmas displays increasingly contain less and less of the Biblical theme of Christmas.  Many displays today contain absolutely nothing of religious or Biblical content. Even the name of the Christmas holiday was changed a few years ago to the “Sparkle Season”.  Recently the name seems to be simply the “Holiday Season”.  The extent of this effort to remove “Christ” from Christmas was brought to my attention recently when I heard one man greet another man with the words “Merry Christmas”.  The man responded with the remark, “It is no longer politically correct to say “Merry Christmas”.  I was astounded to realize how far the world has come in its effort to remove “Christ” from Christmas. When the Savior came into the world it says in (Luke 2: 7) “She … laid Him in a manger, because there was NO ROOM for them in the inn”.  There was no roomfor Jesus when He came 2000 years ago and there is still no room for Him today.  Is there “any room” in your heart and life for the Savior?
 
On the positive side, each Christmas season gives occasion to emphasize anew the wonderful story of the love of God that led Him to send His only begotten Son into the world.  The scripture verse in the Bible (Luke 2:11), which is the title of this message, was part of the announcement of the angel of the Lord to the shepherds.  It is also God’s Word to every person born into this world since that time.  As you read this message, think of these words as God’s personal word to you.  “Unto YOU is born a Savior, which is Christ the Lord”.  God gave YOU a gift. Have you received Him?
 

Friday, December 9, 2011

THE NAME OF GOD HIDDEN IN PSALMS 23

Psalm 23 is a Psalm for all occasions- death, birthday, marriage etc. It is an all time heavenly Shepherd Psalm. We have heard many messages in the Psalm and may be hearing even now. But I want to point out the 7 names of God hidden in this beautiful Psalm.

PSALM 23
Ver 1: The Lord is My Shepherd-
The very first verse hides ONE NAME OF GOD.
"SHEPHERD"-JEHOVAH-RA(Jehovah the Shepherd)
or-JEHOVAH-ROHI

If the Lord is your shepherd, then you can own this Psalm 23 as yours. All others will follow
Notice the word "LORD" is all in capital letters. "The LORD is My Shepherd". If the "LORD" is all in the capital, in the original Hebrew it means "JEHOVAH". A classic example is found in Psalms 110:1 "The LORD said unto my Lord"
LORD in capital means "JEHOVAH"
Lord in small letters means "ADONAI"
Therefore the meaning of Psalm 110:1 is
JEHOVAH said unto my Savior (His Son)

THE SECOND NAME
Ver 1 : "I SHALL NOT WANT "
When the Lord is my Shepherd, I don't lack in anything. HE is my Provider. That is the second name of God hidden in Ver 1.
Read carefully Genesis 22:9-14
"……And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and beheld behind a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place JEHOVAH-JIREH…" Here, notice the name of the person was ABRAHAM. His Original name was ABRAM. God changed his name.
ABRAM ® ABRAHAM
What is the difference? The letters "HA" is added to the original name. When you breathe of life into an ordinary man 'Abram' and changed him into a spirit filled man 'Abraham', the father of all faithful. He only could say JEHOVAH- JIREH.
I shall not want… JEHOVAH-JIREH(JEHOVAH is my Provider)
When you know the Lord as your 'Shepherd' he will be your provider, all sufficient-one. Therefore, I shall not lack or want anything.
Notice, the original name of the city of Melchisedek in Gen 14 was SALEM. Now, when Abraham called it Jehovah-Jireh it became
Jireh + SALEM ® JIREHSALEM or JERUSALEM

THE THIRD NAME
Ver 2: He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me besides the still waters"
The sheep is very happy. Lying down in Green pastures and still waters (not turbulent waters) all speak of peaceful conditions. That is the third name.
Isreal was in turbulent condition. The Midianites surrounded them. At that time, they cried. God gave a deliverer called 'GIDEON'
"And the Lord said unto him, peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.
Then Gideon build an altar there unto the Lord, and called it JEHOVAH- SHALOM" Judges 6:23 , 24
Third Name Hidden (Psalms 23:2) JEHOVAH- SHALOM

THE FOURTH NAME
Ver 3: "He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake" Psalm 23: 3
In the book of "JEREMIAH" it is written "…and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness" Jeremiah 33 :16
In the coming days when Israel will come to know the Lord this verse will be fulfilled in the land.
Now, if you look at your Reference Bible, in the margin that name is given and that is the Fourth Name.
THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS…JEHOVAH-TSIDKENILL (Jer 33: 16)

THE FIFTH NAME
Ver 4: "Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For thou art with me…"
The Amalekites came against the Israelites after they crossed the Red sea. Remember, the Devil is going to severely attack you after you are saved and seeking to follow the Lord. No Amalekite came against them in EGYPT. When Moses went up the Mountain Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands when Joshua defeated the Amalekite with the edge of the sword. That is it my friend, Our Lord suffered on the cross and his hands were lifted up with two nails. Here down on earth we could defeat Satan through our Heavenly Joshua, even through our Lord, the HOLY SPIRIT, using the word of God(our sword). That is the fifth Name hidden.
Psalm 23: 4…. JEHOVAH- NISSI( Exodus 17:15)

THE SIXTH NAME
Ver 5: "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil: my cup runneth over"
The sheep sometimes fight with each other. They but each other with their head. So in the evening the shepherd will carefully look each head of the sheep for any wound and apply oil there. That is the sixth Name.
Psalm 23: 5…. JEHOVAH- RAPHEGA( Exodus 15:26)The Lord the healer.
When the waters of Marah was bitter, the Lord showed Moses a tree which turned bitterness into sweetness.

THE SEVENTH NAME
Ver 6: "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever"
That is the seventh Name. The Lord will be with us forever. In the book of Ezekiel the last chapter , the last verse
Ezekiel 48: 35…..JEHOVAH- SHAMMA (Ezekiel 48:35)
"and the name of the city from that day shall be The LORD is there"

The seven names of God hidden in the Psalm 23 are:
1.JEHOVAH-RA
2.JEHOVAH-JIREH
3.JEHOVAH-SHALOM
4.JEHOVAH-TSIDKNELL
5.JEHOVAH-NISSI
6.JEHOVAH-RAPHEGA
7.JEHOVAH-SHAMMAH
Praise the LORD
 

Knowing the Shepherd

In Psalm 23 we learn of the Shepherd character of that “The Great Shepherd” that we read about in, (Hebrews 13:20) “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant”.  Because of His resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ is a living Savior and He is the Great Shepherd of the sheep.  In Psalm 22 we see the Lord Jesus as “The Savior”.  In Psalm 23 we see Him as “The Shepherd”. Psalm 22 is about “The Cross”.  Psalm 23 is about “The Crook”.  Psalm 22 is about the Saviors “Grace and Grief”.  Psalm 23 is about the Saviors “Grace and Guidance”.  Psalm 22 is about “His Past Ministry” of providing salvation for His sheep.  Psalm 23 is about “His Present Ministry” of caring for His sheep.
 
The Twenty-Third Psalm is probably the most popular and most beloved poem in all literature.  It is often quoted at funerals and other times of grief and distress by both individuals and congregations.  This psalm contains many wonderful promises to those who are the sheep of the Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Someone has said that in this psalm you can find the secret to happiness.  There are five ingredients to human happiness and for these five things all men seek all their life long. Lacking any one of them, happiness will elude them.  These five things are Peace, Protection, Provision, a Place to live and a Person to love.  The Psalmist was a happy man because he had the Shepherd and because he had the Shepherd he had happiness.  Because he had the Shepherd he had Peace for it says in, (verse 2) “He leadeth me beside the waters of quietness”(margin).  He had Protection because it says in, (verse 4) “I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me”.   He hadProvision, (verse 5) “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies”.  He had a Place to live, (verse 6) “The house of the Lord forever”.  The secret of it all was that he had a Person to love and who loved him.  (Verse 1) “THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD”. 
 
This Psalm, despite its popularity and all its promised blessings, is not for everyone.  It is only for those who are entitled to say, “The Lord is My Shepherd”.  Dear reader, can you honestly make this claim?  Do YOU know the Lord Jesus Christ as YOUR Savior and Shepherd?  It is true that “The Good Shepherd”, in Psalm 22, died for all and all can be saved.  Only those, however, who actually receive Him by a definite act of faith are His sheep.  His saving work is sufficient for all, but it is only effective for those who actually believe on Him.   
 
In this message we want to focus our attention on the first five words of this Psalm, “The Lord Is My Shepherd” because, as we mentioned, this is key to receiving and enjoying all the blessings that follow.  We want to consider these five words by way of the following outline:
 
1.      THE LORD = POWER (AUTHORITY)
2.      IS = PRESENT (not MAYBE, or WILL BE but IS, PRESENT TENSE)
3.      MY = POSSESION
4.      SHEPHERD = PROVIDER, PROTECTOR, PROMISER
 
Let’s consider first of all these important words;
 
1)      THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD
The Psalm begins with these words, “THE LORD”.  The Word of God leaves no doubt as to the identity of the “Lord”.  It says in, (Acts 2:36) “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified both Lord and Christ”.  From this verse we are reminded that man crucified Him but God exalted Him.  Man gave Him a crown of thorns but God crowned Him with glory and honor.   From this verse we are given the three Names of the Savior;
·        “JESUS” – (Matthew 1:21) “Thou shalt call His Name Jesus for He shall save His people from their sins”.  The Name “Jesus” means Jehovah the Savior.
·        “CHRIST” – (Matthew 22:42) “What think ye of Christ” was the question the Lord ask of the Pharisees.  The word “Christ” means “anointed”, i.e., “The Messiah”.
·        “LORD” – Jesus Christ is “The Lord”.  It means that He has power and authority.  In order for a person to be saved it is essential that one acknowledge the Lordship of Christ.  The thief on the cross, who was saved, acknowledged the Lordship of the Savior.  (Luke 23:42, 43) “He said unto Jesus, LORD; remember me when thou comest into thy Kingdom.  And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in Paradise”.   Paul, the Apostle, acknowledged the Lordship of Christ when he was converted on the Damascus road, (Acts 9:5, 6) “Who art thou LORD?  And the LORD said I am Jesus”.  “Lord what wilt Thou have me to do”.  Have YOU ever acknowledged Jesus as your Lord and Savior?  It says in, (Romans 10:9, 10) “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus (JESUS AS LORD) and shalt believe in thy heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved”.  “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation”.
 
2)     THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD
Notice that the Psalmist could say, “The Lord IS my Shepherd”.  It is not that, “the Lord might be my Shepherd” or “the Lord will be my Shepherd”.  God’s salvation, the salvation offered in the Bible, is not a “maybe” salvation or a “hope so” salvation.   
When a person believes on the Lord Jesus Christ and receives Him as their own personal Savior they are saved immediately and they are saved eternally.  A consideration of a few verses will verify this:
·        (John 3:36) “He that believeth on the Son hath (has, present tense) everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on Him”. 
·        (1 John 5:13) “These things have I written unto you that believe on the Name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have (present tense) eternal life, and that ye may believe on the Name of the Son of God”.
 
3)     THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD
The Psalmist could say with all confidence, “the Lord is MY Shepherd”.  It speaks of “possession”.  When you are saved, the Shepherd becomes your Savior and you become His sheep.  Dear reader, where do YOU stand on this important issue?  If YOU are not saved, God says You are like a “straying sheep”.  It says in, (Isaiah 53:6) “ All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all”.  Straying sheep are outside the care and protection of the Shepherd and exposed to danger.  In the same way, the unsaved are separated from God and facing the wrath and judgment of a Holy God.  This is why the Savior came and died on the cross, bearing your sins and mine in His own body on the tree.  This is why, “the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all”.  If YOU die in your sins, with your sins unforgiven, You must face God at the judgment.  The Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ, said In the Gospel of John, (10:26)”Ye believe not, because ye are not my sheep”.  The unbelieving and thus the unsaved, are not His sheep.  On the other hand, He said, (John 10:27) “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”.  Those who are the sheep of the Shepherd have certain characteristics.  They have “heard His voice” and came to receive His gift of salvation.  The Shepherd “knows them” for they belong to Him.  Those who are His sheep “follow Him”.  They have had a life changing conversion experience.  (2 Corinthians 5:17) “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (creation), old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new”.
 
4)     THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD 
Those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and receive Him as their own personal Savior, know Him, not only as Savior, but also as their SHEPHERD.  When He becomes our Shepherd we become the recipients of His PROVISION, His PROTECTION and His PROMISE’S.  These things are all detailed in the remaining verses of Psalm 23.   If the Shepherd is really mine and I am really His then I have everything in Him.  In these verses I have Refreshment, Restoration, Regulation, Rescue, Reassurance, Reception, Rejoicing and Residence.  Can YOU say with all confidence, (verse 6) “I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever”?
 
In summary, Psalm 23 brings to our attention the Shepherd character of Christ and His care of His own.  All who repent of their sins and put their faith and trust in Him, and receive Him as their own personal Savior, will receive His Shepherd care.  Dear reader, can YOU honestly say, “The Lord is MY Shepherd”?  If YOU remain unsaved it will not be because God does not love YOU, or be because God’s Son did not die for YOU, but it will be because YOU have not believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.  Which will it be for You, RECEPTION or REJECTION of the Savior?  YOU ARE TRAVELLING THE “HIGHWAY OF LIFE”.  Now that YOU have read this message, YOU have come to the “crossroads”.  Which way will YOU go?  Will YOU continue to reject the Savior and His work on the cross?  Will YOU continue to refuse God’s gift of salvation?  Or, will YOU believe in Him and receive Him as YOUR Lord and Savior?  It is YOUR DECISION and YOUR RESPONSIBILITY.
 
Please give this matter your most serious attention.  Will YOU be a believer or a non-believer?  Your eternal destiny depends on YOUR decision.

Monday, December 5, 2011

To Shrink or to Grow?

"Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress" Psalm 4:1

This prayer was probably written when David was forced to leave Jeruslem during the rebellion led by his son Absalom. It was the most difficult period of David's career, and it appeared that everything was falling to pieces.

But see what these trials did for David: "Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress!" Another translation says, "You have relieved me in my distress." Literally it has the thought of "making room for." Instead of measuring his troubles, David was measuring himself to see if he had grown spiritually!

This is one reason God permits trials, they help us grow. Of course, if we rebel against God's will, troubles will break us down, but if we submit to His will they will build us up. "The troubles of my heart are enlarged," David cried in Psalm 25:17. But God was using those troubles to enlarge David!

Paul was able to say with confidence, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God" (Rom. 8:28). "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us" (2 Cor. 4:17). Both David and Paul realized that the Lord can bring blessing out of battles. In Psalm 18:19 we learn that instead of being hemmed in by his troubles, David stepped out into a large place. This is the victory of faith, turning confining trials into enlarging experiences. They put Paul into prison, but God made a "large place" as His servant ministered the Word of God. John was exiled to the tiny Island of Patmos, but God opened the heavens to him and made the island a "large place" of blessing.

In Psalm 18:36, David says, "you enlarged my steps!" He was able to take giant steps of faith because he had seen God at work in difficult circumstances. An enlarged heart (Ps. 4:1), a large place (Ps.18:19), and enlarged steps, what more could we want?

We are prone to complain about difficulties. How we need to remind ourselves that God-ordained trials are sent to accomplish God ordained purposes. God presses us with trials that He might enlarge us! He enlarges our difficulties that they may enlarge us and equip us for a larger place of service! No wonder Jabez prayed, "Oh that You would bless me indeed, and enlarged my border" (1 Chronicles 4:10).

Instead of resenting trials today, surrender to the Lord and allow His grace to enlarge you spiritually.