Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Being made Conformable

Philippians 3:10-12 ” That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
Not as though I had already attained, neither were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that which I am also apprehended of Christ Jesus.”

“Being made conformable”
To be made “conformable” is to be made pliable in the Lord’s hands.
Yielding to the Holy Spirit’s impressions.
This something Paul had to learn, as he says here; and we have to learn.

The Holy Spirit does not ZAP us with some power which is apart from Himself.
But He fills us with Himself, and His grace (the unmerited favor of power) as we yield.

Yield in scripture is to give in, to submit, to bow our hearts, to Him.

One of the greatest Victories of the Holy Spirit in our life, is that we are made useable.
God can never use the natural man, and bless him as He wants, for the natural man is at enmity with Him.
Romans 8:7″ Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”

The natural man won’t yield to God’s authority, except in lip service to make himself look good.
So God gives us a new nature. It is His nature implanted within us by the Holy Spirit, when we are born again.
We must yield to the new nature instead of yielding to the old habits, ways, and attitudes, in any given circumstance.
Our adversary, the devil, fights against the new nature, and uses tricks to get us to be unthankful, or discontent with the way the Lord is leading us.
To quench the Holy Spirit’s help by distrust, and worry.

Often we do not realize the subtlety of this weapon; or the extent to which it ruins our peace.
It appears quite reasonable: “You don’t really want to do that, now, do you?”
“Think of what everyone is going to think about you!”
Or, “How rude people are!”

But, Paul says he learned to be “conformable” to the Holy Spirit, in his life’s situations. And we can be, too.

We are not all the same. Some yield easily in this, but not that. And some are just the opposite.
But if you stay at this yielding, He will make you conformable in every situation which comes up.
You will know His Will and the power to do it will come, because you will do His Will.

This is true freedom. Freedom to be what we ought to be.

Resurrection Power:
Ephesians 1:18-20 “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his 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,”

There are three things promised us:
That our understanding would be enlightened or given light to see His Will, and how we are to do it.

That we may have the confident expectation that God will do what He says where our calling is concerned. That we may know the true riches we have in Christ Jesus, and since they are our inheritance; we may get them into us here, and now.

That we may, by the knowledge of experience, have that same power working in us, by which God raised Christ from the dead.

Philippians 3:12 “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.”

Paul is saying that he had not attained or become complete in Christ Jesus, yet; but that he followed after Christ, so that he could have in present possession all that Christ had for him. (That is what “apprehend” means)
Because he was Christ’s present possession; he belonged to Christ.
The Lord had empowered him, and would empower him; so he chose to follow on after the Lord, till he had fulfilled the calling Christ gave him.

Philippians 3:10 “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;”

This all begins with us knowing Christ Jesus.
We may know Him a little, or a lot; but there is always something more to learn about our Lord.
He calls us to follow Him.

 

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

1 Corinthians 1:30-31 “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

In Christ Jesus, we have all blessings. And we need to get them into us, in our circumstances, here.

He has for us: wisdom.
This is special light for those times we need it. (Light in scripture is knowledge. It is showing us what is real. God turns on the light, so to speak, so we can see the truth)
Wisdom is not only seeing things as they affect ourselves, but also as they affect others we may be responsible for, in some way. It is special light for special times.

Proverbs 3:21-23 “My son, let them not depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion:
So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck.
Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble.”

Christ has for us: righteousness.
This is, of course, His righteousness imparted to us; giving us a right standing before God.
He also works within us righteousness which is obedience to His Will. This is good protection against the tricks of the devil.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect (living up to the light that he has been given in the Word), throughly furnished unto all good works.”

Christ has for us: sanctification.
This is the setting aside of ourselves to God for sacred use, in our everyday living.
We deny ourselves, and be obedient.

Jude 1 “Jude the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:”

1 Corinthians 1:2 “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified by Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.”

1 Peter 1:2 “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: grace unto you, and peace be multiplied.”

All the Godhead, is in our sanctification. The Father chose it for us. The Son, through His merits, won it for us. And the Holy Spirit works it within us, everyday.
It is His power within us to enable us to work it out.

Christ has for us: redemption.
This is a wonderfully complete word. It speaks of now, for we are His purchased possession; never to be in bondage to anything or anyone.
It speaks, also, of the coming transformation of our spirit, soul, and body, to heaven forever.
Colossians 1:14 “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:”

In Christ Jesus, we have all these things.
Are we getting them into us?

 

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

A Living Sacrifice

Romans 12:1 ” I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

When I was first saved, I wondered at this verse:
What does it mean: “Sacrifice”?
Where is the altar? At the forefront of the Church? Or somewhere else?

In a message, I began to understand the verse.
Let me explain what was said.

The word sacrifice in scripture, signifies what is given to God.
We are to give our whole selves over to God.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

When we are born again, we ask that the Lord Jesus come into our hearts and live.
The Holy Spirit then comes into our spirits, and abides with us.

We are to bring the rest of our selves to Christ as His, by a series of choices. Him or self?
Then our souls, which is our personalities, are brought little by little into subjection to Jesus. The souls are that which makes us, us. No two are exactly the same. We believe they are the most precious thing in His creation, since He died to save it.

Our bodies we must give over to the Holy Spirit. This is the sacrifice spoken of here.
He has come to us, and dwells in our spirits, and we must give him our hands, to do what He wants; our feet to go where He wants; and our mouths to speak His words faithfully.
In fact, every part of our bodies must be given to Him, to use as He wants.

This is the “Sacrifice”.

The altar is not the one at the front of the Church, although you may yield to His call to do this there.

But it is the “altar” of our everyday lives. It is there that the “fire” of life, tries us.

Will we stay on the altar and let everything go to Christ?
Or will we crawl off the altar, and go back to the world?

The Holy Spirit to Whom we present our bodies, is the One that empowers us, enable’s us, and works through us to bring His Will to pass.

Romans 12:2 “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.”

We are not to be conformed to this world’s system.
Now I love nature, the birds, trees, sky, stars, etc. They show forth God’s beauty, and order.
This is not, what the “world” in scripture is talking about.
It is the world’s system: which is corrupt, greedy, seeking power and praise for itself; that is spoken of.

We are not to be conformed to it.
We are to be conformed to Christ (Romans 8:29), and His life in us by the Holy Spirit.

But since we live in this world, how are we to do this?

We are to be transformed: our natural ways of doing things are to be changed into Spiritual ways of doing things.
Of course, this is by the power of the Holy Spirit: His grace enabling us to overcome in each situation. To do His Will, not what I want, or the world accepts.

The thoroughness, and power of our transformation rest with us.
He works within you both to will and do of His good pleasure; but we must work it out.
We must take the grace given at the time, and use it. Whether it is words, power to walk away, power to stand in the day of trouble, etc.
The power comes from the Holy Spirit, but we must yield to Him and use it.

Philippians 2:12-13 “Wherefore my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling:
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”

The salvation mentioned here is the salvation of ourselves in our everyday life.
Salvation from sin, and self. (As we have written before, salvation is 4-fold: from the love of sin, from the guilt of sin, from the power of sin, and one day, from the presence of sin. This salvation covers our whole lives from here through eternity)

We are to work out the power of the Holy Spirit, given within: Ability, Strength, Joy, Peace, Patience; all are of Him, but through us.

This is to prove what is that good (we learn that it is), and acceptable (to God), and perfect (bringing us to be what we were created for) Will of God.

 

Preaching, Teaching, Notes

It is time to Come, for all things are Ready

Luke 14:16-17 “Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:
And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.”

Who would refuse a great supper, unless they wanted to dishonor the One giving it?

Luke 14:18-20 “And they all with one consent begin to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.
And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I can not come.”

These are ridiculous excuses:
Who would examine a piece of ground in the night? With torches? What would you be able to see?

Or who would check on five yoke of oxen, to see if they pulled together, in the night?
Wouldn’t they take a chance of hurting some of them?

And this last was the worst: In Israel, when you were first married, all you did was go to parties, and dinners. Relatives, and friends, all sought to have you come, to honor your marriage.

But they all refused the invitation; and forfeited the privilege of feasting with Christ.

Luke 14:21-22 “So that servant came, and showed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.
And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.”

The call has issued down through the ages. All who would, have come. To the world they were the poor, downtrodden; and the maimed, halt, and blind. Those who realized they were lost and hopeless without Christ. They were ushered in, to sit at the table, and feast with Jesus.
But there are places yet to be filled.

The last invitation is now going out.
There is an urgency to this last call, as the feast can not begin, until every place is filled.
Luke 14:23 “And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highway and hedges, And compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.”

So, he sends his servants again. It is late, there is no time now. They must compel them to come in.
“Compel them” means constrain them, or stop them in their tracks and bring them in.
(2 Corinthians 5:14-15 “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:
And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”

To stop them in the highways; going on in their own ways, unknowing or uncaring of Christ and His invitation of grace: make them hear the invitation.

Stop them in the hedges; hiding out, from all the chaos of the world; and speak to them of the invitation, which is being offered to them.

And the Holy Spirit will bring them in, “compel them”; that every place in the feast will be filled.

Luke 14:24 “For I say unto you, that none of those men that were bidden shall taste of my supper.”

We don’t like to think of God’s Voice this way.

We don’t like to think of the “down side” to our rejection of God’s invitation to us:
We have put off doing anything, even though we know we should.

We have given excuses for our lack of desire; to know God, or even about Him. Wanting instead to pretend He does not exist, or that He is cruel and not to be yielded to.

But, unfortunately, one day, we will hear His Voice very clearly.
What we hear Him say will be most important, then.

The invitation to fellowship with Him is still be given out. Some are being stopped, now, in their ways, and being presented with it.

What will you do? “Come, for all things are ready.”
There is a place for you, at Jesus table, if you will come, at His invitation.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

The Perilous times of the Last days.

2 Timothy 3:1 “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.”

This “last days” is not the Tribulation Period, but the last days of the Church Age, which is spoken of here.

And why are they perilous? In the Greek, “perilous” means to reduce strength, dangerous.
Anytime we are not at full strength to resist the Devil, or combat the temptations of the world; we are in a perilous situation.

And this is a warning for the Church.

2 Timothy 3:2-5 “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good.
Traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God;
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

Paul was warning that there would come into the Church those who would fit right into the times; but who would not be righteous with God; for they will deny the power of God in their lives to rule and change them.

They will refuse subjection to authority; though they may praise it in reguard to others.

The real telling description of these people, is that they are “lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.”

 

“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof”

We all know about forms. We fill numbers of them out when we send away for something. Our Taxes. For Schools. Etc.

So we know that a form, filled out, gives a lot of information; which could just be false.

This is here expressed, as a form of godliness.
They have filled in all the blanks. Said all the right things, to be accepted, but they are all false; for they “deny” the Power of God, in their own lives.

To deny is to refuse.
They refuse to submit to that power, and receive it, for they don’t really want it or Him.
Luke 5:17 “There came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which are come out of every town of Galilee, and Judea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them.”
But they were not healed. Those Pharisees and doctors came to hear Jesus, and after hearing Jesus,and seeing a miracle; they left the very same men.
They could have been healed of their unbelief, but refused.

Perilous times will come. If fact, are here.
And we, as Christians, need to strengthen ourselves in God’s Word for the days ahead.
We need to regain the personal relationship we once had with the Lord Jesus.

God is Almighty. He has promised to save us to the uttermost.
Hebrews 7:25 “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”

Let us receive His Power for our lives. For He is Able.

 

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Our Purpose as Christians

2 Timothy 1:9 “Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began;”

The Purpose of God for us was set in motion before the world began. Before He created anything at the first; God saw us in Christ Jesus, according to His Purpose.

It is according to His Purpose and grace. His Purpose is His Will; and His grace is His unmerited favor of Power to bring His Will to pass.

Ephesians 2:8-10 ” For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

This is written to Christians, telling them how they were saved.

It was by the power of grace, not anything they did to deserve it.
It was through faith, a gift given them by the Holy Spirit.

And they are “created in Christ Jesus”; given new birth and a new nature.
So created, not to stand by and watch; but to take part in His Purpose: those good works we are to walk in.
We are so created as a “workmanship”; which is a molded image. We are to be molded into the image of Christ. (Remember the word Christian means: Little Christ)

And how are we to do this?

By using the means and provision God has given.
That is what “ordained” means.
It means that all the provision for our walk with Him, is there in Him.
We just have to use it. To will with Him.

Let us talk, for a moment, about the things which hinder His Purpose.
(If you ask, How can anything hinder God’s Purpose? I answer, that as He gives us choices, He is allowing His Purpose to be fulfilled or hindered by us. It is His way of teaching us, and training us. He knows all things, and makes arrangements for it. His Will, will be done; but He wants it to be done through us, so He can bless us.)

The greatest hinderance to God’s Will, is that we do not go on with Him as we should.
Our walk with Christ is progressive:
We are babes in Christ, being seen to, fed with the milk of His Word, so we can begin to crawl and then walk with Him.

We come to the place of walking; and often like mules, stop and stand and bray. Having a fit about some part of His Will.
He must, and will correct us: sometimes with rebukes.
Rebukes are words which awaken us to His claims on us. Showing us where we should be, and how to get there. (Hebrews 12:5)

Sometimes He must chasten us. This is serious; He does not do this lightly. (1 John 5:16)
But He will not empower rebels with His Spirit. That would be joining our rebellion against Himself. But what He does, He does because He loves us. As a parent corrects a child, for their good, so God corrects us.

The answer to this is to will to deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow Him. (Matthew 16:24)
We preach on this often; because it is the backbone of progress. We will deny ourselves, and follow Him.
Or we will put up with ourselves, and lose another opportunity to please our Lord.
It is a choice the Lord gives us: for it is “if” any man will.
Those that love Me, Jesus said, keep My commandments.

John 14:21 “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

When we truly want His Will and have denied ourselves, daily; we come to the place where we no longer resist His Will in anything.
(Resist is a good term. Do you instantly want to “back up” every time you hear about what you should be doing? )
Well, we can come to the place, in our experience, that we don’t resist. It is not instant obedience, but it is final obedience. We will obey.

But the crowning glory, in this life, is to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 5:17-18 “Wherefore be not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.”

When we are filled with the Spirit of God (and this only happens as we are emptied of the fullness of self); then the blessed influence of His life, love, peace, joy, and patience, is placed within us. And can be seen through us.

We are expressions of His life, and Purpose. That Purpose He purposed for us before the world began.
This is in Christ, for us.
Imagine a life full of the Lord’s light, and joy.
Better yet, don’t imagine it. Get it. If you are in Christ Jesus, born again; then His Purpose for you is to be filled with all the fullness of God. Filled to your capacity in Him.
Ephesians 3:16-19 “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye being rooted and grounded in love,
May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.”

We never truly know the love of Christ, the way He wants us to, until we walk along with Him: His hand for our strength, His Word for our help, His Spirit shining in us for comfort, and joy.

His Purpose for us, in Christ, is to walk with Him, into those good works He has ordained us for.
Will we go on with Him?

 

 

 

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

LOST

Luke 19:10 “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Lost. That which was lost. Lost to God, and all His plans and purposes.
For He purposed life and fellowship for each one.

But man is lost to that.

And more he is even lost to himself. His mind, which could have thought God’s thoughts after Him; is now filled with swearing, adulteries, plans of how to get even, and lying (even to ourselves).

His heart, which could have loved God, and his fellow man with respect, and care; is now filled with wrath and violence. (Test yourself here: what do you feel when people cut you off, or speak rudely to you, etc.)

His will, which could have willed to do God’s will; now seeks only to go along in the world. (All going closer and closer to the pit.)

But Jesus Christ came to seek and to save us.

First He seeks us out in our own circumstances. He sends the Holy Spirit to Awaken us to Christ, and His way; then to give us truth.
This is usually quite a shock, to see where we are. Who we are. And where we are going. (No, I don’t mean Hell, here. I mean the downward spiral of our lives, into selfishness, and confusion)

Then, He draws us to Christ. The loveliness of the person of Christ, we begin to see.
The fact that He loved us, enough to come and save us, we begin to believe.
The Light that He will save US, we begin to have.

The Holy Spirit opens our hearts to hear the Word of Christ to us:
John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, Verily,(Verily means Truth. Jesus is saying: Truth, Truth.) I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he can not see the kingdom of God.”

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your soul.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

John 7:37-38 “In the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”

And we reach out in faith, receiving Jesus as our Lord and Savior, to be born again.

John 1:12 “But as many as received him, to them gave he the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:”

As this happens, we are no longer lost to God, or to ourselves. We can begin to fulfill the purpose for which we were created: God’s Purpose for us, personally.

We are Found.
Ephesians 1:4-6 “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he made us accepted in the beloved:”

1 John 4:19 “We love him, because he first loved us.”

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

The Narrowness of Self

Matthew 16:25 “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”

We lose our self-life, that we might find our Christ life.
You find your Christ life as you, by deliberate acts of the will, bring yourself into subjection to the principal of obedience, which is God’s Principal.

Let us describe what our “self-life” is:
It is all the experiences you have had in your life (those we remember and those we don’t).
It is our thinking (this is shaped by our parents, our background, and the world we move around in: If people around us hate something, mostly likely we will, too)

It is our affections (the things we TRULY love, not what we pretend to care for: You may go out for tennis, not because you love tennis, but because there is someone you see, at tennis practice, that you “love”).

It is also your will. It is the active part of yourself. What you will to do, you will do.

All these are your self life. You can easily see how they can be influenced (as a Christian) by the world, the devil, as well as God.
Each of these powers exerts influence in your life. Which you choose to yield to is the most important question you face each day.

Romans 6:16 “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey: whither of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”

We lose our self life, little by little, until you are an expression of God’s Will, no matter where you are, or what you are doing.

We will be defeated by the wiles of the Devil, in this, unless we keep before us always: “For My Sake”.

We do this for Jesus sake. This is the personal choice of our hearts, minds, and wills, for Him.
It is done, once, when we give ourselves to Christ, as Lord and King.
And it is done again and again as we walk through life, with Him.

“For Jesus sake”. It should ever be our thought and desire.

Now, let us see how we are to lose our self-life:

First let us see how we shrink in to the narrowness of self, any time we are put into a trying position.

We are going along, denying self, when someone says something we take VERY personally about ourselves.
We then begin a series of steps, backing up, into the “safety” of our self.
If we back up, we start shutting doors, closing windows; keeping out as much of what is being talked about as possible.
We may smile and even agree with what is being said; but plainly we have shut ourselves up, so we will not be hurt.
We focus on something good we have done, or something bad that person has done. All the while we are smiling, and pretending we are really in the conversation. But we are not.

This is seeking the narrowness of self. It is a mechanism that most people employ at one time or another.
What they are thinking and saying inside is entirely different, than how they are acting outside.

But this is self. And Christ says, IF we are going to follow Him, we must deny self.

Matthew 16:24 “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”

Will we?
It is a matter of the will, willing with Christ.
And it is effort. To find out His Will, and then to set aside our opinions about it, and do it: “for His sake”.
Will we place ourselves in His pure Light, and see Reality?
You see, our memories, attitudes, and affections all play a part in our bringing ourselves to Christ.
They are all to be sanctified, or set aside to Him; one by one, as they start to hinder our walk with Him.
This requires us to see them as they are. To stop hiding from the truth about ourselves, and bringing us, the real us, to Christ.

The old song, “Just as I am”, is true.
(It was, in fact, written because a person who felt that he could never be saved, was about to give up. In a last ditch effort to know for himself whether God would save him, he entered a church, and sat in the last row.
He listened as the preacher was giving his message; when suddenly he stopped, looked around, then said: “You come to Jesus, just as you are.” Then he went back to his message.
The person was saved, just as he was, for that was what he needed to hear.)

God can not save the pretend you. He saves you.
And salvation is four-fold.
He saves from self’s love of sin–conviction of the Holy Spirit.
He saves from our guilt of sin–being born again.
He saves from the power of sin and self–sanctification.
He saves from the presence of sin–taking us to Heaven, when we die, or are raptured.

To come out from the narrowness of self, you must want to get honest with yourself and God, tell Him the way you really feel, and listen to His reply.

If you are ready for such a personal relationship, for His sake; start talking with Him.
And expect an answer, for He will speak to all who will hear.

John 7:17 (N.A.S.) “If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself.”

 

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Partakers of His Holiness

Hebrews 12:10 “For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.”

Let us consider “Holiness”, for there is a lot of confusion about this word.

Holiness when it speaks about God, is His sinlessness. This attribute is the beauty and perfection of all His attributes, which are many. He is Good, Mighty, Powerful, Merciful, full of Grace, Purposeful, Wise, and much more.
But Holiness is the greatest attribute, for His purity of thought, will, and action is wonderful.
(Imagine a God who was wicked, or greedy, or impure. What a hell, created beings would be placed in, under him.)

But Holiness, when it speaks about Christians, is when we, by a deliberate act, place ourselves at God’s disposal; to do with us as He wills.
To send us where He wills. And to give us the circumstances of our lives, as He wills.
So when it says “that we might be partakers of His holiness”, it means that we, by the power of the Holy Spirit within, experience God’s LOVE of sinlessness.
We seek to please Him, by the obedience of life and heart.

This is a process, which begins at new birth, and continues on, throughout our Spiritual lives. When we fall down, He will correct us, and we get back up to walk with Him.
Hebrews 12:11 “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grieveous: nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

It is for our profit; that we might have the reality of a life, lived in fellowship with Him.
Fellowship is what God desires, but it can only be as we BECOME partakers of His holiness.

The Lord showed me this, very clearly once:
Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for my own sake, and will not remember thy sins.”
I was an alcoholic. And when I became born again, He removed the desire for the drink.
Praying about the great and wonderful grace He had given me, He said, “I didn’t pick you up out of the gutter, so you could be SOMEBODY. I picked you up, and cleaned you up, so that I could have fellowship with you.”
This was all for His own sake: And praise Him for it!

Hebrews 12:12-13 “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;
And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.”

Lift up the hands which hang down. Tired, weary in well doing?
Raise up your hands in Thanksgiving and Praise.
Remember the many mercies He has given you, and begin there. Then present gifts of grace and peace will come to mind, and thank Him for them.
And most of all remember Who He is to you. Savior, Friend, Comforter, and King.
And praise Him for Himself.

And the feeble knees. Those things which should be holding you steady, are feeling weak?
Strengthen them by willingly determining to Stand in your place, as He has commanded.
(Sometimes it takes great determination to overcome the fear; but if you will determine, He will give you power to overcome.)

And make straight paths for your feet.
If you have been “wobbling” back and forth from the world’s plans, to God’s will; Stop!
(“A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.” James 1:8)
Has your experience been like the ship in a storm: up, one minute; and down the next?
He has stability and established strength for you, if you will: make straight paths for your feet.

This is to set in order before Him the way that you should take.
Seek the Lord for just what you should do, each day.
Well, you say, I have to go to work, or school. Or today I do the laundry, or visit Aunt Mary.

What it means is that we are to bring all our plans for each day to Him, and seek guidance from Him for them.
It is not just where we go, but in the attitude we take with us.

I have visited many people, not because they were nice, or even because they wanted to see me, or for that matter, I wanted to see them.
But I went, because the Lord wanted me to. Simple as that. And then, it was according to God’s Will. The Lord’s blessing could attend it.

I have gone to work, with the same attitude; Because the Lord told me, I was not there as men pleasers; but “I serve the Lord Christ.”

Colossians 3:23-24 “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”

This is to make straight paths for your feet. You will not stumble or fall, if you follow your Master, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Where He leads, He has gone before. When He stops us; it is so we will not fall off a cliff.
Yield to the Holy Spirit’s impressions within, and Christ’s guidance in His Word to us; and be “partakers of His Holiness”.
This way leads to joy, and usefulness.

 

 

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

God can take care of His own Glory.

God’s usual way of working for man, is to use another man to speak, or show God’s Will. (1 Corinthians 1:21, 25)
But it does not have to do so. God can and does take care of His own glory. (though His choice is to use man, so he may share in that glory.)

1 Samuel 2:29-30. “Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation: and honorest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?
Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me forever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me; for them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.”
The priesthood had failed, for Eli had not rebuked and chastened his sons, who were disobedient to God’s Word.
So God had another man in the wings to lead Israel, spiritually. (That man was Samuel, who was a picture of the Lord Jesus who would judge, and lead His people in the right way.)

But now, Israel is in a battle with the Philistines. And they are losing.
Instead of seeking God as to what to do, they go to bring out the Ark of the Covenant, like a lucky rabbit’s foot; hoping it will save them.

1 Samuel 4:3-4 “And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the Lord smitten us today before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us, that when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.
So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the Lord of Hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubim: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.”

Yes, it is the symbol of God’s Presence, but frankly God is not with them, in this battle; and He will not be “used”.
He will defend His Ark, but not Israel.
He actually uses the Ark to stir up the enemies of Israel, to teach them ALL a lesson about Himself: Who He is, and what He can do.

1 Samuel 4:5-6, 9-11. “And when the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again.
And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, What meaneth the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews? And they understood that the ark of the Lord is come into the camp.”

“Be strong, Quit yourselves like men, O ye Philistines, that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you: Quit yourselves like men and fight.
And the Philistines fought and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter, for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen.
And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.”

God is the God of the whole earth, and can make Himself known to any people, at any time.

1 Samuel 5:2 “When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon.”

Confident that they had beaten, not only Israel, but Israel’s God; they brought the Ark into the house of their god.
But, God is not defeated, but ready always, with power to show Himself strong.

1 Samuel 5:3-4 “And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen on his face to the earth before the ark of the Lord. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again.
And when they arose on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord; and the head of Dagon and both of the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him.”
First, God just has their god fall down before the Ark. Showing that their god was nothing.
Then, God chops off the head, and hands of their god; leaving only the stump. All were down at the Ark’s feet.

1 Samuel 5:6-7 “But the hand of the Lord was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he destroyed them, and smote them with hemorrhoids, even Ashdod and the coasts thereof.
And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us: for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god.”
God, then began making the men of the place sore. He destroyed some, and gave others hemorrhoids so painful that they cried out for help.
But not to the true God. Instead, they gathered the lords of the Philistines and wanted relief. So they thought that they could stop God, by moving the Ark.

1 Samuel 5: 8-9 “…And they answered, Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried about unto Gath. And they carried the ark of the God of Israel thither.
And it was so, that, after they had carried it about, the hand of the Lord was against the city with a very great destruction: and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had hemorrhoids in their secret parts.”

But God’s hand was against this next city, and it’s men, as well.
It was worse there, for it says, “a very great destruction”.

The Philistines were not going to give up their “trophy” from their victory over Israel (How silly pride is), so they start to move the Ark again.
(I wonder if the Lord is not slaying the very men who fought in the battle, which took the Ark.)

1 Samuel 5:10-11 “Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron. And it came to pass, as the ark of God came to Ekron that the Ekronites cried out saying, They have brought about the ark of the God of Israel to us, to slay us and our people.
So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to his own place, that it slay us not, and our people: for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there.”

But even while it was coming, the men of the place cried out against it. They thought that the lords of the Philistines had brought it, to slay them.

This would destroy the unity of the five lords of the Philistines, not to mention decimate their population.
Even as it came to the last city, it destroyed many.

After seven months of slaughter by the Lord, the Philistines finally seek a way to send it “to his place.”

They wanted to be rid of it; but just to take it back, was a sign of defeat. This, they did not want. What if the plagues remained after it went back?
So the priests of the Philistines told them:
First, make images of the hemorrhoids that were sent among the men, and images of the mice that were sent among the cities.
“…and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel: peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you…” (1Samuel 6:5)

Then, they were to make a new cart.
They were to take two milking cows away from their calves, and put a yoke on their necks (they had never been used to pull anything before).
They were to tie them to the cart with the Ark in it, put the offering of gold images in a box by it, and let it go.
Then they would see if God could bring His Ark home.

1 Samuel 6:9 “And see, if it goeth up by the way of his own coasts: to Bethsemesh, that he hath done us this great evil: but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that smote us; it was a chance that happened to us.”

Of course, He did take His Ark back to Israel
God always sees to His glory, whether He can use His people or not. Israel lost out; and so can we, if we are not being what we should be.

1 Samuel 6:12, 16 “And the kine took the straight way to the way of Bethsemesh, and went along the highway, lowing as they went, and turned not aside to the right hand or the left; and the lords of the Philistines went after them unto the border of Bethsemesh.”
“And when the five lords of the Philistines had seen it, they returned to Ekron the same day.”
(It is amazing, God took simple animals and made them obedient: against their nature, for milking cows DO NOT want to leave their calves.
But men and women, God gives a choice. Believe and obey, or Turn aside after their own way. Isaiah 53:6)
God’s honor and glory should be our highest aim.

And now let us see what God did to backsliding Israel, with Samuel’s guidance:

1 Samuel 7:3 “And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.”

God sends Samuel to speak to Israel about what they should do.

And they did put away the gods they had secretly worshipped, and “served the Lord only.”
1 Samuel 7:4 “Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the Lord only.”
God can do anything, in any way He chooses. But His Will is that we deliberately choose Him.
Will we go along in His Way? Or in our own way?

There is more to this:

Samuel calls for a time of repentance.
But when the Philistines hear of the gathering, they come looking for more victory, more slaughter.

But now God was for Israel:
The means for Victory in Israel was their repentance, Samuel’s offering and prayers, and the Lord’s thunder and lightening.
Yes, Israel fought, but this time the Lord was with them.

1 Samuel 7:8-10 “And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to cry unto the Lord our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines.
And Samuel took a suckling lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the Lord: and Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel; and the Lord heard him.
And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomforted them; and they were smitten before Israel.”

We should always thank the Lord for His Presence with us, in times of trouble, or in times of prosperity.
His Presence and Help make ALL the difference.

Have we learned the lesson of making sure that God is for us, because we are seeking His will, and doing it?
God can take care of His own glory, but would rather we shared in it, with Him.