Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

The Water of Life 

Revelation 22:17 “And the Spirit and the bride say,  Come.   Let him that heareth say,  Come.  And let him that is athirst come.  And whosoever will,  let him take the water of life freely.”

Whosoever will:

Drink deep of this life giving flow!   That it might be in you, rivers of Living Water.

Have you ever noticed the force of flowing water?   It follows the path of least resistance.   It flows over fields, or roads.  It comes up to dams and stops;  unless the force of that flow is strong enough.

Water in scripture always speaks of the life giving influence of the Word of God, applied to my circumstances, by the Holy Spirit.

John 7:37-39 “In the last day,  that 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.

                          (But this spake He of the Spirit,  which they that believe on Him shall receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given;  because Jesus was not yet glorified.)

This feast was the Feast of the Tabernacles.   It was a feast of remembrance.  All the males of Israel were to come to Jerusalem for it,  so there would have been a large crowd gathered. 

The priests in the Temple, were to go out in procession to the wells outside the city,  and fill their vessels (jars), and bring them up the hill to the Temple.

They were singing as they went:  Isaiah 12.

Isaiah 12:2-3, 6 “Behold,  God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song;  He also is become my salvation.

                              Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the well of salvation.

                               Cry out and shout,  thou inhabitant of Zion:  for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.”

Then they would come into the court, right before the steps going up to the Altar where they sacrificed,  and they would pour out this water,  singing this.

This they would do for six days.   The seventh day,  the great day of the feast,  they would gather in the court;  and stand there:  no water.  

They would again sing this song:  and wait in silence for a set time.

At that moment,  these verses tell what Jesus did before all these people gathered.  He moved out of the crowd, and onto the steps leading up to the Altar,  and…

“…Jesus stood and cried,  If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.”

He had offered Himself as the Bread of Life before,  and been rejected because they did not understand that “eating” this bread, was believing in Him as the Son of God.

And now Jesus offers Himself as the the Way for life giving water.

“He that believeth on Me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”

He was speaking here, of the Holy Spirit which would be given to all who would receive His Words and believe in Him as Lord and Savior. 

He was speaking of the Holy Spirit, because He knew they would reject Him,  and He would be crucified, and raised the third day.

He was saying,   “I am offering you a way to have life;  through believing in Me,  the Holy Spirit will be given you.   When He comes to you,  it will be as refreshing, and forceful as a river of living water!”

Of course, they did crucify Him,  and He arose the third day;  going up to heaven and sending the Holy Spirit to us to comfort us.   

The Holy Spirit uses the Word, and becomes a force within us to help us, guide us, correct us,  and encourage us.   How much we need Him.

But are we “drinking” deeply of this life-giving flow?  Or have we blocked the flow in our lives somehow?

Revelation 22:17 “And the Spirit and the bride say,  Come.  Let him that heareth say,  Come.  And let him that is athirst come.   And whosoever will,  let him take the water of life freely.”

You see it says,  “To drink,…you must come.”

Come, as Jesus said, standing on the step.  Come to Him,  and receive.   Stop blocking it,  by unbelief,  or fear,  or grief,  or even just hesitation.   Yield to the Holy Spirit.

Just Come,  hear His Word,  and Drink the Water of Life,  freely.

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Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

An Expected End  

Jeremiah. 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,  saith the Lord,  thoughts of peace and not of evil,  to give you an expected end.”

This expected end here, is “the thing that I long for”.

This expected end is to hear when we get to heaven:  “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”. (Matthew 25:21)

God expects us to follow Him, and to this end He works within us and on us;  so that He can bless.

When something, or someone has come between our heart’s affection and the Lord;  our sight becomes affected.  We no longer see Christ, as our all.   

First it is “Christ and….”

Then it is “….and Christ”

He has already slipped into a second place. 

Jeremiah 29:13 “And ye shall seek me,  and find me,  when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

Jeremiah is telling God’s people that God will be found of those who seek for Him.

For you see,  “seek” and “search” are words used only when something is lost.     They had lost true fellowship with God.

But the Lord says:  “seek” Me:

The word is used as though we must go out of our comfort zone and look around us.

When we do, we can really see all the abundance of things He has done for us and said to us.        To think on these things,  and on Who He is.

And as we do,  we will “find Me.”

We are to “search” with all our hearts:

That is to take everything apart if necessary, to find the most valuable Object:   Christ Jesus,  Himself.

It is to throw away the other things we trust in,  or have looked to.

We must tear away the pretenses we have wrapped ourselves in. (I’m OK,  sure I’m not as close to the Lord as before, it seems as though something has come between us;  but I’m sure it will work itself out? Right?)

When we do get these things out of the way:

“And I will be found of you, saith the Lord:…” (Jeremiah 29:14)

I have been as the Prodigal son,  in a “far country” from God.   But when I, too, “came to myself”, and saw things as they really were;  I came home to the Father.  (Luke 15:17-24)

The Father does not berate him,  but loves him.  So He does with all who will “seek” and “search”;  and come home to Him.

There is an expected end for each believer.  The thing He longs for.

That He may say to all of us:  “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Haggai   

Ezra 5:1   “Then the prophets,  Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo,  prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel,  even unto them.”

Haggai was an old man,  and Zechariah was a young man. 

Both were told to talk to the leaders of the returned remnant (they had been seventy years in captivity in Babylon, for their sins, but had come back after the opportunity came to return.)

Zechariah spoke mostly in visions, telling the people that they had returned for a purpose:  which they should continue and finish.  

His was a message to encourage and build up.

But before they could be built up;  they needed to Awaken! To God’s claims on their lives.  This Haggai did.

Haggai was a man who got right to the point.

Haggai 1:3-5 “Then came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying, 

Is it time for you,  O ye,  to dwell in your ceiled houses,  and this house lie waste?

                          Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts;  Consider your ways.”

You see, the people who had returned to Israel,  had started building the temple with great enthusiasm.

As soon as God’s work was started:  adversaries came.   They said,  Let us “help” you.   They wanted to stop God’s people from being separate from them and their ways.  The world always wants to interfere in God’s Will and work.

But when they refused, saying they alone would build God’s house.  Then trouble began.  (Ezra 4:4-6)

This was their purpose:  that is what the Lord brought them back for.   To rebuild the temple,  so that the first thing (and the Lord is always to be first in our lives),  would be His people in a right relationship to Him, by sacrifice.

(We must remember that the sacrifices of the temple were looking forward to the Great, and Only True Sacrifice for sins:  Jesus Christ, our Savior.)

When they had stopped building the temple;  they started working on their own houses, and estates.    They built very elaborate houses for themselves.

But God would not let them forget their purpose,  so:

Haggai 1:7-9 “Thus saith the Lord of hosts;  Consider your ways.

Go up to the mountain,  and bring wood,  and build the house;    I will take pleasure in it,  and I will be glorified,  saith the Lord.

                          Ye looked for much,  and,  lo,  it came to little;  and when ye brought it home,  I did blow upon it.    Why?  Saith the Lord of hosts.   

Because of mine house that is waste,  and ye run every man unto his own house.”

This fierce and serious message was heard (thankfully),  and obeyed.

Haggai 1:12 “Then Zerubbabel…,and Joshua…,the high priest,  with all the remnant of the people,  obeyed the voice of the Lord their God,  and the words of Haggai the prophet,  as the Lord their God sent him,  and the people did fear before the Lord.”

And the Lord encouraged them:

Haggai 1:13-14 “Then spake Haggai the Lord’s messenger in the Lord’s message unto the people, saying,    I am with you,  saith the Lord.

                              And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel….,governor of Judah,  and the spirit of Joshua…., the high priest,   and the spirit of all the remnant of the people;  and they came and did work in the house of the Lord of hosts,  their God,”

When the Lord is “with us”,  we are in a very secure place, for His power is at work for us.

For the Lord also made Darius the king discover a decree, which had not been found before.  By that decree, made under Cyrus the king,   the Israelites were to be funded, and encouraged!    (Ezra 6:2-3, 6-7)

And the Lord gave them a very great promise:

Haggai 2:7, 9 “And I will shake all nations,  and the desire of all nations shall come:  and I will fill this house with (the)glory, saith the Lord of hosts.

                         The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former,  saith the Lord of hosts:  and in this place will I give peace,  saith the Lord of hosts.”

Part of the temple they were finishing, would be there when God sends His Son, Jesus Christ.   (It was;  for Herod built his temple around part of this original building.   Jesus walked on the stones they laid.)

And,  when they obeyed; The Lord blessed them in all the other things:

Haggai 2:19 “Is the seed yet in the barn?  Yea, as yet the vine,  and the fig tree,  and the pomegranate,  and the olive tree,  hath not brought forth:   from this day will I bless you.”

The Lord has said to us:  

Matthew 6:33   “But seek ye first the kingdom of God,  and His righteousness,  and  all these things shall be added unto you.”

                                We are to concentrate on His Purpose for us:  to do His Will.  

And He will be “with us” today,  tomorrow, and so on.  

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Are We Like the Morning Cloud? 

Hosea 6:4-6 “O Ephraim,  what shall I do unto thee?  O Judah,  what shall I do unto thee?  For your goodness is as a morning cloud,  as early dew it goeth away.

                          Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets;  I have slain by the words of My mouth:  for thy judgements are as the light that goeth forth.

                          For I desired mercy,  and not sacrifice;  and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”

The morning cloud promises much.  Maybe there will be the rain we need.  But the day gets hot and the morning clouds go away.        The early dew drys as soon as there is a little sun.

Both look good, but give no lasting benefit.

So were the “revivals” and changes of Ephraim and Judah. (These were the two kingdoms of Israel.)

God would send a prophet to preach repentance to them;  to restore them to His fellowship and blessing.  

But though they often would “repent” when God was chastening them;  yet as soon as that was removed,  they would resume their idol worship.

We all know what an idol is:  it is a fabricated god.   We worship it.  

Worship is worthyship:  counting God, or whatever, worthy of ourselves. (Our time, our awe, our confidence.)

Worship comes from the Hebrew “to fall down before”.

Sadly, though Israel saw miracle after miracle in deliverances, and blessing;  yet they kept choosing to put their confidence in stones, and wood;  rather than the Living God. (Jeremiah 10:10).

(If you really want to see God’s joke about the idols,  read: Isaiah 44:15-17.  One part of the tree, warms the man,   another he bakes bread with,   and the rest he fashions a god!  Wow,  how silly can we be!)

Many even came and brought sacrifices to the Lord; and then went out and offered sacrifices to idols.

God said,  “If your heart was not in the sacrifice you offer Me.  It is nothing.       I desired mercy and not sacrifice.”

Simply put,  The Lord told them from the first that He wanted them to obey Him.

Mercy is covenantal affection and loyalty.

It is love for both God and your bothers in the faith.   This is what He wanted for them:        For Israel to know Him;   to get their hearts right with Him, and their brothers.

This is what He has always wanted:  for His people to know Him.  To “see” Him as He is: the Almighty God, who rules the heavens and the earth;  and yet loves us.  And with this love,  He seeks fellowship with us.

I have been like the morning cloud.   The Lord has spoken, and I heard;  but put off making the change, and put it off…till:  there was the correction.  

It was not easy, seeing how I had done this to Him.  But He was right;  He had warned me many times.        Now, was the time to do something about it.

One time the Lord showed me how sad I was making Him, doing this.  

First:  He wants my love,  for He loves me.

Second:  He does not like to correct;  He would rather I agree with Him (Amos 3:3),  and walk (not be pushed) with Him.

Do we really know the Lord as we should?   He wants us to,  if we will.     He will help us make lasting change.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Ye are the Salt of the Earth

Salt, in scripture, is the preserving power of active righteousness, and grace.
Salt preserves whatever it is in. It keeps it from becoming putrid and rancid. It kills the germs which would destroy it.
So salt, as Jesus talks about it here, is the grace which enables us to seek the right way of acting and doing. It preserves us from the corrupt policies of the world, and the angry attitudes and opinions from within ourselves.     It keeps us set aside to God, and His will for us.
In the narrow way, we are helped and maintained by the preserving power of salt.(The empowering of grace, which supports our obedience, each day)

Matthew 5:13 “Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt hath lost it’s savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and be trodden under foot of men.”
(Salt works its way into things. If you salt meat on the outside, and let it set; that salt will work its way into the meat, and season all of it.)
Like salt on meat, so the “salt” of active obedience, and grace works its way into our hearts, cleansing and purifying us; so that we can have that strengthening fellowship with our Lord Jesus, that we need.

Every sacrifice in the Tabernacle, was to be offered with salt. The nature of man is sinful,  and so it must be “salted”.  Then the sacrifice unto God would be acceptable.
(Romans 12:1-2).

For the salting showed the Covenant of God, who set aside a people to be His, in righteousness, and holiness. The salt symbolized this. The salt for the sacrifice was provided by money which all the people gave. It showed that fellowship with their God, was to be enjoyed, and preserved by the obedience of all the people.

Leviticus 2:13 “And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the Covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thy offerings thou shalt offer salt.”

The salt of grace tests everyone.
Mark 9:49-50 “For everyone shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.
Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltiness, wherewith shall ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another. ”

Either it will preserve us from the uncleanliness of the world, the flesh, and the devil.   Or it will be a fire within us. For the pleasures we secretly desire, and won’t put away; will burn us up.

Salt is good. For all who use it. Grace is the unmerited favor of the power of God in a Christian’s life.
Are we putting to use, the “salty” nature of grace for ourselves?

Colossians 4:6 “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”
We are to “season” our conversations with the knowledge of Christ, and grace. We are to use wisdom and grace to answer every man that asks us of the hope that is within us, with meekness and fear.(1 Peter 3:15)

Ephesians 3:29 “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”

Salt is good. It preserves our hearts, and tongues.   Let us use the salt of grace, and have fellowship with Christ Jesus in all we do.
Let us be the salt of the earth,  helping to preserve in righteousness, those we come into contact with.

It is our priveledge to be salt.  To be used to honor the Lord.

 

 

 

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

The Work Goes On

Acts 5:12 “And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people;  and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch.”

To be of “one accord” is to be in complete subjection to Christ Jesus.  The accord is with Him.  We agree with what He wants for us.   This is what they all were here. 

On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Ghost was given to the believers gathered in Jerusalem,  as Jesus had told them to do.  Many were saved under Peter’s message of:

Acts 2:38 “Then Peter said unto them,  Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins,  and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

But as soon as there was a church,  there was also opposition. (Our Adversary, the devil, seeks to wreck anything of God.)

Acts 5:17-18 “Then the high priest rose up,  and all they that were with him,  (which is the sect of the Sadducees)  and were filled with indignation.

                         And laid their hands on the apostles,  and put them in the common prison.”

Peter and John had been threatened before,  and told by the religious rulers, not to preach in Jesus name.  (It is a Name at which every knee shall bow one day. Philippians 2:9-11)

But they continued to speak and preach in the Name of Jesus;  for they told them “we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

So now they were put in prison.

Yet,  The Lord sends His angel and delivers them.

Acts 5:19-20 “But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors,  and brought them forth,  and said,   

                         Go,  stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.”

A command was given them to go right back in the temple,  right where these religious rulers would be able to find them,  and preach “all the words of this life”.    

What Jesus had taught,  and how He had be crucified, and raised up the third day;  to save all who would receive Him.

Acts 5:21-22, 25 “And when they heard that,  they entered into the temple early in the morning,  and taught.   But the high priest came,  and they that were with him,  and called the council together,…and sent to the prison to have them brought.

                              But when the officers came,  and found them not in the prison,…

                              Then came one and told them, saying,   Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple,  and teaching the people.”

This was what the Lord wanted,  both to encourage His disciples, and to awaken the religious rulers (If they would be awakened) to His Presence with His own, and the power of His Word.

When they were brought again from the temple to the council,  the high priest asked them:

“Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name?”

Now, under the Old Testament Law, they should have obeyed the high priest;    But…

Acts 5:29 “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said,   We ought to obey God rather than men.”

Then Peter begins to preach to them:  (How many times have they heard?  Yet Jesus Christ is presented again…how long-suffering  He is, “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9)

Acts 5:30-32 “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus,  whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.

                          Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Savior,  for to give repentance to Israel,  and forgiveness of sins. 

(But you have to acknowledge you are a sinner)

                           And we are His witnesses of these things;  and so is also the Holy Ghost,  whom God hath given to them that obey Him.”

Hearing this,  the council “was cut to the heart”—simply they knew absolutely within themselves,  that Jesus was God’s Son, and they were being offered forgiveness and a way to come to Him.

But they refused again this mercy:  “When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.” (Acts 5:33)

Yet one man, Gamaliel,  stood up.  He knew the Law, and trusted in the God of that Law.  

He spoke of how God brings to nothing those who say they are something,  when they are not.

He gave some examples,  and concluded:  

“Refrain from these men, and let them alone:  for if this counsel or this work be of men,  it will come to nought:

But if it be of God,  ye cannot overthrow it;    lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” (Acts 5:35-39)

Now I believe that each man knew they were fighting against God:  had been and were.

So they agreed with Gamaliel, hoping to ease their guilty conscience.

What did they do?    They could not kill them, or imprison them (if  God wanted them out).

But they beat them, and threatened them again, not to speak in Jesus’s Name.

Acts 5:41-42 “And they departed from the presence of the council,  rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His Name.

                         And daily in the temple,  and in every house,  they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.”

Joy and rejoicing should be our heart’s reward for obedience.  Courage and Strength also come to those who obey Him.

Today the work goes on.

Are we entering into our part?   

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Temperance

Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is  love,  joy,  peace,  long suffering,  gentleness,  goodness,  faith,

                                   Meekness,  temperance:  against such there is no law.”

We have talked of the fruit of the Spirit before,  but I wish to speak of:     Temperance.

We have heard of moderation in all things.  This is a good policy for many things;  but temperance here is a fruit of the blessed Holy Spirit.

It is the ability to master everything which comes to us, in our lives.  (Not let them master us.)

As Christians,  we face fears, tempers, passions,  and opinions on all sides.

But the Holy Spirit within gives us help with all of these.  He gives us God’s love,  God’s joy and peace,  and yes,  God’s right-thinking.

This is temperance:

Proverbs 30:7-9 “Two things have I required of Thee;  deny me them not before I die:

                          Remove far from me vanity and lies;  give me neither poverty or riches;  feed me with food convenient for me:

                          Lest I be full,  and deny Thee,  and say,   Who is the Lord?     Or lest  I be poor,  and steal,  and take the name of my God in vain.”

Proverbs are mostly Solomon’s sayings, and he is asking the Lord, that before he grows old and dies,  he wants to learn two important things;   so he asks God to “remove” or cast away from him vanity and lies.

Vanity is that nothingness that the world is full of.   

The world would tell us that we should all look like this model, or that actress or athlete.

Or the world would get us to concentrate on physical,  or intellectual pursuits.

Solomon did all of these:

Ecclesiastes 1:16-17 “I communed with mine own heart,  saying,      Lo, I am come to great estate,  and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem:  yea,  my heart hath great experience of wisdom and knowledge.

                                    And I gave my heart to know wisdom,  and to madness and folly:  I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.”

Ecclesiastes 2:8-9, 11 “I gathered me also silver and gold,  and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces:  I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men,  as musical instruments,  and that of all sorts.

                                  So I was great,  and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem:  also my wisdom remained with me.

                                    Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought,  and on the labor that I had labored to do:  and, behold,  all is vanity and vexation of spirit,  and there was no profit under the sun.”

His conclusion from all his experiences in the goods of the world?

Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:   Fear God, and keep His commandments:  for this is the whole duty of man.”

He wanted to be removed from vanity,  “And lies”.    The world is full of them.  Try this toothpaste and your smile will brighten a whole room!    (There are many lies, which are passed around each day;    silly ones,  and serious ones.)

“Give me neither poverty nor riches;    Lest I be full, and deny Thee”:         I will begin to trust in my riches and not in You.

“Lest I be poor, and steal,  and take the name of my God in vain.”:          I will be angry that I do not have what others have;  and try and get it in unlawful means (there are many kinds of thieves),  

And curse you for “making me do it.”  (we often blame God for what we have gotten ourselves into)

“Feed me with food convenient for me:”.  This is the same prayer as:

“Give me this day my daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11)

Someone has said:   This is not,  Give me my daily cake,…..but bread.

It means, that we are asking the Lord to provide for us what we need.  To give us enough:

Enough peace, money, food, family, friends, joy,…enough to get us through our lives;  with Him.

Because I must remind you,  that temperance is a fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  

Temperance is to master a thing—not to let it master you.

And the Holy Spirit bears that fruit within us and through us, as we yield to Him in each situation.

Preaching,Teaching, and Notes

Are we growing in grace?

2 Peter 3:18 “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.   To Him be glory both now and forever.  Amen.”

Peter knew a lot about this;  having denied the Lord three times, once even before a maid.  

Yet he was restored,  and became the first preacher of the gospel after Pentecost.    Three thousand were saved that first day.(Acts 2:41)

He had grown some since he had bragged about his loyalty;  and then failed Jesus so terribly.

But he knew he was not done growing;  he had a lot more to learn.  And so when he was old,  he warned others about this very thing:

2 Peter 1:10, 12-13 “Wherefore the rather, brethren,  give diligence to make your calling and election sure:  for if ye do these things ye shall never fall:

                                Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things,  though ye know them,  and be established in the present truth.

                                Yea, I think it meet,  as long as I am in this tabernacle (body),  to stir you up by putting you in remembrance:”

God’s way of revealing His will,  is called Light.  If we will face the truth about what we are, and how we are,  grace (the unmerited favor of power) will be applied.

John 1:17 “For the law was given by Moses,  but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”

For He came to save His people from their sin. (Not just the guilt, although that is marvelous;  but the power of that sin in our lives.)

As Christians,  this is an act of our will:  we confess our sin, and turn from it.

As we get obedient to the light we have, more light is given.

And with the light,  is the means of obeying Him.

Hebrew 5:12 “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers,  ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God;  and are become such as have need of milk,  not of strong meat.”

Here are the Hebrew Christians;  they had been Christians first,  so they should have grown in grace the most.

But instead of growing;  they had stayed babes in Christ.  Taking only the milk of the Word,  and could not as yet understand the weightier things of His Will.

Hebrews 5:13 “For everyone that uses milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness:  for he is a babe.”

“Unskillful” here, means inexperienced.   After all these years,  and all that they had gone through (persecution, others joining them in belief, and even ministering to their needs when the days of famine came);  yet they remained inexperienced.

How?  Why?

Simply, they failed to use the Word given them as they should.  They failed to meet the demands of that Word.

That Word says:  believe, and obey.  

Believe they did;  but obey they only did partially.     They trusted God would do;  but expected that He would do without their cooperation.  (And if you are going to get experience;  doing nothing will not work.)

Every true Christian stands in need of nourishment.   We must “eat” the Bread of Life which is Christ.

That involves fellowship in finding His Will,  and obeying it.

We must “drink” the water of Life freely which is His Holy Spirit.

That involves yielding ourselves to His guidance and convictions.

If we are to become strong Christians,  and not babes,  we need to grow. 

We need to use what He gives us and gain experience with Him. 

(If Jesus were here on earth, and came and invited you to follow Him,  would you?But, though He is not here on earth;  He is still inviting us to:   Come and Follow Me into the everyday experiences of today, tomorrow, and onward.  That is experience worth having.)

Hebrews 5:14 “But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age,  even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

We have spiritual senses, as well as natural ones.   

We are to have “hearing ears” to hear what the Lord says to us.   There is no audible voice;  but the internal Voice which guides us.

We are to have “seeing eyes” by are eyes of faith.

We are to have the sense of “smell”.   This Spiritual sense tells us if a thing is good or rotten, just like our nose does.   It is discernment.

And we have “taste”.   We are called to taste and see that the Lord is good. (Psalms 34:8)

That means,  we are to experience His sweetness in the comfort, help, and word He gives.

It is of the Holy Spirit, as all of these are:  but we are to use His enabling,  and learn by the experience.  This is how we grow in grace.

If we sit on the sidelines;  we certainly may be Christians,  but we will not grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,  and become strong, mature adults.

That is why Jesus Christ is still calling us to,  “Come, and Follow Me.”

Because as we do,  we learn and grow.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Roots of Bitterness

Hebrews 12:15 “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God,  lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you,  and thereby many be defiled;”

Roots of bitterness.  We all have them.   Most of the time they are well hidden;  roots,  that’s all. 

But then,  some memory stirs;  or some person reminds us of someone else and what they did to us;   and   “Bam”:

The hurt is there all over again,  and with it, the resentment, anger, “bitterness” of the experience can be felt once more.

And the wiles of the devil, our Adversary, are there to prompt and urge them to “grow”.    The Word says,  “springing up   trouble you”.

We believe this “bitterness” covers the whole spectrum of our lives.

From the first memory (And mine was when I was still in the crib, at three);

To the last happening, which caused you to be hurt.

You see, as Christians, we have a means of dealing with this resentment.

It is through the faculty of honesty,  which is a gift of the Holy Spirit, by the way. We are not naturally honest.

Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things,  and desperately wicked:  who can know it?”

If God left the description there;  then there would be no hope.

But thankfully,  He did not.  (Has He ever left us without a way to come to Him—no.)

Jeremiah 17:10 “I, the Lord search the heart,  I try the reins,  to give every man according to his ways,  and according to the fruit of his doings.”

“I”,  that is, God searches the heart, and tries the reins (which was the center of a person:  the will).  

To give every man according to his ways:  Or the habit of his life:

If your habit is to turn to the Lord, whenever you are hurt or you fail;  then God will give you grace and more grace to help and lift you up. 

If the habit of your life is to hide your hurts, and failures;  then God will (at least He has with me) let you continue to “fester” like a sore;  until the wound within gets so infected…..you must bring it to the Great Physician.

When you face the reason for the resentment with the Lord Jesus by your side,  in honesty;  then the power of the Lord Jesus, can make the hurt and anger dissolve and you can be done with it.

It won’t just subside;  but be as nothing.

My Experience: 

There was a man that wronged me.   Not just once,  but again and again.  He continued to do it, still.

And every time I thought about him,  I became angry all over again.  It was getting worse and worse.

Finally, taking it to the Lord, and confessing that I can not do anything about the way I feel about this man.

Please help me.

So the Lord showed me that man in my mind,  down on his knees before me.   

Completely in my power.   And the Lord said,  You can do anything to him.  What will you do?

Looking at that man,  I felt the anger come up all over again….and then:

I realized I would do nothing to this man.   Nothing.

The hate and anger was gone, and I laughed.  Really laughed:  at him, myself, and the whole situation.

Only God can give you laughter for hurt, and hate.   But He can.

From the first thought of “Why have You, Lord, let this happen to me?”

To the last,  “I won’t let them get by with this.”

We can be saved.  Saved for joy and peace,  and yes,  laughter.

Come, and get honest with the Lord:  Ask the Holy Spirit’s help—He will.

And remove—pull up those roots of bitterness,  and be free from resentments—to joy in the Lord.

Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

When Saul met the Lord 

Acts 9:3-5 “And as he journeyed,  he came near Damascus:  and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:  

                     And he fell to the earth,  and heard a voice saying unto him,  Saul,  Saul,  why persecutest thou Me?   

                      And he said,   Who art thou,  Lord?   And the Lord said,   I am Jesus whom thou persecutest:  It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.”

Saul, a very religious Pharisee, had become enflamed against the followers of Jesus, after seeing Steven (the first martyr of the church) die.

Now here was the way a man who was true,  would die.  

Forgiving his killers, and asking God not to lay it to their charge.   Steven saw the heaven’s open and Jesus sitting on the throne, high and lifted up. (Acts 7:55-60)

But Saul would not believe his  testimony.  

That would make his nation guilty of condemning and killing their own Messiah (which they did).

No!  He would not believe it.  And the more Saul worked at not believing,  the madder he got.  

He devised a plan to destroy this belief.   He would persecute Jesus followers, and cause them to be stoned, too.

He would get rid of this Jesus.

But when some of the disciples in Jerusalem fled to other cities (the apostles, and a lot of other disciples did not),  Saul determined to search them out and bring them back and stone them.

So off to Damascus he goes.  He has letters which entitles him to grab these believers and arrest them and take them to Jerusalem for judgement.

He is fully empowered:  first by hate;  and by the established religious rulers which crucified Christ.

Riding along,  quite sure nothing is going to stop him.

But one thing he could not be empowered for:  the meeting with Christ Jesus, Himself.

First, there is light:  “a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun…”(Acts 26:13)

God always gives light first.  Then we are able to come out of the darkness.  

Then He gives His Word.

Acts 26:14 “When we were fallen to the earth,  I heard a voice speaking unto me,  and saying in the Hebrew tongue,    Saul,  Saul,  why persecutest thou Me?

It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.”

This got his attention!   Here was Someone he had been persecuting.  How could this be?

So he asks who this Person is.

Acts 26:15 “And I said,  Who art thou,  Lord?        And He said,   I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.”

Twice Jesus says how Saul had persecuted Him.   But it was His believers Saul had beaten and stoned.

But when anyone hurts a child of God,  they are hurting Jesus.

Acts 9:6 “And he trembling and astonished said,   Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?….”

Saul, empowered of man;  meets Jesus Christ the Almighty God:  And yields.

Jesus Christ was now Saul’s Lord;  and that changed everything!     And the first thing it changed was Saul’s Purpose:

Acts 26:16-18 “But rise and stand upon thy feet:  for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose,  (Here it is,  his purpose from now on!)

to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things that thou hast seen,  and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;

                           Delivering thee from the people,  and from the Gentiles,  unto whom now I send thee,  

                           To open their eyes,    and to turn them from darkness to light,  and from the power of Satan unto God,  that they may receive forgiveness of sins,  and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me.”

If you read this,  it reads just like the experience he, himself had.

His eyes were open by light;  so he was to witness of Jesus Christ and give this light all over the known world.

He was under the power of Satan when he refused to believe Steven’s witness, and instead gave himself over to hate, and viciousness.

So Saul/Paul was to turn others from the power of Satan unto God.

His Message:

Forgiveness of sins by Christ Jesus, and our inheritance given in Jesus;   Then we are set aside for our purpose, the moment we are born again by faith in The Lord Jesus Christ 

When Saul met the Lord,  everything changed.    And Paul’s ministry changed the world.  He preached before kings, soldiers, religious rulers, and idolaters.

Everywhere, he preached Christ.

His own testimony was:

1 Corinthians 2:1-2, 4-5 “And I,  brethren,  when I came to you,  came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom,  declaring unto you the testimony of God.

                        For I determined not to know anything among you,  save Jesus Christ,  and Him crucified.

                         And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom,  but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:

                         That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men,  but in the power of God.”

                         

When Saul/Paul met the Lord Jesus Christ for himself,  everything changed.