Good morning friends and family. Please turn to John 13:34 and 35. Praise the Lord Leanna and I can share another message this week with you. Through this week, I have had so many prayer requests come in from those who have been under attack from Satan. Now I say that, though I know that many things that some are going through come from choices people are making. We cannot be living in this world and doing what the world is doing and expect to be protected. Amen? That may sound harsh to someone, but when we read His Word, and we read scriptures like this one, our hearts should change.
John 13:34-35 KJV A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (35) By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
I hear from many and I have had to go through the same issues. We slam our neighbors or say words that are not kind, and in the next breath we ask God to help us in circumstances that we are going through. Amen?
There are those who think we can hit the bars on the weekends and come to church and say, “Sorry God, I shouldn’t have done that” then do it again the next week. There are those who have admitted that they have a problem with porn. I can remember a young man living in England who responded to a video that I made about 5 years ago. That video hit him so hard, and he spilled his guts out. The last I knew, about 3 years ago, after he laid these issues at the feet of Jesus, he was still porn free. Praise God!!
What are some things that you are dealing with? Is there a person that just gets under your skin? Every time he or she is near, you just have to hide or start throwing insults at them? Maybe that person just brings out the worst in you. Maybe there is an addiction you are going through. Maybe you have problems using alcohol or drugs, swearing, lying, cheating or something else that might be a downfall that you have.
Maybe you have an issue like one that I have to keep in check all the time; having patience with people, situations or things. These are all heart issues that we need to keep under control.
What about your faith? Most would say, “I have plenty of faith. There is nothing wrong with my faith. Is there?” Every attack the enemy throws at you, you immediately rebuke it in the name of Jesus. Do you praise God during an attack and then remember to praise Him during the awesome times in your life?
We have talked about faith many times. We have talked about our tongue. I have delivered messages about God hearing our prayers. Friends, all these things have to do with our walk with God. We will be held accountable for every….I said every idle word we speak. We cannot be drugging, tipping up the bottle, cursing, staying mad at our neighbor and so on and so on and expect God to be working in our lives. Whatever preacher told you that it is okay is so blindsided to the word of God. Saints, this is one of the reasons you have so many denominations and so many branches off of each denomination.
Our God is an awesome God. He knows what’s best for your life and mine. He didn’t give us the Ten Commandments to make our lives miserable.
Anyone want to share what they are? 1) Thou shalt not have any god’s before me. 2) Thou shalt not make any graven images. 3) Though shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. 4) Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 5) Honor thy mother and father 6) Thy shalt not kill 7) Thou shalt not commit adultery. 8) Thou shalt not steal. 9) Though shalt not bear false. 10) Thou shalt not covet.
Friends, I have had this discussion man times with many different people. We say we want all God has in our lives. Do we? Do you really want God to do a work in you? To break you completely? Anyone asked God for that? My hand is raised. We say, “Lord, I will do whatever You ask of me. Jesus, I surrender my life to You”. Anyone? Has anyone asked that from God? That means a total life change. It means things we used to do need to stop. We cannot ask God to be Lord of our lives, then we go out and do and say the things and hang with those who have no clue what living for Jesus is all about. I’m not speaking of being with them to be a witness, but to enjoy doing the things of the world with them.
Brothers and sisters, Jesus wants you and me to develop compassion toward others. I can list many times where we are commanded to love our brothers and sisters. Love our spouses. Love our neighbors. Love our enemies. Turn the other cheek. Do unto others as you would like done unto yourself.
Please turn to the book of Jude. While everyone is turning to this very short book I want to ask a question. How many of you have heard that truth is whatever you make of it? So why hold on to God's truth when everyone else is throwing it away? In the last couple weeks we have looked at how some extra ideas started creeping into the church. Sound familiar within many churches today? How can we cling to God’s Word in a world that's denying truth everywhere you turn? I hope from today’s message from the book of Jude, we can find out. Amen?
Reading the book of Jude last Friday I thought, how many people realize that Jude is the full brother to James and half brother to Jesus? Yet, look at the first verse of Jude.
Jude 1:1 KJV 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:
He identifies himself as the brother of James, but not the brother of Jesus. He calls himself a bondservant of Jesus Christ. That one verse amazes me. A chance that most people would have tried to get into the spotlight, yet Jude is humble.
Jude 1:3-6 KJV Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. (4) For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (5) I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. (6) And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
Jude discusses our common salvation, but there was a need in the church for a confrontation with those who had kind of sneaked into the church. I have witnessed many times this happening. In fact, one gentleman I have seen come for a while to different congregations has tried to steer people to go to a false religion. I have seen him do this with three different churches.
These people Jude is talking about have some of their own experience, they have some of their own understanding, they've read this person and that person and they haven't spent sufficient time in God's Word to know what the truth is, but they're spreading their own brand of understanding. And Jude says, "You've got to watch those people because they are like clouds without rain." In other words, they make a big splash but there is no substance to what they do.
If were to read on through this Book of Jude, We would see what happens when sexual sin runs rampant like we see happening now. He describes what has happened to certain people in the church who have followed the way of Cain, or the error of Balaam, or have gone the way of the rebellion of Korah.
Please go to verse 17. I persistently urge all who hear my voice every Sunday, here on line, or for those who faithfully have been reading online to be in the Word daily and be in prayer. Amen? I have said that we grow our faith when we are in our Bibles. We find God's heart and we learn decrement. This is what Jude is doing.
Jude 1:17-19 KJV But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; (18) How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. (19) These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.
Jude says, "But you brethren, you beloved. You're not like these who have drifted away from the truth. Remember the words, which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. How they told you that there would be mockers in the last time that would walk according to their own ungodly lusts."
He is saying, “I want you to remember the words that were spoken by the apostles”. Jude is also saying to them and to us, “Read and check out what God has to say”.
He shares that the Apostles told them and us that there would be mockers in the last days, people who mock the Lord, people who mock His Word, people who see no reason for you to spend any time reading God's Word. In fact, the last couple of weeks we have seen where Apostle Paul was one of the people who warned that there would be mockers. Amen?
Church, there are so many false prophets out there. Some have been easy to pick out, like the ones that tell you a certain date and time that the world will end. Same as there are false preachers teaching a twisted word. Friends, God’s word is incorruptible seed and there are those who have twisted and perverted it. Example, there are those who say that those who don’t speak in tongues are going to hell. Wrong. Unscriptural. I heard this for the first time about 6 or 7 years ago and then in the past 3 or 4 weeks I have heard it again. Live. Standing within 15 feet from me. I have heard the opposite. Those who do speak in tongues are going to hell. I tell you, it’s man’s dumb religion that comes up with that stuff. Where is the scripture that proves either way? Friends, I have become very critical about this. I will not, purposely teach you wrong. I study very hard putting these messages together so that you and I know the truth. There may be a time that I misinterpret scripture. I may say it in a way that you might not get what I am trying to get across, and if either happen, please, please let me know.
Verse 19, in addition to remembering what the apostles taught us, we have to identify the habits of those who slip in subtly, who have very little knowledge of the Bible and certainly have not had a Calvary experience so we know who we have to minister to. Friends, that also means in the church leadership.
Here are the habits. These are sensual persons, they cause divisions in the church and it's evident that they are not taught by the Holy Spirit.
Now notice that they are, first of all, sensual persons. The word that is used here for sensual is only used twice in the Bible. It is the Greek word psuchikos. The only other time it's used is in James 3:15. What James describes is that wisdom that does not come from above is earthly. It is sensual. It is demonic, even. And what he means by that is that kind of wisdom appeals to the senses. Man, is that a big thing in so many churches today!
Jude is warning us to be careful of these sensual people. They get their kicks out of things that appeal to the flesh. Also, he says, “These are people who cause divisions in the church”.
Sometimes causing divisions in the church is not a bad thing. I know some churches that need some division.
I think also what Jude is saying is that these people who come in and have no scriptural knowledge, possibly unsaved, and those not led by the Holy Spirit, the church gets split wide open. And you see people go in all directions. Leanna and I have experienced that in two churches, and I believe that there is another close by ready to also go down the same path. It seems like the leadership that came in are not being led by the Holy Spirit, but by their own fleshly lusts. We must be true to the truth. We can't sacrifice truth for the sake of avoiding conflict. That's compromise.
Here's what I think we ought to do. First of all, we commit everything to God in prayer. We ask Him to help correct what needs to be corrected without creating conflict. And then we ask the Holy Spirit of God to guide our words, and actions so they both please God and benefit people in the church. We pray for those who have drifted from the truth. And after we have done all of those things, to ensure success, we compassionately confront them about what they are saying or doing that is contrary to God's Word, something that is causing division in the church. We do all the right things first before we try to confront.
Jude is a man given to talking about those who have fallen from the truth, but he's writing to those who have not. He's writing to you and me as well. And when you get to the end of this tiny little epistle, he tells you what to do so you don't fall from the truth like the others he's had to write about.
Notice in verses 20‑22, again a contrast. But you, beloved. See they operate this way, "But you beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction.
Well, there it is. What do you do to keep from falling from the truth? What is one way that I mention every week to help keep you in check? You read the Bible, one book at a time. You read God's Word every day. You spend some significant time in God's Word, just you and the Lord, and let the Spirit of God teach you because, I have to tell you, the best teacher I have is the Holy Spirit of God. Amen? I should hear Amen’s sounding like a choir. Come on, Saints. Amen?
Verse 20, he says, "Build yourself up." He says, "Pray in the Holy Spirit." Hmmm, yet being filled with the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues, some say will send you to hell. Really?
Verse 21, he says, "Keep yourselves in the love of God." In other words, keep yourself lovable to God.
Now, the good thing is God loves you. But He may not always like you. Sound familiar? My wife will say, at times, “I love you, but right now I don’t really like you”. God loves me, but when I am not close to Him, I'm not sure how much He likes me. What I need to do is keep myself to be in a position to be loved by God. Always. And friends, that is not always easy for me. What about you? You know, when the flesh gets in the way. When events happen and you are chomping at the bit to lash out. Or a bill comes in and you did not order that. I can think of all kinds of examples, but do you catch what I am saying?
And then finally he says, "Look for the mercy of Christ returned." Be kind to some people because you will make a difference in the lives of those people. There are some back sliders that simply need you to show them a little compassion. There are some unsaved that said, “No one ever told me about Jesus”. Some have heard about Christ, yet didn’t know how to be saved. Church, some of these people have sat in a congregation. It boggles my mind what is being taught in some churches. It frustrates me that people are too darn lazy to search on their own what the Bible says.
You know, not everybody that backslides is a heretic. In fact, most people are not heretics, they're just untaught. They're like the vast majority of people in churches today. They just don't know God's Word well enough. We are plagued with Bible illiteracy in the Church of Jesus Christ. Sad? Yes, indeed it is sad and that is where you and I have to be, to steer them in the right direction to God’s saving grace. Praise God!!!
Jude says, "Some of those who turned from the truth, they're out there dabbling in some of this strange business, and some of the occult and the readings of people that are probably not very helpful for them. You have compassion on them and you make a distinction in them and you drag them right back in here again and you help them." Amen? Jude is talking to us. God is talking to you and me right this moment. You know people like this. I know people like this. Friends, I know I have said this before, When God puts someone on your heart, you’d better deal with it. You may be the last chance they have.
Then he says, verse 23, "But others, you can't help but notice the contrast here, some of them you simply show a little kindness, and by showing a little kindness, you separate them. You make a distinction, you separate them from the rest of the group, and you draw them back into the fellowship. Others however, save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh”. You may be thinking, “Brother Jim, what on earth does that mean?”.
Here is what I think. Jude is suggesting that we make a distinction here. The distinction is, some have drifted a little ways away from the truth and they can be saved through your compassion. Amen?
You can go out and get a brother-in-law who is reading some wacko today and getting a little bit away from the truth. You can go out and you can love that brother-in-law back to the center of the truth, or a coworker. Whoever.
Now, you may have a son or a daughter in college who has renounced the faith because of a godless university professor. You may have a son or a daughter who is living a lifestyle that is absolutely contrary to God's Word. You have shown compassion to them and nothing has changed. What do you do then? It maybe a Pastor, assistant pastor, worship leader.
Jude 1:22-25 KJV And of some have compassion, making a difference: (23) And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. (24) Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, (25) To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
Here he says there are those who have the compassion of Christ and wanting to see souls saved and living by the truth that the Bible says, yet they do it in love. I hope you see that in me. That is how I see my teaching. I may say some convicting things that really touch your heart on things you may, or may not be doing. That is God. That is the Holy Spirit tugging at your heart. I always try to teach in a loving way.
He says, verse 23, Others snatch them with fear, pulling them out of the fire. Some, you have to hand over to God. As I say often, God knows their hearts. He knows what needs to be done. It might not be pretty, but sometimes it means they need to hit rock bottom before they see the light. For those that I have sent the yellow book Praying Effectively For The Lost, there are many examples used. There are some that we need to let go and let God deal with them. God wishes that no man perish. There are some who are so brainwashed. There are those who are so stubborn. There are those that the enemy has his slimy paws hooked so deep into, that think that God will never forgive them, so what’s the use. God loves them all, just like He loved you and saved you and me. Christ died for all men and women, but we have to make that choice to give our hearts to Him and follow Him. We can accept Him, or deny Him. Simple choice, but both have an ending place. Heaven or hell.
This is a short epistle, but wow, how powerful. Amen? Friends, in closing I want you to catch some important things at the end of what Jude has to say.
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God [who just happens to be] our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.
Church, again I have to urge you all to stay in your Bibles. God is the same today, yesterday and forever. He is not a respecter of persons. God does not lie. He cannot lie. At the end of all these tough issues, Jude ends by focusing on Christ. He ends by focusing on the blessing of Christ. The same Jesus can keep us from stumbling today if we pay attention to what He's taught us and what He's shown us through His Word. It's the Bible that keeps us from falling away from the truth, but it's the focus on Jesus that brings us joy from reading our Bible.
Friends, there are many teachers out there teaching their brand of spirituality at us, but who's telling the truth and who's telling a lie? That's what discernment is all about and that's why you stay in God’s Word. Another thing that I mention often when witnessing to someone, pray. Ask God to give you the words. Lean on His strength.
With some people when you are witnessing, if we show them a little compassion we bring them closer to the truth. Some, however, require a little more drastic action, and the only way for us to deal with that is to tell them exactly what's wrong. And that can be a difficult situation and for me, I need to lean on the Holy Spirit, because I tend to be more of the gentle type when witnessing. You know that they are blinded by the sensual . They don't operate in the Spirit of God. They have heard some of the Bible, but are blinded by feelings. They hear the truth, but they are unstable in their walk. Sometimes, you might have to just tell them you are concerned about them. Some of them you just have to snatch out of the fire and save. Others you just want to edge them away from the crowd that they may be hanging with and just love on them.
Good morning once again my friends and family. I thank God for this opportunity to share from His heart to yours. If you brought your Bibles, please turn to 2nd Timothy chapter 2. I have had many conversations this week in person with some and on-line with many. Friends, we have learned about the power of our tongue. I believe we have done two studies in a year and a half on how we need to bridle that little guy that comes out of our mouth. Also, there have been many discussions about some of the things we will be looking at in this chapter. Praise God.
I have felt obligated to teach on heart issues. Amen? I think there are a few reasons why. I could teach on healing. I could teach on prosperity. I completely believe that God wants us whole. Also, how can we carry out the purpose that God has planned for our lives if we are sick? As far as the latter, I believe God does want to bless us. It is His nature to want to bless us and for us to be a blessing to others for God’s honor and Glory. Amen. But for those teaching to everyone that they can be rich and to own all the things they want, I don’t completely agree with that. God’s Word says He will supply all our needs (not wants) according to His riches and glory. There is a big difference between the two words needs and wants. Then there is “according to His glory”.
If God blessed us with all our wants, would we give Him glory? I think not. We would become like that of a spoiled rich kid. Then if we asked for something and the answer was no, we would have a head fit. Think back to when you were a child. When we were scolded because we wanted something and we got the no answer, we threw a temper tantrum. Many, and I have heard this plenty, would say “I hate you.” Sound familiar?
I am going to do something different today. Usually we discuss a topic. Today we are going to break down a chapter. So I want to read from the King James and then at least one other version. Amen?
2 Timothy 2:1-26 KJV Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. (2) And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. (3) Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. (4) No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. (5) And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. (6) The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits. (7) Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things. (8) Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: (9) Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. (10) Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. (11) It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: (12) If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: (13) If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself. (14) Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. (15) Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (16) But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. (17) And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; (18) Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. (19) Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. (20) But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. (21) If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. (22) Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (23) But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. (24) And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, (25) In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; (26) And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
Wow!!! there is a mouthful there. Just a quick outline of what is going on here with Apostle Paul and why this letter to Timothy. There is much to learn from this whole epistle, but for this week I felt led to go to chapter 2. Maybe God is trying to speak to me, maybe someone else. Maybe many.
If we were to read chapter 1, we would find that Apostle Paul addressed this letter like most of the ones he sent opening with prayers and thanksgiving. 2 Timothy 1:1-3 KJV Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, (2) To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. (3) I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day;
Paul had gone through much. He had planted many churches and nursed them along. From what I get from the Bible, Timothy was very close to Paul’s heart. And as we will see when we get to chapter 2, Paul gives strong advice to Timothy.
Paul was being kept in Rome in a dungeon for (the closest thing I could find) the possibility of his connection with burning much of Rome. He was the leader of the people that Rome was punishing. This is not a proven fact, but there are some history books that do share this.
Anyways, Paul knew that his time was almost up, although chapter 1 shows no sign that he blamed God, or was sorry, ashamed or anything to make one believe he would have done anything different. His faith was in Christ. Is yours? Even though you maybe going through a storm?
Last week, we looked at what Paul did before that Damascus experience. Having Christians jailed and put to death. Then he met Jesus. I say he met Jesus. Praise be to God!! He had that Calvary experience. Paul’s whole life changed when he gave his heart to Jesus and repented from all the things he had done. Then he was baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost and man, what a change in him. I said there was a major change in him after Jesus broke those chains that bound Paul. This man who had believers jailed and murdered was a changed man. The old man was dead and Paul was a new creation in Christ Jesus. Anyone who has studied Paul’s life knows that he loved Jesus with all his heart, mind, soul and strength. Paul had that intimate relationship with Christ like we all need. Amen?
Now that there is some history of what was going on, I want to read from the God’s Word version. I want you to see the love that Paul had for Timothy, but also the guidance he gives him. Paul knows his time is very short and that Ephesus, which is where Timothy was, and the church, was being attacked by false teachers, much like what is going on today and might be the reason that is driving me to prepare this message. Paul did much of his work in Ephesus and I think this must have really saddened him.
The false teaching of Hymenaeus and Philetus undermined the authority of Christ's ministry. To falsely teach that the resurrection was past without the Second Coming of Christ and the pending judgment on apostate Israel, was an attempt to vindicate Judaism and the hypocrisy of its religious leaders. Thereby giving an acceptable credibility to the Gospel's greatest opposition.
I want to read this slow, so you can really get a full understanding.
2 Timothy 2:1-26 GW My child, find your source of strength in the kindness of Christ Jesus. (2) You've heard my message, and it's been confirmed by many witnesses. Entrust this message to faithful individuals who will be competent to teach others. (3) Join me in suffering like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (4) Whoever serves in the military doesn't get mixed up in non-military activities. This pleases his commanding officer. (5) Whoever enters an athletic competition wins the prize only when playing by the rules. (6) A hard-working farmer should have the first share of the crops. (7) Understand what I'm saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things. (8) Always think about Jesus Christ. He was brought back to life and is a descendant of David. This is the Good News that I tell others. (9) I'm suffering disgrace for spreading this Good News. I have even been put into prison like a criminal. However, God's word is not imprisoned. (10) For that reason, I endure everything for the sake of those who have been chosen so that they, too, may receive salvation from Christ Jesus with glory that lasts forever. (11) This is a statement that can be trusted: If we have died with him, we will live with him. (12) If we endure, we will rule with him. If we disown him, he will disown us. (13) If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful because he cannot be untrue to himself. (14) Remind believers about these things, and warn them in the sight of God not to quarrel over words. Quarreling doesn't do any good but only destroys those who are listening. (15) Do your best to present yourself to God as a tried-and-true worker who isn't ashamed to teach the word of truth correctly. (16) Avoid pointless discussions. People who pay attention to these pointless discussions will become more ungodly, (17) and what they say will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are like that. (18) They have abandoned the truth. They are destroying the faith of others by saying that people who have died have already come back to life. (19) In spite of all that, God's people have a solid foundation. These words are engraved on it: "The Lord knows those who belong to him," and "Whoever worships the Lord must give up doing wrong." (20) In a large house there are not only objects made of gold and silver, but also those made of wood and clay. Some objects are honored when they are used; others aren't. (21) Those who stop associating with dishonorable people will be honored. They will be set apart for the master's use, prepared to do good things. (22) Stay away from lusts which tempt young people. Pursue what has God's approval. Pursue faith, love, and peace together with those who worship the Lord with a pure heart. (23) Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments. You know they cause quarrels. (24) servant of the Lord must not quarrel. Instead, he must be kind to everyone. He must be a good teacher. He must be willing to suffer wrong. (25) He must be gentle in correcting those who oppose the Good News. Maybe God will allow them to change the way they think and act and lead them to know the truth. (26) Then they might come back to their senses and God will free them from the devil's snare so that they can do his will.
So what is Paul saying to Timothy and us today? We need to be stirred up in God’s gifts. We all have a gift that God has given us. Some, many. Let us look at some of the gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:4-13. James 1:17 KJV Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
1 Corinthians 12:4-13 KJV (4) Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. (5) And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. (6) And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. (7) But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. (8) For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; (9) To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; (10) To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: (11) But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. (12) For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. (13) For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
Apostle Paul is talking to Timothy and us for this very season that we live in. Times are going to be very tough for a Christian. There are going to be those who will teach a message that may sound like it’s biblical, but just like when Satan tempted Eve, just like when he tempted Jesus, it is fake. It is corrupt and twisted. Just like when he tries to tempt us, it will seem like it might be okay, but does it line up 100% with the Bible?
We need to be a testimony to this dying world. Jesus is the only answer to salvation. He is the only way to God and to a life of eternity. John 14:6 KJV Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. When we live our lives for Him, our whole life changes. The world needs to see those changes. We can’t be saying we are a Christian and out living like the world. That would be like living a double life. James 1:8 KJV A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. I love the book of James because it is so convicting.
Paul was saying to Timothy that because of His faith, there would be persecution. That is so very true for right now. Friends, there are many places you can go to online to see very graphically what is happening to believers of Christ. Many preachers are being shot, beheaded and all kinds of painful, horrible deaths. The local TV and newspapers are not going to show you this. They won’t even tell you it’s happening, but it is. Just like when Paul wrote this epistle, Christians were being persecuted in many barbaric ways. Not to purposely gross anyone out, but some of the things that Nero, the Emperor of Rome would do to kill Christians were crucifixions, beheadings, wrapped in skins and thrown into arenas where dogs would mall them to death for entertainment for the people. They were thrown to wild beasts to be eaten alive. Christians were tied to stakes in Nero’s gardens with pitch poured over them and used as human torches to illuminate the gardens at night.
He was being instructed to never give up his love and works for Christ no matter how hard it got. Not to be part of the silly little games that people will try to entrap you, teach always in love.
Friends, what Paul was saying to do is exactly what the Holy Spirit taught and directed in Paul’s life. That miraculous transformation that only Christ can do. Amen?
Church, I have sat in a congregation where because of things going on, it caused a church split. I sat in a church where lusts of the flesh of a pastor and his wife ended up in divorce and a church split. I sat in a place of worship where the word preached was so watered down, you felt like you were just dipped in honey, you felt so sweet. I was part of a church where 2 pastors felt called to leave and what used to be about 50 people attending dropped to 4 after the new person came to teach that had no teaching abilities and never wanted to pray. I have been in a church where I had to leave because of evil spirits that you could feel as soon as you walked in the sanctuary and could see the true colors of the leadership as time went on. Beloved, it is hard to leave a place of worship where you might have been for so long. It may be because of losing friendships that you have made. It may be, like me back years ago, the denomination that keeps you there. Friends, these are all poor excuses to keep you in a place that God might be trying to get you to leave. Be in prayer that you are in God’s will in a place. Be in your Bibles daily feeding your souls with incorrupt seed. Ask God for guidance. Live your lives for Jesus.
Looking back, I’m not really sure why this was added, but someone needed to hear this. One might be saying, Brother Jim, are you telling me to leave the church I’m at? I would say not at all, if you are learning the truth. Sometimes the problem isn’t where we go to church. It maybe you. It might be an issue that you might have to let go of. I have walked in those shoes. I was like a Pharisee. I was always looking at my clock to make sure things were done on time. I was one who had to obey and make sure that laws that church leaders made were followed by all. I hope that anyone who knows me now can see a change, especially my Savior. Amen.
Friends, this is why I want all of you to keep Leanna and I in check. We are far from perfect, but we try to follow where God takes us and what He directs us to teach on.
Apostle Paul loved Jesus. He knew Jesus and clung to His Word and tried, I believe to get it right, even to his dying day. He was trying to instruct all these things that the Holy Spirit guided him with to Peter. Amen. There is much more to learn through this chapter and I hope that all of you will study on your own all four chapters.
So in closing, I want each of us to take a couple minutes and do some soul searching. If everyone will bow their heads and ask God to reveal things that aren’t quite right in your life. Maybe it is unforgiveness. Maybe there are chains of addiction that have you bound. Maybe, like I shared about me, that religious spirit. Just please ask God to reveal it to you in the next few minutes.
Good morning friends and family. For those who have been searching the news, but not just your local news channels, you will find many hard times all over the world. You may have found some unpleasant reports of leaders here in the US. Times are changing so quickly. The things going on in any part of the world that you might look at are nothing like it may have been like 10 to 20 years ago. To have videos circulating the net of Islamic groups cutting heads off of Christians with 6 inch knives and to see little kids cheering this on is sick. This is the future that was predicted in the Bible so long ago.
Please turn to Mark 16:15. For many, if I said that these things are coming to America soon, most would say, “Yea? Glad I will be in Heaven then.” I have two things to say about that, but we will only discuss one of them today. What I would ask is this. What about those around you who don’t know Christ? What about your family members who haven’t made that choice? What about best friends who have one foot in the world and maybe a finger in God’s Word 1 day out of the month…..if you can even get them to church. Do these people matter to you? Do you care that if they don’t call out to Jesus that they will not be with you in Heaven? Yet Jesus said in The Gospel of Mark this:
Mark 16:15-18 KJV And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. (16) He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (17) And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; (18) They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
Such a powerful few verses, but I want to concentrate for a bit on the first 2 verses. What part of verse 15 and 16 is important to you? All the world and every creature. I don’t want to see a hand count, but think about how many people you have shared the salvation message with in the past few days. That many? What about the past week? Past month? Let’s stretch this out a bit more. How many people have you shared the Gospel with this past year? Okay, last chance. How many people have you shared Christ with, praying that they would come to know Jesus as their Savior, in your life time?
I would be willing to bet that there are some reading this who never have. No not one person. Do we really love our family members and our friends? Do we really love Jesus? His great commission to all believers was to take the Gospel to the whole world and to all mankind. We say that we are living a life for Him, yet so many are so afraid to open their mouths to anyone that might not have a relationship with God. People are so afraid to be rejected.
This is not what I thought I would be teaching on, but scriptures are being pointed out to me, so I must go on. Please turn to 2 Timothy 1:7. This is a verse I have referenced many times, usually for those who battle with depression. But I want to look at the fear part today.
2 Timothy 1:7 KJV For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Do we understand what this verse says? I mean, do we truly get this deep in our souls? Let’s look at what the amplified version says.
2 Timothy 1:7 (AMP) For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.
Now I ask, Church, do we understand what Apostle Paul was saying to Timothy here? What God is saying to us today? Friends, fear is not from God. You and I just read it. I believe it, as I believe in all of God’s Word. What about you? Do you believe every Word that is in His Word? Then I would ask, why do we have such a hard time obeying it? As I mentioned last week and the week before, I read hundreds of comments online a day on the sermon notes and the daily prayers. I am blessed that God is using this ministry for His glory on the net, and as I said, hundreds of hits a day, yet some don’t change. I mentioned witchcraft sorcery, horoscopes, idolatry, the list goes on, but the same ones that are liking these posts and commenting with big amen’s, are the ones on some sites that still openly post this garbage. What kind of message is being taught to the unbelievers?
Someone is probably thinking, calm down Brother Jim. No need to blow a gasket. Friends, time is short. The day of the Lord is quickly approaching. There’s going to be a time real soon where it will be too late to repent of your sins. It will be too late for the husband, wife, children, mom, dad, brothers and sisters to come to know Christ. IT WILL BE TOO LATE. Does that bother anyone? It should. For me it is a time that I know I must be more bolder in my teaching and witnessing. It may mean, if I hear from the Lord to do so, to rent a building to draw more people. What about you? What is God saying to you?
Pastor Babcock and I have had many discussions about reaching the lost and sharing God’s Word with them. We have talked about how we can reach people who are being deceived in churches right here in our community because of false doctrine being taught and from those who are leading church families, yet because of their lack of fruit, I wonder if they really know Christ.
Please turn to the book of Acts chapter 7 and verse 49. Most of us know that Apostle Paul wrote a good part of the New Testament. He was not a good person, in fact hated Christians and had them jailed and even put to death. We will see what happens to Stephen as he was brought to the council, by the elders and those who said he was trying to get people to go against the old laws. You can read this in Chapter 6. I want to start with verse 49, but encourage you all to read from the beginning of 7 when you get a chance.
Acts 7:49-60 KJV Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? (50) Hath not my hand made all these things? (51) Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. (52) Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: (53) Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. (54) When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. (55) But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, (56) And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. (57) Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, (58) And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. (59) And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. (60) And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Acts 8:1-7 KJV And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. (2) And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. (3) As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. (4) Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word. (5) Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. (6) And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. (7) For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.
Friends, this is what I believe is going to happen all over the world. It is now. Christians are being persecuted in many areas. They are being shot, beheaded, hiding in places so they can worship God, just like we read in Acts 8:1. It won’t be long till we see the same thing here in America.
What I really wanted you to notice is what Saul was doing. In verse 1 of chapter 8, it says that Saul, was consenting to Stephen’s death. It pleased him. Saul rejoiced in the act. Wow!! This same man who delighted in the horrific way that Stephen was put to death, would be the same man that God would use to change the hearts of thousands. Sounds hard to believe, doesn’t it? Yet, with God all things are possible. Amen?
This is why it amazes me when I hear someone say “God can’t love me. Brother Jim, you don’t know the awful things I have done.” Well, how much worse can the acts you did be compared to what Saul did? Let’s continue reading Acts 9:1.
Acts 9:1-31 KJV And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, (2) And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. (3) And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: (4) And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? (5) 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. (6) And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. (7) And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. (8) And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. (9) And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. (10) And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. (11) And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, (12) And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. (13) Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: (14) And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. (15) But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: (16) For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. (17) And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. (18) And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. (19) And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. (20) And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. (21) But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? (22) But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ. (23) And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: (24) But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. (25) Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket. (26) And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. (27) But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. (28) And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. (29) And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. (30) Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus. (31) Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.
I remember hearing a message from a Pastor and author of over 50 Christian books. There was part of his message that I really liked and had to search for. This is what he had to say about why God used Paul. This is from John Piper.
Why Did God Let Paul Become a Murderer?
We know that before Paul was born God had set him apart for his apostleship.
He who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles. (Galatians 1:15–16).
And we know that Paul became a Christian-hating (Acts 9:1), Christ-persecuting (Acts 9:5), zealot (Philippians 3:6; Galatians 1:14) before he was converted. Forever after he would call himself “the chief of sinners” because of these wicked days (1 Timothy 1:15; 1 Corinthians 15:9).
We also know that God broke into Paul’s life dramatically and decisively to bring him to faith (Acts 9:3–19). Which means that he could have planned the Damascus Road encounter before Paul imprisoned and murdered Christians. But he didn’t.
His purpose, therefore, was to allow Paul to become the “chief of sinners” and then save him, and make him the apostle who would write thirteen books of the New Testament.
Why? Why do it this way? Why choose him before birth to be an apostle? Then let him sink into wicked and violent opposition to Christ? And then save him dramatically and decisively on the Damascus road? Why.
Here are six reasons. The first two are explicit in the biblical text. The last four are clear inferences from the first two. God did it this way . . .
1. To put the perfect patience of Christ on display.
“I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience.” (1 Timothy 1:16)
2. To encourage those who think they are too sinful to have hope.
“I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:16)
3. To show that God saves hardened haters of Christ, who have even murdered Christians.
4. To show that God permits his much-loved elect to sink into flagrant wickedness.
5. To show that God can make the chief of sinners the chief of missionaries.
6. To show a powerless, persecuted, marginalized church that they can triumph by the supernatural conversion of their most powerful foes.
Did this speak to anyone? As we see throughout the Bible, and especially in the Old Testament, God used people who were not perfect.
Let’s look at a list that has been around the net for some time. As I read them, think back to what the Bible said about them, and then think of the things that you might have done.
Noah was a drunk.
Abraham was too old.
Isaac was a daydreamer.
Jacob was a liar.
Leah was ugly.
Joseph was abused.
Moses had a stuttering problem and a murderer.
Gideon was afraid.
Samson had long hair and was a womanizer.
Rahab was a prostitute.
Jeremiah and Timothy were too young.
David had an affair and was a murderer and danced in the street in his underwear.
Elijah was suicidal.
Isaiah preached naked.
Jonah ran from God.
Naomi was a widow.
Job went bankrupt.
Peter denied Christ (3 times!).
The Disciples fell asleep while praying..
Martha worried about everything.
Mary Magdalene was promiscuous.
the Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once...
Zaccheus was too small.
Paul was too religious.
Timothy had an ulcer....
Lazarus was dead!
Now! No more excuses!
God can use you to your full potential.
You aren't the message, you are just the
Praise the Lord. If someone had told me that I would be teaching from the Bible, I would have said they were full of beans. God is looking for a willing heart. Someone who He can mold like clay. Is that you?
Friends, I urge you to be out sharing the Gospel with your friends and family. You say you are afraid? Pray and ask God to give you the strength, courage and words. As I say every week, be in your Bibles and learn God’s heart. Build up your faith. You will be amazed at the things that God can speak to you through His Word.
Good morning friends and family and thank you for joining us today for another look into God’s Word. Each time I start to write these sermon messages, I am reminded of how lucky we are in the United States of America to be able to speak of the name of Jesus. How lucky we are to still be able to carry our Bibles in the open, yet there are those who don’t like to be seen by non-Christian friends with a Bible. I for one will not be ashamed of the Bible or what’s in it. For those who might feel afraid, ashamed or whatever, I think it’s time to take a deep look into your walk with God.
Last week we looked at some of the things that are going on in many people’s lives who call themselves Christians. Witchcraft, sorcery and horoscopes were some of the issues. What really struck me odd is that even though some of the ones who responded on some of the sites with a big amen are still posting this stuff online. I don’t get it. We looked at scripture that shows it is an abomination to God, yet still they do the will of themselves.
This week I want to touch on a message that I did about five years ago. I really want us to look at what Jesus did for you and me so that we might be saved. Amen? What I really want for all of us to do is picture ourselves as we were with Jesus when He was arrested, beaten and when He went to the Cross. As Pastor Babcock and I mention often, to have that Calvary experience.
I truly believe that Jesus saw all things that would happen to Him from the betrayal of Judas at the last supper, His arrest in the garden, the severe scourging, to the cross and every horrible thing in between. Bible scripture that confirms this is John 18:1-4. If I can have someone read from the KJV and then I will read from the Good News Bible. I don’t usually read from any other version except the KJV, but I want to today. Praise the Lord!!
John 18:1 After Jesus had said this prayer; He left with His disciples and went across Kidron Brook. There was a garden in that place, and Jesus and His disciples went in. 2 Judas, the traitor, knew where it was, because many times Jesus had met there with His disciples. 3 So Judas went to the garden, taking with him a group of Roman soldiers, and some Temple guards sent by the chief priests and the Pharisees; they were armed and carried lanterns and torches. 4 Jesus knew everything that was going to happen to Him, so He stepped forward and asked them, "Who is it you are looking for?"
Throughout this message I will use references from commentaries: Gill, Barnes, Henry and concordances, mostly Strong's.
As if Jesus being nailed to the cross was not cruel enough, imagine what Jesus took to the cross with Him. He is accused for us all bearing the weight of abused children, families destroyed by adultery or apathy, civilizations decaying, wars ravaging, Christians being beheaded in many Muslim countries as I teach, yet through it all, deep in the terror of hell, He keeps His eyes wide open. A portrait of the garden of Gethsemane might look a little bit different than we may have expected. It is not a serene pastural scene, this prayer closet of Jesus’, but rather an agonizing picture of struggle, pause and pain. For who? All for us.
I want you all to listen and get a picture of this in your mind so that you can understand what Jesus went through for you and me. Amen? Friends, what I want us to understand is this. Yours and my salvation isn’t about a Christian concert that we went to with the loud music, light and smoke. Don’t take me the wrong way, I believe some are saved at concerts, but it isn’t about the hype. I love Christian concerts. I would go every chance I got, but salvation is about an intimate relationship with King Jesus. Church, it starts at the cross. It is about being broken. It is about confessing our sins and surrendering our lives to Jesus, making Him Lord of our lives. Amen? Can I hear a halleluiah?
Please turn to Hebrews 5: 7 and 8. This will be the first scripture that we look at. As I mentioned, I want you to picture the events that we look at today in your mind. They should be powerful.
We have entered into the garden. We have entered just as Judas was arriving with 600 armed Roman soldiers, temple police and a mob of others who have come to arrest Him, yet they found Him ready and waiting for them. He was composed. He was submissive, helpful. Catch this, friends. He was in authority. He had great composure. How could He, although God 100% and also man 100%, be so composed and sure? The answer to the question of His composure was a direct result of His perspective. He knew that the cup He would drink was the cup that would come from His Father's hand. My question is how did He get such perspective? If you look at the summary of what happened in the garden, Hebrews 5:7 and 8 gives it to us.
Hebrews 5:7 Who in the days of His flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared; :8 Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered;
I don't believe for a moment we can appreciate the story of the garden unless you view Jesus as a man. And you have to reformat your way of thinking as you view Him in the garden as He struggles. And it will be a great help to you because He, Jesus is the model man for you and me with our Gethsemane garden with whatever we may be going through. We will watch Him in this story and we will marvel and we will ultimately worship this lamb. Amen??
What we are about to see in the garden is nothing less than Jesus Christ. It is a shocking scenario and I think we can understand it best if we see Him digging His grave. He is looking into an open pit and it crushes His spirit. For the man, Jesus doesn't want to die any more than you or I would want to die. And yet that grave in the garden will signify His willingness. His actions will signify testament. His testament that He was willing to die for you and I.
Please turn to Matthew 26:36. As we read earlier In John chapter 18, Jesus was entering into the garden. I found that Matthew painted a more detailed picture.
Matthew 26:36: Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane. And He said to the disciples, sit here while I go and pray there.
Now picture in your mind a garden a little different than your garden or even your neighbor's garden. Jerusalem was a crowded city. There were people pressing on every corner. For a little farming history on Israel at that time, they had laws that restricted against private gardens in the city proper. They also had an old sacred law of this sacred soil prohibiting the spreading of manure. I'm sure the people of Jerusalem being crowded appreciated that law. Amen? Outside the city some wealthy families had gardens, especially at the base of the Mount of Olives, and the residents would garden there usually on an acre or two. They would raise olive trees and flowers and there were beautiful rock walls around their plot. Evidently Jesus had a very wealthy friend. And this friend let Jesus retreat to this garden for prayer.
Let’s continue reading. Matthew 26 :37: And He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee with Him, and He began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
Now why did He take these three and station them there? Here are few suggestions. One, they were there for His protection? I don't think that was it. With one breath He could have knocked the ones coming to arrest Him on their backsides. Was it companionship? As we will see later they didn't offer that. I think I would believe in this choice, instruction. He was about to show His three closest friends His agony and before they nodded off to sleep they would see enough and they would hear enough and it would come back and haunt them and most importantly instruct them.
Jesus is going to show them how you prepare to go to the cross and how you walk in a lonely garden? Jesus is going to show them this. There are two important words that show His emotions. You have to remember, He is Man. A God-man. In verse 37 it says He began to grieve. Some versions say sorrowful, rendered or troubled. It implied a shrinking back from a horrifying experience. An experience, some ancient writers wrote, that He cannot get away from.
Friends, we need to remember Jesus Christ is not an actor. Jesus is not knowing that one day people are going to be studying this and He is drumming it up. Don't think He is play-acting. This is for real. He is full of sorrow. Remember we read in John 18:4: Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon Him. The next word is distressed. Other translations use heavy, troubled, sad or anguish. What a picture. Why such agonies for this God man? Matthew 26:38: Then saith He unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with Me.
Why this distress? Why this surrounding of sorrow? Was it because of the betrayal of Judas? Could that have impacted Him? I would doubt it, although you or I probably would have been. Was it the denial of Peter? The man that Jesus had spent so much time, energy and patience with, and now Peter will curse that he never knew Him. Could it be that the nation of Israel had rejected Him, He the one that would save them, then hear their cries "we have no king but Caesar [Crucify Him]." Perhaps. Could it be the injustices of it all? He, the Creator of justice, now unjustly treated. Maybe. Maybe it was loss of intimacy and fellowship with the Father. He will cry, “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me”? The word is why have you abandoned me? Could it have been because He would become sin for you and me? A man that had never known the stain of sin? I think it was all of these things and multiplied millions of times and that is why He was crushed with despair.
Mark 14:34 and 35: And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. :35: And He went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him.
I have seen paintings showing Jesus in the garden on His knees with His hands clasped looking up in the sky praying. I cannot picture this scene like that at all. Don't throw those pictures away if you have one. I am sure Jesus prayed like that at some point.
What scripture says is that He fell to the ground and prayed. Hebrews says that He prayed with huge tears. Imagine the Son of God, the Savoir of the world staggering around falling to the ground praying and crying. Getting up, stumbling, falling down and praying over and over. The Lamb of God about to be killed.
Here is another scene. Luke 22:44: And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
The medical community would call this Hematedriosis. The capillaries under the skin would burst and clots of blood would mix with sweat of the person under great duress, and said to be like blood and water. Think about that. Jesus shed blood in the garden, too.
A sermon called What Satan Didn’t Know, referred to Jesus shedding innocent blood before He went to the cross. I would suggest that everyone listen to that sermon and I can send you an MP3 file if you want.
Now what did he pray? He, the model for us. The gospel accounts record basically the same thing. Please turn to Matthew 26:39.
Matthew 26:39: And He went a little further, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou will. Again, in Mat 26:42: He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done. Some versions use Abba Father. In Aramaic terms, Abba Father is the term of dependency. It is a term of possessive endearment. Some have taken that word and translated it to daddy. I personally think daddy falls way short.
Daddy is an American word, not necessarily an intimate term, and may trivialize Him. Some kids call their earthly father daddy. Especially when they want something. Do we remember back that far? I used to, but we grow out of that. In fact, most would be embarrassed now to call their earthly dad daddy. Now it would be dad. The Aramaic term Abba father is such a precious word because it is possessive. It simply means my Father, mine (my father) He is mine. It is so important for us to learn that because here in this garden you would think that in this great distress, it would drive Christ to do what we would be tempted to do, and that would be to say, "Are you really mine? Where are you? Are you really my father?" Yet we come to the false conclusion that pain means the absence of God, and if He really were mine, this wouldn't happen. Jesus models it well when He says with that same kind of Christ-like maturity that we should have when we go through our garden. We should pray "My Father", that is, "I know You're mine and I trust You as mine and I know You haven't left me and I know You will always be there for me." This is a great lesson for all of us. Back in verse 39, Jesus is struggling. "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me." Shocking word. Verse 42 again "My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done." Now remember the cup is a categorical term for all the suffering of Jesus Christ, His betrayal, His crucifixion, His death, His abandonment, that His God, the Father, will turn His back on Him, God the Son. That doesn't mean that the Trinity ceases and now is turned to a duality. It simply means that God the Father ceases to be intimate with God the Son. And the Son ceases to have fellowship with God the Father for these hours. And that is the cup here. Fellowship will be lost while God the Son becomes filthy sin.
Do you know what it means when He becomes sin? For He that knew no sin? I don't. We can try to understand, but our puny little minds can't come close.
Think about this for a moment. These are words from Mark Mosley, a Christian writer. I tried to find the book online, but I couldn't find it. He wrote, Jesus will bear the sin of the Assyrians who gloated over their captives they skinned alive. Jesus will bear the sins of SS troops gunning down women and children running from burning synagogues with clothing burning ablaze. Jesus will bear the sins of child molesters making sure their victims never testify. He will bear the sins of Pharos sacrificing thousands of laboring lives to build a deifying tomb. Jesus took on all of this and more. He was tossed about in the endless storm of enraged fathers beating toddlers to their deaths, pimps seducing run-aways into lives of drugs and prostitution, Canaanites burning their children to Moloch. Nice church ladies cannibalizing over other nice church ladies over coffee. Impoverished parents in China selling their children into slavery. He will bear the sins of Bible-believing leaders praying long and loud while their wives sit in the back of many churches hoping their make-up covers their bruises. Jesus will tumble alone. He will bear the sins of embezzlers, gangsters, bullies, rapists, liars, thieves, the indifferent, sadistic, and self-righteous. It's a scene of unbearable horror, and unspeakable magna. He is the accused for us all, bearing the weight of abused children, families destroyed by adultery or apathy, civilizations decaying, and wars ravaging. But through it all, deep in the terror of hell, He keeps His eyes wide open, just a by-stander caught in the accident.
Let’s turn to Philippians 3:10 and I want you to see what Apostle Paul wrote.
Philippians 3:10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection. And we put a period right there. Yet he says more. And the fellowship of His suffering. Hebrews already said it, and we read it, that He the Son, being a man, though God would learn obedience through the things He suffered.
That is the purpose of what you go through. The garden you may be in or have been in, or will be in is for learning obedience so that the Father will chisel you into the image of that Lamb. I have seen a video of a skit that was done in a church, where there were two characters. One, an individual, like you and I. the second, was Jesus. During a conversation, this Jesus was chiseling away things that you and I hate to let go of.
Do you know how tragic it is for you and me to go through suffering and not learn obedience? Do you know what that means? That it is wasted. We have sorrowed for nothing. We have experienced pain with no spiritual productivity. What a waste that would be. Remember that intimacy with God does not erase the potential for pain. Fellowship with God does not help us avoid the gardens. It helps us walk through the gardens like Jesus did.
I heard a story once of a man who lost his eye due to cancer. He went into that operation not knowing if he would come out of that operation with one eye or two eyes. When he came out, the doctor told him he would be wearing a patch because he did lose one of his eyes. That would be the launching pad for his ministry, and he would be known to thousands of children as Patch the Pirate.
Here is his testimony. "Know I can see," he says. Testing comes from above. God strengthens His children and purges in love. My Father knows best and I trust in His care. Through purging, many fruit shall I bear. Oh rejoice in the Lord. He makes no mistake. He knows the end of each path that I take. For when I am tired and purified, I shall come forth as gold.
Recognize that when you're in the garden, close friends can be reassuring but they cannot be replacements for the Father.
Let's take a look at Jesus' associates and we will close. Let’s look at what’s going on with His closest friends on earth.
Matthew 26:40 And He came to the disciples, and found them asleep, and said unto Peter, What, could you not watch with me one hour?
His, (Jesus), 3 closest friends on earth. Ouch......that hurt!
Matthew 26:41-43 Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. 42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. :43 And He came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And He left them again to pray a third time and went away saying the same thing. Then he came to them again and said, "Are you still sleeping? Taking your rest? Behold the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Arise. Wake up Peter, James, John, we must be going. Behold, the one that betrays Me is in hand."
As I read these passages in Matthew over and over, it didn't hit me until later. I guess that's why they call it the Living Bible. Jesus specifically asked His 3 closest friends to pray with Him. Two times He said "Men will you pray too?" And Peter and James and John slept. "Will you watch with Me? Will you share my burden?" And His 3 closest friends on earth dozed off. But what a wonderful lesson here. You know one of the ways you will know you are experiencing a Gethsemane? Is that no one will go through it with you (your wife, husband, brother, sister, children, best friends). No one except the one who has already gone through it alone.
This Lamb of God...The message He can communicate to you and me is this: I understand. I walked through Gethsemane. I know what it's like to be surrounded by sorrow. I can tell you the Father understands as well.
So in the garden, Jesus looks into this grave and He, being God can take in all of the horror of that moment He will face, and from this moment forward, He will walk to the cross without ever a moment of hesitating, without any more recoil, without any more prayers (Father, could there be any other way?) And that garden stands as a testimonial to His willingness to die for you and me, as He walks from the garden to the cross. He, the Lamb shows us how to walk through our garden, too.
My friends, what are you going through? Is it health issues, or finances? What trial, might it be? There is not one problem or sickness that Jesus didn’t over come. There is not one problem that you might be going through that He won’t hear. Will you share that with Him today? I have said this many times….I don’t know your heart, but there is one who does. I don’t know what burdens you have, but Jesus does. I don’t know the sickness you maybe going through, but I know one who can heal you. There may be someone who has chains of bondage that seems to be strangling you. Again there is power in the name of Jesus to break those chains. Will you leave those burdens at the cross today? Will you leave them at the feet of He who came to save the world?
For someone who might be hearing this, or reading this at another time. Maybe you didn’t know that Jesus went through all this for you. I assure you, He did. Jesus, (GOD) came down from Heaven as a man not to condemn the world, but to save it. He wants to free you from bondage. He wants to give you life. Oh friend, today is the day for salvation. Tomorrow may never come. Look at the natural disasters that are happening almost every day. Look at other disasters that we didn’t know were coming. We can see where someone in our community died almost every day and they were an innocent bystander. Look at the train wreck up in Canada, or the plane that crashed in California yesterday. Friends, we could die today from something.
I want to look at one last scripture and we will close. I want you all to really think on this verse, and if you read the following comment and reaction from Pilate, it may bring more meaning.
John 18:37 KJV Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.