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.