The Newness Of The Spirit (Sunrise 2022)

The Christian life is one of discovery. As we walk with Christ the Holy Spirit through His word reveals to us our new position and power in Christ by grace.

Paul in Ephesians 1:17-20 prayed,

17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,
18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
19 what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power
20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,

The moment you put your faith in the gospel you were spiritually placed in Christ. In Christ we have blessings, a glorious hope, an inheritance, and the exceeding greatness of God’s power, which is the indwelling Holy Spirit, the one that raised Christ from the dead.

As we read the Bible we discover our position, apply that truth and walk in the truth.

This was Paul’s focus in Romans 6:3-6 when he said,

3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,
6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.

The believer has been positionally identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection and therefore we can have power over sin and walk in the newness of life.

Paul in Romans 7:1-6 gives us another illustration, interpretation and application of our freedom and power because of our new position in Christ.

First in verses 1-3 we see the illustration.

1 Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives?

Paul begins this question as he did the question in Romans 6:3. Do you not know? Both illustrations being presented would have been common knowledge to believers in Rome.

The common knowledge was regarding the jurisdiction law in general. These believers knew that laws were only binding on a person as long as they were alive, once a person died they were free from the obligations of the law.

A dead person does not have to pay taxes, or fulfill their civic duty to report for jury duty.

Paul narrows his focus to Jewish marriage law in verses 2-3.

2 For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband.

Paul looks at Israeli marriage law from the perspective of a Jewish woman. I’m told by Jewish scholars that in Israel a women had no right to divorce her husband, only the husband could divorce his wife if he found some uncleanness in her.

This being the case the law bound the wife to her husband as long as he was alive. Once the husband died the widow was free from that marriage law and could go and marry another man.

3 So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man.

The wife was to obey the law not only for conscience sake, it was a capital offense under Jewish law for a women to be convicted of adultery.

But if the husband dies, the wife was free from both the obligation and therefore the curse of marrying another man.

Second in verse 4-6 we see the interpretation and application of Paul’s marriage illustration.

4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.

The word therefore indicates that Paul in now interpreting and applying this illustration..

Notice Paul says nothing in verses 4-6 about marriage and divorce. This passage is not addressing the principles of marriage and divorce for believers, it’s only an illustration our freedom and blessings in Christ.

The focus of this illustration is the individual believer, those who come to faith in Christ through the gospel.

The old husband who died refers to our life before Christ when we were controlled by our flesh and dominated by our sin nature that we inherited from Adam.

The law refers to the law of Moses, the Old Covenant that the Jews were under until the death and resurrection of Christ.

The wife represents the believer who has a new relationship with the law and a living and powerful relationship with Christ.

5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death,

Paul in this verse describes our life before Christ and why we needed to be delivered from the Old Covenant.

We were in the flesh. Before we came to Christ we were controlled by the sinful impulses of our human mind, emotions and body. We were slaves to our lusts and had no power over them because our the old man, our sin nature lorded over us and dominated our lives.

Notice Paul included himself as those who were in the flesh. Even Saul of Tarsus the devote Pharisee was in the flesh before he was saved through the gospel.

The law could not save Saul, but only reveal his sin and a need for God’s grace and righteousness. Paul describes his experiences under the in verses 7-12.

The law could only restrict outward behavior, it could not bring inward transformation and power to keep the law. Rather than bring life, the law revealed that the Jew was dead in trespasses.

The law also provoked the sin nature and made it want to sin more. The law said, “you shall not,” but the sin nature said, “oh yes I will.” The Law said, “you shall,” the sin nature said, “I will not.”

Our life before Christ can be summarized in the words flesh, sin, law, death.

6 But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.

The believer in Christ has been delivered from the law, that held us or bound us to the flesh. The believers deliverance came in their identification with Christ on the cross.

Paul in Galatians 2:19-20 said,

19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.
20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

The believer through the gospel has died to the law and therefore has been delivered from the Old Covenant. The word delivered does not mean the law has been destroyed or annihilated, it means to render inoperative.

The believer in Christ like the wife illustrated in verses 1-3 is free from the written code and that bound us to the old life. The believer is now a new creation in Christ, raised to the newness of life, so we can walk in the newness of the Spirit.
The newness can be seen in our new intimate relationship with Christ, standing under grace, and empowering by the Holy Spirit.

First newness of the Spirit speaks of a new intimate relationship with Christ.

Under the Old Covenant there was a priesthood, temple, ritual, ceremonies. The believer in the Old Testament was bound to the letter of the law, today in Christ we have been freed from the law to enjoy a new intimate relationship with a resurrected bridegroom.

Christianity is a love relationship with Christ, we serve Christ with the same love and excitement that lovers express during their engagement.

We live in expectancy and preparation for our wedding day. Jesus went to prepare a place for us and promised He would come again to receive us to Himself (John 14:2-3).

Second newness of the Spirit speaks of our new standing under grace.

Paul in Romans 6:14 says, For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. When God lead Israel out of Egypt by Moses He lead them to Mount Sinai.

At Mount Sinai God established a conditional covenant with Israel and gave them His law. God said if Israel obey His law they would be blessed, but if they disobeyed His law they would be judged and cursed.

The history of the Old Testament reveals that when Israel kept the law they were blessed, but they often did not, and therefore were placed under the judgement by God.

During the days of the Prophets when Israel was failing to keep the law God through the Prophet Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jeremiah promised a New Covenant that would take the place of the temporary Old Covenant, the law. The New Covenant would be unconditional, based on God’s grace alone.

Jesus at His first coming offered to the nation of Israel the blessing of the New Covenant and His Kingdom, but Israel rejected His offer.

On His last night with His disciples took the bread and cup and instituted the Lord’s supper. Jesus took the cup and told His disciples that it was the blood of the New Covenant (Luk 22:20). Christ through on the cross signed, sealed and inaugurated the New Covenant with His death.

The New Covenant was promised to Israel and will be fulfilled with Israel at Christ’s second coming after the Tribulation, at this time all Israel will be saved (Rom.11:25-27)

Until then, all who are in Christ through the gospel are partakers of the spiritual blessings of the Jewish covenants.

One aspect of this blessing is we do not relate to God by the works of the law but we stand in grace.

Paul in Romans 5:1-2 says,
1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Paul in Romans 8:1 says, There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

There is no condemnation for the born again believer since we’re not under the law, but under grace. In Christ we are justified, declared righteous. The believer serves because we are blessed, not in order to be blessed as before under the law.

Third the newness of the Spirit speaks of our new power to walk in righteousness because of the permanent indwelling Holy Spirit.

Every covenant had a sign or token. The token of God’s covenant with Noah was the rainbow, with Abraham was circumcision, the Old Covenant (law) was the Sabbath Day. The New Covenant’s sign is the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Ezekiel 36:25-27 speaking of the New Covenant says,
25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.
26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

Jesus was amazed that Nicodemus one of the leading Jewish scholars did not know that he needed to be born again. Only through water and the Spirit could he enter the Kingdom of God.

Water and the spirit does not refer to water baptism, but the cleansing from sin and regeneration by the Spirit that Ezekiel 36 promised. This work comes to all believe in Christ because of His death, resurrection and ascension to the right hand of the Father.

Paul speaking of the gospel of grace said in 2 Corinthians 3:5-6,

5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God,
6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Through faith in the gospel the believer receives the blessing of the permanent indwelling Holy Spirit.

People often make picture collages to remind them of special events or seasons of life.

Here’s a New Testament scripture collage to remind us of the blessing and power of Holy Spirit that we have in Christ.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches… (Rev.2:7a)…He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified (Joh.7:38-39)… Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you (Joh.16:7.

And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you (Joh.14:16-18)…In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory (Eph 1:13-14)…Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1Cor.3:16)… Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? (1 Cor. 6:19)…But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you (Rom.8:11)… Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us (1 Jon 3:24)…and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come (Heb.6:4b-5)…

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Eph.4:30)… For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death (Rom.8:2)…Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Do not quench the Spirit. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Cor.3:17-18)…I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish (Gal.5:16-17). And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit (Gal.5:24-25).

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law (Gal.5:22-23)…(for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord (Eph.5:9-10)…In sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ (1Pet.1:2b) There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit (1 Cor.12:4)… But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all (1 Cor.12:7)…But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills (1 Cor.12:11)…Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them (Rom.12:6a)…

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit (Jud.1:20)…Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God (Rom.8:26-27)…And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God (Eph.5:18-21)…

And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God (1 Cor. 2:1-5)…”EYE HAS NOT SEEN, NOR EAR HEARD, NOR HAVE ENTERED INTO THE HEART OF MAN THE THINGS WHICH GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.”But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual (1 Cor. 2:9-13)…

But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him (1 Jon.2:27)…But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you (Jon.14:26)… “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me (Jon15:26)… and when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment (Jon.16:8)…However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you (Jon.16:13-15)…

Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high (Luk.24:49)…for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now (Act.1:5)… But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Act.1:8)…This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?— Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? (Gal.3:2-3)…He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Rev.3:22)”

Since Christ died, rose again and ascended into Heaven God has given His Holy Spirit to those who believe the gospel. The believer is not to rely on the works of the flesh, but we are to abide in and depend on the indwelling Holy Spirit.

In closing, the Christian life is one of discovery. God reveals to us through His word our position and power in Christ. The believer is to reckon these to be true and then respond by walking in faith.

As we walk in the word and the Spirit we’ll be like trees planted by rivers of water, that bring forth their fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever you do shall prosper (Ps.1:3).

My Heartburn Will Go On (Luke 24:13-35)

In the rebooted Star Wars universe, the non-trilogy films Rogue One and Solo have the further descriptor, A Star Wars Story.

On Easter Sunday our Bible text ought always to be A Resurrection Story. We can hardly overstate the importance of the physical, bodily resurrection from the dead of Jesus. Among so many other things, it guarantees believers that they, too, will likewise be raised in a glorious, sinless immortal body.

The apostle John put it this way: “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (First John 3:2).

No matter how much we talk about the resurrection of Jesus, however, there remains a great deal of confusion about Easter.

Maybe you’ve heard about the three blonde women who died and went to Heaven. In the interest of political correctness (but more so my personal safety), let’s call them three Italian men.

St. Peter told them that they could only enter Heaven if they answered one simple question, “What is Easter?”

The first Italian replied, “Oh, that’s easy! It’s the holiday in November when everyone gets together, eats turkey, and are thankful…”

“Wrong!,” replied St. Peter, and proceeded to ask the second Italian the same question.

He replied, “Easter is the holiday in December when we put up a tree, exchange presents, and drink eggnog.”

“Wrong!,” replied St. Peter, and proceeded to ask the third Italian the same question.

He smiled confidently and said, “Easter is the Christian holiday, that coincides with the Jewish celebration of Passover. Jesus and His disciples celebrated the last supper. Then the Romans took Him to be crucified where He was scourged and made to wear a crown of thorns, and was hung on a cross with nails through His hands and feet. After saying, “It is finished!,” Jesus dismissed His spirit. He was removed from the cross and buried in a nearby borrowed tomb which was sealed off by a large boulder.”

St. Peter smiled broadly, and was just about to open the pearly gates, when the third Italian continued: “Every year the boulder is moved aside so that Jesus can come out… And, if he sees His shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter.”

In the twenty-fourth chapter of the Gospel of Luke we find Emmaus: A Resurrection Story. It is about two disciples of Jesus who were confused about the first Easter.

Luke 24:13 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem.
Luke 24:14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.

I just realized I didn’t tell you how the three Italians died. They were taking a walk in the country when they came upon tracks in the ground. The first one said, “Those must be deer tracks!”

The second one said, “No, stupid, anyone can tell those are rabbit tracks!”

The third said, “No, you idiots, those are horse tracks!”

They where still arguing ten minutes later when the train hit them.

Luke 24:15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.

We most often describe our relationship with God as a “walk.” There are numerous references to walking with God in the New Testament. In the Book of Ephesians, for example, you are told to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called (4:1); you are told that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk (4:17); you are told that you should walk in love (5:2); you are told that you should walk as children of the light (5:8); and you are told that you should walk circumspectly (5:18).

Those, and the many other references, to walking with God are wonderful; but there is something behind them that we often overlook. The idea of walking with God should involve making progress, for sure; but it should mostly involve passion.

Lovers take walks. They don’t do it to get somewhere. They do it to be with someone. The progress that they make is not measured in distance, but in devotion. They spend time getting to know one another, deepening in their love. They usually arrive at the same location from which they started – but feeling very different about themselves, having made a romantic progress that puts everything in an entirely new perspective.

God loves to take walks with you. Right at the beginning of the Bible, in the third chapter of Genesis, God is described as being heard walking in the garden [of Eden] in the cool of the day, looking for Adam and Eve. It implies that walking along with them was a regular activity that God looked forward to.

Cleopas was one of the travelers; the other may have been his wife. We learn in the Gospel of John that her name was Mary (John 19:25). The thing that grabs you is that they did not recognize Jesus.

Luke 24:16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.

Somehow supernaturally they were prevented from recognizing that it was the risen Lord walking and talking with them. Scholars suggest a multitude of reasons why their eyes were restrained. I’m suggesting that it was because Jesus has a flair for romance.

In the many film versions of the tale of Robin Hood, he wears disguises, and even the woman he loves, the maid Marion, cannot always recognize him until Robin chooses to reveal himself.

Luke 24:17 And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”
Luke 24:18 Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?”
Luke 24:19 And He said to them, “What things?” So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,
Luke 24:20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him.
Luke 24:21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened.
Luke 24:22 Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us.
Luke 24:23 When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive.
Luke 24:24 And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”

They had the Word of God, and witnesses, that Jesus had risen from the dead:

The Word of God is summarized in their reference to the “third day since these things have happened.” More than once the Lord had told His followers He would be condemned to death and crucified, but be raised the third day.
The witnesses of His resurrection thus far included angels, women, and at least two of the apostles – Peter and John.

Still, they did not believe. Perhaps they were restrained in seeing Jesus because of their expectations of who He was and what they wanted Him to do:

They expected a conquering Messiah; they got, so they thought, a crucified man.
They expected a politician; they got, so they thought, a prophet.
They expected the Lion of the Tribe of Judah; they got, so they thought, a meek lamb.

Your expectations of Jesus should be based on the following:

He’s the One who took your place as Substitute and Sacrifice on the cross at Calvary.
He’s the One who saved you from death and Hell; Who fills you with His Spirit; Who is building your home in Heaven; Who will return to take you there.
He’s the One who, in the mean time, is at work changing you day-by-day to become what you were created to be.

Luke 24:25 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!
Luke 24:26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?”

Jesus appealed to “the prophets.” I’d be remiss in my responsibilities if I did not mention that God, in the Bible, makes incredible predictions, and then brings them to pass. No other religious writing, or religion, can boast of such fulfilled prophecy.

If you are not a believer in Jesus, and think all this talk of His resurrection is some sort of fantasy… What can you say to the mathematical impossibility of Jesus fulfilling just eight Old Testament prophecies? The odds are expressed as one in 10 to the twenty-first power.

But Jesus didn’t fulfill eight prophecies. He fulfilled at least sixty-one.
(You may have heard, and I’ve probably said, there are more like three hundred prophecies that Jesus fulfilled. One mathematician puts it this way: “There are nearly 300 references to 61 specific prophecies of the Messiah that were fulfilled by Jesus Christ… The odds against one person fulfilling that many prophecies would be beyond all mathematical possibility. It could never happen, no matter how much time was allotted”).

Cleopas and Mary did not have what might be called a theology of suffering. It was inconceivable to them that the Savior would suffer and die – even though certain of their Scriptures said as much.

Are you hurting in some way today? I have a word for you:

Heb 4:15  For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Heb 4:16  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Have you noticed that when people are hurting that they seek out others who can relate to their experiences? They find an individual, or a group, to ease the suffering. Jesus is the ultimate Person to seek-out, and to be comforted by.

Luke 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

“Moses” is credited with writing the first five books of the Bible. Jesus gave them a systematic Bible study, starting with Genesis.

It’s interesting to note, in passing, that the very first Bible study the Lord gave after He rose from the dead was on prophecy.

It was arguably the greatest Bible study ever delivered:

Jesus undoubtedly told them that He was there, in Genesis, creating the universe.
That He was the promised Seed of the woman in the Garden of Eden Who would crush the serpent’s head, but be bruised in the process.
That when Abraham was instructed to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, on Mount Moriah it was a type of God the Father sacrificing His only begotten Son, Jesus, on the Cross on the exact same spot.
That the Passover lambs that were slain in Egypt and for centuries afterward were typical of Himself as the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world.

He may have described how each of the sacrifices in the Tabernacle represented Him; or how each piece of furniture in the Tabernacle pointed to Him.

Jesus probably reminded them that the words He spoke from the cross, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?,” were a quote from Psalm 22 – which perfectly predicted His death by crucifixion some 400 years before it occurred.

He undoubtedly mentioned Isaiah 53 and its predictions of the suffering Savior. We could go on-and-on.

I, too, wish we had the text of this study. But what I find fascinating is this: If you regularly attend a Bible-teaching church, you do hear this study.
And it’s as if Jesus Himself is talking to you, because it is God the Holy Spirit within you Who is teaching you.

Two disciples, walking along with Jesus – but they were restrained from seeing Him. Am I being restrained? Are you being restrained? It’s an important question to ask ourselves.
Our expectations (or lack of them); our culture; our prejudices; our preconceptions. Sin. All of these and more can restrain us from seeing the Lord.

Remember: This is a romantic story. Lovers understand what happened next. Jesus would have gone on further, but the two constrained Him to stay.

Luke 24:28 Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther.
Luke 24:29 But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them.

In a moment we will read that their hearts were burning within them as Jesus talked on the road. Having not seen Him, they loved Him. Jesus kindled their love and thus they constrained Him to remain with them.

Jesus said He would never leave you or forsake you. He is portrayed as your Bridegroom, and you as His bride.

Eliminate this passionate element and your walk will become stale. He remains with you; but you are not realizing it. Eventually He will say something like, “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”

Luke 24:30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.
Luke 24:31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.

This, by the way, was not communion. They were simply sharing a meal.

There was something about the way Jesus handled the bread, blessing it and breaking it, that was unmistakable.

It’s like that with lovers. Certain very common behaviors are done in ways that become endearing. Do you remember this line in a Beatles song: Something in the way she moves attracts me like no other lover. The song goes on to mention other common activities that become precious when you’re in love.

The idea here is the same, only it’s a far deeper romance because it is Jesus Who loves you, and it’s with an everlasting love.

Jesus vanished from their sight. They would see Him again. But better than seeing Him: He would ascend into Heaven and send the Holy Spirit to live within them, and among them. He would be more present with them than ever before.

Luke 24:32 And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”
Luke 24:33 So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem…

They didn’t finish their meal. They didn’t clean-up after themselves. It was difficult and extremely dangerous to travel so great a distance after dark. Love makes you do strange things.

Luke 24:33 So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together,
Luke 24:34 saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”
Luke 24:35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.

Before Cleopas and Mary could give their report, the other disciples blurted-out close encounters with the Lord of their own kind. All of them talked only about Jesus. It was a sure sign of their love.

You can only really understand the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus if you factor in an element of romance. The way Jesus hid His identity from them, and then waited until they compelled Him to stay with them, are romantic elements in the story. Overlook the romance, and all you’ve got in this story is disappointment that the Bible study Jesus gave was not recorded for you. Factor in the romance and you realize that the Bible study is absent for a reason.

It’s absent because you are to discover it for yourself on a daily basis as you and Jesus walk along together.

All over the United States, and all over the world, pastors are finishing their Resurrection Story sermons by giving an altar call.
An altar call is when we call upon sinners who don’t know Jesus as their Savior to acknowledge their sin, repent of it, and receive the Holy Spirit.

We sometimes ask them to raise their hands… Or to come forward… And then lead we them in a sinners prayer.

I want to do something a little different. Altar calls are great, and biblical, but instead of an altar call, I’d like to do a roll call.

It’s simple: If you know that you are a Christian, who has received Jesus Christ as Savior, and have assurance that if the Lord came right now, or if you died, you’d be in Heaven… Raise your hand & keep it up for a moment.

If you did not raise your hand… What are you waiting for? We’ve presented a living Savior Who fulfilled Bible prophecy to a degree that is mathematically impossible. It is what we call evidence that demands a verdict.

The Bible warns you, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). There’s no question that you can answer at the Pearly Gates by which St. Peter will allow you entrance. Your destiny, and your afterlife destination, are determined in this life.

As we close with worship – come forward to be prayed for, and either rededicate yourself to Jesus, or receive the Lord:

Maybe you’re a believer, but your love has grown cold; come forward.

Maybe you’re not a believer; come forward, to receive the risen Lord.

Jesus Uncrossed

Saturday Night Live got blasted for its parody of the recent Quentin Tarantino film, DJango Unchained, starring Christoph Waltz, who was guest hosting SNL.

They called it DJesus Uncrossed.  Playing off Tarantino’s style of hyper violence and revenge fantasy, Jesus exits the tomb and goes off to mercilessly kill as many Romans as possible.

“He’s risen from the dead, and he’s preaching anything but forgiveness,” the narrator states, with images of Jesus slaughtering Roman soldiers in the background.  Another tagline described it as, “The ultimate historical revenge fantasy.”

The skit was tasteless, some say blasphemous; but, truth be told, Jesus did win a great battle both on and after the Cross.

It wasn’t a victory against the Romans; they weren’t His enemy.  He didn’t die then exit the tomb to kill them, but rather to give them life – eternal life.

They and every other human being who has ever been conceived were captives for which He went to the Cross.

Jesus was battling on the Cross.  We’re told Jesus, in His death, “disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities [of this world].  He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross”
(Colossians 2:15).  We are told “that through death [Jesus] might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14).

These “spiritual rulers” were far more powerful than the Romans or any other mere men, for that matter.  They are elsewhere called “principalities… powers… the rulers of the darkness of this age… spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Their leader is the devil, Satan – a powerful fallen angel.  He is called “the god of this world” (Second Corinthians 4:4), and “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2).  The entire world is said to be “under his power” (1John 5:19).  He is described as going about like a wild beast, seeking whom he may devour (First Peter 5:8), and as holding most of the human race as his unwitting captives (Second Timothy 2:26).

You realize, don’t you, that Satan is not bound in Hell; that he is not ruling a kingdom in Hell?  He is alive and well and affecting events on planet earth in opposition to God.

Wait a minute.  I thought we just said Jesus defeated the devil and his minions at the Cross?  What’s going on?

We want to address and explore the question of what is going on.  We could do it from any number of passages.  The passage I’ve chosen is Psalm twenty-four.  Please note its battle imagery.

Psalm 24:1    The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein.
Psalm 24:2    For He has founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the waters.
Psalm 24:3    Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place?
Psalm 24:4    He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully.
Psalm 24:5    He shall receive blessing from the LORD, And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Psalm 24:6    This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face. Selah
Psalm 24:7    Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in.
Psalm 24:8    Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle.
Psalm 24:9    Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in.
Psalm 24:10    Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah

To begin addressing the question of what is going on, we need to go back to the beginning.  We just read,

Psalm 24:1    The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein.
Psalm 24:2    For He has founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the waters.

Those words shout, “Creator,” and take us back to the beginning and the Bible’s account in Genesis of the creation of the universe out of nothing by the Word of God.

Maybe you don’t believe in the Genesis account of the creation of Adam and Eve.  I do.

Jesus believed the Genesis account, by the way, and He was there, so He ought to know.  “For in him all things were created: things in Heaven and on earth, visible and invisible… all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 2:16).

Creation, however, isn’t quite what it was at the beginning.  There’s something very wrong with the universe.  It was ruined for us by something Adam and Eve did.

Look at the next verse in our psalm.

Psalm 24:3    Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place?

This psalm was written by King David probably as a call to worship.  You can almost hear pilgrims coming from all over Israel to enter Jerusalem, ascending to the Temple, to offer their sacrifices for one of the annual feasts.

In this question is a great spiritual truth.  Not just anyone can walk directly into the presence of God.  We used to be able to do that.  That is, our original parents could.  God visited them everyday in the Garden of Eden.

Then something happened; something awful.  It’s what made creation go wrong.

Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s one, clear command.  He warned them of the consequences: it would bring sin and death and separation.  But they disobeyed anyway.

As their descendants we inherit a sin nature from them.  From sin follows death then separation.

What it takes to “ascend” into the very presence of God is summarized in verse four.

Psalm 24:4    He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully.

I would wager that none of us has “clean hands and a pure heart.”  I’d lay odds each of us has “lifted up [our] soul to an idol,” or “sworn deceitfully.”

If you think you’re clean in all those categories, OK; I will reluctantly believe you.  Jesus also said things like, “If you’ve ever lusted in your heart, you’ve already committed adultery,” and “if you’ve been angry with someone, you are guilty of murder.”

Sound extreme?  Not when you understand God is absolutely holy.  His standard is perfection.  And not simply in behavior; He requires perfection in mind and in heart.  You must be perfect inwardly… And none of us are.

It’s why the Bible declares that “there is none righteous, not even one.  All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

The trouble is, “falling short” leaves you outside of Heaven.  Eternally.  Forever.  And the only other address is Hell.

Did I just say “there is none righteous?”  It’s a word we should probably define.  It means to be right with God.  Because we inherit sin, we are wrong with God.

What if we could somehow be righteous?  The very next thing we read in our psalm is,

Psalm 24:5    He shall receive blessing from the LORD, And righteousness from the God of his salvation.

The human race of verses three and four, so far from God, with no hope of ascending to Heaven or ever standing in God’s presence, whose eternal address is Hell, can nevertheless “receive blessing from The Lord, and righteousness from the God of [our] salvation.”

The “blessing” we are talking about IS “righteousness.”  Applied to you it means you can be right with God.  He can, in fact, allow you into Heaven; you can stand in His presence.

How can God do that?  He can do it precisely because Jesus is ‘uncrossed’ and risen from the dead.

Jesus, on the Cross, was battling.  We mentioned a few of His supernatural opponents.  He had the three other enemies from Adam and Eve’s decision that seemed equally unconquerable.  They were sin and death and Hell.

When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they brought sin into the human race.  The penalty for sin was, and is, death.  The destination for sinners after death is Hell.

Those are powerful enemies indeed.  No weapon fashioned by man can defeat them.  Take death, for example.  We might learn how to cheat death to live longer but, eventually, we will die.

Living longer doesn’t solve the problem of sin; and it certainly doesn’t overcome Hell.
Jesus died on the Cross to defeat sin.  Since He was fully God, He was sinless.  He met God’s standard of absolute perfection.  Inwardly as well as outwardly.

Since He was also fully human, He could represent all humans.  He could take our place, die our death as it were; pay our penalty, take our punishment.

Having defeated sin as the God-man by dying on the Cross as a willing sacrifice, Jesus defeated death and proved it by rising on the third day.  He didn’t simply resuscitate in a body that would die once again.  Oh, no; He was raised in a glorious, new body that is fit for eternity.

Then, on the 40th day after He rose from the dead, He ascended into Heaven to show that all who receive His salvation can ascend there, too, and stand in God’s presence.

Jesus righted all that Adam and Eve had wronged so we can be right with God again.

When you believe on Jesus, God is able to declare you righteous on account of what Jesus has done.  It’s called justification.  Here is how to understand it: Because I believe on Jesus, God can treat me just-as-if-I’d never sinned.  I am forever acquitted of guilt and the punishment for my sin.

If Jesus won so great a victory, how is it the devil continues, and sin, death, and Hell have still brutally, cruelly claimed lives these last 2,000 years?

In one passage we are told that God “put all in subjection under Jesus, He left nothing that is not put under him.  But now we do not yet see all things put under him” (Hebrews 2:15).

There is a delay; it began in the Garden of Eden and it’s lasted since Jesus died on the Cross.  Jesus conquered all enemies, but today He sits in Heaven, poised to return, waiting to take full control.

What is He waiting for that could be worth all the brutality and cruelty that exists in our fallen world?

There is a one-word answer to that question: Longsuffering.  God is longsuffering with sinners, not willing that any should perish, but that all would receive His salvation.

God’s longsuffering waits because there are some here who are the unwitting captives of Satan, who are sinners on their way to death and Hell.

If you are one of them, God is not willing you should perish; He battled on the Cross to save you.  But you must believe what He has done.

One day God’s longsuffering will end.  History has a climax and we see it as the psalm ends.

Psalm 24:7    Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in.
Psalm 24:8    Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle.
Psalm 24:9    Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in.
Psalm 24:10    Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah

While these verses could be sung right after David penned them… and while they certainly applied to Jesus in His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday… they really look to the future.

He’s coming again.

According to the Bible, which has proven 100% accurate thus far, Jesus is coming at the end of a seven-year period of Great Tribulation.

He will come to earth, to Jerusalem, and these verses will be profoundly true as the survivors of that Great Tribulation receive Him as their Savior, Lord, and King.

He could be coming for you even sooner.

First, you could die before He comes.  At any age; at any moment; of many causes – both natural and accidental.  For sure if you are alive in the Great Tribulation there is a 4 out of 5 chance you will be killed by some natural or supernatural disaster.

Second, He could come before the Great Tribulation and before you die, but you might not be ready to go with Him.  You see, The Lord said He was coming to resurrect the dead and rapture living believers before the Great Tribulation; and He said this coming could be at any moment so we should watch and be ready.

If you are not saved, you are not ready.  You are not ready to die; you are not ready for the rapture.

But you are here; and, as Martha Stewart says, “it’s a good thing.”  In verse six of our psalm it says,

Psalm 24:6    This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face. Selah

“Jacob” was the son of Isaac, who was the son of Abraham, to whom God promised He would bless his descendants by sending Jesus to save all who would simply believe on Him.

Abraham’s physical descendants are the Jews.  He also has spiritual descendants.  Believing Jews and believing non-Jews are considered his spiritual offspring.

The psalmist is saying anyone – Jew or Gentile – anywhere at any time can be included in the promises made to Abraham by God.

I can accurately say of you, the believers gathered here, “this is Jacob.”  You are “the generation of those who seek Him.”

You have “received” the “blessing” of His “righteousness.”  It could never have been achieved by any good works you could have done; but it was received as the gift it was.  You believed God and He counted it as righteousness.

If you are not a believer; if you cannot be called “Jacob” in this spiritual sense; honestly, What are you waiting for?

God is waiting for you, but you don’t know for how long.

The story is told of a man who waited to be rescued.  You’ve probably heard it.  It goes like this.

It rained for many days and days and there was a terrific flood.  The water rose so high that one man was forced to climb on top of his roof and sit in the rain.  As the waters came up higher a man in a rowboat came up to the house and told him to get in.

“No thank you, the Lord will save me!” he said, and the man in the rowboat rowed away.

The waters rose to the edge of the roof and still the man sat on the roof until another rowboat came by and another man told him to get in.  “No thank you, the Lord will save me!” he said again, and the man rowed away.

The waters covered the house and the man was forced to sit on his chimney as the rain poured down.  A helicopter came by and another man urged him to get in or he’ll drown.  “No thank you,” the man said again, “The Lord will save me!”

After much begging and pleading the man in the helicopter gave up and flew away.  The waters rose above the chimney and the man drowned and went to Heaven where he met God.

“Lord, I don’t understand,” he told Him, frustrated, “The waters rose higher and higher and I waited hours for you to save me but you didn’t!  Why?”

The Lord just shook his head and said, “What are you talking about?  I sent you two boats and a helicopter?!”

Every time you hear about Jesus, God is sending out a rescue to you.
Maybe for you it’s just started to rain.
Maybe you’re sitting on the roof (although you don’t realize it since you don’t know the future).
You ought to feel as if you are hanging on to the chimney and this – today – is your last chance.

One detail that the story gets wrong.  If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ; if you never get saved; you won’t be going to Heaven and talking to God.

The time for talking will have passed.  It will be too late for you.  Sin, death, and Hell will claim you.

What must you do?  Jesus said, “Repent and believe” this Good News (Mark 1:15).

Let’s stop to do that, right now; to “repent” and “believe.”

Sunrise Service 2013

I was thinking about famous broadcasters and their trademark sign-offs.  See if you can remember these four:

Walter Cronkite: “And that’s the way it is.”
Dick Clark: “For now, Dick Clark, so long,” followed by a military salute.
Paul Harvey: “Paul Harvey [pause] good day!”
Dennis Miller: “That’s the news and I’m outta here!”

(OK, Dennis Miller isn’t really in their league… But I wanted to seem moderately culturally relevant).

If Calvary Hanford had a “sign-off” it would be, “Ready or not, Jesus is coming!”  I’ve been saying it every Sunday for at least the last 300 Sundays in our weekly prophecy update segment.

We are committed to the position that Jesus will return to resurrect and rapture the church at any moment prior to the Great Tribulation.

We use the word “imminent” to describe the the rapture.
1) An imminent event is one which is always “hanging overhead, is constantly ready to befall or overtake one…”  Imminence carries the sense that it could happen at any moment.  Other things may happen before the imminent event, but nothing else must take place before it happens.  If something else must take place before an event can happen, then that event is not imminent.  In other words, the necessity of something else taking place first destroys the concept of imminency.

2) Since a person never knows exactly when an imminent event will take place, then he cannot count on a certain amount of time transpiring before the imminent event happens.  In light of this, he should always be prepared for it to happen at any moment.

3) A person cannot legitimately set or imply a date for its happening.  As soon as a person sets a date for an imminent event he destroys the concept of imminency because he thereby is saying that a certain amount of time must transpire before that event can happen.  A specific date for an event is contrary to the concept that the event could happen at any moment.

4) A person cannot legitimately say that an imminent event will happen soon.  The term “soon” implies that an event must take place “within a short time (after a particular point of time specified or implied).”  By contrast, an imminent event may take place within a short time, but it does not have to do so in order to be imminent.

A.T. Pierson has noted that, “Imminence is the combination of two conditions, certainty and uncertainty.  By an imminent event we mean one which is certain to occur at some time, uncertain at what time.”

What New Testament passages teach this truth? Those verses stating that Christ could return at any moment, without warning and those instructing believers to wait and look for the Lord’s coming teach the doctrine of imminence.  Here are a few New Testament passages:

1 Corinthians 1:7 “awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,”

Philippians 3:20 “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;”

Philippians 4:5 “The Lord is near.”

1 Thessalonians 1:10 “to wait for His Son from heaven,”

1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of {the} archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

300 Sundays have come and gone, as well as 2,000 years since The Lord rose from the dead.

Sometimes even Christians must wonder, “Where is the promise of His coming?”

Peter asked and answered that question and we want to take a quick look at what he said as our sunrise devotional.
2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.

The “Day of the Lord” is the whole period of time during which God prepares the world for final judgment.

It will “come as a thief in the night” upon any who are unprepared for it.  This doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t know it is coming – only that they refused to prepare.

The final moment in which “the heavens will pass away” is described.  It reads like a description of a nuclear catastrophe.  It won’t be men pushing the button; it will be God letting go of the atoms that make-up matter.

Peter wasn’t wondering whether or not this would occur.  He was telling you it will occur; it is inevitable.  So he said,

2 Peter 3:11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,
2 Peter 3:12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?

This is not a question; it’s an exhortation.  Thinking backward from the future, knowing you are living in the Last Days of human history and that men are going to perish for all eternity… You ought to be holy and hastening.

“Holy conduct and godliness” describes your daily activities.

“Holy” means set apart.  It is keeping yourself away from sin.
“Godliness” is the more positive way of looking at it – deliberately living in a way that is pleasing to God.

“Looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God” is an incredible phrase that has to do with your attitude in all your activities.

First, you are “looking for… the coming day of God.”  You are to really expect today to be your last day – whether it’s the day Jesus raptures His church or the day He takes you home through death.
Second, you should have the attitude that you can “hasten” His coming.  One of the meanings of the word is to accelerate.  You should think you can accelerate the coming of the Lord.

The Lord is longsuffering, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.  You can accelerate therefore His coming by telling more people about Him.  Someone will be the last person saved before the resurrection and rapture of the church.

I don’t want to club people over the head for slacking-off, as if God can’t come back because they are pew-potatoes.  It’s an attitude Peter wanted us to adopt toward the unsaved, not toward each other.

Holiness and hastening fill you with hope:

2 Peter 3:13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

God knew Adam and Eve would sin, bringing sin into and upon His creation.  He had a plan of redemption and has been working it out throughout human history.  He is still working it out; it is right on His schedule.

In the end there will be “new heavens and a new earth” for eternity “in which righteousness” dwells permanently, with no possibility of sin.  Believers have this hope – a certain hope based upon the “promise” of God Who cannot lie, Who never changes, and Who loves us.

Peter suggested you think backward, beginning with your meeting the Lord at His Reward Seat:

2 Peter 3:14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless;

“Looking forward” to eternity enables you to look backward to the present and make spiritual adjustments.  The Bible speaks of a glorious day in which believers (you) will appear individually before Jesus to have their lives examined and rewarded.  You should think backward from that meeting and “be diligent to be found by Him in peace…” and with purity (“without spot and blameless”).

While on the one hand it is the work of the Holy Spirit to make you more like Jesus; and at the Reward Seat it is Jesus Who will fully and finally make you spotless; you should strive to be at “peace” with the Lord and live in purity before the Lord as you anticipate seeing Him.

2 Peter 3:15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation…
The Lord is only waiting in order for more souls to be saved.  The unsaved perish for all eternity.  It ought to motivate us to be about the work of the Lord.

Each of us is going to ‘sign-off’ one day.

I might die before the rapture; so might you.  If so, “Ready or not, Jesus is coming,” not only takes on a whole new significance for me and you, but it preaches to others who survive us.

All of us might be raptured, at any moment.  If so, what better sign-off than “Ready or not, Jesus is coming,” because it will prove true of us, and He will be coming again at the end of the Great Tribulation.

So, let’s say it together:

“Ready or not, Jesus is coming!”

That’s Not How You Were Raised (Easter 2012)

It’s Easter Sunday.  It’s the day to talk about resurrection.  Usually when believers think of their resurrection, they think that it is an event which will take place exclusively in the future, when Jesus returns in the clouds to resurrect the dead in Christ and to rapture the living believers.

If this is the only way we understand our resurrection, then we do not fully understand the dynamic of Jesus Christ’s resurrection which took place two thousand years ago.

The Bible teaches that your resurrection also took place two thousand years ago!

Colossians 3:1 (NIV)  Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

Your resurrection is discussed in the past tense.  It doesn’t say “you will be raised,” it says “you have been raised.”  It is presented as something that has already occurred.

Don’t misunderstand.  There will be, in the future, a literal, physical resurrection from the dead.  Your “mortal” will “put on immortality.”  Or, if you are alive at the coming of Jesus, you will be “changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.”

Nevertheless, the resurrection of Jesus impacts you right now.  You are raised from the dead in the sense that the resurrection of Jesus two thousand years ago has practical consequences for you today.  Those practical consequences, the effect it has, is that you are dead to sin and alive to obedience to God and have the power to walk in a manner pleasing to your Lord.

Jesus’ physical resurrection from the dead insures you of your future physical resurrection and it also assures you that the power of His resurrection is available to you today in order to live-out the Christian life.

You ought, therefore, to “set your hearts on things above.”  You are asked to live in the here and now as if you were already seated there and then.

Let me illustrate.  At my age I hear a lot of talk about retirement.  Some people have a definite goal and a solid plan for getting there.  A good plan usually involves sacrificing now to benefit you later.  If you know where you want to retire you likely buy some property there – maybe even start building on it in your spare time.  The closer you get to retirement the more you pour into your goal and the more you think about and anticipate what it will be like.

In other words, someone planning for retirement begins to live now, even sacrificing, as if they are seated there already.

Are you “seek[ing] those things which are above”?  In the Greek language it reads, keep on seeking.  It implies a continuous, daily activity.

Pam and I like to frequent local antique and second-hand shops.  We always overhear folks saying that something they’ve found would be perfect for their cabin in the mountains or their place at the coast.  They are always ‘seeking’ things to furnish the house they’d rather be living in and that they plan to retire in.  They “seek” everything in light of their future home.

Heaven should permeate our thoughts.  “What does this have to do with Heaven?” is a question that should be a kind of litmus test of attitudes and activities.

Paul said there were “things above,” in Heaven.  What are some of them?

First of all, you’ve been promised a sweet retirement home.  It’s a mansion being custom built for you by the Lord (John 14).  No matter where you would like to retire on earth it cannot begin to compare to what is awaiting you in Heaven.  (Sorry – it won’t be at the coast, since in  Eternity “there is no more sea.”
Your home is part of a great heavenly city, the New Jerusalem.  It’s described for you in the closing chapters of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.  It’s made mostly of precious jewels, gems, and minerals.  No water shortage there as a great spring flows through it.  It’s a “pure river of water of life” that nourishes “the tree of life” that yields incredible fruit.
In Heaven and for eternity you will have a glorified and perfect body that is free from any possibility of sin or sorrow or death.  “There’s no crying in Heaven.”
Next you’ve been promised an inheritance “incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in Heaven for you” (First Peter 1:4).  Anything that God has deposited for me in Heaven is safe and secure.  Anything I might add to my heavenly inheritance by serving the Lord is just as safe and secure.
Then there are the people who have preceded you to Heaven – loved ones who loved the Lord and are awaiting a reunion with you.  You’ll know them fully, as they were intended to be by God, and they will know you.
The last thing I’ll mention is the most precious of all.  It’s Jesus Himself.  You’ll get to see Him, know Him, be with Him forever.

Those are just six of the things that are guaranteed for you.  They are real – more real than anything on the earth.

How can you be certain of these “things above”?  You can be certain because “Christ is [there], sitting at the right hand of God.”  The literal, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ in the first century is your guarantee.

The “right hand of God” is the seat of authority and power.  Read through the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ and you’ll see just how much authority and just how much power your Lord has and wields.

We have been raised with Jesus.  Have you ever said to someone, or have someone say to you, “that’s not how you were raised”?  Parents or other adults say it to children or young adults when they are not living-up to the things they were raised into.

Why do we not always live the way we were “raised” from the dead?  The world, the flesh, and the devil tend to divert my attention off of Heaven and on to the things of earth.  I forget I am seated in Heaven and instead of investing my time, treasure, and talent where it is safe and secure I waste it on earthly pursuits.

In his first letter the apostle Peter said, “for the time has come for judgment to begin in the house of God.”  Before we can share with nonbelievers the resurrection of Jesus, we ought to examine ourselves to be certain we are walking in His resurrection the way we’ve just discussed.

In a moment we’ll return to this and have an opportunity to examine ourselves.  Before we do, we need to acknowledge that there may be nonbelievers here today, and that’s a serious concern that we must address.

A couple verses later, in Colossians chapter three, you read,

Colossians 3:5  Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
Colossians 3:6  Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,

These words give believers in Jesus Christ hope that, in the power of the resurrection, they can defeat things in their lives that once dominated them.  The particular things listed are not meant to be exhaustive.  They are representative of what the Bible calls “sin.”

The thing I want to focus on is that because of sin, “the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience.”  “Wrath” isn’t uncontrolled anger.  It is God’s measured response in dealing with sin.  Because He is holy, God must judge sin.

Who are “the sons of disobedience”?  It’s a phrase that occurs three times in the Bible as a general description of nonbelievers.

You are a son (or a daughter) of disobedience if you have not received the Lord and the forgiveness of your sin.

(By the way.  We know sin has been overcome, defeated, because of Jesus Christ’s resurrection.  Sin is what brings death, but when Jesus died, taking upon Himself the sins of the world, He didn’t remain dead, did He?  No, He conquered death by defeating sin).

So there you have it.  Among us are believers, mostly, and a few nonbelievers.  Both have a decision to make.

If you are a believer, Easter is a good day to check to see if your heart is really set on things above.  I have to believe, since the Lord both indwells you and is here in our gathering, that if you ask Him, He will lovingly show you places in the heart where your affections may not be fully set upon Him, upon Heaven.  It could be a behavior, a habit; it could be an attitude, or what motivates you.

Let’s therefore take a moment to seek the Lord and, as He shows you something or some things, ask yourself, “is this how I was raised?”  “Is this what I was raised for?”

To the church at Ephesus, which had some problems in setting their hearts on things above, the Lord said “remember from where you are fallen… repent… and do the first works.”

If you are not yet a believer, we have Good News!  But first you have to understand there is very, very bad news.  It’s communicated by the three letter word, sin.

“Sin,” the word itself, means missing the mark.  If you shot an arrow from a bow and it missed the target you’d say that you sinned.

The ‘mark’ you must hit with God is a standard of absolute spiritual and moral perfection – both in your external behavior and in your internal thoughts.  Jesus once said, “Be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

Are you perfect?  Be honest!  Have you ever lied (even once – fibs, white lies, etc.)?  Ever stolen (anything – the value is irrelevant)?
Jesus said, “Whoever looks upon a woman to lust after her, has committed adultery already with her in his heart.” Have you ever looked with lust?
If you said “Yes” to these three questions then by your own admission you are a lying, thieving, adulterer at heart.  You’ve missed the mark.  You’ve sinned.

The penalty for sin is death.  Really big death!  In the Bible it’s called the “second death.”  First you die physically; second you ‘die’ eternally in that you will be separated from God forever.

‘Separated’ doesn’t sound so bad until you understand that the place designated for those separated is the Lake of Fire – what we call Hell.

The Good News is that you don’t have to go to Hell.  You, too, can have a home in Heaven.  All you need to do is “believe” on Jesus Christ.

When Jesus said to “believe” on Him, He was saying we should have faith in Him in the same way you would trust a parachute to save you when you jump from a plane.  You don’t merely believe in the parachute – you actually put it on.

Don’t jump into eternity without Jesus!  If you die in your sins there is no second chance.  You will end up in Hell forever.  His wrath abides upon you (John 3:36).

God doesn’t want you to go to Hell.  Neither do you want to go there, so confess your sins to God right now, put your trust in Jesus to save you, and you will pass from death to life.

We’re going to give the nonbelievers here – you whom God has lovingly brought here today – an opportunity to express belief in Jesus Christ as your Savior from sin, death, and Hell.

*          *          *          *          *          *          *

To make clear what an incredible thing He has done for you in the Gospel, let’s look to civil law.  You are standing in front of a judge, guilty of very serious crimes.  All the evidence has been presented and there is no doubt about your guilt.  The fine for your crime is $250,000 or imprisonment, but you haven’t two pennies to rub together.  The judge is about to pass sentence.  He lifts his gavel, when suddenly someone you don’t even know steps in and pays the fine for you.

The moment you accept that payment, you are free to go.  Justice has been served, the law has been satisfied, and what’s more, the stranger who paid your fine showed how much he cares for you.  His payment was evidence of his love.

That’s what God did for you, in the person of Jesus Christ.  You are guilty, He paid the fine two thousand years ago.  It is that simple.  The Bible puts it this way: “He was bruised for our iniquities… Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law being made a curse for us… God commended His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

*          *          *          *          *          *          *

How do you start a relationship with God?

Realize that you are a sinner.  No matter how good a life you try to live, you still fall miserably short of being a ‘perfect’ person.  That is because we are all sinners.  We all fall short of God’s desire for us to be holy.  The Bible says, “No one is good – not even one” (Romans 3:10 NLT).
Recognize that Jesus Christ died on the cross for you. The Bible tells us, “But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while were still sinners” (Romans 5:8 NLT). This is the Good News, that God loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die in our place when we least deserved it.
Repent of your sin. The Bible tells us, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away” (Acts 3:19 NLT).  The word “repent” means to change our direction in life.  Instead of running from God, we can run toward Him.
Receive Jesus Christ into your life. Becoming a Christian is not merely believing some creed or going to church on Sunday.  It is having Christ Himself take residence in your life and heart.  Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door [of your life] and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in. . .” (Revelation 3:20 NKJV).

God Helps Those… (Easter 2011)

John 5:1  After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
John 5:2  Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches.
John 5:3  In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water.
John 5:4  For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred
up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.
John 5:5  Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years.
John 5:6  When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”
John 5:7  The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”
John 5:8  Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”
John 5:9  And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath.
John 5:10  The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.”
John 5:11  He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’ ”
John 5:12  Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?”
John 5:13  But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place.
John 5:14  Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”
John 5:15  The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.

Finish this sentence: “God helps those….”

“God helps those who help themselves” is probably the most often quoted phrase that is not found in the Bible.  It is actually a quote from Ben Franklin and it appeared in Poor Richard’s Almanac in 1757.

The account of Jesus healing the lame man by the Pool of Bethesda establishes that God helps those who cannot help themselves.

You and I need help:

Maybe your marriage isn’t exactly going well.  In fact, it might be on its last leg.
Maybe your marriage is strong and that’s a really good thing because you’re having so much trouble with your kids that it would destroy a weaker marriage.
Almost everybody needs help at work or in school.
The help you need could be physical.  You’re waiting on a test result, or you’ve just gotten one and are facing a battle against some disease.

Beyond those types of things, and more important than all of them, everyone needs spiritual help.  You see, the Bible says in no uncertain terms that we are sinners, separated from God and in need of salvation.

Maybe you can resolve your marriage problems… or get control of your kids… or get another job… or get through school… or beat-back the disease (at least for a while).  In other words, you don’t think you are really ‘paralyzed.’  You don’t see yourself as helpless as the people around the pool.

But when it comes to your spiritual condition, you are paralyzed.  You read in the Bible,

Romans 5:6 (NASB)  For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

If there was something, anything, you could do to help yourself spiritually, then Jesus would not have come from Heaven to the earth as a man to die on the Cross and then rise the third day.

Let’s say you still don’t think you need help – not from God, anyway, not enough to acknowledge you are a sinner in need of saving.  Who would that make you in this story?  Well, you’d be one of the “Jews” who stood around doing nothing to help the paralyzed man to get in to the waters.
I’d rather admit my need for God’s help and identify myself with the paralyzed man who was not only miraculously healed but who could walk with God and be empowered to “sin no more.”

John 5:1  After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

Most scholars say this was the Feast of Pentecost.  Every male Jew was required to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the major feasts.  It makes this story even more tragic.  With the population swelled, why were there none to carry this man to the water?

One reason was that the Jews believed someone in his condition deserved to be in his condition.  They saw it as God’s judgment upon the person and went about feeling superior to those who were afflicted.

There’s another expression we are familiar with.  It goes like this: “You made your bed, now lie in it.”  I’m pretty sure it was unknown to the first century but it fits the situation.  Folks passing this man, and the others like him, would think, “Hey, whatever his condition, he deserves to be lying there paralyzed.  He brought it upon Himself.”  He made his bed, as it were.

Here they were, the multitudes, supposedly ‘worshipping’ God.  Yet God had so much compassion on helpless sinners He became a man in order to die in their place.

John 5:2  Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches.

The “Sheep Gate” is the gate by which sacrifices were brought into Jerusalem.  “Bethesda” means house of mercy.  There were five covered porches around this pool of water.  The number five is significant in that there were five books of Moses, called the Pentateuch, and considered the Law of God.

John 5:3  In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water.

The physical condition of these few hundred or so people represents the spiritual condition of the whole nation.  The nation of Israel was gathered around the Law, the way these people were gathered around the five pillars, but they were spiritually blind, lame, and paralyzed.

In other words, it wasn’t just those who were blind, lame and paralyzed who were blind, lame and paralyzed.
This extends beyond the Jews to the entire human race.  All have sinned and fallen short of God.  There is no person on earth whose righteousness is acceptable to God.

One of the obstacles to being saved is that you don’t see yourself as you really are.  One of the amazing things about the Bible is that it can expose you to yourself.  It can show you how you really look to God.  It can show you your sin and need for a Savior.

John 5:4  For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.

There are two views on this verse.  One view says that this was a commentary about what people commonly believed, and the other takes the words at their face value.

One view says this was just a deep pool that occasionally bubbled and people hoped there was supernatural power in the water.  The other says God in His mercy actually sent an angel to touch the water and allow it to heal.

It would seem this pool was probably what we would call a hot spring that held a certain medicinal value.  Undoubtedly some people were helped, maybe even healed, of certain conditions – but not everyone.  Thus the superstition arose that you could only be helped when the water was stirred and it must be that God had sent an angel to do it.

I wonder if kids, as a prank, ever tossed stones in the water?  Imagine the scramble by these poor, sick folks.

John 5:5  Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years.
John 5:6  When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”
John 5:7  The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”

Where were the religious leaders?  Where were the crowds that had swelled the population of the city?  They were going about performing the various rites and rituals of their religion when all the while they were ignoring showing compassion and mercy upon these who were in need of help and healing.

There’s something precious about Jesus hanging out with these invalids.  It illustrates His mission.  They represent the true spiritual condition of the entire human race.  He is God in our midst, come to help and to heal all those who will receive Him as their Savior.

Let’s look at this question for a moment: “Do you want to be made well?”  It seems absurd.  Of course he wants to be made well!  That is why he is at the pool, isn’t it?

Over the years I’ve talked to my share of folks in desperate situations like we mentioned before. For example, their marriage is on its last leg, about to end.  I’ve suggested they turn to Jesus, suggested a spiritual course of action.  Often they shake their head, they refuse.  They want to be made well but not at the expense of surrendering their lives to the Lord.

I’ve spoken to nonbelievers facing imminent death who nevertheless refuse to ask the Lord to save them.

This kind of refusal isn’t limited to nonbelievers.  Believers, too, who have walked with the Lord for many years, can refuse His help for one reason or another.

Let me ask you: “Do you want to be made well?”  If you sincerely do, you can be.  Jesus is saying these next words to you.

John 5:8  Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”

Jesus commanded the man to do what was impossible.  He was always doing that!  He told a man with a withered hand to stretch it out.  He spoke to the dead and they arose.

His command thus contained the enabling to keep it.  All of the Lord’s commands to you contain His enabling to keep them. You are enabled to do the impossible when you purpose in your heart to obey Jesus.

His words make the impossible possible to the believer.

John 5:9  And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath.

Think about a person who hadn’t walked for thirty-eight years.  Think of the muscle atrophy and all the other physical deterioration.  Shouldn’t he start slowly, with physical therapy?  No, not with Jesus!  Just start walking again.

Sometimes people think their problems are too severe.  There’s too much damage to be undone.  It’s no different than the man who was lame almost four decades.

John 5:10  The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.”
John 5:11  He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.'”
John 5:12  Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?”
John 5:13  But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place.

The “Jews” refers to the relatively small but powerful group of religious leaders.  They knew this man; they had passed by him often enough.  Rather than rejoice in God’s mercy, they were upset about the strict rules required by their interpretation of the Sabbath regulations.

Thinking that you can help yourself spiritually and merit a relationship with God led to some extreme Sabbath regulations.  Rule number thirty-nine forbade the carrying of a load from one dwelling to another.  That would apply to carrying your bedroll, even if you were homeless.  According to the Jewish leaders, the man should either have stayed where he was until the Sabbath was over, or else he should have left his only possession – his bed – behind.

This devotion to the interpretation of the Sabbath law still goes on today.  An April, 1992, tenants let three apartments in an Orthodox neighborhood in Israel burn to the ground while they asked a rabbi whether a telephone call to the fire department on the Sabbath would violate Jewish law. Observant Jews are forbidden to use the phone on the Sabbath because doing so would break an electrical current, which is considered a form of work.  In the half-hour it took the rabbi to decide “yes,” the fire spread to
two neighboring apartments.

John 5:14  Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”
John 5:15  The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.

All sickness and disease is the result of sin entering God’s creation when Adam and Eve disobeyed in the Garden.  Their sin brought with it decay, disease and death.

But not all sickness is the direct result of your sin, or of your being in sin.

Jesus didn’t say the man was paralyzed because of his own personal sin.  He may have brought this upon himself, but that’s not the real point since all of us are like him.

What, then, did Jesus mean when He said, “lest a worse thing come upon you?”

Well, there is something worse than thirty-eight years of lameness.  In another place Jesus said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

Jesus had physically healed the lame man by the pool.  It is here, in the Temple, He addressed his spiritual condition.  Jesus was telling the man that He could be saved so that he might walk with God the rest of his life.  He could be saved lest the “worse thing,” eternal separation from God, come upon him after death.

When the man was first asked who physically healed him he did not know.  But after this second encounter with Jesus he goes about telling folks it was “Jesus.”  He came to know Jesus!  His soul was healed or, we would say, he was saved.

The most powerful statement in this text are the three words, “sin no more.”  Here are three things Jesus meant, and stills means, by those words.

e First, by saying “sin no more” Jesus was declaring He had the power to forgive sins.  This is good news for the human race because we’re told “all have sinned and fall short” of being perfect.  There is no one who can stand before God on their own.  Jesus came and took the sins of the whole human race upon Himself.  He died to satisfy the penalty for sin.  Now whosoever believes in Him has their sins forgiven.

e Second, by saying “sin no more” Jesus was promising that He could and would give the man power to live the Christian life.  Living for God is not a matter of keeping a set of burdensome Laws, like those surrounding the Sabbath.  It is a matter of having His Spirit indwell you to empower you.  Walking with God is a blessing, not a burden.

e A third thing about the phrase, “sin no more.”  The word for “sin” means missing the mark.  It’s the word you’d use of an archer who took aim but missed the bull’s eye by some margin, either greater or lesser.

Are you ‘missing the mark’ in some area of your life?  Are you not quite able to hit the bull’s eye?  Or even the target?  Jesus, and by that I mean a relationship with Him, is the only thing that will bring you to the bull’s eye in every area of your life.

You and I need help.  God helps those who cannot help themselves, but He will not force Himself upon you.  He still asks, “Do you want to be made well?”  For those who say “Yes,” He still says, “Sin no more,” providing the power to accomplish what He has commanded.

Most of you are believers in Jesus Christ.  How is your walk?  Your Lord is here today asking you, “Do you want to be made well?”

Do you want to return to your first love?  Do you need to repent of some ongoing sin?  Do it so you can experience the power of Jesus saying, “Sin no more?”

Several of you here today are not yet believers in Jesus Christ.  You might be here because you know you need help.  God will help you by healing you spiritually!

Some of you might have a few problems, but nothing you’d ask help for.  Remember, though, that there is a problem you cannot do anything about.  You were born a sinner and you’ve committed individual acts of sin.  You therefore need the forgiveness of your sins – and that can only come from Jesus at the foot of His Cross where He took your place, where He bled and died instead of you.

Would you be made well today?  You can be, if you will receive Jesus Christ!