"When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby." John 11:4
Our perspective, or as the Bible terms it our vision in life, determines everything from how we move and breath to how we think and feel. Circumstances and even trials will be perceived by our vision of God. The big 'why' question often plaques us, normally in times of difficulty. It is interesting to note that the 'why' question normally does not come during times of great blessing. Our God desires us to have the right vision of Himself. And so as the Bible unfolds from Genesis to Revelation, it not only shows us how to be saved but it also shows us how to live in relation to Him. Seeing our lives God-ward is key to living the abundant Christian life. In other words, our eyes fixed upon the Savior will make all the difference in the world. Over and over again God demonstrates His glory through the pages of Scripture and compels us that we are privileged to glorify Him. In John chapter 11, we are told of a man by the name of Lazarus who has been recorded for all eternity in the pages of God's Word as the man Jesus raised from the dead. Just a few chapters later he would literally be a living testimony to the deity of Jesus Christ. And yet without the perspective given to us in verse 4 of this chapter, people would see Lazarus' sickness and death as nothing more than a tragedy of the present cruelties of this world.
Mary, Martha, and Lazarus himself at this point in chapter 11 were grappling with the big question 'why.' No doubt they also had scores of other emotions that come with an untimely sickness that continues to get worse and worse. Knowing that Jesus could heal Lazarus if He wanted to, Mary and Martha sent saying, "Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick." (John 11:3) Can you hear the present cry that many of us share in times of difficulty, "He's sick, come quickly, help!" ?
Jesus however gives us (the reader and those present at this statement) some vision concerning our lives in relation to God. Our Lord and Savior states, "This sickness is not unto death, but..." (John 11:4a) But what?? Underline the following statement of heavenly perspective, "but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby." (John 11:4b)
Sickness is one thing, but physical death is something entirely different. Temporary inconvenience is unpleasant, but what about a complete giving of our lives that God may be glorified? Do we say Lord I am willing to suffer to a point in this world but only to this point? Are we willing to have the 'all in' heavenly perspective concerning our lives in their present circumstances? I wonder myself, if I were given the knowledge that God was going to take my life for His glory, would I say, "not my will, but thine, be done" even as our Savior said? Knowing the rest of the events in the life of Lazarus it is easy to sit back and say, "No problem, I could deal with that!" If we were to be honest however, all of us have trouble when times get tough.
Notice some startling truths we can see concerning our lives in relation to God.
1. God knows the totality of our circumstances.
This is evident when Jesus states, "...This sickness is not unto death..." (v4) and later in verse 6 we are told "...he abode two days..." The beginning, the ending, and everything in between is known by God. The good times, the sicknesses and the struggles alike are also known to God. The poor decisions and the right choices; none of these things are hid from God. Notice these two compelling verses, "O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee." (Psalm 69:5) "For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings." (Job 34:21) Clearly God knows the totality of our circumstances.
2. Our lives have the potential of glorifying God.
Why was Lazarus chosen to get sick, die, and be raised from the dead? Why were Martha and Mary chosen to witness and be involved in the events surrounding Lazarus' death and raising? Why did Jesus speak these very words in the presence of the disciples concerning the reason for Lazarus' death? The answer is ..."but for the glory of God..." What a privilege it is then to be allowed to glorify God.
3. God loves us.
In case we had doubts about God's goodness toward us we are given verse 5 as an affirmation concerning this present situation with Lazarus. "Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus." Mary and Martha obviously understood this according to verse 3 and we come to understand this also by the Holy Spirit's commentary in verse 5. It is as if the Holy Spirit could here us thinking, "Well if you loved Lazarus, why would you let him suffer and die?" Littered throughout the pages of Scripture we are constantly reaffirmed that God loves us. In fact, He loves us so much that he perfectly demonstrated that love on the cross. (Romans 5:8) This means He loves us even when we cannot see the end and explain the why. This means He loves us even when we cannot explain our current situation or struggles. God assures us by stating and demonstrating over and over again 'I love you.'
These first three truths ought to do much for us in traversing difficult times, not in making our problems go away, but rather giving us some heavenly perspective. But how do we traverse the difficulty? How do we keep going when life is difficult? We understand God loves us, we understand God knows our present circumstances and we also understand we are to glorify God in our lives, but now what? This last truth will help.
4. We are participating in God's unfolding drama of redemption.
Purpose goes a long way when it comes to our actions. Borrowing a title from W. Graham Scroggie's book entitled The Unfolding Drama of Redemption, our vision of God should help us understand that we are participating in His unfolding drama of redemption. In other words, there are so many effects of our participation that we cannot possibly fully understand the end of all of our actions (I dare say we do not in our present earthly tabernacle have the capacity or ability to see the end from the beginning as God does). Let me demonstrate what I am referring to by using this event as an example. Is it possible for anyone to calculate how many people were positively affected by Lazarus' death and raising? We can say for certain that for thousands of years people have been affected by this event simply because it is recorded in God's Word. But even if that were not the case, how many generations of people were affected by this singular event? Think about those present, and then also those who were told by those present. The answer is that none of us have the understanding to know how widespread God is glorified by Lazarus' death and raising. As we study God's Word we would come to the same conclusion about any number of saints that have through the ages gone through challenging times. (Stephen's stoning, Paul's near death experiences, Daniel's night with the lions, Noah's testimony to his children building the Ark and the list could go on...) The same holds true for you and I. How many will be affected by our glorifying of God? And even a more pressing question is this, am I wasting opportunities to glorify God because I have the wrong vision of God and my circumstances? Let our prayers be this then, "God I do not understand this, but I pray you will give me the help to glorify you by it!"
- Pastor James Grandinetti, Community Outreach Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
Acts 5:42 "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ."
I am not against inviting people to church. I am not against membership campaigns that churches might carry out. However, I do want you to notice that the Bible does not say that the early church tried to multiply the number of the disciples. What it does say is that every day, publicly and privately, they told people about Jesus Christ. The result, as we find from the next verse, was that "the number of the disciples was multiplied."
One of the mistakes of church building is that church growth should not be the primary goal. We should not wait until we get enough good workers to start a Soul-Winning program. We should be winning souls no matter how many people we have in our churches.
When it comes to Soul-Winning there are a number of misconceptions people have about it. Let me give you five truths about Soul-Winning that will correct some of those misconceptions.
1. Soul-Winning Is A Command, Not A Spiritual Gift
Matthew 28: 19-20 "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
All those who have been born again should carry out this command. It's not a suggestion to consider; it's a command to obey! You don't need to pray about whether or not you should do it. You just DO it!
We should coach our converts. Look at Matthew 28:20a "Teaching THEM to observe ALL things whatsoever I have commanded YOU." Don't forget that part of the 'teaching them' is doing what is commanded in vs)19. Too many people today want to do the teaching part but not what was initially commanded. Many people have never been trained to go Soul-Winning. But, thank God that we here at SBC have given people numerous opportunities to learn how to win people to Christ.
2. Soul-Winning Is Chief, Not Secondary
1 Timothy 1:15 "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief."
Soul-Winning was the motivation of Christ. He came into this world to save sinners. He lived without sin so He could die as a sacrifice for sinners. He died on the cross for sinners. He rose again for sinners. Therefore it is the mission of the church.
Matthew 4:19 says, "And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." If you take to heart 2 Corinthians 5:20a where it says, "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ," we see the clear and compelling mission of the church.
It is the main emphasis of the church. Every ministry of the church is either to win souls or to strengthen Christians so that they are able to win souls. If a ministry is not doing that we have forgotten what the main emphasis of the church ought to be.
3. Soul-Winning Is Charity, Not Solicitation
Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Some businesses today try to forbid Soul-Winning on their property with a posted notice against solicitation. However, Soul-Winning is not solicitation. To solicit is "to ask for or plead for, especially in reference to receiving payment or money."
We offer a fantastic gift - eternal life. What can be better than spending an eternity with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ in heaven. Nobody can offer us eternal life except for Jesus Christ. Jesus said in John 3:15 "That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life." Some have tried to find the fountain of youth, others have spent millions of dollars in hope cryogenics will preserve them so they can one day be brought back to life to be healed. But Jesus said in Matthew 25:46, speaking of all those who reject Him as Saviour, "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."
We offer a free gift. It's free, but it's not cheap! It was paid for by the most precious substance in the universe, the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. You can't buy it. You can't earn it. You can't work in order to get it. You can only receive it as a free gift from God by faith in Christ Jesus. What was the cost of this gift? It was none other than the life blood of Jesus Christ.
Peter 1: 18-22 "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:"
4. Soul-Winning Is Cooperation, Not A Single Effort
In 1 Corinthians 3:6 Paul says, "I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase."
The Bible makes it clear that we don't win souls by our self. We cooperate with our Saviour. Paul writing to the Corinthian church tells us that in 1 Corinthians 3:9a "For we are labourers together with God." Throughout the Bible we are taught that God requires the work of man, and that he will not help those who will do nothing for themselves or for him. The world was to be evangelized not by sudden miracle, but by faithful human labour. Mark 16:20 states, "And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen."
We cooperate with other Soul-Winners. Luke 10:1 "After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come." I believe it's the Lord's plan for us to go out two by two in our Soul-Winning and evangelistic efforts. King Solomon said, "Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour" (Ecclesiastes 4:9). What joy and fellowship I have experienced down through the years as we shared the gospel to a lost and dying world with my Soul-Winning partners.
5. Soul-Winning Is Continuous, Not Sporadic
From out text we find these words, "and daily." Our Soul-Winning should be daily. I'm for churches having a night for organized Soul-Winning and visitation, but we should be winning souls every day! As a matter of fact, if the church as a whole would win souls on a daily basis our churches would be overflowing with new converts.
Our Soul-Winning should be deliberate. Jesus told His disciples to follow Him, and He would make them fishers of men. People don't catch fish by accident; they catch them on purpose. The reason Christians don't win souls is that they do not make a deliberate choice and plan to do it.
I challenge you to just do it! Let's go after sinners as we're commanded to do! No excuses, no lies, no alibis and no reason why not, just do it!
Dr. Jack Hyles went to be with the Lord years ago and wrote the following little poem entitled "Incomplete."
Like a fire with no glow, Like a winter with no snow,
Like a river with no flow, Like a conviction without a "NO,"
Like an oar without a row, Like a wind without a blow,
Like a scale without a do, Like a pitcher without a throw,
Like a harvest without a sow, Like a trip without a go,
Like a kneader without dough, Like a Santa without a Ho,
Like excess without overflow, Like a foot without a toe,
Like a gardener without a hoe, Like a cock without a crow,
Like a con without a pro, Like a high without a low,
Like a truth without a know, Like a fast without a slow,
Like a buck without a doe, Like an actor without a show,
Like above without below, Like a to without a fro,
Like violins without a bow,
IS A CHRISTIAN WHO WILL NOT GO.
- Pastor David Carroll, Senior Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
Proverbs 4:23 "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."
I don't know about you, but I've heard this verse and quoted and said, "Yep that's good and so true!" But recently I really started thinking about it...what does this mean??...keep our heart? So I began to study it out some. The first place I went was to my study bible and it's explanation said this, "Heart could often be translated "mind". Since the Hebrews had no separate word for "mind" the word "heart" often served to represent the seat of the intellect. The key to the whole man is his mind! Whatever captures the mind captures the man.
Wow, this really began to open my eyes and help me understand the importance of guarding my mind. So we could say keep thy mind with all diligence. When I hear the word diligence or diligent I think of consistent, hard work. But as I was studying this out I found that guarded is another word that is used to describe diligence and for me that was the 'WOW' moment . We MUST guard our minds!
I would dare say we have all fallen prey to wrong and negative thinking at times.
Philippians 4:8 instructs us on the things we must think on: things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. What we think on WILL control us. The evil that is in this world constantly tries to engage our minds and if we entertain wrong thoughts, before you know it you will be so far out there you have come up with all kinds of "imaginations." II Corinthians 10:5-6 tell us we must cast down these imaginations and bring our thoughts captive.
"5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ: 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is full. " (II Corinthians 10: 5-6)
I love these two verses and we could teach an entire lesson from these. But we must be bringing out thoughts captive and guarding our minds. Listen to this situation and see if you can relate:
"Every morning when Laurie comes in to work she stops and chats with Susie. Well this particular morning Laurie comes in walks right past Susie's desk, doesn't look doesn't speak, nothing. Well Susie is all worked up now thinking well what is wrong with Laurie. She's mad at me? What did I do? Frustrated and upset the day goes on. Susie then sees Laurie down the hall go into the boss's office. Oh great Susie thinks, now she's going to tell the boss I'm a horrible worker and get me in trouble. How could she do this to me ? I thought we were friends. The anger and frustration for Susie builds. At lunch time Susie is in the break room eating and Laurie comes in. "Susie, you are not going to believe my morning! As I drove up to work this morning I did not think I would make it in the building, my stomach was so upset It was all I could do but run to the bathroom. It's been awful. Then the boss called me into her office to discuss that project I was working on last week. My it's been a crazy mourning for me. How has your morning been?"
Do we not do the same things? Jumping to conclusions before we know what the entire story is? Our thoughts can get us in a world of trouble and bring us down. If we start thinking on wrong things or past mistakes or looking at around at what others do and don't do. We are now no longer guarded. We can go in all kinds of wrong directions with our thoughts, But we can also go in the right direction and that is to follow the Philippians 4:8 pattern. BUT WE MUST CHOOSE to think rightly. The only way we can accomplish this is by filling our minds with the correct things. First and foremost this is done with God's Word. We find strength, help and instruction from God in His Word. It makes it harder for Satan to get his ugly clinches in you if you are diligently, as the first part of the verse says, in His Word daily.
The second part of this verse : for out of it are the issues of life. What's going on in our mind and thoughts will flow out into our daily living. That's plain and simple I think.
I've heard the saying what you feed grows. If we are feeding our minds with God's Word and right thinking then it will flow out in our lives by how we act and treat others. If we are not, well whatever else we are putting in will flow out! Whether it be wrong thoughts, wrong books, wrong movies, you fill in the blank it will affect your daily life and how you treat others.
Think about this I read this from the commentary Biblical Illustrator referencing our physical heart as an organ. "It is the fountain of life, through which the blood passes, to be distributed to every part of the system. Stop the heart, and death follows!!!!"
Wow, think about that with our minds. Stop right thinking, right feelings and you are shutting down our entire purpose of living, which is bringing honour and glory to our Saviour Jesus Christ!
Shannon Grandinetti, Women's Missionary Fellowship Director, Sharon Baptist Church
Matthew 6:33 says, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousnesses; and all these things shall be added unto you." An important study is the use of the word "first" in the New Testament. I think it would do us all some good to consider the priority of items mentioned by the word "first."
1. The Priority In Our Understanding Of What Is Real Unconditional Love:
Concerning the world and His love 1 John 4:19 tells us "We love Him, because He first loved us." John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world, that He have his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Concerning our relationship with God in Mark 12:30 Jesus said, "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all the mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment."
2. The Priority In Having Our Lives Clean Inside As Well As Outside
Matthew 23:26 says, "Cleanse first that which is within the cup and the platter, that the outside of them may be clean also."
It seems the Lord wants us to understand that the thoughts of our heart will inevitably controls the words that comes forth from our mouth and the actions of our lives.
3. The Priority In Our Awareness Of The Times In Which We Live
The primary opposing doctrine is the anti-god philosophy which is mentioned in 2 Peter 4: 3-4. "Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last day's scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation."
4. The Priority In Our Sharing The Gospel
1 Corinthians 15: 1-5 "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:"
That same gospel that was "delivered" unto Paul first then others is the same gospel that you and I are commanded to take to a lost and dying world.
Mark 16:15 "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."
5. Priority In Our Prayer Life And Thankfulness
1 Timothy 2:1 "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;"
In the day and age that we live in, most Christians spend less time with God in His Word, praying and simply thanking the Lord for His blessing than any generation before us.
6. Priority In Our Giving
2 Corinthians 8: 1-5 "Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God."
I believe the context of this passage is talking about Grace Giving or as we used to call it, Faith Promise Missionary Giving. Our gifts are acceptable to God when offered by first giving ourselves to Christ that enables us to give by faith. In fact, all that we are and all that we have including our time, talents, and treasures all belong to the Lord.
7. Our Priority In All Of Life's Decisions
Our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, commanded that our first priority in every decision of life should be to do that which honors the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Matthew 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." It must be Christ first in every nook and cranny or our lives.
Paul says in Philippians 4:20 "Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen."
Let me close with this illustration from an unknown source.
Surprised to see an empty seat at the Super Bowl stadium, a diehard fan remarked about it to a woman sitting nearby. "It was my husband's," the woman explained, "But he died." "I'm very sorry," said the man. "Yet I'm really surprised that another relative, or friend, didn't jump at the chance to take the seat reserved for him." "Beats me," she said. "They all insisted on going to the funeral."
In closing, may the Lord have the priority in our lives and the ministries He has entrusted us with.
- Pastor David Carroll, Senior Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
In Matthew 11:20 – 30, some of the most scathing words pass from our Savior’s lips concerning those cities that had rejected the Messiah. The phrase “Woe unto thee” uttered against Chorazin and Bethsaida signifies a dreadful judgement. No doubt as the passage continues the same could be said of Capernaum as well. These cities that had been given ‘woe’ judgments are compared to Tyre, Sidon, and the famed city of Sodom. Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom were known for their opulence and prosperity but were pitiful centers of sinful activity. Those rich cities had received the judgement of God. Now the Savior was comparing those sinful cities to Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum; putting them on notice that they should have repented based on the great Light that they were given. As Matthew 4:16 tells us, “The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.” But yet even at this, these people rejected the Messiah. As the warning had gone out the precious words of our Savior are spoken as He lifts up a prayer and compels those who will listen to a life of holiness. Transitioning from those remarkable words the Savior begins to lift up a prayer and also gives us some needful instruction. Mark what the Savior says:
"At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:25-30)
In these verses we see that the Lord lifts up a Prayer of Praise. He praises His Father the ‘Lord of heaven and earth’. As the only begotten Son of the Father, He states His reason for the praise, “because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.” The wise and prudent have the truth hidden from them. Those proud in worldly knowledge; those who by selfish desire, that have rejected the Gospel, have not the ability to see the truth. Paul stated such in
I Corinthians 1: 26, 27 “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;” In that same chapter Paul earlier states, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”
(I Corinthians 1:21) Worldly wisdom will never lead people to our Savior Jesus Christ. But it is God who has revealed Himself unto us. It is in this that you and I should lift up a prayer of praise. God in His great love, mercy, and grace called us unto Himself. When is the last time you praised the Lord for revealing Himself unto you?
Jesus goes on to state, “All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” We not only have the Prayer of Praise but secondly, we see the Path to Peace. The Lord emphatically tells us there is no way to the Father but through the Son. Those who will know the heavenly Father must come through the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. And so, it is our Lord and Savior tells us “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) This path to peace can only be found through Jesus Christ. God’s Word declares for us that we are saved by God’s grace through our faith in Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2: 8,9) As the hymn writer Dr. John Moore penned, “Burdens are lifted at Calvary, Calvary, Calvary; Burdens are lifted at Calvary, Jesus is very near.” Dr. Moore recounts for us that he wrote this hymn after being at the bedside of a Seamen who accepted Jesus Christ as Savior. Dr. Moore asked this young man, “Do you feel this burden on your back today?” speaking of the young man’s burden of sin. And as Dr. Moore recounts, “We prayed together and never shall I forget the smile of peace and assurance that lit up his face when he said that his burden was lifted!” It was from these magnificent words “My burden was lifted!” that Dr. Moore could not get past till he penned the blessed hymn Burdens are lifted at Calvary. The path to peace surely is the most blessed wonderous treasure. Let us never forget to give praise, glory, and honor to Him that sitteth on the throne for ever and ever!
We have found not only the prayer of praise and discovered the path to peace, but lastly our Savior tells us of an unusual rest; the Place for Perfecting. Many of us have observed that all men as they live upon this earth have burdens. There are financial burdens, physical burdens, social burdens, emotional burdens and most of all spiritual burdens. The burdens of life are upon us all. But yet the Lord gives us such great strength and encouragement. He states, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” This idea of taking upon you a yoke speaks of strenuous labor. But it is when we discover who our yokefellow is that we can find “rest unto” our “souls.” Jesus gives the invitation to all that are burdened with the deceitfulness of this world and the bondage of sin to “Come unto me.” The question then becomes, are you tired? Are you heavy laden? Is your back buckling under the pressures of this dying world? Our Savior says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me;” So many today are searching for rest. Much to our dismay many Christians are still buckling under the weight of this world because they have yet to submit to the place for perfecting; the yoke of Jesus Christ. As Matthew Henry states, “We must come to Jesus Christ as our Teacher, and set ourselves to learn of him, Mat 11:29. Christ has erected a great school, and has invited us to be his scholars. We must enter ourselves, associate with his scholars, and daily attend the instructions he gives by his word and Spirit. We must converse much with what he said, and have it ready to use upon all occasions; we must conform to what he did, and follow his steps, 1Pe 2:21.” The place for perfecting will result in the Christian finding rest for his Soul. I often say that a Christian will experience the most satisfaction and joy from exercising their talents and spiritual gifts in service to the Lord giving glory and honor to Him. I wonder have we submitted to the labor Jesus has called us to? Have we submitted to learn of Him? He assures us His “yoke is easy, and [His] my burden in light.”
- Pastor James Grandinetti, Community Outreach Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
Matthew 28: 18-20 "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
- The Components of the Mission
Mark 16:15 "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." - The Command of the Mission
Luke 24: 48-49 "And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high." – The Capability to complete the Mission
John 20:21 "Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." – The Commission of the Mission
Acts 1:8 "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." – The Carrying out of the Mission
In each of the above verses God’s Word outlines for us what has been labeled by some as the Great Commission. In each of the Gospel accounts given to us, including the book of Acts, the mission is laid out. Each of these verses present the mission but vary in the details given. The first verse listed is Matthew 28:18-20 and speaks to the components of the mission.
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
The components spoken of here suggest a multifaceted mission. Jesus speaking to the Apostles first presents His authority in giving the mission. “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” Because of the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ he states that we are to “Go.” This dictates to you and I an action on our behalf. What are we to go and do? First, we are to “teach all nations.” The message we are to teach is none other than the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The context for this Gospel message is the individual and their need for salvation that can only be found through Jesus Christ. Next the Bible declares those who accept this Gospel message and our saved by God’s grace are to be baptized. As this verse declares, “baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost:” The proper order according to this verse is salvation followed by believer’s baptism. The semi-colon here suggests a connection to the third part of this continuing mission which is “Teaching them to observe whatsoever things I commanded you:” This third part of the commission includes discipleship and church membership. Teaching is done through the local New Testament church. The equipping work is accomplished for this continuing mission in part by those who are spiritually gifted to teach and preach God’s Word according to Ephesians chapter 4. These are the components of the mission. Secondly, we have Mark chapter 16, the command of the mission.
Mark 16:15 “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
This command is universal in audience as indicated by the personal pronoun “ye” which is plural. Not only is this command universal for every Christian but it is also universal in scope. The Gospel message is to be proclaimed by all Christians to all of the world. Thus, the Lord includes “preach the gospel to every creature.” There are no exclusive rights to the Gospel message. It is a message that applies to all men, regardless of nationality or ethnic background. It applies to all geography, wherever man lives the message is to be brought to him. We are to bring this message by going and delivering the message. Thus, it is said in Romans chapter 10 and verse 14 “…how shall they hear without a preacher?” As we move on down the list of verses we come to Luke chapter 24 were the Lord gives us the capability to complete the mission.
Luke 24: 48-49 “And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high."
In Matthew 19: 16-29 the Lord encounters a rich young ruler who exclaims, “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” Sadly, this young man in mistaken that heaven can be obtained through works. At the end of this narrative Jesus gives the assessment, “Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” This statement shocks the disciples as they perhaps reexamine this young man’s status in life in their minds. Here was a man that was successful in the world. Here was a man that was successful in religious matters, but yet the Lord had uttered these words, “how hardly…” Jesus’ disciples exclaim the impossibility of salvation: “When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?” To which Jesus replies,“With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” What a wonderful truth; the possible impossibility! Left to our own devices salvation is impossible, but through faith in Jesus Christ by God’s grace man can be saved. The same statement could be made for you and I concerning the monumental task of world evangelism, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” The possibility of completing this task does not lie in what man can do, but rather what God can do. And so, in Luke 24, our Lord and Savior gives us the indication that power to complete the mission will be sent from the Father, which is the Holy Ghost. As we continue examining these verses in the book of John we are given the commission of the mission.
John 20:21 "Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you."
Our mission of world evangelism is not a mission to be completed alone, but rather is a co- mission. As the Father has sent the Son so the Son sends us. This mission is not ours but rather we become co-laborers with God. We are ambassadors for Jesus Christ and as stated in 1 Corinthians 3:9, “For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.” Our mission is not our mission at all but rather His mission that we by His grace get to take part in. “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33) Lastly, in the book of Acts we are shown the pattern for the carrying out the mission. As it was demonstrated from the very beginning:
Acts 1:8 "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."
According to Acts 2 the power of the Holy Spirit was given. Moving forward from Acts 2, the carrying out of the mission has been underway. It started in Jerusalem and moved into Judaea. From there the Gospel was carried to Samaria and through Paul’s labor went to the uttermost. But in every generation, there is a Jerusalem to be reached, a Judaea to reached, a Samaria that needs the Gospel. The Gospel is to continue on to the edge of the map, the uttermost. This is the carrying out of the mission. It starts from the local New Testament church and moves out to all nations; step by step and piece by piece. In totality the: who, what, when, where, why, and how is answered by these verses concerning the Great Commission.
- Pastor James, Community Outreach Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
In Matthew 19:16 – 26, we are told of an impossible situation. This passage begins with an encounter between a wealthy young man and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The question this young man poses is this:
“Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?”
In making this statement, this young man mentions the first impossibility in this passage which is the:
Impossibility of working to obtain eternal life.
This above question is universally asked by the world and carries with it an impossibility. The idea that man can work to obtain eternal life is displayed in all religions of the world except biblical Christianity. No man can work their way to Heaven. Man, in his fallen state has been “working” to try to obtain eternal life since the fall in Genesis 3. This is clearly demonstrated in the account of Adam and Eve. Notice what Genesis 3 verse 7 states, speaking of Adam and Eve, after they partook of the forbidden tree in the garden of Eden, thereby committing sin:
“And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.”
Here we see Adam and Eve sewing fig leaves together trying to fix the problem of sin by performing a ‘work’. Just one chapter later we find the next generation trying to accomplish the same end. In this subsequent passage Cain and Abel are found bringing an offering unto the Lord.
“And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.”
Why was Cain’s offering not respected by God? Surely Cain brought the best of his crops. No doubt Cain had given an abundant offering, yet the works of his hands were not good enough. Looking forward to our day, man is still trying to do the same thing. Man contrives that good deeds will earn him eternal life. Man insists on religious exercises to earn himself the right to Heaven. Man’s attempt at working his way to Heaven comes in many forms. Some are religious exercises (baptism, church attendance, giving, church membership, sacraments etc…) while others may be secular (performing charitable acts, good deeds etc…) but the Bible says that man cannot work enough to merit eternal life.
The second impossibility mentioned in this passage is by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ which is the:
Impossibility of keeping the whole law.
In verses 17-20, our Lord reveals this truth to the young man.
"And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?"
Deep in the heart of man our pride lies in wait to deceive us. We are willing to justify ourselves even in the face of the Just One. Here this young man answers piously, “I have no sin!” Ironically, he was breaking the commandment he had just affirmed he had kept, “Thou shall not bear false witness.” Though he may have kept the letter of the law there can be no doubt that he had transgressed the spirit of the law; that is in his heart. You see, man attempts to keep the law but, in the end, finds it an impossibility. “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10) One simple infraction of God’s law results in complete failure. The route of self-righteousness is forever barred from man as a means of obtaining eternal life. Paul’s comment on the law in Romans 7:10-11 tells us this, “And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.”
The Lord immediately points this out to the young man in verses 21 and 22. In the end the Bible states that the young man, “…went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.” This young man, much like men today, was unwilling to give himself to Jesus. The truth is, he was willing to make concessions for eternal life, but to give his heart to God was asking too much. In John chapter 3:19-20 we find this statement concerning our unwillingness to turn from our sin to our Savior. “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.”
As we continue down through this passage we come to the final impossibility. After this young man leaves, the Lord makes an astounding statement. “Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” This statement shocks the disciples as they perhaps reexamine this young man’s status in life in their minds. Here was a man that was successful in the world. Here was a man that was successful in religious matters, but yet the Lord had uttered these words, “how hardly…” Jesus’ disciples exclaim the last impossibility:
“When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?”
And so, we have the:
Impossibility of Salvation.
Man is hopelessly lost. All that man can muster falls short of the impassable gulf that is affixed between us and God due to our sin. The solution is beyond the reach of man in of himself. Man cannot work his way to eternal life. God’s law cannot be kept by man and therefore is not an option to earning eternal life. So, who then can be saved? The answer is given by and through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He states, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” What a wonderful truth; the possible impossibility! Left to our own devices salvation is impossible, but through faith in Jesus Christ by God’s grace man can be saved. Had this rich young man turned from his sinfulness to Jesus Christ the passage would be vastly different.
You see the young man failed to:
1. Understand he was a sinner. (The thrust of his whole conversation was “How can I” earn my way to Heaven. At the same time, he denied he was a sinner.)
2. Understand Jesus is the Savior. (He did not recognize that Jesus was the God-man, otherwise perhaps he would have sold everything and followed Him.)
3. Understand he needed to give his heart to the Savior. (This man was unwilling to give up the riches of this world [his idol] and give himself to the Lord.)
The Bible is very clear for you and I concerning this possible impossibility. We have the benefit at looking back toward the cross and knowing what has taken place according to God’s Word. You too can be saved if you are willing to admit you are a sinner. “For all haved sinned and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23). Secondly, you can be saved if you believe and understand that Jesus, the perfect Son of God, paid the price for your sins when he was crucified on a cruel Roman cross. He gave His life on the cross for your sin, was buried, and rose in victory from the grave three days later. And then lastly, you too can be saved if you would give your heart to the Savior. The Bible describes this several ways:
“…repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts 20:21 (turning from your sinfulness, and turning to, by faith Jesus Christ)
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10: 9-10) (the act of crying out to Jesus for salvation by confessing your sinfulness to Jesus, believing the good news about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and asking Him to save you.)
"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12) (the heart belief that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the only way to be saved from the punishment of Hell and on your way to Heaven)
So how does someone accept this salvation that God is offering to man through His Son and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? This gift of salvation can be applied simply by calling upon the name of the Lord. You can call upon the Lord by praying and asking to be saved. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13) My friend, experience the wonder and joy of this possible impossibility right now! If you do not know for sure Heaven is your home, bow your head right now and call upon the name of the Lord.
If you made a decision to trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior let us know about it, so we too can rejoice with you in our decision. Call us at 757.838.0340 or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Pastor James, Community Outreach Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
Psalm 33:12 "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom He hath chosen for His inheritance."
Last week our President held a "Celebration of America" event on the South Lawn of the White House. During that ceremony not only was the National Anthem played but the song, "God Bless America." Oh, how my heart was gladdened when I saw and heard the rendition of Irving Berlin's song made popular by Kate Smith on her radio broadcast November 11, 1938. I couldn't help but think, "Now there is a President who feels the need for God's blessing on our great nation."
In a world that is torn and fractured, where everything good seems to be giving way to evil, people are feeling the need to draw closer to God more than ever before. They want to know that He is standing there in the shadows, He is watching over us, and blessing us, and keeping us till His Son's return.
The history of America has been wrapped around with the blessings of God. I think we can humbly say that God seems to have a peculiar love for this land. From the day of our nation's founding until today, His hand of blessing has been upon America.
1. Many Great Nations Have Risen and Fallen
Pericles built a civilization (Athens) upon culture, and it failed. Caesar built a civilization (Rome) on power, it failed.
The Medo-Persians had a great nation, but they drank themselves to their doom in one drunken orgy after another. That civilization came crashing down and perished from the face of the earth.
Egypt thrived under Joseph. Four hundred years later the people had forgotten Joseph and his God – Egypt went down. Greece under Alexander, conquered the world, but he could not conquer himself. He died in a drunken stupor and Greece came tumbling down.
Rome was the proud ruler of the world, but luxury and lust ate that nation like a cancer, and she perished like Greece.
America must not build on these things. If we do it will be our ruin as well. We must put our roots down deep in God and his Word.
2. America was Founded as a Christian Nation
Our forefathers founded our great nation upon Christian religion, and America will live as long as the Lord is our God.
They left a land where they were persecuted to find a land where they were free to worship God. When the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, they knelt upon the shore and thanked God for giving them a new country.
The church of Jesus Christ was at the center of every new settlement in this new land. When the Continental Congress was faced with great problems and difficulties Benjamin Franklin called the members of Congress to fall upon their knees and pray. Can you imagine what would happened today if our legislative bodies in the house and senate prayed more and talked less?
James 5:16b "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
American history repeatedly demonstrates that the nation was founded on Christian principles and its founding fathers wished to acknowledge that fact all over Washington D.C. buildings, in official documents, and historical speeches. Less than a hundred years after its Declaration of Independence, In God We Trust was proclaimed on its coins. America is a free nation, and freedom of religion is still guaranteed in the Constitution’s First Amendment.
President Thomas Jefferson wrote, "The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time" and asked ‘Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are of God?’"
The Bible says in, Psalms 118:8 "It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man."
Today we still have on our money those majestic old words, "In God We Trust." Our forefathers knew that they were building on a firm foundation of God and His Word.
Someone once said, "South America was settled my men seeking gold, but North America was settled by men seeking God."
Do you remember the picture of General George Washington at Valley Forge? His small army was almost starving and freezing to death. They were fighting against insurmountable odds – but out in the snow George Washington was down on his knees praying.
That's the spirit that built America. She was founded on God, and if she is to live, we must keep building on that firm foundation.
Surely every American is proud and grateful to be an American! We are "One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
May God continue to bless the United States of America.
- Pastor David Carroll, Senior Pastor Sharon Baptist Church
Deuteronomy 18:9 "When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations."
As you come to the end of the book of Deuteronomy, Moses begins to wrap up his recount of the law to the nation of Israel. In just a few short chapters (Deuteronomy 28), the blessings and cursings will be announced as Israel has been given this covenant with God. The 1st generation that came out of Egypt were not allowed to enter into the promised land because of their unbelief. Now this new generation needed to have the law repeated to them so they would know what God expected from them as His chosen people. God gives us a wonderful truth in this passage. Though spoken to the children of Israel, this truth has tremendous application for you and I today. The phrase is, “thou shall not learn.”
It is interesting that most of our early adult life is consumed with learning. We spend 12 years in a classroom environment learning about all kinds of things. Many after those twelve years then choose another four years of learning in a specified field of study; whether it is vocational or perhaps a broad area of study. There are even some that will spend another two to three years moving toward advanced training in those areas (this is not even counting the extended study of doctors, lawyers, etc...).
God in this one verse gives us such valuable advice but unfortunately oftentimes we overlook this simple truth. You and I would do well not to learn and “do after the abominations of” this world. The danger that Israel faced was perpetuated by the influence of the world around them. How can you and I guard against not learning the ways of the world? There are several biblical keys to success that we find in God’s Word.
1. Understand that the World’s ways are at enmity with God.
Romans 8:7 “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
James 4:4 “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
There was a reason that God commanded the children of Israel to clean house when they arrived in the promised land. God knew that the worldly nations would be snares to His chosen people.
Joshua 23:13 shows us the horrible result of Israel’s disobedience in this matter, “Know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.”
Because the children of Israel failed to recognize that the world’s ways are at enmity with God, they were pulled in the wrong direction.
2. Live in the World but not of the World.
As a child of God, the Bible tells us that we are not of this world, but we are certainly in it. God has not given us the same orders that the children of Israel were given concerning the nations in the promised land. The children of Israel were told to destroy the wicked nations that were inhabiting that land at the time. In our dispensation however, the Lord has not given us the same charge. We have been commanded to be biblically separated from this World.
Notice what our Lord and Savior prayed for His disciples in John 17: 13-15.
“And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.”
If the Lord had prayed to take “them” out of the world, where would we be today? It is because of them that we were given the Gospel! Likewise, you and I have been left in this world to give the Gospel to others. In order for us to be effective in our Soul-Winning efforts we will have to be in this world, but not of this world. Look at the biblical admonition that is given to us.
2 Corinthians 6: 14-18 “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
3. Love not the things that are in this World.
1 John 2:15 “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
We start ‘learning’ the ways of the world when our affections move away from God to the world. One of the biggest snares the world offers the Christian today is a desire for temporal things: Materialism. Our eyes become fixed on stuff rather than our Savior. The one snared in materialism never has enough and is always seeking for more. This cycle always leads to temporary joy but then turns into disappointment. Why? Simply because the temporal things of this world will never fill the void of our need for intimacy with God.
John 15:19 “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”
4. Guard the gates whereby the World enters in.
We did not learn to be sinners, but rather are sinners by birth and by practice (Romans 5:12). The prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2) desires to fan the flames of our fallen nature by helping you learn to do more wickedly.
1 John 2: 15-16 “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”
These gates: the ear-gate, the eye-gate, the touch-gate etc… must be guarded at all times. A wise and discerning Christian will understand that there is an constant assault on these gates by the enemy.
5. Learn the ways of God by renewing your mind daily.
Moses greatest cry to God was that he might learn His ways.
Exodus 33:13 “Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people.”
Paul gives us this same principle in Romans chapter 12, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
How can we be renewed in our minds so that we might not be conformed to this world? We are renewed in our minds daily by placing into our minds the things of God. Instead allowing our gates to be infiltrated with the things of the world, we place the Word of God before our eyes and we allow the Word of God to enter into our ears. To renew our minds, we spend time communing with God in prayer and surround ourselves with good things, not the things of this world. You see the old saying, “You are what you eat” could be perhaps changed to this: “You will learn what you allow in!”
- Pastor James, Community Outreach Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
In Numbers chapter 31, we come to the account of Israel’s war with Midian. It was God, who in verses 1 and 2, commanded the children of Israel to take vengeance upon the Midianites.
"And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites: afterward shalt thou be gathered unto thy people."
The battle would be fought by 12,000 men of war according to Moses’ command in verses 3-6. The Bible records for us in verse number 7 that “they warred against the Midianites, as the LORD commanded Moses…” As we read down through the chapter we are told of the great victory that was wrought by the children of Israel. Truly the victory was wrought in obedience before one sword had clashed on the battle field. This same truth is on display for us in 1 John 5:4 which states:
“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”
As we come to the New Testament we have a similar call to the battlefield. The Christian is in the midst of a raging war. We are Christian Soldiers representing the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." Ephesians 6: 12-13
This war, like the former, has already been won by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but each battle is fought under the banner of our faith and obedience to the Lord. As the children of Israel were obedient to the Lord and set out in faith, the victory was assured. Even so, let us look at an even more intriguing part of this passage. In verses number 48 and 49 of that same passage we are told about something unique the takes place. Notice what the Bible says:
“And the officers which were over thousands of the host, the captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds, came near unto Moses: And they said unto Moses, Thy servants have taken the sum of the men of war which are under our charge, and there lacketh not one man of us.”
What an amazing victory! Imagine for a moment, a war waged not like today by buttons and bombs, but by swords and staves. Imagine 12,000 armed men fighting head to head against other men; steel clashing against steel. Even the weakest enemy you would suppose would get lucky and cause a casualty to the other side, but not this battle! The officers take count, no doubt because the battle was spread far and wide. They line the groups up: the captains of thousands, the captains of hundreds, and the captains of fifties. Immediately they are convicted in their hearts. Why are they convicted? What they find is nothing short of the miraculous. Not one man of war has been lost! Amazing! Think about it for a moment, a large-scale battle against a fierce enemy and not one casualty on the winning side. So, what do they do about it? Again, notice what the Bible says,
“We have therefore brought an oblation for the LORD, what every man hath gotten, of jewels of gold, chains, and bracelets, rings, earrings, and tablets, to make an atonement for our souls before the LORD.”
They brought before the LORD the sacrifice of thanksgiving and an offering because of their sinfulness. They realized that God had kept every one of them. It is interesting to note that God will keep all those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as their Savior and deliver them to an expected end as well.
"And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand." John 10: 28-29
You and I should realize that it is God that is keeping us even in the midst of the battle. This however, should drive us to do as these captains of the host; we should offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving and tell our Heavenly Father how unworthy we are of His graciousness. Too often we get up from the battlefield, dust ourselves off, God having wrought a great victory, and immediately continue on to the next battle. Instead, we should be bending our knee and giving God praise and honour and glory for what He has done. When is the last time you thanked the Lord for giving you the victory? Perhaps you know someone who is gone astray but has a testimony of Jesus Christ as their Savior; you can thank God as well for keeping them unto the end. Let us spend some time today thanking God for the victory we have in Jesus Christ!
“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinthians 15:57
Pastor James - Community Outreach Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
Sharon Baptist church is an independent, fundamental Baptist church located in Hampton, VA.
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