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 email@example.com
- 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
May 9, 1841 - George Mueller
It has pleased the Lord to teach me a truth, the benefit of which I have not lost, for more than fourteen years. The point is this: I saw more clearly than ever that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord, or how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished. For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers, I might seek to relieve the distressed, I might in other ways seek to behave myself as it becomes a child of God in this world; and yet, not being happy in the Lord, and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by day, all this might not be attended to in a right spirit.
Before this time my practice had been, at least for ten years previously, as an habitual thing, to give myself to prayer, after having dressed myself in the morning. Now, I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God, and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, by means of the Word of God, while meditating on it, my heart might be brought into experiential communion with the Lord.
I began therefore to meditate on the New Testament from the beginning, early in the morning. The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words the Lord’s blessing upon his precious Word, was, to begin to meditate on the Word of God, searching as it were into every verse, to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of the public ministry of the Word, not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon, but for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul. The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that, though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer. When thus I have been for a while making confession or intercession, or supplication, or have given thanks, I go to the next words or verse, turning all, as I go on, into prayer for myself or others, as the Word may lead to it, but still continually keeping before me that food for my own soul is the object of my meditation.
The result of this is, that there is always a good deal of confession, thanksgiving, supplication, or intercession mingled with my meditation, and then my inner man almost invariably is even sensibly nourished and strengthened, and that by breakfast time, with rare exceptions, I am in a peaceful if not happy state of heart. Thus also the Lord is pleased to communicate unto me that which, either very soon after or at a later time, I have found to become food for other believers, though it was not for the sake of the public ministry of the Word that I gave myself to meditation, but for the profit of my own inner man.
The difference, then, between my former practice and my present one is this: Formerly, when I rose, I began to pray as soon as possible, and generally spent all my time till breakfast in prayer, or almost all the time. At all events I almost invariably began with prayer, except when I felt my soul to be more than usually barren, in which case I read the Word of God for food, or for refreshment, or for a revival and renewal of my inner man, before I gave myself to prayer. But what was the result? I often spent a quarter of an hour, or half an hour, or even an hour, on my knees, before being conscious to myself of having derived comfort, encouragement, humbling of soul, etc., and often, after having suffered much from wandering of mind for the first ten minutes, or a quarter of an hour, or even half an hour, I only then began really to pray. I scarcely ever suffer now in this way. For my heart, first being nourished by the truth, being brought into experiential fellowship with God, I then speak to my Father and to my Friend (vile though I am, and unworthy of it) about the things that He has brought before me in His precious Word.
It often now astonishes me that I did not sooner see this point. In no book did I ever read about it. No public ministry ever brought the matter before me. No private intercourse with a brother stirred me up to this matter. And yet, now, since God has taught me this point, it is as plain to me as anything, that the first thing the child of God has to do morning by morning is, to obtain food for his inner man. As the outward man is not fit for work for any length of time except we take food, and as this is one of the first things we do in the morning, so it should be with the inner man. We should take food for that, as every one must allow. Now, what is the food for the inner man? Not prayer, but the Word of God; and here again, not the simple reading of the Word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it, and applying it to our hearts.
When we pray, we speak to God. Now, prayer, in order to be continued for any length of time in any other than a formal manner, requires, generally speaking, a measure of strength or godly desire, and the season, therefore, when this exercise of the soul can be most effectually performed is after the inner man has been nourished by meditation on the Word of God, where we find our Father speaking to us, to encourage us, to comfort us, to instruct us, to humble us, to reprove us. We may therefore profitably meditate, with God’s blessing, though we are ever so weak spiritually; nay, the weaker we are, the more we need meditation for the strengthening of our inner man. Thus there is far less to be feared from wandering of mind than if we give ourselves to prayer without having had time previously for meditation. I dwell so particularly on this point because of the immense spiritual profit and refreshment I am conscious of having derived from it myself, and I affectionately and solemnly beseech all my fellow believers to ponder this matter. By the blessing of God, I ascribe to this mode the help and strength which I have had from God to pass in peace through deeper trials, in various ways, than I had ever had before; and after having now above fourteen years tried this way, I can most fully, in the fear of God, commend it.
In addition to this I generally read, after family prayer, larger portions of the Word of God, when I still pursue my practice of reading regularly onward in the Holy Scriptures, sometimes in the New Testament, and sometimes in the Old, and for more than twenty-six years I have proved the blessedness of it. I take, also, either then or at other parts of the day, time more especially for prayer.
How different, when the soul is refreshed and made happy early in the morning, from what it is when without spiritual preparation, the service, the trials, and the temptations of the day come upon one.
Written By George Mueller
"There is great wisdom to be found in learning how those who have gone on before us have walked with God."
- Pastor James Community Outreach Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
When reading through the book of Numbers sometimes it can be difficult to see how we can apply those passages to our lives. The Bible however is always relevant. There are no extra parts, but rather God has given us exactly what we need. Every part of the Bible is relevant and is needed for us and to understand the complete message that God has given us.
In the book of Numbers, in Chapters 3 and 4, after the end of the census of the tribes of Israel, God gives Moses instructions concerning the Levites. The Levites were the special tribe set apart by God to perform the work of the tabernacle of Congregation.
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister unto him. And they shall keep his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the tabernacle of the congregation, to do the service of the tabernacle.” Numbers 3: 5-7
What follows is a list of each of the major family groups within the tribe of Levi and their responsibilities.
“And these were the sons of Levi by their names; Gershon, and Kohath, and Merari.”
Each of these family heads were given a place of dwelling around the Tabernacle, but also a responsibility.
"And the charge of the sons of Gershon in the tabernacle of the congregation shall be the tabernacle, and the tent, the covering thereof, and the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, And the hangings of the court, and the curtain for the door of the court, which is by the tabernacle, and by the altar round about, and the cords of it for all the service thereof." Numbers 3: 25-26
"And their charge shall be the ark, and the table, and the candlestick, and the altars, and the vessels of the sanctuary wherewith they minister, and the hanging, and all the service thereof." Numbers 3:31
"And under the custody and charge of the sons of Merari shall be the boards of the tabernacle, and the bars thereof, and the pillars thereof, and the sockets thereof, and all the vessels thereof, and all that serveth thereto, And the pillars of the court round about, and their sockets, and their pins, and their cords." Numbers 3:36-37
And yes even:
Moses and Aaron
"But those that encamp before the tabernacle toward the east, even before the tabernacle of the congregation eastward, shall be Moses, and Aaron and his sons, keeping the charge of the sanctuary for the charge of the children of Israel; and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death." Numbers 3:38
If you can imagine for a moment the enormous undertaking of caring for the Tabernacle. The assembly and disassembly surely must have been a marvelous sight to see. Once erected the care for the Tabernacle was of utmost importance. Every item had its place. The offerings that would be offered must follow specific rules. Any misstep could mean losing one’s life as Nadab and Abihu found out. Although the males within a certain age bracket are listed on the ‘official’ roles for the service of the Tabernacle; every member of each family would play a part in accomplishing the task. The flock had to be tended to, the houses had to be in order, every family member would be laboring so that their loved one was free to serve and ultimately the Tabernacle would be in order. The entire lives of the children of Israel would be concerned for the Tabernacle which manifested the dwelling presence of the LORD.
What is it that we can learn from this? Might I suggest a few things:
1. God desires for us to accomplish His work in a particular way. Our God is a God of order.
When Titus was sent by Paul to Crete, Paul exhorted him with this duty:
"For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:" Titus 1:5
You and I should always be measuring our service to the Lord with God’s Word. In other words, we should be accomplishing the work of the ministry ‘decently and in order,’
(1 Corinthians 14:40) but according to His order.
2. God’s work is a magnificent work and should not be taken lightly.
As was stated earlier, even a casual reading of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, will show how specific and magnificent the work was in the service, erection, and fashioning of the Tabernacle. God’s work is magnificent and wonderful and should be approached with great reverence and fear. We are ambassadors for the King of Kings and the Lord or Lords.
(2 Corinthians 5:20, Revelation 17:4) What a high and holy calling that God has allowed us serve Him! Let us not diminish the work of the Lord by halfway effort.
3. God has specific tasks that must be accomplished by each person.
What would happen if Aaron decided not to show up one day? The morning offering would be thrust onto one of his sons. Pray-fully that son would be prepared for the task because the work must go on. The morning and evening offering was to be a perpetual ordinance for the children of Israel. One improper approach to God would result in disaster. (Leviticus 10:1) What if the sons of Kohath decided they were done carrying the Ark of the Covenant; they determined it was just too heavy of a load to carry? Would God allow someone else to touch the Ark? Maybe we could ask Uzzah? (2 Samuel 6:6)
We all have specific tasks to be accomplished at Sharon Baptist Church. The work must go on for the glory of the King!
4. God has different tasks for each person.
God has given to each one of us different works to be accomplished. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) Just as the children of Kohath, the children of Merari and the children of Gershom had differing responsibilities, so you and I have individual tasks to complete. There are commissions that are universal to every Christian (Soul-Winning, Prayer, Bible study, going to church, living separated holy lives, etc.…), but there are also individual specific tasks for us to complete.
5. God’s work will be accomplished the best when all of God’s people are engaged in the work.
Paul in the New Testament gives us the picture of the church as a functioning body. As such, we are the body of Christ. Since the body is tempered together proportionately and every part has a purpose; the body will best function when all of the parts are working together.
"And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another."
1 Corinthians 12: 19-25
6. God’s ways are higher than our ways; His work is not like anything else on earth.
"Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered." Psalm 40:5
The work of the Tabernacle was different from all the surrounding heathen nations and their ‘religious’ exercises. Jesus’ finished work on the cross was unique and never can or will be repeated. Likewise, the work of the local New Testament church, God working through men by the Holy Spirit, is unlike anything else on earth man could possibly come up with. His plan of redemption will be the subject of worship for all of eternity.
“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:7
7. God has blessed us with a great privilege to serve Him and be close to Him.
"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." 2 Corinthians 6:16
This example we see in the Old Testament ordering of the Tabernacle gives us understanding of how God expects us to be about His work whereunto he has called us. May God gives us understanding of where we fit in this local New Testament church. May we not be deficient to the call of God and may our laboring be acceptable to Him.
- Pastor James, Community Outreach Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
Text Verse: 2 Peter 1: 1-9
Oftentimes when we go out Soul-Winning we become focused on leading the lost to the Lord; and we should be! But along the way we come in contact with Christians that have 'fallen out of the way.' Spiritually speaking, these Christians are blindly going through this life. They are willfully out of the way steeped in sin and living an anemic Christian life. Unfortunately, we live in a day when anemic Christianity is all around us. Apathetic Christian living is the norm. If you have been Soul-Winning for any length of time you have probably had this dialogue take place on the doorstep of one of these poor Christians:
Soul-Winner: Do you know 100% if you were to die today that you would spend an eternity in Heaven?
Apathetic Christian: Yes.
Soul-Winner: Can I ask you, how do you know that for sure?
Apathetic Christian: Because I am saved, I trusted in Jesus Christ as my Savior.
Soul-Winner: Well where do you go to church?
Apathetic Christian: I don't go anywhere, I know I should, but I don't feel much like a Christian.
Our responsibility as a fellow brother or sister in Christ is to try to help this Christian. We should endeavor not to leave them in their blind state, but rather show them from the Bible how they can return to a path of fruitfulness in the Lord. Let me encourage you to mark out this passage of Scripture that covers this very topic: 2 Peter 1: 1-9. In this passage Peter gives us some eye-opening things that will help us to understand why it is this Christian has fallen out of the way.
First of all this passage explains to us the Gift of God.
v1-3 "Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:"
Peter makes it clear to us that God has not left us in the dark after Salvation, but rather has provided us with "all things that pertain unto life and godliness," We could say it this way, that as Christians we are without excuse. God has given us the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 3:16) God has given us His precious Word. (2 Peter 1:19) God has given us the ability to come before Him in prayer. (Hebrews 4:16) God has given us a local New Testament church. (Galatians 6:2) God has also given us each other, brothers and sisters in Christ to exhort us unto good works. (Hebrews 10:24) This truth is plain that God has given us a gift, it that he has provided "all thing that pertain unto life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who hath called us..." The Him of course is Jesus Christ.
Not only do we have the Gift of God, but secondly we have the Goal through God. Just what is the ultimate goal of the Christian life?
Romans 8:29 tells us this, "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."
We see in our text passage this same goal (to be conformed to the image of his Son). Notice what verse 4 states in our passage, "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." So the goal through God's working in us is to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ; partakers of the divine nature.
So we have the Gift of God, which brings us toward the Goal through God, but thirdly we have the Growth with God.
As this passage continues, Peter gives us a running list of building blocks or growth points for the Christian life:
v5-7 "And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity."
There are seven growth points listed here after our initial faith in Jesus Christ. Each of these have great significance. But what I want you to see here is not necessarily the specifics on the seven areas of growth but rather that the normal Christian life is one of growth. Notice that verse 5 starts with this phrase, 'add.' Addition signifies an increase. When you add, unless your adding the wrong things, you should end up with growth. These areas of growth are a necessity as we will see in a few moments to the Christian life. In my garden, I typically grow one or two cucumber vines. These vines once they start going grow at an immense rate. Oftentimes there are so many cucumbers on the vine that my wife and I cannot eat them fast enough. But as the season continues something starts to happen. The vine stops growing, cucumbers start to form dwarf size or misshaped. Then starting from the bottom of the vine moving forward the vine begins to die. You see the vine stopped growing. Pretty soon the vine has to be taken out of the garden because it is deteriorating and producing foul fruit.
So far we have:
The Gift of God - God has provided us everything we need in our Christian life.
The Goal of God - To be partakers of the divine nature, by being conformed to image of our Lord.
The Growth with God - Those seven growth points in our Christian life that we are to be adding.
Notice lastly, what it all comes down to, the Guarantee of God. The next few verses give us not only a warning, but a guarantee. In other words, you can mark it down, what is listed next will come to pass. There are two conditions that are given here. The first we find in verse 8:
"For if these things be in you, and abound, [What things? the seven listed above]
they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Notice the verse says 'if.' This gives us an indication that these are not automatic. That word 'abound' give us the idea of continual moving forward(think of leap frog). Or we could say it this way, growing, an abounding Christian life. If these be in you and abound you will neither be 1) barren nor 2)unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is perhaps one of the saddest failures for someone to get saved, having great opportunity to serve the Lord before them, and yet they are barren and unfruitful. By the way, this is not God's fault, because He has given us 'all things that pertain unto life and godliness.' The unfruitful barren Christian is that way because they stopped somewhere along the way in the growth process, the addition that is supposed to be taking place in their life. But glory, hallelujah! The Christian that abounds in these will never be unfruitful and barren.
But watch what happens to the one that has stopped moving forward in the Christian life:
"But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins."
There are two sad results from the Christian that has stopped growing. First, they are blind. They cannot see spiritually speaking. Not only are they susceptible to falling in the ditch, running headlong into sin, and falling for the trap of the Devil, but they cannot see the wonderful promises of eternity ahead. They can only see the temporal beggarly elements of this world. Oh to be blind is to be shortsighted indeed! But secondly, we find for the one who has quit on church, quit on reading their Bible, quit on praying, they "hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins." Quite simply, they have forgotten what it is like to be saved. "They do not feel saved anymore." Perhaps you have run into a few people in this way. I know I have, they no longer have spiritual discernment and have no assurance of their salvation. What a terrible state to be in.
The cure for this plight is simple, the one who is blind and feeling distant to God needs to do a complete 180 and get back to church, back to reading their Bible, back to prayer, and experience the wonderful growth that comes as we have a vibrant fellowship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It all starts with an repentant heart toward God and then a move toward abiding in Him with the aforementioned things.
Let me encourage you, the next time you come across a Christian that makes the statement, "I don't feel saved." Do not leave that Christian in the dregs of apathy and Laodicean Christian living, but rather exhort them back to growth in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
- Pastor James Grandinetti, Community Outreach Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
Revival Message from Monday PM April 9th at 7:00 pm
Don't miss Revival tonight at 7:00 pm
You can listen to the live stream recording here:
You can listen to or download the audio recording here:
Context- The Amalekites had attacked the children of Israel shortly after they left out of Egypt. And in doing so they attacked them from the rear; cowardly going after the weakest of the large group being led by Moses. It was during this battle that Joshua fought, as Moses was on the hillside having his arms propped up by Aaron and Hur. (Exodus 17: 8-16) It was after this God decreed that He was going to utterly destroy the Amalekites. As time moved on the children of Israel inhabited the promised land, led in by Joshua. Then after some time, under the spiritual leadership of Samuel, the people demanded a king. God had told Samuel that they had not rejected him (Samuel) but that they have rejected Me (God). God allowed Saul to be their king; God was going to give Saul an opportunity to do something amazing for Him. The greatest goal of the Christian life is to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:29 "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."
Text: 1 Samuel 15: 1-26, 35, 16:1
Oftentimes we miss oppourtinities because we fail to do what God has already revealed for us to do. We look for some "secret" will of God when God has already revealed to us what we are to do. Saul in this passage missed his opportunity.
Notice that when God gives us instructions:
I. It is Understandable
II. It is Unmistakable
Saul and the people's actions were:
Saul and the peoples actions were:
IV. Darting (throwing, as a dart in other words on target, with intent)
Maybe we should come before God and be broken about our failures and ask to help us not to miss what He has great for us to do for Him.
- Evangelist Dr. Richard Harper, Determined Ministries, www.determinedministries.org
Don't miss out on Revival tonight at 7:00 pm!
Perhaps you have missed this first morning service of Revival; it’s not too late. Check out the live stream recording or listen to the audio recording here:
Live Stream: http://www.sharonbaptisthamptonva.com/live.html
Audio Recording: http://www.sharonbaptisthamptonva.com/revival-2018.html
Be back tonight at 7:00 pm and don’t miss anymore of the Revival!
Here are the notes from Sunday AM’s service:
“In the midst of the terrifying circumstances, David is fleeing from Absalom his son and pens the 23rd Psalm. In this Psalm, David’s thoughts turn from Himself and focus on the Great Shepherd. It is in this Psalm that we learn what a Great Shepherd we have! Unfortunately, to those that are lost, none of these things apply.
I. A Particular Shepherd
II. A Perfect Shepherd
III. A Present Shepherd
IV. A Personal Shepherd
V. A Providing Shepherd
Psalm 23:1 “I shall not want.”
He leads us to:
VI. A Protecting Shepherd
VII. A Permanent Shepherd
- Dr. Richard Harper Evangelist, Determined Ministries
Maybe it is you would want the Lord to be your Great Shepherd, click the button below to learn more about having Jesus as your Great Shepherd:
Acts 8: 26-36
In Acts chapter 8, we find a familiar story that gives us some great biblical instruction on Soul-Winning. In this passage, Philip the Evangelist is called to a secluded desert area to encounter a proselyte of Judaism who was making his way back to Africa. The Ethiopian Eunuch, of whom we are not given his name, is a man of great authority and happens (by God’s providence) to be reading out of Isaiah chapter 53. What unfolds is God’s hand of providence. But notice the events leading up to this passage; first there was the obedience to go.
The Obedience to Go
While this may seem elementary to most this is the stumbling block that trips up most Christians from being Soul-Winners. Please don’t ever take for granite the power and blessings of being obedient to the Lord. Two times in this passage we are told that Philip was obedient to the Lord. In verse 26 the Bible declares, “And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go” and notice the response in verse 27, “And he arose and went.” In verse 29 we find, “Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot” and in verse 30 the response of Philip is recorded: “And Philip ran thither to him…” Interestingly enough though in verses 4 and 5 of this same chapter, even before Philip went to the desert, he was found faithful preaching in Samaria even amid persecution! Further, before this in chapter 6 we are told that out of the thousands that were part of the church at Jerusalem, Philip was selected along with six others because they were men of ‘honest report,’ ‘full of the Holy Ghost,’ and full of ‘wisdom.’ (Acts 6:3) I wonder how many of us would be selected in the face of thousands because we were full of the Holy Ghost, of honest report, and full of wisdom? It is obvious that Philip was obedient to the Lord long before he was called to the desert to witness to the Ethiopian Eunuch. “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:2) So we see that Philip was obedient to go, but notice also the ordering of Philip’s steps.
The Ordering of Steps
Many times, in our Christian service we are tempted to feel as if we have spun our wheels and wasted our time. But grab a hold of this truth; if the Lord is ordering your steps, you are certainly not wasting your time! Whether you are preaching a revival to a city (Samaria) or whether you preaching the Gospel to one person in the middle of nowhere if God direct, you have not wasted your time! In the book of Acts one of the greatest church planters in the New Testament, Paul the Apostle gives us a great example of this. In Acts chapter 24:22-25 we find him preaching the Gospel to Felix the governor; Felix trembled but did not get saved. Did Paul waste his time? In Acts 26: 19-28, Paul again preached the Gospel to King Agrippa, Bernice, and Festus; none of which to our knowledge accepted Jesus Christ. Did Paul waste his time? I don’t believe so! In Proverbs 3: 5-6 we are given a promise concerning the Lord directing our steps. This promise though has conditions, notice what it says, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” The epilogue, if you will, is stated in verse 7 with some ‘warning labels.’ It states, “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” The components or conditions are as follows: – (1) Trust in the Lord with our whole heart [there is a fullness of trust required] (2) Not going in your own understanding, (3) Acknowledging God in all things = [the result] He shall direct Thy paths (Steps). The epilogue is this – (1) Be not wise in your own eyes, (2) Fear the Lord, (3) and Depart from Evil [This epilogue is almost a reverse of the steps mentioned in the previous verses). You see, if we are following God’s formula for direction, we will never be found wasting our time. We see Philip’s obedience to go, the ordering of his steps and then finally the crux of the whole matter, the opening of the mouth.
The Opening of the Mouth
Our purpose here upon this earth after salvation is bound up in the command that God gave us to ‘preach the Gospel to every creature’ and our goal is to preach Jesus. We find at the end of this lengthy narrative Philip simply preached Jesus. “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.” (Acts 8:35) All throughout the book of Acts this same theme can be found, preaching Jesus. In Acts 8:4 we see, “… they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.” In verse 5, “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.” In Acts chapter 7, at the end of his lengthy sermon Stephen was preaching Jesus to those who stoned him. You see we need a fresh revival of Christians simply preaching Jesus. Let me encourage you to be bold in your witness and preach Jesus Christ! I will leave you with this quote from Charles Spurgeon in his 1859 sermon (of which he apparently was quoting someone else but agreed with the statement), “I have never yet found a text that had not got a road to Christ in it, and if I ever do find one that has not a road to Christ in it, I will make one; I will go over hedge and ditch but I would get at my Master, for the sermon cannot do any good unless there is a savour of Christ in it.”
Pastor James Grandinetti - Community Outreach Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
Sharon Baptist church is an independent, fundamental Baptist church located in Hampton, VA.
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