An Absolute Necessity

You must be born again.

You know, there are some things that are optional, but being born again is absolutely necessary!

There are some things that are absolutely necessary, and there are some things that are optional.

One of those absolute necessities is why we have missions. It’s why Rusty and Brenda have gone across the sea. This absolute necessity is why you have a church.

Some things are absolutely necessary.

George Whitfield

In the early days of our country, actually, before the Declaration of Independence was signed there was a farmer named Nathan Cole. In 1740 he heard that a famous preacher, George Whitfield, was coming to the area and he wanted to go hear him.

George Whitfield
George Whitfield

George Whitfield. was originally from England, but he came to America and spent seven to 10 years here. It’s said that during that time, probably 80% of the population heard him preach. This was the time that we call the Great Awakening in the United States.

Things were happening all over the world.

In England, it was called the Wesleyan Revival and in Germany, it was called patriotism.

It was a time when God was working and why America became great. Somebody who visited America said the reason why America is great is that America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, then she will cease to be great.

I’m afraid we might be in a little trouble.

Well, Mason Cole had always wanted to hear George Whitfield preach. He was out picking up some tools to work with, and a rider came by and yelled out that George Whitfield was going to be preaching at Middletown.

Middletown was 12 miles away from Nathan’s farm so he ran to his house, and told his wife to get ready. because they were going to go hear George Whitfield.

Then he ran to the barn, saddled his horse, rode up to the house, hoisted his wife up on the horse, got back on himself, and off they went. Mason had that horse galloping just as fast as it could go.

They were trying to get there on time.

As they went he would notice his horse getting tired but instead of stopping completely to let the horse rest, he would get off and run alongside. Once the horse seemed to have gotten its second wind, Mason would jump back in the saddle and continue to ride.

Off in the distance Mason and his wife saw a yellowish cloud and thought it was very unusual. Then they heard what sounded like thunder.

As they continued on their journey the sound got louder. They realized what the sound was when they saw other people on horses and in wagons riding in the same direction they were going and joined up with them.

The Middletown Service

There were 1000s trying to get there to hear George Whitfield preach. It was amazing.

George Whitfield was not a very tall fellow. He was a very slim fellow but he had a very powerful voice. He was able to preach to 1000s of people without the aid of a microphone (they didn’t exist yet) or any other amplification.

When Nathan Cole and his wife got to where the preaching was to take place, they saw that there were already many people gathered around.

In the distance, they could see a river and a boat was docking. People got off the boat. Then two or three more boats came and hundreds of people were getting off.

There ended up being 1000s of people there that day and they all heard George Whitfield preach.

George Whitfield preaching at Middletown
George Whitfield preaching at Middletown

Quite often, John Whitfield would preach on one particular verse. It is a verse where Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus.

John 3:7 (MEV)

Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.

The last part of that verse, “You must be born again.” is what George Whitfield preached time and time again.

One lady who heard him quite often asked, “Why do you preach on that verse so much?”

He replied, “Because, madam, you must be born again. It is absolutely necessary to be born again.”

The Bible tells us that we have all sinned and that we have all come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

None of us are exempt from that.

You Must Be Born Again

In this verse, Jesus was talking to a man named Nicodemus, who was a religious man. He was a man who had a reputation as being a good, religious man of the religion of their day: Judaism. In fact, he was on the council that they had. Nicodemus was a religious man.

Jesus told Nicodemus, "You must be born again."
Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again.”

Jesus spoke to him and said, “Nicodemus unless you’re born again, you will not even see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)

Maybe you go to church all the time. Maybe you have better attendance than I do. . I don’t know. But I know this. You must be born again.

If you’re trusting in your church attendance to get you into Heaven, well, that’s not going to do it. That’s not going to be your ticket.

I had an aunt who started getting pins for attendance in Sunday school when she was about four or five years old. The way it was if you had perfect attendance for one year, you’d get a little bar-type pin. If you went two years, you got another one that could be hooked to the one above

Perfect attendance for Sunday school won't get you into Heaven.
Perfect attendance for Sunday school won’t get you into Heaven.

My aunt got so many that she finally got to the point where she had to put it on a cloth and put it around her wrist and it became a bracelet. After a while, she had so many, she had to put it on a longer piece of cloth and put it around her waist and it became a belt. Then that became a belt with the side of it dangling down.

I preached at her funeral just a little while back and we had them all laid out on the edge of the casket.

Now I’m firmly convinced that my aunt June went to heaven, but it wasn’t because she had 85 years of perfect attendance in Sunday school.

Nicodemus was a religious man.

You might be a religious person. But I want to ask you: Have you been born again?

It’s Not Automatic

If you have you’re safe and that’s wonderful, but if you haven’t, it’s absolutely necessary.

Now, it’s not automatic that we’re okay.

Some people say we’re ok because we are Americans. We are safe. We are fine.

Well, I’m glad to be an American but that’s not enough. In fact, that might be a hindrance in some cases.

The Jewish people said, “We are children of Abraham.”
John the Baptist told them, “Don’t think because you are children of Abraham, you will be safe. God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham.” (Matthew 3:9, Luke 3:8)

Going to Heaven is not automatic.
It’s not automatic, because you live in the United States.
It’s not automatic because your parents went to church all the time.
It’s not automatic because you had a “drug” problem when you were young because they “drug” you to church all the time.

You must be born again.

When I was young, I heard my parents having a discussion one time. They were deciding where they were going to go to church.

I didn't want to go to the church with the angry pastor.
I didn’t want to go to the church with the angry pastor.

One church was the one that my mom went to when she was young. I visited there a few times, and the pastor seemed like he was mad about something. I figured out it was me he was mad about.

We had also visited a little Freewill Baptist church down the road and the pastor there always seemed like he was glad about something.

I didn’t weigh in on their conversation, but I hoped they choose the happy church, and they did, so I started going to Mount Zion Freewill Baptist Church.

I’m glad to be part of the association of Freewill Baptists, but I’m not going to have because of that.

There came a time in my life when I realized that I was lost, that I was a sinner, and that I needed a Savior. I knelt down by an old gray chair and called upon the Lord and invited Jesus to come into my life.

I don’t remember everything I said, but I remember part of it. I said, “Jesus, as much as I know how I give you my life right now.” and I was born again.

Praise God!

I hope you have too.

I made the right decision.  Have you?
I made the right decision. Have you?

Some of you may be thinking about it. Maybe you’ve been thinking it over. This would be a good time. (2 Corinthians 6:2)

In the 1970s Rhonda and I moved to Fort Worth, Texas, and I attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

It’s wonderful if you have the opportunity to go, but doesn’t make you any more spiritual or less spiritual. It gives you three years to spend studying the Bible and a chance to study techniques of ministry. It was the largest seminary in the world at that time, and I think still is.

The school had a chapel that could seat probably between 250-350 people.

We were not required to go to chapel but I went every chance I got. They once announced that a famous theologian was going to come and preach in two weeks.

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

I knew him by name. He was the editor of a wonderful Christian magazine and was associated with Billy Graham Association.

I was glad he was coming but I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to understand him. I figured that he’d probably use some big theological words. (Like the word theological: the study of God)

Well, I didn’t have to worry.

He came in and got up in the pulpit, and said, “Please turn to John chapter three.”

He was preaching to a crowd of about 300 people that were preparing for Christian ministry or pastors and their wives. Some of them were ladies that were in music ministry.

It was about 300 people who would have been like Nicodemus.

I thought he would just talk to them about what Jesus said to Nicodemus and he said, “You must be born again.”

It was a great sermon. The time came for the invitation. I thought he would widen it out so that some of us could respond. But he didn’t.

He said, “If you have not been born again, I invite you to come to this altar and receive Christ as your Savior.”

There were 300 people there who were preparing for ministry. I was so glad I had been born again.

To my surprise, the song started and a young man and his wife stood up and came forward to the invitation, given to a bunch of preachers and religious leaders, to be born again.

Then somebody else stood up and then several single men stood up. Then there were more couples. I would say that probably about 20 people who were preparing to pastor churches came forward to get saved.

I’m not asking you if you go to church all the time. I’m just asking, “Have you been born again?”

If you haven’t, you can right now!

There’s a basis for you to be born again.

John 3:16 (MEV)

16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Sacrifice

In the Old Testament, they had sacrifices they did time and time again. They were blood sacrifices. We wonder about that.

The New Testament tells us that the bulls and goats could not take away sin.

A blood sacrifice was necessary to atone for sins.
A blood sacrifice was necessary to atone for sins.

The significance of that was far greater than just bringing lambs and goats and birds and things like that. It was the shedding of blood it was showing that there was a sacrifice. They knew that they had sinned and that there needed to be a sacrifice for sin. If they were to bring one from their flock, they were to bring one without blemish, the very best one they had.

If there was going to be a sacrifice that would take care of the penalty of the sins for the whole world, it would have to be a perfect one.

Who was the only perfect One who ever lived? God’s Son Jesus.

So Jesus went to the cross.

us was the final blood sacrifice.  Nothing else is needed.
Jesus was the final blood sacrifice. Nothing else is needed.

Kerygma

Now there was the preaching of the early church. I’m going to spring a big word on you: kerygma. It simply means the preaching of the early church. Do you know what it was? The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Jesus did make His way to the cross, He did indeed die on that cross, and He was placed in a tomb. Three days later, they came to try to find Him, and they found the tomb was empty, and He was gone! (Luke 23 & 24)

Then he started showing up to people who knew him, and they couldn’t believe it! There was Jesus. He was alive again after being dead. (John 20)

One time he showed up in front of a crowd of 500 who knew who he was before. (1 Corinthians 15:6)

You can not deny the fact that He died and rose again.

That was the preaching of the early church. That is the kerygma.

The Debt Paid

The crucifixion was one of the most horrible physical deaths there could ever be, but something far worse than that going on when Jesus was on that cross: The sins of the world were being placed on His shoulders.

He who knew no sin actually, for a little while, became sin to pay the penalty of sin for us. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

There is a debt. Jesus paid the debt that He did not owe because there was a debt I could not pay and He paid it for me and He paid it for you. Because of that, you can be born again.

A Special Kind of Belief

The Bible tells us that you must believe but there must be a special type of belief. The demons believe in God, they know Jesus is the Son of God. When Jesus was healing two demon-possessed men, the demons asked Him, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:29)

They know their time is short. They know who Jesus is.

The book of Romans says all have sinned and have come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

That word all means every man. woman, and child, every human, has sinned.

The Bible also says the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)

Two Kinds of Death

We’re familiar with physical death. That’s where the soul is separated from the body, but there is also spiritual death. And that is where the soul is separated from God.

The Bible says there are 2 kinds of death.
The Bible says there are 2 kinds of death.

Spiritual death will be when that soul is separated from God for eternity and sent to a place known as hell.

The book of Revelation says, “Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”  (Revelation 20:14)

There’s a special type of belief.

You can believe the facts that Jesus died and rose again. You can believe the Easter story and Christmas story.

You’re close.

Romans 10:8-9 saysBut what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.”[d] This is the word of faith that we preach: that if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved, 

Do You Know the ABCs?

You may have heard someone talk about the ABCs of salvation. You acknowledge that you are a sinner You believe that Jesus died on the cross. Believe that He was the son of God. Believe that he Has the power over death. Believe that He offers salvation as an absolutely free gift. Believe that no matter how far back in sin you had gone, that gift is there. Then you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord.

You must be born again!
You must be born again!

If you do that, I will tell you, your life is going to change. It might be slow for some and quicker for others, but there will be a change when you come to Him.

Then the Bible says, Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:13) It doesn’t say “might be,” it says, “will be.”

I want to give you the same invitation here that the theologian at the chapel did: Be born again today!

You need to know that you know. If you don’t know that you know, then you’re in dangerous territory because maybe you’re not born again because you don’t know.

Maybe you need to call upon the Lord. Night.

I preached a more in-depth sermon on this topic a few weeks ago. You can see the Rumble video here.

For more faith-based posts, click here.

If you want to talk more about Jesus and salvation, find my contact information here.

God bless you and have a wonderful day.

One of The Most Important Questions Ever

If God is for us, who can be against us?

If God is for us, who can be against us?

In the past, I’ve posted information from the book 100 Bible Verses that Made America by Robert J. Morgan.  I’ve been going in historical order, so I’ve not gotten to the Declaration of Independence yet. The event here took place about 30 years before the signing of that important document. 

Sermon video

Tug-of-War

In the 1740s, there was a tug-of-war of sorts going on between England and France.  At the time, England had a great navy.  The whole world thought of it as being one of the best  France was trying to gain superiority.  

The Colonies, which later became the United States, had come from England at first.  During the war, referred to as “King George’s War,” the colonies were sort of the rope in the tug-of-war going on between England and France.

People in Boston were concerned, to say the least, because they had gotten word that the French navy was coming to Boston.  The navy planned to burn down the city.  Bostonians were in a panic.

The governor had no way to protect the city at that time.  It wasn’t the large city we know today.  There were only about 15,000 citizens in the 1740s.

The governor knew that they didn’t have the defense, the weaponry, or the military members that were needed to protect the city.  He didn’t know what to do.

But the community knew what to do.

They called for a day of prayer and fasting.  

October 16, 1746

It was October 16, 1746, and people flocked to the churches.  

Today if we don’t know what to do, how many people would?  How far have we come since those days?

They knew what to do.

There was a famous church called the Old South Meeting House, and hundreds of people went there on that day, knowing that the French navy was coming from Nova Scotia to attack their city.

The Old South Meeting House in Boston
The Old South Meeting House in Boston

Reverend Thomas Prince was a good friend of Thomas Whitfield  Whitfield played a large part in the Great Awakening in the 1730s.

On the day of fasting and prayer, Thomas Prince climbed onto the pulpit in the Meeting House and began to pray.  

He prayed, “Deliver us from the enemy! Send Thy tempest, Lord, upon the waters to the eastward! Raise Thy right hand. Scatter the ships of our tormentors and drive them hence. Sink their proud frigates beneath the power of Thy winds.”

The only pleasant part of that day so far had been the weather.  The sun was shining and the wind was calm.  

Suddenly, inside the church, they heard a sound outside.  Clouds had gathered and the wind began to howl. The windows shook and the huge bell in the steeple rang twice.

More boldly, Prince continued to pray, “We hear Thy voice, 0 Lord!  We hear it! Thy breath is upon the waters to the eastward, even upon the deep. Thy bell tolls for the death of our enemies!” 

He bowed his head; when he looked up, tears streamed down his face. He concluded his prayer by saying, “Thine be the glory, Lord. Amen and amen!”

Amen, indeed!

Powerful Storm

The wind came where the church was, but out to the east, the sky also became dark and the wind grew more fierce and violent. A hurricane formed.

The report said that the admiral of the French fleet either took his own life or had a stroke.  Either way, he died that day during that storm. 

The people of Boston were crowded into the churches that day, praying that God would deliver them, and God did.

There were French ships carrying soldiers.  Up to 8,000 of them died in the hurricane that day.  

After that, the governor declared a day of thanksgiving, so the city came together to give thanks for their deliverance.  

After that, a particular verse was quoted over and over. 

Romans 8:31-32 (MEV)

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

If God is for us, who can be against us?

Confidence

Sometimes I wish that my nervous system could become a “confidence system.” That would be good, just once.

A man put on his tool belt and was out and about.  

Confidence
Confidence

He saw one of his friends and said, “You know, my wife isn’t very confident in my ability to work with the electrical things at our house.”

The friend replied, “Well, she’s in for a shock.”

Have confidence!  If God is for us, who can be against us?

Let’s look at the first half of that.

If God Is For Us

The second part of that verse is conditional on the first part: That God IS for us.

Some people wonder if God is for them.  There are reasons for that.  One is because they feel guilty.  We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) So indeed there is that is upon mankind.  Adam sinned and that nature was passed down through the generations, but we can’t exactly blame Adam.  Everyone becomes a sinner by choice at some point in their lives.  We’re all accountable for that. 

Everyone is guilty, and unless that guilt is taken care of, you’ll continue to feel that way. 

Some people are overly inflated in themselves and have no regard whatsoever, but others are just weighed down with guilt. 

Guilt and shame can make you feel like God is not for you.
Guilt and shame can make you feel like God is not for you.

If that’s not taken care of, you may feel like God isn’t for you. 

Others believe that no one would love or care for them.  

Some are outright opposing God.  When they are in opposition to God, they are His enemies.  There is no promise here for them.  God is not for His enemies  He would like them to be saved and their lives to be changed, but if they’re going to continue in opposition against Him, they are the ones who are going to lose. 

Then some know who God is, that He is the God of love, but Satan’s lies come to their ears.  Satan’s lies are, “God does not care for you.  God does not love you.”

If you listen to those lies, you’ll be beaten down all the time. 

But Why?

Why would God be for us?  

He created us.  He created the world.  He created the universe. He created all things, but He created us.  He has a special love for us.  

A boy built a boat but lost it.  Later, he saw it in a store.  He went to the store owner and told him that it was his boat.  The man asked for proof of ownership.  The boy told him that there was a special mark on the bottom.  The clerk turned the boat over and saw the mark was there.  The store owner told the boy that he’d had to pay for the boat and offered to sell it back to him for what he’d paid. The boy didn’t have the money, so he was sad.

He made you, and He paid for you!
He made you, and He paid for you!

He went home and asked his parents for the money and they gave it to him.  Happily, the boy returned to the store to get his beloved boat.  He gave the owner the money and walked out with his boat. He looked at the boat in his hands and said, “There.  I’ve made you, and now I’ve bought you.”

That’s what Jesus did for you.  He made you and He bought you.  He paid the price for your sins.  He loves you, and because He loves you, you have good reason to believe that He is for you.  

God LOVES You!

One of the attributes of God is that He is love. (1 John 4:8)

God loves you so much that He gave His only begotten Son so that if you believe in Him, you will not perish but have everlasting life.  (John 3:16)

God also created us with the capacity to love Him back. It’s not like a computer or video game program.  It’s not mechanical.  

We are created in the image of God with the capacity to love and to hate.  He wants us to freely love Him.  

Those are just a couple of the many reasons to believe that God could be for you.

Now to transition to the second half of the verse.

Who Could Be Against Us?

A man said, “I went to the confidence store because I didn’t have any.  They sold it to me for $2,500…I think they tricked me.”

A group of engineering teachers was on a plane. A man got on the plane and informed them that the plane had been built by their own students. 

Several of the teachers got up and ran off the plane, but one man remained.  When questioned, he said, “Well, if it’s built by my students, this thing won’t even get off the ground.”

If God is for us, who can be against us?

If God is for us, who can stand against us?
If God is for us, who can stand against us?

Who can stand against us?

This is a rhetorical question.  A rhetorical question is one that doesn’t require an answer.  For example:  Do animals live in a zoo? (Yes, they do.)

The question is: If God is for us, who can stand against us?
The answer: Nothing and no one!

If God is for you, nothing can be against you.

No human, no being in the universe, no thing, can be against you if God is for you.

Romans 8:35, 38, 39 (MEV)

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities nor powers, neither things present nor things to come, 39 neither height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

There is nothing that can withstand God.  

God is All-Powerful

A man was talking with a group of Christians and said, “God, if You’re real, I dare You to strike me with lightning right now!”

It was something he’d said several times before so he thought nothing of saying it that time.  

Suddenly, thunder boomed and a bolt of lightning shot from the sky.  

God is all-powerful.
God is all-powerful.

The man checked himself over, and he was just fine.  He began to scoff at God but noticed that the men around him weren’t looking at him but behind him.

The man turned to see what they were looking at and discovered his 12-year-old son lying on the ground.

While I do not know if God would actually do something like that, I do know that there is nothing that can withstand God.

Right now, there are wars going on, and there are rumors of wars.  Those are terrible things. There has been talk of the possibility of World War 3. But God sits in His Heaven and men on Earth make their plans, and He just laughs at those plans. (Psalm 37:12)

We may lose a battle from time to time, but we know how the war is going to end!  I’ve read the back of the book and we win. 

Principalities will not be able to stand against God.  

No one, or thing, ultimately, will stand against you.

As a Christian, you may face persecution here on Earth.  There might be illness.  You may have some battles.  But ultimately, those things do not win.  They do not!

I’ve seen it.

Going Home

In my business, I’m around death quite a bit.  I’m around people shortly before they pass from this life. 

There are people who have an experience that you wouldn’t believe.  They know that time is short and they talk very matter-of-factly about it. 

They say things like, “My time is coming, I know it.” 

Some have said, “I’ll soon be with my Lord.”

People have said, “I’m looking forward to it.”

That’s amazing!

How can you do that?

Death seems to be the thing that is most to be feared, but it is not for those who are Christians. 

If God is for us, who can be against us?

When I say I’ve been around death quite a bit, it has been deaths of the saints, usually.  That’s who I’m around the most. I assure you, there’s victory.  Death will be swallowed up in victory. “O death where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:54 & 55)

Death is the ultimate victory when you know Christ.
Death is the ultimate victory when you know Christ.

There is victory over death and the grave in Christ if you know Him. 

There are examples from the past where God was with His people.  

Moses and Pharoah

God called Moses to go get His people out of Egypt.  Moses and his brother went before Pharoah and asked for the Israelites to be released.  It took 10 plagues, ending with the death of the firstborn child, for Pharoah to let them go.  

Even after all that, as Moses was leading the Nation of Israel out of Egypt, Pharoah changed his mind and gathered his army, and chased them to the Red Sea.

But remember: If God is for us, who can be against us?

Some of the Israelites didn’t believe that God would deliver them, but God was speaking to Moses.  

That night, God provided protection for them in the night and the Egyptian soldiers didn’t attack while they rested.

The next day, they were at the edge of the Red Sea. God instructed Moses to hold his rod (like a walking stick) out over the water, and he did.

A mighty wind came and parted the waters of the sea and the freed slaves walked across to the other side on dry ground, with walls of water on either side of them.

God was for the Children of Israel.
God was for the Children of Israel.

Pharoah and his army weren’t ready to give up, so they pursued their former captives onto the bed of the Red Sea.  God was taking care of His children, though, and the waters closed up over Pharoah’s army and they all perished.  (Exodus 3-14 contains the account of the call of Moses, the plagues, and the ultimate victory over Pharoah.)

If God is for us, who can be against us?

The Ark of the Covenant

The Jewish people in the Old Testament had a special piece of furniture called the Ark of the Covenant.  It was a chest that was inlaid with gold all around, it was a holy item that was not to be touched.  If anyone who wasn’t authorized by God to touch it did so, they would die.  It happened.  (Exodus 25:10-22, 2 Samuel 6:7)

Contained inside the Ark of the Covenant were the actual tablets the 10 Commandments were on, a pot of manna, and Aaron’s (Moses’ brother) rod that had budded. (Hebrews 9:3-4) 

The story of Aaron’s rod is, at one time there were people who were opposing Moses and Aaron.  God commanded that they be brought together.  

When they were all gathered, they all laid down their rods, but only Aaron’s rod sprouted buds.  (Numbers 16 & 17)

It was there to remind them of the goodness of God.

There came a day when the Philistines came and captured the Ark of the Covenant.  They took it back with them and put it in one of their heathen temples.  They left it inside and walked away smirking and laughing about “those people and their God.”

The Ark of the Covenant
The Ark of the Covenant

When they returned to the temple, the statue of their pagan god, Dagon, had toppled over. The Philistines set the statue up again and left the temple. They returned to their temple again and saw more things had been destroyed.  They quickly made the decision to get rid of the Ark of the Covenant. (1 Samuel 4 & 5)

If God is for us, who can be against us?

The Day the Sun Stood Still

There came a point where the Israelites were in a battle.  They feared that darkness would come before they could be victorious.  They prayed and for an entire day and night, God caused the sun to stand still.  (Joshua 10)

Skeptics may say that it’s impossible; that it would throw the universe into chaos, or at least the Earth.  

But the same God who spoke the sun into existence when He said, “Let there be light,” and there was light, the One who said the word and the Earth formed, (Genesis 1:1-25) was the One who caused the sun to stand still.  Any natural consequences that may have arisen from that event were under His control.  He commands it all.

There is an account in the Bible of God causing the dial on a sundial to go 10 degrees backward. (Isaiah 38:8)

God, in the form of Jesus, was able to walk on water.  He even took a frail human being and allowed him to walk on the water with Him. (Matthew 14:22-31, Mark 6:45-52, John 6:16-21)

If God is for us, who can be against us?

No one can!

None of us can!

Nothing can!

He has the power to take care of us.

God is in Charge no Matter the Circumstances

I don’t know what the future holds, but I hope you will be able to face it with confidence.  In all of the cases I’ve mentioned, their circumstances got better.  

It’s good when God comes and changes the circumstances, but He is able to take you through anything even when the circumstances don’t change.  He can give peace that passes understanding. (Philippians 4:7)

Romans 5;8
Romans 5:8

He can give you the ability to go through a terrible situation and make it through to the other side.  

The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.  

Are You Ready?

Are you ready?

That’s a question that everyone needs to face.

The title of this post is “One of the Most Important Questions Ever.”  The question is If God is for us who can be against us?

The answer is no one can.

Do you know that God is for you?

If He’s for you, then the rhetorical answer to the question is, “Nothing can stand against you.”

But I did say that there are ways He may not be for you.  

Are you ready?
Are you ready?

One way is to refuse to repent of your sins.  If you refuse to acknowledge who Christ is, God will not be for you, If you heard that God gave His only Son for you, and you scoff at that, He will not be for you.  

Have you come to Christ?
Have you repented of your sins?

Have you called upon Him and asked Him to become your Savior?

If you have, and you truly meant that in your heart, then God is for you and nothing can be against you. 

If you would like to know more, click here to be taken to other Faith-Based posts.

I pray God blesses you.

Overcoming Fear

Overcoming Fear

Everyone has fears about some things.  

Sermon video

When I have to get up and use the restroom in the middle of the night, I try not to turn on the light so I don’t wake my wife. One time, though, just a few feet from the bedroom to the bathroom door, I couldn’t figure out where I was.  I knew I was in my house but that was about it.

Well, we have a picture of our four children hanging on a wall in our bedroom, and I almost knocked it down but I finally figured out where I was.

It was a little disconcerting feeling.   

Personal Fears

When our oldest grandson, Avery, was little, Rusty was having a conversation with him.  Avery was going to go from my mom’s house to our house.  There’s a little path through a wooded area and the circle drive. 

Rusty thought this would be a good teaching moment for Avery so he told him that no matter where he was, he didn’t have to be afraid because God is always with him.

They were going to walk through the dark from one house to the other.  They walked across and got there safely.  When they arrived, Avery looked up and asked, “Were you scared Uncle Rusty?”

Everyone has fears about different things. 

Monk

Some of you may have seen the television show “Monk” about a man named Adrian Monk who was a detective.  His wife got killed and he had a real problem dealing with that. He had what is called OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder.  It became magnified after he dealt with the trauma of losing his wife. 

Adrian Monk
Adrian Monk

The program goes like this: He can see things that other people can’t see and he comes up with the answer.  Sometimes he’ll point someone out and say, “He’s the person who committed the crime.” 

They’ll ask, “How do you know?”
Monk responds, “I don’t know, but he’s the one.”

By the time the program ends, it turns out he was right. 

But, he has a lot of fears. Number 6 on his list was death. Number 5 was milk. 

Laugh Lines

Everyone fears something.

Do you know what the fear of giants is called?
Fe, Fi, Phobia…

Did you hear about the rock who faced his fears?  
He did it and became a little…bolder.  

Then there was the man who had a fear of monsters under his bed.  Even though he was an adult and knew it was irrational, the fear still plagued him.  So he went to a psychoanalyst. He spent months, and then years, in therapy. Still, the phobia persisted.  He finally told the therapist that he thought he should take a break from counseling.  The doctor said it would be ok.

A couple of weeks later, the psychoanalyst saw the patient in the grocery store and asked how he was doing.

The man said, “I’m doing great! I’ve slept better than I have in ages.”
The analyst then asked, “How did that happen?  What have you done differently?  To what do you attribute your success?”

The man responded, “After I stopped seeing you, someone suggested I go see a behavioral specialist.  He told me I should do something.  He took care of my problem in one session!”

Amazed, the psychoanalyst asked, “What did he say?  What did he have you do?”
The former patient answered, “He told me to go home and saw the legs off of my bed.”

Proverbs 28:1&13 (MEV)

1 The wicked flee when no man pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.
13 He who covers his sins will not prosper,  but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.

The Wicked’s Fears

Today’s scripture says first of all that the wicked flee when no one pursues. 

Sometimes you carry these fears around and might be wondering if you’re being paranoid or if someone is coming after you.  They flee when no one pursues. 

Everyone has something they fear.
Everyone has something they fear.

This time of year, you hear about a big red “elf” that goes around making a list and checking it twice to find out who’s naughty or nice.

There could be a feeling of guilt, knowing that you wouldn’t make the nice list. 

Also, there’s a fear of the unknown; not knowing what’s coming up or what’s happening next. Sometimes the wicked are involved in the fear of the unknown. 

There’s the fear of punishment. They have seen the result of consequences of sin and they know that they’re involved in sin. They know they’re not doing what’s right. 

So they have a fear of those consequences coming to them.  

In verse 13 we read that whoever covers the sins will not prosper. 

The way of the wicked is to go around trying to rationalize sin and trying to blame someone else for their behavior. 

Sometimes they play the victim card, saying it’s not their fault.

Seeking to destroy.
Seeking to destroy.

We know that Satan goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8)   He will come into your life and cause terrible circumstances to come.  He will put lies in front of you and you’ll begin to believe the lies after a while. If that happens often enough, it can cause you to want to flee when no one is pursuing.

The verse says the wicked flee when no one pursues.  

If you’re saved, you are in the category of the righteous. Even so, you have to overcome fears that come into your life. 

Elijah and the Prophets of Baal

There’s the example of Elijah in the Old Testament who had a contest that he proposed between himself and the prophets of Baal. They went to the top of Mt. Caramel, built two altars, and laid sacrifices on top of the altars. 

When that was done, Elijah told the prophets of Baal to go first.  They spent hours trying to bring fire to the sacrifices. 

Once they were done, it was Elijah’s turn.  He gave instruction for water to be brought and the sacrifice and the wood were drenched with it.  They poured water all around the bottom of the altar. Then he just prayed a simple prayer asking God to light the sacrifice, and fire came down from Heaven.  

Elijah may have been afraid, but he carried on.
Elijah may have been afraid, but he carried on.

Not long after that, the people saw that God was real and Baal was false.  They actually executed the false prophets. (1 Kings 18:20-40)

Elijah had a great victory.  Then he got word that they were seeking to kill him and his fear overcame him and he ran away.

God asked him why he had run.  He told God, “I’m the only one that’s left.(who hasn’t begun to worship Baal)”  

(Have you ever felt like you’re the only one left?)

God told Elijah that there were 7,000 who hadn’t begun to worship the false god. He just didn’t know about them. (1 Kings 19)

After that, he became a great prophet of God again – he overcame his fears.

The Disciples’ Fears

The 12 disciples had walked and talked with Jesus. They spent a lot of time with Him.  He started trying to tell them that something different, that they hadn’t experienced before, was going to happen. 

Each one of them experienced his own fear.
Each one of them experienced his own fear.

They had been with Him, He had preached, and the crowds had loved the preaching. They had seen people healed. Jesus had even sent them out in groups of two and people had listened to their message. The disciples had seen people delivered from demons. They had seen all those miracles.

But it wasn’t always going to be that way.

The great popularity that Jesus had at the beginning of the week was going to vanish. 

Before the week was over, they came and captured Jesus.  

The disciples were afraid.  

The Bible tells us when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane Peter pulled out his sword and cut off the ear of one of them.  

Jesus reached down and put the man’s ear back on.

Peter didn’t know what to do after that.  He was ready to fight to the death to defend Jesus. 

Jesus told Peter that before the rooster crowed, Peter would deny Him three times. 

They arrived at the place where they were doing all the false accusations and the false trials.  The same crowds that had loved Jesus at the beginning of the week turned on Him and raised the cry, “Crucify Him!”

Jesus on trial.
Jesus on trial.

Jesus was by the fire and Peter was close enough that Jesus could look at him. Just as Jesus had said, Peter denied Him.  The third time, he swore that he did not know the Man. 

After the third denial, Peter looked up, and the eyes of the Savior fell right on him and his heart melted. (Luke 22:31-60)

The Bible says that all of the disciples forsook Him and fled.  (Mark 14:50)

Peter was close enough to the goings-on that Jesus was able to look at him. 

Persecution

In the early days of Christianity, the new converts were arrested and sentenced to be burned at the stake. 

One such man was waiting for execution in his prison cell.  There was a candle burning.  He was talking to God, telling Him how he knew He was real, but he didn’t know how he was going to get through the execution.  Curious he reached out and held his hand above the candle flame. He quickly had to pull away because the pain was too great.

Early Christians faced many fears.
Early Christians faced many fears.

Those were some of the fears that came to the early followers of Christ. 

Verse 3 also says that the righteous are bold as a lion. 

Why is that?

Miracles

It’s because of miracles that we’ve seen.

Some have seen x-rays that have actually shown “something”, only to go back to the doctor and that “something” is gone.

Only two possibilities exist.  Either it was a faulty machine or something miraculous happened.  I believe it was a miracle. 

Seeing miracles increases your confidence, as a Christian, as you go through life.

I mentioned the problem of guilt that caused the wicked to flee when no one pursues, but guilt can plague Christians, too. 

But Believers need to be reminded that verse 13 also says that whoever confesses their sins and forsakes them shall have mercy. 

The guilt is taken care of and it is removed. 

Peace that Passes Understanding

You will probably have one time, or more than one when you can’t understand how you’ll get through something. You think about how terrible it’s going to be.

But when you get dropped into the middle of that problem, you’re all at once at peace. You can’t explain why.  The circumstances aren’t any better. Any normal person would want to flee. Yet you have an unexplainable peace that passes all understanding. 

Philippians 4:7
Philippians 4:7

That increases the boldness of the righteous. 

Then there’s the resurrection.

He’s Alive!

Peter and the disciples saw Jesus crucified.  They were all feeling terrible for how they had forsaken Him. Yet, the women went to the tomb to anoint His body for burial and the tomb was empty and angels were there.

Peter and John ran to the tomb and found it to be empty. John got there first but Peter ran inside. It was empty. (Matthew 27 & 28:1-8, John 20:1-18)

That would be one thing but shortly after that, they were all in a room together (except for Thomas) and Jesus appeared in their midst.

He asked for food and they gave it to Him. He proved to them that he was not an apparition or a ghost.  (John 20:19-20)

Another time, Jesus appeared to 500 people at one time. (1 Corinthians 15:6)  Usually two or three eyewitness accounts are enough in court.  These were hundreds who saw a resurrected Christ!

They knew that there was the power of life after death. 

What do You Fear?

If you’re afraid of death, as bad things come, your fear can increase.

But if you know for sure that you’re going to come through the valley of the shadow of death and come out on the other side, then death doesn’t hold as much fear for you. 

Elijah was afraid but God spoke to him so he returned and was a great prophet again. 

Peter felt so awful for denying Jesus, but when He arose and gave instructions to tell others, He purposely said to make sure Peter knew.

On the day of Pentecost, Peter, who had been so fearful before, was greatly changed and he preached, and thousands of people came to know the Lord. Part of the reason for that was the awareness of the truth of the resurrection. The other reason was the empowerment of the Holy Spirit that came upon their lives in a wonderful way on the day of Pentecost. That power continued to help them day after day,

The power of the Holy Spirit continues to help Believers after all these years. 

All of that can increase your boldness.

Stephen and Saul/Paul

Then there was a man who thought he was doing right and thought he was doing God’s bidding. There was this upstart group that was talking about this Man they claimed was the Messiah.  He believed there was no resurrection, that His followers had just hidden the body.  

Then he was in the presence of Stephen when he was telling the story from the beginning up until the present day. It was even said that they were responsible for killing the King of Glory. 

The stoning of Stephen
The stoning of Stephen

The crowd grew enraged and wanted to stone Stephen.  Saul offered to hold their cloaks while they did so. 

Saul got letters from the religious leaders that allowed him to go into homes and arrest people who were part of this new movement they called “The Way.”

He was completely opposed to it. 

He was on the road to Damascus with the letters with the intent of arresting some people.  Then a bright light shone from Heaven and knocked him off of his horse.  Those around him said they heard thunder.  Saul heard the voice of Jesus.  The others saw the light but couldn’t comprehend what was said. 

It was the living Christ that came to him and it changed his life. After that encounter, he became known as Paul. 

He wrote much of the New Testament. 

The Missionaries

In the last century, there was a tribe in Africa that had a compound in their territory where missionaries lived. The missionaries would go out and preach to the different tribes.  

Some of the tribes were vehemently opposed to what they were doing, so they had plans to go to the compound one night and break in and slaughter the people who were there. 

But nothing happened that night.  The Christians slept peacefully that night.  

One of the tribal chiefs came to the Lord.  He later gave this testimony: “We were going to come and burn the place down.”  

When asked why they didn’t do it, he said, “You had the guards all around.  Some of them were 7 feet tall. I don’t know how they were divided up so well, but they were!”

A host of angels protected the missionaries!
A host of angels protected the missionaries!

Angels protected those missionaries in that compound that night. 

Then you have those who know that this life is not all there is. As we get older, we learn that there are some things that are far worse than death and some things that can cause even more fear.

You Can’t Scare Me With Heaven!

I was talking to a friend once and said, “Well, at least we know where they’re going.”

My friend replied, “Yes, but it’s the getting there that’s rough.”

My mother knew where she was going, and she was so excited and looking forward to it.  But getting there, for about 3 days, was awful hard to watch.

John R. Rice was an evangelist.  One time, while preaching, he started preaching about particular sins. There were some people in the crowd that day who were making money from those sins.  The crime syndicate got hold of him and took him out of town and pulled a gun on him.  He told them, “You can’t scare me with Heaven.”

The gangsters didn’t know what to do with that so they put the gun away and let him go.

A fellow church member and I went to Mexico on a mission trip.  While there, we met a man named Carlos; a pastor.

In the time since we met him, he had different groups that were meeting in the homes in Mexico. In one of those home meetings, one of the ladies had invited another lady to come. Unknown to her, the lady she invited was the wife of a member of the drug cartel.  Her husband wasn’t very happy about her involvement with Carlos’ church. 

Carlos preached Jesus, in spite of the threat.
Carlos preached Jesus, in spite of the threat.

He decided to put a stop to it.  He kept watching, and one day, he and 3-4 other cartel members caught Carlos alone, threw him in a car, and drove him outside of the city.
After they stopped, they got him out of the car and started to harass him and said, “We hear you preach Jesus. Now, preach Jesus”

Carlos looked around, and they raised up their machine guns.  He then began to preach Jesus.

How could he do that?  He knew that this life is not all there is. He knew that there is life after this.

Because Jesus rose, Christians have the assurance that if we were to die that we would be able to live. 

So Carlos preached Jesus.  The cartel members didn’t know what to do with him.  They could have killed him right then, but instead, put him back in the car and took him back into the city. 

The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.   

Boldness in the Face of Fear

The man who had put his hand over the candle and couldn’t stand the heat was not the only one who had been sentenced to death.  The next day, the time came for his execution so they tied him to the post and lit the fire, and God protected him.  His body burned up, but he was able to stand it.

Boldness in the face of fear.
Boldness in the face of fear.

There have been testimonies of others who were able to sing while being burned.  Imagine that. 

How to Overcome Fear

The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.  

You may not feel very bold but you can be like the rock who became a little bolder. 

You can do that by trusting Jesus.

Trust Jesus and overcome fear.
Trust Jesus and overcome fear.

Why should you trust Jesus?

If you do not know Him, if you have never called on Him, if you don’t have a relationship with the living Christ, then you don’t have a Biblical promise for boldness. 

But if you do know Christ and the Holy Spirit is dwelling within you, then you have that within you that can make you as bold as a lion. 

You might be like the man with his hand over the candle right before it happens, but God watches over and protects His children.

If you trust in Christ and the Word of God, He will make you bold!

The Dash

The Dash

Have you ever been discouraged?  That’s a crazy question, isn’t it?  Everyone has been discouraged at times.  Sometimes you’re only discouraged for a short time, and that’s good, and it’s normal. You go through life and have your ups and downs.  You’ll be discouraged for a while but you’ll have a lot of good times.

Sermon video

Discouragement

But sometimes, the discouragement can go on for a longer period of time.  Sometimes, there can even be a medical diagnosis of depression. If it is a medical diagnosis, you may be given something to help relieve the depression.

Sometimes discouragement comes and it’s not a result of a chemical imbalance or other medical condition.  It may be that Satan wants to come in and oppress and discourage you. In that case, there are spiritual battles going on.

Everyone feels discouraged sometimes.
Everyone feels discouraged sometimes.

Sometimes it’s a mental battle where you need to talk yourself into doing better and give yourself a little pep talk. 

While Rhonda and I were in Japan, I jokingly read out a statement from a book I was reading.  It was a quote from Joel Osteen.  It was something like, “Every day we have opportunities for little things to cause us anxiety and stress.  But when we dwell on these negative emotions, we allow something outside of ourselves to rob us of our joy.  We can choose to not let little things upset us”  (This is a paraphrase of the quote)

I read that for myself but I hope it helped some other family members as well.

Sometimes you can give yourself a pep talk and it will pull you out of your negative emotions and it will help you to be encouraged again. 

There are other times when it seems like it’s just one thing after another and things are just piling up on you.  

You need to think about the fact that God can help you in times of discouragement. 

Psalm 39 (MEV)

1 I said, “I will take heed of my ways so that I do not sin with my tongue; I will keep my mouth muzzled while the wicked are before me.” 2 I was speechless in silence;  I was silent to no avail, but my anguish was stirred up.3 My heart was hot within me; while I was musing, the fire burned, then I spoke with my tongue: 4 “Lord, make me to know my end,  and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how transient I am. 5 Indeed, You have made my days as a handbreadth, and my age is as nothing before You  indeed every man at his best is as a breath.” Selah 6 Surely every man walks in a mere shadow;  surely he goes as a breath; he heaps up riches, and does not know who will gather them.7 Now, Lord, what do I wait for?  My hope is in You. 8 Deliver me from all my transgressions; do not make me the reproach of the foolish.9 II was speechless, I did not open my mouth, because You did it.10 Remove Your blow from me; I am consumed by the hostility of Your hand. 11 When with rebukes You correct a man for iniquity.  You consume like a moth what is dear to him; surely every man is vapor. Selah. 12 Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; do not be silent at my tears for I am a stranger with You, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.13 Turn Your gaze of displeasure from me, that I may smile, before I go away and am no more.

A Problem, A Time Frame, and An Answer

The above passage has the word “Selah” in there twice.  It means “so be it.”  I’ve also heard that it’s a musical notation and it shouldn’t be read aloud. 

Discouragement can be for a short time or a long time.  Isn’t it so good that when you come out on the other side, life is good and the sun is shining again?  

Today’s post is about a problem, a time frame, and an answer.

A Problem

The problem is that of vanity or hopelessness.  In verse 5, it says that man at his best condition is vanity. There’s a whole book in the Bible, Ecclesiastes, that talks about Solomon and what he discovered in life.

Solomon had asked God for great wisdom and God gave it to him.  But then he started experimenting and trying to figure things out on his own.  He started using some of man’s wisdom and when it came to the end of the book, Solomon said it was all vanity and emptiness.

People try all kinds of things to fill the void within themselves.
People try all kinds of things to fill the void within themselves.

The conclusion of the whole thing was that you are to fear God and keep His commandments.

Solomon learned through wonderful blessings from God, wonderful wisdom from God, and then from experience. 

Some people say that experience is the best teacher.  I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s the most effective and gets a hold of you the most.  But depending on how you use those experiences, it may not be the best teacher sometimes. 

Man at his best has the problem of vanity or emptiness or hopelessness.  

Verse 6 says that people are restless in vain.  

When I was in high school or college, there was a movie put out by the Billy Graham association called “The Restless Ones.”  It chronicled the idea that young people were restless because their souls were empty.  They were experiencing emptiness and meaninglessness in life. Many of them tried to cope with that by turning to alcohol. 

These days, many people are taking illegal drugs for the same reasons: to remove feelings of hopelessness and restlessness.  

Sometimes people will try to heap up great riches trying to fill the emptiness in their souls.

You Can’t Take it With You

There was a man who made a bargain with God.  He said, “God when I leave this life, I would like to take one suitcase with me.” (Of course, this isn’t how it works, but it’s for illustration purposes.)

God said, “Yes, you may bring the suitcase.”

What would his dash have been?
What would his dash have been?

The time came that the man died, and he stood at the gates of Heaven with his suitcase.  He was told he couldn’t come in with it.

“It’s ok,” the man replied, “I got it approved.”

After checking, it was discovered that God had approved the suitcase and the man was allowed into Heaven with it.

The angel who had let the man in asked, “What is it that is so precious to you, so special, that you had to bring it to Heaven with you?”

The man put his suitcase on the ground and proudly opened it.  When the light hit the contents, piles of gold lit up from inside.  The man had acquired all these earthly riches, and God had allowed him to bring them to Heaven. 

The angel who had let the man in looked at the suitcase, and then all around him and asked, “You brought pavement?”  (Revelation 21:21)

People try to gather material riches to fill the void inside themselves. 

Filling the Void

Everyone has an emptiness inside that they try to fill. Some try to fill it with alcohol, some try to fill it with drugs, and some people try to fill it by pouring themselves into their job. Some people try to fill that void with relationships, good or improper ones. 

Only God can fill that emptiness that is in your soul. 

The Gangster and The Preacher

There was a man named Nicky Cruz who was born in Puerto Rico. His parents worshiped evil beings, so Nicky didn’t know anything about God, or Jesus. 

Nicky Cruz
Nicky Cruz

Nicky was trying to fill the emptiness in his life. He tried filling it through violence and gaining power. It got so bad that his family couldn’t handle him so they sent him to live with relatives in New York. 

Nicky didn’t do much better in New York.  In his quest to fill the void, he got involved with a street gang called the Mau Maus.  Like all street gangs, they were involved in violence.  Sometimes they would have a “rumble” (like a war) with opposing gangs. They would use metal trash can lids as shields and come armed with baseball bats and knives.  There would often be deaths during the rumbles. 

Nicky was seeking power.  Drugs were rampant. 

In 1958, a few states away, in Pennsylvania, was a preacher named David Wilkerson.  One day, he saw a newspaper article talking about 4 young men who had been charged with murder.  At that moment, God spoke to his heart and told David to go speak to those 4 boys. They needed to know about the love of Jesus. 

So, David Wilkerson traveled to New York in an attempt to see the young men.

David Wilkerson
David Wilkerson 1958

When he arrived where they were being held, they would not let him in.  But a reporter saw him and asked his name.  He told them it was David and they asked him to hold up his Bible.  He did, and flashbulbs went off all over. 

He never did get to see those 4 boys, but his picture was in the newspapers in New York. 

While in New York, David Wilkerson heard about the street gangs, and he wanted to see if he could do something with them. 

He heard about the Mau Maus and asked if he could meet their leader. The leader was Nicky Cruz. 

On one occasion, Nicky commented on David’s shoes, saying that they were nice and probably pretty expensive.  David removed them and gave them to Nicky and walked away. 

Another time, David met up with Nicky and the young man pulled out a switchblade knife in an attempt to intimidate and frighten the preacher.  

David said, “Nicky, you can cut me into a thousand pieces, but every piece would cry out, ‘I love you and God loves you.’”

The Cross and The Switchblade
The Cross and The Switchblade

Nicky didn’t know how to handle that, and he put the knife away. But what David had said stayed on his mind. 

David found a local pastor and together, they decided to have a church service and invite many of the local gang members.

They rented a building and rented school busses and the busses went to the different neighborhoods and picked up members of the gangs.

Regular church people were sponsoring the event. They were skeptical if any of the gang members would attend. But to their surprise, the busses began to arrive and members of the different gangs began to get off the busses. Members of the street gangs came in and sat down in the service. 

That was amazing as it was and you may have thought God was really going to do something.  But the scene quickly dissolved into chaos. 

One attendee of the service stood up and lifted his shirt and claimed that a member of a rival gang had stabbed him. The tension began to build.

Then a young lady got up to sing a special. In the movie “The Cross and the Switchblade” (a movie based on the book of the same name by David Wilkerson) a young man stood up on his seat during her song and began to dance.

Then David Wilkerson went to the front.  He didn’t know what to do and didn’t know how to handle the situation. He realized it could be a dangerous situation for the church people in attendance and could lead to an all-out fight. 

He had no words, so he just walked to the pulpit and bowed his head. Amazingly, the room grew silent.

Nicky Cruz was in that service. 

There’s an emptiness, a longing, in your life. 

That’s the problem.

Then there’s the time frame. 

The Time Frame

On your tombstone will be the date of birth, and the date of death. Between those two dates is a little punctuation mark; a dash.

Someone has said that’s what life is like: you’re born and you die and in between is the dash. 

Scripture says that, as well.

When you think about a grain of sand and compare it with all the sand on the beach, one grain of sand is pretty small.  A single grain of sand compared with all the sand in all the oceans is very small.  

Your dash is no more than a grain of sand in the scope of eternity.
Your dash is no more than a grain of sand in the scope of eternity.

People focus so much on their lives here on Earth, but compared to eternity, it’s like a grain of sand or the little dash between the date of your birth and death. 

Some of you have been around for quite a while, but still, compared to eternity, it’s like a grain of sand. 

Verse 4 talks about the “measure of days.”  You can measure your days.

In verse 5 it talked about days being a handbreadth, which is not very wide. (usually 2 ½ – 4 inches)  This is referring to that dash that’s on the tombstone.

In the book of James, it says that life is like a vapor.  It appears for a moment and vanishes away. (James  4:14)

You can look up at the sky and see clouds.  When you get into an airplane and fly toward the clouds but you don’t bump into them, it’s like fog.  You go through it and then it disappears.

You can see steam coming out of a tea kettle when it boils. It’s a vapor that appears for a little while and then it vanishes away. 

That’s what your life is like.

It may seem that I’m adding to the emptiness and discouragement by talking about this, but it’s a reality.

If God is telling you to do something, you need to do it now and don’t put it off.  

That’s one reason why the Bible says today is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2)

You don’t know what the day may bring forth. 

Three feed away from eternity.
Three feed away from eternity.

I often say we come within 3 feet of death when we go to church because we pass vehicles going in the opposite direction. (When we were in Tokyo, I think it was more like 12 inches!)

Life is short.  If you have any inclination of coming to Christ, you need to do it now. Don’t put it off. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

That’s the time frame. 

But there is an answer!

The Answer

Verse 7 says your hope is in God. 

Verse 8 says you can pray for deliverance. 

Verse 13 says you can ask God to spare us.  

God can fill the emptiness within you and give you purpose in your life.

Nicky and David

I left the story of Nicky Cruz with him being in the service with the other gang members. David had just prayed and it got quiet. 

After the prayer, one more event was scheduled before the preaching was to begin: an offering. 

The local pastor was really counting on that offering because his church had gone into debt preparing for this special service. 

Instead of asking the ushers or members of the churches who were in attendance, the Lord impressed upon David to have some of the gang members take up the offering.  He called on Nicky, among others. 

They agreed and were given buckets (think KFC) to collect the money. The gang members started to take up the offering.

When they got to the people who were obviously regular church-goers, they held out the buckets.  If nothing was put in, the gang members would just stand there holding the bucket.

Other times, the amount put in wasn’t satisfactory to the gang members so they would just shake the bucket.

I guess they got a pretty good offering. 

After they were done collecting, they were to bring it back to Pastor Wilkerson. When they got down to the front, he asked Nicky to bring the offering up on the stage to him. 

Nicky had a choice to make.
Nicky had a choice to make.

The other gang members got excited.  See, there was a set of stairs to the side of the stage, a curtain, and behind the curtain was a door that led outside. Nicky could just walk out that door with all the money. The other gang members were sure that’s what he was going to do.

The thought crossed Nicky’s mind as well.  Then it occurred to him that David Wilkerson trusted him. At that point, Nicky made a decision.

He turned away from the door, walked out from behind the curtain, approached Pastor Wilkerson, and said, “Here’s your money, preacher.”

The service continued.  The quiet continued.  David preached about the unsearchable riches of Christ and about how life can be empty and meaningless.  

Then he preached about how Christ can come into your life and give you meaning and purpose. 

Then the time came for the altar call. After just a few moments of hesitation, two or three of the hardened gang members came to the front to accept Christ.  Nicky Cruz was the first one there!

They realized that without Christ, there’s no hope. He came in and filled the emptiness in their souls. They had a new purpose in their lives. 

About 15 years ago, Nicky Cruz came to Carbondale, Illinois (a college town not far from my home), and a group from the church I was attending went and heard him preach.

Having read the story, it was interesting to hear some of it from his perspective. He talked about how “Wilkerson” came and talked to him. 

David Wilkerson and Nicky Cruz in 2011.
David Wilkerson and Nicky Cruz in 2011.

Life at its best, YOU, at your best, are vanity. But God loves you. God loves you so much that He gave His only begotten Son to die on the cross to pay your penalty for sin. (John 3:16)  By accepting Jesus as your Savior, He will come into your life and make it new. He can change your life.  He changed Nicky Cruz’s. 

Make the Most of Your Dash

Maybe you haven’t gotten involved in a street gang, and maybe you haven’t lived a life of violence.  But most of the time, when you get in the quiet recesses of your soul, you realize that there is a place there that is just the size of God, and nothing or nobody else can fill it. 

You need to accept Christ. Let Him come into your life and fill your soul. 

If you’ve never come to Christ, I invite you to come to Him today. 

International Speaker

Hello everyone! Welcome to another session of walking with Randy, or in this case, it’s riding with Randy.

Vlog

Rhonda and I are just getting ready for our trip to Japan. Tomorrow we have to go and get the required COVID test before we get on the plane for the stretch of the trip that goes to Tokyo. We will be well within the 72-hour limit for that. We’re excited about that.

I can add "International Speaker" to my resume now.
I can add “International Speaker” to my resume now.

So whenever I talked to my daughter-in-law last, she said something about looking forward to us coming. She said, “Be ready to preach, something else, or die.”

I responded to that and said, “Well, I hope it’s the first two but we will be ready for all three.”

So anyway, I’m excited that we’re getting ready to go to Japan.

I will have opportunities to speak over there and give our grandchildren some time with their grandparents and give our children some time for some well-deserved r&r on the mission field. I’ll also be able to minister and speak to the Japanese people with an interpreter.

The nice thing about needing an interpreter is my son is far enough along in his Japanese language skills that he should be able to do that without any problem.

I’m excited to be coming to you as an international speaker. I could already say that because I’ve spoken in Mexico, Australia and Japan before

You can write a book!
You can write a book!

As a final thought, if you would like to know about writing a book, or more about speaking or coaching, just check out the other categories here on Randy’s Blogs.

Also, there are some books on Amazon that can be very helpful to you.

The first is “How to Write a Book in 28 Days or Less Without Stressing Yourself to Death.”

Marriage help
Marriage help

The other two are about marriage. The first is “21 Ways the Principle of Leaving Will Benefit Your Marriage.” The second one is “From Mountains to Molehills.”

I encourage you to take a look at one or all three of those books.

All right. Until next time for walking with Randy, I want to remind you that YOU CAN WRITE A BOOK!

Have a great day and I’ll talk to you later.

Refocus

Focus, refocus, rebuild.

Refocus
Sermon 1-2-2022
Everone knows the story of Peter and how he had denied Jesus. He felt this sense of shame for denying Jesus. We know that the rooster crowed and he felt that shame that was there. Then after it had happened, people wanted to make sure that Peter heard about it.
I think the shame he felt is expressed well in the Don Fransico song “He’s Alive”.
The gates and doors were barred
All the windows fastened down
I spent the night in sleeplessness
And rose at every sound
Half in hopeless sorrow
And half in fear the day
Would find the soldiers breaking through
To drag us all away
And just before the sunrise
Heard something at the wall
The gate began to rattle
And a voice began to call
Hurried to the window
Looked down into the street
Expecting swords and torches
And the sound of soldier’s feet
Circumstance and speculation
Couldn’t lift me very high
‘Cause I’d seen them crucify Him
Then I saw Him die
Back inside the house again
The guilt and anguish came
Everything I’d promised Him
Just added to my shame
When at last it came to choices
I denied I knew His name
Even if He was alive
It wouldn’t be the same

Luke 22:60-62
60 Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying.” Immediately, while he was yet speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” 62 And Peter went outside and wept bitterly.

As we consider this concept of refocusing, we’ll think about three stages of life when we focus. Next, we’ll discuss refocusing at any stage of life. Finally, we’ll think about rebuilding if necessary.

Focusing in Life Stages

Child Stage

Let’s start out with the first stage of life; the stage of being a child. To some degree, this “child” stage is relative. My aunt is about 91 years old, so to her, I am still my sister’s child. So we’re just talking about rough ages here – generalizations. Of course, you begin with birth. Now, I know that teenagers don’t like to be considered “children”, and definitely not people in their 20s, but for my purposes here, they are grouped into the child stage of life until they become parents.

Lots of changes take place in the child stage of life.
Child Stage is the first stage of life.

In many instances, this is the stage of life where they become Christians. But not always. I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity a few years ago to be a chaplain at the VA Medical Center. At that time, most of the population there were World War 2 veterans. They had lived, and were strong men, but they had finally come up against something they weren’t able to handle on their own. It’s unusual for someone their age to come to Christ, but I am thankful that they were open to the Gospel.

But the statistics are that most people who become Christians do so when they are children. That’s why it’s good to have all the noise that children bring in a church service. They’re hearing the Gospel. Jesus said, “Let the little children come unto me” (Matthew 19:14) and He said, “Except you become as a little child, you can not enter the kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

In some of the discipleship classes I’ve been a part of, we practice telling our stories to one another. Telling your story to someone who hasn’t heard the Gospel can give them hope. In hearing those stories, there are often two parts. The first part is a story of coming to Christ at a young age, maybe 4 or 6 or, in my case, 11 years old. Then there is a second more significant part of that story, where the teller committed their life to Christ.

Also in the children’s stage, the Bible says that young men (and women) will have visions and old men (and women) will dream dreams. (Acts 2:17) So, young people can see what could be, and that excites me. When they get it in their hearts about what it could be like. Could your town be changed? Could your friends be changed? Could those who have maybe gotten into some addiction be changed? Could I be used to tell others about Christ? That often happens in the child stage

Parent Stage

Then I think about the parent stage. That doesn’t necessarily mean that a person has to have children. It’s just the general age a person may be when people start having children.

Recently, a lady in our community passed away. While she never had any children of her own, I know she influenced several young people throughout her life. We sent our children to her for piano lessons, and we were glad for them to learn to play the piano. But she was such a wonderful influence, I had often said that I would have paid her just to spend time with them. She was so excited about what was happening in their life.

As parents, you’re in the position of moving into leading. Sometimes this happens, and you don’t really have the manual, and don’t have it all figured out. Suddenly, there are these short people running through the house and you’re responsible for them. What are you supposed to do? You need to take the Word of God and let it help you run your life. You’re leading your family and you’re leading your children when you’re in that parental stage.

Stage two - the parent stage - is the age group where people usually start families.
The second stage of life is often when people start families.

But you’re also serving. The four gospels present Jesus in different ways. The Gospel of Matthew presents Jesus as King. Matthew is primarily writing to the Jewish audience. The Gospel of Mark presents Jesus along the same line as some of the Old Testament prophets; as a servant. One of the Old Testament prophets, Isaiah, presented Jesus as a suffering servant. (Isaiah 52-53) So you’re leading your family and you’re leading your children. But if you’re a parent you’re a servant. You’re serving your family.

I had an uncle who was very rough and gruff. He wouldn’t go to church for anything although I do believe he got saved a day or two before he died. If I’m wrong, I’ve been able to cope with that thought through the years, because if I’m wrong it’s terrible. Even though he was rough and gruff, our daughters could wrap him around their little fingers. Because sometimes, we serve children. If you’re a parent, you may know what it’s like to be a suffering servant.

Oftentimes during this stage from the time that you become a parent up until the age when your children get married and have children, there often occurs, midlife reflection. Sometimes it becomes what is called a mid-life crisis.

What happens is you realize that your life is passing. You realize that you had visions and dreams to start with. Now you’re at the middle part of your life, your children are grown up, and you recognize your failures. You recognize that things haven’t turned out how you had hoped. Or, you may have a great deal of success in certain areas.

This is a good time to refocus. Have you been tied up with concerns with your job? Are you concerned with just your family just internally? Are you just being consumed with certain things? Meanwhile, the Lord has just been put off to the side. It’s a really good time for reflection and to realize that you need to refocus.

I have a book that was given to me by my children called “Half-Time” In the book, the author said in the first half of your life, you start making money and start working with your family. But then you come to a point where you have a parallel career. It may not be your main job or business. His point was that you ought to have a parallel career or start a new one. He said you should consider focusing on a ministry. During that mid-life reflection, I would hope that we would refocus on being more and more used by God. Many times the mid-life crisis hits men because of the weight of their responsibilities.

Grandparent Stage

Stage three of life I call the grandparent stage, and it's often when people move into retirement.
Retired/Grandparents

The third stage is that of grandparents. People who are around the ages of 50s or 60s and up. This would also include retirees.

I think if you are retired and you decide in retirement you’re just going to sit around and do nothing, you’re probably not going to be very happy. You might enjoy that for about a month. But, it may turn out that you’ll be so busy you ask yourself how you ever had time to have a job. I pray that’s how it will be for you when you retire.

I think of retirement as a time and opportunity for a new ministry. You might think that when I talk about ministry, I’m referring to being a preacher. But, every Christian can have a ministry and serve God in some way. In some capacity and I think they should find out what that is. It could certainly be part of that parallel career, and maybe you could devote all your time to it.

Well, when you’re doing this as grandparents, you’re helping and inspiring leaders: Now the parents of your grandchildren. Your children grew up and you get the opportunity to be present in the lives of their children. Your grandchildren may be driving your children crazy, and you might tell them “You’re paying for your raising”. Now, your children are thinking, ”Oh, now I understand. I couldn’t understand why it was so hard for my parents, but now I do.”

Remember earlier I talked about the young men having visions and the old ones dreaming dreams. Well, some of those dreams are remembering the successes. We have dreams for the future and may think that we may not be able to carry them out. Some of those dreams will be left for the younger ones to fulfill.
So, that’s focusing in the different life stages.

Refocusing at Any Life Stage

The second point is refocusing at any life stage. There is a story in the Bible about sisters named Mary and Martha. Jesus was going to spend time in their home. It was during His ministry and it was quite an honor. Martha and Mary spent a lot of time getting the house ready.

Martha was working while Mary was listening to Jesus.

When Jesus arrived, there were still things left to be done. Martha continued to work while Mary went and sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to his teaching. This angered Martha. She went to Jesus, the King of the Jews, and told Him to tell Mary to go and help her! But Jesus told her that what Mary chose to do is better. (Luke 10:38-42)

So with Mary and Martha, you have devotion, and you have action. Both were important. The reason why Mary could do what she did was because of the actions that had been done earlier.

I think about men and women. Specifically about women who have the heart to serve God. They often lead their husbands by their spirit and their love for God because they show devotion. Men do that also, but their expressing and showing devotion is different. Because of that, the ladies become a great challenge to us as men in the area of spirituality. So I’m praying that the Lord will bless you ladies in your devotion time. I know that if you take many actions you may be like Martha, too.

Men may wonder, “What’s this about coming and serving God? I just come to church and sit there.” I would suggest that you really focus on the words of the song as you’re hearing them sung. I would also suggest that you sing along. If you’re not comfortable with your singing voice, just sing quietly. But it’s almost passive, and you desire action.

There is action! Be active for God! Instead of just dropping the kids off at church, go inside and attend church with them. It’s good that you’re bringing the children to church so they can hear the word of God, but there’s something about the young boys seeing Dad there in the pew, worshipping, trying to sing, or with his head bowed. Sometimes, there’s Dad on his knees as an example.
“Looking for a few good men”

Leaders and examples for their families.
Leaders and examples for their families.

You have devotion in action. Do you need to refocus on your devotion and your love for God? Or do you need to refocus and take more action for God? Do you need to get out of your comfort zone? We talk about changing our Nation? It’s going to get changed one person at a time. What influence do you have on others that are around you?

Men and women both take action.

Rebuilding When Necessary

So we talked about focusing in the stages and refocusing at any age. Refocus and have a desire to have a greater devotion to Christ this year. Refocus and have the desire to do more action for Christ this year.

The third thing is rebuilding when necessary. Has it come to a point in your life where you need to rebuild? Sometimes people are dealing with addictions in their life, and it’s got such a hold on them. So they get a resolve. For example, the desire to quit smoking. It’s an addiction. It’s a physical thing and it’s very difficult. But the person begins the process. What happens, though, is that they have one slip-up and then give up. It can be another addiction or habit. It can be a bad habit you need to give up or a good one you need to start. But you have one bad day and quit trying.

There was a man walking down the street one day and there were two boys that looked like they were getting ready to fight. They had their fists up and were staring at each other. He came and stepped between the two because one boy was obviously a lot taller and heavier than the other one. So he was going to stop them before the younger one got clobbered.

Persistence pays off!
Perseverance.

The smaller boy said, “No, no, let me at him!”. It impressed him so much that the man stepped back and joined the rest of the crowd watching the fight.
They went at each other and the smaller boy got his nose bloodied. The man stepped in to stop it again. The bigger boy was smirking and gloating. Once again, though, the smaller boy said, “No. Don’t stop it. Let me back in there!” The bigger boy was taken aback, but the man stepped back again. The boys went at each other again, and this time the small boy came away with a busted lip. The man tried again to break up the fight, and the smaller boy said again, “No, let me back at him!” The bigger boy was getting tired at this point and was amazed that the other boy was still fighting. The fight went on for a while and each time the smaller boy was knocked down, he got back up and continued to fight. His persistence paid off and he won the fight!

II Corinthians 4:8,9
8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
9 persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

In other words, down but not out. Rebuild when necessary. You can be down but not out. If you fall off a horse, get back on. The pathway to success often has marks of failure on it. You can often learn more by failure than by success.

Think of Peter’s restoration. They headed for the tomb where they had placed Jesus’ body. On their way there, they worried about how they would remove the stone. But when they arrived, they saw that the stone was moved, and a man clothed in white was there. (Mark 16:5-7) They were frightened but were told that Jesus had risen. The angel gave them instructions to tell His disciples “and Peter”.

Jesus came and met Peter again. After a time of restoration (John 21:15), Jesus and His disciples were together, and Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. Peter said, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

Jesus didn’t mention Peter’s failure. He just made sure Peter knew that He was coming back. Peter ended up being rebuilt in his life and on the day of Pentecost, Peter preached and thousands came to know the Lord.

Suddenly the air was filled
With strange and sweet perfume
Light that came from everywhere
Drove shadows from the room
Jesus stood before me
With His arms held open wide
And I fell down on my knees
And just clung to Him and cried
He raised me to my feet
And as I looked into His eyes
Love was shining out from Him
Like sunlight from the skies
Guilt in my confusion
Disappeared in sweet release
And every fear I’d ever had
Just melted into peace
He’s alive, He’s alive
He’s alive and I’m forgiven
Heaven’s gates are open wide
He’s alive!

Focus, refocus, rebuild.

You can be rebuilt, and you can refocus. If you’ve never accepted Christ, you need to do that, and commit your life to Him. You need to refocus on your devotion and action and get back in the game stronger than ever before.

Out of the Darkness

I’m talking today about coming out of the darkness. The passage of scripture I’m using today is talking about one of the six miracles that John use to prove that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Vlog
https://rumble.com/c/c-1070084
The man asked to be tied to the helm.

Before I get into the Scripture, I want to tell you about a man who was strapped to the wheel of the ship. The wheel guided the ship and he was at the helm. He was strapped there because a great storm had come up. It had just blown a man overboard.

He asked to be taken to the helm and tied to the wheel, where he hoped he would be able to at least try to keep the ship from capsizing.

As we look at this passage of Scripture together, you will see that this is about a man who was born blind and was healed by Jesus.

I’m talking about coming out of the darkness. All the man in this story had ever known was darkness. So John chapter nine tells the story of this man who was born blind.

I’m going to talk about the doubt. Then the investigation, the fearful confirmation, the troubling testimony, and a great follow-up event to this man being healed.

Today's Scripture
Today’s Scripture

John 9 (MEV)

 As Jesus passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned. But it happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. I must do the works of Him who sent Me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When He had said this, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva. He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means “Sent”). So he went away and washed, and returned seeing. The neighbors and those who had previously seen that he was blind said, “Is this not he who sat and begged?” Some said, “This is he.” Others said, “He is like him.” But he said, “I am he.” 10 So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “A Man called Jesus made clay, anointed my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.’ So I went away and washed, and I received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is He?” He said, “I do not know.” 13 They brought the man who had been blind to the Pharisees. 14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he received his sight. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.”16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath day.”Others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” So there was division among them. 17 Then they said to the blind man again, “What do you say about Him, since He opened your eyes?”He said, “He is a prophet.” 18 But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind and received his sight, until they called the parents of the one who had received his sight. 19 They asked them, “Is this your son, whom you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered them, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 21 But how he now sees, we do not know, or who opened his eyes, we do not know. He is of age. Ask him. He will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this, because they feared the Jews. For the Jews had already agreed that if anyone confessed that He was the Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age. Ask him.” 24 So again they called the man who was blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this Man is a sinner.” 25 He said, “I do not know if He is a sinner. I know one thing: I was blind, but now I see.” 26 Then they said to him again, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?” 28 Then they insulted him and said, “You are His disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses. As for this fellow, we do not know where He is from.” 30 The man answered, “Well, here is an amazing thing! You do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. But if anyone is a worshipper of God and does His will, He hears him. 32 Since the world began, it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of someone born blind. 33 If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were completely born in sin. Are you teaching us?” And they threw him out. 35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when He found him, He said, “Do you believe in the Son of God?” 36 He answered, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen Him, and it is He who speaks with you.” 38 Then he said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshipped Him. 39 Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” 40 Some Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would have no sin. But now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.

The Event

First of all, let’s look at the event, found in verses 1-12,

There are two things related to the fact of Jesus being the Son of God.

One of the last things He says is “I am the light of the world.” But the other world talks about doing the work to stay. If you have someone that you want to introduce to Jesus Christ, don’t put it off until it’s too late

Jesus spat on the ground and made clay with saliva. He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay and said to him, “Go wash in the pool of Siloam.”

Jesus healed a man who had spent his life in physical darkness
Jesus healed a man who had spent his life in physical darkness.

Now in earlier miracles, He just spoke the Word and the person was healed. In this case, He made clay with dirt and saliva, put it on the man’s eyes, and told him to go wash in the pool.

Maybe He just wanted to see if the man would be obedient. I really don’t know why He didn’t just speak the word in this case, but He didn’t. He told him to go to the pool.

So the man went and washed and returned.

There was the miracle.

The neighbors and those who had previously seen that he was blind discovered that he could now see. They said, “This is not he who said.” While some others said, “This is he.” and still others said, “He is like him, but it is not him.”

Finally, the man spoke up and said, “I am he.”
They asked, “How were your eyes open?”
He answered, “The man called Jesus made clay, anointed my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.’ So I went away and washed and I received my sight.”
Then he said to him, “Where is He?”

You’ll see that we’re going to move into an investigation.

The Investigation

Sometimes investigations are for the real purpose of trying to find the truth. Sometimes they’re fishing around to see if something can be found to bring an accusation of wrongdoing. An investigation into the healing of this blind man was about to begin.

In verses 13-18, we see the Pharisees begin to investigate Jesus.

The man who had been healed was taken to the Pharisees.

You see, it was the Sabbath day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. Therefore, the Pharisees also asked how he received his sight.
He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I was blind and now I see.”
Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God. because He does not keep the Sabbath day.”

The Pharisees felt compelled to investigate.
The Pharisees felt compelled to investigate.

They didn’t realize that they were talking to the man who created the Sabbath day. Jesus said He created the Sabbath for man, not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27)

Jesus gave us some instructions about the Sabbath day. He said you are to do good on the Sabbath. (Matthew 12:12) It was good to heal a man who had been blind from birth…it was good to do that.

But the Pharisees came and were being very legalistic about the Sabbath day, They were actually just using that as an excuse to accuse Jesus, so they said this Man was not from God, because He did not keep the Sabbath.

As I said, Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath.

Jesus asked them, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” See, they were looking at Jesus as being just a man.

A division arose among them and then they asked the (formerly) blind man again, “What do you say about Him since He opened your eyes?
He said, “He is a prophet.”

Well, the Jews did not believe that he had been blind and received his sight so they needed to confirm that this indeed was a man who was blind from birth and they were going to get the confirmation even though it was a fearful confirmation.

Fearful Confirmation

This part of the event is found in verses 19-23.

The Pharisees spoke with the man’s parents to confirm that it was indeed their son.
They asked them, “Is this your son, whom you say was born blind? How then does he now see?”
The parents answered, ” We know this is our son. But how he now sees, we do not know. Who opened his eyes we do not know. He is of age. Ask him. He will speak for himself.”

The man's parents were nervous.
The man’s parents were nervous.

His parents answered this way because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had said that if anyone would say that Jesus was the Christ, that person would be put out of the synagogue.

There was confirmation from the parents, who knew better than anyone else, that this indeed was their son. They also knew that he was blind from birth. They knew that he was not a con man going around begging, but they knew about him being blind. Now he could see.

What a wonderful miracle they had experienced! But because of the Pharisees, they feared that if they said too much about who Jesus was, they would be put out of the synagogue.

We need to be bold in our witness for Jesus and in standing up for Him.

So we’ve had the events, the investigation, the fearful confirmation here.

Troubling Testimony

Now we’ve come to a troubling testimony in verses 24-34.

You saw that his parents said, “He is of age, ask him.”

So they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man Jesus is a sinner.”
He said, “I do not know if he is a sinner. I just know one thing. I was blind, but now I see.”

There can be a lot of things that people can bring up and try to trip you up about your faith in Jesus Christ, but there is one thing you know: Jesus Christ came to you and restored you.

Maybe you were spiritually blind and in darkness, but you came out of your blindness. You came out of your darkness into His marvelous light.

The Pharisees continued to question the man. They asked again, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?
He answered them, “I told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again?” (I don’t know if he knew that he was playing with them a little bit here but it’s kind of like he was) “Do you also want to become his disciples?”
Well, that infuriated them, so then they turned on him, insulted him, and said, “You are his disciple. We are Moses’s. We know that God has spoken to Moses. As for this fellow, we do not know where He is from.

The Pharisees had some questions for the healed man.
The Pharisees had some questions for the healed man.

Some of them knew that he was from Nazareth. Some of his disciples had said “Can any good thing come from Nazareth?” (John 1:44-46)

The man answered, “Well, here is an amazing thing. You do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners but if anyone is a worshipper of God, and does His will, He hears him.”

This man turned their words back on. He said, “You’re saying that this man is a sinner, but we know that from your teaching that God does not listen to sinners. But He listened to this Man’s prayer because my eyes are now open. He hears Him. Since the world began it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of someone blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.”

They answered him, “You were completely born in sin. Are you teaching us?” and they threw him out.

That troubling testimony was the man who said “I know one thing I couldn’t see and now I can.”

Salvation and Spiritual Healing

Next, I’ll discuss a true conversion, which is found in verses 35-41

You see, the man received his sight, which is good. That was a glorious day for him – he was no longer in physical darkness. But he needed something else: He needed his sins to be forgiven. He needed to be brought out of that spiritual darkness that we are all in until we receive Jesus.

He needed deliverance from spiritual darkness.
He needed deliverance from spiritual darkness.

Jesus heard that they had thrown him out. When He found him, He asked, “Do you believe in the Son of God?”
He responded, “Who is the Lord that I believe in Him?”
Jesus said, “You have seen Him.” (So it had to be recent because he hadn’t able to see, physically, for very long.) “You have seen Him and it is He who speaks with you.”

You may see a TV documentary about Christianity and some so-called expert religious will make the statement that Jesus never claimed to be God, or that Jesus never claimed to be the Son of God, or never claimed to be the Messiah.

You can just bring them right to the ninth chapter of John, and tell them that they don’t know what they’re talking about. Remember, if they don’t know what they’re talking about in that regard, then you don’t need to pay attention to the other stuff they’re saying, like trying to downplay the miracles of Jesus or His divinity.

Jesus made the claim here though, that “I. It is He who speaks with you.”
In other words, He’s saying, “I am the Son of God.”

God or Man?

God or just a man?
God or just a man?

Either He made a false claim or a true claim. If He made a true claim, and it was really true, then that’s fine. But if He made a false claim, there are some problems here with people who want to say, “Well, Jesus was not God, but He was a good teacher or a good moral man.”

Let me tell you some problems with that. If Jesus said, “I am the Son of God.” and it was a false statement, you have two possibilities. Either He knew He was making a false statement, or He didn’t know He was making a false statement.

If he claimed to be God and was not, He didn’t know He was not.

Then there is a problem with saying that He was a great teacher. If He didn’t even know who He is. then He didn’t know that.

The other one is that if He truly thought he was God but He was not, people would say that He was crazy.

If He made a false statement, He would have known that it was false, so He would be a liar. A liar would not be a great teacher or a great example of morality.

You can’t have it both ways, saying that Jesus is a good teacher or a good man, but He was not God.

CS Lewis put forth this argument: He said He was either Lord, liar or lunatic. It had to be one of those since He claimed to be God.

If it was true that He was God, He was the Lord.

If He claimed to be God, and it was false, but He didn’t know it was false, then He was a lunatic.

If He claimed to be God, and He knew that His claim was false, then He was a liar.

He was indeed the Lord God.

Out of Darkness

So the man who had been healed had the opportunity to hear. He had come out of physical darkness into the light, and now he had the opportunity to step out of spiritual darkness and to the light of salvation-the light of Jesus Christ.

The man said, “Lord, I believe.” and worshipped Jesus.

Freedom from spiritual darkness.
Jesus offers freedom from spiritual darkness.

Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, that those who do not see may see.”

So those who are walking in spiritual darkness, when they hear the words of God from the Bible, or hear the teachings of Jesus, have the opportunity to see and to have those spiritual highs.

But He also said that those who see may become blind. There are none so blind as those who will not see. The prophet Jeremiah made a statement similar to that. (Jeremiah 5:21) .

But here were the Pharisees. They were choosing to be blind. They were going to become blind because they would not see the truth.

Jesus knew, though, that they were claiming that they could see. He told them that if they were doing this in ignorance, then that would be one thing.

Some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words and said, “Are we also blind?” and of course they were, because they were not accepting Jesus.

But He used their words when they claimed that they had great spiritual insight. He said, “If you were blind, you would have no sin.” ( In other words, it would not be a conscious sin. on your part) “But you say you see, therefore, your sin remains.”

So you’ve seen the event, the investigation, the fearful confirmation, the troubling testimony, and the true conversion of the man who was born blind.

Let’s go back to the sailor who was strapped to the wheel that was trying to steer the ship. He was born in the 1700s. Both his mother and father were present in the home, although his father had to be gone quite often because his father was a seafaring man.

Now his mother was a Puritan. She was a Christian. She had songs that were children’s songs. She talked to her son. He was young, and she also had him memorize some Bible verses, but the father had to be gone for a month, two months, and, on one occasion, three years. The young boy did not see his father often but his parents were married, not separated. When the father wasn’t traveling for work, they were both present in the home.

Once, when the father was away during one of his voyages, the boy’s mother got tuberculosis, and the mother who loved this boy so much died.

After that, the boy started getting resentful. Then his father got remarried. So then he has a stepmother. History doesn’t tell us if the stepmother was evil or kind.

She just was not the one that he loved, the one that had raised him.

Then he was sent off to boarding schools, so his resentment continued to grow. He became rebellious and caused problems wherever he was.

By the time he was 11 years old, his father decided to pull him out of boarding school and take him to sea with him.

So this 11-year-old boy started on the sea voyage as well. He spent time around men who were not a good influence and their language was terrible. He picked that up quickly and could cuss with the best of them.

Through all of that, he started drifting away from his mother’s earlier teachings. In addition, he was resentful that his mother had been taken away from him.

Well, this went on for years, until the father retired. THe son had learned the art of sailing, and he was conscripted to be a sailor in the Royal Navy. He didn’t like it. He disliked it so much that he wanted to desert but when he tried, he couldn’t get away with it.

He spent a lot of time at sea.
He spent a lot

Then he got the thought to ask for a transfer to another ship. Now there was a problem with this other ship: It was involved in what we today would call human trafficking. They were going to other countries, buying people, and bringing them back and selling them. We call that slavery. So, he was put on a slave ship.

Well when he got on the slave ship, again, he was rebellious against the captain. He started writing and found that he could write poetry. Well, he wrote derogatory poems about the captain. The problem was that some of the crew picked those up too, and started reciting them.

The captain wasn’t happy with that, so took him and gave him to a slave trader He was put in with the rest of the people that he had trafficked to his country. While he wasn’t a slave himself, he stayed in the situation for two years, until his father heard what was going on and sent a friend to try to rescue him.

I don’t know if the friend was able to negotiate his release, or how he got him released, but he was indeed released.

He then became the captain of a couple of those slave ships but was a crew member at another time. and that’s where we were when I started this post.

He had time to think during the storm
He had time to think during the storm.

He was a crew member, the storm was going the sails had been ripped to shreds, and they were having to manually pump the water out of the ship. They were all exhausted. He saw people swept overboard, and so we asked to be tied to the wheel that would steer the ship.

They complied with his request. The storm went on terribly, and he was there for eleven hours. During that time, he got to contemplate his life. He thought about what his mother had taught him. Some of those scripture verses that he had memorized as a child may have come back to him. Even though he was one of the most profane crew members, in recent weeks, he had read some Christian literature.

He realized that they were not going to survive the storm unless it were for God’s mercy. Somebody cried out for mercy to the Lord. Later on, he pointed to this as his time of conversion.

Some of the cargo in the ship shifted and blocked the hole so the water could not come in with such force, and the pumps began to work better.

Finally, the storm subsided and they were saved.

His spiritual growth was not instantaneous, though. Even though he called upon the Lord, he was still involved in human trafficking.

He was the captain of a couple of more ships that were involved in this, but he became more and more convicted about this not being the proper way to treat other human beings. In fact, even though he was taking people to be delivered, he instructed his crew members to treat them more kindly than he had ever instructed anyone before.

Then he had a stroke and could not return to the sea.

The man’s name was John. John married his childhood sweetheart whose name was Mary, but ent by the nickname Polly.

The two became more and more convinced that the slave trade was wrong. He was no longer captaining those ships, and didn’t know what he could do about it.

He had started studying Latin and Hebrew and Greek. He then felt that maybe he should be a minister, but since he didn’t have a college education, he couldn’t be appointed to one through the official channels.

But remember, his mother was outside of the official channels anyway. She was not part of the Church of England.

John Newton
John Newton

John talked to someone who appointed him to be in charge of a local congregation. In other words, he became a preacher. He met some of the great preachers of that day. John Wesley, George Whitfield, and some of the other great preachers of that day.

Then he met a man who was a high official and the government named William Wilberforce. John Newton told William, “You know, I was not involved in the proper thing. In fact, what I did was terrible. It is legal here in England, but it ought to be outlawed.”

Year after year, Mr. Wilberforce tried to get laws passed that would make slavery illegal. Finally, before John died at 82 years of age, England outlawed slavery.

Let’s back up a little bit though, to 1772. While John Newton was going about this, he met a song leader. He realized that those poems that he could write earlier, he could write for the Lord now, and started writing poems that became songs.

He became friends with a man named William Cowper (pronounced “Cooper”) You may know him. He is the one who wrote the song “There Is a Fountain Filled With Blood”

He and Mr. Newton started writing poems that became songs, and they had a songbook compiled that had hundreds of their works in it..

I was blind but now I see.
I was blind but now I see.

In 1772, in preparation for their midweek prayer service, John Newton wrote a poem:
“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost,
But now I’m found
Was blind but now I see.”

John Newton had personally come out of that spiritual darkness into the glorious life of Jesus Christ.

If you are walking in darkness and have never come to Jesus, you can escape the darkness today. You just need to call upon Him. The Bible tells us that if you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you shall be saved. (Romans 10:9) The Scriptures further solidify it by saying that if you call upon the name of the Lord, you shall be saved. (Romans 10:13)

I urge you to find a place to get alone with God and call upon the Lord and ask Him to save you and to bring you out of that spiritual darkness and to His glorious light.

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Walking on Water

Walking on Water
Sermon Video

Fishing

Recently, I went fishing with a couple of my friends.  While on the boat, one of my friends said he was thirsty and would go get himself something to drink.  He stepped out of the boat, and, looking very tall, walked to the shore to get his drink. 

Fishing story
Fishing story

The second friend decided he was also thirsty and going to go to shore to get a drink.  He, too, stepped over the edge of the boat and walked to the shore. 

I decided I would step off of the boat too.  I promptly sunk up to the bottom.  The two friends on shore turned to one another and asked, “Do you think we should have told him where the stones were?”

Half Full or Half Empty?

I was thinking about the pessimist and the optimist.  They were both farmers.  One day it was raining.  The optimist said to the pessimist, “Look at the wonderful rain.”  The pessimist replied, “It may be good for now, but I hope it quits before too long, or it will drown my crops.”

A while later, the sun was shining.  The optimist said, “The sunshine is just fantastic!”  The pessimist said, “I hope my crops don’t burn.”

The optimist decided he was going to do something to get the other man to be positive.  

He was always seeing the negative!
He was always seeing the negative!

A few days later, the pair went duck hunting and the optimist saw his opportunity.  He brought along his special dog.  One of the men shot a duck, and the dog took off, just skipping across the top of the water!  He got the duck in his mouth and skipped back to the men across the top of the water back to the shore.  

The optimist thought, “I’ve got him now!” and he turned to the pessimist and asked, “What did you think about that?”

The pessimist answered, “Your dog can’t swim, can he?”

Solid Faith

A missionary was visiting a tribe in Africa.  He told the chief the story of Jesus walking on the water.  The chief told the missionary that it was impossible and he wouldn’t believe until he could find proof, although he didn’t know how he would be able to find proof.  

The missionary called for his assistant to bring a refrigerating device to the village.  They had the chief pour water into a container and they put it into the device and it froze.  The missionary told the chief that was the same water that he had poured into the device.  He took the ice and put it on the ground and stood on it.  The chief then had to admit that man could walk on water.  

A Brief Recap

Today’s scripture is from John 6.  It comes just after Jesus feeding the 5,000.  The Bible tells us that the disciples hadn’t fully comprehended who Jesus was.  It says that their hearts were hardened.  (Mark 6:52)

Could that be like us sometimes?  Could our hearts be hardened?

Jesus discerned that the people were going to try to make Him into the king that they wanted: a king who would deliver them from the tyranny of the Roman government and just take care of things for the moment. (John 6:15)

But when Jesus appeared before Pilate, He said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36)

He had not come to just take care of that one moment in time.  He came as the Messiah, as the Savior of the world.  He came as the Great Miracle Worker and He was indeed God in the flesh.

He performed many miracles including turning the water into wine at the wedding in Cana, healing the nobleman’s son, healing the man at the Pool of Bethesda, and feeding the 5,000 with two fish and 5 loaves of bread.  

After feeding the 5,000, Jesus perceived that they were going to try to force Him to be an earthly king.  He instructed the disciples to go down to the boat, and He told the gathered crowd that the day was done and it was time for them to go home. 

Once He gave those instructions, He turned and was quickly gone from their sight.  

He went up into the mountain to pray and the disciples went down the mountain and got into the boat.  (Matthew 14:22-23)

The Sea of Galilee

The Bible tells us that some of the disciples were very experienced with boats.  Peter, James, and John had all worked as fishermen. (Matthew 4:18-21)  They had fished the Sea of Galilee and knew what it was like and what storms were like on that sea.

The Sea of Galilee isn't always this calm.
The Sea of Galilee isn’t always this calm.

That day, a storm did come up.  The disciples were in the boat about 3-4 miles out from shore.  Jesus saw them and walked out on the water to them.  Of course, they were startled when they saw Him and thought they were seeing a ghost. Had they not noticed Him, the Bible says He would have passed right by. (Mark 6:47-48)

How awful would it be if He passed us by?

Sinking

When they realized that it was Jesus, Peter said, “Lord, if it is You, bid me come to You on the water.” and Jesus said, “Come.”  and Peter stepped out onto the water. 

Focused on the storm instead of the Savior, Peter began to sink.
Focused on the storm instead of the Savior, Peter began to sink.

Peter walked on the water, for a little bit.  Then he saw that the storm was raging and got his eyes on the waves and he began to sink.  He cried out to the Lord and the Lord reached down and saved him.  (Matthew 14:28-31)

Now, I don’t know if they both walked back to the boat, if Jesus carried him to the boat, or if He dragged Peter through the water, but they both got back to the boat, and immediately they went to the other side of the sea.

John 6:16-21

16 Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea. 17 They got into a boat and went across the sea toward Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not come to them. 18 The sea was stirred up because a strong wind was blowing. 19 So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat. And they were afraid. 20 But He said to them, “It is I. Do not be afraid.” 21 Then they gladly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going

The Lord performed a miracle.  He can do that if He wants to.  `

Face Life

Jesus had fed the 5,000.  They enjoyed that and were astounded.  Then Jesus sent them down to the boat and went off by Himself.  He was not physically in their presence.  They had to go to the boat and get out on the sea.  They had to face life.  They had to face it without the physical presence of Jesus.

We have to face life without the physical presence of Jesus near us.  His spiritual presence is always with us.  

Remember what He said to Thomas?  “Because you have seen Me you have believed.  Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believed.”  (John 20:29)

That includes you and me.  

We have to go through life without having Jesus’ bodily presence with us like He was in that time; Just like he wasn’t physically present when the disciples were out on the Sea of Galilee.  

We have to face life.  We have to be aware of His spiritual presence and by faith realize that He is with us.  

Sometimes it seems like He’s not around, and we wonder what’s going on.  

The Bible tells us that we are to occupy until Jesus comes. (Luke 19:11-27)  We need to be about life and face it as it comes.

Call on The Lord in the Storm

Storms of life come.  It’s not always sweetness and light.  Sometimes there are difficulties.  

The prophet Jeremiah was thrown into a well by evil men who wished him dead.  There was mud and silt at the bottom and he sank down.  

Another man heard about his situation and asked the king to free Jeremiah.  The king agreed and the man took some of his staff and lifted Jeremiah out of the mud and saved him.

Call on the Lord in your storm.
Call on the Lord in your storm.

During the dark times of life, you can call upon the Lord.  

The disciples called on Him when they were in the midst of that great storm on the Sea of Galilee.  

Call on The Lord When You Are Sinking

Peter’s lack of faith caused him to sink just after he witnessed a spectacular display of God’s power.  

Depression can often come just after a great victory.

When Peter began to sink, he knew to call out to the Lord.

Elijah the prophet had a great victory over the prophets of Baal.  Fire came and consumed the altar that had been soaked with water. (1 Kings 16:18-40)  Many of the false prophets were eliminated.  But after that, Elijah was concerned and the depression set in.  (1 Kings 19:4-8)

Peter was on top of the water but began to sink.

You’ve probably had ups and downs in your life.  Perhaps in some of the low points, you’ve begun to sink a little bit.  

I’ve got good news for you. God still loves you!  You can still call upon Him and He will reach down and pull you up.

Call out to God when you are sinking.
Call out to God when you are sinking.

God is powerful, and He cares about everyone. We do need to face life as it comes and do the best we can.  

But when the storms of life come, call on Him.  If you have begun to sink in your spiritual life, call on Him.  

Trust God and His Timing

God's timing is always perfect.
God’s timing is always perfect.

When Jesus and Peter got back in the boat, Jesus decided that it was immediately time for them to get to the other side, so they arrived there immediately.  

Sometimes, God will make the change just that quickly.  Not always.  Sometimes we have to go on through the storm.  

Trust God and His timing.  Sometimes he does things quickly and immediately.  

We know this: we struggle in this body of sin and death, but one day we will pass from this life and when we do, we will be changed immediately, in the twinkling of an eye!  Mortal will put on immortality and death will be swallowed up in victory. (1 Corinthians 15:51-55)

Face life.
Call on God in the storms of life.
Call on God when you’re beginning to sink.
Trust His timing.

What To Do When You Are All Alone

What to Do When You Are All Alone

A couple of weeks ago, I did a post on the wedding at Cana where Jesus turned the water into wine. 
Then I wrote about Jesus healing the nobleman’s son and how you can be a noble person.

This week I’m covering another miracle of Jesus, and what to do when you feel all alone. It’s found in John 5.

Sermon video

John 5:1-18

After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, which in Hebrew is called Bethesda, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great crowd of invalids, blind, lame, and paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water. After the stirring of the water, whoever stepped in first was healed of whatever disease he had. 5 A certain man was there who had an illness for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had been in that condition now a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred. But while I am coming, another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” 9 Immediately the man was healed, took up his bed, and walked. That day was the Sabbath. 10 The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath day. It is not lawful for you to carry your bed.”  11 He answered them, “He who healed me said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’ ” 12 So they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 Now the man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in that place.  14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have become whole. Sin no more lest something worse happens to you.” 15 The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. 16 So the Jews persecuted Jesus and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath day. 17 Jesus answered them, “My Father is working still, and I am working.” 18 So the Jews sought even more to kill Him, because He not only had broken the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.

The Sick Man Healed…and Scolded!

The sick would wait for the waters to stir to get a chance to be healed
The sick would wait for the waters to stir to get a chance to be healed

Verse 2 talks about a pool of water.  Invalids would gather around it waiting for an angel to stir the water.  Some people think the water had medicinal properties, but I don’t think it did.  If that was the case, it would have had healing properties no matter what.   

The man mentioned here had been laying by the water for years. He watched closely and when he saw the waters stir, he tried to get there first. But because he had no one to help him get to the water, someone always beat him to it. 

Then Jesus came and asked if he wanted to be healed.  The man didn’tr realize who Jesus was and explained his situration.  He was still looking at what earthly people were able to do.  

Jesus told him to get up, pick up his bed, and walk.  The man may have doubted.  But he did as Jesus saidf and he had been healed!

This healing took place on the Sabbath.  When the Jewish leaders saw the man carrying his bed and told him it was unlawful for him to carry his bed on that day.  He told them about the man who had told him to do it.  The man had broken the Sabbath.  

Jesus had already moved on, so the leaders spoke to the man.  There he was, all excited about being healed, and he was scolded.

But Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath.  He said we are to do good.  What’s better?  Keeping some rules or following Jesus’ lead.

Of course it’s important to set aside a day for rest and worship.  It’s good for your physical, mental, and spiritual health.  In Luke 14:5, Jesus said, “Which of you having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?”

After the man was scolded by the Jewish leaders, Jesus found him again. He told the man to go on his way and “sin no more.” 

The Jewish leaders were angry at what Jesus had done.
The Jewish leaders were angry at what Jesus had done.

So the man left and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. This angered them even more because He had healed (done work) on the Sabbath. Not only that, He had also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.  They wanted Him dead. 

Jesus IS the Messiah

As I’ve said before, John 20:31 says, “But these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”  

Then in 1 John 5:13 he writes, “I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”

So the Gospel of John shows us who Jesus is.

We’ve seen some near disasters in the story so far, then the resolutions, and then persecutions coming again. 

I think there are four applications we can make in our lives from this.  

When You’re All Alone, Look to Jesus for Help

Think about the three Hebrew children (Daniel 3).  They were ordered by King Nebuchadnezzar to bow down and worship a false god,  which would break the second commandment; no idols. The three,  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, refused. 

The whole nation complied, with the exception of these three.  The king had ordered that anyone who disobeyed his decree would be thrown into the firey furnace. 

Three went in, but the king saw four.
Three went in, but the king saw four.

After they had been thrown in, the king went and looked inside.  Instead of three inside, there were four. 

The Bible says the fourth was “like the Son of God.” (Daniel 3:25) I believe it was the Son of God. 

When the time came to open the door of the furnace, they came out, their clothes weren’t burned, their eyebrows weren’t singed, and they didn’t even smell like smoke. 

They came out unscathed, and God took care of them.

Then there’s Daniel.

The order was given that no one was allowed to pray. Daniel made the decision that he was going to continue to pray just like he always had. Three times a day, he went into an upper room, left the doors and windows open, and talked to God.

Daniel was thrown into the lion's den alone.
Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den alone.

The punishment for Daniel’s defiance was to spend the night in the lions’ den.

He was thrown in with no man to help him.

The next day, the king called down to Daniel and asked if his God had been able to save him. Daniel looked up and said, “O king, God sent His angel to shut the lions’ mouths so they have not hurt me.” (Daniel 6)

God took care of him.

We have the story of Jonah.

He was swallowed by a great fish or whale. The animal had been prepared to do something unusual.

Jonah was in the belly of that fish alone for three days. There was no man to help him.
But while in there, Jonah prayed. After three days, the fish “spit him out” on dry ground.

Jonah spent 3 days alone in the belly of a big fish.
Jonah spent 3 days alone in the belly of a big fish.


Jonah went on to Nineveh, preached, and there was a great revival.

God took care of him.

When you feel like you’re all alone, look to Jesus for your help.

People have had loved ones pass away for one reason or another. Maybe a father dies while serving his country, leaving behind a wife and kids. Maybe a mother suffers from a terminal illness, and she leaves behind a husband and children. Single parents. It’s difficult to raise children all alone.

But the Bible tells us that God will be a father to the fatherless and a husband to the widows. (Psalm 68:5-6) and God is our comforter (2 Corinthians 1:3)

All over the world, persecuted Christians are facing death seemingly alone. But they aren’t alone. God is with them.

When You Sense God is Prompting You to Do Something Unusual, Act on It

My son and daughter-in-law (Rusty and Brenda) are missionaries in Japan. Something that all missionaries have in common is that it takes money for them to get where they need to go. It takes money for them to be able to survive.

My son and his family are missionaries in Japan.
My son and his family are missionaries in Japan.

Most countries that missionaries go to will not allow them to take other jobs in their country because it will take jobs away from their citizens. They go to the country under a missionary visa and they have to have that support that comes to them.

Rusty was raised in southern Illinois and Brenda was raised in Oklahoma. Neither were familiar with big cities. God spoke to each of them independently about becoming missionaries. After discussing it together, they understood that He wanted them to go to Japan.


So Rusty, from tiny little Thompsonville, Illinois, and his wife, were told that they needed to secure $108,000 a year.

Many people thought that was an excessive amount and it would make Rusty and Brenda rich.

However, Rhonda and I went to visit them in Japan. While there, we went to the grocery store and decided to buy them a watermelon. When you translated the Japanese amount into American dollars, that watermelon was $40!

So, $108,000 a year was not an excessive amount for them to live on in Japan.

Before leaving, they had to go out to various churches and raise money and get sponsors. They’d go out, and when they came home I would ask how it went. They would say it went great, someone had given them $30. Next time it was $50, then $400. But, those were all one-time offerings.

They just kept going, though.

They started coming back with the news that a couple people had committed to giving them $25 a month, then some people committed a little more.

After about 10 months, they had gotten so much support that they were up to 80% of what they needed. That was a miracle to me!

They made the plans and were able to go.
When God calls you to do something that seems hard or even impossible, do it!

He will bless you for it.

Get to Know Jesus

When the Jewish leaders asked the man who had healed him, he didn’t know. Then Jesus found him. (Aren’t you glad that Jesus comes to us?)

It only takes one offer of salvation for us to turn down, and then it’s on us. I believe that every person, at some point in their life, will have some type of encounter with Jesus.

What about those who have never heard?

Study the Bible to get to know Jesus better.
Study the Bible to get to know Jesus better.

Here’s what we know:
If they look up at the stars and realize that there’s a creator, God is going to send them some way to have more light.

What about those that live in countries where they could be killed for converting to Christianity? People have had dreams. In those dreams, Jesus came to them. You may think that it was just a dream, but it was the real Jesus and they accepted Him!

How do I know it was real? Because after they woke up, they tell people that they met Jesus in a dream. They face the loss of their own lives. That’s how I know it’s real. They met Jesus.

I believe that in every person’s life, Jesus, the Savior of the world, will come to them with an offer of salvation. It’s what you choose to do with Jesus that will count when you come to the end of this life.


But it goes beyond that single act of salvation. Get to know God. The man who was healed didn’t know who Jesus was. Jesus came to him, and he got to know Jesus.


How do we get to know Jesus?

One of the ways is through studying the Word of God. You may not have read a book since high school. Reading may be difficult for you.


When we lived in Georgia, we interviewed some parents who wanted to enroll their child in the Christian school we had. Sometime after evening, the pastor asked the father about his salvation experience. The father confessed that he had been intoxicated the night we had visited. But the pastor had shown the man the scriptures and told him how Jesus wanted to save him. That night, he believed.

After that, he became a Bible scholar. He would read a passage of scripture, and see the number at the bottom of the page that represented a corresponding or related verse, so he’d go read that. He told me once that he’d done it for three hours the night before. If he had trouble understanding some words, he would get a dictionary and look them up.


The Word of God is different than any other book. It is a living Word. I believe that if you take it and read just a little bit, search and meditate on it, the Bible says you will have good success.


That’s one of the ways to get to know God.


Another way is to talk to God. You don’t have to use flowery King James language.

Talk to God.
Talk to God.


Richard Wurmbrand was a Romanian Lutheran priest. He lived in a Communist country and was imprisoned because of his faith. He founded the organization called “The Voice of the Martyrs.”


He sat in a prison cell after having undergone an extensive time of torture. The physical suffering had devastated his mind. 
He started trying to pray.

 
“Our Father, Which art in Heaven. Hallowed be Thy ….” Then he could not remember anymore. 

Richard Wurmbrand
Richard Wurmbrand


I thought how disheartened I would have been if that had happened to me. 
But, then he said, “Suddenly it came to me that it was what we call ‘The Lord’s Prayer.’ I was so happy I could remember what prayer it was. It was like the glory of the Lord came down and filled the prison. 

A young boy found a young girl’s name on a messaging site. After looking over her profile, the boy thought she sounded interesting and began to send her messages.

She replied and they chatted back and forth for some time. The more they talked, the more they wanted to know about one another. Finally, the boy asked if he could just call her.

They wanted to know each other better.

Tell Others About Him


An old friend, who has since passed away, often told me that in the past, he didn’t give God credit. Then he got saved and got to know God in such a way that he wasn’t ashamed and didn’t’ care what others thought.

Tell others about Jesus and what He's done for you.
Tell others about Jesus and what He’s done for you.


That’s what we all need to do. We need to tell others about Jesus.


There was a football player who would kneel down and pray after getting a touchdown.

Controversies aside, here’s the point. If you know God, if you know Jesus, and you know you’re saved and that your life has been changed, and there’s someone who needs help, they may just need you to tell them where that help is.

They can turn to Jesus.

If you’ve never called upon the Lord, I would say that you need to do that today!

Call upon Him.

Do you feel like you’re all alone? You’re not. Jesus is present. Call upon Him. He can help you in your time of need.

Facing the Impossible

Sermon video

The Story

The story
The story


There was a little boy who was excited about the day because he wasn’t going to have to do his regular chores that day. His mother was preparing some food so he went over to look at it. He asked what she was doing. She said since she didn’t know how long they were going to be at the event, she was making a lunch to take with them.3.

She was packing a meal of leftovers: Two fish and five loaves of bread.

They headed to a hillside in Galilee where they had heard the Master was going to be speaking. They were excited because they had heard about healings that had taken place in His presence and had heard about His teaching. They were looking forward to hearing Jesus speak to them.

When they arrived, a couple of men came and introduced themselves to the small family. One said his name was Philip, He told them it was good that they had gotten there early, and it was good that they were there to hear Jesus speak.

He told them of a time when they had heard Him speak in that same area, and pointed out a spot where the sound would carry and thought that might be where Jesus would speak from that day. (All of these details aren’t found in the book of John. This account is also found in Matthew, 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, and Luke 9:10-17.)

The mother saw some friends and decided to go sit with them for a while. Then another man walked up and introduced himself as Andrew.

The boy was especially excited because he had been given the special responsibility of carrying their lunch. Andrew saw the bread and commented that the boy had come prepared. The boy said they even had enough to share if he wanted to.

People were coming that day because word of Jesus’ miracles had spread. They had heard about Him turning the water into wine, and about the healing of the nobleman’s son.

They knew about the man at the Pool of Bethesda who had tried and tried to get to the water as it was stirred so he could be healed but had never succeeded. Then Jesus told him to take up his bed and walk, and he was instantly healed.

The people continued to arrive throughout the day. They brought their sick and Jesus began healing them.

Others were coming to hear Jesus teach, so they began to gather on the hillside.

At one point, Jesus began to teach. The people were so enthralled that they didn’t realize the time, and that they hadn’t had lunch yet. Some of the disciples wanted Jesus to send the people out to the town so they could get some food.

Possible Crisis

Jesus turned to Philip, and there came a possible crisis point of belief.
There are times in life when you need to make a decision, and you need to believe. If you don’t believe or act on your belief, you’re not going to get the blessing that could be there.

Jesus asked Philip, “Where can we buy bread, so these people can eat?”

The Bible says that Jesus asked Philip this because He wanted to test him. Philip told Him that there wouldn’t be enough money if they had 200 days of wages, to feed all those people.

Another crisis point: Andrew had some information. He didn’t think the information would solve the problem, so he debated as to whether he would even say anything to Jesus or not. He decided he would. He told Jesus about the boy with the 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread.

The third possible crisis point came when Jesus told the disciples to do something. They were focused on the impossibility of the situation. However, they had been around Jesus long enough to know that they needed to do what He said.

Many of us would have thought that this was an impossible situation.
The disciples realized that Jesus was not going to send the people to the villages to purchase food. They had the 2 small fish and 5 loaves of bread, and Jesus was telling them to get the people ready to be fed.

Jesus told them to instruct the crowd to gather into groups of 50 or 100. That’s how we know that it was 5,000 men that were there. That didn’t include the women and children.

Could this feed over 5,000 people?
Could this feed over 5,000 people?

Then Jesus did the impossible.

The Scripture

John 6:1-15
After these things Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a great crowd followed Him, because they saw His signs which He did for the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountain, and He sat there with His disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near.When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming to Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread that these may eat?” He said this to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for each of them to receive but a little.” One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two small fish. But what are they among so many?” 10 Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, numbering about five thousand. 11 Jesus then took the loaves, and when He had given thanks, He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those who were sitting down; and likewise, they distributed the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 When they were filled, He told His disciples, “Collect the fragments that remain, that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they collected them and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. 14 When those men saw the sign which He had done, they then said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Therefore, knowing that they would come and take Him by force to make Him king, Jesus departed again to a mountain by Himself alone.

They recognized that Jesus was the Messiah, but they still had the worldly mindset that He was going to take them away from the authoritarian government.

He was there for so much more. He was going to take care of what would happen in their lifetime and more than just that day.

Jesus met their needs.
Jesus met their needs.

He met their needs for physical food on that day. He met their needs for healing. He met their needs by teaching them the scriptures from the Old Testament.

Although it doesn’t say it in these passages, I believe it was like it was when He spoke to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, (Luke 24:13-35) speaking to them from the Law and the Prophets. He showed how those scriptures pointed to Him.

They recognized Him as the Messiah, but He also knew that they were going to try to set Him as a political king. That is when He left.

There were physical healings on that day, but there was something that every member of that crowd experienced.

Those that did not need physical healing saw a miracle take place with their own eyes. It wasn’t hearsay. Over 5,000 men and their families saw this great miracle that Jesus performed on that day and they knew He had to be the Christ.

Back to Everyday Life

After they left, they had to go back to normal life.

We know that life isn’t always sweetness and roses. Sometimes, even among the roses, there are thorns. Sometimes there are difficulties. Their lives were no different. They had their share of problems, too.

But because they became aware of Christ and believed in Him, the scripture says that the ones who believe in His Name will be saved. Regardless of how difficult their lives may have been after that day, if they believed in Him, eventually, they wound up in Glory.

Sometimes you and I have difficulties. We may have happiness in our lifetime, or we may not. But one day, we will be with the Lord forever.

We’ve had the story and we’ve had the scriptures.

The Application

I have 4 thoughts that come out of this concept of facing the impossible

First of all, evaluate the situation. Look at every scenario that you can think of, every nook and cranny.

If you’re a business person, you may have a business plan that says if it gets to this point, I will shut it down. If you’ve come to the time to shut it down, so to speak, then do that.

But it may be during the time that something looks impossible that God wants to do something unusual.

Secondly, use what you have. They had 2 fish and 5 loaves.

Moses had a rod in his hand. God told him to throw it down, and when he did it became a snake. Moses ran from it, but God told him to pick it up by the tail. He did, and it became a rod again. (Exodus 4:1-4)

Moses used his rod as God instructed and the Red Sea parted!
Moses used his rod as God instructed and the Red Sea parted!

When the Israelites were leaving Egypt and came to the Red Sea, they didn’t know how they would get across. God told Moses to lift his rod over the water and the sea parted and the Nation was able to cross on dry land and escape Pharaoh’s army. (Exodus 14)

Exodus 17:8-16 talks about the battle against the Amalekites. Moses went to the top of a hill and held his arms out, holding the rod in one hand. His arms began to grow tired, so he lowered his arms.

When he did that, Israel began to lose the battle. When his arms were raised, they were winning. He sat on a stone and a man got on either side of him to support his arms.

Israel won the battle.

Use what you have. It might be an impossible situation, but God can take a little thing and make something big out of it.
There’s a song written by Kittie L. Suffield that I want to share with you.

Little is Much


In the harvest field now ripened
There’s a work for all to do;
Hark! the Master’s voice is calling,
To the harvest calling you.
Little is much when God is in it!
Labor not for wealth or fame;
There’s a crown, and you can win it,
If you go in Jesus’ name.
In the mad rush of the broad way,
In the hurry and the strife,
Tell of Jesus’ love and mercy,
Give to them the Word of Life.
Does the place you’re called to labor
Seem so small and little known?
It is great if God is in it,
And He’ll not forsake His own.
Are you laid aside from service,
Body worn from toil and care?
You can still be in the battle,
In the sacred place of prayer.
When the conflict here is ended
And our race on earth is run,
He will say, if we are faithful,
“Welcome home, My child—well done!”

Little is much when God is in it. Use what you have. The little boy gave his lunch and he saw Jesus multiply that.

Use what you have, and then watch for God to work.

You don’t have it figured out, how it will work. Sometimes it will work out in a way you don’t expect. People in financial trouble will get an unexpected gift from someone. Sometimes they promise to do that for a few months.

Watch for God to work.

You have skills, and other people know about those skills. Other people know about people that need those skills. Sometimes they will come and give you a job opportunity. Maybe you have a profile online and a head-hunter will see it and contact you with an opportunity.

The fourth thing is to continue to trust God. The day on the hillside was a wonderful day. God had provided them with a great supper out of a little boy’s lunch of 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread.

But, everyone had to go back home and face life again.

The wonderful song, I Remember the Fish, written by Rodney Griffin, expresses this beautifully.

I Remember the Fish

They sat down for supper in their quiet little house
Looked at one another, what was God doing now
Times were hard, and debts must be paid
Where was God, so little food on their plates
Then the daddy broke his silence, and the kids just listened in
He said “When I face a challenge, and feel like giving in,
I go back to my favorite memory, to be exact it happened here in Galilee
When my mamma woke me up and said that we were going out
To hear a man named Jesus on a hill outside of town
We listened to His sermon, people needed fed
I handed him my lunch, you know the rest
So no matter how hard life may get
I remember the fish
I’ve often heard of miracles but never witnessed of one until
I was watching the impossible, saw those baskets fill
with so much food, there were faces full of joy
How my faith grew, that day as just a boy
So children learn this lesson, listen to your dad
Miracles can happen when you give God all you have
Then when you’re weak, draw strength from that day
When he met your need and he multiplied your faith
Like When my mamma woke me up and said that we were going out
To hear a man named Jesus on a hill outside of town
We listened to his sermon, people needed fed
I handed him my lunch, you know the rest
So no matter how hard life may get
Just remember the fish
O don’t forget what he did
Just remember the fish

I don’t know what you’re going through, or what situation you may be facing. But I believe that if you look back on your life, you will remember a time when you were in a situation that you didn’t know the way out of, and God pulled you through it.

This was the Prophet. He was the Christ.

Make sure that you know that you know that if you were to pass from this life you would go to Glory.

Glory awaits those who accept Him.
Glory awaits those who accept Him.

We may have 100 years of tragedy and suffering or oppression. That’s just a drop in the bucket compared to eternity in Heaven.

When you find Jesus Christ, the Lord comes into your life, and for eternity, you will be in Glory and it will be worth it all.

Remember the fish, but trust the Prophet.