Freedom

 (Psa 33:12)  Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

 

     America’s roots are in God and His word and because we began that way God’s hand of blessing has been upon this nation and the many who have found refuge in it and owned it as their own land. The Scripture is clear, “blessed is the nation whose God (Elohim – the all-powerful Creator of all) is the LORD (Jehovah – the self-existing One). A sign recently mistakenly read: “Blessed is the nation whose God is their Lord.” This could mean any country that worships any god – such as Arab countries or India and etc.

America’s boundaries were established by the Founders of this nation – Godly Christian men and God-fearing men – who knew that any nation is doomed that does not put the Creator God first and the truths of this Creator God into the very fabric of a country’s life. So they set boundaries to guide this infant country toward a path of blessing. Some of those boundaries involved the qualifications of those who were to serve in

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Be instant

(2 Tim 4:2) Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
 
A charge to Timothy – and all Christians:
Paul was writing to young Timothy from a Roman prison, where he was awaiting his execution. Though he was facing certain death, Paul was still concerned for Timothy and all others (including us) under his tutorage and desired to give guidance and instruction to them. Paul knew from experience the need for this teaching as he was first a practitioner of it before giving it to others. In the face of the incipient apostasy of the day and also in the moral and spiritual decay of today, Paul’s words are very appropriate.
 
Being instant:
The word used here is translated several ways in different verses – be present, be at hand, come upon, to stand by. The main idea is simply “be there, doing what needs to be done at the time it is needed”. In the context, it means Christians are responsible to be there with the right words from the word of God – words of exhortation, doctrine, reproof (if needed), words given patiently, even when rebuffed
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Babes in Christ

(1 Cor 14:20) Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.
 
The Christian life is entered by new birth, so that everyone who is genuinely born again must begin as spiritual babes. Even the oldest person who is saved begins this walk as a babe and must begin that way (Matt 18:3). Paul says that in a certain sense we should remain as children -- Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men. The word malice also means “ill-will” or the “desire to harm or get even”, so that Paul wants us to be child-like in our interactions with others. This speaks to our personal interaction in regards to being offended or taking offense; we should never lose this attitude of forgiveness and not be offended easily.
Paul speaks of believers who are as “children” being tossed to and fro about doctrinal issues – “ That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;” Paul does
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Acceptable sacrifice

1 Peter 2:5 (KJV)  Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 

      Peter tells us that we, the corporate church and individuals, are designed for the purpose of offering up acceptable sacrifices to God. The animal sacrifices of the Old Testament had certain criteria that they had to meet in order to be acceptable to God. But, the sacrifices that Peter is talking about are not animal but spiritual sacrifices made acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Only as we remain in Christ are we acceptable to God and only those sacrifices made as part of our life in Him is acceptable.

      Prayer -- Our prayers are precious to Him (Rev. 8:4; 5:8). Prayer is not only a privilege to us who were once outside the family of God and actually enemies of God, but it is also a command. We are privileged to present our petitions to God as a son/daughter and have confidence He hears us. The righteous should not fear to call upon God – “The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them

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Memorials

(Mat 26:6-13)  Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, {7} There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. {8} But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? {9} For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. {10} When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. {11} For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. {12} For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. {13} Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.

 

      Our text today is about a woman who did something extravagant for Jesus that He said would be a memorial for her wherever the gospel would be preached.  It was extravagant in its cost and the sacrifice

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Blessed is he . . .

(Psa 32:1-2) Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. {2} Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
 
We can be eternally thankful for the truth found in these verses. Sins of omission, sins of commission, sins of deliberate action, sins of the heart, youthful sins, big sins, little sins, etc, are all included in redemption. It is a thrill to know that the payment for them has been accomplished by Christ’s death on the cross. What freedom it brings when we confess our sin and then receive His forgiveness.
Transgression, sin and iniquity. Transgression is going beyond a known boundary. Transgression also carries the idea of trespass and rebellion. It has to do with something that is known by the individual and is committed in spite of their knowledge of the wrong.
Sin is missing the mark (Rom 3:23), falling short of the goal or expectation or demand. God’s demand is to be perfect (Gen 17:1; 6:9; Deut. 18:13; Matt 5:48). The word perfect is not used in the sense of without any flaw, but complete in development.
Iniquity is perversity, depravity as
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Hannah a true mother

(1 Sam 1:1-2)  Now there was a certain man of Ramathaimzophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite: {2} And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

 

       We will look at Hannah one of many in the Bible as an example of motherhood. Booker T. Washington said, If I’ve done anything in life worth attention, I feel sure that I inherited the disposition from my mother. He recognized the great influence his mother had upon him. Mothers do not become successful by learning a 10-point lesson on raising children. Success is related to who they are more than what they accomplish. Hannah is an example of this principle.

      Hannah was a woman who desired to be a mother but was barren and she was a woman under trial.  She was grieved because she could not bear children. Too often today young girls are urged to seek a career and let motherhood be only a second thought or “secondary

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Teaching about the kingdom

Acts 1:3)  To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:

      Before His crucifixion, Jesus had told the disciples that there were many things He had to tell them but they were not able yet to bear (pick up, carry) them – “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. {13} Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.” They would need the presence of God’s abiding Spirit to enable them to comprehend it. This is similar to what Jesus told Nicodemas – “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (See means to comprehend or understand).

      During those forty days Jesus was teaching, perhaps opening their understanding about the Kingdom of God and maybe even elaborating upon the numerous parables that He spoke pertaining to the kingdom. Before His death the

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Post resurrection appearances of Christ

(Luke 24:18) And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?
 
First three appearances:
Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene (Mk 16:9; Jn 20:11-18) Mary was one of those who watched when Jesus was laid in the tomb (Matt 27:59-61), and after the Sabbath she along with the other women went to anoint His body. The Scripture tells us that Joseph and Nicodemus wrapped Jesus in burial clothes along with spices (Jn 19:39-40) and laid His body in Joseph’s tomb. Mary and the other women may not have known they used the spices or they felt it should be done in a different manner, so they returned the first day of the week with other spices to anoint Jesus’ body.
The second appearance of Jesus was to the other women who had gone along with Mary to anoint His body (Matt 28:8-9). They were on their way back from the sepulcher when Jesus appeared to therm. As as Mary saw the stone rolled away, she stopped hr approach to the sepulcher and ran
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Christ arose

(Mat 28:1-7)  In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. {2} And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. {3} His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: {4} And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. {5} And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. {6} He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. {7} And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

 

      In the Easter season of 1874 a Baptist minister by the name of Robert Lowry was so impressed by the passage in Luke 24:6-7 that he found himself sitting at an organ composing

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The blood of Abel

(Heb 12:24)  And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

 

There are three references to the blood of Abel in the Bible, each indicating that the shedding of his blood by Cain was a type of the shed blood of Christ. The first mention of blood in the Bible is God’s accusation of Cain killing Abel and the blood speaking to God (Gen 4:10).

      God does not over look the shedding of innocent blood. The Bible speaks of the shed blood crying out to Him (2 Ki 9:26; Psa 9:12; 72:12-14; Heb 11:4. If an innocent person is found dead without as city, God gave instruction for an inquisition to the closest city to discover the person guilty of shedding that blood and a sacrifice was to be made in order to deliver that city from consequences from God (Deut 21:1-9). God does not want innocent blood to be shed and He made provision for the protection of a person to be kept safe from what we call an accident (Deut 19:9, 10). God also

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Be ye separate

2 Corinthians 6:17-18 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

 

      The doctrine of separation from the “unclean thing” is lost or ignored by most Christians today. There are few churches that teach or practice Biblical separation. In a technological world and work place, it is not easy to always discern our separation. In the context of the text Paul is warning about being unequally yoked together with unbelievers and urges us to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor 6:14; 7:1).

      The Bible speaks of “unclean things” in various verses and referring to different matters. Although often times they refer to literal unclean things – things that are dirty, contaminating or actual garbage or waste – they are representative of spiritual uncleanness.

      Passages dealing with uncleanness: Leviticus 5:1-2 “ . . .  if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is

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Be instant

(2 Tim 4:2)  Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 

        Paul was writing to young Timothy from a Roman prison, where he was awaiting his execution. Though he was facing certain death, Paul was still concerned for Timothy and all others under his tutorage and desired to give guidance and instruction to them. Paul knew from experience the need for this teaching as he was first a practitioner of it before giving it to others. In the face of the incipient apostasy of the day and also in the moral and spiritual decay of today, Paul’s words are very appropriate.

      The word used here is translated several ways in different verse – be present, be at hand, come upon, to stand by. The main idea is simply “be there, doing what needs to be done at the time it is needed”. In the context, it means Christians are responsible to be there with the right words from the word of God – words of exhortation, doctrine, reproof (if needed), even words of sympathy; words given patiently, even when rebuffed by the hearer. Paul tells us that

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Add to your faith

2 Peter 1:5-8 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

        Many Christians, young and older, experience doubts and uncertainty and sometimes look back to where the Lord has brought them. They experience an up and down walk with the Lord which causes more doubts and uncertainty. If the condition persists they may end up returning to their former life and become disillusioned over spiritual life.

        Peter gives instruction to help those in this type of situation of experience and says if what he instructs is followed the person will be fruitful, fulfilled and remain on the pathway to heaven. The people Peter addresses are Christian but struggling in their walk. One misunderstanding some have is to think that Christians are always up and never experience valleys in their life. Christians experience valleys but we should not

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Assurance before God

(1 John 3:19)  And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.

 

      John tells us that we can have assurance before God, but there is a chain of reasoning with it. In the text verse he says “we shall assure our hearts before Him.” But it is the end result of his other teachings/exhortations to Christian love in action. In verse 18 he says “if we love the brethren in deed and truth”. A lack of that heart assurance condemns us – verse v20 – and if our heart does not condemn us then we have confidence toward God.

      The word for assure means to persuade and the word confidence means free speaking. Being persuaded means there is no doubt – we know that we know Him. Free speaking is to be able to say anything; this speaks of prayer. Too often Christians like to claim assurance before God without following God’s commands or even simple Christian etiquette  to be able to possess it. They profess assurance loud and long all the while their hearts are condemning them because of some interpersonal problem they have with another Christian

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Another Jesus

(2 Cor 11:1-4)  Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. {2} For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. {3} But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. {4} For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

 

      The Jesus of most T-shirts, bumper stickers or other “showy” things is not the Jesus of the Bible. The Baby Jesus in the manger at Christmas time or the “buddy” Jesus of Nashville singers, or the “success-counseling Jesus of prosperity/positive preachers. The popular Jesus may be the romantic Jesus of the Christian crooners, the rhythmic Jesus of Christian rock, or the reforming Jesus of liberals. But none of these are the real Jesus preached by Paul Who saves people from

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A righteous desire

(Mat 6:33)  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

 

      Jesus came preaching the kingdom saying, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The King was present and He was calling upon all to repent and prepare for God’s coming kingdom. John preceded Him preaching repentance and preparing the way for His coming to Israel. Many went out to John and were baptized of him and seeking to know what to do – “And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then?” John proceeded to give them various instructions.

      Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount in which He taught many kingdom principles and exhorted His hearers to seek God’s kingdom first and foremost. In this sermon, Jesus gave possible distractions to seeking God’s kingdom and urged a continual pursuit of the kingdom.

      A first priority. Seeking God’s kingdom first means also seeking His righteous. Paul said that the Jews tried to establish their own righteousness – “For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of

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A tree of life

Proverbs 3:18 She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.
 
The Tree of Life God planted in the Garden of Eden had power to retard the aging process even of sinners. After Adam and Eve sinned God had to prevent them from eating of it in their fallen state – “ And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.” Men have long sought out the “Fountain of Youth” in quest for longevity of life; many today try to stay and look as young as possible. They exercise, take vitamins and food supplements; use anti-aging products, anything to prevent the onset of age. Many even use hair color, face lifts and other type medical procedures to prevent the “appearance” of age. The original Tree of Life is presently in paradise planted along the
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Three-fold deliverance

(Psa 116:8)  For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.

 

      The Psalmist testifies to what the Lord has done for him. Verses 3 & 4 describe what he was going through at the time. We can all relate to this to one degree or another. The word sorrow means first, a cord, rope, territory, but also carries the idea of pain, travail, sorrow. The psalm has no heading to indicate that it relates to a particular time, but if David is the author, we may assume it was during a time of great trouble and perhaps danger for him. He was surrounded by these troubles and he probably felt that his death was imminent. He was experiencing all the emotions and pains that went along with his situation. Then he cried unto the Lord and sought refuge in his God.

      When we call upon the Lord for salvation, He is gracious and merciful to save us, redeeming our souls from the sorrows and pains of hell. But God does far more than just redeem our souls and save us from hell and eternal punishment. That is

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But God

Ephesians 2:4 (KJV)
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
 
God makes all the difference! There was a time when the whole world was in bondage to sin and death. But God! That little word “but” says different things depending upon where it is placed in a sentence or thought. For example: “I know what the Bible says, but . . .”. “I know that is the law, but . . .” “The doctor says there is no cure but . . .” “The world is full of sin and wickedness but . . .”
The first two are us trying to eliminate our self from what is right, while the other two express a hope beyond the situation. In each we could add “God” after the “but” and in each case it makes all the difference. How many times have I heard a young man or woman try to tell me how it is right to leave their spouse by one of these very forms of “but” placing – “Pastor, I know it is not right to leave him/her, but . . .”
Sin is very prevalent in the world
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