Comments Inspired by the Death of a Loved One

28 Apr , 2017  

Ted Bradshaw  April 28. 2017

Sadness of Loss is Not the End of the Story

We grieve when a loved one leaves for an extended trip, but it is grief mitigated by the strong expectation that it is just a separation for a time. We can be confident that we will soon be in one another’s arms again.

“But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that fall asleep; that ye sorrow not, even as the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that are fallen asleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are left unto the coming of the Lord, shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Paul has been given a great and glorious revelation of the Lord’s return.

Day of Ascension

“This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11

Prior to this, all the believers had was the early revelation to the Disciples on the Day of Ascension.

“And when he had said these things, as they were looking, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they were looking stedfastly into heaven as he went, behold two men stood by them in white apparel; who also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye looking into heaven? this Jesus, who was received up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye beheld him going into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11)

While it was a fantastic promise that Jesus would return, it revealed nothing of what the believers would experience when they died.

We Will Rise to Be with Jesus

God in His mercy for the concerns of the ignorant believers, gave this revelation. Again, it is sketchy, but enough to give us hope in our, and our believing loved ones, personal resurrection 2,000 years later.

The Sequence Revealed

  • Jesus, the Son of God will descend from the Kingdom of God
  • With a shout! The voice of an Archangel will declare the end and the beginning
  • The trumpet call of God will sound
  • The dead in Christ will rise first, leaving behind their graves
  • We that are alive will be caught up in the clouds
  • The living and revived will meet together “in the clouds”, somewhere between earth and God’s Kingdom
  • Our gracious and loving Lord will meet with all His saints
  • Finally and eternally, we all will ever be with Him in His Kingdom and with the Father, the Holy Spirit and with all the Seraphim, Cherubim, Archangels, and Angels

The Dead in Christ Shall Rise First

There has been a concern that cremation instead of burial would interfere with this glorious resurrection.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will be the first to rise.   (1 Thessalonians 4:16)

God plans that we will have new bodies. These will be “celestial bodies”.

“But some one will say, How are the dead raised? and with what manner of body do they come? Thou foolish one, that which thou thyself sowest is not quickened except it die: and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not the body that shall be, but a bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other kind; but God giveth it a body even as it pleased him, and to each seed a body of its own. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fishes. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.” (1 Corinthians 15:35-40)

150402celestial-bodiesthe-districtGod does not need the material atoms of our fleshly bodies to give us celestial bodies. Cremation with its dispersal of gasses and the reduction to ash that may blow away the wind is irrelevant. Just as those bodies of sailors who drown in the sea and are eaten, or the bodies of those who die in the wilderness and become carrion are irrelevant.

Our bodies are simply vehicles to transport our persons, our immaterial souls and spirits.

God knows the person that is each one of us. The Creator does not need the elements of our physical bodies to give us new heavenly bodies. He will reclothe each believer’s soul and spirit in an eternal, imperishable celestial body.

What Age Will We Be?

People ask what age they will be in heaven when they die. Will babies still be babies? Will youth retain their youth? Will the elderly retain their wrinkles? These are questions from our fixation with time and material. On the contrary, these physical bodies are disposable.

Jesus said,

“For in the resurrection, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as angels in heaven.” (Matthew 22:30)

Relationships will be different in Heaven, in a similar way, our spiritual, celestial bodies will be different.

“Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is.” (1 John 3:2)

woman-571715_960_720Since these bodies are irrelevant to God’s kingdom our new bodies will be designed by God.

When the Trumpet sounds and the Archangel shout, then Christ Jesus will appear. The dead in Christ will rise! Dead and alive, alike, will be rescued from global, eternal destruction.

Those who have died will rise first. I do not know if those, who are living will see the dead in Christ arise since it will be the souls and spirits of each deceased believer that our Lord will resurrect. But I expect we will sense them rising because we are soon (immediately) to follow.

I suspect the popular idea of the empty clothes left behind is false. My conception, since we will have celestial bodies too, is that the living believers will, to the eyes of unbelievers, just disappear as Jesus did several times.

Another possibility is that our earthly bodies, no longer needed, will be shucked like snake’s skin, left behind to dissolve with all the material world.

Regardless of the mechanism, the living and the dead will meet beyond the physical world, “in the air”.

A Glorious Reunion!

Can you imagine the grand a glorious reunion! Believers from Adam and Eve to Abraham and Sarah, to Ruth and Obed to Mary and Joseph, to Aquilla and Priscilla to Martin and Katharina Luther, to Johnathan and Sarah Edwards to George and Martha Washington, to our parents and siblings and children and all our believing friends, meeting together!

“For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

I believe we will know these brothers and sisters intimately just as God knows each one of us.

After glad-handing one another, then and finally, we will be united with our God and Savior, our Father, our Lord, and our Guide and Counselor.

“But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that fall asleep; that ye sorrow not, even as the rest, who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13)

Hope does not disappoint believers since it is founded on God’s Word.

“Being, therefore, justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; through whom also we have had our access by faith into this grace wherein we stand; and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we also rejoice in our tribulations: knowing that tribulation worketh steadfastness; and steadfastness, approvedness; and approvedness, hope: and hope putteth not to shame; because the love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given unto us.” (Romans 5:1-5)

woman_1-black-worshipping-godThe Promise for All in Christ

Do you not see the promise in this?! Nothing can separate us from the love of God. And nothing can separate us from the ones He loves. Death is but a temporary absence one from another. Death is no more than an “extended-trip-to-the-grocery-store” absence from one another.

Just so, in a believer’s death. Jesus has promised, We WILL be in one another’s arms again, and soon!

Yes! There is great comfort in this promise for those who truly trust in Christ!


Read a Prayer for the Deceased.






, , , ,


Evangelism Outreach

16 Apr , 2017  

C.S. Lewis writes,

All our merely natural activities will be accepted if they are offered to God, even the humblest, and all of them, even the noblest, will be sinful if they are not.    Sermon preached, October 1939, Learning in War-Time

The glory of God, and, as our only means of glorifying him, the salvation of the human soul, is the real business of life.   Christianity and Culture, Christian Reflections.

Evangelism is Our Business

EvangelismFor Christians, “the real business of life” is evangelism. Initially, one believer told an unbeliever what they had found in Christ. It was a part of the life of the believer to share his or her gift of truth with those without. As the church became transformed from an outcast faith into a state-recognized force, evangelism, became a lessening of a neighbor-telling-neighbor. Increasingly parents nurtured their children in the faith. Living in a Christian culture reinforced the nurture provided by parents.

For centuries, the assumption was that the children of believers would by nurture grow up to be Christians. The only evangelism was among the unreached people, and that was the work of the missionary.

This is no longer true.

Losing Our Faith

From the time children leave home to go to school, many if not most of the believers’ children are lured away for the faith by education, the media and peers.

In today’s culture, the assumption that most Americans (or for that matter, those in Western Nations, the “Bastion” of Christianity) are Christians or at least have a basic knowledge of Christianity is false. For two generations, people have grown up unchurched and without basic Christian education. No longer do churches conduct tent revivals with sinners, treading the sawdust trail to be saved. We no longer experience desperate sinners darkening the doors of churches seeking deliverance. Churches rarely, if ever, have an evangelical sermon preached concluding in an altar call.

How Do We Share Our Faith?

Believers in the face of a hostile culture do not want to participate in a programmatic evangelistic push.

  • In this culture, no one wants a stranger coming to their door.
  • We are too busy to dedicate the time necessary.
  • We don’t know what to say.
  • We’re already doing evangelism individually.
  • We fear rejection.

The question is not what we want to do, but the imperative of our Savior.

But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion for them, because they were distressed and scattered, as sheep not having a shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest indeed is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth laborers into his harvest.    (Matthew 9:36-38)

“Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh the harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white already unto harvest. He that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal; that he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.” (John 4:35-36)

“And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

“Then opened he their mind, that they might understand the scriptures; and he said unto them, Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer, and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name unto all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. Ye are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I send forth the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city, until ye be clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:45-49)

“and, being assembled together with them, he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, said he, ye heard from me: for John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days hence. They therefore, when they were come together, asked him, saying, Lord, dost thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know times or seasons, which the Father hath set within his own authority. But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:4-8)

This is Why We Evangelize

This is truth:

  • All have sinned and are justly condemned to eternal separation from the love of God. (Roman 3:23-26)
  • There is only one way for anyone to have eternal life of blessedness in the Presence of the loving God. That is through faith in and surrender to the Lordship of Jesus, the Son of God and Savior of mankind. (John14:6)
  • All believers have entered into these truths. Therefore, we have an obligation and a privilege to share these truths with those who are living under the wrath of God against sin.
  • The Holy Spirit is waiting t0 be called upon to encourage and empower you to do the work of evangelism.

Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.    (Joshua 1:6-7)

Ye are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send forth the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city, until ye be clothed with power from on high.    (Luke 24:48-49)

If We Believe, We Can Evangelize

Small-Group-Bible-Study-e1428514391384It is my understanding that the members of evangelical churches have surrendered their lives to Christ and are safe from the wrath of God against sin. Believers have been adopted into the family of God. We are secure through this life and into eternity. There we will be blessed with God’s love forever. What a fantastic and wonderful truth! This is a promise of God that cannot be broken. We among all people are greatly blessed.

These Promises are not ours to keep, but our Lord Jesus has given them to us to share. What an extraordinary privilege we have, to give to those who are destitute. They are as Paul described,

Wherefore remember, that once ye, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision, in the flesh, made by hands; that ye were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world.   (Ephesians 2:11-12)

People without Christ, have no experience of the love of God in their lives. They are unaware that they are doomed to an eternity of torment, separated from the love of God. What they do not know will hurt them not only greatly, but eternally.

Our love for our Father should impel us to share the wonderful news of Jesus’ offer to all. Our desire to obey our Master’s voice should motivate us to witness to God’s glorious offer to trade a tattered and terminal life for a life of joy in Christ that is eternal and incorruptible.

Evangelical Outreach

I propose every church develop a program of Evangelical Outreach, seeking to reach beyond our comfort zone of the people within our frame of reference.

Jesus said that his Disciples, who lived with him and soaked up his teachings, did not have what it takes to do the work of the ministry. What they lacked was the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

Too many churches lack the power of the Holy Spirit. We are caught in the interim between salvation and the empowerment to share the wonderful gift we have received.

Culture of Openness

We need to build into our congregations the culture of openness to the Holy Spirit’s power for personal evangelism and organizational evangelism. It begins with an emphasis from the pulpit that Jesus has charged all of us, who are sons and daughters of Almighty God, to share the Gospel with the destitute and to receive the empowerment of the Spirit to do so.

Evangelism Sermon Series

I propose a sermon series on Evangelism (4-6 weeks)

  • The Basic Gospel and calling for each to reaffirm his or her surrender to Christ
  • The Work of the Holy Spirit
    • in the lives of believers
    • in the efforts to evangelize
  • The Benefits of Evangelism
    • to the believer and
    • to the receiver
  • The Reality of Hell
  • People Without Christ; The Biblical reality that people without Christ will be Eternally Damned
  • Evangelism with The Holy Spirit; the Spirit’s convicting role and His guiding role in Evangelism

Evangelism Classes

I propose in addition a series of classes in Evangelism to Individuals

  1. Introduction to the Empowering Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
  2. Scripture Memorization – we need the word in our hearts as ammunition for the battle
  3. How to approach unbelievers
  4. The Promises we have in Jesus Christ
  5. Methods of Evangelism
  6. Operation Winsome
  7. The Four Spiritual Laws
  8. The Alpha Course
  9. Evangelism Explosion

Let’s Share the Good News!

sharing-the-good-newsI call upon the leaders of the churches to become proactive to determine the type of outreach evangelism and commit to it. Start with promotion from the pulpit, in newsletters and leaders personally promoting it among the membership. While it may be headed by anyone in the church, the effort must be approved and promoted by and involvement of the leadership.

Let’s share the joy of salvation through the blood of Jesus, and the assurance of an eternity in the holy presence of our Lord!




Obedience is Better Than Sacrifice

5 Mar , 2017  

King Saul Disobeys God

Stay Close to God Through Obedience

Sermon Delivered at Bookdale Senior Living – January 29, 2017

1 Chronicles 10

The Death of Saul and His Sons

"Death of King Saul", 1848, Elie_Marcuse_saul

“Death of King Saul”, 1848, by Elie Marcuse

The Philistines were fighting against Israel, and each soldier of Israel fled before the Philistines. They fell slain on the mountain of Gilboa. The Philistines followed after Saul and after his sons, and the Philistines struck down Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchi-shua, Saul’s sons.  The heaviest fighting was against Saul and when the archers who were shooting located Saul, he was gravely wounded by them.

Saul ordered his armor bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through with it, or these uncircumcised people will come and abuse me.”

But his armor bearer did not want to do it because he was very frightened, so Saul took the sword and fell on it. When his armor bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell on his sword and died. Therefore Saul, his three sons, and all his entire household died together. When that part of the army  of Israel that was in the valley saw that the rest of the army of Israel had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their cities and fled, and the Philistines came and occupied them.

The Philistines Desecrate Saul’s Body

The Philistines came to strip the dead the next day, and they found Saul dead on Gilboa mountain, along with his sons. They stripped him, took his head and armor, and sent messengers throughout the territory of the Philistines to report the news to their idols and to the people.  Then they put Saul’s  armor in the temple of their gods and fastened his skull to the wall of  the temple of Dagon.

The People of Jabesh-gilead Give Saul a Proper Burial

When all the residents of Jabesh-gilead heard everything that the Philistines had done to Saul,  every valiant soldier  got up, removed the bodies of Saul and his sons, took them to Jabesh, and buried their bones under the tamarisk  tree in Jabesh. Then they fasted for seven days. So Saul died for his transgressions; that is, he acted unfaithfully to the Lord by transgressing the message from the Lord (which he did not keep), by consulting a medium for advice,  and by not seeking counsel from the Lord, who therefore put him to death and turned the kingdom over to Jesse’s son David.

King Saul in Crisis

Saul 1878 by Ernst Josephson

Saul 1878 by Ernst Josephson

King Saul had abandoned God, so he was without God’s resources when he engaged the Philistines. Israel was defeated and the Israeli soldiers fled from the battlefield, abandoning king Saul and his sons. The enemy caught and killed the three of Saul’s sons that were in the battle.

Saul had four sons:

And Ner begat Kish; and Kish begat Saul; and Saul begat Jonathan, and Malchishua, and Abinadab, and Eshbaal.  (Chronicles 9:39)

As the battle turned against Saul, the Philistine archers wounded the king of Israel so he could not flee. Saul sought refuge from torture at the hands of the Philistines in death. His armor bearer could not raise his hand against the anointed king, despite the fact that killing Saul was a grisly part of his duty, in this extremity. Therefore, Saul placed the hilt of his sword securely into the ground, his scale breastplate, and then fell upon his sword. This either killed him outright or mortally wounded him so that he died before the Philistines could reach him.

Had the armorbearer fled upon Saul’s death, he would be accused of abandoning his chief and lived in dishonor. Instead, he chose to die alongside his lord king.

Saul’s Heir to the Throne

“All his house” would normally mean that his line was terminated. However, that was not the case, since Ishbosheth survived to be declared king. Eshbaal (meaning “man of Baal or an epithet for יהוה, i.e. Lord or Master) was renamed Ishbosheth (meaning “man of shame”). Because he was not in the battle, he may have been too young, or as his renaming implies he was a coward and refused to go into battle.

I assume this means that all Saul’s sons that were in the battle were slain.

Knowing that the Philistines would have no further resistance all the Israeli people living in the vicinity became refugees, fleeing the conquered territory with what they could carry.

The battle had lasted until late in the day. The Philistine army likely went into the abandoned villages nearby and celebrated with the spoil. The next morning, they went back to the battlefield to strip the bodies of all that had value. They discovered the bodies of the Israeli king, Saul, and his sons. Again, they celebrated. As trophies of war, they took Saul’s armor and beheaded Saul.

They sent the grisly trophy through the cities to proclaim their victory over Israel. They placed Saul’s armor in their temple in honor of their nothingnesses.


The tragic death of King Saul of Israel portrayed by Gustave Dore’.

In 1 Samuel 31:10 it gives an alternative version. Instead of placing Saul’s head in the temple of Dagon,

And they put his armor in the house of the Ashtaroth; and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan.   (1 Samuel 31:10)

The People of Jabesh-Gilead Give Saul a Proper Burial

When the residents of Jabesh-gilead heard what[a] the Philistines had done to Saul, every valiant soldier[b] got up, traveled all night, and removed Saul’s body and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan. Then they went to Jabesh and cremated the bodies[c] there. They took their bones, buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh, and fasted for seven days.  (1 Samuel 31:11-13)

Consider the dedication of these men. They did not want the bodies of Saul and his sons desecrated, displayed as war trophies. The wanted to honor these men by respectfully disposing of their bodies.

Their heroism was magnificent, sneaking into the enemy’s city and into the temple of their nothingness and sequestering the bodies of four men, carrying them out of Beth-shan to Jabesh-Gilead, ca. 15 miles; round trip 30 miles. That meant ca. 3 hours running one way and ca. 5 hours walking back carrying the bodies.

King Saul’s Crimes

  • Saul usurped the priest’s office

Now he waited seven days, according to the appointed time set by Samuel, but Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattering from him. And Saul said, Bring hither the burnt-offering to me, and the peace-offerings. And he offered the burnt-offering.   (1 Samuel 13:8-9)

And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly; thou hast not kept the commandment of Jehovah thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would Jehovah have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue: Jehovah hath sought him a man after his own heart, and Jehovah hath appointed him to be prince over his people because thou hast not kept that which Jehovah commanded thee.   (I Samuel 13:13-14)

  • Saul did not slay king Agag and all the cattle as God directed (15:3 & 9)

Now go and smite Amalek, andutterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.   (1 Samuel 15:3)

But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but everything that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.   (I Samuel 15:9)

  • Witch of Endor

    Witch of Endor by Nikolai Ge, 1857.

    Saul sought out the witch of Endor for counsel (28:7 & 15-16)

Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at En-dor.  (I Samuel 28:7)

And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.16 And Samuel said, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing Jehovah is departed from thee, and is become thine adversary?   (1 Samuel 28:15-16)

Saul Lost God’s Blessing

God removed His hand of blessing from Saul, so he was at the mercies of his enemy, the Philistines… who had no mercy.

  • Obedience is the key to open the door to God’s favor and to receive His blessings of His bounty and protection.

We must quell our urges to control the events in our lives. Instead, we must defer to Almighty God and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

In so doing, we can walk with confidence through all the troubles of this life and live at peace, when all the world around us is confusedly going to “hell in a handbasket”.

A significant part of worship is obedience to God when we are not worshiping!


, ,


Witness and Mission According to Paul

23 Jan , 2017  

What Makes a Christian Minister?

Some of you know Ruth’s and my testimony. Jesus found us, lost and astray, in our 27th year. Neither of us knew the Bible or even how to pray. Nevertheless, Jesus sent a layman to speak the Gospel of Jesus to Ruth. The Holy Spirit went out into our wilderness to corral us, and by Sovereign power make us a daughter and a son of God.

I became what before I had ridiculed: I carried a big black Bible and talked about Jesus all the time. Someone asked me, “Are you going to become a minister?”

Before becoming a Christian, I had been Chairman of the Board of Deacons in our church. I didn’t like our minister. I thought he was an old fuddy-duddy. I wouldn’t allow him to baptize Laura and Susan. As he rambled on in meetings, I cut him off, and then moved the meetings on. The Deacons believed our Pastor was too old to appeal to the people we thought should come to our church. So, we had a clandestine meeting to decide how to get rid of him. He was approaching retirement, so we decided to wait him out.

Bangor Theological Seminary

Bangor Theological Seminary, Bangor, Maine, 199 year legacy of providing exceptional theological education and formation of persons responding to a call to ministry.

So, after I was saved, when asked if I would become a minister, I responded, “No! I know what they do to ministers.”

Ministry Begins

God led us to go to Bangor Theological Seminary, where I received my Masters of Divinity. In the process of time, I was ordained. I served churches as an official minister for just three (3) years. For the last 42 years, I have served as a layman. In a sense, my ordination is irrelevant. I have served my Lord and His people in a wide variety of positions, none requiring my ordination.

I have some questions for you:

  • What was Peter’s occupation before Jesus called Him to be His Disciple? A fisherman.
  • What was Matthew’s occupation before Jesus called Him to be His Disciple? A tax collector.
  • What was Paul’s occupation before Jesus called Him to be His Disciple? A tentmaker.
  • Where did they go to seminary to qualify for the ministry? They did not.

St. Paul’s Ministry


“Saint Paul Writing His Epistles” probably by Valentin de Boulogne

Let’s look at Paul: He was layman, a tentmaker. Paul was not even there when Jesus said,

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.    (Matthew 28:19)

He was not there on that Judean hillside when Jesus said to his Disciples, “You go into all the world and preach the gospel.”

But on the Damascus road Paul had a confrontation with Jesus, who he had thought was a heretic. Jesus commissioned Paul through the godly man Ananias,

Go, to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.   (Acts 9:15)

Paul looked around himself and said, “Who, me? I don’t know anything about preaching. I’m not a priest or even a Levite. You must be pointing to the guy behind me.” So, he went back to Tarsus and made a tent, Right? No!

The truth is that:

And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.    (Acts 9:20)

He began testifying to what he knew. He didn’t know much, but He applied Himself to the Scriptures and to prayer. He turned himself over to the Holy Spirit. He submitted to the work of the Spirit in his life.

Paul was not a priest. He was not ordained. He was a common man filled with the Lord Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit. That means he, too, was a disciple of Christ.

Ministry of the Disciples


“Peter the Apostle” by Giuseppe Nogari

Peter and Matthew may have been “capital D” Disciples, but they were not priests. So, they also were “small d” disciples. They were common men, who were sold out to Jesus.

What was the primary work of the Spirit in the lives of the Disciples? Jesus revealed that just before His ascension,

“And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”   (Acts 1:4-5 & 8)

Their primary work was to submit to the baptizing in the Holy Spirit to receive power and then go! Go to make disciples at home, in the neighborhood in the region and to foreign lands.


“The Calling of St. Matthew”, by A.N. Mironov

Paul was an Apostle, a church planter. He went into a town, located a place where people gathered. He proclaimed to them the truths of the gospel:

  • They were sinners and doomed
  • Jesus is God
  • Jesus died to save them from their sin and their doom

Pretty elementary, Right?

Then he collected those who responded, the new believers into a church, introduced them to the Scriptures, assigned them the responsibility to tell the good news to others, and then he left for unreached territories.

The Growth of Christian Ministry

Tell me who grew the church?

The spread of Christianity from A.D. 1 to 2016:

Paul recognized that the world as too big a place for him. He could not evangelize a whole city. He knew the ministry was not restricted to ministers, pastors and priests. His teaching in Ephesians points that out.

Paul enumerated five ministry offices in the church:

  • Apostles
  • Prophets
  • Evangelists
  • Pastors
  • Teachers

What was their primary responsibility? “… to equip the saints for the work of ministry…”.

And it was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for works of ministry, to build up the body of Christ,   (Ephesians 4:12)

What was the work of the ministry that those elders had to prepare those church members to do?

  • To individually grow in Christ
  • To build one another up in the most holy faith
  • To share the good news with family, friends and acquaintances.

Paul left them, not expecting the believers in Ephesus, Philippi or Corinth to know much. They were, for the most part, Gentiles, who had little or no knowledge of Scripture and probably no knowledge of Christian doctrine. But he left them, expecting that they would share with unbelievers their experience of Jesus in their lives. And that would be enough to arouse in others an interest in Jesus

Paul Plants Many Churches

Over 20 years, from A.D. 33 to 53 Paul plied the Roman world proclaiming the Gospel. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul reflected on his first coming to them,

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.   (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

Paul’s Mission was to spread the Truth

  • that man needs God
  • There is only One God
  • Jesus died to open access to God
  • Jesus seal of the promise of God to all who believe was rising from the dead
  • Surrender to Him is the only way to know God

This is not rocket science. It does not take a seminary education. As a matter of fact, that may actually be a barrier. What it takes is a love for Jesus and a willingness to be a fool for Christ. Paul did not use theology or doctrine to convert the Roman Empire. He used simple truth that any new believer knows.

Paul’s Ministry Gets Him Arrested

St. Paul Chained to Praetorian Guard

ST. Paul imprisoned , chained to a Pretorian Guard.

Even Paul’s chains provided him opportunities to witness.

When we got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him.   (Acts 28:16)   

For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!   (Acts 28:30-31)

My understanding is that, while Paul was imprisoned in a rented home, he had companions around him and had visitors. But, he was perpetually chained to one of the Pretorian Guards. They were the household troops of the Roman emperors, a permanent corps of nine cohorts, stationed around Rome. The Praetorian Guard at over 4500 men, was nearly the size of an imperial legion.

The Greek word Paul used to refer to his being in chains means a short chain binding he wrist of the prisoner to the wrist of the guard. Chained to a powerful and wide awake guard made escape impossible. To the Philippians, Paul says,

“my bonds became manifest in Christ throughout the whole Praetorian Guard” (Philippians 1:13).

The guard was most likely changed on a regular schedule, probably 4 to 6 times or more in a 24 hour-day. It is also likely that there were more guards in a shift.

They overheard his talking with his companions, his prayers and his discussions with visitors. I cannot imagine Paul resisting the opportunity presented by a literally captive audience. I am sure that he shared the Gospel with the guards. Each day there was a rotation, so he had a number of guards to evangelize. Apparently, as one became converted and then another, they talked in the barracks about the reality of Christ. Over the years of Paul’s imprisonment, many, if not most of the Praetorian Guard became converted to faith in Jesus.

This is the power of witnessing by word and life.

Basic Christian Ministry

Paul’s witness was straightforward–what Jesus did for him and what Jesus was doing in his life.

  • Who among you knows he or she is a sinner, saved by grace?
  • Who knows the love of Jesus?
  • Who believes that everyone who does not embrace Jesus is doomed to a Christless eternity?

Knowing this, each of you is fully qualified to evangelize. If that is too strong a word, then to share the love of Jesus with your neighbor.

If your neighbors do not accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, they will be cast into outer darkness where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth

He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life; but he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36)

If you have not told them of their danger, how will they hear?

Since Paul knew that his days were numbered, he wrote to the Ephesians.

“Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry.”  (2 Corinthians 6:2-3)

And again, how can those in this culture respond to the Gospel? The Good News has been shuttered off from the general populace. Since we live today in a 1st Century, pagan culture, Paul’s comments are relevant

Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? Even as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that bring glad tidings of good things!   (Romans 10:13-15)

You Are a Minister

Jesus gives you all you need to witness.

I am sending to you what my Father promised, so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.  (Luke 24:49)

This promise is the indwelling, empowering Holy Spirit.

“And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Therefore, in the Name of Jesus Christ I send you into the fields that are white unto harvest. You are the Evangelists. You are the Missionaries. You are the Preachers.

Go and make Disciples of all nations.

 Prayer to Equip Ministers

Lord God Holy Spirit, pour out on these people Your power. Make their hearts soft to Your entry and open to Your ministry in their lives.

Give them boldness to speak of the blessings of Jesus to any and all.

Give them confidence in You to protect them against the debilitation of the enemy of our souls.

Manifest in them your Gifts of the Holy Spirit and raise up in them the Fruit of the Spirit, so that their declaration of the truths of the Gospel will be natural and comfortable.

Hallelujah! We Praise You!


, , ,


Believe Not Every Spirit

20 Oct , 2016  

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us.This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.    (1 John 4:1-6)

What Do Christian Denominations Believe?

I spent some time examining the websites of the United Church of Christ, the United Presbyterian Church, the United Methodist Church and the Lutheran Church. It was frustrating trying to discover what they believe.

For some Denominations it was hard to even find a page that stated what they believe. In all, but the Lutheran Church, there is an absence of definition in their statements. While they affirm that Jesus Christ is the head of the church, their statements are squishy. It is hard to get a grip on where they stand on basic doctrines of the Trinity, who Jesus is, the sinfulness of mankind, the need of salvation, what salvation is, and the meaning of Communion and Baptism.

John instructs us to be skeptical. Not every spirit is of God.

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.   (Matthew 7:21)

What is the will of the Father?

This is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.   (John 6:40)

The Truth is Simple

It seems to me this is very simple and straightforward. If the truth is so simple, then why is it so hard to discover it in reading through the statements of these denominations? Why do they cloak God’s message in platitudinous statements about unity, service, acceptance, embracing everyone wherever they are theologically?

I’m with John:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  (1 John 4:1)

I’m skeptical. If one is unwilling to state what the Bible says,… If one is unwilling to quote from the Bible, it makes me suspicious that they are trying to hide from something. It puts me in mind of a certain couple who sewed leaves together and hid in the bushes, because they were hiding from the truth.

Are They Hiding the Truth?

Are these Denominations hiding from the truth? I know they are. I experienced firsthand their attempts to obscure their deviation from the truth of Scripture by the flowing language of inclusiveness, and the moral uprightness of defending the weak and effusive fretting over the sacredness of the planet.

John makes it very clear:

This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and is already in the world.    (v. 2 & 3)

The dividing line between truth and lie is Jesus Christ.

Paul speaks directly to Timothy and us.

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word, be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine, but they will gather to themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, having itching ears, and they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn to myths.    (2 Timothy 4:1-4)

Signs of Losing the Truth

We are seeing the signs in the Christian community of listening to teachers who explain away the plain truth if Scripture. We see churches who embrace feel-good doctrines that are strongly opposed in Scripture.

It appears that because the condemnation of sin stings their souls, these churches and denominations avoid mention of sin and the need for salvation. Of course they must also ignore the redemptive work of Christ on the cross.

Instead they preach a gospel of works salvation. They promote teachers and preachers that baptize their lusts and sanctify works to better the lot of people in this world. Tragically, like the Pharisees of old, they give their converts no hope of eternal life.

Why Should We Care?

Now this seems far removed for us. We are not in an apostate Denomination, so why should we care?

These Denominations affect us with their false doctrines by being the major players to whom the world turns to get the “official Christian view” of the issues of the day. They weigh in on the ungodly side of social issues, abortion and homosexuality. They make it appear to the decision-makers that they proclaim God’s truth. Anyone who upholds the “ancient” teaching of the Bible is part of a fringe group and can be ignored.

The result in America is legislation that has condoned a severe decline in morality.

The result has been the growing trend of excluding the Lord Jesus Christ from American society.

The result has been a dumbed-down morality to the extent that anything goes. Even among believing Christians sex without marriage is common, divorce is common. Even among evangelical churches acceptance of abortion and homosexuality are creeping in.

To clarify, all these sins are to be condemned, but the repentant sinner is to be loved and embraced.

The Enemy is At the Door

The fact is that the enemy of our souls has not only his foot in the door of America, but has been invited to come in and sit down. Our culture is becoming more and more uncomfortable for believing Christians. We can no longer assume that anyone around us is a believer. It is becoming harder to find believers so we can have close fellowship.

This tragic truth means that:

They are of the world, and therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them.   (v. 5)

Therefore, we must follow John’s advice:

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.   (v. 4),

We Must Know Jesus and What He Has Done

You and I must know what Jesus has done in our lives that make us true Christians. We must humbly acknowledge that we are sinners; that we need a Savior; that Jesus is the God/man Who is our Savior; and that there is no other. Indeed, we are sinners, but wonderfully saved by the grace of God and the Blood of Christ.

We must be rock-solid in the knowledge of the truth that you and I are children of God. Unhappily, we must be aware that most of those around us are not. As Children of God, we are joint heirs with Christ. The Holy Spirit dwells in us. Conversely, most of those around do not have the Spirit of Christ and, tragically are in fact on the road to spend eternity in Hell.

God is our Farther, and has poured out upon us such a gift of love that our hearts cannot contain it. Unhappily, we spend too much attention on living in this world and too little time with Jesus. We spend too little time appreciating what wonderful things He has for us.

Who We Are in Christ

When we realize who we are in Christ we can stand in His power against all the forces in the world

… because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.   (1 John 4:4)

You, who are here, are the over-comers Jesus talked about. You can overcome.

Turn to the person next to you and say, “In Christ, you are an over-comer!”

Hide God’s Word in Your Heart

Jesus overcame Satan by the Sword of the Word of God. Is there sin in your life? Have you confronted the ways you are living that are contrary to the Word of God? You, too, can defeat temptation and sin. You need to hide God’s Word in your heart so you will not sin. Sin gives Satan an entry point into your life. You do know that, don’t you? Sin in your life is the doorway that allows Satan free access. He is the Accuser of the brethren, and so he has a legal right to mess with us because of sin in our lives

The Holy Spirit will honor your efforts against sin and strengthen you to resist. You need to memorize Scripture so you are ready with an answer for the hope that is in you. You need to ask the Lord God Holy Spirit to give you a testimony to the faithfulness of God in your life. We are God’s people in a dying world.

Compassion for the Lost

John, in this epistle, talks a great deal about love. The love of God in our hearts should stir our hearts with compassion for the lost. They are on the road to Hell. There they will have only unutterable misery. In Dante’s Inferno, he labeled the gate of Hell, “Abandon Hope, All Who Enter Here”.

We are the ones who have the hope of Christ’s redemption to offer the hopeless in the world all around us.

Sharing the Good News

Look in your kit bag and inventory the resources you have available to share God’s love.

  • Knowledge of the reality of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit
  • Knowledge of a personal relationship with the Lord of the universe
  • Awareness of the truth that you are a sinner, but also aware you overcome sin through the blood of Christ and He has saved you from Hell
  • Knowledge that the Bible is true and reliable and you have it at your fingertips to open, read and find riches of encouragement, hope, comfort, strength, answers to questions, healing of soul and body
  • Awareness that Jesus is not only a close companion, but also your Brother, Lover, Savior, and King

Now that you have inventoried these and others, examine them. How polished with use are they? How sharp is your sword of the Spirit? How current is your testimony? How fresh is your conversation with the Lord Jesus? How full are you of the Holy Spirit’s power?

If your inventory reveals some flaws, turn them over to the Lord for refurbishing. Jesus will never leave you in the lurch if you appeal to Him. You always have recourse to all the resources He has for you.

Be Ready at All Times

The Holy Spirit does not wake us up in the morning and say, “Don” or “Mary” or Gene” or “Cindy, at 10 AM I’m going to bring someone to you, so take these Scriptures with you and polish your testimony, because you will need them.” Just as we do not know the day or the hour when Jesus will return, we do not know when God will bring into our lives “God-incidences” when we have to opportunity to proclaim the gospel to someone.

There was a venerated Rabbi long ago who said to his students, “Repent the day before you die!” They diligently took notes. One stopped and asked, “but, Rabbi, we do not know the day of our death?”

The rabbi responded, “Therefore repent every day!”

Since we do not know when the Holy Spirit will give us the opportunity to glorify Jesus in a conversation, we need to keep our armament of salvation prepared and ready to use; and to keep an ear open to the whispers of the Holy Spirit, “This is the one.”

Meeting the Challenges

There are many who will verbally challenge us. I was at a meeting of Real Estate brokers and salesmen; in conversation we exchanged business cards. On my business card I had the Scripture

But now in Christ Jesus ye that once were far off are made nigh in the blood of Christ.   (Ephesians 2:13)

When one man read my card, he became angry, “That is offensive!” he said. My response was mild, “but it is true.”

When the negative comes, we must be ready to respond in love and truth.

As you well know, I live by the adage that it is the Christian’s prerogative to bless. I have made it a practice of saying, “God bless you,” to all I meet and greet. Recently, this paid off again. A business associate came to me saying, “You have shown you’re a man of faith. I’m troubled about my faith.” In the subsequent conversation, he was able to unburden himself. God gave me the privilege of leading him in the sinner’s prayer. Then I gave him some guidelines in prayer and Bible study to establish him in either his new-found faith or in his revived faith. Since that time, I have written him with further suggestions for growth.

Share Love and Blessing

Do you see how simple it is when you operate in love and make yourself available for the Holy Spirit to use? There are opportunities that He will drop into your lap. People will ask a question that will leave a spiritual opening you can drive a truck through. The Holy Spirit will open these opportunities when He knows that you are prepared.

This takes a reorientation of life. Whose are you? Do you belong to Yourself? Do you belong to the world? Do you belong, heart and soul, to Jesus? Belonging heart and soul to Jesus – that is where you belong.

Embrace the Truth

If you will embrace the truth that you belong to Christ and dedicate your “spare” time to read and study His Word, you will be thrilled with what God will do. Set aside the romance novels, the evening TV, the social media, and even the demanding work. Instead, commit to morning and evening prayer, memorize Scripture, and study devotional classics. When you do, you will find a surprising number of opportunities coming your way. You will find your love for Jesus deepening and discover greater depths of His love for you. You will uncover greater love in your life for others.

Your confidence in Christ will grow so that John’s words will become active in your life/

We are of God, and whoever knows God listens to us. Whoever is not of God does not listen to us. This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.  (v. 6)

Our confidence in God will enliven our prayers, knowing He is listening. The tighter our relationship with Jesus is the more the Holy Spirit will give us the gift of discernment. John has exhorted us in vs. 2 & 3 to discern spirits–evaluate the desires in our own hearts and evaluate the lives of others. All that is not of Christ is of the antichrist.

  • We can know what is worthy of our time and what is not
  • We can know which things are godly and what are misleading
  • We can know those we meet are of God or of the antichrist

This knowledge allows us to choose spiritually what to engage in. The Holy Spirit will use that knowledge to direct us to engage some persons, witness to some, and avoid others.

God is Love

John tells us that God is love. Does is not stand to reason as you include God more intimately and more consistently in your daily life that you will experience more of His love? As you experience more of God’s love His joy will fill your heart. You will find that you will overflow with joy at just being with Him, at feeding on His Word, and at being in fellowship with other believers. I don’t mean to say you do not have such joys now. I do mean to say that the joy you now have will pale in comparison to what He has in store for you, when you spend more time with Jesus.

Oh, my friends, my brothers and sisters I know that your lives are going to blossom in the love of Christ as you surrender fully to Him.

Join Me in Prayer:

Precious Jesus, Your love is far beyond our comprehension. We know well and truly that you love us with an everlasting love.

It is a wonder that you have given us the discernment to know Your love and to know those who love you. You have given us the discernment to recognize the marks of an unbeliever. You have given us the power to overcome the evil one and his devices. You have given us the confidence that you hear us.

Therefore give us the further confidence to stride into the world and proclaim Your truth. Give us the courage to declare the reality of sin in the world and your righteousness to those who will listen. Give us the boldness even to proclaim these truths to those who will not listen and to those who resist the truth.

Lord Jesus make us worthy witnesses, to Your glory.



Who Am I? Whose Am I?

16 Sep , 2016  

Sermon for Maltby Congregational Church

May 28, 2000

And do not lead us into temptation,

But deliver us from the evil one.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face   (Matthew 6:13-17)

Jesus Asks His Disciples

Jesus asked his disciples “Who am I?” They answered various things, until Peter nailed it, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!”

Men and women live their lives with the same question, “Who am I?”

  • “What are you going to be when you grow up, Mary?”
  • “When I graduate from high school, should I work for a while or go on to college?”
  • “I’ve been working in this field for 20 years. Is there enough future here, or should I retrain for another field?’
  • “The children are grown and gone, and I can make some changes in my life. What should I do?”
  • “Now that I’m retired and have more time, what I am I going to do with it?”

While usually phrased in terms of what we do, these questions usually mean, “Who am I?”

The Seattle Phone Book lists about 300 Psychiatrists and about 350 Psychologists. These practitioners have perhaps 25 clients a week—over 16,000 people who are basically asking, “Who am I?”

Whose Are We?

While this is a basic question, I submit it is not foundational. Actually, who we are is based upon WHOSE we are.

photo-1473294312123-83488e2f8e8fWhen I was ordained, one of the ministers in a neighboring church gave me an owl. He said that I was to always listen to the question the owl was asking me, “Whose, whose, whose?” In response I should always question whose I was, whose voice I was listening to and whose demands I followed.

Peter was impetuous. He embraced Jesus as his teacher and became one of the Disciples. His wholehearted commitment placed him at the center of Jesus’ ministry. He tried to argue with Jesus about Jesus death, and was chastised for it. Peter stoutly affirmed his loyalty, but he was the one who publicly denied his Lord. Peter and John raced to the tomb. John beat Peter there, yet it was Peter who had the temerity to be the first one inside. It was Peter whom when he saw his resurrected Messiah on the shore, jumped naked into the water and swam to him.

So when Jesus asked, “Who am I?” Peter blurted out not only the right answer, but the whole answer. He not only stated who Jesus was, “Thou art the Christ…”, but also stated WHOSE Jesus was, “…the Son of the living God.”.

Self vs. Others

The “Who am I?” question is really self-centered. It focuses us in on ourselves, out talents, our feelings, our needs, our goals. The problem with that is that we live in a world of others. Those around us have feelings, needs and goals too. We live in a spiritual world as well—whether we recognize it or not.

The better question, “Whose am I?”, focuses us on the people around us and on God. It allows us to see ourselves in community. We can work out how we fit in. When we include God in this question, we tap into His inexhaustible resources for discovering who we are in this world and in His.

So let’s get beyond the question of who, and investigate WHOSE. To whom do we belong.

While there are myriad possible answers to, “Whose”, I propose three categories. Each of us can belong to self, each of us can belong to other people, or we can belong to God or Satan.

I suppose belonging to self is most appealing to people generally. I also claim that it is ultimately self-destructive. While belonging to other people is in some sense better, it is still very limiting. It is temporal and temporary. We have a sense of wholeness only so long as others live or so long as they are satisfied with us.

We Can Belong to God

Belonging spiritually means we have two choices. Because of the world into which we all have been born, we belong to Satan by default. It is only through God’s action and our choice that we can belong to God.

Jesus’ death on the cross had several purposes. He paid the penalty for our sin. He showed us the way to the Father. And He purchased or redeemed us from Satan. Thus, once we surrender to God and ask Jesus to become our Lord and Saviour, we are cleansed from our sin, justified in God’s eyes, purchased as bond slaves from Satan, adopted into God’s family, and given eternal life.

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.  (Romans 8:14)

Because we are children of God, we belong to Him. We are joint heirs with Christ. We share his inheritance. We can do all that He could do—that is, if we believe Jesus.

He that believes on me the works I do he will also do; and greater works than these will he do. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do for you, so that I will glorify the Father.”   (John 14:12, 13)

We Share in God’s Kingdom

We also share His priesthood. Peter in his first Epistle tells us in 2:9, “you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.” So we are kings and queens and priests of Almighty God. We hold exalted places in this world and the next.

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;    (I Peter 2:9)

I Belong to God

So the best possible answer to the foundational question, “Whose are you?”, is, “I belong to God and he has made me His child. As a result I am a prince or princess of Almighty God.” Because we belong to God we have all the rights and privileges thereto appertaining.

In addition we have duties and responsibilities as children of God.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.   (2 Peter 1:5-8)

Live diligently—really working at it, instead of drifting with the tide.

Be diligent in faith—seeking actively to increase your faith; to believe God is greater than you think He is. Expect more of God. Understand you are His child and a joint heir with Jesus. Trust He will do more with you and through you.

Be diligent in virtue—stay honest before God asking Him to guide you into living righteously. Ask Him to cleanse your life of anything that displeases Him.

Search me, O God, and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.   (Psalm 139:23, 24)

Be diligent in knowledge—learn more about God. Study the Bible daily. Test the things you read by trying to live them.

Be diligent in temperance—learn where you tend to stray from God’s way. Control you temper, your diet, your tongue,

Be diligent in patience—become aware that, since you belong to God, He is in charge of your time. You don’t have to fret.

They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength.  (Isaiah 40:31)

Be diligent in godliness—learn to emulate God in kindness and undeserved love and loving generosity.

Be diligent in brotherly kindness—look for opportunities to do good deeds for one another, grant unmerited gifts.

Be diligent in love—love is not a “special way of feeling. Love is a choice. Love is the most difficult of God’s virtues, because there may be no reward. The majority of the world does not love Him and does not respond. Yet loving the unworthy is the way of victory and the way to God’s own heart. We can begin to understand why love is at the end of this chain of growth.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.   (John 3:16)

Doctrine of Christ

As the Letter to the Hebrews tells us in Chapter 6 there are foundational principles of the doctrine of Christ.

Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting,we will do so.

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case—the things that have to do with salvation. God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized.  We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.   (Hebrews 6:1-12)

The Certainty of God’s Promise

When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.

People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.   (Hebrews 6:13-20)

Understanding these, incorporating them into our lives and growing beyond them toward perfection is the mark of belonging to God.

These foundational principles are:

  • Repentance from Dead Works—stop believing that we can do something to earn God’s love.  Instead live godly lives, doing good works in thanksgiving for all that God has done for us and to bless those around us.
  • Doctrine of Baptisms—know what baptism means and knowing about the two baptisms God provides.
  • Laying on of Hands—knowing that God acts through us when in faith we place our hands on another and pray for various blessings.
  • Resurrection of the Dead—knowing that all who die in Christ will be raised together at the last day.
  • Eternal Judgment—Knowing that all will be called before God to answer for their lives and what choice they made about Jesus.  Understanding that ALL who do not live perfect lives or have embraced Jesus as Lord and Savior are to be eternally separated from God – eternally separated from love and blessing.

Children of God

As children of God we are called to grow in Christ.  Never be satisfied with milk and pabulum, but earnestly seek to understand meaty issues of Christian doctrine and Christian life.

We demonstrate to the world WHOSE we are by our lives. Living in a way that blends into society communicates that we belong to society. Living in a way that satisfies our own needs and desires communicates that we belong to ourselves. However, living godly lives in opposition to society and in opposition to ourselves communicators that we are not only bond slaves to Christ, but also children of God and heirs to Christ’s Kingdom. It is likely we won’t fit in. It is likely the world will hate us. But this is a small price to pay for an eternity of blessedness.

When you look into the mirror at the end of the day, look into your own eyes and ask, “Whose were you today?”

Let Us Pray

We are here, Jesus, because we know you are God. We we need you. Show each one of us when we are living as if we belong to you. Show us when we are living as if we belonged to another.

Holy Spirit, guide us into the way of righteousness. Make our lives reflect Jesus so much that people will come to us and say, “Please show me the way to Jesus.”

Now the God of Grace, who has called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered awhile, make you perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you. To Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.


, , ,


Live with Faith in Jesus

18 Aug , 2016  

Jesus IS the Messiah

  Matthew 16:13-28

But he turned, and said to Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art and offence to me: for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”   Matthew 16:23

“Hey, Jesus! Cut him some slack.” Peter understands. He gets it–Jesus IS the Messiah, and more. He is born of God, the Son of God. Jesus has been calling himself the “Son of man”, but that’s just to identify himself with other men. Peter has discovered that a man or woman must see beyond his manhood, to fully know Jesus.

When Peter confessed his understanding and proclaimed this truth, Jesus blessed him. “Peter you have stopped looking with your eyes. You have stopped operating out of the motivation of your soul. You have listened to the voice of God. You are seeing with spiritual eyes, and are being motivated by the Holy Spirit.”

All Who Confess Jesus

Then He further honored Peter. Jesus stated that the revelation Peter proclaimed, “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God!”, will be the foundation of Christ’s Church. All who confess this, all who submit to Jesus as God will be members of Christ’s church. Without this proclamation, there is no foundation and no Church.

Jesus bestowed two gifts on the Disciples. He gave them entry into heaven and the method to allow others to enter.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  (Romans 10:13)

Then, Jesus gave them and all disciples authority on earth and in heaven.

And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven  (Matthew 16:19)

The holder of keys has the right to lock and unlock doors. He has the authority to allow or disallow entry. Jesus has entrusted that high honor to the Disciples and to all disciples who follow.

Jesus Died for Us

Next, the Messiah offered something even more precious. He shared with them His mind and the intention of Almighty God. Jesus began to reveal to the Disciples the mystery, the hidden truth, that Jesus must die for the Sin of mankind; that He will be in the grave for three days; and that God will raise Him up (v. 21).

Peter was stunned! Here he was basking in the glow of Jesus blessing and praise. Likely, Peter was only half listening as Jesus continued speaking. Maybe he was caught up in a vision of Christ’s Church. Maybe Peter saw himself, as one of Christ’s inner circle, bestowing grace upon thousands. Perhaps his heart was overflowing with love for this wonderful, special Man.

Suddenly he returned to the present. “What did he Say!? He’s going to be murdered – And by the chief priests!? That can’t be! He just said He’s going to found a new Church. The chief priests had been grumbling against Jesus, but murder Him? NEVER! Not on my watch!” Jesus wasn’t making sense.

Shadow of Death

Peter was yanked from the glow of a mountain top experience and plunged into the valley of the shadow of death. Peter’s extravagant love for Jesus, his absolute loyalty to the mission as Peter saw it, made him forget his position. He was a disciple at the feet of the Teacher. His heart overcame his head. Peter’s protective impulse, while noble in the abstract was inappropriate due to his ignorance. Peter leapt out to shield his Master from folly. Where immediately before, Peter had responded to the Holy Spirit; now he was controlled by fleshly emotions. Peter would die before he allowed anyone to harm Jesus – even Jesus Himself!

Blind to everything, but his fear of the danger Jesus was intentionally walking into, Peter rebuked Jesus, “Don’t be a fool! If the priests will endanger you, don’t go to Jerusalem. Have you lost your mind! I won’t let you! I’ll save You from Yourself”

Get Thee Behind Me, Satan!

Just when Peter thought there could be nothing lower than this valley he had plunged into, His beloved Master turned on him. “Get thee behind me, Satan!” “He called me Satan!” Peter must have been crushed. Here he was, just trying to save Jesus, and Jesus calls Peter a tool of the devil. Confused, humiliated, dejected, Peter felt lower than a whale’s belly, scratching on the seabed.

Jesus said Peter was hindering Him, obstructing His mission, interfering with Jesus plans, undermining his purpose. Jesus was saying, “You are living limited and unthinking, controlled by your emotions. Whereas just before you were listening to the voice of God, now your emotions have blinded you to the mind of God. Now you are allowing your emotions to crowd Him out.”

You see, Peter couldn’t yet get beyond death as finality. His emotions, while noble – love for Jesus and desire to protect Him – and ignoble – fear of death, fear of the loss of a dream – overcame his understanding that Jesus is God! Peter lost track of the fact that God knows everything, that He can raise the dead (He’d seen it several times), and that Jesus is not limited to man’s resources.

We are Like Peter

Truth be told, we are much like Peter. You and I, too often, operate in the realm of emotions, rather then the realm of the Holy Spirit. If a loved one or a dear friend becomes gravely ill, so that we fear for his life, we become desperate. The movie, John Q, explores this. The hero’s child needed an immediate organ transplant to save his life. Insurance wouldn’t pay for it. John Q and his family didn’t have the resources to pay for it. In desperation, his wife railed at him to do something. So, our hero took hostages and threatened the lives of many people to force the hospital to perform the transplant for his child. He is shown to be operating out of the best of motives–love for his child and willingness to make any personal sacrifice, even prison, to save his child.

Isn’t this is noble? Can’t we all identify this as moral high ground? The end of saving this child’s life justifies John Q’s desperate and life-threatening behavior.

Or does it?

God is Always Here

Let’s speculate on God’s view of this situation. He is left out of the movie in any real way, but in real situations He is always here. God is well aware of the suffering that sickness and death puts people through. He suffers, too. He knows the heartbreak of losing a child to death. God experienced both sides of it–as Himself and as the Son. We are not dealing with an esoteric, unfeeling God. In the Gospels, we see that Jesus hates death. The Rev. Canon Dennis Bennett said, “Jesus broke up every funeral He attended.” When He arrived at Lazarus’ tomb, Jesus’ spirit was deeply grieved. He groaned under the burden of mourning. He wept (John 11:33-35) in sorrow along with Mary and Martha and the Jews. Even though Jesus knew He would be raising Lazarus from the dead, He wept. He hates death. That’s why God took on death nose to nose, toe to toe–and defeated it!!

Jesus Victory over Death

Jesus’ victory has transformed death from an irretrievable dead end to but a threshold to enlarged life. We can’t conceive of all that means. Perhaps, that is why the Bible gives such a sketchy view of life beyond the grave. Jesus knows that death, even in the most dire and hopeless and despairing situations, is not certain. God has the power to intervene. God can deliver from the jaws of death; He can stay the progress of disease; He can even turn death to life. If you and I will look to Him with our whole hearts, He will replace fear with trust, grief with joy – in the midst of loss.

Trust in God’s Help

Thus, to John Q, to Peter, and to us, God says, “Trust in me, follow me, submit to me, and your life will be full. Trust me to bring your circumstances out of the valley into the light. Follow me through the darkness of confusion and sorrow and I will lead you into assurance of life everlasting. Submit to my command to love me and love others. Don’t limit your life to your own understanding. You will be given the victory over dire situations. I will uphold you by my Almighty Hand. And I will fill you with abundant joy.”

The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.   (Deuteronomy 33:27)

Peter’s emotions conquered his trust in Jesus, conquered his obedience to his Master, and conquered his will to follow Jesus anywhere Jesus would lead. As a result, Peter became the tool of Satan. Peter had not grown enough in the spirit to require his emotions to submit. The Disciple tempted the Master to turn aside from the God-ordained path.

Do You Trust Jesus?

Do you identify with John Q? Do you feel he was justified in the extreme measures he took to save his child?

  • Many are saying after “9/11”, our lives have changed and will never be the same.
    • NOT SO! The world is the same fallen world as it was before. Our God is just as much God as He was before. As Christians, we have the authority of Jesus in the same measure as before. In Christ’s name, we can change the world.

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.  (Colossians 11:17)

  • Many live in fear of burglars breaking in, being attacked in the street, losing jobs or homes or family, of getting sick, or becoming destitute. Fear is natural, so it is acceptable for Christians to live in fear.
    • NOT SO! God is our fortress and high tower, a certain bulwark in time of trouble. God is our provider of food, clothing, shelter – yes, but so much more! He provides love, eternal life, new life fresh every morning, and God’s acceptance that completely overwhelms all shame.

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—from violent people you save me.

I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and have been saved from my enemies. The waves of death swirled about me: the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me.

In my distress I called to the Lord; I called out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears. (2 Samuel 22:2-7)

  • Many are infirm, disabled, sick, and suffering. This is the natural progress of life. This is the cross we must bear.
    • NOT SO! “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Jesus tells us. This means He has won the victory and presented us with a fete accompli, an accomplished fact. He has won the victory over sickness, addiction, infirmity, disability, poverty, and death. And more wonderful still, Jesus has given that victory to His adopted brothers and sisters – you and I who love Christ and long for his appearing.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Hope in Time of Trouble

When you feel you are walking in Peter’s footsteps,

  • “Jesus you can’t do that!”
  • “Lord I can’t bear it any more!”
  • “The Lord’s not doing anything, I’ll have to do something myself.”
  • “After what has happened between us, I can’t love that person any more.”
  • “I’ll never get out of the hole I’m in”

That’s the flesh talking, and it’s precisely the time to tune your spiritual ears to the Savior. Embrace and learn from His rebuke, “You are an offense to me, because you are clinging to the habits of men and forsaking your inheritance with God; an inheritance I bought for you with my blood!

Receive Comfort

Recognize your emotions for what they are. Recognize that the heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). Face your emotions. Don’t hide from them or deny them. Just don’t allow them to dominate your spirit and dictate your actions.

You are a princess of the Almighty King.

You are a prince of the Lord God.

Do not be led astray by emotion. Instead, lead your emotions into the light of Christ and let the Refiner’s Fire purify them.

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Matthew 16:25-26)

I hear you thinking, “Easy for you to say.” On the contrary, no change in life habit comes easily. They are hardly won. Change begins with a step.

The most dangerous step is out the door. You never know where it will lead.  (Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien)

Because change is hard and dangerous, most choose to sit by the fire. That causes us to turn our backs on the offerings of Christ. It leads to ignoring the call of the Holy Spirit. It results in rebellion against God.

Here is how it works

  1. Confess to God each time your emotions take charge
  2. Admit your own powerlessness
  3. Ask Jesus to apply His wisdom and strength to each situation
  4. Submit to what He tells you
  5. Thank Him for delivering you from the tyranny of your emotions
  • Now start praising God. Praise of God in the midst of difficulty and crisis is an act of faith, a sacrifice of praise (Jeremiah 33:11; Hebrews 13:15). God is always worthy of praise.
  • Build yourself up in the knowledge of the Word. Jesus resisted the tempter in the wilderness by quoting scripture. We can hold on to our trust in God through any situation bolstered by the Word of God.
  • Pray without ceasing. Paul adjures us (Romans 12:12), “…continuing instant in prayer:” This is the life of prayer to which God calls us.

Start New Each Day

A photo by dan carlson. fresh each day, and if necessary, each minute. The more we actively seek to live in the victory of Christ, the more we have the mind of Christ. The more we have the mind of Christ, the less we will be subject to the domination of the flesh. The less we are subject to the domination of the flesh, the freer we are in the spirit and the more the joy of the Lord will permeate our lives.

For Christ is the Victory!

, , ,


Listening to God, Acting for God

24 Jul , 2016  


Exodus 19:1-31:18

April 27, 2014

Moses Brings God’s Words to the Children of Israel

 You have seen for yourselves what I did to Egypt. You saw how I carried you on the wings of eagles and brought you to myself. Now obey me completely. Keep my covenant. If you do, then out of all of the nations you will be my special treasure. The whole earth is mine. But you will be a kingdom of priests to serve me. You will be my holy nation.’ That is what you must tell the Israelites.”

So Moses went back. He sent for the elders of the people. He explained to them everything the Lord had commanded him to say.

All of the people answered together. They said, “We will do everything the Lord has said.”

So Moses brought their answer back to the Lord.  (Exodus 19:4-8)


And Moses came and told the people all the words of Jehovah, and all the ordinances: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which Jehovah hath spoken will we do.

And Moses wrote all the words of Jehovah, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the mount, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt-offerings, and sacrificed peace-offerings of oxen unto Jehovah. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basins; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that Jehovah hath spoken will we do, and be obedient.

And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which Jehovah hath made with you concerning all these words.  (Exodus 24:3-8)


 Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab along with all whom God had gifted with the ability to work skillfully with their hands. The men were eager to get started and engage in the work. They took from Moses all the offerings that the Israelites had brought for the work of constructing the Sanctuary. The people kept on bringing in their freewill offerings, morning after morning.

All the artisans who were at work making everything involved in constructing the Sanctuary came, one after another, to Moses, saying, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing this work that God has commanded us to do!”

So Moses sent out orders through the camp: “Men! Women! No more offerings for the building of the Sanctuary!   (Exodus 36:2-6)

Here are separate incidents where Moses brings God’s words to the Children of Israel. They hear and they vow to obey. They have Listened to God, and they swear to Act for God.

In the first incident (Exodus 19:4-8), they had seen God’s power and they swore on the basis of that. “Wow! He made the Pharaoh bow to His demands, and He destroyed the Egyptian army when they came after us. We better agree or we’re toast!”

“OK, God whatever you say, just don’t get angry with US.”

They agreed without knowing what was in store for them.

But this was lip service. They agreed with their lips, but they made no heart commitment. They did not own their vow. They heard God’s words, but did not take them to heart.

In the second instance (Exodus 24:3-8), Moses called all the people together. Then, in their hearing, Moses read all the Law required of them, including:

  1. The Ten Commandments
  2. Laws about treatment of servants—releasing a slave in the Sabbath year, slaves marrying and bearing children, how the slave can become a permanent slave, the Master marrying a slave,
  3. Laws about violence—killing another accidentally or on purpose, killing a slave, injury to a pregnant woman, an eye for and eye.
  4. Laws about responsibility—injury to another, injury caused by an ox, caused by leaving an open pit.
  5. Laws about theft and restoration—the practical penalty of a caught thief, the loss of entrusted goods, one’s fire destroys another’s property
  6. Laws about human relations—fornication, treatment of strangers, usury, speaking ill of the Deity of leaders, timely offerings of first fruits,
  7. Laws about judgments—not bearing false witness, joining a mob, returning stray animals to their owner, not discriminating for or against the poor, reject bribes, giving the land its Sabbath rest.

They have lived under YHWH’s guidance and provision for 3-5 months. This time, they clearly have the knowledge to make an informed commitment. The People of God own the Covenant and swear to obey.

This time, they have a full picture of the Covenant terms. They heard and understood God. Now the ball was in their court. They, as individuals and as a nation, had to act out what God spoke to them.

God had to deliver His Chosen people from the disaster

We all know the story. They blew hot and cold. One generation was zealous for the Law and for God. Two generations later, and several after that, they were indifferent and grew to be apostate. I have never stopped to count the number of times God had to deliver His Chosen people from the disaster they fell into through their apostasy.

What was the recurring pattern, what happened to the Children of Israel time after time? What does this say about God?

In 1 John 4:8 he says, “God is love.” Since God is love, where do we discover what that means?

God is Love, and Love is…

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

  1. love suffers long
  2. love is kind
  3. love does not envy another
  4. love does not boast
  5. love is not conceited
  6. love does not behave improperly
  7. loves does not strive for what is not its own
  8. love is not provoked
  9. love does not retaliate for evil done to it
  10. love does not rejoice in unrighteousness
  11. love rejoices in the truth
  12. love bears all things
  13. love believes all things—love hopes all things
  14. love endures all things—love never fails

Understanding what the love of God means

What is God telling us through the Beloved Apostle John?

We are God’s children and only the man who knows God hears our message; what we say means nothing to the man who is not himself a child of God. This gives us a ready means of distinguishing the true from the false.

To you whom I love I say, let us go on loving one another, for love comes from God. Every man who truly loves is God’s son and has some knowledge of him. But the man who does not love cannot know him at all, for God is love.

To us, the greatest demonstration of God’s love for us has been his sending his only Son into the world to give us life through him. We see real love, not in that fact that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to make personal atonement for our sins.  (1 John 4:6-11)

If God loved us as much as that, surely we, in our turn, should love each other!

God gave the Children of Israel His directions how they should live

God spoke to the Children of Israel, giving them his directions how they should live. God speaks to us today, giving us directions how to live.

He has spoken to us in:

  1. the words of the Disciples, who gave us the narratives of the life of Christ
  2. through the Epistles of the Apostle Paul
  3. through the Epistles of James, Peter, John and Jude
  4. most graphically through the death and Resurrection of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

We have listened to God speaking to us. We are listening today. We have completed and continue to complete the first half—we listen to God.

How do we act for God?

How do we complete the second half? How do we act for God?

You have heard it said many times before: we are the hands and feet and voice of our Lord God.

  • Vicki shows us how in keeping track of Mary, and encouraging her
  • Michael shows us how in volunteering to help Ruth in her home
  • Marion demonstrates how in her unstinting hospitality, week after week
  • Dan shows us how in cleaning  the church
  • Gene tells us how by his bringing appropriate little gifts to us

We all can look and point to acts of love we all make to one another. “Behold how they love one another!” is true of us.

Test of our love

What is not evident is how we act out what we have heard from God in the world. Our close Christian group is a secure microcosm under God’s love and entwined with the mutual love we all share. We reinforce one another, not only in our fellowship, but also in our relationships individually with our Loving Father.

The world at large, however, is not mutually reinforcing. There is a distinct absence of Godly love in our culture. Businesses know that the friendly, helpful approach leads to dollars, so they instruct their employees to smile. Nevertheless this is not real love.

Every day we encounter drivers who are ungracious, pushy, erratic, and offensive (it is our fervent prayer that we do not have with them close encounters of the 3rd kind).

We have had to deal with fellow employees, apparently bent on bringing us down. People, who are feeling stress, take it out on others. Bureaucrats who are serving their time for a paycheck couldn’t care less about the public’s problems or needs. The atmosphere in the world is a serious test of our love.

Live out love

To act for God is to live out love. Bless when we are cursed. When you see those without a smile, give them one of yours. Pray for them before, during and after each encounter. Leave them with a word of blessing, whether they like it or not.

To act for God in living love is to be patient and understanding, even when things are not going your way. Recognize that the person on the other end of the phone or behind the counter has not appeared the moment you encounter them. He or she has been putting up with all kinds of people before you arrived and is aware that she or he will have to after you leave. Make you encounter as pleasant as you can. In gratitude, drop a blessing into their lives.

When you cannot get through the bureaucratic labyrinth and your frustration level grows, begin praying and reacquire the peace that Jesus alone can give. Learn to respond instead of reacting. Our immediate human reaction is usually retaliatory and offensive. However, if we refer our situations and emotions to the Holy Spirit, He generates a Godly response. We thus allow our Guide and Counselor to speak love through us.

Love is an action

We have listened to the Old Testament summery of the Law many times.

Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah: and thou shalt love Jehovah thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.  (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

Perhaps more times we have heard Jesus summary of the Law.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.  (Luke 10:27)

Having listened to this, our act is to love God. Love is not just a squishy feeling in your stomach, which just might be the flu. Love is an action. You love God by:

  • Placing God first in your life—first before spouse, children, family, work recreation, and most importantly, before self
  • Being in close fellowship with His Son, your Savior
  • Speaking to Him daily
  • Studying His Word, written to you daily
  • Following His instructions
  • Being a good example of a Christ-filled life
  • Going into the world and witnessing to His love and blessings

This second half of our topic is the proof of the first. You will act for God if you have truly listened to God. We have a solid base from which to do the acts of love to those in the world, to our families and to our Lord. Go into all the world and make disciples, loving them into the Kingdom of God by presenting Christ to them through word and deed.


Our Gracious Father, we recognize we are slow learners. You have taught us this lesson of love in Your Word and from sermons all our believing lives. We confess that even after we have heard your instruction to love, like the Children of Israel, we forget and act out our worldliness.

Thank you for being patient with us and teaching us again and again the truth that love wins. Grant us the wisdom to allow Your love to so pervade our lives that it flows out in acts of blessing and words of encouragement to those who are Yours and to those who are not yet.

Through Jesus Christ our Savior, we pray.      Amen



The Laborer Is Worthy of His Hire,… or Less So

19 Jul , 2016  

Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard, by Rembrandt

August 3, 2014

1 For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace,and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same.And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’  16 So the last will be first, and the first last.  (Matthew 20:1-16)

This parable of the workers in the vineyard is one of the Parables of the Kingdom.

The Parables of the Kingdom

Jesus likened the Kingdom to at least ten different worldly illustrations:

  1. The Wheat and Tares – Matthew 13:24
  2. The Mustard Seed– Matthew 13:31
  3. The Leaven – Matthew 13:33
  4. The Treasure Hidden in a Field– Matthew 13:44
  5. The Pearl of Great Price– Matthew 13:45
  6. The Net– Matthew 13:47
  7. The Treasures New and Old– Matthew 13:52
  8. The Impossible Debt – Matthew 20:1
  9. The Laborers in the Vineyard– Matthew 20:2
  10. The Ten Virgins– Matthew 25:1

Laborers in the Vineyard

Today we are looking at the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard. You just read how the landowner recruited and paid his workers. Imagine the joyful surprise the workers felt when they received a full day’s wage for one hour’s labor. Wow! What a thrill!

“Hey, guys! Let’s come back to work for this guy tomorrow!”

Some will calculate that they can make it a habit to work only an hour and get a full day’s pay. A few others will have a sense of obligation and will come back to work even harder to pay back the generosity of the owner. Some folk are manipulators, while others are honorable.

That is the condition of mankind. Some people will job the system to get as much as they can, while others work the job to give as much as they can.

Our Master is Almighty God. He came into our lives with a blessing and a demand. Like any employer, He expects those whom He employs to give him a full day’s work for a full day’s pay. Our work is the same as Jesus’ work, that is to do the will of the Father; to labor in His vineyard.

Some people he calls early to work. They are privileged to never know life without Jesus. Others he calls as youths. They know a life without Jesus and have tasted the bitterness of sin. Some Jesus calls late in life, even on their death beds. They have seven or eight decades of sin washed away instantly by the blood of Christ.

God, in His mercy, equally rewards each one who turns to Him. Everyone earns condemnation, but receives God’s mercy and eternal life of blessings—love, joy and peace. Billy Graham, after half a century or more of faithful labor in God’s vineyard, receives the same “wage” as the mass murderer who earnestly and honestly repents and calls upon God just before his execution.

Fair is fair

I estimate that the majority of people—believers and unbelievers who read this parable for the first time react, “Hey! That’s not fair!” They agree with the workers who labored in the heat of the day. If the last workers who labored only an hour get a full day’s pay, those who labored all day should get a lot more.

Fair is fair. The 12-hour workers should get a full day’s pay.

The 9-hour workers should get ¾ pay.

The 6-hour workers ½ pay.

The 3-hour workers ¼ pay.

And the 1-hour worker gets 1/12th of a day’s pay.

That’s the just and proper way to pay for workers.

The City of Seattle just raised the minimum wage from $9.32/hr. to $15.00/hr, that is more than a 50% increase. That means that if a burger joint hires an unskilled high school dropout, the owner must pay her $15.00/hour. Well, fair is fair.  The fellow behind the counter has two year’s experience, He knows the job inside and out. After two raises he now receives $12.00/hr. If the owner raises him to just $15.00, he is cheating the experienced worker. In justice for his experience, the owner should be paying $18 or $20/hr. Fair is fair.

Is God cheating the workers in the Kingdom who have always been His chosen people? They have grown in Christ. They have served God and His people for years, some for many years. Are they getting a raw deal because crooks get into the Kingdom on the same basis as the long-term workers?

Of course not! You knew the answer before I finished the question. Well, if this is not cheating anyone, how can that be?

Kingdom of God

Jesus used these Parables of the Kingdom to show what the Kingdom of God is LIKE, not what it IS.

  1. It is like – separation of the good from the bad—No bad thing is allowed in Heaven
  2. It is like – an insignificant thing that results in a world-filling blessing
  3. it is like – a growing presence that permeates everything and affects all
  4. it is like – a discovery that is worth the world
  5. It is like – a beauty that must be possessed and all costs
  6. It is like – choosing the best regardless of kind and discarding the worst regardless of kind
  7. It is like – things that are wonderful and appreciated because they are both ancient and modern
  8. It is like – merciful forgiveness of all, and yet justice to punish all
  9. It is like – a generous reward for Labor no matter how much or little
  10. It is like – being always adequately prepared for a party

Heaven is actually none of these things. It is like nothing we have ever experienced before. It is beyond our wildest imaginings. Paul spoke in his second letter to Corinth, chapter 12, of the man who was given a vision of “the third heaven”.  Paul said, “he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” It apparently was glorious, but he could not express it in human language.

We live in a material world, but we try to understand Heaven, a spiritual world. To do so we must throw out all understanding of how things are. In the first place, Heaven is eternal. It has no time. This means there is no first, second, last.

Heaven is infinite. It has no space. This means there is no distance, no up or down. The physical laws that govern our universe do not apply in Heaven.

However all that is spiritual will be in Heaven. The fruit of the Spirit will be manifested in everyone. Peter talks of our love for Jesus who we cannot see, and of “joy unspeakable and fill of glory”. In the Revelation to the Apostle John, there appears to be perpetual worship of Almighty God. All these spiritual things we, you and I, will experience in God’s Kingdom.

Every believer, whether translated or raptured, will be a part of that innumerable throng worshipping around the Presence of God. Because there is no space, we will not be in ranks, but each will be as close to God as every other. All these spiritual truths will be in Heaven and we will all experience them.

Paul teaches us that we will know fully, as we are also known. God knows us completely. In His Kingdom, we will completely know each and every other person, and they will know us just as completely. Intimacy of relationships will give us all a loving heart for one another. However, since God is infinite and we are not, we probably can never know Him completely. Yet we will have an enormously greater knowledge of Him than we are able to have in this life.

As we begin to expand our perceptions, we can gain an appreciation of the otherness of Heaven. And yet it will not be alien to us who are believers. We have an appreciation of how good and comfortable it will be to be in the Presence of the God who loves us, the Savior who died for us and the Holy Spirit that has been teaching us all through our lives in Christ. There will be a familiarity of heaven, because we will be home at last.

You can see that the rewards in Heaven are magnificent; they are fabulous. All the world’s treasures fade in comparison to the Treasures Old and New in God’s Kingdom. The necessity of differential of rewards for different skills, achievements or number of hours worked shrinks to insignificance. Whether one is paid one day’s pay for two days work or for one hour of work is negligible in the scope of the blessings of God’s kingdom.

There will be no competition for rewards, so God’s generosity will be hailed by all. The love that will be manifested in us will cause us to rejoice in God’s blessings to others as much or more than in His blessings to us.

Our Love for Our Master

When we appreciate the magnitude of God’s blessings that await us, it will cause us to be willing to work unstintingly for our loving Father. Our gratitude will impel us to labor in His vineyard through the heat of the day. Our love will move us to willingly engage in hard, tiring labor.

You see God is a merciful and loving Master, and yet He is a hard taskmaster. He is so because the fields are white unto harvest and the time on this material earth is short. We must work diligently for the night is coming when no one can work.

God hires us on for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 12 months of the year. We get no lunch break, no sick days or weekends or holidays off. But we do get marvelous job security and His retirement plan is out of sight.

Our love for our Master will press us into the work. Our gratitude for His blessing in this life and in the glorious life to come should lead us eagerly to put our best efforts into the work of the Kingdom. In this frame of mind, rewards become immaterial in both senses of the term.

Immaterial, that is, not a concern to us.

Immaterial, that is spiritual, and not material.

Our rewards will be in Heaven; however, just living the life in Christ here and now should be reward enough.

Seek to be a Laborer Worthy of Hire

The days are short and the night is approaching, so our every effort should be bent toward harvesting souls for God’s Kingdom. The time is not far off when the government will seek to put a stop to anyone speaking name of Christ, even in private. The time is not far off when brutal persecution—first fines, then jail, and later torture and death will be the lot of outspoken believers. The time for our proclamation of the Good news of God’s Kingdom is upon us. The time of our service for our Master is here. Seek now to be a laborer worthy of your hire.

When we hold back because of timidity, we will be betraying the sacrifice of Christ. When we fail because we have not tried, we will be failing our Loving Father. While God will save each and everyone he has elected, still he intends for each and every one of us to speak the word in season and out of season. In so doing, we can be God’s instruments to bring others to Jesus and salvation. The act of witnessing, laboring in God’s vineyard, is an exciting challenge. And then when one we are witnessing to turns her heart or his heart over to Jesus, God rewards us with an overflow of His joy unspeakable and full of glory.

“Why stand ye here all day idle? Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you!”


Our Gracious Master and Lord, You have commanded us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature, making them disciples. We have done so, more or less. Give us the understanding that this world is our temporary field of labor. Here we are charged with being responsible to be diligently laboring to take the good news to those in the world around us.

Holy Spirit, give us boldness beyond our nature so that we can, without fear, tell others about Jesus loving sacrifice for them. Give us the confidence that we will have the words to say. Instruct us in the Scriptures and give us the knowledge to speak in ways that will touch the hearts of others.

Our generous, merciful Father, pour out upon us Your power to be Your workers, eagerly pursuing the labor. Give us the freedom to shrug off negative responses and refusals. Grant us the joy of leading many to Jesus, and then greeting them as new brothers and sisters in Christ.

O God, we are Yours. Make us conformed to the image of your Son our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.


Additional Scriptures

Matthew 20 1-16 Laborers in the Vineyard

John 4:34-38 J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

Jesus said to them, “My food is doing the will of him who sent me and finishing the work he has given me. Don’t you say, ‘Four months more and then comes the harvest’? But I tell you to open your eyes and look to the field—they are gleaming white, all ready for the harvest! The reaper is already being rewarded and getting in a harvest for eternal life, so that both sower and reaper may be glad together. For in this harvest the old saying comes true, ‘One man sows and another reaps.’ I have sent you to reap a harvest for which you never laboured; other men have worked hard and you have reaped the results of their labours.”

John 9:4 J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

“We must carry on the work of him who sent me while the daylight lasts. Night is coming, when no one can work.”


, ,


Stewardship of Your Gift

27 Jun , 2016  

May 24, 2015

Matthew 25:14-30

For it is as when a man, going into another country, called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one; to each according to his several ability; and he went on his journey. Straightway he that received the five talents went and traded with them, and made other five talents. In like manner he also that received the two gained other two. But he that received the one went away and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.

Now after a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and maketh a reckoning with them. And he that received the five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, ‘Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: lo, I have gained other five talents.’ His lord said unto him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord.’


The parable of the talents, depicted in a 1712 woodcut. The lazy servant searches for his buried talent, while the two other servants present their earnings to their master.

And he also that received the two talents came and said, ‘Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: lo, I have gained other two talents.’ His lord said unto him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord.’

And he also that had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou didst not sow, and gathering where thou didst not scatter; and I was afraid, and went away and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, thou hast thine own.’ But his lord answered and said unto him, ‘Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I did not scatter; thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the bankers, and at my coming I should have received back mine own with interest.

Take ye away therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him that hath the ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away. And cast ye out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.’

God’s Unique Creation

Each person is God’s unique creation. Even identical twins have differences. God is the Master Creator and Designer. He created each one of us with specific abilities and characteristics and gifts.


Saint Paul by Bartolomeo Montagna

Because He is a purposeful God with each unique person He had a plan in mind. One day the Almighty said, “I AM going to create a Jew. I will arrange to have him born into a family of Jews that are Roman citizens. I will arrange for Him to have both an extensive classical education in Latin and Greek. He will also be tutored intensively in the Jewish Scriptures. He will have great management ability, be an excellent writer, courageous, zealous, an inspirer of men. His name will be Saul of Tarsus.”

What did Saul do with all these gifts? He used them in his efforts to crush the Jews who became involved in the heresy of believing that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah. He worked aggressively to seize these believers in the Nazarene, confiscate their property, jail them and kill many.

Was he a good steward of God’s gifts? Of course not. He misused God’s gifts, causing pain and suffering to God by persecuting God’s elect.

The Father, the Son and The Holy Spirit allowed Saul to misuse God’s gifts only so far, and then Jesus halted Saul and turned him completely around. From a hater of Jesus and His believers, Saul was transformed into Paul, a lover of Jesus and His people. He became the foremost evangelist of the New Testament. Properly using God’s gifts, Paul reached thousands individually and by writing; and brought them to faith in Jesus, Son of God, Savior. Did Paul become a good steward of the gifts given to him by Almighty God? The answer is a resounding yes!”

Each is Endowed with Gifts


Rahab Helping the Two Israelite Spies. Illustration from the 1897 Bible Pictures and What They Teach Us: brief descriptions by Charles Foster

Each one of us here has been endowed with gifts from our Father. He placed them in your innocent baby hands at the beginning of your life. He charged you to use all He gave you, everything in you, even your life itself, all to accomplish His purposes. As the Master in the parable gave talents to his servants, just so God, according to each one’s ability, charges you with the responsibility to turn His gifts unto great results.
To get an idea of the gifts God gives, you can look at the lives of the people God chooses to lead, prophesy, teach and minister. In Scripture there are great examples; King Hezekiah, Rahab and the Prophet Hosea, to name just a few.

Grow Up in Christ

Our Lord has not just saved us and left us on our own to live our lives. He has given us the responsibility to grow up in Christ and to be His ministers to believers and to those who do not have Jesus as Savior.

To show us how to grow He has given us the Holy Spirit. Jesus said He was sending the Spirit who would teach us all things and remind us of all Jesus taught. The Holy Spirit also assists us in our ministering to others. God has given us gifts. They are built into us from conception. They are encoded in our DNA. God has distributed them to individuals. Each person will have several complementary gifts. No one but Jesus has them all.

There are three lists of gifts, manifestations and offices in the New Testament.

Gifts from God (Romans 12:6-13)

  1. Prophesy – speaking forth the words of God
  2. Ministry – serving both God and man
  3. Teaching – instructing and sharing what you know and have learned
  4. Exhorting – preaching and encouraging
  5. Giving – generously sharing time, talents, energy, finances and your life
  6. Ruling – leadership, organizing and motivating others
  7. Showing mercy – sensitive to the needs of others
  8. Loving tenderly & affectionately – building up and consoling as needed
  9. Steadfast in Prayer – Prayer warrior, prevailing in prayer
  10. Diligent – persistent in doing what God wants without sloth
  11. Providing – for God’s people and for others
  12. Hospitable – inviting people into fellowship
  13. Patient –seeing beyond the difficulties of the moment to God’s blessings

Manifestations of the Holy Spirit in our lives (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)

  1. Word of wisdom – supernatural understanding
  2. Word of knowledge – supernaturally knowing what you have not learned
  3. Faith – believing beyond hope
  4. Healing – supernatural healing
  5. Miracles – transformation of the natural world
  6. Prophesy – speaking forth the words of God
  7. Discerning of Spirits supernatural knowledge of good and evil
  8. Speaking in Tongues – praying or speaking a language not learned
  9. Interpretation of Tongues – giving the sense of a tongue.

Ministry Offices (Ephesians 4:11)

  1. Apostles – Church planters
  2. Prophets – Proclaiming the Word of the Lord
  3. Evangelists – Leads people to Christ
  4. Pastors – Disciples the saved, nurturing them in the faith
  5. Teachers – Instructing believers and unbelievers in Christian doctrine

Using Your Gifts

All your lives you have been using the gifts your Lord has given you. As you reflect on how you have ministered in the past, you will understand how God was ministering through you.

When I was seeking an executive job, they counseled me to just list my previous employments, and then for each one describe in detail an incident that displayed an ability of mine. In this way, I was able to build a picture of the characteristics that made me fit for the job. It was not until later that I connected the skills I had with the gifting of my God.

Do you like to be with people? That may be the gift of hospitality.

Do you like to encourage people to see the movie you enjoyed or go to your favorite restaurant? That may be the ministry of evangelism.

Do you like to help people understand things? That may be the ministry of teaching.

What you like to do and do well, is most likely the talent God gave you to invest for Him and return the dividends. You can ask one another what gifts they see in you.

Jesus Wants You

Jesus wants you to minister to the folks around you. As you pass someone in the hall, send a silent prayer to your Lord. “Jesus, how do you want me to serve her? How would you like me to pray for Him?” As you go by a room, stick your head in and ask how you can help. For those who want prayer, you can step in and pray for them. Lay your hands on them as you pray.

When you wake up each morning ask, “Jesus what ministries have You for me to do today?” During the day keep your eyes open for opportunities to exercise your gifts. Keep your ears open for the Holy Spirit’s direction.

Before you go to sleep each night pray for the people the Holy Spirit has brought to your notice during the day.

You cannot do everything. You can do something; but you must not do nothing.

And then when this life is over and the Lord God Almighty calls you in for an accounting of your use of His gifts, you can say. “Lord, here are the talents you gave me and here is how I multiplied them.” And He will say to you, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy of your Lord!”



“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”