but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
Paul’s instructions to the church in 2 Corinthians 3 deal with the error that the Old Testament worship was better than the New Testament worship. We will see Paul point to Moses and then to Christ. The truth Paul teaches the Corinthian church applies to you today. When a person turns to Christ, the blinders of sin are removed to reveal the gloriousness of Christ’s heart. You must look to Christ to become like Christ. You must not fear spiritual growth.
Exodus 34 tells us about the veil that Moses wore.1 As Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with the stone tablets on which were written the Ten Commandments, Moses’ face shone brightly because Read the rest of this entry
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
Paul stresses the importance of the church and its public worship with an illustration of the Church as a body. The Church is one entity made of many individuals. Since the Church is a body, each member of the body is responsible to maintain the coherence of the body through the holiness Christ imputes to us and the Holy Spirit generates in us. Paul illustrates the church as God’s Temple. The church is the visible, physical evidence God has given to reveal His character of holy love to a lost and dying world. You must be part of God’s church to be part of God’s will.
The church resembles the Temple in many ways. First, the temple and the Church were built to Read the rest of this entry
Destruction and misery are in their paths,
Romans 3 establishes the parameters the judge has set in which the trial will take place. Paul begins chapter three with the introduction of the judge. Verse four describes God as true and just. Verse five describes God as righteous. In other words, God conforms to His own standard of holiness. Paul establishes God’s authority in verse seven, describing God’s sovereignty even over the sins of men. God is so powerful that He can overcome man’s sins to bring glory to Himself. From verses ten to twenty, Paul presents the evidence of man’s sins, and the weight of evidence against man is staggering.
Sometimes, believers forget their beginnings. They have lived in love with God for so long that they can begin to look upon those who are non-believers in a different light, forgetting that they were once sinners. The believer is not better than a non-believer. The only difference is that Christ has redeemed the believer. Whenever a believer uses his or her life as the benchmark by which the lost are measured, he becomes self-righteous. Romans 3 reminds the believer of the same thing Paul was reminding the Roman church. You are no better than the lost, and, because of that fact, you must declare God’s righteousness. Forget your righteousness; trust only in God’s righteousness. Read the rest of this entry
And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.
In the October 16, 2003 edition of the Denver Post, an article revealed research done by the Social Security Administration (SSA), citing the variety of unusual names given to babies born in 2000. Fifty-five boys received the name Chevy, while 298 girls received the name Armani. While children were named after cars and clothing, some were named after alcoholic beverages such as Skyy (a brand of vodka; twenty-three were girls and six were boys) and Courvoisier (a brand of cognac). Three boys were born in 2000 with the name ESPN (pronounced Espen)! I wonder if their fathers were sports fans. The SSA also observed that one set of parents offered naming rights on their third child. The highest commercial bid would win the naming rights. When no business took the bait, the couple named their son Zane, a nickname for Zany. The writer of the Post article delves into the question, ‘Why are babies being given such odd names?’ Ms. Deam quotes Jannette Benson, a psychology professor at the University of Denver, “Names carry weight and value. What children are named reflects more about the values of the parents than their children.” The professor stated that such odd naming is not unusual, considering the names Puritans used to give their children: Faith, Hope, Charity, etc.
Names do indeed reflect values. Bible names were often given to reflect a person’s character. For example, Jacob, which means supplanter or trickster, was a man who tricked and fooled as many people as he could. Samuel, whose name means ‘heard of God’, was given his name because his mother’s prayer for his birth had been heard by God. When we say names today, we think of character. To illustrate, let us think of a few famous names. One that comes to mind is Abraham Lincoln. Honesty is associated with his name; he was nicknamed Honest Abe. Adolf Hiter brings the thought of hate to mind for his hatred of the Jews.
Acts 3 records a brief sermon preached by Peter on the name of Christ. Peter had just healed a lame man. Peter told the amazed onlookers that the same power that had healed the lame man was the very power that was denied when the Jews hung Christ on the cross. The power which the Jews denied is the very power which transforms lives. The power of Christ’s name is the power behind your sanctification. You may become a mature Christian, of perfect soundness, because of your faith in the power of Christ’s name. Read the rest of this entry
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (KJV)
O. Henry wrote a short story called The Gift of the Magi. The story tells of a young husband and wife struggling to survive financially yet wishing to buy a Christmas for each other. Both the husband and the wife sold their most valuable possession to buy a simple, self-sacrificing gift of love.
O. Henry’s story of self-sacrifice is similar to the words spoken by Christ to a man named Nicodemus. Nicodemus came one night to Christ. John 3.10 says, “Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things?” Nicodemus was a great scholar of the Hebrew Scriptures. In all likelihood, Nicodemus was one of the most prominent teachers in the land at the time of Christ. In short, Nicodemus was a powerful man. Despite his knowledge of the Scriptures and popularity as a teacher, Nicodemus still came to Christ to understand the simplicity of God’s love.
The human mind finds great difficulty grasping the simplicity of the Gospel. Read the rest of this entry
John answered and said to them all, As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
John the Baptist, second only to Christ, was the greatest man to ever walk the earth. John’s greatness is best summarized by Christ in Luke 7:28. “I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” John was great because he was humble. Our text tells us that his humility would not even allow him to consider himself as worthy to unshoe Jesus Christ. Such humility ought to characterize your life.
Servanthood is an ideal having nothing to do with how we think of ourselves. Rather, servanthood is actually nothing more than what we think about someone else. As we will look at Luke 3.16, we will see how John understood who he really was. We will not see a man suffering from low self-esteem; we will see the second greatest man ever to walk the face of the earth because of his servanthood. If you take one application from this message, I want you to take the following: Take upon yourself the pattern of servanthood which John the Baptist modeled. Read the rest of this entry
And He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom He gave the name Peter),
Mark reveals to us a universal truth about God’s dealings with men. God uses ordinary men to accomplish extraordinary tasks. The disciples were ordinary, blue collar men. Some were fishermen. One was a tax-collector; anther was a tax-hater. Several owned small businesses. All had the ordinary education in the synagogue, and none considered themselves to be great. What made these men unique is found in verse thirteen. “And He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him.” They came unto Jesus. They made themselves available and teachable. Because they were available, Christ did extraordinary things through them. For example, on the day of Pentecost, Peter preached, and 3,000 people were saved. The response to Peter’s sermon was extraordinary. What does all of this mean for you? You must make yourself available to do extraordinary things for God. Read the rest of this entry
After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him,
The Gospels tell us amazing and wonderful accounts of Christ and His interaction with the people around Him. One of the most interesting accounts is that of Christ’s baptism. Christ went to John the Baptist specifically to be baptized. The study of Christ’s baptism is a rich and deep and deep subject. Unfortunately, the richness and depth of Christ’s baptism remains lost to much of modern Christianity due to superficial exposition and interpretation. Why did Christ need to be baptized? Christ was baptized so that He could fulfill God’s plan for Him. You must also fulfill God’s plan for your life.
Since John’s baptism was a public profession of true faith, then why did Christ need baptism? Christ did not need to make a public confession of sin because He had never sinned. As a matter of fact, John initially refused to baptize Christ, which is evidence of the sinlessness of Christ. Matthew 3:15 says, “But Jesus answering said to him, Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he permitted Him.” Christ was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. In other words, Christ’s baptism was part of God’s plan for Christ. We will discuss the fulfillment of God’s will in Christian baptism in a few moments, but this still does not exactly tell us the complete significance of Christ’s baptism. Read the rest of this entry
Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name.
I love books. Books are amazing things. Each of us doubtlessly own many books on all sorts of topics. Our technological age has removed the necessity of having a book in the traditional book form. As a matter of fact, entire volumes of books may be stored on your home computer. I possess two cd-roms which contain hundreds of volumes of books. One disk contains an entire commentary set which extends over 22,000 pages! The other disk contains over 500 volumes. I have quite a few books on my tablet computer. Despite the technology which allows us to own an entire library in an extremely small space, I still like having the hard copy book open in front of me.
Why are books so amazing? The written word endures. Words written hundreds of years ago, like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, have a direct bearing on how you and I live today. The words of those 200 year old documents still possess power today. The written word has longevity and power. God made no mistake when he chose the medium of the written word to reveal to you and me His glorious nature and redemptive plan for mankind.
Malachi 3:16 and its context describes for us the few people of Israel who were faithful to Jehovah. The people who feared Jehovah spoke of Him to each other. God heard their speech and remembered them in a book. You must remember God in your speech, and God will remember you.
God pays close attention to those who speak lovingly of Him. Read the rest of this entry
16) In that day it will be said to Jerusalem: Do not be afraid, O Zion; Do not let your hands fall limp. 17) The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.
Long ago, a girl named Elizabeth wrote forty-four sonnets to her lover. Eventually, the couple eloped to Italy and led a wonderful life of love and devotion to each other. Elizabeth’s poetry reflected the beautiful the love the couple shared. If you haven’t already guessed, the woman’s full name was Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and the poems she wrote were the famous Sonnets from the Portuguese. Even if you’ve never heard of the sonnets, you are probably familiar with the first line of Sonnet 43.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love seemed to lose
With my lost saints — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
What a tender picture of love! Our text tells a very similar story of love. Read the rest of this entry