LET US GO TO THE LORD IN PRAYER

Father, I come before you in the name of your son, Jesus Christ. Lord, you know all things. They are all before you like an open book. Who can hide their heart from your presence and your eye? The deeds of the most clever men are exposed before you. Your omniscience knows know bounds - and if it were not for grace, I would be of all men most terrified. But there is grace, abounding and glorious, poured out upon the weakest of men, and abounding to your glory.
Father, I praise you and I worship you; I thank you for all that you are and all that have done. There is no one like you in Heavens and on the Earth or under the earth. You are the King and there is no other. You are Savior and you share your glory with no one. Father, this day you know me and my great need of grace. Why am I here except that you called the weakest among men, the most ignoble among brothers, and that by your grace, often times, the lesser teaches the greater? That is always my case and I praise you. I worship you. Father, help us today, to the wind with eloquence, to hell with brilliant intellect, Father. Let the truth go forward. Let me be changed that the state of your church be more glorious. I pray for grace upon grace and mercy upon mercy for myself and for those who hear. Help us, Oh God, and we will be helped; and we will boast in that help in Jesus' Name. AMEN!!!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

THE KINGDOM MYSTERY

The Kingdom Of God  
Read Matthew 13:10-17
This passage follows the very first parable spoken by Jesus, “The Seed and the Sower,” or “The Parable of the Soils.” The last words Jesus spoke in the parable is, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:9) 
After hearing the parable the disciples were surprised that Jesus used this particular teaching method.A parable was usually a short simple story that placed one thing beside something else for the sake of comparison. Therefore, figurative sayings, similes, and metaphors were all considered parables. 
In his book, “Interpreting The Parables,” A. M. Hunter defined a parable as “a comparison drawn from nature or daily life and designed to illuminate some spiritual truth.”
 After Jesus had told this parable, He answered the disciples question as to why He was teaching in this particular manner or way, and in so doing relates a misunderstanding about the Kingdom of God that many people have.
People today think of Christianity and our teaching of the Scriptures and using biblical terminology as ancient and outmoded seeing how we’re living in the 21st century with all of its scientific advantages and philosophies, as compared to those who lived in the 1st century and their unsophisticated world. 
Further they have a problem with miracles and the supernatural because science hasn’t been able to explain the power of faith and belief. Their point is that as long as we continue to give the gospel message with all this biblical baggage, as they call it, attached, then it’s all just old religion, and it isn’t applicable for our day.
They basically say that we have to get back to the simplicity of what Jesus taught, and that we have to leave behind theology, biblical terminology, and all these outdated ideas that led to the Reformation. And what even sadder is that many within the church, and a lot of the teaching that comes from the pulpit, seem to agree with this assessment.
 They have made their messages seeker friendly, so much so that people confuse church services with motivational talks. They have also done away with words like sin, Satan, and hell, along with their doctrines. 
And the really incredible part is that the words Jesus spoke concerning parables in our text directly refute that position.
So let’s take a look at what Jesus said about the Kingdom of God. 
                          1.It’s A Mystery
 “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.” (Matthew 13:11 NKJV
Wow, talk about being seeker unfriendly. “I speak in parables so they don’t get it,” Jesus was saying. People today say that the whole idea that Christian truth being something that is simple if we just get all these words and old fashioned ideas like Jesus’ miracles, absolute truth, and when we get out of the way that Jesus is the only way, then everything will be fine, but this is totally against what Jesus was saying.
The Apostle Paul said,
 “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14 NKJV) 
The New Living Translations says, “But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.” 
The misunderstanding comes from a misperception that unconverted people by nature and reason can understand God’s word, follow what it says, and put it into practice.
 But Jesus said, no way. The reason He spoke in parables is because the Kingdom of God is a mystery, that is, it’s totally and completely unlike anything humanity has ever heard, or even imagined. And until they’re born again, until they’re minds are spiritually renewed and have the Holy Spirit living inside, they never will.
The word Jesus uses is “mystery.” The message concerning the Kingdom of God is neither obvious nor is it simple. This is seen in that the disciples didn’t know what He was talking about in His parable. 
Jesus actually told them of the necessity of His leaving, and that was to send the Holy Spirit who would then be their guide into God’s truth. 
It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you … when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:7, 13a)
Yet, prior to Jesus’ death, resurrection, and accession, the disciples were like all the others, they didn’t get it. When Jesus spoke of His upcoming death and resurrection, Peter basically said it should never take place. Peter didn’t understand things from God’s perspective or point of view.
 Here Peter and the rest of the disciples who had been with Him day and night for three years still didn’t get it, and they were downcast and rejected even though Jesus told them up front what was going to happen and why.
The Religious leader Nicodemus didn’t get it either, even with all his religious training. When Jesus said that to enter the Kingdom of God a person must be born again, Nicodemus didn’t understand and questioned how someone could go back into their mother’s womb. 
Jesus said, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?” (John 3:10 NKJV) Jesus went on to tell Him why, because they are only spiritually discerned, and He wasn’t.
 Paul said that this mystery is the hidden wisdom of God.
 “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory.” (1 Corinthians 2:7 NKJV
Paul didn’t speak just any words, but words of wisdom, but not the wisdom of man, but the wisdom of God that had been hidden in times past. 
A mystery is a truth that’s been hidden and has to be revealed in order to be understood. It’s a truth supernaturally revealed through the illumination of the Holy Spirit. In other words, our own natural abilities and understanding cannot fathom it, so it must be divinely revealed through the Holy Spirit who leads and guides us into all truth as Jesus promised. 
Another reason Jesus spoke in parables is that if He had spoken directly, had He told them exactly who He was and why He had come, they would have tried to kill and silence Him, which is just what they tried to do after He did tell them. 
          •In Nazareth Jesus spoke directly from the prophet Isaiah and told them that the Scriptures  had   been fulfilled and how a prophet is never accepted in his own country. They immediately picked up stones and tried to kill Him. 
           •And at the end of His ministry, when on trial He spoke plainly and those who heard             Him cried out for Him to be crucified.
 And so the message concerning the Kingdom of God is not something that is obvious, but it is a mystery, and needs to be divinely revealed through the Holy Spirit.
 To the churches in Revelation Jesus said, “Let those who have ears hear what the Spirit is saying.”
 Next Jesus tells us those things that are hindering our understanding. 
  2.Hindrances to Understanding the Mystery 
Most think the main hindrances to understanding the mystery of Gods’ Kingdom is terminology; that we need new and more modern terminology, and get away from all that doctrinal stuff. Others think we should leave biblical theology behind and just teach biblical morals. 
But are these really hindrances? According to Jesus, they’re not. So what is?
                         1.Pride of Intellect
 “I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” (Matthew 13:13 NKJV) 
The trouble with the Scribes and Pharisees is that they were thought to be the men who knew God. They knew the law and their interpretation of it. That’s’ why they got nothing out of Jesus’ teachings. It was a confidence in their own knowledge and in their own ability and capability.
 In Jesus’ prayer He said, 
I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.” (Matthew 11:25 NKJV)
 It was the know-it-alls, the intellectuals, the religious who rejected Him, not the everyday man and woman on the street.
 Paul said,
 “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.” (1 Corinthians 1:26 NKJV)
 The reason that Paul mentions this is because no one can boast in God’s presence. (1 Corinthians 1:29)
 Intellectual pride is a great obstacle to belief in the gospel message and to an understanding of the Kingdom of God.
                               2.Prejudice
 “For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.” (Matthew 13:15 NKJV)
 Their hearts were hardened. It’s not that the terminology is wrong, it’s outright prejudice against the gospel, against the Bible, against God and the idea that He rules and reigns over people’s lives.
 Notice they deliberately shut their ears and eyes. They’ve dismissed the gospel of Jesus Christ without ever hearing it or reading the Bible. 
Today people dismiss the case for Christ, dismiss the gospel message without ever giving it a fair hearing, because they are prejudiced. People don’t come with an open mind, but rather they believe they are being intellectual to deny Christianity. 
                    3.A Calloused Heart 
For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.” (Matthew 13:15a NIV
There is an interesting translation of this word “calloused” when John Wycliffe translated the Greek into Latin. He said that their hearts were “en fattened.” The picture is of a heart that has too much fat around it where it cannot work properly.
 In Jesus’ explanation of this first parable he likened the seed that fell among the thorns as those who heard the message but had it choked off by the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches.
 They are filled with everything of the world, they were enfattened, and they haven’t got a clue as to what the gospel is saying, nor they cannot listen for long, or they can only listen in short sound bites. 
     3.The Mystery is God’s Plan of Salvation
 Let’s take a look now at the second part of Matthew 13:15 
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.” (Matthew 13:15b NKJV
The mystery is that God, before the foundation of the world had His salvation already planned out. The message of the Bible is God’s plan of salvation, or God’s great purpose for our redemption. The Old Testament is not so much a history of the Jews as it is the history of God bringing into purpose His great plan of salvation.
 To remedy the problem of sin, God set up the law in order to set up His Son to make a way for humanity to get back into His presence through the sacrifice Jesus would make upon the cross so our sins can be forgiven.
 And this was not just for a chosen few, but for everyone through belief in Jesus Christ. 
If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9 NKJV
Jesus, in our text said that the mystery that was unknown for the most part throughout the ages has been made clear in and through Him.
 “Blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” (Matthew 13:16-17 NKJV)
 In essence Jesus said, “I am the mystery. I am the one who brings in the Kingdom.”
 Paul confirms this saying,
 “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory.” (1 Timothy 3:16 NKJV)
 The mystery of salvation is Jesus coming into this world to save, heal, and deliver us from our captivity to sin and death, and He did it in a manner that the world ridicules, He did it by dying upon the cross.
 Paul said, 
We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:23-24 NKJV)
 On the cross Jesus made the way for humanity’s salvation to come, which is at the heart of the very first parable in how God’s kingdom is growing like a seed, and new life is produced blessing those who receive it. 
Those blessings are forgiveness, adoption, salvation, and His abiding presence just to name a few.
 One last principle given in what Jesus said about this mystery is 
            4.Mystery Becomes a Judgment 
For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” (Matthew 13:12 NKJV)
 The teaching concerning the mystery divides the whole of humanity into two groups, the haves and the have-nots.
 When the gospel is heard, when the mystery is revealed, it brings judgment: to those who believe, everlasting life and heaven, but to those who don’t, everlasting condemnation and hell.
 The wise and the knowledgeable that look upon the gospel with distain, what they have will be taken away, and on the Day of Judgment will find that they have nothing left but an eternity in hell. 
What value is all our scientific knowledge? Does it tell us anything about the human soul, or how to avoid sin? Does it help when things go wrong or when a loved one dies?
 And so the mystery of the Kingdom of God is that Jesus Christ came, died upon the cross, and rose from the dead on the third day, and all who believe in Him shall be saved
Living Waters​ -Fellowship-

TRIALS PURIFY OUR FAITH



Often time we look for blessings to take place in a serene comfortable place in our lives. When there are Doves above tulips all around blanketing the pasture and a ocean blue sky. How many of us know that a picture perfect scenario is not always the case? 

Let me inform you that a miracle will always take place when we trust in the LORD our God, even in the midst of trials. Better than that is the fact that God is With us in the middle of our painful circumstances.
When we think of fiery trials we should indeed recall Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, "these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste.
He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”( Daniel 3:23-25)

                             GOD IS WITH US IN THE MIDST OF TRIALS

There was a fourth seen with them in the fiery furnace, whose form, in Nebuchadnezzar’s judgment, was like the Son of God; he appeared as a divine person, a messenger from heaven, not as a servant, but as a son.
This is God sending help to His children in the midst of tumultuous circumstances. The Bible declares, 

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you." (Isaiah 43:2) 

These men of tremendous faith did not waver in the promises of God even when their very lives were in jeopardy of being snuffed out. They did not toil or struggle to get out of this trial but entrusted their lives unto God to deliver them. 

Trials in our lives release us from bondage the fire burns to nothing the the ropes of distress and pain. We must remember what God has promised His beloved, "no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. 

This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.” (Isaiah 54:17) Most Christians have heard this verse several times throughout their Bible study, but the question remains, do you believe it?

                                                 SPEAK OUT IN FAITH

If someone utters a word of trouble against us we must break it in the name of Jesus. We have a tremendous power in our speech and and faith. The believers of old new what faith could do these believers, "who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight." (Hebrews 11:33-34) 

The purpose of fire is for purification and with fiery trials God burns away bondage, in essence the things that keep us bound.No one can bind what the LORD has freed, "But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap." (Malachi 3:2) 

So endure your fiery trials because your God ses your bondage and uncleanliness.He allows the fire to release the ropes and shackels from among us and purifies us setting us free from sin. The bondage will be burned but you beloved of God will not be touched, not even the smell of smoke will be detected from your attire

@Shamel Lakins 

COMFORTING OTHERS

Tragedy is a fact of life. Living on planet that is dominated by sin and rebellion ensures that tragedy, heartache, and pain will always be with us. Natural disasters and man-made disasters are all too common in our world.

 Some tragedies are seen by all and are experienced on an international or national level. Other calamities affect us in our local sphere. Still other tragic circumstances are felt on a very personal and deep level.

 How do we respond to tragedy? How are we (as Christians) to respond when loss, death, heartache, and pain strike our country, our family, our church, and our lives? Perhaps these three thoughts will help.

 In times of tragedy, the first act the Christian needs to undertake is prayer. We absolutely should pray. We ought to pray for the victims and their families. We should pray that God’s comfort and strength would be felt and realized in their lives.

 We should also proceed with caution when dealing those who have suffered a tragedy. In those times, our words can sometimes do more harm and than good. Spouting platitudes such is “it was God’s will” and “there is a purpose for everything” are not helpful when someone is grieving and in pain. In times of tragedy, people need our presence more than they need our words. We ought to be there for them, cry with them, and love them.

 Obviously, I do believe that God has a plan and that Romans 8:28 or Jeremiah 29:11 are true. I do believe that these verses teach essential and eternal principles. I’m merely suggesting that these phrases are not helpful in the time of grief because they imply that people should just “get over” their tragedy. Let’s not make the situation worse than it already is. Instead, let’s love people in and through their grief.

 Finally, we must respond with compassion to those who are suffering. We are all sinners and we all need Jesus. Let’s not withhold compassion from someone who is experiencing a tragedy because we may disagree with them. Jesus came and died for us even when we were in sin (Romans 5:8). Let us respond with the same level of compassion as our Savior.

 Following these three principles will not make things better over night. Overcoming tragedy and grief is a painful process that could take years. In the meantime, may we as God’s people commit to helping, serving, and loving those who are suffering and hurting. And as we minister, may we realize that we will need the same type of ministry when tragedy strikes our lives as well