Posts tagged ‘God’

The Words of Jesus (6)

“Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these.’” (John 1:50)

Jesus revealing He saw Nathanael under the fig tree impressed him. John speaks of seven miracles of Jesus in his gospel. John refers to them as signs, which Jesus uses to reveal that He is the Son of God. Nathanael knew there was something divine about Jesus and proclaimed Him the King of Israel. Jesus answered he would see greater things as he followed Jesus. The purpose of the sings Jesus gave was to be seen as messages from God. The seven in John’s gospel were specific in showing that Jesus is God in the flesh. Later Jesus will teach that people who believe only by signs are not seeking God with an honest approach. Faith in the Word of God is the way.

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant

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The Words of Jesus (5)

“Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, ‘Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!’” (John 1:47)

This greeting Jesus gave to Nathanael may be a sarcastic joke. When hearing of Jesus, Nathanael said, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Nathanael had dismissed Jesus because He was from Nazareth. Jesus’ joke points one should not judge a person on their heritage. Let God judge the hearts, and we be as gracious as the Lord has been towards us.

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant

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The Words of Jesus (4)

“The next day He purposed to go into Galilee, and He found Philip. And Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me.’” (John 1:43)

Jesus was going to Galilee and, on His way, found Phillip. Phillips’s name is not Hebrew but Greek. Seven of the disciples were fishermen. Fishermen were not highly educated men but hard-working practical. Jesus was not looking for the scholars, fighting men, or the wealthy. Jesus was looking for men who were willing to do the labor of the Kingdom. Willingness is foremost over talent or ability. Knowledge and wisdom are good but useless without a willing and submissive heart.

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant

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The Words of Jesus (3)

“He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).” (John 1:42)

One of Andrews’s traits is to bring people to Jesus. After John and Andrew’s time with Jesus, Andrew went to his brother Simon and told him about Jesus. He had told his brother that Jesus was the Messiah. Simon came to meet Jesus with his brother. Jesus identified Simon and gave Him a new name Cephas. Cephas is the Aramaic word for stone. Others may have thought this a strange name for an emotional person like Simon. Jesus looks at the heart of a soul, sees the potential, and names Simon for his future. Jesus knows His own in the future and gives them a new name fitting to who they have become in Him. (Revelation 2:17)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant

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Chief of All Sinners

“It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.” (1 Timothy 1:15)

I chose this text verse to make a point about all of us in this world. To begin my thoughts is the question I ask myself and share with you, “What is the Bible to you?” Other than the bible, some call it the good book, the rule book, and one in our congregation uses an acronym. “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.” There are more I have heard, and I am sure some of you have heard too. Not that my calling is better or worse, I have a different perspective, as I call the bible when writing the Scriptures and speaking the bible. To myself, I view the Scriptures as the other side of the conversation with God.

I never have, and I am not one to say I have heard the Lord speak to me in a clear audio voice, but He does speak in my conscience. I also believe that God speaks in visions. He spoke to Joseph and the cupbearer to convey a message to Pharaoh. There are many examples of visions in Scripture, and there are those who have had visions to this day. I believe the two primary ways the Lord speaks to us are in prayer and the Scripture. As the other side of the conversation, the bible is God’s answer to our side of the conversation.

My perspective has changed in the way I receive the Scripture into my being. The Holy Spirit authors the Scripture. “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (2 Peter 1:20-21) Even as Paul was writing to Timothy and saying he was the foremost of sinners, it was written to us individually. The Scripture is God’s prophecy to all of humanity. When I read “I am foremost of all,” that is speaking to me the foremost of all sinners.

When we read the Scriptures, God is speaking to us personally. I am the foremost of sinners, and you are too. The Scriptures tell me clearly “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Certainly, the unrighteous and the righteous are sinners. We often wonder why good things happen to the unrighteous, and bad things happen to the righteous. I often hear the unrighteous who have rejected our Lord say why a God of love causes all this evil in the world. Then I have to explain God does not cause evil to happen, as evil is the result of sin.

I believe if it were not for God’s common grace, humanity would have long ago destroyed itself. Our God of love, who is not partial to His creation, treats all justly. God pours out His blessing on all in His creation, as we are told in Psalm. “The LORD is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works.” (Psalm 145:8-9) God shows His grace to all and desires all to know His goodness and seek Him in times of distress. God desires all of Humanity to become His children. “So that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45)

It is by God’s grace that humanity comes to a saving knowledge of Jesus our Christ. God’s Word created all, and by God’s Word, all can live, and all will be judged. To all who will read and believe the Scripture says to each, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8) My prayer is all will experience God’s saving grace. All live in His common grace, but they need the saving grace this verse speaks of.

Grace has different meanings for different people. Some bless their food with grace, name their children grace, and declare generous people as gracious. That’s okay, but it is not the saving grace Ephesians is speaking of. The saving grace is God’s divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in life. God’s saving grace is unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration and sanctification. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Responding to the saving grace of God is like Ray Steven’s song “Mississippi Squirrel Revival,” “somethings got a hold on me lyric. Our vision changes from gaining all we can from the world to building our wealth in the Kingdom of God to come. Wealth is not dollars and cents but seeking the presence and approval of God by pleasing Him in our service to Him and seeking His Kingdom and bringing it to the heart of our deeds serving Him and our fellow humans. It is not being born of the flesh and its desire but of the Spirit and His desire. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6)

What is the purpose of life if we lose it all at death? The Creator creates with purpose, and all His creation has a purpose. Humanity is to glorify God in all they do. When God’s saving grace gets a hold of your purpose, your being becomes revealed. There is a discovery of the good work you were designed to accomplish in this life here, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) The world is a complex place to live in and holds a lot of mystery. Jesus overcame the world and its temptations, and His Spirit can counsel us through to the same victory. It is is the promise He has given to all of us. “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

The yoke of the Lord is easy to carry, as He has prepared the way before us, and all we do is pick up our cross and follow Him. Our charge is simple to spread the seeds of His truth into every ear that will hear. Water the seeds planted and edify the interest of the willing. His call is to “Go.” “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20) The basic command is love. Love the Lord God Almighty, and share His love with our neighbor. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)

God’s desire is all His creation come into harmony with His Word. God does not want any to perish but to have a relationship with Him as their Father. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

The followers of Jesus are the lights of His truth in a sin-darkened world, a world that is searching for love, peace, purpose, and reality. Humanity looks everywhere for these values and never finds them. From the beginning of humanity’s history, these values have been there for them, but they have rejected it and been given over to their own desires. The result is a world dying in its futility. In the hope of remedy, they search on, and our prayer is they will see and listen to the truth we share. God’s saving grace gives the satisfaction we’ve helped lift someone from the pit to the pedestal of God’s Kingdom. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

I joined the Army and survived Boot Camp at Fort Jackson S. C. On the first day, I learned why it’s called boot camp, as that was the first thing introduced to me on the backside. After all of that, I went to South Viet Nam with a heat filled with patriot cause. When you step on the battlefield, and total confusion surrounds you, all that parrot cause is gone. The soldiers around you are not people of color, they are not people of different religions, and neither are they people of mixed heritage. The cause becomes protecting the life which is protecting yours. When we walk through the world today with the people around us, that person beside us depends on us to share the Words of Life. “In Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.” (Acts 17:28)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick Son Life Baptist, Valrico, Florida, July 12, 2021

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The Words of Jesus (2)

John and Andrew had asked where Jesus was staying, thinking Him to be too busy for them now. John the Baptist had told them Jesus was the Promised One, and he was unworthy to untie His sandals. John and Andrew must have been surprised Jesus told them to come and see. Jesus is always willing to spend time with those who are seeking Him. John and Andrew were able to spend the day with Jesus in their presence. Jesus came to seek and save and is always willing to give time for one in need. You can ask Him today and then go and see.

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant

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The Words of Jesus (1)

“And Jesus turned and saw them following, and said to them, ‘What do you seek?’ They said to Him, ‘Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?’” (John 1:38)

Jesus noticed John and Andrew following Him after His baptism. Before they spoke to Jesus, He asked, “What do you seek?” it is important to know what someone is seeking from you to answer the question. The need of a person will affect their willingness to believe and receive. Peter and Andrew addressed Jesus as Rabbi to show their respect. They may have asked Him where He is staying in the chance to could meet with Him later. Often time’s people are too busy to attend to our needs. They will be surprised by the willingness of Jesus to share with them immediately. Jesus came to seek and save. Therefore, He is willing to be with His creation.

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant

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His Grace to Us Give to Others

“I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ’s sake” (Philemon 1:6)

I would say most people want to be happy, although some take solace in their sadness. I have met people who seem to be happiest when they speak of sad occurrences. Those may be happy, but I do not believe they are. To those who want to be happy, there is plenty in this world to accommodate their desire. Happiness is fleeting and depends on the emotional reaction to circumstances. That is true of any happiness we have, but joy is everlasting because it is founded on eternal truth. Some days I am happy, and some days sad, but I find joy every day. My joy is established in the eternal promises of God, as His Word is true and endures forever. I could quote scripture, but history has proven my point.

I am always happy when I am joyful and have joy in my heart in times of sadness. I do not get caught in the rambling emotions of my life but rest on the foundation of joy in my heart. People can, or could, find happiness in the joy of God’s presence and find greater joy in His approval. There is a satisfaction in sharing the joy He has given to me with others that they may have His joy also.

I know we all have had days or evenings in the presence of someone who has a unique effect on our lives. I remember May Macbeth the first time I met her. I was pretty taken in by her and hated when the evening ended. It was at a sock hop, and I wore a hole in my sock. I hopped with her so much. On Sunday, I could not think of anything but the next time we could be together. I was happy in my heart, but when we met again, my heart was crushed. Mary had that other guy with her, and I didn’t know how to deal with that. We have all had people in our lives that we desire to be with, and it takes up our complete focus. Some work out for a lifetime, and some do not get to first base.

Some say that is life, or that’s the way it goes, and I cannot disagree. There is one known as “closer than a brother” I came to know later in life. He reached out His hand in an hour on my greatest need. It wasn’t a time of need for money or possessions of any sort. It was when I was alone with several monkeys on my back and a brick wall next to my face. There was nowhere to go, a memento the pastor calls a Red Sea moment. It was a “Where Would I God but to the Lord,” but He came to me as I cried out in frustration. It was the darkest night of my life when I saw the greatest light, my Savior and Lord, Jesus.

Two essential truths of God are His mercy and grace. Mercy towards the guilty and grace toward the undeserving. Everyone sacrifices their time, talent, and treasure, but the sacrifice the Lord desires is a broken and contrite heart. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17) To whom Jesus calls He wants to give His grace through faith. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8) Jesus exhibits the grace of God and demands an answer from each He calls.

The problem for humanity is most are orphans in God’s creation. In the Garden of Eden, humanity separated itself from God and is no longer in harmony with His creation. Humanity is adrift in a sea without an accurate compass to find its way home. Jesus is that compass, as He is the way, the truth, and the life to be in the presence of God. (John 14:6) He is God and is present throughout all creation and knows the way through every trial and blessing. To abide in Jesus is the manifest wisdom of God, and without Him, we have a powerless fate. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

The door to God’s throne of grace is Jesus. We cannot enter into the throne as we are unrighteous (Matthew 5:48). Jesus is righteous and enters into the Holies of Holies and offers our prayers. Jesus is the only way, and no one can be in the presence of God except through Jesus. “Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:22)

It is not humanity alone that makes the world a difficult place to navigate, and we are deceived by the god of this world, Satan. It is a narrow path we follow to avoid the land mines Satan has placed in our way. Satan is only a wicked angel, and our Lord is a God who knows the way and has the power to make His will for us to come true. We cannot understand these things completely as God can, but we will know the way by His Word. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) Jesus will direct and order our steps on the narrow way to His Kingdom. The follower must trust and obey to remain in His presence, as we will be on that day. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:8)

At most points in my life, I never sought my dad’s approval because of my selfish interest. At any given time, my dad had thirty years more wisdom than me, yet, I forsook it. Over the years, my dad tried to teach me has paid off even long after he went home to be with the Lord. I’ll thank my dad someday soon. I haven’t sought the approval of others for most of my life and paid the price of that, but it wasn’t more than I could bear. Today right or wrong, I do not care much what people think of me, but I do care for their spiritual welfare. The only approval I seek is from my Lord and Savior. “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)

I have shifted my focus from getting through this world or being accepted by the world to seeking the Kingdom of Heaven. My Elder brother said some years ago, “I’m working on a good finish.” As he, my focus is on the eternal rest in my Lord that awaits me. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) It is not that I don’t try to please people. I first try to please my God. Everything I do in this world is to bring Him glory and please Him, not that it earns me anything; I love Him first, as He loved me. “Just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts.” (1 Thessalonians 2:4)

The gift of His presence and approval fills my heart with everlasting joy. Joy is an eternal feeling that only comes from a relationship with the Father. There is individual power of joy, power of the peace that awaits when the work is completed. The power that made Jesus willing to sacrifice Himself on the cross for you and me. He went to the cross with the joy of His home set before Him. “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) His joy is the motivation that makes me willing to sacrifice all to do the good work He has prepared for me.

He has given His Spirit to counsel us along the way to understand and overcome the ways of the world. Sometimes it is hard to find a Christian believer, and it should not be that way. Followers of Jesus are to be like-minded with Him and in one accord. God has given them His love and should be expressed in all they do. Christians are led by His Spirit and display the fruits of His Spirit in their daily lives. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

The Lord has been gracious to us, He has shown His mercy towards us, and He has provided not only for us here but for all of eternity. We have this pearl of great wealth (Matthew 13:45-46), and we should share that with every ear that will hear. I cannot judge the possibilities of what God can do with the soul of a person. Jesus gave the summation of the Law “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27). Sharing God’s Word is not a burdensome yoke to carry. It is just living the gospel message in our lives. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

All of creation lives in the presence of God the Creator. Acknowledging His presence in everything we do changes the outcome of our lives. It is the end game we should be most concerned about. When we live our lives in a way that pleases God and gains His approval, we find joy in our hearts stronger than any of the world’s troubles. I want everyone to have a relationship with Jesus, and I want everyone to have a home in His Kingdom. There is a joy in sharing God’s gift of salvation through faith in Jesus. It is a joy that gives personal satisfaction that you have helped lift someone up from the pit to a pedestal in God’s Kingdom. “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, July 8, 2021

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God’s Love is the Answer

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)

Now and then, I fall back in time to capture a memory from long ago. I found myself this am on the stoop living in the ’60s and growing into my teenage years. It was a confusing time wandering around trying to be grown up and without an idea of what I was doing. It was the era of the Beatles vs. the Monkeys on the top forty. I like many of the Monkey’s songs, especially “Sleepy Jean,” but I liked everything the Beatles did. John Lennon was not my favorite Beatle, but a song of his from 1973 was on my mind this morning and stayed there a while, “Mind Games.”

As with most songs, I do not know or remember the lyrics, but I do remember these, “Love is the answer, and you know that for sure. Love is a flower. You got to let it; you got to let it grow.” There is a profound truth in those words. We are to love the Lord with all our hearts and love our neighbor as we love ourselves. I find it very easy to love the Lord with all my heart, and it is a natural love in the reflection of the love He has towards me. When it comes to my neighbors, it is not so easy. It becomes a duty to obey the Lord’s command. But as love grows, it too becomes natural. I don’t have to know someone to love them, but I do have to know them to like them. I find myself liking a lot of people I love and disliking a lot of people I love.

A few decades back, I was a Barstool Baptist. It was in my Army days, and it seemed as the drinks began their works on my brain, my father’s words kept coming out of my mouth. Perhaps it was because I knew he would be displeased with where I was. But, I think it more because most of what my father said came from the Word of God and God’s Word has a way of coming back in times of bad behavior. So, often in those days, I found myself on the stool being a Barstool Baptist. It’s funny how at this moment, another song comes to mind from a fellow West Virginian Hank Williams Sr., “Tear in My Beer.”

I’m a watcher more than an actor, so I would muse myself watching everyone getting saturated at the bar in Fort Stewart, Georgia. Some would come in upset, and others would drink themselves to sorrow. Thus, the song “Tear in my Beer” always came to my mind. Hank recorded that song in Nashville in 1950, which is my birth year. I have listened to Tear in my Beer but know none of the lyrics. But I get the idea, as it is about lost or unfaithful love. So I would sit on my stool and listen to somebody did somebody wrong songs; either the beer or the songs would change the mood in the bar.

I will have to say I give credit to the beer, which gave me more boldness to express my compassion. I am not known as a happy person, probably because I don’t smile much, but I hate to see someone crying in their beer. So with my false courage and my insides sloshing. I venture out to console a stranger who is approaching that one too many. Even as I am speaking of many decades ago, I concluded many of the sorrowful people in the bar could not satisfy their natural hunger for love. Their true want was a faithful love. That love is the desire God placed in every soul for divine love.

At that time, I could not explain divine love, as I had not myself truly found it. I, too, was a drifter in a sea of worldly wisdom. I would listen, sympathize and try to empathize, but I could not give them a satisfying answer. I tried to by a voice up but seldom gave them a lift up. The best I could do is recite a verse my father taught me in an effort to give them hope. “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

Some blame God for all their trials in life. It does not bother me, as I have done that many times in the past. There is a god to point to for all our trials, but it is not the Lord God Almighty. The god of this world is a fallen angel cast down from God’s Kingdom because of his pride. He is the serpent of old Satan who tempted Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. They fell to his temptation and brought sin into the world, fracturing the harmony of God’s creation and the souls of humanity. His temptation destroyed the image we were created in and changed our greatest desire. Humanity no longer desires God’s Kingdom but the kingdom of the world and lusts for it. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (1 John 2:16)

Satan hates the Lord God Almighty, and he hates everything God has created, and I believe he even hates himself. Otherwise, Satan would have repented and asked forgiveness if he could. The most important thing to me about Satan is he hates you and me. The truth is Satan hates you and seeks to destroy you, and that is his biggest purpose to kill you and me. Satan is a powerful fallen angel, but he is not God’s opposite. Satan is a created being just as we. God defeated him on the cross, and He will crush him at the fullness of time.

God is love “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:8). The world has many definitions of love. Some see it as a physical word and seek physical remedy and application, and I am not saying they are incorrect. God is love, and His love is spiritual as well a physical. The short definition of agape love is unconditional, unselfish love towards all of His creation. It is the love God has for us and desires from us. All His creation gets that, and only humanity consistently falls short. Three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him and Peter answered with a lower love each time. Humanity in its present state cannot love God with agape love. Yet, the Lord God Almighty loves with agape love. So much so He paid the price for our sins. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Love as man sees it is not the problem. The problem is the definition of humanity’s love. It’s physical and incapable of complete love for one another, many come close, but none are perfect as God’s. Love is the answer, and until we have God’s agape love within us, we will not understand and share His love for others. Therefore, humanity must seek the Lord and find Him while He can be found. The moment will come for all when it is too late to find our God and Creator. “Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near.” (Isaiah 55:6)

To enter into the Kingdom of God, one must call upon the name of the Lord, which is Jesus; only He is the way, the truth, and the life. None will see their Creator or enter His eternal Kingdom except through a personal relationship with Jesus (John 14:6). On the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33). Our priority is to seek His Kingdom in all that we do. The right way is to acknowledge Him in all that we do. All that we do is for the glory of the Lord, and He will direct our paths. His path, though narrow, will lead to the gates of Heaven. (Proverbs 3:5-6). Our second priority is we must be righteous. We must not have sin in our life to prevent us from entering into the Holy Kingdom. Humanity can’t do that, but Jesus lived a perfect life, and He will give us that if we believe in Him and follow in faith. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

I have heard it said and had one tell me that if they entered a church, the building would burn down. Their point is they are too wicked for God to consider them to receive salvation from the wrath of God. The truth is all are sinners, the righteous and the unrighteous. Jesus didn’t wait till everyone repented before He went to the cross to sacrifice Himself as the Lamb of God. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) See the love? Many people will not open a door for someone or say thank you for a kind deed, but Jesus went to the cross to save their souls. That was not His calling. His calling was to come and seek the lost and tell them of His Kingdom. “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:17)

The church will not burn down, and it is the exact place to go and fellowship with like-minded believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and grow in spiritual understanding of His Kingdom. Whatever is deterring you from your happiness, causing sadness, trials in life that seem insurmountable, the answer is found in the love of God towards you. God loves you, and there is nothing you can do to make Him love you more, and there is nothing you have done to make Him love you less. That is true; it is faithful, as it is God’s Agape love for you. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, June 30, 2021

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Repent For the Kingdom Is At Hand

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)

I am but a tiny morsel in a sea of humanity. I could have been capable of living a perfectly righteous life if I had what Adam and Eve forsook, trust, and obedience to God’s Word. We were not like the rest of God’s creation, which was spoken by His Word into existence. Adam was formed from a mound of dust and had no life until God breathed His life into him. Thus, our life comes from the Creator, and we live by His Spirit. God is Spirit, and our spirits are akin to His. The Lord God also created us in His image. Humanity can reason, an imagination for creativity, and able to pro-crate to grow our race. “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”…” Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’” (Genesis 1:26; Genesis 2:7)

We do not know how long Adam and Eve walked with God in the Garden of Eden before they fell into disobedience of God’s Word. They both sinned, and it fractures not only their intimate relationship with their Creator, but sin also fractured their spirit, heart, and mind. Sin fractured their whole physical being as well, and from then on, humanity is born with a resident evil their sin-nature. None in humanity is free from the constant battle between their conscience and spirit. The spirit is only satisfied by the comfort of its original desire to harmonize with God’s Spirit. The flesh resists because of its desire for the pleasures of this world found in its sinful nature. There is no calming peace without unity with God’s Spirit. As a result, I am a tiny morsel incapable of pleasing God because I can never be righteous as He.

God sent Himself as a man named Jesus born of a virgin woman so He would not have sin tainted blood or a fractured spirit. He did have a physical body with the same desires as any in humanity but could overcome them in the power of His Spirit. God’s Spirit in His Son Jesus is a key that humanity needs to overcome the world and enter into the Kingdom of Heaven perfect. Jesus was tempted by Satan for forty days and overcame with the Word of God. If Satan could have caused Jesus to stumble, He could no longer be God, and humanity would be lost. “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

When Jesus came out of His trial with Satan in the wilderness, He knew how to resist temptations. I have no reason to believe Satan was through in the wilderness, and I believe He continues to tempt Jesus throughout His time in the world. I know one of His disciples, Peter, was used to tempt Him. Jesus knows that Satan has to obey the Word of God and the power of eternal life is in God’s Spirit. Jesus came to be the living Word of God for humanity’s recognition, live the perfect righteous life, and be the Lamb of God to pay the world’s sin debt. “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

When John the Baptist was imprisoned, Jesus left Nazareth and traveled thirty miles to Capernaum along the Sea of Galilee. It was then He began His earthly ministry to teach the Gospel message of the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus was fully God and was fully a man of humanity. He humbled Himself of His deity and called Himself the Son of Man. Through His sacrifice on the cross and resurrection on the third day, He showed the world He had the power to defeat death, and eternal life is through Him. The message of Jesus is humanity would have to change its course to see the Kingdom of Heaven. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)

Adam and Eve were perfect at creation, and because they fell to disobedience of God’s Word, all of humanity falls short of the glory of God. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Repent means to change one’s mind, to feel remorse for the sins committed, and to be converted to a new course and destiny. We have to turn away from the fleshly world we live in to the spiritual world of the Kingdom. Paul says it this way to the Roman church. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

The Old Testament teaching of the Kingdom of Heaven is a future Kingdom to be established here in the world. Many think of the Kingdom of Heaven as being in a far-off place called Heaven, which is not wrong in thinking. However, the Old Testament teaching was that the Kingdom would be here and will be in the one-thousand-year reign of Jesus after the seven-year tribulation. After that, the Kingdom of Heaven continues in eternity. Jesus’ teaching adds to this thought on the Kingdom of Heaven. Some say the Kingdom is at hand means it is coming soon. Maybe, it is certainly sooner than later as time moves forward. As a representative of the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus meant that He brought the Kingdom near to humanity by His presence. This phrase can be used today, as the spiritual church of Jesus endowed with the indwelling Holy Spirit brings the Kingdom of God near to humanity.

The mission of all who believe in Jesus as their Savior is to continue His mission to seek and save the lost. Yet, most will not listen and even become hostel to hear the gospel message. They appear to be satisfied with the hopeless direction they are in. The Christian can only pray for them the Lord will open their minds to the truth of the Kingdom of God. It is just as obvious God created this world as it is the world is passing away. Yet, they have been given over to the wicked ways through their rejection of the truth. “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:28-32)

A natural person cannot reason with faith and see it as a mythical wish. They cannot discern the grace of God and excuse it as luck. “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” (1 Corinthians 2:14). All the while, they are moving towards the fury of God’s final wrath and the second death. “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8) It is the burden that every believer in Jesus carries their love for the lost souls of humanity.

With the God-fearing religious of the day, the Pharisees and scribes, He argued the Old Testament’s scripture, and the words of the Prophets pointed to Him as the Messiah. “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40) After Jesus’ resurrection, He walked the road to Emmaus with some of His disciples who were distressed over His crucifixion. Jesus explained the scriptures, and the prophets pointed to Jesus. “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. (Luke 24:27)

Gospel Message of Jesus is the immediacy of the coming of the Kingdom of God. No one knows the hour or day the church will be called out, the appointed time of death, or the return of Jesus for the judgment of the world. Therefore, all need salvation from God’s wrath the gospel offers. The gospel sums the law of God into two points. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) 

The gospel message begins and ends with God’s love. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). Deliverance is the desire of God, as “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) Jesus, the Lamb of God, sacrificed Himself on the cross shedding His blood as an atonement for the world’s sin. By His grace through faith we can receive the salvation offered by God. We can receive purpose for our lives that has blessings in the Kingdom of God now and eternally. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Philippians 2:4-10)

As a result of salvation and the gift from God’s love, we see the people around us in their great need of freedom from the bondage of sin. You will have the desire to express Godly love towards them, hoping your prayer will be answered they will see God. The power of His Spirit can do that. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22)

Believe in the name and power of Jesus, who created all things and sustains all things. “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him.” (Colossians 1:16) Give that some deep thought, and you will have a reverent fear for God the Father and His Son your Christ. The next time you call out to your Lord, do so in awe, as the Kingdom of Heaven is near because it is in you, and you are a part of the Kingdom to come. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, June 23, 2021

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