Posts tagged ‘Kingdom of God’

We Have No King But Jesus

We Have No King But Jesus

“The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.” (Proverbs 21:1)

There is much anxiety, frustration, and hopelessness in the American public as a result of the current political campaign of this Presidential election cycle. I am not called to be a politician and to be honest I have no King but Jesus. That does not mean that I will forsake my duty to vote. I will vote but only as my prayers lead me to choose seeking God’s will. The sad question that travels through my mind is this the best that America can offer to the electorate? I will be satisfied when November 9 arrives so that I do not have to poison my mind each day with corrupt political chatter.

Many in the arena have made foolish predictions as to the result if this one or that one wins the Presidency. I have heard both predicting doom and gloom and I am saddened by their misplaced hope. Democracy is a wonderful form of government but its end is no different than any other in the measure of God’s will. “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding.” (Daniel 2:21) All men are here but for a wisp of time but God is everlasting and is sovereign before the beginning and will rule throughout eternity. We pray each day that that His will be done and it will. God is faithful and true, proven from the past and assured for the future. The question for us is are we in His will?

History will continue to unfold according to the predestined will of God and in the measure of eternity neither candidate will change its course. We are in this world and the god of this world has blinded the hearts of the many, “In whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4) They travel a wide road and it leads to the pit of destruction. Few will find the narrow path that leads to life everlasting. (Matthew 7:13-14)

I need not worry who is President as God will control the heart to work His plan and purpose for our nation and those of us who humble ourselves, repent, and seek His face will know that in the end we will see His glory. God humbled the heart of King Nebuchadnezzar that His will be dome. God stirred the heart of Cyrus that God’s people could return to Israel after seventy years in exile. God will mold the heart to His will for our new President in January. “The kingdom is the Lord’s, and He rules over the nations” (Psalms 22:28).

When the result of the vote comes known we will have no reason to fall off into a depressive state. We have no need to be in constant complaint of the outcome. Ours is to pray that their hearts may abide in the sovereign rule of God’s will. Pray that they may seek the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Pray that God will grant them wisdom to rule our land in compassion and justice. And we are to pray that we are obedient to His Word. “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” (Romans 13:1)

Let us explore Church history and see how God has moved men to great deeds against ungodly rulers of the past. Men who held to their devotion and allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ as their rightful and only King. Rulers of government that have demanded the allegiance of their subjects and denied the God-given rights of personal liberty. Enforced their political philosophy and twisted religious beliefs upon them.

In the first century Church the Jewish order and the Roman political system tried to stop the Apostles of their proclamation that Jesus was the only Lord and Savior. Peter declared in his first sermon, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ–this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:36) Again when Peter and John were arrested and came before the Jewish leadership Peter again testified, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) The Romans worshiped Caesar as their god and savior and charged the Apostles as being atheist. The Romans and the Jews both tried to enforce ungodly rule upon them but Peter declared “But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29 Gamaliel a respected scholar of the day warned them to let the Apostles alone and they were released.

In 1560 the national religion of Scotland was the Reform Faith. Then in 1603 James VI of Scotland became James I of England. In 1618 James I tried to conform the Scottish Churches to the beliefs of the Anglican Church and was continued by his son Charles I in 1625. The Presbyterians from Scotland rejected this use of state power over their religious beliefs and signed a covenant in 1638 declaring independence from state religion. In 1643 they signed another covenant pledging their allegiance to Jesus Christ only. This was in opposition to the Divine Rights of Kings and they declared that sovereignty belongs only to God.

These view brought strong opposition from King Charles II in 1662. He outlawed the Presbyterians and stated that their covenants were illegal. Because of their loyalty to God as the only sovereign he declared them as rebels to the state. The Scottish Presbyterian preachers were driven from their pulpits and they preached in the fields. Thousands of them were hunted down and jailed, tortured, and killed without trial. In the face of this persecution they met their attackers waving banners which read,  “FOR THE WORD OF GOD AND THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS’ and “FOR CHRIST’S CROWN AND COVENANT.” A Remnant of 200 in May of 1685 continued to proclaim their faith stating, “LET KING JESUS REIGN, AND ALL HIS ENEMIES BE SCATTERED!”

The Puritans also believed in the sovereignty of God. Their belief was that the sovereign God created the state and it was from God that the state received its power to govern. The king was a minister of God and by His grace executed the laws of God among the people. By this responsibility of the state a positive environment should be maintained for the preaching of the gospel. By his rule the people of God could live individually and corporately a life that was fully Christian.

This Christian doctrine and the Lordship of Jesus Christ as foremost in the minds of many patriots prior to the American Revolution against King George III. In Marlborough, Ma. It was proclaimed in January 1773 that “Death is more eligible than slavery. A free-born people are not required by the religion of Jesus Christ to submit to tyranny … (we) implore the Ruler above the skies, that He would make bare His arm in defense of His Church and people, and let Israel go.” (“The Light and the Glory” by Peter Marshall and David Manuel)

This call came from the pulpit and into the town halls and rose to cries for liberty. From the average colonist raised his voice for independence from King George III. The governors remained loyal to the King as they admitted to the voice of the Americans. “If you ask an American, who is his master? He will tell you he has none, nor any governor but Jesus Christ.” (“The Myth of Separation” by David Barton)  This sentiment may have been the root of the phrase “NO KING BUT KING JESUS.”

In April of 1775 Sam Adams and John Hancock were staying at the home of Pastor Jonas Clarke. Pastor Clarke was a Lexington pastor and militia leader. That very night Paul Revere arrived to warn them that the British Redcoats were approaching. In the morning British Major Pitcairn ordered the Minutemen to disperse saying, “Disperse, ye villains, lay down your arms in the name of George the Sovereign King of England.” The Response from the company of Pastor Jonas Clarke was, “We recognize no Sovereign but God and no King but Jesus.”

Our nation is now at a critical time, a time when the saints of God must give their total allegiance to the Kingship of our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ. We should renew our battle cry from our history past. “WE HAVE NO KING BUT KING JESUS!” This nation was not founded on religionist but by Christians. To quote an American hero Patrick Henry, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!”   

This then is the battel cry of the Christian Church. “And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:16)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, October 14, 2016

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Who May Dwell

Who May Dwell

“O LORD, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, And speaks truth in his heart. He does not slander with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor takes up a reproach against his friend; In whose eyes a reprobate is despised, But who honors those who fear the LORD; He swears to his own hurt and does not change; He does not put out his money at interest, Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.” (Psalm 15:1-5)

The question that David is asking is one that should be of the greatest concern for all of mankind. Who may dwell in God’s Tent? Those who are not caught up in the world that we live in, those who are open to the truth of God’s Word, and those who know that this is but a small part of the life we have, and know that their greatest concern is where they will spend eternity? This should be the striving of our life to focus on being acceptable to enter into the presence of our God and Creator.

When the Christian looks to the Psalm he is almost certainly familiar with the 23rd Psalm. Psalm 15 is often chosen by the Jews as their favorite and for good reason. The Jewish are Old Testament people and it answers the question of David their great king. Another point to see in this Psalm is that the question, “who may abide” in Hebrew does not mean live in the tent of God but visiting God in His tent. In that perspective it becomes who is acceptable to come into God’s presence and has in equal tense of the present and the future.

It is essential for us to know if God will allow us to visit Him in the present time and in the time of our arrival at the gate to His Kingdom. It is also essential to whether God will hear and therefore answer our prayers. A lot of prayers go up from people but because God knows the heart of men many are just noise and He does not hear them. “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently but they will not find me, Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD.” (Proverbs 1:28-29) With that said this Psalm’s importance to us is that it addresses the answer to being acceptable in the presence of God.

In the answer we see the qualifications for the one who is acceptable to enter into the presence of the Lord in verses 2-5. These qualities are not completely obtainable for us but we are to strive to reach them every day of our lives. They are a model of the way we should live our life. We are on the battlefield of a great spiritual war in the heavenly places which affects the world around us. (Ephesians 6:12) It is a battle for the hearts and souls of men that Satan wages relentlessly till his time is through. Satan searches for every weakness and will exploit each and every one. We will stumble but the one who will overcome is the one who gets back up and calls upon the Lord. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Following Jesus is not a when we need Him or when we feel like, it is a commitment to continue allowing Him to life through us. If we vary or backslide from our commitment then we not only damage our testimony but the testimony of God to mankind. We are to follow Him in faith and if we do not Solomon has some words of truth we should know. “Like a bad tooth and an unsteady foot Is confidence in a faithless man in time of trouble.” (Proverbs 25:19) The good news if we have found ourselves in this position our Lord loves us and is willing to forgive us. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

As a professing Christian we are always under the public microscope. This is good as we are to be lights of truth unto the world. We are the holy priesthood and therefore to set the standard for righteous living. We walk first in the faith always ready to speak the good news of God’s Kingdom and the free gift of salvation though His Son Jesus Christ. If we show are faithfulness to His Word then people we see that we deal truthfully and we can be trusted. The faithless ones can never be trusted because no one knows if they will come through. The question for us each day is how can God trust us if we are not living in with truth in our hearts?

The Apostle Paul gives us the standard in his letter to the Corinthian Church. “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:1-2)

These words from the Apostle fits the words of David in Psalm 15. It is our responsibility in all our matters to manifest the truth in the living of our life in view of those who do not know the truth. By the grace of God we have been redeemed, by the grace of God we have been equipped to do the good work of His Kingdom, and by His grace we shall walk in His presence. We do not need to resort to secretive tactics of our own craftiness for that is using the weak power of this world. The power is in God’s Word spoken boldly with honest heart delivered in shameless love for the hearer that they may be drawn to the right choice. God’s Word is complete, as it was in the beginning, and does not need our addition or subtraction. “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.” (1 Timothy 6:3-5)

When we live His Word clearly and boldly we are making the truth of the life we have been given for all to see, whether in deed or word. We both strengthen our own conscience in the sight of our God and please Him in the same action. We should have the faithful expectancy of a child with clear transparency that none may misinterpret our motive or misunderstand our actions. There would be no possibility for the truths that we speak to be twisted from their true meaning.

There is a deceptive trick that our hearts can play on us that we watch over carefully. It is an easy avenue that Satan exploits to turn our best intention and motives against is by our over anxious desire to accomplish God’s work. First it is God’s work not ours. We are His instruments in His hands and we are to allow His power to work through us. This is how we can glorify Him by submitting to His will working through us. We speak His truth when He gives us His word, not by our coaxing or persuasive measure but by His power through the Holy Spirit. If we twist His word or remove it from its full context then we may have disabled the full intent of its truth and power. We do not know but God does the full intended use of what God has given to us. Anything less than that and we could be bearing a false witness. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16)

The second verse of our text is internal, “He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, And speaks truth in his heart.” When we strive to accomplish that the externals of verses 3-5 will flow into place. We are living in the eternal perspective that we will be acceptable in the presence of God now and in the Kingdom that is soon to come. “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, October 7, 2016

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Parables an Introduction

Parables an Introduction

The use of Parables can be found in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament. In the Old Testament we see that several speakers in the Old Testament used Parables to bring out the truths on a certain point. Nathan used a parable in the book of 2 Samuel 12:1-4 to expose the sin of David. The Prophet Isaiah used a Parable to describe the house of Israel as God’s Vineyard in Isaiah 5:1-7. Also the Prophet Ezekiel used three Parables in his book Ezekiel. In the New Testament Jesus used Parables forty-six times as a teaching tool during His ministry.

It can be said that Parables are a style of storytelling that the Jews used in their culture to bring a certain truth to life. Jesus employed the same method in His teaching. The style of a Parable is to take an ordinary situation from life and use them to make a spiritual application to one’s life. Most Parables will have an element of mystery to them and one will have to give thought to its meaning in order to receive the point that is being made. Parables may not be in themselves complete and the listener will have to fill in the missing pieces in order to fully understand. The Parable itself is only a comparison to the actual truth that is being brought forth in the story. One purpose of the use of a Parable is to take a common instance and use it to bring a deeper understanding of how God works.

Before we study the Parables that Jesus told we must first gain a foundational understanding of four points. We must first define what a Parable is, understand why Jesus taught using Parables, discern what the Parables are about, and how we should interpret them.

The English word Parable comes from the Greek word parabole. This word is a compound word that or Para and Ballo. The word para we are familiar with as in para medic or para legal. The word para means to come along or to compare. A paramedic would be one who comes along side of a medic and assists him. Or a paralegal would be to assist a lawyer. So a para story would come along side of a principle that is being made by its telling. Ballo means to throw or see. One would use the para story in order that the listener would see the underlying truth that the story represents.

Jesus used Parables to present a contrast between good and bad, or holy and evil. From a Parable the listener can draw a comparison between the stories as a mirror image that would bring out the single concept of a truth. We can gain a better understanding of the use of Parables by remembering the Aesop’s Fables from our days of youth. Where the fables addressed higher moral issues the Parables of Jesus addressed the higher spiritual truths of His teaching.

Jesus often used phrases to draw His listener’s attention to the point that He was making. Such as, “He who has ears, let him hear,” “Most assuredly I say to you,” and “How much more.” These phrases would jar the attention of the listener so he would pay attention and hear what Jesus was teaching him. A good definition of a Parable is “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.”

The question comes to mind is why Jesus didn’t teach in a straight forward manner. A lot of the teaching of that Jesus taught was done in a plain and straight forward way. But to understand why so much of His teaching was taught through the use of Parables we have to consider a few things that were happening in that time and are still happening today.

I have always thought in my own mind that the teaching of Jesus was primarily for His disciples. Of course for the twelve but there were many more who followed Jesus during His ministry. There were also the scribes and Pharisees, and critics from other forms of religion and He was constantly under the eye of the Sanhedrin. These people were not coming to learn from Him but to capture Him is miss statements that they could use against Him. From early on in His ministry the Pharisees were plotting as to how they could be rid of Him. Jesus was turning many away from their self-centered teaching, He was upsetting the balance of their rule over the people. They could not find fault in Him but they never ceased to try and were always around when He spoke.  Their hearts were hardened to the truth of God’s Word. “In whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)

Some of the Parables were hard to understand as they used experiences from life to express the meaning of what Jesus was teaching. True the religious leaders had a great knowledge of the Scriptures but their interpretation was in a physical sense and Jesus was teaching in a spiritual sense. An example is that the Pharisees believed in an afterlife where the Seduces did not believe in life after death. If there is no life after death, then there is no eternal spirit. With this lack of belief they could not understand the spiritual implications of Jesus’ teaching.

Most everything that Jesus did in His ministry was to fulfill Prophecy. During the Sermon on the Mount Jesus clearly stated that He had not come to abolish the law or the teaching of the prophets but to fulfill what had been taught. “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” (Matthew 5:17) Jesus using Parables in His teaching was another fulfillment of prophecy. “I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old.” (Psalm 78:2) Matthew in his gospel testified to this truth that Jesus was the Messiah and therefore was fulfilling all that the prophets had spoken about Him. “This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: “I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things hidden since the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 13:35)

Still, even for the disciples all was not understood in His teaching through Parables. They could grasp it but they couldn’t extract His full meaning. They were like most, they did not want to have to meditate or think deep into what was being said. They wanted all the cards laid out on the table. The failure to ponder the truths leaves us with a shallow foundation and the purpose of Jesus was for people to have to pay attention and to think about what He was saying. Still, the disciples asked for an explanation many a time for the full meaning and Jesus would answer. But they had it within them because they believed and they had faith in their Master. “And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.” (Matthew 13:10-11)

The Parables were not understood by all the people who had gathered to hear Jesus’ teachings. Some, as the non-believers, the scribes and Pharisees whose minds may have been blinded, and others who were there just for the show and did not come to search for understanding of the truth. There are many like that today who come for the show, they come to be entertained, to be fed with physical food, and care not for the abundance of spiritual food. They hear but they do not listen, they sing but they do not praise, and they bow their heads but they do not pray. They have become dull in the mind, blind in their sight, and deaf in their hearing. They are unwilling to repent and be healed by the Great Physician. “For the heart of this people has become dull, With their ears they scarcely hear, And they have closed their eyes, Otherwise they would see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, And understand with their heart and return, And I would heal them.” (Mathew 13:15)

Only those who believe and have faith in the Lord can see and hear the truth that Jesus is teaching. We follow Him in faith and without faith it is impossible to please Him. “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6) I have myself fallen into a trap that my father spoke of often. We go to listen to the preacher preach but if it is a text we have heard before we close our minds to hear it again. The truth of this trap is that we came without faith that God had a word just for us. We missed it because we thought we already knew it. I believe that it is not so much what the Pastor is saying but what the Spirit is saying through Him. If we don’t have the faith to receive it, then we will miss it and walk away no different than when we walked in. “For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.” (Hebrews 4:2)

Jesus spoke in Parables to hide the meaning to those who had already rejected His message. Jesus spoke in Parables to give those who had ears to hear a deeper and fuller understanding of the spiritual truths that He was giving them, His disciples.

For those who have faith in Jesus, those who believe in who He is, and those who believe in the Father who sent Him, the purpose of the Parables is that we can learn the mysteries of the Heavenly Kingdom. “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. “For truly 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)

Many in the multitudes did not grasp the meaning of the Parables and they had not even a clue because they were not asking, seeking, and knocking that the truths would be opened unto them. They were not people of prayer. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)

Heaven is foreign to us, as none of us has been there. Jesus came from Heaven and He would soon return to His home there. He knew the mysteries He was trying to bring understanding to for the disciples. Yet, it was at time to distant for them to fully understand and when He was done teaching He would take His followers aside and explain to them the deeper meanings. “As soon as He was alone, His followers, along with the twelve, began asking Him about the parables. And He was saying to them, “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables, so that while seeing, they may see and not perceive, and while hearing, they may hear and not understand, otherwise they might return and be forgiven.” (Mark 4:1-12)

The encompassing theme of the Parables of Jesus was the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. We see this again in Matthew 13:11. “Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.”

As we learn together from the Parables there are two things that we must realize. We will not find a spiritual truth in every detail of each Parable. We must not let our imagination run wild and read more into them than what Jesus has taught. We must remember that it is a spiritual lesson and rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us through. This is an advantage that we have as a following of Jesus our Lord and Savior. And we must not find always only one spiritual truth in a Parable and be satisfied. Let us not limit God in His infinite possibility.

Guidelines for understanding is to first look at the explanation that Jesus gave for the Parable. When Jesus told the Parable of the Sower He offered this tip in His explanation, “And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables?” (Mark 4:13)

If we understand the basic truth of the Parable then what ever other truths we find must be in harmony with the basic truth. Absolute truth can have no conflict in its meaning. An error in reading Scripture is that sometimes we take it out of context to make it fit to our own purpose. When reading a Parable we must pay attention to the introduction of the Parable. What was going on when Jesus chose to tell this Parable? When there is an application of the truth of the Parable we will find greater insight.

Neither are we to form a new doctrine from the Parable. We must not forget that Parables were used to conceal spiritual truths so they are not always cut and dry and clear in their meaning. Therefore, we must never try to form a new doctrine using only the Parable as its base. All scripture testifies unto itself and therefore all must fit together without conflict.

But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. “For truly 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)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, September 1, 2016

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Three P’s of Worship

Three P’s of Worship

“Sing to the LORD a new song; Sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day. Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples. For great is the LORD and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before Him, Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory of His name; Bring an offering and come into His courts. Worship the LORD in holy attire; Tremble before Him, all the earth. Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved; He will judge the peoples with equity.” Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; Let the sea roar, and all it contains; Let the field exult, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy Before the LORD, for He is coming, For He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness And the peoples in His faithfulness.” (Psalm 96)

Most worship services begin with the Choir singing hymns or the Praise band leading praise music. During the worship service there will be a time of giving back from the treasure that the Lord has blessed us with. Some of us may serve during the worship service as teachers, musicians, sound technicians, ushers, and greeters. During the service there may be times of prayer and acts of praise. But none of these define what true worship is. They are expressions of our worship, manifestations of what we know in our heart and the desire we have to serve our God but they in themselves are not wholly true worship. As we look to opinions and definitions in various dictionaries for the meaning of the word worship there is one that comes from Webster that defines worship as a spiritual discipline. Worship is to honor with extravagant love and extreme submission.” (Webster’s Dictionary, 1828).

True worship is not confined between the walls of a Church building, or within the comfort of the home, and not in the vastness of the desert. True worship is a commitment to honor with extravagant love and extreme submission to the Lord God Almighty. True worship is a way of life lived in righteousness. If our lifestyle is not expressed in the beauty of holiness in a devoted love for God with an excess of submission to God, then I ask of you to make that kind of true worship the priority of your life. Let us look at the three P’s of worship, Priority, Person, and Promise.

We are commanded by the Prophet Moses to, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5) This is the command to have a worshipful relationship with God. We all fall short but we are to strive to accomplish this in our life. This is the priority of our worship. This is at the heart of our worship that God loves us, He loves us with all His heart, He loves us with a deep spiritual commitment as He has given His Spirit to dwell within us, and He loves us with all His might. He is faithful and true and will never forsake us and only He is worthy of our worship. This is why we enter His courts with praise. “Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.” (Psalm 100:4)

The God we serve, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the one true God, the Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent One, and there is no other He is the one true God. “For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before Him, Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.” (Psalm 96:5-6) This is the focus of our worship our God the Creator of the havens and the earth. This is the personage of our God, the one we mold our lives by.

Therefore we worship Him for the Person that He is. Answer for yourself this question. Would you worship God without the miraculous signs and wonders that are manifested in our life and all around us, or is our worship dependent upon the abundance of His blessings that we receive each and every day of our lives? Without that would God still be worthy of our worship? Do we only worship God for what He can do for us or do we worship Him for who He is. We seek the favor of men but would it not be better to seek the favor of God? “The LORD favors those who fear Him, Those who wait for His lovingkindness.” (Psalm 147:11)

There is a Promise attached to our worship of the Lord. As unworthy as we are to stand before a holy God He is abundantly generous towards us through our worship of Him. This is the promise of the Lord that when we worship Him with extravagant love and extreme submission He will come and commune with us. As James writes, “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)

The promise is not that we will feel greater by His presence, or that He will lift all our burdens from our backs, but that in His time He will come and commune with us in response to our worship of Him. “Before the LORD, for He is coming, For He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness And the peoples in His faithfulness.” (Psalm 96:13)

When God comes He first will look into our hearts. He will find everything that is not like Him, every fault and every sin that needs to be confessed and repented of He will convict us of. This is an answer to our prayer, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10) When we lift our voices in song and praise, when we lift our hands and shout they would be noise to a holy God if there is unconfessed sin in our lives. God comes to make us right before Him, to forgive us and to give us the righteousness of His Son.

This is the promise of true worship that we will be transformed into the likeness of His Son, Jesus, that we may fellowship with Him for His glory. This is the result of a true worship. An extravagant love for God and an extreme submission to Him. Then your worship can be complete, worthy, pleasing and acceptable to God. Then you can sing with joy in tour heart, giving back His portion of His blessing, and serving Him with gladness. Then you will, “Ascribe to the LORD the glory of His name; Bring an offering and come into His courts.”  (Ps. 96:8).

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

Pleasant Manor, September 18, 2016

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I Want To Know You

I Want To Know You

“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)

So many times we have heard the Pastor say, “If what that boy is saying is true, then I want to know you.’” If what the Pastor is saying is true, then it has been revealed to you as it was to Simon Peter, “Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16) You have been convicted of a spiritual truth and been blessed by the mercy of God that your heart has been opened up to it. “And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:17) Unfortunately some churches lead you in a defined prayer, known as the sinner’s prayer, and then send you off on your way to live a life of bliss in the Lord. That prayer may be as this one. “Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.” For many by the grace of God that sticks and a life is transformed, but, I have a fear that sometimes it is but a formality and the heart of the soul does not truly understand what they have prayed.

In Jesus’ Parable of the sower there was seed that fell upon rocky soil and the seed  sprang up quickly and then was choked away in time. Jesus explained in this way, “The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.” (Matthew 13:20-21) Sometimes we get caught up in an emotional experience and flow with it but when the emotions drift away the excitement soon follows. The choice to choose Jesus to be the Lord of your life must have a deeper root than a passing emotion. The emotions change with the passing of events but the heart of a man must remain strong in his convictions for a permanent turn in life.

Calling upon the name of the Lord is not a hit or miss process, it is an eternal process and its beginning must have root in the heart. The Evangelist is but the sower of the seed of God’s Word and if it is planted in the heart of a man then it is by the grace of God that it grows and flourishes. It is a transformation from life in this world, the kingdom of darkness, (sin) to the Kingdom of Heaven. (Righteousness) It is not easy, it is not all bliss, it is a commitment, and one that we cannot walk back from but move forward in the path that Jesus has set before us. Jesus tells us that we are to count the cost of our decision and commit to seeing it through. It is, as our Lord, a life of sacrifice. “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 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 12:1-2)

It is not to believe in God and it is not to believe in Jesus, even the demons believe in God. “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” (James 2:19) It is an intimate relationship, as a marriage, with God through His Son Jesus Christ. As with any relationship that has lasting power we have to hunger and thirst for it and desire it above all else. It is as God the Father to a child relationship, it is a brother relationship with the Son of God Jesus, and it is a relationship walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. To enter into this supreme relationship with God we must be aware of sin in our lives, God’s answer to resolve that separation that sin causes, receive the gift that God has freely given us, and commune with Him in prayer.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) God spoke all that exist into being by His Word with the exception of man. Man was formed by the hand of God from the dust and He breathed life into the man. “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.” (Genesis 2:7) For that reason man has an eternal spirit and God desires a personal relationship with the spirit of men. Satan man’s evil adversary and hater of God seeks to steel, kill, and destroy man’s relationship with God. (John 10:8) Satan tempted man in the Garden of Eden and man fell into disobedience to God’s Word and broke the relationship between man and God. From that day forward man has been in bondage to sin and God in His love for man has a perfect plan for man’s redemption. God is a holy God and cannot abide with sin and for man to have a relationship with God he had to be in a righteous state. The wage of sinful living is death and God is a just God and that wage must be paid. “For the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) Man cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven unless that wage is paid and by God’s love for man He sent His Son into the world to pay that debt so that the relationship of man could be restored unto God. “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)

God loves His creation, man, but God hates the sin that man has fallen into. The wage of sin is a debt that man cannot pay and still live. There is no man that is not without sin in their life. No man is capable to live a sinless life as by our sin nature we are drawn to sinful living. “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” (James 2:10) Sin cannot enter into any relationship between man and God and therefore man is separated from God by sin and without a remedy is hopeless to pay the wage which is death. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

God in His love for man came up with the perfect solution to man’s problem with sin. The answer to man’s sin problem is God’s Son Jesus who lived a perfect life here in the world that He would be the perfect sacrifice to pay the price of man’s sin. The Apostle Paul teaches from God’s Word of God’s solution for man. “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) Jesus went to the Roman cross to offer His life as payment for the sin in our lives. Jesus died on the cross to purchase a place in Heaven for mankind and offers it to men as a free gift. It is free because there is none other who could pay the high cost of sin. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

We can receive this free gift of salvation from God if we believe in Him, and if we believe in His Son who He sent for our redemption. It is a gift from God as there is nothing that we could do to earn it, nothing that we could do to work for it, and nothing that we could pay because the cost is too high. The cost for us is our faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God for our salvation alone, as there is no other way. This is God’s gift to man and He wants man to receive it. “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3-4) Jesus will give eternal life to those who believe in Him and follow Him in faith.

On the Day of Pentecost many were convicted of the truth during the preaching of the Apostles as the word of the Spirit drove into their hearts. “Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37) Becoming a follower of Jesus can be done anywhere. It is not a pulpit thing, not an altar thing, and not a formality of prayer. God who sees the heat of a man knows what the intentions are, knows the motives, and knows the truth of a soul. It is a personal commitment to following Jesus in faith and obey His commandments. Say what you believe in the language of your heart and God will hear what you say. What must we do to be saved? The Apostle Peter tells us, “Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

Confess the sins you are convicted of and those which you do not know the Lord will reveal in time. Confession is important to any relationship and it is the only way to start a relationship with God. If you are overwhelmed just say “Lord I am a sinner.” This is a true statement and God knows what you have done and He will create in you a clean heart. (Psalm 51:10) Hide nothing as God knows the truth of you and holding back will only harm you. “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.” (Proverbs 28:13)

Confession is not a revelation to God but may be a revelation to yourself. Confession must be followed by asking that God will forgive your transgressions. I have always thought and believe that there is no reason for a soul to rest in Hell as the price for their sin has been paid in full. People go to Hell because they will not confess and ask for forgiveness for their sins. To be forgiven is a simple as asking for forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

We have lived a life in sinful behavior. It is not easy to change that behavior overnight but we must go through the repentance process. It tales power to overcome the flaming darts of Satan’s temptation and that power is in the One who has overcome, Jesus. We must ask Jesus to come into our life and take charge, take the throne of our life, and rule over us. “That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.” (Ephesians 3:16) We are asking Jesus to come into our life and be our Lord and Savior. When we receive Jesus we receive His Spirit dwelling within us and He is the power of the universe and there is none greater. “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (John14:16-17) There is no other name by which we can be saved from the wage of sin, there is no other way that we can receive the Kingdom of Heaven, and there is no other way that we can see God. “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6)

The first thing we want to do when we receive such a great joy in our spirits is to share the good news with our loved ones. We want to tell them that we have been freed from our bondage to sin and we want to let them know that they can be free too. We have confessed to God Almighty, what then is it to confess to men? “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)

As in any relationship we want to know more about the person we have been joined with. One of the best ways to learn of Jesus and His Father is to read His Word. Jesus is the Word of God. (John 1:1) We are babes in Christ but we desire to grow into spiritual maturity. We want to leave the milk barn and receive the meat of His truth. We do this by studying His Word. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)

When I found my first love all I wanted to do was to listen and talk and lean everything about that person. That is what praying is, a divine conversation with God through Jesus. I want to learn and I’ll ask Him to teach me, I want to serve and I’ll ask Him to equip me, and I want to follow and I’ll ask Him to lead me. “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 14:13)

We are now a child of God and we should want to meet our brothers and sisters in the faith. There is much to learn from their experience as all have gone through struggles and there is much wisdom in their walk with the Lord. I want to be lifted and I want to lift and being with my Church family is the proving ground to be equipped for the work of the Kingdom. “And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

The salvation that we have receive is made new by the sacrifice of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. There will be trials, there will be tribulations, there will be sacrifice, and there will be abundant life here and in eternity. Praise the Lord! “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:5-7)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, September 13, 2016

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Retiring in the Lord

Retiring in the Lord

“Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance. Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” (Titus 2:2-5)

My father, like most men, lived his life planning for retirement. When he reached that age he was satisfied that he had laid up enough that my mother would be cared for after he had gone home. My father spent forty years in the ministry as a Pastor of various Churches and retired in 1975. He then went on to preach as an interim Pastor for another eight years. Then for four years he counseled Pastors and went home in February of 1988. The thirteen years after his retirement my father continued to serve his Lord.

In America we are able to retire at the age of sixty-five and many of us plan for that as much as we do for our twenty-first birthday. Some view it as a freedom from the labors of life, a time to sit back and enjoy the golden years in leisure. It is a worldly thing and viewed by many as a right. I see no problem with that, as I have enjoyed my retirement very much. But in America this was not always the way it was for the early Americans.

Retirement is grounded in response to social change in our society. America was primarily an agricultural community at its founding. Of course there has always been some form of manufacturing in society but most of us back then were farmers and ranchers. Employment in early American was plentiful as there were plenty jobs and opportunities for the ones that wanted to better themselves. For the farmers and ranchers they grew larger families and as mom and pop grew older the kids would take over and the elders would care to the mentoring and management of business.

Then in the mid 1800’s a man by the name of Samuel Slater who was an industrialist became known as the “Father of the Industrial Revolution” and inspired the American factory system. (Wikipedia) This had an adverse effect of the Agricultural life of the folks in the rural areas as the sons moved to the cities where the factories were. The elder ages belonged to the more menial labors which did not pay as well as the factory work. This began to put a strain on the labor market and unemployment started to raise its head.

Then in 1913 a man by the name of Henry Ford created the moving assembly line and the productivity of the factories exploded and American became an industrial giant. With the assembly line a Model T could be assembled faster than the paint could dry on their bodies. (Wikipedia) This caused a problem for the older workers and management came to view them as liabilities. The older workers made more mistakes and couldn’t keep pace and slowed down the production lines and companies forced them out for the younger and adept.

When the Great Depression came this made the employment even more difficult not only for the elders but for the young as well. As a result Franklin D. Roosevelt developed social security; workers could pay into a retirement fund from which they could draw a living at age 60, leaving gainful employment to the next generation. (Wikipedia) Over time the result became that a sixty something person was expected to leave the work force and live a life of leisure. To this day that is the plan that we all work towards.

As Christians we should be very curious to know what God’s Word tells us of His perspective on retirement. There are many who say that man is to retire from his labors at the age of fifty and they get that from Numbers 8:24-26. This is not a proper reading of God’s Word. First it was addressed to the Levites. The Levites were responsible for the care of God’s Tabernacle, later His Temple, which now is His Church. “This is what applies to the Levites. But at the age of fifty years they shall retire from service in the work and not work anymore.” (Numbers 8:25) In the day of Moses taking down, moving, and resetting up the Tabernacle was hard work. Keeping the Temple of God prepared for worship was a tedious task according to Old Testament law. Maintaining the Church today is not an easy task either. God commanded them who had reached the age of fifty to be set aside and the younger men to care for His house of worship. But God did not tell them to retire. “They may, however, assist their brothers in the tent of meeting, to keep an obligation, but they themselves shall do no work.” (Numbers 8:26)  The older Levites were to be mentors for the young. They had many years of experience and they were to use that experience to teach and train. They were full of wisdom and understanding and they were to teach the young that they would not stumble in their duties to God.

Moses was a Levite. He spent forty years in Egypt being trained as a king in the Pharaoh’s house. Moses killed an Egyptian and fled and spent forty years in the desert with his father in law Jethro and was called by God to return and led His people out of Egyptian bondage. Moses led the Israelite nation through the wilderness for forty years till they reached the plains of Moab. There at the age of 120 years Moses spoke to the people all that God had commanded of them. “In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses spoke to the children of Israel, according to all that the LORD had commanded him to give to them. (Deuteronomy 1:3) When Moses had completed all that the Lord had given him to do Moses died in the plains of Moab as he a great man of faith completed the work that had been given him by the Lord to do. Moses died the day that he had completed all that God had given him, it was there on the Palins of Moab that Moses retired in the Lord.

The expectation of the world that we live in is that we are to retire and live the remainder of our lives seeking pleasure. That we have completed our course at the perceived time as stated in response to social change in our society. It is now that we are free to do as we please and that we are capable of. Paul says this is a fatal error on the part of worldly thinking. “But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives.” (1 Timothy 5:6) I do not see anywhere in God’s Word that the Christian is to retire from serving the Lord with all our might. When the world says we are to retire, and we do, this become the greatest opportunity in our life to commit to serving the Lord. I do not believe the Christian ever retires, as we are faced with an eternity of serving our Lord and Savior and God the Father almighty.

The Apostle Paul tells us that as parents we are to save of for the welfare of our children. “Here for this third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not be a burden to you; for I do not seek what is yours, but you; for children are not responsible to save up for their parents, but parents for their children.” (2 Corinthians 12:14) Many think of that as financial welfare and save to leave them a secure wellbeing in this world. Is that really a proper care for their wellbeing? Could it be that we are to save up our wisdom and understanding of God and His ways for their spiritual welfare? When my grandma Welsh went home to the Lord I looked back over her life and saw a life well lived in the grace of the Lord. When I look forward to those in the family that have followed I still see my grandma in their lives. It is an amazing thing to see that a righteous lady who died in 1973 is teaching the children who are born in this millennium. “And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come.” (Psalm 71:18)

I remember the old Sister Sledge song “We Are All Family.” We are the family of man, we are the family of our father, and to us we are the family of God. We are siblings, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, and grandfathers and grandmothers. We have an obligation to each in our family to love them as God loves them. “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:8) We are responsible for them and we are to nurture them in God’s truth. We are to reprove, rebuke, edify, and love them. As Paul writes, “Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.” (1 Timothy 5:1-2)

If we are incapable to work the fields of the harvest there is always reserved for us the most powerful gift of all that we can give and that is the power of prayer. We read of Anna a widow at the age of 84 who prayed night and day for the souls of others and the Church. “And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers.” (Luke 2:36-37)

In the eyes of God we are ageless and never too old to fulfill the work that He has given us to do. We are never too young and we are never too old because we are a part of the ‘I Am.” Let us never yield to the temptation of the adversary to retire or give up the privilege of serving our God both now and forever more. “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, September 8, 2016

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Living in Freedoms Light

Living in Freedoms Light

“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32)

In the United States of America and other nations in the world freedom is a high value that we wish to hold and have. And we know and never should forget that the freedoms we have come with the high cost of human blood. In the political atmosphere of this day we should never take the freedoms that we have as a society for granted. Over the course of my life time I have seen the freedoms of my childhood erode away without so much as an opposing argument. The freedoms that we are granted by the Bill of Rights are slowing fading from our grasp by the apathy of the voter. These freedoms are freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble, and freedom to petition the government for redress

Plato describes the course of society as a progression. First is the Aristocracy which is ruled by a King. Then the government slowly becomes a Timocracy which is governed by those who place their value upon power. This is followed by an Oligarchy where the rich become the privileged and the poor suffer without voice. Eventually the people rise up and rebel and form a Democracy where freedom becomes the ultimate good. But a Democracy will degenerate into Tyranny because the people become complacent. The people have no discipline and society exists in chaos. Democracy is taken over by the longing for freedom. Power must be seized to maintain order. A champion will come along and experience power, which will cause him to become a tyrant. The people will start to hate him and eventually try to remove him but will realize they are not able. (Wikipedia) Democratic tyranny, evolving on the sly as a slow and subtle corruption leading to total State control, is thus the third and by no means a rare road to the most modern form of slavery. (Erik Kuehnelt-Leddihn) Francis Shaffer take the progression one step further tyranny to anarchy. We can see the seeds of tyranny and anarchy in our society today.

Political freedom is a wonderful thing if the government is of the people, by the people, and for the people. This is not the case here in America today as we are moving closer to a political Tyranny. Political freedom is not the freedom that Jesus offers to mankind. John Piper defines true freedom as this. “You are fully free when you have the desire, the ability, and the opportunity to do what will leave you with no regrets forever.”  The truth is that freedom that does not free the soul, freedom that does not set the eternal spirit of a man free from the wrath of God is not freedom. This is the freedom that Jesus Christ offers and only He can. True freedom comes from knowing Christ through genuine faith and abiding in His Word.

Jesus was addressing His disciples and the many who had come to hear Him teach. The Pharisees, as always, were there to try and catch Him saying something for them to find fault. But as we read prior to our text many were coming to believe Jesus’ words. “As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him.” (John 8:30) Jesus was now reinforcing His teaching with our text. So we would think that they had come to know Jesus by their faith in His words. But as we read the next verse we see that they did not comprehend what Jesus was saying. They did not understand to what they were enslaved to. “They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?” (John 8:33)

Many in the world today do not realize their slavery. They do not realize that they are enslaved to the sin in their life. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Who among us has not been born into sin from our grandparents in the Garden of Eden? Who among us has kept the Ten Commandments everyday of our lives? Who among us has not at one time in our lives has not fallen to wanton sinful living? Have we not all fallen into “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life.” (1 John 2:16) We all sinned and face the debt of its wage which is death. (Romans 6:23) If we have stumbled and broken one commandment we have broken the whole of the law of God. “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” (James 2:10)

There are some who believe that they will be accepted into Heaven on the family plan. It is not the family you were born into that can save you but the family that you are redeemed into that brings you into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. You become a child of God by receiving Jesus as your Lord and Savior. “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.” (John 1:12) It is by faith and faith in Him alone that we can become sons of God. That is the only family plan, God’s plan, that will gain you entrance into Heaven. “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26)

It is not by knowledge of Jesus, not by knowing His name, and not by believing in God, as even the demons do that. It is by having a personal relationship with Jesus. By giving your life to Him and He sharing His life with you. That you would not only know of Him but know Him as your Lord and Savior. There is no righteousness that we can obtain of our self that can fill the measure of His perfect righteous. Perfect righteousness which is the only standard that is allowed into Heaven with a holy God. It is not our money, not our talents, not our empty words but the whole of our heart that God wants. Anything less is hypocrisy. Jesus told us so when He quoted the Prophet Isaiah. “And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me. ‘But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.” (Mark 7:6-7)

Having a sound faith in God’s Word and trusting in the path that Jesus has set before you is where our true freedom can be found. Jesus tells us that if we live by His word this is the light that will guide our path. “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105) If we walk in His ways, then we are not bound by the treacherous paths of our own ways. This is not the way to be saved but is a proof that we are saved. That we walk in His word and the world will know that we are His disciples. “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.” To continue in His Word means that we have to start in His Word

When we abide in His Word then we are in continual obedience to His Word. His Word controls our attitude, guides the way we think, controls our speech, and governs our behavior. It takes the burden of confusion off of us as we rely on the good counsel of His truth to guide our every action. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (John 14:26 John 16:13)

No longer do we walk in the ignorance of the world or filled with a spiritual darkness. “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart.” (Ephesians 4:17:18) The spiritual truths of God will be opened up to us and we no longer will be bound by the chains of worldly thinking which has a finite end but with thinking that is governed by the eternal Spirit from the Ancient of Days. The Spirit of Truth will reveal these truths to us that can be seen by our faith. “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.” For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10)

Since man’s fall in the Garden of Eden man has been enslaved to sin. In the Old Testament the Israelite nation was prepared for the coming of the Messiah by the sacrificial system of the blood of animals covering their sin. God accepted that but this is not what saved them from the penalty of their sin. They were saved by their faith in the Revelation of God, Jesus Christ. “Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” (Galatians 3:6) In the New Testament God’s Son, Jesus came as the Messiah for the world. Jesus who paid the sin debt of the world is the full revelation of God through whom man can find salvation. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8)

Through Jesus, who is the grace of God, we have the ability to obey as He gives us His Spirit to live in and through us that we can walk in the Spirit of Truth. When we stumble He is faithful and true to forgive by our confession and repentance. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

No longer are we enslaved to sin or its penalty as we have been given freedom from the wrath of God. Jesus is the Word of God, the truth and His truth sets us free. “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, September 12, 2016

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The Fog of Funk

The Fog of Funk

“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)

I have been a bit of a funk this past week or so. I cannot say when it started, as these things always seem to come as a surprise. Webster defines funk differently than I do. According to Webster funk means in the noun form “a state of nervousness, fear, or depression.” That is not far from my definition as those symptoms are present when I am in a funk. For me the definition of a funk is when I have taken God of the throne of my life and put myself on the throne. My adversary, Satan, knows when I am in a funk and quickly takes advantage of the dire situation I have allowed myself to fall into. When God is off the throne of my life His power is greatly weakened in me and the wall around me forms cracks in it. Satan searches for those cracks and will come in and build a stronghold for himself in my life.

The goal of Satan is to cause me to fall into sin and distance my fellowship with the Lord and leave me further and further on my own. This is a state when one will quench the Spirit that dwells within and His influence does not have the strong effect that it should. This is not in any way God’s fault it is mine, as I took Him off the throne. It is then I find myself saying “I got this” and “I can handle it.” I find myself learning an old lesson that as a Christian you cannot win the battle against Satan when God is not on the throne. I always ask myself, “How many times Lord must you reproof me before I learn to abide in you.” “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)

I found myself as Jonah, not obeying the will of God and following His lead and plan for my life. Jonah did that when the Lord told him to go to Nineveh and preach His Word. Going to Nineveh would be like settling down in the camp of ISIS. One would think that it would be a short time before they departed this world in a not so pleasant way. This is what Jonah thought and he boarded a boat headed in the opposing direction. It wasn’t long before he ended up in the belly of a great fish and spit back out three days later. Jonah got the message of God, repented, and went to Nineveh to preach God’s Word.

When Jonah got to Nineveh the people responded to God’s Word and most all repented and worshiped the Lord. Jonah should have been praising the Lord for the mighty way that He had used him. But Jonah fell into another funk and became bitter. In fact he became angry because he felt that the people of Nineveh did not deserve the salvation of the Lord. The Lord rebuked Jonah with these words, “The LORD said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?” (Jonah 4:4) Jonah had judged the people of Nineveh and determined that they did not deserve the salvation of the Lord and was mad because they had received it.

It is not for us to judge the souls of men as we do not know the beginning for the end. God is ever present. He is before the Garden of Eden, He is present here now, and He walks the borders of eternity. God is all knowing and knows who will receive Him and who will reject Him. Who are we to judge these things that only belong to God to see? “Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” (I Corinthians 4:5)

Last Wednesday Night service the Pastor got my heart turned right-side up. He was teaching in Romans 12:2 “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.” His teaching lead into the Parable of the Prodigal Son. I myself have been privileged to speak on that Parable and also use it in my personal testimony. The Pastor went there in response to a young man who came into the Church cold, wet, and with no clothing but a pair of shorts. He was a pitiful sight to see but this is not the first time that he had appeared at the door of the Church. We helped him out, fed him, gave him provision and he stayed for the service that Sunday. Now he has returned again and with his hand out for more aid. Being in my funk I judged him to be nothing more than a panhandler looking for another free handout rather than a hand up. Being that I was in a funk my heart was not right, self was on the throne, and I had no love for my neighbor. In my heart where the Light should have been was only darkness. “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” (1 John 1:6)

Was I being judgmental, yes? I was hiding in a verse that the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians. “But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” (1 Corinthians 5:13) The Pastor was on purpose, the purpose he and the rest of us have been given. “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:2) Thus, the Pastor went to the Prodigal Son and made the young man feel the welcome of the Kingdom. I was hearing but I was not listening until I hear the Pastor read this verse. “But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him.” (Luke 15:28) The older brother was angry that his younger brother had come home. The connection was made this young man was my brother. What reason did I have to be angry as Jonah?

I had to read that because it spoke loud to me as never before. The older brother was angry that his brother had come home. Why wasn’t he rejoicing? Then I read the next two verses and the full truth came into my heart even louder. “But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.” John 15:29-30) He was the good son, he was obedient to all that his father had asked him. Now this renegade brother of his had come home and there was a celebration. I have always seen this Parable as speaking to the joy of the Father when a sinner repents and turns toward the Kingdom of Heaven. But it is more than that.

How many of us think that we are the good sons? Paul says, “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3) I am obedient to the Father, I spend my days in His service, I counsel and minister to many in His name, and I present the Church with my time, talent, and treasure. But the truth is I am just as much a sinner as this young man is and God has led him into His house. How dare I in my funk lead one of his own astray? “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)

We cannot allow ourselves to remain in a funk as I had. We cannot allow ourselves to take God of the throne of our life and not expect that the adversary will come walking in to rob us of our joy. If we find our self in a funk, then we need to let God take His rightful place on the throne of our life once again. It is humbling and it is necessary because apart from Him we can do nothing. It is a time to go to our knees in prayer so we can stand in the victory that the Lord will give us. He is not only wanting, willing, and ready to forgive, but are we ready, willing, wanting to confess and repent. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, September 7, 2016

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“He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, And speaks truth in his heart.” (Psalm 15:2)

The First Presbyterian Church in Cleveland, Ms. Has a special place in my memory both far and near. My father Dr. Robert W Kirkpatrick ordained Pastor Harmon at the First Presbyterian Church in Cleveland. It was a rancorous process and the search committee was placing strong challenges to Pastor Harmon’s theology. I wasn’t there so I don’t know but at some point my father stood up and told the people to stop badgering the Pastor. The outset of that was that my father used the text of this devotional, “He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, And speaks truth in his heart.” (Psalm 15:2) We cannot argue over trivial matters and deny the man who has the truth written on the tablet of his heart is to be driven away from the will of God. Pastor Harmon was ordained and served the Church until 1997 or 98.

In 1988 my father went home to rest with the Lord and Dr. Harmon preformed the funeral service. On February 22, the Church family came together and celebrated the life of my father and his ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I learned a valuable lesson that day from the reflections of Dr. Sid Harmon and I have carried it with me, not as well as I should, from those days since. “Stand in the Truth.”

In November of 2007 my mother went home to be with the Lord in Perry Georgia. Now this may be shocking to some but my brother Bob placed her body in the back of his pick-up truck and took her to Cleveland, Mississippi so she would not miss her funeral service. Of course I knew my mother for all of my life, or so I thought. Again Dr. Sid Harmon conducted the service and I learned something very powerful from his meditation. My mother kept an extensive prayer list and a record of how God had answered each one. Her prayer list wasn’t empty on the day that she passed but near all boxes were checked that God had given an answer to her request. God answers our prayers and we should keep a list in order to remember what He has done and to give Him the praise and glory. Dr. Harmon an honored titled to my mom as a great prayer warrior and if you needed prayer she was to one to seek. This is how we can tap into the power of God, communicate with Him in prayer. I learned that day from my mother to “Stand in Prayer.”

Then in February of 2009 my brother Hal Kirk went home and again the family gathered at the First Presbyterian Church of Cleveland. Once again Dr. Sid Harmon was called to the task of officiating the service and the family and friends gathered to celebrate his life. I have known Hal since I was a teenager when my father preformed the wedding ceremony of Hal and my sister Mary. I got to be an usher at the service and I also met a very great friend, Hal. Over the years I would venture out to Mississippi and visit and it was always a welcoming family, not as in-laws but as family. And over the years I realized that Hal was the definition of Benevolent Grace. If anyone had a need they didn’t have to ask as Hal would always be ready to provide. Through the words of Dr. Harmon’s meditations on brother Hal I learned the truth of showing mercy to every one of God’s Children. We all should “Stand in Mercy,” because we all need God’s mercy.

This year Hal’s wife my sister Mary went home to be with her Lord. And once again we all gathered at the First Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Ms. On February, 11th Dr. Harmon, who is now retired, led the service and gave his meditations over the memory of Sister Mary. My sister was not a pushy person but if she gave you an assignment she expected it to be done. This was her expectation as she was for many years a children’s teacher. Not just in the public schools but more in the Sunday school of the Church. Dr. Harmon mentioned that if a book landed on his desk he knew that he would need to be ready to give a report to Mary, as this is what she expected.

Of course the passing of family is a sad event to us but in each one I was not driven to tears at the event until the service for my sister. And it was not the passing of my sister but the response of the town at her service. I don’t really know the seating capacity of the Church in Cleveland, I would guess 400. But I do know this there was standing room only in that Sanctuary. They we not just old folks like my brothers but young folks and middle aged folk. I learned as the day passed that the majority of the people who attended were her former students and their lives were positively affected by her work in the Lord’s ministry.

Sometimes we think that we are not making a difference in the lives of others. We may even think that we are wasting our time in our efforts. But this is never true. And I learned and confirmed this at the service for Sister Mary. As I looked at all the people that had come to know the Lord Jesus a lot better through the faithful teaching of my sister. I learned that day that whatever our call the Lord has placed upon us, it is necessary and we must remain dedicated to His service because He knows the end from the beginning. “Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.” (Isaiah 46:10) I learned to “Stand in the Training” of the Lord.

I have throughout my life grown in the paternal family of God and the eternal family of God. I have learned mostly the hard way the lessons my family have taught. Jesus said the truth shall make you free. “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32) We all were or are slaves to the bondage of sin in our lives. Jesus paid the wage of that sin so that we who follow Him are freed from that debt. It is our responsibility to “Stand in the Truth.” We are not to just know the truth but to live in that truth for the world to see. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

I have learned that prayer is the fundamental key to all the blessings of the promises of God. We are powerless to live a life with God if do not desire to fellowship with Him in intimate prayer. If we love God, then why would we not desire to communicate completely with Him? We desired that with our first love and we do so with our present love. With all the loves we have in our life the foremost is and should be with the power of our life, the giver of our life, and our Lord and Savior. We can only stand if we “Stand in Prayer.” “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Matthew 21:22)

Two of the greatest commands that Jesus gave is this. “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ “The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29:31) God is love and His mercy endures forever. That alone is the best news man can receive, as if God was anything less there would be no hope in our lives. My father to this day prays for my mercy from the Father. Jesus is at the right hand of the Father praying for each one of us continually. If we “Stand in Mercy” we shall receive His mercy. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)

Standing in the truth of God’s Word, standing in the power of His answered prayer, and showing His mercy to those whom we find offensive is the strong reason that we should train up our children, the children that they may know the truth, that they may know that they can talk to their Creator, and that they can receive God’s enduring mercy. It is our greatest responsibility for their very lives depend on what we teach them today. Do we want the village teaching our children, do we want the government, and do we want strangers? It is our responsibility to train our children and to have that training reinforced in the Sunday school by teachers of God’s Word. Solomon tells us, “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:16) We must “Stand in Training.”

We were not called to be spectators but to be followers of Jesus. We are disciples of Jesus, students of His Word. “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24) It is not a Sunday morning commitment or a Wednesday commitment. It is a daily walk with Him. If we are to go where He is leading us, then we must follow. Jesus told the Church at Laodicea these frightening words of rebuke. “So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” (Revelation 3:16)

I believe that many come to Church to punch the ticket and they will be sorely surprised on that day when they hear, “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:23)

A few weeks ago the Pastor spoke of Gideon’s 300 hundred. I say yes Lord, and yes Pastor I want to be in the number. (Judges 7:6) I will humble myself and lap the water of life with my eyes wide open so that I can watch and pray that I enter not into temptation. “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:41) I will serve my God first where ever He leads me, whatever He asks of me, and at whatever the cost. I will stand in His truth, I will pray to Him without ceasing, I will love my neighbor and show His mercy, and I will train up the children that they will know the way as Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, August 23, 2016

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Neglecting the Truth to Our Neighbor – Part 2

Neglecting the Truth to Our Neighbor – Part 2

“Deliver those who are being taken away to death, And those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back. If you say, “See, we did not know this,” Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?” (Proverbs 24:11-12)

“See, we did not know this.” This is a hard statement to understand one saying. Few in the world can say that they do not see the suffering and escape the sorrow that it causes. Few in the world cannot know of those who live in hopelessness along the sidelines of society. None in the world cannot witness the carnage that man inflicts upon fellow men. And even those who are spared of these trials, live in the comfort of castles, have an unsatisfying hunger in their spirits and find not their fill. We do know but fail to admit the responsibility we have to provide the needs of the needy. “If you say, “See, we did not know this,” Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?” (Proverbs 24:12)

Who can with clear conscience ignore the plight of the downtrodden in this world? Consider the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. The Priest and the Levi, leaders of the religious right who claim to have the love of God in their souls passed by on the far side of the road that they would not help the one who was beaten and robbed. Can we make their claims and yet not have compassion for our neighbor?

Perhaps we have become too familiar with the troubles in the world and have become desensitized to it. Yet, neglecting the truth of it does not make it go away. We might become overwhelmed and feel that we ourselves cannot make a change and many in their pride will not accept good counsel. They are always consumed by the effect and never look to the cause. Dr. Carson, when he was campaigning for President, was on the streets of Harlem one day in New York City. The people were asking him what he could do for them. What will he do to lift them out of poverty? Did he offer a new welfare benefit, did he offer a free education program, and did he offer higher wages to those who are unemployed? And they asked what he would do to alleviate the crime that is rampant on the streets? Did he offer more police, more prisons, and more gun control? No, these are the effects of the problem and Dr. Carson offered a solution to the cause of the problem, faith. “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:2)

Faith seems to always be the last resort. I can understand that. We live in a material world and we desire and understand the things that we can see with our eyes. For many if it cannot be seen then it does not exist. Of course, we know this is not true. If we turn our back to the problems of this world, if we turn our backs to the woes of our neighbor, this does not mean that they do not exist. They are still there. Fifteen years ago on the eleventh of this month, September, the Trade Centers came down by terrorist acts. After that Church attendance across America exploded. People sought the favor of God and went into His house to worship Him. The military, who had been fully aware of the dangers that our enemies posed acted. People returned to their faith, we no longer ignored our threats to society. My question is if we have attended to these things prior to 9/11, then would have 9/11 happened?

The truth is we do know and the truth is negligence does not make the trials and tribulations go away. We once were a nation that was a nation under God and His grace was shed upon us. Solomon foresaw this negligence in Israel and wrote these words. “And My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

How long can we pretend we do not know, who long can we pretend we do not see, and how long we foolishly hide in our pretended ignorance and not suffer the effect of the cause of our lack of faith? God has commanded His people and if we love Him we are to obey. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37, 39) Then our society will have a great revival and people will come together in the bond of love and compassion for each other instead of hate and contention. Then the rivers of living water will return to our land. “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38)

We see that we are as Christians are to love God and to love our neighbor as our self. Jesus died on the cross for the redemption of the world, He gave His life in an act of Love for everyone. Not just you and not just me, everyone. Everyone has that value that God loves them. Everyone is His concern. And we, as Christians, are His servants unto all people. We are to share the love He has given us with all who will receive it, with all that they may come to know it. God knows and weighs the heart of all men and more importantly to us our hearts. As Solomon tells us, “Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul?”

God sets before us either His blessing or if we reject Him and His ways a curse. “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse.” (Deuteronomy 11:26) We have been given free will and we can choose to receive His blessing or His curse. No one else is accountable to that, it is our choice. We have by the grace of God been given His Word and we should therefore know His truths. We should know His commands. And as a proof of our love for God we should obey His commands as they are not for our punishment but for our good. “For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” (Galatians 3:10)

The scribes and Pharisees miss-understood the intent of the law and believed that it was the law that would save them. But it is not the law that will save us but our faith in the full revelation of God, which is Jesus Christ. The Pharisees were self-righteous and self-centered and would not associate with those who had the greatest need. Jesus condemned then for their neglect. “But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.” (Luke 11:42)

We each by the providence of God have been given spiritual gifts, we have been given one or more talents, and we have been given these blessings to use in His service for the Kingdom. Paul tells us not to be negligent with the blessings that we have received. It is our obligation, responsibility, and our calling least they be taken away. “Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.” (1 Timothy 4:14)

Many live as though judgment and accountability are distant things for concern. But who knows when that twinkling of life leaves this world. Solomon closes with this statement. “And will He not render to man according to his work?” I do not think that it is always at the judgement seat of Christ that we suffer for our negligence in obedience to His word. As we read through the book of Judges we see that Israel fell seven times because of their disobedience to God’s Word. When they repented they were restored and then fell again for seven cycles. Where the Pharisees missed it is that God weighs the hearts of men. He knows the intentions and He knows the motives and in the end game that is what we will be compensated for. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, September 3, 2016

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