SERMON DRAFT: Feast Of Pentecost

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4)

Feast Of Pentecost, 2015.

Shavuot, Pentecost, And The Church (notice that repetition is used to enforce the teachings of this study)

Shavuot, known as the Festival of the Giving of the Torah, is reflected in the Bible, which recounts how, after the Exodus from Egypt, the Children of Israel proceeded to Mount Sinai in the desert. Moses ascended the mountain to meet God, who gave him the Ten Commandments, which were written on two tablets to be delivered to the Children of Israel.
According to the Torah, it took precisely 49 days, or seven weeks, for the ancient Israelites to travel from Egypt to the foot of Mount Sinai. The Torah commands: “And you shall proclaim that day (the 50th day) to be a holy convocation!” (Leviticus 23:21). The name Shavuot, “Weeks,” symbolizes the completion of this seven-week journey. The rabbis tightened this connection by associating Shavuot with Moses’ receiving the Torah from God atop Mount Sinai.
Shavuot also is a harvest holiday. In the time of the Temple, the ancient Israelites brought their first fruits to the Temple to offer to God at Shavuot. Along with Sukkot and Passover, it is one of the Shalosh Regalim (Three Pilgrimage Festivals), during which people gathered in Jerusalem with their agricultural offerings.
Shavuot is known by several names: Chag Hashavuot (the Festival of Weeks), Chag Habikkurim (the Feast of the First Fruits), and Chag Hakatzir (the Festival of Reaping). Ashkenazi Jews may pronounce and write the name of the holiday as Shavuos.

Pentecost Sunday, May 23, 2014. The feast began on Saturday at sundown, and lasted until Sunday at sundown for Jews in Israel. It continued until Monday at sundown for Jews in the Diaspora (outside of Israel).

It is important for believers in Christ to know the importance of Shavuot (Hebrew) and Pentecost (Greek), which created a large gathering of Jews in Jerusalem on “the Day Of Pentecost,” 3,000 of which accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior (Acts 2:1-41)

Shavuot has different pronunciations, per my study of Jews who spoke: “sha’ voo ut.” “sha voo’ oat ”

Church Planting

Churches And Church Plants: All were plants. The largest and the smallest churches were plants, at one time.

Parental knowledge of the Bible is lacking; is essential for teaching children.

Goal: Knowledge of Bible should be greater than that of most other Christians. Use the Berean approach to study.

Acts 17:11 King James Version (KJV)

11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Consider two notable church plants.

Romans 16:3-5 New King James Version (NKJV) 60 A.D.

3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. 5 Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ.

Consider: “the church” met in the home of Priscilla and Aquilla.

Colossians 4:15 New American Standard Bible (NASB) 64 A.D.

15 Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea and also Nympha and the church that is in her house.

Consider: “the church” met in the home of Nympha.

Passover

Exodus 12:11-12 New King James Version (NKJV) – Passover – Delivered the Jews from Egyptian slavery.

11 And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover.
12 ‘For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord.

Shavout

Exodus 19:1-9; 16-20 20:1-4 New King James Version – Shavuot – God gave the Law to the Jews at Mount Sinai on Shavuot. The Jews accepted the covenant conditions of God.

Israel at Mount Sinai

19:1 In the third month after the children of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on the same day, they came to the Wilderness of Sinai. 2 For they had departed from Rephidim, had come to the Wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness. So Israel camped there before the mountain.
3 And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: 4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. 6 And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”
7 So Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before them all these words which the Lord commanded him. 8 Then all the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” So Moses brought back the words of the people to the Lord. 9 And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I come to you in the thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and believe you forever.” So Moses told the words of the people to the Lord.

16 Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. 19 And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice. 20 Then the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.

The Ten Commandments were given by God to the Jews on Mount Sinai.

20:1 And God spoke all these words, saying:
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;

Feast Of Pentecost

Acts 2:1-4 New King James Version (NKJV) – The Holy Spirit fell on the Jews who were in Jerusalem on Shavuot, which was the day that God also gave the law to the Jews at Mount Sinai.

2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Shavuot:( Hebrew) “The Giving Of The Law To The Jews.” Pentecost: (Greek) “The Giving Of The Spirit To Jews” in Jerusalem, which became the birthday of the church of Christ.

Feast Of “Weeks, Shavuot, Pentecost”

The word Shavuot means “weeks.” It marks the completion of the seven-week counting period between Passover and Shavuot

Deuteronomy 16:15-17 New King James Version (NKJV)

15 Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the Lord your God in the place which the Lord chooses, because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice.
16 “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed. 17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you.

Counting of the Omer

“Today is the forty-ninth day, totaling seven weeks of the Omer.”

The period between Passover and Shavuot is called the “Counting of the Omer” (Sefirat Ha’omer). Omer means “barley sheaf” and refers to the offering brought to the Temple on the second day of Passover. Starting from that day, the Torah also instructs that “you shall count off seven weeks. They must be complete: you must count until the day after the seventh week — 50 days” (Leviticus 23:15-16).

The festival of Shavuot is observed on the 50th day. According to the Bible (Leviticus 22:15), “You shall count for yourselves from the day after the day of rest, from the day brought the Omer of the wave offering; seven complete weeks there shall be, until the day after the seventh week shall you number 50 days…”

The counting, which lasts for 49 days, takes place at night, commencing with the second night of Pesach. Those who “count the Omer” recite a blessing each night of the 50-day period:

Shavuot (Saturday Evening: Jews read the Torah all night. Celebrated one day in Israel – two days in dispersed lands.
Shavuot is the Hebrew word for “weeks” and refers to the Jewish festival marking the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, which occurs seven weeks after Passover. Shavuot, like many other Jewish holidays, began as an ancient agricultural festival that marked the end of the spring barley harvest and the beginning of the summer wheat harvest. In ancient times, Shavuot was a pilgrimage festival during which Israelites brought crop offerings to the Temple in Jerusalem. Today, it is a celebration of Torah, education, and actively choosing to participate in Jewish life.

The Torah was given by G‑d to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai more than 3300 years ago. Every year on the holiday of Shavuot we renew our acceptance of G‑d’s gift, and G‑d “re-gives” the Torah
.
The word Shavuot means “weeks.” It marks the completion of the seven-week counting period between Passover and Shavuot.

The giving of the Torah was a far-reaching spiritual event—one that touched the essence of the Jewish soul for all times. Our sages have compared it to a wedding between G‑d and the Jewish people. Shavuot also means “oaths,” for on this day G‑d swore eternal devotion to us, and we in turn pledged everlasting loyalty to Him.

In ancient times, two wheat loaves would be offered in Holy Temple. It was also at this time that people would begin to bring bikkurim, their first and choicest fruits, to thank G‑d for Israel’s bounty

On Passover, the people of Israel were freed from their enslavement to Pharaoh; on Shavuot they were given the Torah and became a nation committed to serving God.[2] The word Shavuot means weeks, and the festival of Shavuot marks the completion of the seven-week counting period between Passover and Shavuot.

Pentecost

The Descent of the Holy Spirit (Sunday, 50 days after Resurrection Sunday; 10 days after the ascension (40 days after Resurrection, last Thursday)

In the Old Testament Pentecost was the feast which occurred fifty days after Passover. As the Passover feast celebrated the exodus of the Israelites from the slavery of Egypt, so Pentecost celebrated God’s gift of the ten commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai.

In the new covenant of the Messiah, the Passover event takes on its new meaning as the celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection, the “exodus” of men from this sinful world to the Kingdom of God. And in the New Testament as well, the Pentecostal feast is fulfilled and made new by the coming of the “new law,” the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:20-23 New King James Version (NKJV) Christ, The Firstfruits

Christ, The Firstfruits

20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming
.
15:20 the firstfruits. At harvesttime the Israelites were required to bring an offering from the first part of the crop (Lev. 23:10). This offering was a token of the whole harvest, that all belonged to God. Jesus is called the “firstfruits” because His resurrection and the resurrection of believers are closely related events. Jesus was “the first to rise from the dead” (Acts 26:23), rising as our representative. His resurrection caused us to be raised spiritually (Rom. 6:4; Eph. 2:6), and at the same time guarantees that we will be raised bodily. Another use of the metaphor is found in Rom. 8:23 (cf. also 2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5;Eph. 1:14).

Fulfillment of Feast Of Weeks/Harvest/Shavuot/Pentecost In Christ Acts 1:5; 2:4

Acts 1:5 New King James Version (NKJV)

5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”.

Acts 2:4 New King James Version (NKJV)

4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The Promise Of The Church

Matthew 16:18 New King James Version (NKJV)
18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

‘to you that you are Peter,” Πέτρος petros 4074 “a stone” or “a boulder,” Peter, one of the twelve apostles a noun akin topetra, used as a proper name
Petros: “a stone” or “a boulder,” Peter, one of the twelve apostles
Original Word: Πέτρος, ου, ὁ
Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine
Transliteration: Petros
Phonetic Spelling: (pet’-ros)
Short Definition: Peter
Definition: Peter, a Greek name meaning rock.
rock πέτρᾳ petra 4073 a (large mass of) rock a prim. word
petra: a (large mass of) rock
Original Word: πέτρα, ας, ἡ
Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine
Transliteration: petra
Phonetic Spelling: (pet’-ra)
Short Definition: rock
Definition: a rock, ledge, cliff, cave, stony ground.
My church; ἐκκλησίαν ekklēsian 1577 an assembly, a (religious) congregation from ek and kaleó
ekklésia: an assembly, a (religious) congregation
Original Word: ἐκκλησία, ας, ἡ
Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine
Transliteration: ekklésia
Phonetic Spelling: (ek-klay-see’-ah)
Short Definition: an assembly, congregation, church
Definition: an assembly, congregation, church; the Church, the whole body of Christian believers.

Colossians 1:18 New King James Version (NKJV) The Spiritual Church

18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

Colossians 1:24 New King James Version (NKJV)

Sacrificial Service for Christ

24 I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church,

Colossians 2:9-14 New King James Version (NKJV)

9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

Not Legalism but Christ

11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Verse 14 is important in understanding the security of the believer in Christ, eternal, unending.

Acts 2:42-47 New King James Version (NKJV) 33 A.D. The Early Church, Non-Denominational; Part Of No Superstructure

42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

Acts 14:23 New King James Version (NKJV) 46 A.D. Church Physical Leadership

23 So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

There was non hierarchy of Bishops (managers) over the local congregations or their leaders (Elders, Pastors, Overseers).

Elder presbuteros: elder 4245 4245 presbýteros – properly, a mature man having seasoned judgment (experience); an elder.
Pastor ( KJV, NIV, NASB, HCSB) Eph 4:11, (4166) Definition: a shepherd; hence met: of the feeder, protector, and ruler of a flock of men.)
Bishop (KJV – Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 3:1-2. Tit 1:7 – 1985) episkopos: a superintendent, an overseer) Overseer – NIV, ESV, NASB, HCSB
Strong’s Greek: 3044. Λίνος (Linos) — Linus, a Christian
… Untersuch., p. 42), Λινου, ὁ, Linus, one of Paul’s Christian associates; according
to ecclesiastical tradition bishop of the church at Rome (cf. …
//biblehub.com/greek/3044.htm – 11k
Strong’s Greek: 2815. Κλήμης (Klémés) — Clement, a …
… at Philippi: Philippians 4:3. According to the rather improbable tradition of the
catholic church, he is identical with that Clement who was bishop of Rome …
//biblehub.com/greek/2815.htm – 11k

Ephesians 4:11-12 New King James Version (NKJV) Spiritual Church Leadership

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
“He gave some” (Non Gender Specific)

Not mentioned: Popes, Cardinals, Monsignors, Arch Bishops, Priests, Trustees, Deacons, Reverends

Psalm 111:9 King James Version (KJV)

9 He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.

Basic Theology, Charles C. Ryrie: Offices and spiritual gifts.

Offices were held by pastors of physical brick and mortar congregations.

Spiritual gifts of leadership were given by the Holy Spirit, per Eph 4:11-12. Consider the word “some,” as opposed to men or women. These people may never be “voted in” to lead a physical brick and mortar congregation, but are spiritually equipped to provide such ministry as given by the definition of Eph 4:12.

It is important to know that the early church had a standard of scripture, which was the apostles doctrine. Translations were made from the Apostles’ doctrine. The believers shared in fellowship meals. The breaking of bread was not “the Lord’s supper.” The new believers in Christ were Jews; they continued their temple worship, but met as disciples of Christ in each others’ homes. The adding of believers to the church by God was an addition to the spiritual body of born-again believers in Christ. The decision to meet in homes was one of necessity, not necessarily of design. It was not until the third century A.D. that “the church” began to meet in non-residences on a large scale basis. Consider the following passage of scripture.

Acts 2:42-47 King James Version (KJV)

42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

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Steve Ritchie, An American Hero

Brigadier General Richard Stephen “Steve” Ritchie, was Captain Steve Ritchie, when he was assigned to Udorn Royal Thai Air Base, in northeast Thailand the year before I was assigned to Udorn (1973). “Captain” Ritchie became an ace, having 5 MiG-21 kills during his tour of duty. The war was heavy the year before I arrived at Udorn. “Captain” Ritchie’s F4 was an alert aircraft at Udorn, and stayed there after he finished his tour of duty. The MiG kill markings remained on his F-4. As I was given a tour of the base, soon after my arrival, I was very proud to see “Captain” Ritchie’s F4, as it was used to suppress the communist air and ground forces from North Vietnam as well as the communist led Pathet Lao forces in neighboring Laos. Brigadier General Richard Stephen “Steve” Ritchie is a true American hero. In the video, General Ritchie tells the truth of what the USA is all about. The links that follow the video summary will tell you more about Steve Ritchie, and his career of service to our nation. He is still alive on this Memorial Day, and I thank him for his service to our country, as I thank all of the other men and women who have served in the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, whether they are, or were, active duty, national guard or reserve. May God bless America!

Uploaded on Mar 24, 2011
Brig. Gen Steve Ritchie tells the amazing story of the rescue of downed pilot Roger Locher in Vietnam in 1972.

In that same year Ritchie volunteered for his second tour in Southeast Asia and was assigned to the 432nd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Udorn, Thailand. Flying an F-4D with the famous 555th (“Triple Nickel”) Tactical Fighter Squadron, he became the only Air Force jet ace by downing a MiG-21 on May 10, another on May 31, two on July 8 and his last on Aug. 28.

After completing 339 combat missions totaling more than 800 flying hours, Ritchie returned as one of the most highly decorated pilots of the war, having received the Air Force Cross, four Silver Stars, 10 Distinguished Flying Crosses and 25 Air Medals.

His combat expertise brought him the 1972 “Mackay Trophy” for the most significant Air Force mission of the year (along with Capts. Jeff Feinstein and Charles DeBellevue), the Air Force Academy’s 1972 Colonel James Jabara Award for Airmanship, and the 1972 Armed Forces Award, presented by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. In 1973 he was selected as one of the “Outstanding Young Men of America,” and in 1974 he received the Eugene Zuckert Award from the Civil Air Patrol.

http://www.generalsteveritchie.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Stephen_Ritchie

SERMON DRAFT – May 16, 2015 – Relational Purposes Of The Great Commission

Slow Fade… “Preaching about the cross sounds foolish to those who are dying in sin. But it is the power of God to those of us who are being saved from the punishment of sin.” (1 Corinthians 1:18, New Living Translation)

Matthew 28:18-20 King James Version

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Jesus told his followers to, “go, teach, baptize and teach,” all that they had learned from Him. A great minister of the gospel of Christ once said that the word, “go,” in the “Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic,” means, “go – don’t stay!” It’s a catchy saying, and it is very true. I like the following thought from “Gill’s Exposition Of The Entire Bible.”

Go ye therefore,…. Into all the world; some into one place, and some into another.”

Relationships As Part Of The Great Commission

An important part of the teachings of Jesus relates to how His followers should treat other people. Consider His compassion.

Matthew 9:35-37 New King James Version

Jesus Moved With Compassion

35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.

Matthew 14:13-15 New King James Version

Jesus Feeding The Five Thousand

13 When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities. 14 And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. 15 When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.”

Matthew 15:31-33 New King James Version

Jesus Feeding The Four Thousand

31 So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.
32 Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.”
33 Then His disciples said to Him, “Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?”

Matthew 25:31-40 New King James Version

The Compassion Of Jesus For The Less Fortunate

31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, in as much as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

The context of this passage of scripture that I call, “Unto The Least Of These,” is that of the time after the Tribulation. Jesus has descended from heaven and judges the Gentile nations of the world. The judgment relates to how well the Gentiles treated the Jews during the Tribulation. This Sheep And Goat Judgment (Matt 25:32) can be found in discussion by Jesus in Matthew 25:31-46.

An application for us today is found in verses 35-40, and states that if we show true compassion to “the less fortunate of the world,” we are also showing compassion to Jesus. If we are showing compassion to those who are imprisoned, we are also showing compassion to Jesus. Please let me say that, “if we show compassion to prostitutes, drug addicts, alcoholics, and homosexuals,” we are also showing compassion to Jesus. This teaching is not that we should agree with sin but that we should demonstrate the love of Jesus to whomever we are able to do so.

A Story Of The End Of Paul’s Life And Ministry

2 Timothy 4:6-8 King James Version

6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

Paul is looking very realistically at the end of his ministry, and his life.

A Story Of Paul’s Friends In Ministry

2 Timothy 4:9-12 King James Version

9 Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me:
10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.
11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.
12 And “Tychicus” have I sent to Ephesus.

The friendships of Paul’s ministry are very unique. Demas returned to Thessalonica, but we don’t know the reason. Let me say this: “concerning Demas ;” we don’t know all of the circumstances.” Even though Paul’s life was ending, he sent Crescens to minister in Galatia. Titus, who was not an apostle, was sent on an apostle’s ministry to present day Croatia, which used to be known as Yugoslavia. His ministry there was important to the spread of the gospel throughout Europe, which landed in our nation (USA) in 1620 with the Pilgrims, who were seeking freedom of religion. Luke, was the faithful companion of Paul, “to the end.” Mark and Paul had settled their differences (Acts 13:13; 15:36-40). Tychicus, a companion of Paul in ministry; delivered the prison epistles to Colossae and Ephesus. In traveling to Colossae, Tychicus accompanied Onesimus, the former slave who was returning to Philemon. No doubt, Tychicus, as a good friend of Paul’s, emphasized the need for grace in receiving Onesimus back home (see Philemon 1:17).

Each of us has a story. Paul also had a story, as did each of his friends in ministry. Dwell on that thought, as it relates to your own life.

Consider Ascension Day and Ascension Sunday

Ascension Day, Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ascension Sunday, May 17, 2015

Ascension Day is the celebration of Christ ascending into heaven after His death, burial and resurrection. Ascension Day is observed primarily in Catholic and Anglican churches, and it occurs on the Thursday, 40 days after Resurrection Sunday. Ascension Day is also called the Feast of Ascension. Ascension Sunday is the Sunday which immediately follows Ascension Day.

The story of Jesus’ Ascension is told in Luke 24:49, Mark 16:19 and Acts 1:3, 9. Putting these accounts together, we find that after His resurrection, Jesus appeared several times to His disciples and others. During this time, He spoke to them further about the kingdom of God and the coming of the Holy Spirit, for whom they were to wait (Acts 1:2-9). After 40 days of these appearances, He was taken up to heaven for the last time (Acts 1:9-11). As the disciples watched Him go, two angels appeared and declared to them that, just as He ascended, Jesus would return in glory. Read and consider the following scriptures.

Mark 16:19-20
Luke 24:49-53
Acts 1:1-11

Consider the importance of people that God has placed in your life, and how separation has created such great sorrow. But, also consider our need to be healed from such emotional damages and continue with the ministry that God has placed in our lives.

Consider relationships that exist in our own lives; relationships that are broken and that can only be mended through humble relationships of Christ-like love and submission to each other, through humble and submissive relationships with Jesus. The video that leads into this sermon is taken from the Fireproof movie. In the movie, the main characters, Caleb and Catherine are far away from each other in their marriage, and are also far away from any kind of relationship with Jesus. Just as in the movie, the love that should be present in marriage can not exist without mutual love relationships in Jesus as Lord and Savior. The cross is the driving force of those who know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. But, until we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, the cross will not mean anything to us. Consider the message of the cross, as presented in the Fireproof video clips,and in the scripture, 1 Corinthians 1:18. In the following video consider how marriages, and other relationships, can be reconciled through mutual relationships of love that can be created through “the message of the cross.”

God illustrates marriage, and marriage illustrates God. I am sure that someone reading this post is having serious marital problems. Let me ask you an honest question. Please. What do you need to do to save your marriage? You can leave a comment. I moderate all comments. I will not show any comments when I am asked to not show such sensitive thoughts. Now, let’s consider marriage.

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SERMON DRAFT: Relationships

4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. (Isaiah 6:4-5)

As is usually the case, I had my sermon prepared by the end of Friday, last Friday. My sermon text would be used in an informal and conversational teaching sermon yesterday (Saturday) at 4:30 P.M. But, as has also been the usual case, God changed my sermon at about 1:00 P.M. The sermon truly became one that was informal and conversational, as well as being very intimate. Two of my favorite Bible champions of the faith became the subject of the afternoon’s sharing of ideas.

I usually arrive at the building where our church meets, at about 3:30 P.M. I arrive at such a time that will allow me to check for sufficient restroom supplies, rearrange a room, which is used by a local benevolence ministry of food, clothing, and furniture, and other house wares. Three racks of hanging clothes, a large portable child’s play steam engine, and stacks of clothing that had not been sorted and placed on racks, had to be put in areas of the building that would allow me to situate metal folding chairs, a portable pulpit, and a small “old rugged cross” in the front of one of the large showroom windows, so that passersby would notice that “the place of free creature comfort items,” had suddenly become “the place of free spiritual comfort items.”

At the time that I finished with the logistical duties that would make a showroom into a sanctuary for the body of Christ, I sat down on a bench (it really looks like the front seat of a 55 Chevy) that is placed immediately to the right side of the pulpit, as I view it from the pulpit. (Sometimes I will sit down while preaching; it’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it (lol?) It was at that time that a soul washing, soul cleansing, spirit awakening, and time of solemn assembly came all over me. A dear precious man of God once used the term, “let God’s Spirit wash over you.” Well, yesterday, God’s Spirit not only washed over me; it washed under me, on top of me, all around me, and entirely through me. That emotion stayed with me throughout our time of intimate study, discussion and worship, until early this morning (3:00 AM) when I finally went to bed. That intimacy of relationship that I was experiencing with God was something that I didn’t want to end. I know, too, that God didn’t want our time of special closeness to end, either. I will pray for another appointment with My Heavenly Father.

The following sermon draft is just that, a sermon draft. I have added a few comments, but I trust that you will let your mind carry you from your own relational moments of holiness, humility and community to other ones that you may have experienced. Let me encourage you to cherish such moments, and to seek others.

2 Corinthians 12:2-4 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows— 4 was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.

The Apostle Paul was taken directly into the Presence Of God. It was at that time that I believe that God told Paul everything that would happen to him, as he served His Lord. The experience of Paul is much like us when we have had an extremely emotional moment, and when we are asked to explain it, we will say, “I just can’t explain it!” It’s also like Paul trying to explain Heaven to someone who has never been there; “how can you do it?”

Acts 20:13-37 New American Standard Bible (NASB) (Added)

Troas to Miletus

13 But we, going ahead to the ship, set sail for Assos, intending from there to take Paul on board; for so he had arranged it, intending himself to go by land.14 And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and came to Mitylene.15 Sailing from there, we arrived the following day opposite Chios; and the next day we crossed over to Samos; and the day following we came to Miletus.16 For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be in Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost.

Farewell to Ephesus

17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church.18 And when they had come to him, he said to them,
“You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, 21 solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me. 24 But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.
25 “And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face. 26 Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. 28 Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. 35 In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
36 When he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all.37 And they began to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him,

Paul’s emotions, and his true person, are clearly shown in the last 35- 37. Just as he loved the Ephesian elders, he was loved by them. In this respect, we can say that relationships can also be related to community, a community of fellow believers in Jesus, the Christ.

Numbers 12:3 New American Standard Bible (NASB) (Added)

3 (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.)

It’s quite a tribute to be paid to a man or woman by God, the maker of heaven, earth, and all that are contained therein. To hear God say to someone, “hey, you’re okay,” must be an experience without explanation.

Exodus 24:1-2 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

1 Then He said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu and seventy of the elders of Israel, and you shall worship at a distance.2 Moses alone, however, shall come near to the Lord, but they shall not come near, nor shall the people come up with him.”

Consider the levels of relationship that is shown. Moses, first. The others, at a distance. Let us seek a Moses relationship with God.

Leviticus 19:2 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

2 “Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.

Leviticus 20:7-8 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

7 You shall consecrate yourselves therefore and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. 8 You shall keep My statutes and practice them; I am the Lord who sanctifies you.

Leviticus 20:26 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

26 Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine.

God is holy, without flaw. He expects us to strive for such a virtue of holiness in our daily lives. When we are born again, our spirit becomes as pure as the Spirit of God. (1 John 1:5) Until we are resurrected or caught up into Heaven to be with God (1 Thes 4:16-17) we will have a soul and body that are not holy. Our thinking process (our soul) will always be affected by “indwelling sin” (Rom 7:15-20), until it joins our regenerated spirit (John 3:3-8).

Psalm 24:3-4 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

3 Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart; who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood; and has not sworn deceitfully.

We should pursue a lifetime and lifestyle of being pure before God, and honesty toward others in our earthly habitat.

Psalm 43:3-4 New American Standard Bible (NASB) 3 O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your dwelling places. 4 Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; And upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God.

Let us follow the light that God’s shines toward us (John 1:9) to save us and to guide us to live a Godly life (John 16:5-15).

Colossians 4:2-18 New American Standard Bible (NASB) (64 AD)

2 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; 3 praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; 4 that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.
5 Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.
7 As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information. 8 For I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts; 9 and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of your number. They will inform you about the whole situation here.
10 Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends you his greetings; and also Barnabas’s cousin Mark (about whom you received instructions; if he comes to you, welcome him); 11 and also Jesus who is called Justus; these are the only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are from the circumcision, and they have proved to be an encouragement to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. 13 For I testify for him that he has a deep concern for you and for those who are in Laodicea and Hierapolis. 14 Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings, and also Demas. 15 Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea and also Nympha and the church that is in her house. 16 When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodicea. 17 Say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”
18 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my imprisonment.Grace be with you.

The relationship that Paul has experienced with other saints of God are shown; he identifies a number of people. He is still seeking ways to witness the love of Christ to anybody that may hear him. Tychicus (vs 7) delivered the prison Epistles that Paul wrote to the Colossians and the Ephesians; he was like, a “mail man.” An earlier disagreement between Paul and Mark had been healed (vs 10). Praise God! (Mark. The rift that had emerged more than a decade earlier between Paul and the cousins Barnabas and John Mark (author of the Gospel of Mark, Acts 13:13; 15:37–40) had healed (2 Tim. 4:11; Philem. 24). Paul’s special mention of Mark testifies to the power of the reconciling work of Christ (1:20–22) and to the peace that is to rule within Christ’s body (3:15). (Reformation Study Bible)) One of Paul’s companions, Epaphras, had become a true prayer warrior for the Colossians.The Physician Luke, the writer of Luke’s Gospel and the Book of Acts, had become a lifelong companion of Paul, and was still with him. Some people believe that Paul was hostile, or indifferent, toward women. In verse 15, he commends Nympha for making it possible for the church, the body of Christ, to have a place to meet, “in her house.” (The King James Translations use the pronoun, “he,” to identify Nympha. But the New King James even has a foot note that relates Nympha to being feminine). My thought about Nympha is that she may have been a widow, maybe with children living at home. Consider the blessing that such a person today can be to the body of Christ). Paul didn’t have to mention Nympha, if he had truly had a disdain for women. It is my opinion that Paul’s writings have not been properly taught. (That is another lesson for another time.)

2 Timothy 4:6-22 New American Standard Bible (NASB) (66 AD)

6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
9 Make every effort to come to me soon; 10 for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service. 12 But Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. 13 When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments. 14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 15 Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching.
16 At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
19 Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. 20 Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus. 21 Make every effort to come before winter. Eubulus greets you, also Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brethren.
22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.

Paul knows that the time of his death is nearing. Yet, he does not omit the kind words of love that he has stored up inside of him for his fellow saints.

It is interesting to notice that Titus (vs 10) left Paul in Rome; but he left for missionary work which took him to what would become Yugoslavia (quite a trip!) Again, we see that Tychicus (vs 12) was sent to Ephesus to deliver Paul’s epistle to that group of saints. Paul mentions Prisca and Aquila (4:19 Prisca and Aquila. “Prisca” is a shortened form of “Priscilla,” as it is spelled elsewhere in Acts and Paul’s letters. She and her husband Aquila had been friends of Paul from the time he first visited Corinth on his second missionary journey. They were Jews, and like Paul were tentmakers (Acts 18:2, 3). They had come to Corinth from Rome. Later they accompanied Paul to Ephesus (Acts 18:18, 19) and hosted a house church there for several years before returning to Rome (Rom. 16:3, 4;1 Cor. 16:19). They had now apparently returned to Ephesus where Timothy was (1 Tim. 1:3). the household of Onesiphorus. See note 1:16. This greeting indicates that Timothy was still in Ephesus (1:18). (Reformation Study Bible). It is because Paul mentions the husband and wife team of Aquilla and Priscilla, together, it is also the reason that if Nympha (Col 4:15) still had a husband that his name would have been mentioned along with hers.

In verse 13, we see some incidental items that were important to Paul. It’s like, in spite of his special relationship with God, he was still “just a regular guy.” In verse 11, we see that the rift that had existed between Paul and Mark had truly been corrected. Also, in verse 11, we read that “only Luke is with me.” Such a friend Paul had in Luke, the physician believer in Christ, the writer of Luke’s Gospel and the Book of Acts, the traveling companion of Paul helping a former Jewish persecutor of Christians…beginning in Acts 16:11 (“we”) to the bitter end in Rome. All of us need a “Luke” in our lives today, just as did Paul in his life, with Luke being the epitome of someone who knew how to connect the much needed relationships of holiness, humility, and community.

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The Message Of The Cross

“I know very well how foolish it sounds to those who are lost, when they hear that Jesus died to save them. But we who are saved recognize this message as the very power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18). In the movie, “Fireproof,” Catherine and Caleb find themselves on the way to Divorce Court. Caleb is given a book, Love Dare, by his father, which he thinks might save his marriage, that is in the flames of destruction. Catherine has no desire to save their marriage. It is only when Caleb, then Catherine, view the need of the message of the cross in their lives and marriage, that their marriage is saved. Notice the directions of the cross; vertically connecting mankind with God, and horizontally, connecting mankind with mankind, and in the case of marriage, connecting a man and his wife. The message of the cross is written as follows, “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) A parting note; when problems arise in our lives, we should keep our glance on the problems and our gaze on the cross.

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The Weight Of The World

The earth belongs to God! Everything in all the world is his! He is the one who pushed the oceans back to let dry land appear. Who may climb the mountain of the Lord and enter where he lives? Who may stand before the Lord? Only those with pure hands and hearts, who do not practice dishonesty and lying. (Psalm 24:1-4).

Today is the Day of Preparation (John 19:14). The Sabbath Day begins in only a few hours (John 19:31). The week has had a few challenges, to say the least. The situation of violence, that exists in many of our larger cities; the killing of unborn babies, in cities of all sizes; the direction that our nation is taking to redefine marriage; the attacks of indifference on Israel; and other things that are the result of the fall (Genesis 3:14-19), have kept me busy trying to “help God with all of these problems.” (should I end that statement with “lol?”) Then, when I think that “I have it all together,” I receive the following prayer request:

—–Original Message—–
From: _____@gmail.com>
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Sent: Fri, May 8, 2015 3:50 pm
Subject: Prayer request for _____& ______ _____

Please pray for Mrs. _____ and Mr. ______ as Mrs. _____ is getting transferred to hospice.

The Mr and Mrs of this request are two of the finest people that I have ever known. They attend a church where they are greatly loved. They reside in a city where they are also greatly loved. But, you know? This thing has gotten the best of me! For one thing, “it’s not fair!” I mean, “why would God let this wonderful lady die?” There are plenty of other people, “that if they were to die – the world would be a much better place.” I know an EMS supervisor. We were talking about the people that he drives from a hospital to a Hospice facility. I asked him “what it’s like.” He said, “it’s not easy; you can’t say – hope you get better.” The people who drive those emergency services vehicles, with soon to be Hospice patients, are very special people; they are truly angels of mercy. I knew one man who loved his wife greatly. He was the one “who was being transferred to Hospice.” And, being “of the old school,” the man drove himself to Hospice, with his wife by his side. (That’s tough!) I’m rambling, but “I got my butt kicked today.” Usually, I will publish a post, and then I will email it to those in my local area who don’t follow my blog. But, there is a certain comradery that exists among bloggers. This rambling of words is meant only for those who are followers of my blog. There is something special about such a group of people (bloggers). Nobody has to please anybody else; nobody expects anything from anybody else, but to be respectful toward each other. I will close my thoughts with a verse of scripture that has been a great comfort to me in times like these:

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29).

The happening of today is truly one of those “secret things” of God.

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