Amos calls the Israelites’ spiritual pride senseless. The fruit of their spiritual pride will lead to Israel’s destruction and oppression. Amos 6:8-14.
When we allow the Holy Spirit to empower us, we really can show kindness to others by demonstrating love to our enemies; by lending without worrying about the return; by showing mercy to those Jesus tells us in several places that when we practice kindness to others we are actually showing kindness to Him.
In the Sermon on the Plain, Jesus is giving us some plain principles. These principles don’t tell us how to become a Christian, they tell us how to live once we have decided to follow Jesus. He is telling us how to live a blessed, happy fulfilled life. He is warning away from the attitudes that destroy our lives; which set are you following?
Our purpose is to worship and adore God–exalt His greatness. We exist to take the good news of Jesus across the street and across the globe–evangelize God’s World. Our goal is to help you discover your spiritual gifts then lead you to minister in the name of Christ–equip God’s people. And we believe God has called us to demonstrate His love to a lost and wounded generation through good stewardship of our resources–express God’s love. But all of this is only possible through Jesus Christ our Lord (Boss, ruler, master, leader). So I challenge you to raise your understanding of the importance of the church and to heighten your appreciation for what God is doing and wants to do through this Body of believers.
The religious snobs of Jesus’ day didn’t like His teaching because it was so revolutionary. It was new. He said things they never heard before. His new teaching shocked and offended them. He did things they never saw before–he ate and drank with sinners! In our next passage–horror of horrors–His disciples picked and ate grain on the Sabbath. The religious leaders could not handle this new wine Jesus was offering. They were like the inflexible old wineskins. Their attitudes were “If it is new, it can’t be true!” Every time Jesus said or did something new you could almost hear the sound of straining and stretching until “pop!”—so they killed the messenger instead of accepting the message.
Before Levi started following Jesus, his life revolved around his job. He was going to make a boatload of money because he was fixed for life in this lucrative occupation. When Jesus called him, he had to choose whether his life would revolve around making money or around pleasing and obeying Jesus. Let me ask you today: What or who is at the center of your life?
There are many needy people around us. Some need housing, others need food, and others need clothing. We see poor people who need money. We see sick people who need health. We see confused people who need peace of mind. So many needs surround us, we often feel overwhelmed. But the greatest need everyone possesses is the need for forgiveness. That’s why the very best thing you can do for your friends is to bring them to Jesus, because He is the only one who can do anything about their greatest need.
In the Bible, leprosy is often used as a symbol for sin. While none of us have the disease of leprosy, we have been afflicted with a terrible malady worse than leprosy–a sin sickness. I believe there is a remarkable parallel between leprosy and sin. Four ways in which leprosy and sin are alike.
Personal evangelism is more than just getting to know people who aren’t saved, although that is the first step. You must be willing to build a bridge of friendship with a person without Christ, but then you must walk across that bridge and tell them about the good news of Jesus. Give them a chance to trust Christ, that’s putting your hook in the water. A good salesman calls this “closing the deal.” But what you are doing is “closing the door of hell” for that person and opening the door of heaven.
Peter started following Jesus. Wherever Jesus went, Peter went. Whatever Jesus did, Peter did. It’s a 24/7 lifestyle. Today, it means we constantly ask ourselves, “Would Jesus go here? Would Jesus do this?” Here’s how Jesus expressed this call in Mark’s account: “Come follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17) I like that phrase because it means Peter wasn’t naturally a fisher of men; Jesus was going to make him into one. So many people are afraid of following Jesus because they feel unqualified. Relax. You are unqualified. The good news is that when you start following Jesus, He begins to teach you and to make you into the person He wants you to be.
I am certain the most serious kind of sickness and disease in mankind is sin. This congenital moral cancer afflicts every one of us. If not treated by Jesus, it will result in eternal death. For millions of us, Jesus has touched us and healed us of this sin sickness and now we are whole. To me, that is still the greatest miracle!
When Jesus returned to his “home synagogue” to preach, many of the people remembered him and looked forward to what he had to say. However, what he said almost got him thrown over a cliff. But what Jesus said was not an accident: He intended it. We can learn something from the response of the people in Jesus’ home synagogue.
Some people wonder why Jesus even allowed the old devil to tempt Him. Didn’t Jesus have power and authority to banish Satan from His presence? I believe He did. Just as Jesus cast out a thousand demons from one man, I think Jesus could have kicked Satan right out of the desert too. Why then, did He endure this temptation? I believe He did it to teach us how to overcome temptation. Just as He refused to call on His Divine Authority to turn the stones into bread, I believe He refused to zap Satan. Instead He met him and defeated him with exactly the same resources we have available today: The Power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. That’s why Jesus quoted three verses from Deuteronomy. To show us how to do it.
Repentance before God is one of the most frequently recurring messages in all the Bible. No less than 969 times, God thundered, “Repent!” It was the first message Jesus preached. Matthew 4:17 says, “Jesus Christ came preaching, ‘Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” The last message Jesus left with the church was a message of repentance. Some people think the Great Commission was His last message to the church, but almost 60 years after Jesus gave the Great Commission He gave this message to the church in Revelation 3:19 “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten, be zealous therefore and repent!”
You may wonder, “How can I lose Jesus? I thought you believed in ‘once saved always saved.’” I’m not talking about losing your salvation. I’m talking about losing a sense of fellowship with Jesus. Throughout this ordeal, Mary and Joseph never lost their relationship with Jesus. It was intact. What they lost was His presence with them.
Throughout your life, you will find problems are lined up like cars at a tollbooth. When you get rid of one problem, and the gate falls down on an unpleasant episode of your life. You breathe a sigh of relief and then—ding! There’s another problem (and others are lined up behind that one). The Christian life isn’t devoid of problems but God gives us strength to cope with them.
Luke’s description of the birth of Jesus is far more detailed than any other gospel writer. In order to help us grasp the fullest significance of who Jesus Christ was and what He accomplished, Luke takes us back to the very beginning of Jesus’ life. He describes more fully than any other gospel writer the announcement of John the Baptist’s birth and the announcement of Jesus’ birth, then the birth of John and the birth of Jesus. By describing the origin of John and the origin of Jesus side by side he shows how their destinies dovetail in God’s plan, but also how Jesus is vastly superior to his forerunner.
God may put you in a special place for a special purpose for a special time. Place, purpose and time! Esther didn’t know why she became Queen, but God knew why. God may have you in a special place for a special purpose, for a special time and you don’t even know what it is yet. Your job is to be faithful, be patient and honor God. Who knows, but that you have come into your position for such as time as this? Bloom where you are planted. Brighten the corner where you are, because God could have you exactly where he wants you and you don’t even know it yet!
If at the end of this message you do not believe that the Bible is anything more than a collection of myths and legends, then you really don’t have any hope for the future, because this business about heaven could be just a myth. If however, you believe, as I do, that this Bible is the totally inspired Word of God–and is totally without error–then I expect to see you continue to base your entire life on what we find in its pages. And you can be certain that your hope of heaven is sure!
All around you there are people who are lost and confused. They have no clear direction in life. God has given you the light and now He says, “Let your light shine.” Will you be the lighthouse that shows people you care enough to be willing to see that their personal ship lands safely within the protective harbor of God’s love?
Some of you think you can live with one foot in the world and with one foot in the kingdom of Jesus. You have two lifestyles, one for church and one for the rest of the time. As we get closer to the end, this option will disappear, like a boat drifting away, and you have one foot on the dock and one foot in the boat, you are going to have to decide: Jesus or this world? The boat is moving away, and if you don’t decide–splash!–you end up all wet!
Daniel chapters 10-12 make up one final climactic prophecy. It actually is a clarification and a simplification of the earlier visions Daniel received. In chapter 7 Daniel had a dream of four animals, each representing a kingdom. In chapter 11, there are no statues or animals. The prophecy is shared in a straightforward uncomplicated way. The angel makes it clear he is talking about kings and kingdoms.
We also have an enemy who stands in our pathway of progress. We must understand the real battle takes place in prayer. We have a spiritual weapon with “divine power to demolish strongholds.” Are you using this weapon? Prayer is where the real battle takes place when we get up off our knees, then we go out to enjoy the spoils of battle.
Prayer is a relationship to God in which we bend our will to meet his will and we don’t spend as much time asking God for things as we do confessing our sins and praising God. Rather than praying for our own needs we need to pray for the needs of others. What we see here is one of the greatest examples of how to pray and especially to confess your sins before the Lord.
Daniel’s prophecy in Daniel 9 is neither a vision nor a dream. There are no strange symbols of animals or statues. It is a direct message to the prophet from God, delivered by the angel Gabriel. This is the same angel that appeared to Joseph and to Mary, as recorded in the opening chapters of the New Testament. The angel Gabriel was sent to the prophet Daniel to give him a clear and undisguised look into the future in answer to a prayer of the prophet.
We need a revival in America in the deepest way. What’s the answer to the teenage drinking and driving problem? Revival. What’s the answer to violence and crime? Revival. What’s the answer to fractured marriages where husbands aren’t the spiritual leader of their home? Revival. The problem is not with the pornographer, the bootlegger, the casino, or the drug pusher. God never said anything about those folks repenting.
This message should demonstrate to you the absolute reliability and infallibility of the Word of God. When we see things predicted in the Bible that have already come true, it gives us great assurance that those things yet to happen will also come true. An examination of Daniel’s prophetic dream and how it came true.
There was a time in Israel’s history when they had a whole bunch of kings and they didn’t do very well. In fact, they drifted far away from God. This message is directed toward people who have come out of Egypt. They are Christians and they have come to the place of growing as a Christian for a while but then in the middle of that, something happens and they get out of favor with God. This is a beautiful picture of it in the Old Testament.
The most important question we can ask ourselves is, “Is my name written down in the Lamb’s Book of Life?” But can we know for sure? Yes you can. That’s why Jesus said to “rejoice because your names are written down in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” He wouldn’t be so cruel to tell us to rejoice over something you can’t be sure about. Is your name in the Book of Life? Are you sure?
Daniel had a living, personal, relationship with the God of heaven. He carried on a conversation with the God of the Universe three times a day, and when he found himself in the pit, God was there! The satraps and their families didn’t know God. And there was no peace for them, only agony.
God is not some heavenly puppet, and your prayer is not some string you pull. God is the King of the Universe, and He always knows what’s best. Why don’t you stop running from Him? Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were prepared to die! They could say, “Lord, even if I have to suffer, if my body ignites and my burning flesh fills the air with stench, I will go out trusting You. I will believe You, even if I don’t get the answer to my prayer!”
Have you truly repented of your sins? There is a huge difference between regret over your sins and repentance. Some people say, “Ooh, I’m sorry I did those things.” Or “I’m sorry I got caught.” True repentance does what Daniel says: You renounce your sin and change your behavior. Too bad, Nebuchadnezzar didn’t listen to Nebuchadnezzar’s advice, just like some of you will walk out of here today, thinking you can get away with your sin.
The image of the statue in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is still standing, because we are living in the time of man’s kingdoms. But there was more to the dream! There was a stone—a rock that was cut out of a mountain without human hands. That rock came hurtling toward the feet of the statue and demolished it. It became dust and is blown away. What is that all about? Obviously, the rest of the Bible identifies that rock as Jesus.
We are going to find that this “unconquerable” nation, God’s people–the people with whom he had established a covenant –is going to fall. You’d think God would sooner fall from the heavens above than for these nations to fall. Not so, because these nations collapsed and fell. Actually, it is the fall of TWO unconquerable nations and then we’re going to draw some parallels between them and the United States of America.
Do you ever wake up in the morning after having dreamt all night and then you couldn’t remember what you dreamed about? Dreams are strange things. Experts tell us everybody dreams, some people just can’t remember their dreams. Out of eight hours sleep at night, on the average you’ll dream an hour-and-a-half to two hours of those eight hours. Today we’re going to be looking at a dream a king had 2,600 years ago that also had personal, national, and eternal significance.
It’s easy to trust God when things are going great, when all your bills are being paid, when your health is great, when everybody loves you and you love those around you, it’s easy to trust God then. But you let the bottom fall out, and that’s when the trial comes. Will you still trust God then? Well Daniel did. And you can, too. The greatest triumph of life is to stay pure in the midst of moral decay.
The Bible says that the common people heard Jesus gladly. They loved to be around Jesus. Jesus enjoyed being with people, and people enjoyed being with him. The only people Jesus didn’t get along with were those straight-laced religious hypocrites called the Pharisees and nobody can get along with those people. There are some of those obnoxious people around today. When you love God, you will receive His favor and the favor of others.