When Fathers Come Home

By Carter Conlon

Now it happened, when David and his men came to Ziklag, on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the South and Ziklag, attacked Ziklag and burned it with fire, and had taken captive the women and those who were there, from small to great; they did not kill anyone, but carried them away and went their way. So David and his men came to the city, and there it was, burned with fire; and their wives, their sons, and their daughters had been taken captive” (1 Samuel 30:1–3).

What happens when men of God seek refuge in places where God clearly has not called them to go? In this case, it all began with faulty reasoning. Those who carried the anointing of God—signified by the anointing on David, the man who was called to be king—began to be pursued. This is a type of when society turns against the men of God, which is what we are seeing in our day.

David was called to rule and bring glory to the name of God, but eventually he grew tired of the constant battle and determined, “Now I shall perish someday by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape to the land of the Philistines; and Saul will despair of me, to seek me anymore in any part of Israel. So I shall escape out of his hand” (1 Samuel 27:1).

This is a picture of righteous men becoming tired of fighting—tired of trying to stand up and be godly, tired of constant opposition. And so the thought comes into the heart, “Well, I will just back away a little. I won’t be quite as radical or as vocal about the things I know are true, the anointing on my life, the place that God has promised to take me. I am just totally worn out.”

I understand we all get tired. We have been in a battle since the day humankind declared war on God. Jesus warned all His followers that in this world we will have tribulation (see John 16:33). No doubt about it, as a man of God, you are going to be opposed. There is going to be a fight for what God has called you to do. Yet the worst decision that can be made is the one once made by King David and the six hundred men who followed him. They essentially concluded, “We are so tired of constantly being opposed. Let’s just back away and make peace with our enemies.”

And so David and his men sought a false refuge. It is almost unthinkable that they ended up on the wrong side of the battle, aligned with the Philistines—those who were determined to destroy the testimony of God through His chosen people! It was all summarized back when the Philistine giant, Goliath, stood on that other side of the valley and taunted the Israelites, saying, “You will serve us!” (see 1 Samuel 17:8–10).

What voice are we facing in this generation? “You will serve us, men of God. You will bend your knee to us. You cannot fight against us. We are too strong for you!” This world is in open warfare against Jesus Christ and, therefore, against men of God. The devil knows that as men, we are called to lead and protect. We are called as conquerors; we have power in our speech. We are called to defend our families; speak into the lives of our children; defend our communities; stand up for those who have no voice to speak for themselves. We are not called to cower or just read our Bibles in the bathroom where nobody can see us. We are called to study the Word of God and stand as a bold declaration of righteousness!

GET UP AND GO HOME

After a season of being in the enemy’s camp, eventually things take a turn. “The princes of the Philistines said, ‘What are these Hebrews doing here?’ And Achish said to the princes of the Philistines, ‘Is this not David, the servant of Saul king of Israel, who has been with me these days, or these years? And to this day I have found no fault in him since he defected to me’” (1 Samuel 29:3). This is a prince of darkness talking about the man who was the Christ-type in the Old Testament! He was essentially saying, “We have not opposed him; we have offered him protection and peace. And all he had to do was defect from the side of God and join us.”

Then Achish called David and said to him, “Surely, as the Lord lives, you have been upright, and your going out and your coming in with me in the army is good in my sight. For to this day I have not found evil in you since the day of your coming to me. Nevertheless the lords do not favor you. Therefore return now, and go in peace, that you may not displease the lords of the Philistines” (1 Samuel 29:6–7). The very same thing is happening in our generation and will continue to increase in the days ahead: God is causing this world to reject you as a believer in Jesus Christ—which is the best thing that could ever happen to the Church! Remember, you do not belong to the world. If you cannot figure it out for yourself, the Lord will use the people who live in darkness to tell you, “We do not want you here anymore. Go back home.” In other words, “If you believe in traditional marriage, if you believe in the sanctity of human life, there is no place for you with us anymore. If you hold to a biblical worldview, you are no longer welcome here!”

As we saw in our opening scripture, David and his men came home to Ziklag to find that it had been burned with fire and their wives, their sons, and their daughters had been taken captive (see 1 Samuel 30:1–2). Do you wonder why our children are gender-confused in their schools? Why we are now having the discussion of murdering children even after they are born? Why prayer is not allowed in our high schools? Why Marxists are radicalizing young people in our colleges throughout this country? It is because the men of God have not stood up and been what men of God are supposed to be. It is not time to let our sons and daughters be taken captive by a godless agenda that will eventually cause the destruction of our whole society. No, it is time for men to stand up and declare what the Word of God says—unabashedly and unashamedly!

The scripture continues, “Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. Then David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, ‘Please bring the ephod here to me’” (1 Samuel 30:6–7). The ephod was the garment of prayer that priests wore. In other words, “I am going back to prayer, and I am going to find the will of God.”

David inquired of the Lord and said, ‘Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?’ And He answered him, ‘Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all’” (1 Samuel 30:8). So David set off with the six hundred men who were with him. Eventually, two hundred of them were so tired that they could not go on, so he continued the pursuit with the remaining warriors. God began to divinely lead them, and they came upon those who had captured their sons, their daughters and their wives.

There they were, spread out all over the land, eating and drinking and dancing, because of the great spoil which they had taken from the land to the Philistines and from the land of Judah. Then David attacked them from twilight until the evening of the next day. Not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men who rode on camels and fled. So David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away, and David rescued his two wives. And nothing of theirs was lacking, either small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything which they had taken from them; David recovered all” (1 Samuel 30:16–19).

One more time, God came in supernatural power. Although David and his men were vastly outnumbered, they were not concerned, because they had received a word from God. They had been in prayer and the Spirit of God had come upon them, enabling them to courageously fight for their families. And they recovered all!

CALLING ALL MEN

The prayer of my heart today is, “Lord, give us a spiritual awakening in this nation. Raise up warriors once again—men who are not afraid; men who will escape the captivity of trying to preserve themselves. Raise up men who will run for public office or stand in pulpits and speak; men who will open the Bible in the morning and speak to their families. Let the voice of righteous men be heard once again in the workplace and in our communities.”

Our only hope for this nation is a spiritual awakening, but it will not happen without men being men. To the men who are reading this newsletter: You cannot wait for the women to lead it. Yes, they will be an essential part; yes, they will be in the battle with you. But you cannot wait for them to take leadership of this. It is time to be a man. Take a stand for what is right. Be bold and believe God for your family, your home, your community. That is the call of God on your life in this generation.

As you start to pray, God will begin to lead you. And as God leads, suddenly you will realize that it is not all about preserving yourself, your image, your job. As Malachi said, you will begin to see children all around you who are looking for fathers. The promise of God in the last days is that if you will stand, the hearts of the children will turn to you as your hearts turn to them (see Malachi 4:6). You will have an influence in so many lives that it will stun you. God will bring the children your way.

Remember, all God has ever looked for is a voice. Even in Ezekiel’s day, He said that the land had become so corrupt that “I sought for a man among them who would … stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one” (Ezekiel 22:30). Just one man who would stand—that was all He was looking for. Sadly, He could not find even one. But by God’s grace, I hope today that He has found you willing to stand— willing to pray and believe that we have the power to take back our children, our families, our nation!

©2019 Times Square Church

Courtesy of http://tsc.nyc/sermon-newsletter/2019/09

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God is Perfect: God’s Perfect Will Revealed in the Scriptures

This is a sermon by Paul Washer delivered on June 27, 2019 

God is perfect in his nature. God is perfect in all his works. God is perfect in His will. And because of that you and I should strive to know His will and to obey His will. But this is an impossibility unless we dedicate ourselves to the study of God’s Word. One of the greatest reasons for spiritual weakness among God’s people is the neglect of the study of the Word of God. That is all there is it to it. It is true.

Even those who attend church regularly, even those who would pretend to be very spiritual, and involved in many Christian things, they do not know what God’s Word says. They may give themselves to all kinds of so called “spiritual duties” and they may put great emphasis on worship and spiritual gifts and the power of the Holy Spirit and yet they really do not know what the Word of God teaches.

Some of this can also be said about those who preach the Word of God. That ministers have become so busy, so full of programs and committees and meetings, so busy planning activities, that they look more like business men then men of God. Survey after survey tells us that many pastors spend less than a few minutes a day in the Bible. And oftentimes the sermons are not based upon a true exposition of Scripture.

But the preachers of old were very different than this. Let me give you an example. Alexander MacLaren, considered to be one of the great preachers of England, he was known to spend 60 hours preparing one sermon, 60 hours of study and prayer. It is quite common for men to spend 20-30 hours on a sermon, seeking to understand the Scriptures and seeking the power of God in prayer. But look at us today. It is all about noise. It is all about activity. It is all about special meetings. But how many people are devoted to the study of God’s Word?

What we are going to look at this hour is our need to respond correctly to God’s will. Our need to know God’s will thru the study of the Word of God. Now look at Psalms Chapter 1, verses 1 thru 3.

Psalm 1:1-3 (NASB):

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in            the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in                     its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.

Let’s begin in verse 1. How blessed is the man, who number one, does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, number two, does not stand in the path of sinners, and number 3, does not sit in the seat of the scoffers. Now when we study the Old Testament, we must understand the way that Hebrew language works. There is something called a Hebrew parallelism. We see it throughout the book of Psalms and the book of Proverbs. A statement is made and then it is made again. The second statement may be a little different than the first, but it is saying the same thing, but with greater emphasis.

For a man to be blessed-and what does it mean to be blessed? Does it mean nice cars and big houses? No. When the Bible talks about a man being blessed, it talks about him being in God’s favor. He is reconciled to God and he enjoys God’s presence. I think a lot of people today, who claim to be Christians, would rather have material prosperity than God. And I think a lot of preachers are the same way. Why should we care about these little things, when the great thing is God’s favor, God’s presence, God’s life flowing thru us.

Now to be a blessed man, what must be done? Well first of all one must be reconciled to God. And how does that happen? Thru our works? Thru our church? Thru our activity? Absolutely not! It happens only one way, not thru a work we have done, but thru a work that God has done thru His Son Jesus Christ. We are reconciled to God only thru Christ’s death on Calvary. Jesus Christ lived the perfect life we could not live. He went to the cross and on that cross our sins were imputed to him. He bore our guilt and all the judgment of God that should fall upon us, it fell upon him. He was punished in our place for our sin. And with his death he paid the price. On the third day he rose again from the dead, 40 days later he ascended in heaven where he sat down on the right hand of God.

How might we be reconciled? By trusting in Him, by relying upon Him, by faith in His person and works on our behalf. If I died right now, I would go to heaven for one reason, 2000 years Jesus Christ died for this sinner. I hope in nothing else. Nothing else. If you trust in Jesus plus something else to get you to heaven, you are not trusting Christ. Everything that we would add would only pervert His work.

There was this farmer and he kept trying to witness to this carpenter. He was a master carpenter. The carpenter found it hard to believe that salvation was thru Christ alone. He thought he had to do something to add to Christ’s work in order to be saved. And so the farmer was thinking ‘how can I show him?’ So the farmer called the carpenter one day and told him I want you to build me a beautiful door. Your best wood; your best design; I want it to be beautiful. So the carpenter goes away. He spends weeks on the door. Weeks. He makes his best door with his best material with the most beautiful best design and he brings it to the farmer. He hangs it up on the door post. There it was; absolutely beautiful. So the farmer when he looks at the door, he doesn’t say anything; but he just walks away. He goes to his tool shed where he has all his tools and he comes back with a big ax and the carpenter says what are you doing? He said there are a few things I want to add to the door that you made. He starts cutting it with this big rough ax. It is utterly destroyed. The carpenter said you took my beautiful work and you destroyed it! The farmer said that is exactly what you are doing to Christ. Christ’s work on Calvary is perfect, but you think you need Christ plus your good works. Your good works do not add to what Christ has done, they pervert it and deform it.

We are saved by Christ alone. Therefore there is no boasting and yet those who have been saved, who have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, they will be transformed by the saving power of Christ, and they will begin to walk in a newness of life. Works do not result in our salvation. Works flow out of the salvation that Christ has worked in our life. When a person becomes a child of God, he will want to do the will of God. He will want to walk in the blessing of God, which again is not referring to some material prosperity. It is the experience of God’s presence and power.

Now how as believers can we walk that way? Let’s go back to our verse. “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers.” In order to walk in God’s favor, we must walk with God. But there is also the idea of separation. We must not walk in the counsel of the wicked. We must not walk according to their opinion. But how can we know that their counsel is wicked? Only if we have renewed our mind in the Word of God.

As a baby you were not born with discernment. As a newborn infant in Christ you were not born with discernment. You must grow in discernment by training your mind. We must not walk in the counsel of the wicked. We must not stand in the path of sinners. How can we know how to walk? How can we know what path to choose? Today Christians are hurting themselves and they are hurting the testimony of the church. Because like in the book of Judges they are doing what is right in their on eyes. And they cannot choose the path. But what did David say? His Word, God’s Word is like a lamp unto his feet and a light to his path.

Imagine that you were at a back of a room. On the other side of the room was a door. You need to leave that room because it is on fire. It is easy. You just run thru the door. But what if someone planted a minefield in that room so that if you stepped in the wrong place, you would be blown to pieces? Now what do you do? If you don’t leave, you are going to burn up. But if you try to leave, more than likely you will step on a bomb and blow up. There is no way out unless someone gives you a map that shows you where to walk and where not to walk.

That is a helpful illustration in regard to the Christian life. But we cannot remain paralyzed with fear. We must live in this world, but we must learn to walk. How? God’s Word. It is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. David said in Psalm 119 that it made him wiser than his own teachers.  We do not stand in the path of sinners nor sit in the seat of scoffers. People who are always scoffing. Always mocking. Always doubting. Always criticizing. Always against the will of God. How can we avoid this? How can we be filled with faith? How can we have great hope? How can we walk in simplicity? Believing God without grumbling? Again there is only one way. The Word of God. The Word of God.

Isn’t it amazing we will acknowledge the Bible is the Word of God and yet leave it upon the shelf to gather dust. When I would read old preachers, they would talk about people that would rather read novels than the Word of God. But then that changed. People that would rather watch television than read the Word of God. Then that changed. People that would rather surf the internet than read the Word of God. And play unrealistic video games rather than the Word of God. Not that some of those things are bad in themselves. But if you do that, more than you study God’s Word, what are you saying? Its horrible and you will be called on the day of judgment to give an answer for that. Constantly connected to the internet. There is hardly anybody connected to God. You want news of what everyone is doing so now you cannot even discern what God is doing. You should turn from it. It is wrong.

So you say, ‘so you believe the internet is bad?’ Not anymore than I believe food is bad. Food is not a sin, but gluttony is. The internet is neutral. I challenge you. Take the last week and write out how many hours you have been on the internet; how many hours have you been on TV; how many hours games; how many hours tweeting friends; and texting. And how many hours in the Word of God. You should not be laughing, but you should be crying right now. You should be weeping. That you love a little phone more than you love Jesus Christ. Really? I don’t want to hurt you, but it is a word you need to hear. We cannot even disconnect anymore. It is almost like all the Christians are obeying John 15 where Jesus says, I am the vine and you are the branches. But we have gotten confused. It should be written, the internet is the vine and we are the branches. Brothers this is wrong. What will be the next thing to come down the line that will make us even further away from God?

Now in verse 2: “But his delight is in the law of the Lord and in his law he meditates day and night.” Look at this. I think I can keep using the internet and all of this as an example. I have seen literally people, they shake until they can get to their phone. They got to find out what’s going on. It’s the last thing they do before they go to bed. It’s the first they do when get up. If only this was the Word of God. How strong we would be! How pitiful we have become! Like addicts.

But he says the godly man delights in the law of the Lord. He wants to know what has God said. He delights to hear it. He even delights in it when it rebukes him. Because he know that God is speaking to Him. Which means God has not given up on him. We delight in it. Delight in the law of the Lord. Do you? Do you? You can play with me all day long, but don’t do that with God. Does your life demonstrate that you delight in the law of the Lord?

What Scripture are you meditating upon? What are you trying to understand? What verse are you trying to incorporate into your life? When was last time you mourned because God struck your life thru some text in Scripture. The godly man, the godly woman delights in the law of the Lord. How do we know he delights in it? Is it because he tells us? How can we know he is really delighting in the law of God? It says in his law he meditates day and night.

Remember what we learned from Romans 12. Renewing our mind in the Word of God so we begin to think like Christ instead of think like the world. Do you do this? Yes or no? Do you do this?  Meditate in the law of God day and night? Please do not think this is something super spiritual that has no application. It is what everyone is supposed to do. And it how success comes to men doing the will of God.

Look at Joshua chapter 1. Moses has died. The great leader of Israel has died, and Joshua has taken his place. He is take them into the Promised Land. Now Israel was a large nation. But it was nothing compared to the nations that were in the Promised Land. They were giants. They had fortresses. And Joshua is to take a group of people into that and to fight against all these enemies. We’re not talking about just some little preacher. We are talking about a warrior who has to go in and fight in some of the most bloodiest battles ever recorded.

Look at verse 2 of chapter. This is God speaking “Moses by servant is dead!” Joshua you no longer have your spiritual father. You are alone. Now arise, stand up, and go cross the Jordan! You have any idea of what that was like.  You are alone. Now get up and cross the river and go fight all those people and then he gives him a promise in verse 3. “Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses.” Look at verse 5: “No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life.” He has given him great promises. He gave him an impossible command to fulfill. Cross the river and fight those people. But then he gave him a great promises. Then another great promise: No one will be able to stand against you”

Now when Joshua looked at his army and he looked at that army, He had two choices. Believe what his eyes could see or believe what God has promised. God had promised him. But then Joshua does not only have to believe, he has to act.

Look what God commands him. Verse 6: “Be strong and courageous” Then look at verse 7: Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.” He was going to fight a real military battle. But upon what did his success depend? Doing everything that God said in His law. It didn’t depend on how many soldiers Joshua had. It didn’t depend on how big the army was. Or how big the enemy was. It depended upon knowing the will of God and obeying it.

Look what he says in verse 8:  This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night (why should he meditate on it day and night?) so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

Why did he meditate upon it? It is the only way to obey it. James warns us-don’t you look at the law of God, and then turn away and forget what you heard. Because it is not those who simply know or read, or study the Word of God, but those who do it.

So back to Psalms it says “his delight is in the law of the Lord and he meditates upon it day and night.” There is a good illustration of this that comes from the farm. I do not know if you know this, but cows have four stomachs. They do. They bite a piece of grass, they chew it, and they swallow it. Then do you know else happens? They regurgitate it again and they chew it, and they swallow it, and they do it again. They are getting every bit of vitamins and nutrients out of that grass.

That is the same way with the Word of God. We feed upon it; we go over it and over it and over it until it starts truly speaking to us. God honors those who meditate upon His law and will stay there day and night until they hear from God. Oh dear brothers and sisters in Christ we should be this way. We must be this way.

Now what will this man be like? Now first of all he will be like a tree. When God wants to talk about something that is not lasting, He will talk about grass and dew and clouds and vapor and smoke. When God wants to talk about something permanent, He talks about mountains, and rocks and trees. When He wants to talk about something strong, He talks about a tree. And we have this idea of a believer who is strong, who is solid, who is not going to move. He is there. He has his roots dug deep into Christ and into Christ’s word. Here there is this idea of spiritual strength. But there is also here the idea of life. Not just strength, but life. Spiritual life. He is not a tree planted firmly in the desert. But he is a tree planted firmly right beside the water. His roots go down into Christ, down into Christ’s word and He is filled with the Holy Spirit. He is filled with spiritual life. And out of that what happens? He yields fruit. He bears fruit. In his character, he grows, although it may be slow, he is growing. And in his ministry, there’s life, there’s growth.

You know one of the reasons why churches are so filled with activities and programs and gimmicks and entertainment is because there is no spiritual life. The pastors are not studying hours a day the Word of God. They are not in prayer. The leaders around them are not. And so there is no spiritual life. So they have to create a circus atmosphere so that things will happen. That is not the man of God. He bears fruit not because he is running around like a businessman. Not because he is in committee meetings all the time. But because he has dug his roots deeply in the Word of God and prayer. He yields fruit it its season and its leaf does not wither. Its eternal fruit. Its enduring fruit.

And it says in whatever he does, he prospers. Because it doesn’t matter what you are doing. Those who know the Word of God will do well. Whether it’s a pastor or an evangelist, or a rocket scientist or a dentist or a mathematician, those who meditate upon the Word of God will prosper. Now again what do I mean by prosper? They will be useful to God. And they will be a blessing to others.

I hear TV preachers quoting this all the time, I hear all those prosperity teachers quoting this all the time. Yielding fruit they say, prospering, becoming wealthy, big cars. Let me share with you something. This is talking about a tree that is bearing fruit. Let me ask you a question, have you ever seen a tree eat its own fruit?  Why does a tree bear fruit? He bears it for others to eat not himself. Do you see that? What does it mean to bear fruit? It means we preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and people are saved from hell. It means we preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and teach His Word and families are reconciled. It means we preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and the father does not come home drunk anymore. It means we preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and people start orphanages for poor children. To bear fruit. It’s to be a useful servant of God. And when we die there are thousands and thousands of people who have been saved because we lived. One solitary life dedicated to Christ, dedicated to His Word, dedicated to prayer, can result in the healing of nations. So when I talk about prosperity, that is what I am talking about. The salvation of God revealed to man.

Don’t you want to be this way? Where does it began? Remember what I told you this afternoon. What is the best time to plant a tree. A hundred years ago. That was the best time to plant a tree. But if you did not do it, what’s the best time to plant a tree? Right now.

This is another thing church you need to listen to. Why do we come together on Sundays? It is to hear the Word of God preached, but we should also be encouraging one another. Not legalistically, not critically, but encouraging one another. How is your time in the Word? What has God taught you this week? Can you share anything to me about your prayer life? Can you give me a testimony of what God is doing in your life?

Do you ever do that? You know what? When someone is a believer and they are not walking with Christ, when someone walks up to them and asks them those type of questions, do you know what they say? Fanatics! Legalists! Nosey! What does Scripture command? To be a life that bears fruit, not a barren life.

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Is God our First Love?

The third thorn in the Parable of the Sower and the Seed is the deceitfulness of riches. Millions of people have been corrupted, ruined and destroyed by the deceitfulness of riches. Wealth has a strong tendency to cause the heart to cry out “I don’t need you God! I have my riches! I have everything I need!” and therein lies the grave danger to the spiritual health of the heart. Riches can turn the heart away from God quicker than almost anything on earth.

John Wesley said wealth had destroyed the godliness of more people than other thing. This thorn illustrates the eternal truth in the Sermon on the Mount that “where your treasure is there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:34). Spurgeon said: “The heart must and will go in the direction of that which we count precious. The whole man will be transformed into the likeness of that for which he lives.[i]” It is when riches become the precious treasure of our heart, and we crave them with intense passion that the heart becomes overgrown with these thorns.

Nothing in the material realm has the power to satisfy a person’s spiritual needs. Nothing in the material realm can ever compare to God Almighty, and it can never quench the thirst of the heart to have an intimate relationship with Creator of the heavens and earth. God warns us in Psalms 62:10 that if riches or wealth increase not to set our heart upon them. As certain as the sun rises every morning, God promises in Proverbs 11:28 that if we trust in riches, we will fall. The love of riches leads us into worshipping them in adoration of their power and affluence. The passion for riches is like a habit-forming drug that we shoot into our heart giving us a momentary euphoria, but eventually we come crashing down enslaved in its wicked snare. Riches are an illusion of strength, security, and success, but are as flimsy as a paper house. The heart that is consumed with the love of wealth and accumulation of riches is on a path of spiritual destruction. The love of riches is a destroyer of relationships with friends, family, colleagues, and ultimately God, which is the biggest tragedy of all. This thorn is a destroyer of everything godly in the heart and needs to be rooted up, if we are ever to live a life that pleases God.

This third thorn is not simply riches, but the deceitfulness of riches where we are deceived into giving our allegiance to the pursuit of wealth above everything else. The Greek word for “deceitfulness” means to seduce by false promises and persuasion, to cheat, beguile, deceive or delude, to give a false impression by appearance, statement or influence, and to lead astray and seduce into error. In the Septuagint, it is the same root word used in Genesis 3:13 when the serpent deceived Eve and illustrates that the author of deceitfulness is the Devil. He weaves the web of deceit concerning riches to lead the heart astray on this deadly path. Riches are so deceitful because they give the false impression that they bring life, status, happiness and everything a person will ever need to have a meaningful life.

The Deep Root in Every Heart

A.W. Tozer in The Pursuit of God explains the deep root in every heart to possess which is at the center of the deceitfulness of riches:

Before the Lord God made man upon the earth He first prepared for him by creating a world of useful and pleasant things for his sustenance and delight. In the Genesis account of the creation these are called simply “things.” They were made for man’s uses, but they were always meant to be external to man and subservient to him. In the deep heart of the man was a shrine where none but God was worthy to come. Within him was God; without, a thousand gifts which God had showered upon him. But sin introduced complications and has made those very gifts of God a potential source of ruin to the soul. Our woes began when God was forced out of His central shrine and “things” were allowed to enter. Within the human heart “things” has taken over … There is within the human heart a tough fibrous root of fallen life whose nature is to possess, always to possess. It covets “things” with a deep and fierce passion. The pronouns “my” and “mine” look innocent enough in print, but their constant and universal use is significant. They express the real nature of old Adamic man better than a thousand volumes of theology could do. They are verbal symptoms of our deep disease. The roots of our hearts have grown down into things, and we dare not pull up one rootlet lest we die. Things have become necessary to us, a development never originally intended. God’s gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstrous substitution. [ii]

Our culture of greed is a living illustration of this monstrous substitution of “things” taking the place of God in the throne room of our heart. This is the driving mantra of our age as the hearts of so many are consumed with the desire to be rich and famous. Everyone wants to be a star, or an American idol, having fancy cars, big houses and a never-ending supply of new playthings. This is simply the old root of our sin nature raising its ugly head in the fierce passion to possess more and more things. Unfortunately we so often mark success in our culture by how many things we possess.

Exploitation of the Poor: One of the Major Reasons for the Flood

God is the source of all blessings. He gave so many blessings to Adam and Eve so they could rise to the fullest potential of life with their Creator. But when sin poured into human nature, human need changed to lust and the pursuit of things became the obsession of the heart. God’s gracious gifts became misused and distorted, as wealth was accumulated and hoarded at the expense of others namely the poor and less fortunate. By the time of the Noah, the deceitfulness of riches reached an enormous peak and played a major part in causing the earth to be completely corrupt before God and filled with violence. The deceitfulness of riches helped to corrupt God’s way on the earth. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states:

Genesis 6:11,13 describes the socio-economic conditions prior to the Flood in terms of the earth being “filled with violence.” The word rendered “violence” in Hebrew was used by the prophets to describe the exploitation of the poor by the rich (Amos 3:10, Micah 6:12). Thus it appears that exploitation was a major reason for God’s destroying the earth with a flood.[iii]

God’s heart as expressed in the Mosaic Law was that each person and family was entrusted with the blessings of God, which included things like land, food, drink, livestock and material goods. Each person had the opportunity to express His faith in God by dealing justly and responsibly with what God had given to him by not hoarding their wealth, but by helping others in need. When we realize that everything we have is a gift from God, we will not spoil His generosity by turning His gift into personal accumulation. Luxury causes the heart to be ungrateful, arrogant and full of pride and blinds the eyes to see the hand of God and His blessings. God’s gifts are to be shared and given as a blessing to others. It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Jesus talked about the rich man in the parable who wanted to hoard everything he had for himself with no concern for others.

And then, turning to the disciples, he said to them, “Notice that, and be on your guard against covetousness in any shape or form. For a man’s real life in no way depends upon the number of his possessions.” Then he gave them a parable in these words, “Once upon a time a rich man’s farmland produced heavy crops. So he said to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have no room to store this harvest of mine?’ Then he said, ‘I know what I’ll do. I’ll pull down my barns and build bigger ones where I can store all my grain and my goods. And I can say to my soul, Soul, you have plenty of good things stored up there for years to come. Relax! Eat, drink and have a good time!’ But God said to him, ‘You fool, this very night you will be asked for your soul! Then, who is going to possess all that you have prepared?’ That is what happens to the man who hoards things for himself and is not rich where God is concerned.” (Luke 12:15-21, PHILLIPS)

Rich Toward God

We do not truly love God and serve Him on a heart level if we hoard all our possessions for ourselves and do not reach out to those in need. No one can take his riches with them when they die. No one can take their possessions into eternity. The deceitfulness of riches hardens the heart to protect their riches at all costs and only use them to build their empire of vanity. It creates a false superiority over others and causes the heart to look in disdain to the poor, the struggling and those who do not have many earthly possessions. Pride fills the heart with cruelty and indifference as one is deceived into living in the world of luxury without any regard for God or others. Deceitfulness of riches causes the heart to be deceived into thinking that their rich lifestyle will go on forever and blinds the heart to the vital truths of eternity. The heart is darkened and foolishly does not realize that the bubble could burst at any moment, and then you must stand before the judgment seat of Christ where money and riches have no power to buy eternal life. They are filthy rags compared to the righteousness of God and the eternal treasures of His Word.

Life is Not Measured by Our Possessions

A person’s life is never measured by their possessions or wealth. God could care less how big your bank account is. The bigger question is what are we doing with the blessings that God has given us? Are we building bigger houses to store all our playthings or are we advancing God’s kingdom by being rich toward God and reaching out to bless others from our abundance? We are stewards of what God has given us, and He is to exercise His lordship over all our possessions so that we honor God with our giving. We are to become generous, like Christ is generous, for “in their generosity, believers reflect the character of God, who is the giver of all good things” (James 1:17). Then things do not control us for we are willing to let go of them for the glory of God in order to do His work upon the earth. Things no longer deceive us for we know the source of our blessings and our heart is ready to share those blessings with others. These thorns cannot survive or grow in this type of environment of the heart.

But we must never underestimate the power of riches to lead the heart to ruin. Money appeals to the flesh, as it wants to be master of the heart. Money demands allegiance. Money demands our first love. Money demands loyalty and devotion and has a strong pull on the heart to be lured into its trap.

No One Can Serve Two Masters

Jesus made it clear that we must decide whom we are going to serve. There comes a crossroad in a person’s life when they must make this critical decision: Am I going to devote myself to material things or God? Am I going to pursue money or God first in my life? What is my definition of success? Is it a life rich toward the treasures of this world or rich toward God?”

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:24, KJV)

Mammon is an Aramaic word for wealth, property and anything of value. It refers to total wealth, which includes money, property and possessions. It is interesting in the Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible it capitalizes Mammon as if it were a god and in essence Jesus is saying “You cannot serve God and the god of possessions.” We cannot love wealth and love God at the same time. Both riches and God demand our time, energy, and devotion. Only one can hold and capture our heart. Only one can be the Lord of our heart. Only one will command our love, worship and reverence. One will be crowned king of our hearts and the other will be banished as insignificant. One will have our utmost loyalty and faithful service while the other will be relegated to the bottom of our priorities.

The Greek word for “hold” means to hold firmly, to strongly cling to, and to literally hold in front of one’s face. The Greek word for “despise” means to look down upon with contempt or aversion, to consider not important, to think little of, to neglect and not care for. It is pushing something aside because it is thought to have no value.

Ponder the meanings of these words for a moment and ask yourself which word describes the condition of your heart in relation to God and which word describes the condition of your heart in relation to possessions. We will strongly hold fast to one and place it continuously before our face. We will push aside the other one in contempt thinking it has no value. Do we hold fast to God or the god of possessions? Do we push God aside in contempt because we think He has little value or do we push aside the god of wealth and possessions? Which has more importance to us? Which has more value?

Too Little of God and Too Much of Things

Will we have the fruit of a life rich toward God or will the thorns of the deceitfulness of riches suffocate the life of God from our heart? Which one is our master? That which we love most, we worship as our God. God is always to be loved above all other things. Do we love things more than we love God? Too many of us have too little of God and too much of things.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions-is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17, ESV)

Where is Your First Love?

God commands us not to love the things of the world and not to have pride in our possessions for it will cause our love for our Heavenly Father to depart. Both loves cannot live within our heart. One love will suffocate and destroy the other. One love will crowd out and push the other from the heart. There is no room for double occupancy of both loves in the heart. They cannot live in peaceful co-existence. So the critical question for all eternity is: “Where does our first love lie?”

The Greek word for “love” is agapao, which is used to describe the unconditional, sacrificial love of God that He expresses for all men, women and children on earth. It is a love, which is awakened by a sense of value in the object that causes one to prize it. It springs from an appreciation of the preciousness of an object. It means to cherish with deep affection.

1 John was addressed to Christians in the church fellowship and contains one of the most important commandments ever pertaining to the heart. If we break this commandment, then our heart will turn from God and fall into great peril. There should be a huge warning sign beside this commandment. The breaking of this commandment contained in these three short verses will allow the enemy to gain control of our heart and enslave us in the trappings of this world. We are not be fooled by the mesmerizing and alluring display of what wealth and possessions have to offer. It is an illusion. It is such a glitzy presentation, but we do not realize the dangerous thorn and dagger that lurks right below the surface. Most Christians cannot resist. Most succumb to the temptation. Most sell out their love for God for gold. Most allow possessions to become the prize of their life, and God takes a second seat and becomes insignificant in their daily living. Most allow themselves to be deceived by riches and it chokes every trace of the Word of God from their hearts.

Lovers of Money More than Lovers of God

How this must hurt the heart of God when “things” replace God as our first love. We must guard our heart to never set our affection on the things and possessions of this world. We must never take this wonderful agapao love that is meant for God first and instead embrace the “things” of the world with it. This is at the heart of the deceitfulness of riches: the monstrous substitution of agapao love for God being replaced by agapao love for possessions.

We have become lovers of money more than lovers of God as our secular, materialistic society has contaminated our faith and corrupted our hearts. I pray God that this thorny weed of the deceitfulness of riches never is allowed to flourish in our hearts for it always contaminates our love for God and strangles it from our hearts.

We must ask our heart these questions daily: “Whom do I reserve my agapao love for today: God Almighty or the god of possessions?” “What do I prize as my most beloved possession: God or riches?” “What captures my affection and is the valuable treasure of my heart: God or our prideful possessions?” Both crave our love. Both crave our attention. Both crave our devotion. Both are jealous and want to be loved more than anything else. Which one will you choose?

Are we like the rich ruler in Luke 18 that desperately wanted eternal life, but he loved his riches so much that he refused to sell all that he had and give to the poor so he could accumulate great treasure in heaven? He went away very sorrowful from the presence of Jesus because his riches were more precious to him than Jesus. He cherished his possessions more than he cherished God. His wealth has such a hold on his heart that he walked away from eternal life!

Even Jesus was tempted by the Devil to sell his soul for the all the riches and power of the kingdoms on earth, but the Lord God Almighty was the treasure that Jesus’s heart worshipped. He would not bow his knee to the god of possessions and allow its thorny weeds to destroy his heart.

Our heart should cry out like Job 22:25-26: “Yes, the Almighty will be your gold and your precious silver. For then you will have your delight in the Almighty and lift up your face to God.” God must be our delight and joy. He is our precious gold, silver and treasure. God’s riches of love, grace and mercy are a thousand times more valuable than the riches of this world. What does it matter if we gain the whole world and all its possessions, but lose our soul? What does it matter if we have all our possessions, but lose our love for God?

Money cannot buy us eternal life or an intimate relationship with God. Money cannot buy us treasures in heaven. Money cannot buy joy, love, peace or even true happiness. Money is temporal and is like a vapor that is here today and gone tomorrow. Possessions pass away quickly and we cannot take them with us when we die. God is eternal and is from everlasting to everlasting. His magnificence, glory, grace, mercy, love and faithfulness are infinite and never perish. We have to be complete fools and absolutely deceived to place our heart in the hands of the god of possessions.

Wake up Christian church to this monstrous deception and cast down every vestige of gold from our hearts. Promise God that you will never worship our golden calf again. We must blazon this eternal truth in our souls and write it with a pen of iron on the tablets of our hearts: Nothing in the heavens and earth compares to our God! Nothing is greater, nothing is stronger, nothing is wiser, and nothing is more glorious that our Almighty God. He alone is what we should glory in. We should never waste the life of our heart on the temporal things of this world.

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24, ESV)

The Riches of Our Inheritance in God

Do we know the riches of the inheritance we have in Christ? Is our heart acquainted with the riches of the glory of Christ, which dwells within us? Do we know that the Bible declares we are heirs of God and joint heirs of Christ? Money is nothing and mere fool’s good compared to this.

Paul prays in Ephesians that the eyes of our understanding may be opened wide to see and know in no uncertain terms the riches of His glorious inheritance in the Christian believer. If we understand this mind-boggling truth, the riches of this world and their value will fade away into oblivion. The heart that understands these heavenly treasures in Christ will never be overgrown by the thorns of the deceitfulness of riches. There will be no deception because our eyes have been opened, and we have caught a glimpse of the heavenly glory of God’s rich inheritance that He has invested in each one of us.

The Example of C.T. Studd

C.T. Studd was born into immense riches and also became the most famous cricket player in England. He was the like the Michael Jordan or LeBron James of his generation, and he had it all: riches, fame, and luxury. However, he gave up everything to become a missionary in China, India and Africa.

What would lead a person to gladly leave riches, celebrity, and possessions to proclaim the gospel in some of the most remote areas on earth? He endured daily insult, danger, sickness, and extreme conditions of poverty when in China as even his bed was infested with scorpions. C.T. Studd could have been living in a stately mansion in England with his every need catered to, but he gave it all up, even living in tents in the deepest parts of Africa.

At the age of twenty-five, he was to inherit a large sum of money, yet he gave it all away. What would compel him to such a radical act of giving to win souls for Christ? Could it be that his heart beheld the living, glorious Christ and he knew him in such an intimate way that few ever experience. Something happens in the heart of a man or woman when they behold the cross and see the resurrected Christ in all his glory. C.T Studd beheld Christ, and his heart grabbed a hold of Christ, and his eyes were opened to the futility of a life sold out to possessions. He had experienced what the Apostle Paul had experienced, and he could not remain the same.

Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One). (Philippians 3:8, AMP)

Nothing on earth compares to the priceless privilege of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord in an intimate and abiding relationship. This is the greatest possession a person could have and the greatest treasure to abide in the heart. C.T. Studd dedicated His life so others may gain this great possession, the pearl of great price Jesus Christ. Listen to the heart of C.T. Studd:

I cannot tell you what joy it gave me to bring the first soul to the Lord Jesus Christ. I have tasted almost all the pleasures that this world can give. I do not suppose there is one that I have not experienced, but I can tell you that those pleasures were as nothing compared to the joy that the saving of that one soul gave to me.[iv]

Norman Grubb in C.T. Studd, Cricketer and Pioneer wrote:

C.T’s life stands as some rugged Gibraltar—a sign to all succeeding generations that it is worthwhile to lose all this world can offer and stake everything on the world to come. His life will be an eternal rebuke to easy-going Christianity. He has demonstrated what it means to follow Christ without counting the cost and without looking back. The riches of Christ are eternal, glorious, and precious beyond measure and the lure of the riches of this world fade into the night in comparison. CT Studd lamented the fact that so many heeded the call of gold over the call of God: “Last June at the mouth of the Congo there awaited a thousand prospectors, traders, merchants and gold seekers, waiting to rush into these regions as soon as the government opened the door to them, for rumor declared that there is an abundance of gold. If such hear so loudly the call of gold and obey it, can it be that the ears of Christ’s soldiers are deaf to the call of God? Are gamblers for gold so many and gamblers for God so few?”[v]

So many do not even give a second thought to selling out for gold, and so few even consider the thought of selling out to God. C.T. Studd’s life stands as a shining example that worldly possessions and riches can never compare to the satisfaction and joy of living for Christ. Riches can never deceive a heart that has beheld the glory of Christ and has abandoned all to know and love Him for all eternity. A few stanzas of C.T. Studd’s timeless poem should ring in our heart.

Only one life, yes only one, Soon will its fleeting hours be done; Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet, And stand before His Judgement seat; Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice, gently pleads for a better choice Bidding me selfish aims to leave, And to God’s holy will to cleave; Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.[vi]

[i] Charles Spurgeon, The Gospel of the Kingdom: A Popular Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (London: Passmore and Alabaster, 1893), 37.

[ii] A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (New York: Start Publishing LLC, 2012, originally published in 1948), 18, 19.

[iii] International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Volume Four: Q-Z, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdman Publishing Company, 1988).

[iv] Norman Grubb, C.T. Studd, Cricketer and Pioneer (Cambridge: The Lutterworth Press, 1970), 33.

[v] Ibid., 127.

[vi] C. T. Studd, “Only One Life, Twill Soon Be Past” (1860-1931).

Excerpt from: “The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life” By Tim Rowe https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Key-Everything-Christian-Life/dp/148344791X/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=the+heart+the+key+to+everything&qid=1561297718&s=gateway&sr=8-2

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Finishing our Work

A.B. Simpson

It is this thought of finishing things that I think God wants to speak to us about today. We are finishing, this morning, our ministry in this place; at least, we are gathering this Sabbath morning within these walls for the last time. For two years and one month the Lord has permitted us to labor in this place that was built for the worship of God, afterwards given to secular business, and finally, desecrated in the devil’s employ. It has pleased Him by a miracle of providence to give us, just at the time we needed it, this place for His work; and for twenty-five months He has permitted us here to do as much work, perhaps as many churches do in five or six years a good deal more than I ever did in six or seven years before, even counting by the number of services. We have had about 1,100 religious services in this place within the time I have mentioned. Many of them were for the comfort of Christians and the building up of God’s Church and people, and therefore have not had the same visible results in the way of salvation; but almost every evangelistic service that has ever been held here has been followed by the conversion of souls.

I have made no attempt to keep record of these names, but I should judge that at least as many as a thousand souls every year of our work here–which is only about twenty a week-have been awaked and talked with on the subject of their salvation sometimes a great many more. and very recently, in connection with our mission work, this number has been more than doubled. The Lord has permitted us, during these two years, to bring perhaps many souls to the feet of Jesus, whom we have not been able to follow afterward. God only knows; and I am sure that tens of thousands have come in here once or twice and passed on, having heard the word of eternal life.

I shall never cease to thank God for the wonderful providence that opened this place, and the still more wonderful grace that made it a perfect delight to minister and serve Him here. I thank Him also for the dear people that have gathered, for the laborers that have been always willing to lead souls to Christ, for the way in which He has raised, I think, at least $25,000 in these two years and met the needs of the work without our going to man. I don’t speak at all of the money given for the new tabernacle; I don’t speak of the money given to establish a home and sustain a training college; I don’t speak at all of the work done in connection with the work for which the Lord has made me personally responsible, but for the work of this church God has put in into the hands of you simple people to sustain. I thank Him the more because there has been nothing on our part to cause it; there has been nothing of human ability, but simple dependence in Christ. You know very well the truth given here has been very simple, and wholly designed to lead sinners to Christ and to lead Christians closer to His side. You know there has. been no great business capacity in the management of things, no ecclesiastical experience; we have been simply humble instruments of Christ, and He has seen fit to lead us on and to bless us; and we do this morning give Him all the praise and glory, place ourselves at His feet in great humility, and ask Him to use us. still.

Now, this is a most serious thought, this thought of finishing our work, finishing even this stage of our work. How much it means for this work, and how much it suggests for our whole Christian life and work. There is nothing, I think, in Christian life so sad as unfinished work. There is no memorial in the cemetery that brings the tears to our eyes more quickly than the broken column which tells of a life broken in the midst; and as I look around me, I see so many broken columns in human life. Someone said to Napoleon, in one of his pageants in Africa under the shadow of the Pyramids, as his veterans were marching in review: “Emperor, what is lacking here?” “Nothing, nothing,” said he, “but continuance.” He knew that in a little while these squadrons would dissolve and life itself be perhaps a bitter disappointment. And so, in the work of God we have seen so much that was incomplete. I have seen so much in my own work that I have cried to God, that, even if He gave me a very little work it would all be clear work, that it would be all finished work.

I remember that when, five years ago, this work began, how delightful it was that there were only a dozen or twenty members, and to feel that we were all on a Scriptural foundation; and the desire has never left me that whatever we do may last until the Master comes, even if it be humble work. As I look over the work of God, I see this curse incompleted work, strewing the way all along with miserable wrecks. I find the book of Judges telling us of five hundred years of declension because God’s people did not complete their work when they were in possession of Canaan. They conquered Jericho; they conquered thirty-one kingdoms; they divided the land among twelve victorious tribes; but they left here and there little strongholds that were not subdued, little tribes that could not or would not be driven out; and it was not long until they brought Israel under subjection, and neutralised all the work of Joshua’s conquest. I look again at the life of poor Saul, and I see that the one turning point in his life was where he stopped short of finishing God’s work, where he let his own fleshly heart control him, and left God’s work unfinished, and the curse of God’s rejection fell upon him.

I look at the ministry of Elijah, and never has the world seen anything more sublime than his victory on Carmel; but, 0, who has not wept at the reaction of the morrow, when at the shaking of a woman’s finger he fled into the desert and left the field in possession of God’s enemies; from which Israel never again recovered, but went down and down, until it passed away, not in captivity, but in extinction.

And so, it is. not enough to go on for a while. It is the last step that wins. 0, may God put on our hearts, as we leave here, this great thought, “that I may finish my course with joy and the ministry that I have received of the Lord Jesus to testify the Gospel of the grace of God.” How this has often been brought to my own heart, until it seemed to me that I could see nothing but just the closing days of life, the thought when it would all be finished and handed over to His hands and there were the two pictures; the one the thought of much accomplished, but much lost; something done, but something undone; and the sad bitterness of the thought: O, it is almost better not to have lived than to have failed to complete my one life, and yet to know that I can never live it again, and that something is left out forevermore. And then came the other picture; the soldier pressing on until the last hour, unflinching, unweary, afraid even of the thought of weariness; and, at last, looking back and saying; By the grace of God there is nothing left out that the Lord had in His heart to give me to do; I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course; henceforth it is all victory. And, as you go forth in this spirit, you will find that while you keep your eye on the end, it will give impulse and power to every step of the way.

Then, as we look at finished work, how much of it do we find in the work and Word of God.

We find, in the first chapter of Genesis. when God began the work of creation, He left nothing undone. So God finished, as we are told, the heavens and the earth, and God saw everything that He had made, that it was good, and then He sat down and rested on His own Sabbath day. There was nothing left undone. Take the most finished work of art and compare it with God’s smallest creations, and you find the sting of the bee is superior to the most perfectly wrought needle that ever came from the factories or the tools of man. You find that the most perfect polished surface under the magnifying glass seems like a great mass of hills and valleys compared with the surface of your hand. The wing of the smallest insect is all spangled and shining with burnished, radiant splendor, and no matter how carefully you inspect it, there is no flaw, it is all perfect. You find the little blade of grass is made as carefully as the immense pine tree. All God’ s work is well done, and myriads of things seem to be made that produce no adequate return. On every side of us there are things that we do not seem to understand the use of. Everything is done with a prodigal bountifulness, and yet all are perfect.

We read again about Moses, that he finished his work. In the last chapter of Exodus, we have this description, “So Moses finished the work as the Lord commanded. So did he.” His work was all done, and then God came in and took possession, and made it His dwelling place.

God does not want to come in and dwell in unfinished things. If you build a house and put no roof on it, it will fall to pieces, and so unfinished work will fail.

Again, we find that Joshua finished his work, and that was the secret of his power. “So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord said unto Moses. There was not a city that he did not take and there failed not one word of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel.” He finished his work through and through, and all his life God’s blessing was on that work and on the people; and it was when Joshua passed away that they began slighting the work and then came the declension and ruin of the period of the Judges.

Again we read of Nehemiah, that he finished his work. The prophet Haggai had said about this restoration, “The hands of Zerrubbabel have laid the foundation of His house; his hands also shall finish it, and ye shall know that the Lord hath sent me unto you.” So we read about Nehemiah, “So the wall was finished on the four and twentieth day of the month.” There was no gate left out, no hinge broken, no breach in the walls that was not completed, no unfinished work; but every little thing, every bar, every hinge, every river, was all secure; then God blessed and established the work.

We read about the dear Lord Jesus, He finished His work. “I must be about My Father’s business; I must work while it is day; or, as it is in the original: I must work all the day long, every hour of the day, for the night is coming; My meat and drink are to finish the work, which My Father has given Me to do. And the hour came at last when He could say, “I have glorified Thee on earth; I have finished the work Thou gavest Me to do, and now I come to Thee.” His last word on the cross was just one little word, “finished.” And when He rose from the grave there was such a wonderful quietness and deliberateness about Him, such an evidence of everything being orderly and completely done, that even the napkin was found wrapped together in a place by itself, and His grave clothes were all folded up in order; there was not a trifle left undone. The Lord did everything perfectly, easily and well. We read about Paul that his one mission was to finish his course; and the time came when, within the sight of the Ostian gate where he died, he could say, “I have fought a good fight, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord shall give to me in that day and not to me only, but to all them who love His appearing.” He finished his work, and, had he His life to live over again, perhaps there is nothing more he could add to it.

And now, dear friends, how about your work and mine? Let us look into it today. You are standing within a few steps of a border line, when this period of your life will close up forever. Have you accomplished that which you set out to do? Have you finished that which you began? How is it about your Christian character-is it entire, or is it incomplete? “I pray God to sanctify you, wholly, entirely, and that your whole spirit, and soul and body may be preserved blameless unto the coming of the Lord Jesus. Is that fulfilled, or are you only saved in spots, only cleansed here and there, and great blotches of sin are upon you like a moth-eaten garment? That is not God’s plan. God’s idea for you is entire wholeness of character–your spirit, your soul, your body all sanctified unto Him. Why not? It is because you have not taken God’s Word. It is because you have not been willing to enter into God’s blessing and God’s will. If you have not entered into here, it is not going to be any easier to enter into it anywhere else. 0, before this day shall close, just go to Him to give you that complete transformation. It is not a thing that you grow into; it is a thing that you take from Him as the free gift of His grace. May God help you today not to seek human perfection, not to say there is no room for progress, but to take and have the perfect Christ reaching every part of your life and going ever in your complete being, a perfect child, perhaps, but just as perfect as a perfect man. You know what it is to be a perfect babe. It is a poor, weak little thing, but it is perfect. You know what it is to have a poor, mutilated body with a hand off or an eye out. Now, God wants you to be a perfect child,to be complete, to be finished in all your parts, although with room for boundless expansion in the growth of your future life. The dear Saviour has it for you, and you are slighting His costly purchase if you do not receive it.

Again, have you entered into the complete plan and purpose of God for your life? Paul prays for the Thessalonians that they may know all the good pleasure of His goodness, and that the Lord will fulfill in them His perfect will. Are you reaching out to that for which you were apprehended by Christ, or is God all the time having to drive you forward and press you on? God calls you to a complete conformity to His will that you may be holy and please God, and He will give you the grace to do it.

How about your work; have you finished that? Have you started, and then got tired and dropped it? Have you been sent to some service, and at some little discouragement put it aside? Have you brought some soul to Christ and then left it again-never prayed for it, never sought to finish the trust that God gave to you? Have you promised anything and never fulfilled it? God calls us today, before we leave this place to balance all our accounts with Him, and to go away with the blessed thought that we have nothing more to do that could have been done; and He does not call us to anything unreasonable, extreme or impossible.

And then, as a church, have we finished that for which God sent us to this place? When we have passed away from Twenty-third Street to return, perhaps, in this sense, no more, shall we be able to say, “I am pure from the blood of all men. I have not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God; I have held up Christ before His coming to all I could reach; I have done all that I could do in these meetings to bring souls to Christ; I have finished the work that Thou gavest me to do.”

Even Sampson, in the last moment of his life, accomplished a life’s work in an hour. May God help you to accomplish the trust that has been committed to your hands, to leave nothing at least, undone.

So, in this special enterprise as a church, let us finish our work. We have started to secure our new church home,let us finish it. We have given our honor before God and man that we will independently, even at great sacrifice, purchase a house for God. Have you finished your part? Have you done what God has called you to do? Is it finished? Shall we go there with no raveled ends, with no loose, unfinished work, but with that promptness and that obedience which God loves, and on which He pours out His perfect blessing, even in financial matters, for He blesses His Church for generosity quite as much as He does for faith and prayer and Christian work, and I am sure that the blessing has come to this people, because we have been liberally meeting the claims of Christ in these past months.

And then our life work, dear friends, O, is that going to be a completed scroll, or is it going to be a torn parchment, unfinished? I don’t believe God wants it to be so for you or for me. O, what a precious life yours and mine is. Only once can it be lived; never again can we traverse this ground. O, remember as. you go forth: “I shall never pass this way again;” and so let every earnest fiber of your being be laid at His feet, and do it as you would wish it done in that day when you shall look back upon the life that shall come no more. I say this for myself, I say it for you, dear friends. Someone has said,

For at my back I always hear
Time’s swift-winged chariot hurrying near;
And onward, all before, I see
Deserts of vast eternity.

And Dr. Bonar reminds us:

Not many lives have we—but one.
One, only one!
How precious should that one life be,
That narrow span!
Day after day filled up with faithful toil;
Year after year still bringing in new spoil.

I heard, somewhere, of a poor fellow dying on the railroad track; and, as they picked him up all mangled, his face pale and blood flowing from every wound, he just had strength to say one sentence; “O, if I only had.” Nobody knew that terrible regret that came surging up in his memory; something he had meant to do and just put off that day; something he had promised God to do but he did not, and never could it be done again. “O, if I only had.” O, it speaks to me as the signal of an unfinished life, saved, perhaps, but not what God saved it for; coming in, but coming in to lose the crown God would have given. Happy, I hope. O, yes, in heaven you will have happiness even in the lower place, but the one that could be content to take the lower place has got a mean soul and cannot be very happy anywhere.

It is said that one of the old translators of the Bible, as he was finishing his work, felt the cold damp of death coming over him, calling his scribe, he said; “All is done but just one-half a chapter.” And, as his pulses grew colder, he summoned up his faith and courage, and called his amanuensis, and said; “Write quickly.” And he began to dictate, and words poured from his lips as fast as the hand could write. “Be quick,” he said, “be quick, the sands are running out.” And the words poured out as the last drops of the stream of life; and when he had finished it, he clasped his hands, and said “Now, glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.” And his lips were cold and his work was done. There was nothing lacking. The last line had been added, and the English Bible was put in the hands of man. That was finished work. God has something for you to do until it is all done.

Courtesy of http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/articles/index.php?view=article&aid=6366

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The Perfect Diet

II Timothy 3:16.17 (Amplified):

Every Scripture is God-breathed (given

by His inspiration) and profitable for

instruction, for reproof and conviction

of sin, for correction of error and

discipline in obedience, and for training

in righteousness (in holy living, in

conformity to God’s will in thought,

purpose, and action),

So that the man of God may be complete

and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly

equipped for every good work.

New Living Translation:

All Scripture is inspired by God and is

useful to teach us what is true and to

make us realize what is wrong in our

lives. It corrects us when we are wrong

and teaches us to do what is right.

God uses it to prepare and equip his

people to do every good work.

New Jerusalem Bible:

All scripture is inspired by God and

useful for refuting error, for guiding

people’s lives and teaching them to be

upright.

This is how someone who is dedicated

to God becomes fully equipped and

ready for any good work.

God breathed His heart and His life into every word of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. The Bible is a perfect reflection of God’s heart and contains His purposes, His will, His designs, and His plans. The Bible contains the thoughts of God, the desires of God, the warnings of God, the righteousness of God, the love of God, the judgment of God, the wisdom of God, the salvation of God, and the light of God. The Bible is the very life of God and is a living book that will abide and live forever. The Bible is a perfect revelation of the goodness of God. The Bible is the words of the Living God and the perfect expression and communication of God in writing. The Bible is the truth of God  that brings life, light, wisdom, discernment, peace, wholeness, guidance, and understanding. It is the master blueprint for life and contains every principal of truth that a person would ever need to live life in every category to its fullest. The Bible is the divine instruction book that teaches us how to live His way in power, joy, peace, and love.

The Bible is a complete revelation of our wonderful Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ and sets forth the plan of redemption available for the entire human race. The Bible contains the only hope for mankind of the deliverance from sin and death-the promise of everlasting life, and the future hope of living with God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ forever in paradise. The Bible is the voice of God to all peoples on the earth and is constantly knocking at the door of the human heart, imploring all to come back to Him and learn of His great heart, His great goodness, His great love, and His great faithfulness. The Bible is a revelation of the personality and characteristics of God  and paints a true picture of His loving heart. The Bible is a wonderful divine book and guidepost of the truth that God gives to his children to be their training manual for life physically, mentally, morally, and spiritually. No other book in all the libraries of the world can make these claims, for God is the author of His Word and has breathed everything He is into every word of Scripture.

Psalm 19:7-12 (Message Bible):

The revelation of God is whole and pulls

our lives together. The signposts of God

are clear and point out the right road.

The life-maps of God are right, showing

the way to joy. The directions of God are

plain and easy on the eyes.

God’s reputation is twenty-four carat gold,

with a lifetime guarantee. The decisions

of God are accurate down to the nth degree.

God’s Word is better than a diamond,

better than a diamond set between emeralds.

You like it better than strawberries in spring,

better than red, ripe strawberries.

There’s more: God’s Word warns us

danger and directs us to hidden treasure.

Otherwise how will we find our way? Or

know when we play the fool?

God’s Word is the revelation of God, the signposts of God, the life-maps of God, the directions of God, the will of God, and the decisions of God. No material possession, no earthly experience, and no worldly philosophy can even compare to the greatness of the Word of God  revealed in the Bible. Without the Word of God as a compass in life, we will lose our direction, become hopelessly lost, and fall into snares of danger, distraction, and disillusionment. People are to live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God, and the Bible is the written embodiment of the life and essence of God in words of power and spiritual life.

The grass withers and the flower fades, but the Word of God will stand forever (Isaiah 40:8). The Word of God cannot be broken, overcome, or defeated. God magnified His Word above all of His name (Psalm 138:2), and He has freely given us His Word so that we may know Him and learn and walk in His ways. God did not hide his Word in some mysterious cave or bury it in some underground grave, but has publicly heralded His Word to all generations.

Isaiah 45:18b,19 (New Living Translation):

“I am the Lord,” he says, “and there is no

other.

I publicly proclaim bold promises. I do not

whisper obscurities in some dark corner. I

would have not told the people of Israel to

seek me if I could not be found. I, the Lord,

speak only what is true and declare only

what is right.

The Bible contains bold promises and declares what is right and true. God would not have given us His Word if we could not understand and believe it. I have heard so many people say that they don’t read or study the Bible because they do not understand it. God will enlighten your heart and give you more and more understanding of the Scriptures, but you must first open the book. The Creator of the heavens and earth has authored an amazing book of absolute truth that reveals His wonderful heart of goodness and His purposes for our lives. He has authored a book that shines as a brilliant light in the darkness of this world and shows us the proper path to live our lives. Shouldn’t we want to study it, read it, meditate upon it, think about it, and follow it?

God has given the Church amazing teachers of the Word and wonderful writers who expound and open our understanding to the truths of the Bible. God will open your heart and fill it with a great appreciation and understanding of His Word when you seek His Word, crave His Word, study His Word, read His Word, and earnestly desire to know His Word. God would not have given us the Bible if it would have remained a closed, mysterious, confusing, and misunderstood mumbo jumbo of words. I have given over 37 years of my life to study the Word of God, and my heart still thrills at the incredible depth and meaning of the Bible and its magnificent message of truth to the world. There are vast treasures of wisdom and knowledge contained in the Bible that are awaiting our seeking and digging them out like one who diligently searches the earth for hidden treasure. The Word of God changes and transforms lives when its truths live in the hearts of men and women. Jesus Christ promised that if we continue and abide in the Word, that we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free in mind, heart, and soul  from every worry, fear, and obstacle that has ever held us back from giving our utmost to Him and living in the midst of His peace and joy.

E.W. Bullinger, in How to Enjoy the Bible, states:

Attention to diet  is becoming more and

more recognized as essential to nutrition

and growth. A low condition of bodily

health is produced by inattention to the

laws of nature as to suitable diet….A low

condition of spiritual health is produced

by improper feeding or neglect of

necessary food, which is the Word of

God…The root of all evils which abound

in the spiritual sphere at the present day

lies in the fact that the Word and the

words of God are not fed upon, digested

or assimilated, as they ought to be…Thus

the way of discovery still lies open to us in

Divine things if we have only the moral

courage to go to the fountain-head of truth…

It is not at all incredible that a book that

has been so long in the possession of

mankind should contain many truths as yet

undiscovered…Like Ezra of old, our desire

is to “Open the Book” and let it speak for

itself, with the full conviction if this can be

done it can speak more loudly and  more

effectively for itself, than any man can

speak on its behalf.

We live in a diet crazy society, where every conceivable diet is available to help people lose weight and be healthy. Our physical diet is important, but what about our spiritual diet? How much of the Word of God are we feeding upon, digesting, and assimilating into our heart and soul? If we ever want to be spiritually strong and excel in our gifting before the Lord, we cannot neglect the spiritual food of the Bible. If we want to be strong in our service for the Lord and abound in good works for His glory, we must spend time in the Word. We don’t have to be a biblical scholar or go to seminary school, but it must be a top priority in our lives to read, study, and think about the Bible and its words in our daily living.

I promise you that if you set sometime aside everyday to read and meditate upon the Scriptures, your life will be energized and transformed by the mighty power of His Word. There is life in the Word, and it will change the heart to become more like Him. There is light in the Word, and it will extinguish the darkness of everything that may hold us in bondage. There is comfort in the Word, and it will overcome the worries and fears of this age. There is wisdom in the Word, and it will guide our paths into the right way and help us avoid the obstacles set up to distract us and make us fall. There is healing in the Word, and it will restore our mind and body in complete wholeness. We need to open the book and let it speak to our heart. Pray that God enlightens your understanding and directs you to the words that you need to hear and believe. Just be faithful with being in the Word, as you will begin to realize that the more time you spend in the Word, you will begin to crave, desire, and cherish the time that it is just you and God in the Word. We cannot stand effectively for God without it. If we spend two minutes a week in the Word and twenty hours in front of the television, our spiritual lives will be out of balance.  We will be anemic and weak spiritually, as our hearts will be receiving little nourishment from the words of God.  It is like trying to put your life together without the training manual of life provided by your Heavenly Father.

I remember buying a propane grill and in my excitement to use it, I ignored the manual of instructions and just tried to put it together myself. “I don’t need these instructions,” I thought. Well, when I was done, there were a few pieces left over, and  the grill did not work. We cannot ignore the Bible, our heavenly instruction book, as our lives will not work in the glorious and wonderful way that God intended. We cannot leave the Bible on our bookshelf at home as just another dust covered book, as its wisdom, its life, its correction, its enlightenment, and its power are to great too ignore and neglect. We can never accomplish our destiny for God unless we become strong in the Word. We cannot fully accomplish the good works He has called us to, unless this Word of God dwells in us richly. The Scriptures are to become a part of us, a testimony of who we are and what lives in our hearts. The book of James tell us that the Word of God is to become engrafted into our very beings where it is closer than our breath, and a living reality in our lives.

People go through the journey of life looking for something that is useful, profitable, or advantageous for their life. They diligently search for principles of life that will help them accomplish their goals and make their life worth living. Nothing they could ever find is more useful, beneficial, and profitable for life than the God-breathed

Scriptures. This Word of God boldly proclaims that every word contain in Scripture is profitable, and in the Greek this word means: useful, profitable, serviceable, helpful, beneficial, and refers to that which yields advantageous returns or results. It provides something that someone needs to attain a certain goal. God has set a wonderful purpose for us in our generation, and the Word of God is the vital tool that equips us to accomplish it. The benefit and usefulness of the Bible is fathomless and is so great that it cannot even be measured by human means. It is the purpose of the Bible to make the Christian, who is dedicated to live and speak for God, complete, proficient, well-fitted, and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

There are two interesting words used in II Timothy 3:17 that describe the relationship between the Word of God and good works for the Christian believer. The first word in the Greek is artios, which means: “complete in all parts or proportions; qualified for a function; complete to where all the parts work together to accomplish their destined purpose; completely qualified and proficient to the end they can meet all demands and perform all functions, and special aptitude for given uses and equipped for a delegated task.  In Vincent’s Word Studies of the New Testament artios is said to mean “complete…but the idea is rather that of a mutual, symmetrical adjustment of all that goes to make the man: harmonious combination of different qualities and powers.”

Trench, in Synonyms of the New Testament, says,

If we ask ourselves under what special

aspects completeness is contemplated in

artios, it would be safe to answer that it

is not in the presence only of all the parts

which are necessary for that completeness,

but involves further the adaptation and

aptitude of these parts for the ends they

were designed to serve. The man (or

woman) of God, St. Paul would say…

should be furnished and accomplished

with all that is necessary for the carrying

out of the work to which he is appointed.

Bullinger, in Figures of Speech Used in the Bible, explains:

The adjective artios is from the Ancient

Aryan root AR, which means to fit. In the

Greek it implies perfect adaptation and

suitability. The Greeks used it of time, as

denoting the exact or right moment: and

of numbers as denoting a perfect or even

number as opposed to an odd number.

God has prepared an awesome purpose and work for us as Christians that is unique to each individual born again believer.  The Bible allows the one who speaks for God and is dedicated to God to be perfectly adapted and suited to meet all the demands of our calling in Christ. The Word of God gives us all the necessary parts that perfectly work together to qualify us and equip us to accomplish our God-given destiny. We have a perfect rule and guide for life in the Bible, and it gives us the knowledge, the reproof, the correction, and the instruction we need to fully complete all the good works that are to make up our way of life as Christians. With the Word of God, we are ready for every emergency, equipped for every contingency, prepared for every difficulty, and provided for in every hardship. The wisdom from the Bible is never late, and it will provide exactly what we need at the right moment in any circumstance, in any problem, and in any crisis.

The Bible is the fundamental rulebook and instruction manual for the Christian to perform and successfully accomplish all the delegated tasks, special uses, and divine gifting that God has given each of us as a special member of the Body of Christ. Without the Bible, we cannot completely accomplish the wonderful good purpose that God has called us to do. The Word of God brings together in harmony with the will of God a person’s thoughts, desires, passions, and heart and gives them the knowledge that enables them to pour their heart and soul into the service of Christ. In our ministry of good works, the Bible will motivate, inspire, comfort, direct, warn, settle, instruct, correct, train, enlighten, and empower. The Word of God living in our heart brings us closer to our Heavenly Father in word, thought, and action and gives us the understanding to enjoy our relationship with Him and appreciate all of His magnificent works. The Word of God gives us hope in the midst of a hopeless world and a purpose and passion for living. The Word of God is our divine food that nourishes us and helps us grow spiritually strong and mature. The Word of God gives us a marvelous picture of the heart of God and shows us how to serve Him with all our heart. The Bible contains everything we need to know about life and godliness and shows us the right path to live and the principles for a holy life while living upon the earth. The Word of God has the answer for every challenge we will ever face, for it is breathed from the very mouth of God Almighty.

If we ever want to be victorious in the spiritual contest that we are engaged in with the god of this world and his forces of evil, then we must take up the sword of the Spirit and use it on a daily basis. The Word of God allows us to stand against the onslaughts of our spiritual enemy as Jesus Christ knew all too well as he stood against the devil by saying, “It is written,” and holding the living Word of God in his heart. No one is wiser than God, no one is smarter than God, no one sees more than God, no one knows good like God, no one sees the spiritual battle that is raging like God, and no one understands like God.  Don’t you think it behooves us to read, study, and hide in our hearts His words that He has so lovingly given us as the guide to live our lives in righteousness?

Artios was also used in early Greek writing to describe how a ball and socket joint in the human body is fitted together. A joint is where the bones of your body fit together and allow for a very specific type of movement. It allows precision, accuracy, and freedom of movement so the human body can perform certain tasks. There is greater freedom of movement in a ball and socket joint than in any other joint in the human body. The ball and socket joint allows for movement in any direction. The ball and socket joint is a perfect fit in the human body, allowing the bones to adapt to the desired task or movement.

The Bible is perfectly fitted for our lives and gives us the ability to move freely with spiritual precision and accuracy in carrying out God’s plan for our lives. The Word of God gives us the strength to move freely without fear, worry, or any other type of bondage and travel in the direction where God is leading us. The Word of God allows us to adapt to any mental, physical, or spiritual challenge that we may face and shows us how to remain steadfast to the will of God.

The second word used in II Timothy 3:17 to describe the relationship of the Word of God to the good works that God has called us to do is the Greek word exartizo. This Greek word is from the same root as artios and means “to completely outfit, to be put in perfect readiness, to fully furnish, and to fully equip or supply.”

E.W. Bullinger, in Figures of Speech Used in the Bible, further elaborates on the meaning of this Greek word:

The verb exartizo means to fit out; and is

used of furnishing a house, making full

preparation for war, or especially of fitting

out a vessel at sea, in doing which every

emergency must be provided for-heat and

cold, calm and storm, peace and war, fire

and accident. Hence, he who studies God’s

word, will be a “man of God,” fitted out

and provided for all the circumstances and

emergencies of life.

Think of a huge, majestic ship that is perfectly outfitted with every single supply and resource it needs for a long voyage at sea. Nothing is spared in making the ship ready to face the long journey ahead.  Think of a mighty army that is ready to go into a fierce battle over many days and is outfitted with ammunition, protective gear, equipment, weapons, and vehicles to wage war against the enemy. Each unit of soldiers is perfectly outfitted with everything they need to defeat the enemy. This includes the tough physical and mental conditioning that is necessary to engage in battle and come out victorious. It is absolutely critical that these brave men who are putting their lives on the line have everything they need to fight their enemies on the battlefield. Think of a beautiful mansion that is perfectly furnished in every room with the best furniture and a kitchen with every modern appliance and convenience, a recreation room with every type of equipment and games, a beautiful garden, with gorgeous flowers and all types of vegetables. Nothing is missing in the house, as it is perfectly furnished for its owners to live life in great comfort and enjoyment.

The Word of God perfectly equips us with everything we need to sail on the voyage of life. The Word of God perfectly outfits us with all things that are necessary to excel in every good work that God has called us to do with great love and compassion. We have everything we need on God’s ship to be victorious in life and help restore others to their God-given destiny. No matter how long the journey, no matter how rough the seas, and no matter how dark the night, the Word of God is our eternal compass and our guiding lighthouse for a successful voyage.

The Word of God also perfectly outfits us for the battlefield of life, giving us the weapons, strategies, and strength to wage war against our spiritual enemy and all his forces of evil. The Bible gives us a perfect battle plan and the wisdom to carry it out in victory. No one knows and understands the schemes of the devil more than God Almighty, and He has given us His Word to perfectly outfit us in His spiritual armor so that we can stand against any onslaught of the devil.

The Word of God perfectly furnishes our life so that no matter what room or part of life’s house we maybe in, we have everything we need to enjoy life and do His will in our words and actions. The Word of God is the equipment and furnishings the Christian believer needs to excel in every good work. The Word of God is flawless, perfect, faithful, and pure. The Word of God is God speaking straight from His heart to His people so they can obey Him, love Him, serve Him, and praise Him. We cannot neglect and push the Bible aside and ever expect that we will fulfill our purpose that God has called us to and His plan of good works that He has ordained for our lives as Christians.

II Samuel 22:31(a) (NIV):

As for God, his way is perfect, the Word

of the Lord is flawless.

Psalm 119:7,9-16 (The Message Bible):

I thank you for speaking straight from your

heart; I learn the pattern of your righteous ways.

How can a young person live a clean life?

By carefully reading the map of your Word.

I’m single-minded in pursuit of you; don’t

let me miss the road signs you’ve posted.

I’ve banked your promises in the vault of

my heart so I won’t sin myself bankrupt.

Be blessed, God; train me in your ways of

wise living.

I’ll transfer to my lips all the counsel that

comes from your mouth;

I delight far more in what you tell me about

living than in gathering a pile of riches.

I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you,

I attentively watch how you have done it.

I relish everything you have told me about life,

I won’t forget a word of it.

You are good, and the source of good; train me

in your goodness.

Your truth never goes out of fashion; its as up-

to-date as the earth when the sun comes up.

Your word and truth are as dependable as ever;

that’s what you ordered-you set the earth going.

If your revelation hadn’t delighted me so, I would

have given up when the hard times came.

But I never forget the advice you gave me; you

saved my life with those wise words.

I see the limits to everything human, but the

horizons cannot contain your commands.

Every word you give me is a miracle word-how

can I help but obey?

Break open your words, let the light shine out,

let ordinary people see the meaning.

Mouth open and panting, I want your commands

more than anything.

I cry rivers of tears because nobody’s living by

your book!

Your words all add up to the sum total: Truth.

Your righteous decisions are eternal.

My soul guards and keeps all your instructions-

oh, how much I love them!

My, how we should love the Word of God as Christians! How magnificent is the Word of God! We love our physical food, and rightly so, and often get excited about the joy of eating our favorite foods. Shouldn’t we have even greater joy to eat our spiritual food? Shouldn’t we be just as excited to feast on the words of God contained in the Bible?

You don’t have to lock yourself in a room and study the Bible twenty hours a day to serve God. I am not saying to not watch television, or to not read other books. But let’s get some balance in our lives, and open the book and begin reading it. Be faithful about your time in the Word; pray about your time in the Word; think about what you are reading; ask God for wisdom to understand His Word. Mediate upon His Word throughout the day. You can start out a little at a time, but try to increase your time in the Word more and more. Get up a half an hour earlier and read your Bible. You will be amazed at the comfort the Scriptures give you; the hope the Scriptures give you; the insight the Scriptures give you; the motivation the Scriptures give you; the passion the Scriptures give you, and the peace the Scriptures give you. Don’t you want to know God’s heart? Don’t you want to know God’s will? Don’t you want to know the truth? Don’t you want to be set free?

Excerpt from: The Magnificent Goodness of God and How it Will Transform Your Life  Purchase on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Magnificent-Goodness-Will-Transform-Your-ebook/dp/B004S3OR9K/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+magnificent+goodness+of+god&qid=1555158102&s=gateway&sr=8-1

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Embraced by God’s Goodness, Part 1

There is an amazing truth set forth in the Word of God concerning the circle of goodness for the Christian believer. It begins before the ages in the heart of God with His glorious plan of love for you. It continues through the great realities of redemption and salvation for the believer and every good thing He has made you in Christ. His circle of goodness then continues in the everyday working of God’s mighty power in every detail of your life as Christ is formed in you and with His power and love you abound in every good work shining as a light in the darkness of the world. It continues to the good hope of Christ’s return, the extraordinary day when Christ comes back for you. You will be changed, meet the Lord in the air, and live forever with your Lord and Savior, enjoying His goodness throughout all eternity.

The Christian life is a celebration of God’s goodness. Only in the complete working of the love and grace of God through Christ rests the full manifestation of God’s goodness. Christianity needs to focus once again on the goodness of God. We must not allow ourselves to be distracted and hardened in our hearts to the goodness of God. We must not substitute the goodness of God for tradition and legalism that focuses on the works of man, or our own inadequacies and shortcomings, rather than on God Almighty. Everything that proceeds from the heart of God is good; He will surround and embrace us with His unmatchable goodness forever. Once you begin to understand this circle of goodness for the Christian believer, you will be humbled and inspired by the magnificent privilege of the call of God on your life. These wonderful sections of Scripture will expand your vision of the goodness of God and transform your thinking about the immense importance of your life to God.

Ephesians 1:5,6 (New Revised Standard Version):

He destined us for adoption as his children through

Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his

will.

To the praise of his glorious grace that he freely

bestowed upon us in the Beloved.

New Jerusalem Bible:

Marking us out for himself beforehand, to be adopted

sons, through Jesus Christ. Such was his purpose and

good pleasure.

To the praise of the glory of his grace, his free gift to

us in the Beloved.

Wuest Expanded Translation of the New Testament:

In love having previously marked us out to be placed

as adult sons through the intermediated agency of Jesus

Christ for himself according to that which seem good in

his heart’s desire,

Resulting in praise of the glory of His grace which he

freely bestowed upon us in the Beloved.

It was the good pleasure of God’s will to mark us out to be adopted children to Himself through Jesus Christ. Long before the first rays of sun broke upon the earth, God had destined you to be His child. This is the beginning of God’s good design and purpose for your life. The Greek word for “will” in verse five means: a strong desire that proceeds from one’s heart and emotions; it is an expression of pleasure towards that which is treasured and that which pleases and brings joy.  The Greek word for “good pleasure” means: being well-pleased, including the idea of a free and willing purpose with a good design, emphasizing the resolve, willingness, and freedom in marking the design as something good. It means a good will, delight, and satisfaction; to take pleasure in; to think, determine, and choose what is good to one, with the included idea of kindness accompanying the decision. It is a feeling of strong emotion in favor of something and has the sense of delighting in something to the end that you long and intensely desire it.”

Out of the heart of God’s intense love for you came a strong desire and delight to bring you into the family of God by the new birth as a precious son or daughter. God took great pleasure and satisfaction in planning before the ages this good design and blueprint for your life so that He could make you His honored child. Nothing gave Him more joy than preparing to bring you into His heavenly household and to bestow on you all the glorious rights and privileges of sonship. God longed for ages to wrap his loving arms around you and say, “Welcome home my child; I have waited for this moment before all time.”

This is the most awesome plan of all the ages that originates out of the intense, everlasting longing of God to call you His very own beloved child. This is where the circle of goodness for your life begins. We can never earn this goodness or be worthy enough for it. This plan did not originate in our good works or accomplishments. It is what God wants, it is what God desires, and it is what God longs for. Above all else, He desires to have children and to have a family that He can adore, love, nurture, protect, cherish, and fellowship with as a loving Heavenly Father.

The Greek word “destined or predestined” in verse 5 means: to mark out the boundary or limits of a place or thing and when used of persons it means to bring them into a sphere of a certain destiny. All of us set boundaries for our lives at times as to what we do, or with whom we associate, or where we go. God has set a perfect boundary, a perfect sphere for your life that will accomplish His good purposes. This sphere or boundary is uniquely designed for you to bring you the best God has to offer. God does not force you into this sphere and erect the Berlin wall so you can’t get out. You have complete freedom of will to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and enter these perfect boundaries, where the glory of God’s goodness will overflow.

God’s invitation to you is to come and let Him be the designer of your life. God is the ultimate designer, and there is no more prestigious mark in the universe than to be marked out as God’s very own and allow Him to stamp your life with His design. People pay thousands of dollars to wear and display the mark of Gucci, Prada, Dolce Gabbana, or Versace. God is much more of an awesome designer than any earthly label, and how much more should we be proud to display His mark of sonship, declaring to the world that we are His son or daughter? You cannot get any cooler; you cannot get any better; you cannot get anymore distinguished then to be declared own God’s child with Him as the architect and designer of your good and abundant life.

In order for you to enter the circle of goodness that God has planned for your life, you must first become a son or daughter of God by way of the new birth. Many people say that simply being born of earthly parents means you are a child of God. Unfortunately this is not true, as every person born in this world inherits the nature of Adam and is dead spiritually and in bondage to their inherent sin nature.

People need a savior, a mediator, a redeemer who can pay the price for Adam’s fall and all its consequences. A man or woman needs a new nature-a spiritual birth, whereby God infuses spiritual life into the depths of a person, reconciles them to Himself, and gives them the full legal standing as a son or daughter. This is regeneration, a new birth, paid in full by the blood of Jesus Christ. This is an emancipation, a complete deliverance of every bondage known to man, and a complete union with everything that Christ accomplished in his death, burial, and resurrection.

This new birth is rooted in God’s marvelous grace and can never be earned or sprouted from our Adamic nature. It takes an act of our loving God to bring us into this wonderful circle of goodness. Jesus Christ alone paid the ultimate price for your redemption. He gave his life so you could be called his brethren, and you would have the honor of becoming a child of God and receiving the gift of eternal life.

The Greek word for “adoption of sons” in Ephesians 1:5 means: to place someone as an adult son with full legal rights and privileges in the family. It is a legal term for a father’s declaration that His natural born child was officially a son or daughter with all the rights and privileges that included. It is to receive someone as a son.  “Adoption” is an unfortunate translation of the Greek word, as “sonship” would be a more accurate translation; it is not an adoption as we define the term today. Rather this is a new birth into God’s spiritual family through the finished work of Jesus Christ where you become a new creation with a new nature. God justifies you (frees you from the penalty of sin), sanctifies you (sets you apart from the world as His beloved child), makes you righteous (puts you in a right relationship with Him whereby you can stand in the presence of God as a son or daughter without condemnation), fills you with His gift of holy spirit, and gives you to full access to the throne of His grace, where you can boldly come as a child of God at anytime for help, comfort, fellowship, and guidance. This is sonship, and what a glorious privilege it is to be a son or daughter of God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! You have full legal standing as a son or daughter with absolute heavenly legal rights declared by the court of heaven, and no earthly or satanic power can diminish, take away, or extinguish. You cannot forfeit these legal rights; they are innate, given to you as a born again child of God. These rights are part of your inheritance as a child of God, which God has decreed with all the authority of His inalterable Word as they are firmly rooted in God’s love, pleasure, purpose, and declaration for you.

What are some of these legal rights and privileges of sonship? You have a legal right to eternal life and a home in heaven. You have a legal right to victory over the devil and his authority on the earth. You have a legal right to freedom from the bondage of sin and all its consequences. You have a legal right of deliverance from fear, worry, anxiety, and doubt. You have a legal right to the Father’s protection and care. You have a legal right to use the name of Jesus Christ in prayer, invoking its authority and power. You have a legal right to be more than a conqueror in any situation. You have a legal right to overflowing joy in all of life’s circumstances. You have a legal right to the peace of God ruling in your heart, no matter how intense the problem or trouble. You have a legal right to the wisdom of God. You have a legal right to confidence and boldness. You have the legal right to have all of your needs met according to God’s riches in glory by Christ Jesus. You have a legal right to do all things and be ready and equal to anything through Christ who strengthens you. You have a legal right to salvation and wholeness in every area of your life. You have a legal right to perfect health and deliverance from all forms of sickness and disease. You have a legal right to prosperity and overflowing abundance in your life. You have a legal right to be completely free from every form of depression, condemnation, guilt, misery, despair, and any other type of mental bondage. You have a legal right to live and walk in the revolutionary and life changing love of God that proceeds from the heart of God. You have a legal right to be changed at the return of Christ and receive a new body unlimited in scope and dimension. You have a legal right to all the blessings of your inheritance in the family of God. You have a legal right to the goodness of God abounding in every area of your life. You must know your legal rights in Christ and boldly and fearlessly walk in them all the days of your Christian life.

I have practiced law for over 35 years and have seen many legal documents and the respect and authority that they command. People honor these legal documents, and give them great respect, and attempt to follow all of their precepts. Courts at all levels uphold these legal documents with all the power of the state and enforce the rights and privileges contained in them. People cry out for their legal constitutional rights and boldly go to court to have their rights recognized and enforced.

If we place such honor and importance on our earthly legal rights, how much more should we value, honor, respect, and claim our heavenly legal rights in Christ contained in the greatest legal document of all times, the Bible? Why do we believe in our legal rights as citizens in our countries, yet we doubt and disbelieve our legal rights freely given to us by God as citizens of heaven and sealed forever by the sacrifice and blood of Christ? Our legal rights in Christ are part of the new covenant that God Almighty promises and guarantees for every Christian believer. The circle of God’s goodness for your life is not only becoming a son or daughter of God, but also includes all the legal rights, authority, and power that come with that calling.

Romans 8:15-17a (Amplified):

For [the Spirit which] you have now received is not

a spirit of slavery to put you once more in bondage

to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption

[the Spirit producing sonship] in [the bliss of] which

we cry Abba (Father)! Father!

The Spirit Himself thus testifies together with our own

spirit that we are the children of God.

And if we are His children, then we are His heirs also:

heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [sharing His

inheritance with Him].

Galatians 4:4-7 (Amplified):

But when the proper time had fully come, God sent His

Son, born of a woman, born subject to [the regulations

of] the Law.

To purchase the freedom of {to ransom, to redeem, to

atone for} those who were to subject to the Law, that

we might be adopted and have sonship conferred upon

us {and be recognized as God’s sons}.

And because you really are His sons, God has sent the

Holy Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba

(Father)! Father!

Therefore, you are no longer a slave (bond servant) but

a son; and if a son, then (it follows that you are) an heir

by the aid of God through Christ.

The Aramaic word “abba” is an intimate family expression that denotes the tender address of a child to its father. It could be translated “dear father”, or “father, father” and in today’s modern vocabulary would mean “daddy” or “papa.” “Abba” signifies the deepest bond of love and affection and the intimate, close relationship of a father and child.  The Greek word “cry” means: a loud cry expressing deep emotion and confidence. God sent His Son to purchase our freedom and bring us into a deep intimate relationship with the Father as His cherished son or daughter. Any moment you pray, converse, talk or fellowship with your Heavenly Father, you can express the deepest emotions of love and adoration and call Him abba, dearest father, daddy or papa. Only Jesus Christ makes this type of intimacy available with the Father, and God desires above all else that your relationship with Him is this close, this personal, this warm, and this intimate every second of the day.

Oh, how many Christians have missed this great truth, as we have often perceived God to be in some distant place, barely giving the slightest attention to us as He is just too busy with more important things. We think God says, “Just take a number and I will get to you when I can.” God wants intimacy with you! He wants your relationship with Him to be so deep, so loving and so close, that it far exceeds the most intimate human bond ever know in the history of mankind. Each day He wants your relationship with Him to grow in richness and deepen in the fathomless depths of His love.

As sons and daughters of God we no longer have to be in bondage to fear of anyone, anything, or any circumstance. The Greek word for “bondage” means: slavery, servitude, and a state where a person is prevented from freely possessing and enjoying his life. It is the exact opposite of liberty or freedom. It is to shrink in fear and be enslaved in body, mind, or soul. Christianity is a declaration of freedom. God never leads you into bondage or enslaves you in fear for, “where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty” (II Corinthians 3:17).

We no longer have to be in bondage to sin, as God has shattered the power of our old sin nature, whereby it is no longer the motivating energy of our life, and brought us into a vital union with Christ. God has created in us a new divine nature by our identification with Christ, and we have been completely infused with the life and power of God. We are new men and women, sons and daughters of liberty, as the power and bondage of our old Adamic nature has been crushed and rendered powerless by the finished work of Jesus Christ. Satan has no authority or power over us, as Christ defeated and delivered us from his dominion. We now can walk, live, and breathe in newness of life that glorifies God as we enjoy all the sweet freedom of our new life in Christ. Absolutely nothing has the power to enslave you. Stand fast and firm in the liberty where Christ has made you free, and never allow yourself to become entangled or held down by any form of bondage or oppression (Galatians 5:1). This absolute complete freedom from bondage is a part of the goodness of God that comes with your new birth into God’s family.

Excerpt from: The Magnificent Goodness of God and How it Will Transform Your Life.

Purchase on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Magnificent-Goodness-Will-Transform-Your-ebook/dp/B004S3OR9K/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+magnificent+goodness+of+god&qid=1555158102&s=gateway&sr=8-1

 

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Go and Gather the Empty

A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried unto Elisha, saying, ‘Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord. And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves’” (2 Kings 4:1–2).

This woman had once been surrounded by the Word of God—where there was power and provision, a hope and a future. Yet, for some reason, the Word of the Lord had been taken from her household. She eventually found herself alone, and one day, an evil man—for only an evil man would do what he was about to do—arrived at the door and said, “Your children belong to me from this day forward. You do not have the resources or the power to stop me from taking them.”

We have a similar situation in our generation. The Bible tells us that “the wicked prowl on every side, when vileness is exalted among the sons of men” (Psalm 12:8). Who can rationally deny that vileness has raised itself up to be the standard of behavior in our modern-day society—by killing children in the womb; causing gender confusion in our young children in grade school; lying about the existence of God; forbidding our sons and daughters to pray in high school; radicalizing our young people against both God and their country in our colleges? Vileness is being exalted as righteousness, and what is good, holy and true is being cast down as evil and bigoted.

And so we ask ourselves today: How do we meet this challenge? Let’s start by taking a look at what happened to the widow in our opening passage. When the creditor was coming, she did what I suppose any mother would do: she shared her distress with the prophet Elisha—the only person of God left in the nation, to her knowledge.

“So Elisha said to her, ‘What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house’” (2 Kings 4:2). Now Elisha had the power to do a lot of things, including the power of God to raise the dead. Yet he responded by turning to her and asking what she had in her house. “And she said, ‘Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a of oil’” (2 Kings 4:2).

The widow answered him by saying, “All I have is a jar of oil.” In other words, she was unaware of the power available to her if she would be willing to use what she had. Instead, she was totally focused on her distress, as is the case with many people today. “Lord, the wicked have come and are demanding our children.” We may become so focused on the distress of this dark hour that we are in danger of forgetting what God has already put into our hands.

Just as this widow said, “I have only a jar of oil,” we might say, “Oh, God, I have only my own salvation. I have only a little bit of strength left, yet this powerful force is coming to take away our hope and our future. It is taking the presence and sense of God out of the nation, and I do not know what to do. I feel like a widow.

It has been so long, as a nation, since we have heard the piercing word of God. Where has the conscience of America gone? What hope do we have left? How do we stop this creditor from taking our sons and daughters and making them slaves to unrighteousness?” Just as the widow had barely any oil left, we might have only a little bit of power left in our lives as a church age.

Nevertheless, we must not forget that we are the Body of Christ. We have access to the One who has all power and all knowledge and all authority

THE PLAN OF GOD

Elisha then said to the widow, “‘Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors—empty vessels; do not gather just a few. And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones.’ So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her, and she poured it out. Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, ‘Bring me another vessel.’…Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, ‘Go, sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest’” (2 Kings 4:3–7).

The oil just kept coming! She thought she had just a small amount, but she did not realize she was connected to a supply that never runs dry! That is what a spiritual awakening looks like! When we simply believe God, even when we have only little bit of oil, we can start pouring into others around us.

In fact, I believe the plan of God for our day is to gather every empty person you know and begin to pour into them. Gather your empty friends; gather your empty neighbors; and even send your children out to gather them in. Perhaps you are a single mother with two children who have you worried. Tell them to get all those friends they are hanging out with and bring them to your home. Then tell your children to say to their friends, “I’m going to lay hands on you, and we are going to pray. We are going to believe that God will fill you with the Holy Spirit!”

The promise and the hope for our generation is God saying, “As you take the little bit that you have and pour it into the empty places, you will discover that I am a river of life flowing from inside of you.” After all, Jesus Himself promised, “Come to Me, and out of your belly, out of your inward parts, will flow this river of living water” (see John 7:37–38).

When Pastor Teresa and I first got saved, we did not know any better so we started laying hands on people, and many were filled with the Holy Spirit. One time Pastor Teresa had a Tupperware party in our home and a lady brought her husband, who was hostile to the gospel. Neither he nor I wanted to be around the party, so we went upstairs. As we conversed, I simply started talking to him about what God had done for me, and suddenly he said, “I want that in my life!” So I laid my hands on him and started to pray. The next thing I knew, he was lying on the floor speaking in tongues! All I did was reach out with the little life that I had, and that man is still walking with the Lord today.

Thank God for the simplicity of faith. No wonder Jesus told the Church of Ephesus, “You have your theology down and are testing and proving those  who say they are apostles. You have discernment and are doing a lot of good works—even more than at the beginning—but I have something against you: You have lost your first love. You have lost the simplicity of walking with God, the joy of just being a vessel through whom God can pour His life into others. If you do not get back to that, you will lose your ‘candlestick’” (see Revelation 2:1–5).

In other words, if you do not use the oil you have, you will lose it. You will lose the light. Yes, you will still have your salvation and end up at the throne of God one day, but what the Lord could have done through your life to impact those around you will not happen.

GOD’S VESSELS

In the Book of Acts, we read of a hundred and twenty people gathered in the temple—people who were emptied of self, essentially possessing only the oil of their own salvation. You might say they were empty vessels—empty of all sense of strength, empty of all the promises they had made to God—yet aware that their generation was about to be taken captive by the godlessness of that moment. After all, it does not get any more godless than killing the Son of God. Nevertheless, knowing their own limitations and fears, they began to pray in the temple. I can picture God the Father talking to His Son regarding those who were seeking more of Him. God said to Jesus, “May I borrow these empty vessels that have gathered in Your Name? May I borrow them and do something astounding through them?” And the Son answered, “Father, You are more than welcome to them.” And right away, oil was pouring down into these hundred and twenty who had no strength in themselves.

They left the Temple, walked out into the marketplace, and began pouring that oil out—and soon there were about five thousand new believers in Christ (see Acts 4:4). Think about it—the hundred and twenty did not have the New Testament; they were the New Testament! God’s Spirit was in them, and they were simply being used as vessels to pour into empty people. They learned that it was not in their strength but in their weakness that God’s power would be made known.

And so now you can either sit at home and stare at your little jar of oil and try to survive, hoping nobody will captivate your children, or you can do what God says—go and gather your neighbors. Find them on the street corners. Start pouring into the empty places. Pour unreservedly, for you have more resources than you know. You do not have to wait for some divine moment. You do not have to wait until you feel like you are on top of the world or you have a million dollars in the bank. You can start on the street today; you can pray for somebody, somewhere, right now.

This is the hope now for our nation. You will be shocked at how hungry people are today. Remember, you do not have to sit there and debate theology with them. You can simply say, “Let me pray for you, and let God pour His Holy Spirit into your life.” Begin to gather and pour, believe and pray, and watch what God will do in this generation!

Carter Conlon ©2019 Times Square Church

This is an edited version of “Go and Gather the Empty,” a sermon given on October 21, 2018 in the sanctuary of Times Square Church in New York City. Other sermons are available by visiting our website at tsc.nyc.

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