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CHRISTIAN LIFE - SERVICE OF A BELIEVER Matthew 5:13; Matthew 7:15-16, 22-30

WHEN GOD SHOWS UP, WILL YOU?
Matthew 5:13; Matthew 7:15-16, 22-30

Can you imagine what it was like? People were talking about it everywhere. Jesus was not in that tomb anymore. He was alive! But did they truly understand what that meant? After the Crucifixion, even after the Resurrection, some of Jesus’ disciples were half-believing and not totally convinced that He was Messiah.

Luke 24:14-16 tells that on the first Easter Sunday, two forlorn disciples left for Emmaus, a small village about seven miles from Jerusalem. Walking wearily away from where Jesus had been crucified, buried, and raised, they were discouraged and burdened. They had expected a political Messiah who would deliver Israel. They thought Jesus’ mission had been cut short.
•    That misunderstanding led to disappointment.
•    Disappointment led to doubt.
•    Doubt led to discouragement.

Christians get discouraged because they don’t fully understand or believe Messianic prophecies. When we're confused and disillusioned, the Lord must open Scriptures and our eyes. Both are absolutely necessary. Light without sight is no good, and sight without light is no good.

I believe God kept back Jesus’ identity from them for a while on purpose.
•    He was soon to leave Earth and return to the Father. He would no longer physically be with them.
•    What He is doing on the road to Emmaus is transferring their dependence from His physical presence to dependence on the Word of God (John 1:1-5). As He opened the Law and the Prophets, He is opening their eyes to see Him revealed by the Holy Spirit. During this journey of about two hours, Jesus holds a Bible Conference! How would you like to have a recording of Jesus, starting in the book of Genesis going through the Old Testament saying, “Now here’s Jesus, now here’s Messiah. Here’s Messiah in this passage, and here’s another one.” It is extremely significant that it was the Word and not the physical sense that made Him real to them. They didn’t say, “Oh yes, we recognized Him.” No, they said, “We knew Him because He opened the Word to us.”

Today we need the same thing. We don’t have Jesus before us in physical form, but we do have the written Word to bring Jesus Christ to us and make Him real. If you read the Bible and don’t find Jesus, you missed it. Go back, and you’ll find Him. He’ll be in prophecy, in parable, and in poetry. Whether it’s the Old Testament or the New Testament, you’ll find Jesus everywhere (John 5:39). The Bible becomes a wonderful book when you find Jesus in it.

I want you to have a burning passionate love for Jesus Christ. There’s no lasting joy without Him. God engineered it that you’re not going to have joy without Jesus. And you’re not going to know Jesus apart from Scripture. As a believer studying your Bible, you will no longer see with the eyes of the flesh but with spiritual eyes and your hearts are open to His truth. He will continue to show you the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. Our hearts need to be set aflame. We need a living faith! He is risen indeed.

A little boy asked his mother, “Would you give me a dollar. I’ll be good boy.” She replied, “Son, why don’t you be good for nothing like your father?” A lot of professing Christians are exactly that. They’re good for nothing. Jesus said they are like salt that’s “lost its saltiness.”

Why did Jesus use the metaphor “salt” in Matthew 5:13 to describe those who would be His followers? We need to look at the significance of salt in Jesus’ time to understand. Pure salt was often more valuable than gold. As a matter of fact, salt was a rare delicacy and often a medium of exchange. We get our word “salary” from “salt.” It literally means salt=money, hence the expression “a man is worth his salt.”

Salt was valuable because of what it did.
•    Salt seasons. Salt causes flavor to come alive (Job 6:6). Most people live bland, flavorless lives. There’s no excitement, no thrill. Their lives are tasteless, and they try finding some kind of a high. It’s the bland leading the bland. Christians should give flavor and zest to life (Colossians 4:6).

•    Salt preserves. Jesus was standing by the Sea of Galilee, teaching what we know as the Sermon on the Mount. Many in His audience were fishermen. When He spoke of being “the salt of the earth,” they knew He was talking about the preserving power of salt that prevented decay and restrained corruption. It was necessary to salt fish to keep them edible. If ever there was a day when we need the preserving power of Gospel salt, it is this day of corruption and deadly decay.

•    Salt heals. In 2 Kings 2:20-22, Elisha put salt into deadly, polluted waters. Those waters were healed because salt has antiseptic and healing properties. In Bible times, they gave a newborn baby a salt bath to hold down infection.

•    Salt irritates. Have you ever cut your hand and then got salt in it? Salt definitely burned and irritates (Mark 9:49). His figure of speech indicated that fire and salt have something in common: salt burns like fire. Be aware that the truth of God’s Word, when rubbed into this diseased world, will sting. Many prefer a nonirritating brand of the Gospel. But true Gospel, when presented, will irritate the sinful world. No offense, no effect.

•    Salt penetrates. Salt has such powerful properties that just a pinch will permeate an entire gallon of water. In fact, it’s one of the few major compounds that dissolve equally well in either hot or cold water. We must get the salt to the source where it can penetrate, activate, and change society. Instead of being a salt warehouse, we need to be salt shakers. As one author wrote, “Out of the salt shaker into the world.”

     Bible-believing Christians are mocked today and are no longer respected when they have lost their saltiness. Many Christians do not understand because they themselves are saltless saints. If there was a need for the salt to work, it is at this hour. Corruption and decay are emerging around us as part of God’s judgment. God offered a repeal in 2 Chronicles 7:14. Salty saints and God's power can make a difference.

God taught us to pray
•    to the Father (Matthew 6:9)
•    through the Son (John 14:13)
•    in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18)
•    for the will of God (Matthew 6:10)
•    in confession of our sins to God (Psalm 66:18)
•    in repentance to one another (Mark 11:25-26)
•    in faith (Matthew 21:22)

Beware of the wolves (Matthew 7:15-16, 22-23). Have you ever walked up to a house to knock on the door and saw a sign, “BEWARE OF DOG.” What do you do? You stop right away. Imagine a sign, “BEWARE OF WOLF.” I think you would do a double take. Jesus says, “Beware-- wolves, false prophets within the church, have disguised themselves in sheep’s clothing.” Now when Jesus says, “Beware,” we ought to beware these wolves who are both dangerous and deceptive. We cannot be wise and not beware.

We have warnings, but many times warnings go unheeded.
•    The captain of the Titanic received a message that they were entering iceberg-laden waters, but he shoved the message into his pocket and 1490 people went to a watery grave.
•    On December 7, 1941, Sgt. Joseph Lockhart, sitting at the radar station at Pearl Harbor, reported unidentified aircraft approaching. His commanding officer, said, “Forget it,” and 3000 of America’s best person that day.
If ever a generation needed to be warned about false prophets, this is the one.

False prophets have honeycombed this world with deceptive teaching as our Lord warned would happen (Matthew 24:24). Sometimes Satan comes against the Church by persecution. When persecution won’t work, he has a better way--infiltration. A great danger today’s churches is the infiltration of false prophets wearing sheep’s clothing. Paul’s warning is in 2 Corinthians 11:13-14. Satan is the captain of camouflage, the master of deceit.

Beware of the fleece they wear. All will be wearing sheepskin, appearing to be part of the flock. Pull back the sheepskin, and it will reveal the wolf beneath.
•    They will pervert the gospel (1 John 1:7). Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin. The blood is neither incidental nor accidental. A false prophet will offer another way. Works, not Grace. Culture, not Calvary. Faith plus works, rather than faith in the blood.
•    Some will prostitute the Gospel. Like the prophet Balaam, they’re trying to serve God and rake off a few profits on the side. He was Orthodox but greedy. Many false prophets trim their messages for personal gain, popularity, or power. They spell prophet P-R-O-F-I-T.

Beware of the fruit they bear. How do you judge a preacher? Not merely by what he preaches, but by what he produces. The Devil cannot continue the deception forever because fruit is going to emerge. What’s the mark of a man of God? People who know Jesus because of him.

Beware the faith they share (Matthew 7:21). They have spiritual activity without scriptural authority. In spite of their profession, preaching, power, or performance, they never knew the Lord Jesus Christ, and He never knew them. They haven’t lost their salvation, they never had it. What they do, they do through the power of the great deceiver, Satan himself.

Stand on God’s Word.
How do you recognize a false prophet? If what he says does not square with the Word of God, then he is a false prophet. Study the faith, and you won’t be drawn into a false cult. Get a bulldog grip on the Word of God, and let the Holy Spirit speak to you. Beware! Don’t put your faith in anyone else or you will be fodder for ravenous wolves.

Congratulations. You’ve been given a present. It’s guaranteed by the Manufacturer to be without defect. It requires proper use and maintenance, so it comes with an owner’s manual to ensure your success. In case you misuse or abuse it, you can contact the Manufacturer direct. What is the gift? Your life is a gift, and as the owner, the most important thing you can do for skilled operation is to know the manual and learn all you can from the Maker. There is only one you. Your life is an irreplaceable treasure, and God has called you for His purposes. But what Creator would complete such a unique work then launch it without instructions? Our God has not done that.

The gift of life and a fresh new day to invest it in arrives unstained each morning with the opportunity to bring your Creator glory. Thankfully God’s wisdom is available every moment of the day. Listen to the instructions in Proverbs 3:5-6.

We receive Wisdom from God’s Word inferred by Psalm 119:105. Wisdom is not an emotional feeling. Wisdom is sanctified common sense, a judicial use of your mind, guided by the Word of God. As people seek answers in a world gone mad, how can you find God’s way to live your life to the fullest? Read the Owners Manual, the Bible. While others rush to and fro, you can open your manual to Psalm 32:8 or Isaiah 58:11.

Mankind split the atom, explores space, communicates instantly, and tracks events across the globe as they happen. Yet with all this, we’re in deep trouble. Today as never before people clamor for direction for their lives. You hear them on radio, TV or read online posts to advisors or psychologists. Many who used to call psychic hotlines now contact secular life coaches, talkshow hosts, even politicians hoping for that word of wisdom, either to guide them or help them cope. Proverbs 14:12 is a warning.

Have you ever been guided just by a glance? Has a parent, spouse, or trusted friend has done that? That look in the person’s eye told you exactly what to do or not do. Our Father offers His kind of guidance, but it comes only from an intimate relationship formed by time spent with Him. God’s wisdom comes not only by His Word but also through the Holy Spirit living within you (James 1:5). The Holy Spirit guides in matters where specific guidance is needed. God will speak to your heart when you’re walking in the Spirit.

If you’re a child of God, you have
•    God the Father above you, overseeing things.
•    God the Son beside you directing your steps.
•    God the Spirit within you impressing your heart and leading you.

According to Jeremiah 29:11, God has a plan for your individual life. The wisdom you need is revealed in His Word by His Spirit and through prayer. Your assignment is to find, follow, and finish the plan. Spend time every day meditating in His Word (Psalm 1:3). As you are guided by the Word of God--God’s objective truth–, the witness of God the Holy Spirit impressing your heart, and His providential opening and closing doors, you will have God’s wisdom for your every need.

This world is a dangerous place. We face an enemy far more insidious than terrorism: the X-rated culture in which we live. To combat it, we need our own Department of Homeland Security to protect the innocence of our children and secure the borders of our homes. We must engage head-on in spiritual warfare against Satan. For that we need the ammunition of
•    knowledge
•    truth
•    conviction                and
•    boldness.

A tsunami of sludge has hit the shores of America. Although you think your family is safe indoors, it’s seeping under the threshold. Material once sold only in back alleys is now on display in magazine racks and video stores, piped into the home through the major networks, and, most dangerous of all, through the Internet. The battle is critical. Satan wants to pollute our minds and those of our children, stealing away their future marital happiness. The relationship God intended to bond husband and wife is being distorted and dehumanized by an invasion of pornography that permeates every area of media and communications. It’s at the corner market, the mall, the theater, and on TV. Satan has dipped arrows into deadly poison and aimed them at the hearts of innocent kids, bringing perverted pleasure and slow death.

We are at war! Satan is not playing games, nor should we. We can have victory if we’re willing to counterattack. There is a serious shortage of real-life heroes willing to stand above the crowd, to protect their homes, and teach by word and example with God’s grace. It’s a winnable fight.

Here are some practical strategies if you’re ready for the battle.
•    Install software for the heart. Before putting any external solutions in place, start with the heart. Help your children and grandchildren come to a saving knowledge of Jesus. Without Him there will be no heart change, and today’s society will overtake them.
•    Let out the air of Satan’s lies. He will attack with the lie that unbridled sex gives joy, pleasure, and fulfillment. Satan wants to kill not just the body, but happiness, joy, families, and purity. Numerous studies have shown a direct link between pornography and violent crime. It is a mental and moral virus that corrupts everywhere it goes.
•    Pray God’s covering and protection over yourself, your children, your grandchildren, and your home every day. Satan wants to sabotage your home. The dynamite is in place, and the fuse is lit.
•    Be a positive example. Children need to see the joy and passion of a faithful marriage modeled before them. Don’t let your children get their ideas of sex from the twisted values of media entertainment.
•    Build guardrails (Deuteronomy 22:8). You cannot guarantee your kids will never see pornography because God gave them a will, but you can remove temptations from your home.
      - Guard the computer. Don’t let children have a computer in their bedroom. Keep it in a public area of the house.
      - Tame the television. Cancel or block channels known for racy material. As television sinks deeper into the slime pit, the American family is being killed by degrees. Don’t use the TV as a babysitter.
      - Get rid of questionable CDs, videos, and magazines. What if Jesus were coming to your house for a week? He would be in a bedroom and could browse through your CDs and videos. How would you clean up before He comes? Collect the garbage and take it to the curb.
      - Screen movies carefully. Be certain you review before you view. Many websites review movies based on content.
      - Don’t be home alone. Give your home a positive atmosphere that attracts your kids’ friends. Plan wholesome entertainment. Make it “the place to be.” Let it ring with laughter and be a welcoming place.
       - Help your children choose friends carefully. When friends hang out at your house, look them over. With discernment, help your kids choose quality friends. Remember Proverbs 13:20.
Now you are armed. You can win this battle! Your family doesn’t have to end as casualties on the information superhighway. Remember, God is with you. He loves you and your family. He will enable you to guard your heart, and protect your home. Believe Him for victory.


 

THE INVITATION
★    You can't depend on your own goodness to get to Heaven. We've all sinned  (Romans 3:23). Jesus paid the penalty for your sins with His death on the cross and His resurrection (John 3:16).
★    To be forgiven and be guaranteed a place in Heaven, you need to repent of sin, confess that you are a sinner, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in your heart (Acts 2:21).
★    You can use the following prayer or your own words, but you must actually believe in your heart that your prayer is real:
              Lord Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God. I confess that I have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed. Please forgive all my wrongdoing and let me live in relationship with You from now on.
              I receive You as my Savior and recognize that the work You accomplished once and for all on the cross was done on my behalf.
              Thank You for saving me. Help me to live a life that is pleasing to You.
                     In Your name I pray, Amen.

    Broadway Baptist Church   Sedalia, Missouri   Dr. Nicholas Gray, Pastor   September 13, 2015