There are some Christians who never mention the name of our adversary, for fear of giving him undue attention. You’ve all heard I’m sure, the well-meaning sentiments of a dear soul that has said in their enthusiasm; “I don’t give HIM any glory by even mentioning his name!”. Now I do understand the thinking behind such a statement, but the question is, is it Biblical? I was a teacher for a number of years, and when a pupil was playing the fool in class—seeking for attention and would-be followers—I usually didn’t give them the satisfaction of playing their game by bringing “undue attention” to them. Instead, I would choose at times to employ the strategy of “ignorance”, and sure enough, they soon got tired of the show when they saw that they were not getting the crowd they’d hoped for! However, what if, that pupil was to pull out a knife, am I still going to play dumb? It’s one thing to have an irritant in the class, and quite another to have a potential murderer!! The Bible doesn’t portray the devil as an irritant (far from it!!). Jesus called him a “murderer” in Jn. 8:44, and identified him as the “wicked one” in Mt. 13:19. Peter tells us that he’s a “roaring lion”, roaming about, seeking whom he may devour! (1 Pet. 5:8).
It is imperative that we understand the wiles of our enemy and prepare ourselves for the day of his attack in order that we might not give him any place!
The Father’s Pruning Shears – Paul M. Williams
On a traditional vine that has been trained, there is a main with thick horizontal branches coming off from the trunk. All along the branches, at regular intervals are knuckles (spurs), out of which grow pencil-like stems called canes. It is on these canes that the grapes will grow; however, grapes will only grow on canes that are one year old which means there is a need for pruning every single season to remove the old wood. It’s been said that grapevines are probably pruned more extensively and more aggressively than any other crop. When farmers prune, they remove the majority of wood produced the previous season – up to 90 percent is pruned away!! Last year’s season of fresh long canes (of many feet) will be trimmed right back to several inches and the older canes bearing the fruit which grew the season before that (i.e. those that are now two years old) are completely removed from the branch! As one walked by at pruning season, the untrained eye would think that a massacre had taken place! Heaps of old cane lies strewn along the floor in mounts and the poor plant looks barren — from a distance, all one can see is a trunk and branches! Yet to the trained eye, the job has been well-done in order that the branches might go on to bring forth more fruit!!
Jesus said that He is the True Vine, we are the branches and His Father is the husbandman. Without the Father’s pruning in our lives, (the trials and afflictions that He allows to come upon us), we would reach a ceiling in our spiritual lives. It is not the Father’s will that we should be diminished in fruit and so He prunes us that we might bear more fruit!!
I’m sure that you’ve heard of the cat with nine lives – so the old English proverb goes, “For three he plays, for three he strays, and for the last three he stays". One news story reported how that a cat in the US city of Boston survived a fall from a 19-storey window, only bruising her chest! It’s one thing to talk with lightness about the nine proverbial lives of the kitty, but the man with two lives, is no joking matter – multitudes of Churches up and down the land are plagued by this blight. As one understands correctly the title of this sermon; the man with two lives has nothing whatsoever to do with the concept of staying alive, but instead, speaks of duplicity, of feigned living, of hypocrisy and two-facedness.
In this featured sermon, we look at the lives of the Scribes and Pharisees and in so doing, we discover the nature of their hypocrisy. This is a very searching and challenging sermon, yet one that is most needful if we are to really go on with the Lord. May God give us grace to be honest before Him, that we might be found sincere in our worship of Him.
The Christian soldier is never stationary in His efforts to hold the ground of victory taken for Christ in His life. He knows full well, that yesterday’s victories could well turn to tomorrow’s defeat. We are in a war and this is no time for lightness, nor is it time to be found sleeping at the post of duty. The Word of God charges us to take to arm us for the fight, the whole armour of God that we might be able to withstand in the evil day of Satan’s special assault! Of all the armoury listed in that great chapter of the epistle to the Ephesians, there’s one piece of the armour that is distinguished from the rest “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (Eph. 6:16).
This sermon is an exhortation to faith! An exhortation to not allow the lies of the enemy to penetrate our minds. God has promised to keep those in perfect peace, whose mind are stayed on Him, because they have placed their trust in the Lord!!
There are many ways to look upon a masterpiece of art. Each angle seems to shed a new perspective, as differing tones and hews are brought into fresh view with every studious stare. Far greater than any piece of art is the splendour of Almighty God—His many attributes leave a pause for wonder as man tries with his finite mind, to grasp after Him who is eternal!
Of all the attributes, there’s one attribute that holds a special place in my heart, for I know what manner of man I was, and even now after tasting of eternal life, how great a debtor daily I still am! What is this attribute? It is the mercy of God! “If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?” Having been shown such great mercy by God, what manner of people ought we the children of God now to be? A people full of mercy towards others! How ready are you to forgive another who has wronged you? How willing are you to extend mercy? In the passing of judgment upon others, how much of it is mixed with mercy? May the Lord search all our hearts and bring us to place of greater mercy.
Jesus was clear when he said, that one of the characteristics of the last days is that the love of the most is going to wax cold on account of the increase in evil. What temperature is your heart registering in the measure of love? In the measure of kindness? In the measure of mercy? In the measure of compassion? In the measure of forgiveness? How soft are our hearts — are they like a tender piece of fresh chicken or are like a hardened piece of steak that has been left out in the sun? What a challenge, to keep them soft and tender in the days in which we’re living.
My precious Brethren, I want to exhort you as much as I want to exhort myself this morning; “...brethren, be not weary in well doing” (2 Thess. 2:13) —do not lose heart, do not lose courage, do not become faint in doing well!! “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal. 6:9).
It never ceases to amaze me, how our great and awesome God takes the nothings of this world to confound and bring to naught the somethings of this world! God took a man by the name of Gideon and with 300 men, defeated the mighty army of the Midianites. God took a nothing man by the name of Abraham—an idolater from a far-away land—and made of him a great nation through which to bless the world!! God takes a nothing shepherd boy by the name of David and makes him a king!! God takes a Christian persecuting Pharisee by the name of Saul and made him an apostle of Jesus Christ. Biblical history proves that without a shadow of a doubt, the few with God make up the majority!
This sermon is an exhortation for the Body of Christ not to despise the day of small beginnings. Where two or three are gathered together, there the Lord is in the midst! Will we not give ourselves wholeheartedly to prayer; even the small meetings where few are present, as though there was a thousand present and see what God will do!!
According to NHS data, there has been a 28% increase in the number of hospital admissions for stress and anxiety in the past decade. Between, 2017 and 2018, there were 595,000 cases reported in the UK relating to work-based stress. However, it’s not just in the workplace, everywhere one look’s, people are under pressure. In one of the biggest surveys into the impact of stress; the results showed that three in four Britons have at least on one occasion over the last year (2018), been so stressed that they have felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. Undoubtedly, much of this stress and anxiety I’m sure can be alleviated by slowing down the pace but the fact of the matter is, some of it cannot be helped.
Where pressure increases, there must be an avenue for that pressure to escape; and the God-given means for the child of God, to bear the burdens given us by God is prayer!
It seems that almost every other month, another Christian in the position of leadership, jumps to a social media platform to announce to the world that they’re stepping down from ministry due to some moral failing; or in the case of the last two months, that they’re abandoning the faith altogether! Apostasy has always existed in the ranks of the fold and exhortations abound in the New Testament, calling us as believers to perseverance! What you ask, is the secret of enduring faith and victory? In one word, humility!! “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you” (James 4:6-8).
Indeed, we are charged with the task with taking to arm us for the fight, the whole armour of God; but we must never forget who it is that is on our side, fighting for us. Our Lord instructed us to pray “…lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Mt. 6:13). This petition can so easily be overlooked at times and it is the purpose of this sermon to bring it back into fresh view. Will we not encourage ourselves in the Lord, to know that “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13)?
So often in our theology, we begin with man first and forget that the opening words before ever mention is made of man is; “In the beginning God…” God is the great first cause of all things. By Him and through His Word, the whole universe was brought into existence.
How often do we really seek counsel from the Lord for direction at life’s crossroads? How often do we consult Him and enquire of His counsel? In this sermon, we really bring home the need for a Word from God in season. God is faithful and delights in revealing His will! For the soul that seeks Him, standing on His promises; that soul shall never be disappointed. It matters not the mountain that stands before you; if God has spoken into the situation, what He has said, He will do! The question is, will we believe the Word of the Lord?