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When Paul wrote to the Corinthians (1:17) “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power”, he was slowly lifting the veil from the majesty and beauty of the wisdom of God as revealed in the Cross.

Paul was holding up the beauty of the cross to a people who had been conditioned to not even speak of the crucifixion which it signified. Crucifixion was so horrible, it was not even mentioned among polite society. Yet here Paul is, displaying the cross as the ‘wisdom of God!’ This Wisdom of God was being held up as a means of uniting a church that had become weakened through fleshly divisions. The message of the Cross is the means  to uniting and empowering a divided church. Unless we fail to see the wisdom of it.

The power of the cross can be made null and void when we ignore it, or when we try to dress it up, or when we minimize it. Here Paul is, fully aware that this church has been so influenced by the world that it is fractured, fumbling and failing. His advice to them is to glory in the raw, uncensored message of the cross. That which causes the world to shudder and turn away is the very wisdom and glory of God!

We are so removed from the culture of Paul’s world that we have no conception of how obscene it was to tell people that your “God” had been crucified on a Roman cross. The wisdom of God was for Paul to preach using an object lesson so obscene that most intelligent Gentile’s would consider utterly ridiculous. Imagine an evangelist coming to Farmland, USA and telling them to believe in a convicted pedophile as their Savior. You might get a sense of the reactions Paul’s preaching produced.

Rome and have been so exposed to the crucifixion that we cannot fathom how ridiculous the Empire’s policies on crucifixion conditioned Roman citizens to view crucified men with universal contempt. The crucified were either rebellious slaves, the lowest of criminals, or defeated and humiliated foes of the empire[1].

In light of the crucified’s degraded status and the heinous nature of the punishment, Gentiles understandably and not surprisingly viewed the victim with the utmost contempt. Indeed, “crucifixion” was a virtual obscenity not to be discussed in polite company. The cultured world did not want to hear about crucifixion, and consequently, as a rule, they kept quiet about it[2].

Indeed, the noted orator, Cicero, once plead for his client before the jury, “The very word ‘cross’ should be far removed not only from the person of a Roman citizen, but from his thoughts, his eyes, his ears.[3]

We can see in graphic form, what Gentiles thought of worshipping a god who had been crucified. A drawing  titled “graffito blasfemo” is ancient graffito dating back to the Roman Empire inscribed on a wall near the Palatine Hill in Rome, discovered again in 1857. It is the first known depiction of the Crucifixion of Christ, and notably, in mockery. The inscription depicts the crucified Jesus with the head of an ass, and reads “Alexamenos sebete theon”, meaning either “Alexamenos worships his god” or perhaps a command “Alexamenos, worship your god!”[4]

The drawing illustrates the contempt Gentiles had for the message that a god had been crucified. He was no god, he was an ass. But such is the wisdom of God!

The Offensive Beauty of the Cross is the Wisdom of God

Paul doesn’t dress the cross up with eloquent words, nor water down its message with something more “people pleasing”. That would make the power of the cross empty and void.

Instead Paul writes “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God!”

Then Paul lifts the veil on the wisdom of God:

 (19) For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” (20) Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? (21) For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.

Wisdom is never man-centered. Mankind had plenty of opportunities to know God through ‘wisdom’. Still mankind did not come to know God. Indeed, God had made the wisdom of man to be foolish, time after time.

Solomon wrote: “Doing wrong is like a joke to a fool, but wisdom is pleasure to a man of understanding”. Proverbs 10:23. In the wisdom of man, Jesus is displayed as a crucified ass.  In the wisdom of God, the crucified Jesus is the power of salvation!

God established the Societies of the Earth through His wisdom.

It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens. Jeremiah 10:12 (ESV)

When men reject His wisdom, standards of behavior breakdown, and that which is wrong is OK, it’s funny, it’s “horse-play”.[5] When men reject His wisdom, they laugh and cheer when a ‘thug’ beats an old man unconscious on a crowded Chicago subway platform.[6]

Paul proudly proclaims the message of the cross, for He knows it is the wisdom of God that has established this world, and will save this world. His message is confrontational. It is not “seeker-friendly”. It is neither inclusive nor politically correct. He acknowledges the difficulty of his message,

(22) For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, (23) but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles

Crucifixion was ridiculous to the point of obscene to Gentiles. But to Jews, the obstacles were even greater to seeing Jesus Christ as the Messiah of God.

“Stumbling block” comes from the Greek term σκάνδαλον. (skandalon), which refers to a “temptation to sin” or “an enticement to apostasy and unbelief.” A stumbling block was “an obstacle in coming to faith and a cause of going astray in it.”

For a Jew to believe in the crucified Jesus as Messiah, he would have to “stray” from his faith. Since their faith was their identity, it was scandalous for a Jew to confess a crucified Jesus as Messiah. The  offense of the cross was seen as the means of stripping a Jew of his cultural and religious identity. The crucifixion hindered Jews from coming to saving faith. They simply could not overcome their preconceived notions about what the crucifixion signified. The words of Deuteronomy were too contradictory:

(22) “And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, (23) his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance. Deuteronomy 21:22-23 (ESV)

Jesus could never be the Messiah, for he was a man cursed by God! God would never curse the Messiah to Hades! As one writer states, “He who is placed there for faith Himself becomes an obstacle to faith.” [7]The very content of Paul’s message caused Jews to turn away.

When Paul boasted in 1 Cor 1:23 that he preached “Christ crucified,” he understood that his message cut deeply against the grain of his culture. Yet the apostle was undeterred. Paul understood that cultural expectations did not alter his responsibility to preach the truth, nor did those expectations hinder the power of the gospel to save[8].

Despite these cultural obstacles, Paul never altered the message of the cross to be more palatable or less socially and religiously offensive. Rather that cloak the cross in seeker-friendliness, he boldly displayed it even though it often turned hearers away.

So the wisdom of God was a stumbling block to Jews, and foolishness to Gentiles. And yet the wisdom of God as preached in the Cross changes the world, and saves sinners from hell.

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”. 1 Corinthians 1:18 (ESV)

As Donald Green wrote:

“this verse shows the church of Jesus Christ that it must return to cultural confrontation with its gospel preaching instead of pursuing cultural accommodation. “Christ crucified” was not a “seeker-friendly” message in the first century. It was an absurd obscenity to Gentiles and a scandalous oxymoron to Jews. The gospel guaranteed offense.

1 Cor 1:23 shows that allegiance to the truth supersedes any desire to please men. Far better to live under the smile of God than to dilute the gospel for the approval of men and thereby empty the cross of its power (1 Cor 1:17)[9].

The Wisdom of God is seen in the offensive Cross.

  • God alone knows where wisdom dwells and where it originates (Job 28:12, 20);
  • No other living being possesses this knowledge about wisdom (see Job 28:21).
  • For humans, the beginning of wisdom and the supreme wisdom is to properly fear and reverence God (Job 28:28; Prov. 1:7; cf. Prov. 8:13);
  • God is the master, creator, and giver of wisdom (see Job 28:27; Prov. 8:22, 23).
  • He employed wisdom as His master craftsman to create all things (Ps. 104:24; Jer. 10:12).
  • Rulers govern wisely by means of wisdom provided by God (1 Ki. 3:28; cf. Prov. 8:15, 16).
  • Wisdom keeps company with all the other virtues: prudence, knowledge, and discretion (Prov. 8:12).
  • The portrayal of wisdom in Proverbs 8:22-24 lies behind Paul’s magnificent picture of Christ in Colossians 1:15, 16, for all the treasures of wisdom are lodged in Christ (cf. Col. 2:3).[10]

I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness. Proverbs 4:11 (ESV)

1. Wisdom of the Cross Exalts God

25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

 “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”  Revelation 5:12 (ESV)

Philippians 2:8-9 (ESV)  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name…

2. The Wisdom of the Cross Humbles Us

Paul presents the cross to a church that is divided and worldly. Instead of glorying in the offensive message of the Cross, they are wrapping themselves in the corrupted wisdom of the world. Paul tells them to look around and consider who they really are…

1 Cor 1:26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,

Look who God uses: Foolish,Weak, Despised, and ‘are Nots’. These are the ones who come to this offensive cross. People who have nothing else to lose, people who have everything to gain. The cross is not offensive to the nothings, to the ‘are nots’, for they can relate to its message. They understand the message of a God who became as they are. This God loved them so much that He became like them, even worse than them. He became cursed for them.

This is the wisdom of God that was before the foundation of the world! God would hang His own son on a tree, and there Jesus would be cursed with all the sin and ugliness of mankind. His son would become lower than a worm, hardly a man. Yes, Jesus became a nothing, an ‘are not’, in order to reveal to the world the wisdom of God. That wisdom is about humbling ourselves to the cross, the place where the pride of man is stripped away. The place where there is no glory for man. The place where we can only behold the beauty of the crucified one!

We must be brought to nothing to receive the wisdom of God! We must kneel as nothings before the cross of shame and folly.

When the Lord’s people embrace the “nothing” message, the world views them as nothing. But in the next age God will shame the wise and the strong and bring to nothing the things that in this age are viewed as something.

The Cry of the Wisdom of the Cross is:

“so that no human being might boast in the presence of God”. (1 Cor 1:29)

We must humble ourselves before the cross, for the cross is the mercy seat, the place where Christ’s blood was shed before His Father, and where our sins are forgiven. But we must realize our need first, and then we must humble ourselves before the cross. There is no salvation without the Cross!

2 Corinthians 4:7 (ESV) But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

3. The Wisdom of the Cross Transforms Us.

Through the wisdom of the Cross, we have access to all that is Christ’s. The Cross allows God to place us IN CHRIST. The Cross gives us His wisdom. The Cross is the gateway for the righteousness, sanctification and redemption of Christ to be ours!

30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”  

By the Father’s doing, believers are placed in Jesus Christ. Because of this we possess the wisdom of God—Christ crucified, the very essence of God’s wisdom. Through this wisdom, we have justification at God’s court, sanctification before His presence, and total redemption. More than that, we have all the wealth and power and beauty of Jesus Christ. It is as if the kneeling at the Cross entitles us to this huge blank check that will provide us everything that is Christ’s. It is a check that never expires. If only those Jews could see what is on the other side of the cross!

The Cross is to be gloried in daily as we present ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God. God delights in the ‘are not’s! God uses ‘are not’s to accomplish His will in this world!

 (1) I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (2) Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)

 We Must Keep our Focus on the Cross

(10) We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. (11) For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. (12) So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. (13) Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. (14) For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. (15) Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. (16) Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:10-16 (ESV)

 The folly, reproach and shame of the Cross is to be our guide for service! We are not to embrace a culturally acceptable cross, but to follow Christ outside the camp, where the dirty, the despised and dangerous dwell. We are to take the message of the Cross to the “Are Nots!” It is not the popular ministry. But it is the Ministry of the Cross!


[1] Donald Green, “THE FOLLY OF THE CROSS” , http://www.tms.edu/tmsj/tmsj15c.pdf

[2] Martin Hengel, Crucifixion (Philadephia: Fortress, 1977) 38.

[3] Cicero, “The Speech In Defence of Gaius Rabirius,” sec. 16, in The Speeches of Cicero, trans. H. Grose Hodge, The Loeb Classical Library (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1927) 467.

[7] Gustav Stahlin, “σκάνδαλον” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Friedrich, trans. and ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971) 7:352.

[8] Hengel, Crucifixion, 5.

[9] Donald E Green, “The Folly of the Cross” as seen at http://www.tms.edu/tmsj/tmsj15c.pdf

[10] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 337.

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We experienced the ‘Blizzard of the Century’ last week in Kansas City. Actually it was no big deal, because I remember snows like it when I was in 4th – 7th grades. But it was the most snow we had seen at one time since those years. The snow and low temperatures combined for peak demand and slow delivery of propane. I was greeted with a call on Friday that we were out of propane at church. We had a ‘failure to communicate’ experience with our new propane provider. Calling them twice, even speaking to the owner only confirmed our fears, there was no way to get propane to us on such short notice. They were backlogged over a week with other frantic customers. My calls to other propane providers confirmed the backlog.

A subdued (ha!) panic came upon me as I told Gary “This is a disaster! We’ll have to cancel church because the church will be too cold!” (Inwardly I was saying, how could this happen?) I remember Gary saying, “All we can do is pray!” and pray he did. However, my fleshly business man self went to work, trying to figure out a way out of this ‘disaster’. When I found out the Fellowship hall was heated with an electric furnace, I figured we could at least have church in the basement. All we need to do is cancel Sunday School, and all meet together for worship. Glory, the day is saved! So I hurriedly made a phone tree announcement about the change in the Sunday service. I was still ‘anxious’, but at least we had made the best of a bad situation. My ‘Jacob’ character had figured out what to do. (Jacob is a picture of the fleshly, business savvy Jew, trusting not in God but his own strength. I am a lot like Jacob).

Within a couple of hours of my phonetree call, I received the message that our propane supplier had juggled things and could get to us Saturday morning. That was great news, but now what would people think when they get another call saying everything was OK again. So I decided to wait until Saturday and MAKE SURE we had heat before calling. I made the call, Sunday came, and everything was OK.

Monday morning I read a devotion from a devotional book I have been reading since 1972, “Table in the Wilderness” by Watchman Nee. You would think I had learned this by now, but no, God constantly has to deal with my natural self! The verse focused upon was John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; MY PEACE I give unto you”. I was reminded that I have been given the deep undisturbed peace of God. No matter the chaos going on in this world, God always maintains His peace. He is sovereign, and His purpose is always accomplished. I was reminded of Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.

By reacting to the lack of propane in my flesh, I threw the peace of God out the door! I ignored the ‘Peace Guards’ protecting my heart! God knew all along what was going on with our propane tank. Being empty wasn’t a ‘disaster’ to Him! He never lost His peace! Why did I?

Kenneth Wuest translates Philippians 4:7 this way: “the peace of God which surpasses all power of comprehension, shall mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”.

When I focused on the ‘disaster’, I opened my heart to the enemies of God’s peace. I allowed the enemies of panic, worry, dread, pride, anxiety, and fear to assault my heart! God has placed His ‘Peace Guards’ as a protective garrison for my heart. His ‘Peace Guards’ are there to keep my heart from those sins which reflect a lack of trust in God! Yet with one phone call I knocked the sentries down and opened my heart up to fleshly emotions and fears that robbed me of my confidence in God!

I learned a valuable lesson! Call on the Peace Guard’s whenever we are confronted with a ‘disastrous’ situation. God never loses His cool! His ‘peace guards’ surround and garrison our heart so we don’t need to lose our cool either! Are God’s ‘Peace Guards’ stationed around your heart?


In one of the All in the Family episodes that aired some years ago, Edith and Archie are attending Edith’s high school class reunion. Edith encounters an old classmate by the name of Buck who, unlike his earlier days, had now become excessively obese. Edith and Buck have a delightful conversation about old times and the things that they did together, but remarkably, Edith does not seem to notice how extremely heavy Buck has become. Later, when Edith and Archie are talking, she says in her whiny voice, “Archie, ain’t Buck a beautiful person.” Archie looks at her with a disgusted expression and says: “You’re a pip, Edith. You know that. You and I look at the same guy, you see a beautiful person, and I see a blimp. Edith gets a puzzled expression on her face and says something unknowingly profound, “Yeah, ain’t it too bad.” Do you see Jesus Christ as the True Light? 

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…the true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world”. John 1:4,5,9

Jesus confirmed this truth: John 8:12 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” In His confrontation with the Pharisees over the woman taken in adultery, Jesus revealed how His light reveals the truth that He can free from sin, from satan, from the law and from judgment. In effect, through His light, God was able to write upon the dust of our sin-damaged lives, that there is now “No Condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1)

True Light of Hope

Matthew reveals another side of the True Light.

Matthew 12:18-21 “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

In the True Light of Jesus Christ, we find Hope!

John the Baptist

In Matthew 11, we find John the Baptist imprisoned by King Herod. The man who shook the nation of Israel is now quiet, and despairing that he will die as a failure. After all, Jesus of Nazareth did not come to free him. Therefore, he sends some of his disciples to ask Jesus:

Matthew 11:2-6 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

Jesus didn’t say yes, he merely told them to remind John of what he was doing. Blind, Lame, Lepers, deaf, dead, the poor. Then he added, “blessed are the ones who are not offended by me”. Jesus was saying: “John, do not despair, do not give up hope, look what I am doing in fulfillment of Scripture. Just because things do not happen the way you think they should, do not be offended. Never give up hope! I am He! But do not get offended if things do not go the way you think they should! I am Lord and you are not! Vaclav Havel before he became the democratically elected President of the Czech Republic was imprisoned by the communist regime. During one of those imprisonments, he wrote:

Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well. However, the certainty that something makes sense. Regardless of how it turns out.

You may react to his definition of hope, because as Christians, we are taught that all things will work for good to those who love God. However, what we usually think is that it will work out for my good. It certainly did not work out for John the Baptist’s good to have his head cut off. It certainly did not work out for Stephen’s good when he was stoned to death. But we do know that everything that happens, regardless of how it works out, will make sense! Why? Because Jesus is Lord and He is in Control!! The only ones who lose hope are those who believe God is not in control!

Job

Job 17:11 My days are over. My hopes have disappeared. My heart’s desires are broken.

Job thought that God was treating him unjustly. He could not understand God doing this to him. He imagined that God was making a mistake, that He was not in control. He had all kinds of questions and arguments he would lay before God if he could only get the chance. Finally, God spoke to Job, and Job was silent. Job encountered the great I AM, and knew that He had been in control the whole time, and it all made sense.

I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.” Job 42:5-6

Does your life make sense? Have there been times when you were like John the Baptist, wondering what was going on, wondering where God was, wondering if He was in control? Or were like Job, thinking God was unfair, wanting to argue with him. Did you get offended at what was going on? Did you get angry, hurt, upset? Did you lose hope and give in to despair or depression? Did you moan with Job “My hopes have disappeared; my heart’s desires are broken?” Let us look into the Light of Jesus and discover why we should never lose hope, no matter how dark things get.

Matthew 12

Jesus finds himself at odds with the Scribes & Pharisees, because his disciples have picked & eaten corn on the Sabbath. He replies to them:

Matthew 12:3-8 He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

1.Jesus is Lord, even of the Sabbath!

  • If we rest, we rest in Jesus, for He is Lord!

Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

  • Do not get offended at Jesus. What He does is right, it is just, and He is Lord!

2. He desires a heart that is yielded to Him rather than ‘outward conformance’ or even performance.

  • Only yielded hearts will survive the trials and tribulations of this life!
  • Fake people always wilt under pressure.

Just because you put on a good show of being a Christian does not mean that inwardly you are struggling with doubt, with fears, with despair and with depression, with sins. You can put on a good show, but Jesus knows your heart, He knows whether you are real or fake. Peter presents the heart of a true Christian in six simple verses. This Christian has a new heart, with a new hope, a hope that endures through the fire of trials!

1 Peter 1:3-9 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

A heart that is yielded totally to Christ is a heart in Love with Jesus, it is a born again heart with a living hope! A fake Christian is putting on a display because of what he thinks he will get-favor from God. A yielded heart is confident that Jesus is Lord of whatever situation you go through! Next, we see a man who is lame in his right hand.

The Man with a withered hand

Matthew 12:9-14 He went on from there and entered their synagogue. In addition, a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”— so that they might accuse him. He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand”. And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.

The Lesson here is the Lord of the Sabbath will always be mindful of your needs. His mercy is to be trusted.

DAVID

Psalms 13:1-6 How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? Forever? How long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved. But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

David endured hardship after hardship, near death experiences one after another, yet rather than lose hope and get offended at what was happening to him, he strengthened his heart in the Lord. He trusted in the Sovereignty of God, therefore he could rejoice in His salvation.

Apostle Paul

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:8, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.”

He wrote this three chapters after stating 1:8-9: “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself…” Paul had those moments when things were so dark, so desperate that he despaired for his very life. How did Paul go from one who despairing of life itself to one who is hard pressed but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair, struck down, but not destroyed, never feeling that God had abandoned him.

  • 2 Corinthians 1:9-10 Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,
  • 2 Corinthians 4:11 … so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

Paul’s Hope was in God, Paul’s Purpose was that the life of Jesus would be manifested through his life-regardless of what he went through.

The Nation of Israel

God brought horrible judgment upon his own people because of their continual sins against Him. First the Northern and then the Southern kingdoms fell to foreign Kings. Jeremiah was there to witness the fall of Jerusalem and Judea. Here are his own words about his experience:

Lamentations 3:19-24 The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

His heart was in God’s hands, and therefore He trusted in Him! He trusted in God’s tender mercies!

Ezekiel and the Valley of Bones

I love the vision of the dried bones God gave Ezekiel out in the valley:

Ezekiel 37:11-14 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”

Matthew quotes the Old Testament when he declared: “and in his name the Gentiles will hope”. We share in the Hope of Israel!

Before Jesus we were without hope

Ephesians 2:12 In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope.

  • Jesus is the True Light that brings the Light of Hope to the Gentiles!

“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

THE HOPE OF THE BRUISED AND SUFFERING CHRISTIAN.

Matthew 12:20 A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.

Bruised Reed: People used reeds to make into pens in ancient times. The reed is hollow and would hold the ink. If the reed was bruised or bent, the ink would leak and become useless. The writer would break the bruised reed and throw it away. Like a pen, the reed was an instrument of expression. Therefore, I like to think of the reed as representing our voice and ability of expression. Only a dead person does not voice his opinions or share his feelings. The first thing Satan wants to do is to stop us from sharing and expressing our ideas, especially when we speak for the kingdom of God. He will make every effort to cut off our network of friends and isolate us so that we will be discouraged. SMOKING FLAX: A smoking flax or a smoldering wick symbolizes our usefulness and the ability to shine for the Lord. It is no doubt that we have been created to shine for Jesus but when we fall into sins, our wick would become smoldered. We would not shine that brightly anymore. That is when the enemy of our souls seeks to terminate that light. He does that by encouraging people around us to say disparaging words or spread malicious rumors about us. When we allow all these words and rumors to enter our hearts, we would become bitter and angry. Please take note that it is not those gossips or criticisms that smolder our wicks but how we react to them that would terminate our light.

Jesus Christ is the True Light of Hope for Mankind.

By his death for us, he has ‘faithfully brought forth justice’ (Isaiah 42:3) by suffering the justice of God in our place once and for all. Look now to Jesus and find mercy for your bruised and weakened soul. Receive his tender comfort, cleansing, healing and all-sufficient grace. God’s great mercy in Christ is for us ‘bruised reeds’ and ‘smoldering wicks’.

This Hope is the Anchor of Christianity

Hebrews 6:17-20 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

Gods Promise to Us

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

The Despair of Mary

After answering the angels, Mary turned around. Suddenly she saw Jesus standing there, but she failed to recognize him. Like the angels, Jesus asked Mary, “Why are you crying?” He then asked her, “Whom are you seeking?” Assuming he might be the gardener, who cared for the tomb, she again poured out her heart’s despair. “Sir, if you indeed have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will take him away” (literally carry him). Her desire to find Jesus’ body and her loving concern to give him a proper burial in a good resting place so consumed her that she never considered that she herself could not possibly carry Jesus’ body to a final resting place. Then Jesus turned her night of gloom into the light of joy. He spoke her name, “Mary”; in such a way, that she knew instantly who he was. From despair, her heart rose to soar in the clouds. “Rabboni!” she exclaimed, which is an Aramaic term of special respect that means, “My Master”. The experience of seeing Jesus alive, risen from the dead, lifted her spirits to a profound joy. Grieving and despairing, she had searched for her dead Jesus, but with joy, she discovered instead her living Savior. He had risen! He was alive! Nothing else mattered to her. Nothing would take away her newfound joy. She threw her arms around him to cling to him, she was so happy to see him and to have him back. Jesus rose! He lives! Our faith clings to, not a dead man who was crucified and buried, but a living Lord and Savior who rose from the dead. We rejoice that he who died to save us lives. Our hearts hold the joyful hope that with our very own eyes we will rise from the dead to see him and hold him who loves us and gives us eternal life. We can rejoice with Job:

Job 19:25-27 I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes–I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

Fanny Crosby

Fanny Crosby probably wrote more hymns than anyone else in history. She wrote over 8000 hymns, and many are in our hymnal today. Fanny gave the Christian world such songs as:

  • A Shelter In The Time Of Storm,
  • All The Way My Saviour Leads Me,
  • Blessed Assurance,
  • Close To Thee,
  • He Hideth My Soul,
  • I Am Thine 0 Lord,
  • Jesus Is Calling,
  • My Saviour First Of All,
  • Near The Cross,
  • Pass Me Not,
  • Praise Him Praise Him,
  • Redeemed,
  • Rescue The Perishing,
  • Safe In The Arms Of Jesus,
  • Saved By Grace,
  • Saviour More Than Life To Me,
  • Take The World But Give Me Jesus,
  • Tell Me The Story Of Jesus,
  • The Lights Of Home,
  • Thou Mighty To Save,
  • To God Be The Glory,

When Fanny was six weeks old, she caught a slight cold in her eyes. The family physician was away. Another country doctor was called in to treat her. He prescribed hot mustard poultices to be applied to her eyes, which destroyed her sight! It was later learned that the man was not qualified to practice medicine, but he had left town and was never heard of again. Fanny never felt any resentment against him, but believed it was permitted by the Lord to fulfill His plan for her life. Though blind, she wrote over 8,000 hymns. About her blindness, she said:

It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow, I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.

After a visit to the most renowned eye doctor in the world determined her blindness was incurable, she said:

“Mother, if I had a choice, I would still choose to remain blind … for when I die; the first face I will ever see will be the face of my blessed Saviour.”

“And I shall see Him face to face, and tell the story – Saved by grace.”

Whose face do you see in times of darkness and despair? Whose hand do you see reaching for you when things look hopeless? When you see a difficult situation do you see the Beauty of Christ, or do you just see an Ugly Blimp on your back? Let me assure you that Jesus is still Lord! He is the one who can be trusted completely! He is the anchor of our HOPE that this life does make sense to the source of life!

My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus name. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand, All other ground is sinking sand.
When the last trumpet’s voice shall sound, Oh, may I then in Him be found; Robed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand, All other ground is sinking sand.

Jesus Christ TRUE LIGHT of HOPE!


Making decisions in the dark can lead to some regrettable consequences. Back in the days before electricity, a tight-fisted old farmer was taking his hired man to task for carrying a lighted lantern when he went to call on his best girl. “Why,” he exclaimed, “when I went a-courtin’ I never carried one of them things. I always went in the dark.” “Yes,” the hired man said wryly,” and look what you got!”

Have you ever held your Bible in you hand and thought, there is no way I can understand this! There is simply too much in here. How can I even begin to understand it all? I must admit, it seems every week I am thinking exactly that. I keep bringing my thoughts back to this one thought: The Bible is not a history book, it is not an anthropology book, it is not even a religious guidebook. The Bible is the message of God seeking and redeeming men women and children who see His light and respond to His light and walk in His light. That is why so little of the history of the world is not mentioned in the Bible. That is why it is not organized into neat chronological stories. It isn’t about what we can figure out with our little brains. It is all about God and His light. The Bible is written to move us to seek His light.

For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down. For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness. Psalms 18:27-28

Of course we can’t understand it all! But does that mean we give up reading it, loving it? I will never completely understand my wife. Does that mean I give up trying?

We seek after the light because we love the light! Do you sincerely want the light of God in your life?

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. Psalms 36:9

This Christmas we are focusing on the “True Light” of Christmas, the birth of our Savior, God in flesh, Jesus Christ. He is the “True Light” of Christmas.

As our world becomes increasingly secular, there will be the danger of relegating Jesus to a display, a manger scene, when in reality HE desires no other recognition than to be Lord of your heart and life. He desires to be your light and life. He does not want to be trotted out every December. He does not want to be honored just on Christmas Eve. Jesus desires to light your life every day of your life. That will take a commitment on your part, a commitment which Satan will do everything in his power to obstruct.

The Scriptural foundation for our study this morning.

  • Jesus declared, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
  • As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. John 9:5
  • …whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness“. John 12:45-46
  • In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4
  • That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Ephesians 1:17-19

John in Chapter one of his Gospel declared that Jesus is the True Light, and His light is the life of men, and darkness will not overcome it. However, that does not mean that the darkness does not try. In fact, a survey of history reveals how the darkness has tried to obliterate the true light.

At the very time, John wrote his gospel there was a falling away from Jesus Christ. People were questioning the deity of Jesus Christ in the flesh. They were saying that He only became God when the Spirit came upon Him at his baptism.

That is why He was inspired to write:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5

After a beautiful gospel that presents Jesus Christ in His deity, John concludes with this assurance:

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:30-31

However, he questions continued and grew more intense. The doubts about the deity of Jesus spread. Many years later John wrote once more, offering his personal assurance:

In I John:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:1-7

He adds the weight of his own testimony, and bears witness to the life and light of God manifested to the disciples through the Son-Jesus Christ. John declares that the message that Jesus proclaimed to him was that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. Our fellowship with God MUST be based on our walk in His light. If we walk in darkness, we have no fellowship with God. But praise God, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin, so that we can walk with God in His light!

That is why John concludes His book with an even greater declaration than that which closed out his gospel. Not only can we have Life in Jesus Christ, but also John declares:

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. … We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. 1 John 5:13-21

  • Are you really desiring to be in God’s purpose;
  • Do you really seek to know what that purpose is, and to be found in it?
  • Everything depends upon whether you have such a concern. Your desire will determine whether you are simply here to increasing your knowledge about spiritual things or whether you are here because of your strong desire to be in God’s purpose, the eternal purpose of God.
  • Are you prepared to commit yourselves to the Lord and to living completely according to His purpose?

From the very beginning God has sought people to fellowship with Him, to walk with Him. However, because God is light, fellowship could only be in the light of His righteousness. For in Him is no darkness at all.

ADAM & EVE

God walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening.

However, Adam and Eve loved darkness, and chose to rebel. Their fellowship was lost, their eyes were changed. Now instead of seeing only the light, they saw darkness. Their eyes were blinded by the darkness of sin.

God responds with Abel and the altar. The altar dealt with the darkness of sin and allowed the Light of God into their relationship.

Cain ignored the light and offered that which was cursed. His blindness then led him to murder his brother.

From their experience, we conclude this foundational truth of our relationship with God.

  1. Fellowship with God is only possible through the light
  2. Fellowship is only possible through the removal of the curse of sin.
  3. The removal of the curse requires a sacrifice.

These truth’s are confirmed as we trace the history of the conflict between darkness and God’s Light

From Abel to Noah

From Abel to Noah the darkness becomes more intense and deliberate. The earth – which is the Lord’s – is taken possession of by man for his own ends.

God says, “you like darkness?” How would you like 40 days and 40 nights of rain? Every living creature is destroyed except those saved by the ark.

Emerging from the judgment, Noah builds an altar and offers sacrifice, and in so doing declares, in intent and effect: “The earth” (the renewed earth) “is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof” (Ps. 24:1).

God has fellowship with man again. Light is returned to the world through the altar. Sin was judged by the death of the flood.

However, darkness returns all too soon. Even Noah is an agent when he gets drunk.

Babel

Babel is built by men desperate for a god of their own making, desperate to prevent a future judgment. Babel is cursed by God, and under that curse men are scattered to the four corners of the earth. Then, when, it would appear that the testimony of God has disappeared from the earth, God finds a man willing to obey Him, willing to follow the light.

Abraham

Abraham responds to God’s call. “The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia” or (when he was in darkness) – (Acts 7:2).

The God of glory APPEARED, showed Himself. Abraham had his eyes opened to see the God of glory and all the great redemptive work of God went forward through Abraham on that basis.

Their fellowship was secured when Abraham is willing to sacrifice his own son to Jehovah. The altar is once again in view, and Abraham walks in the light of God, and a new nation of God followers begins.

Israel in Egypt

God remembers his people in bondage in Egypt. In the light of the burning bush, God calls Moses to deliver them and lead them to God’s Promised Land.

God once again sets forth the Altar. In the midnight darkness of Egyptian homes a wail is heard as the angel of death slays all the firstborn males. Yet in the Jewish homes, there is the light of God, for He has seen the blood and passed over them.

His people are redeemed and led across the Red Sea on dry ground.

God leads them with fire. He has fellowship with them in the Tent of Testimony.

The Conquest of Palestine

Next, we have His people led by Joshua who is following the Captain of the Hosts. Their very entrance into the Promised Land must be across the Jordan River, which symbolizes death in both the Old and New Testaments. Once they cross, an altar is made as a monument. It symbolizes the death of the Jews to their flesh and sin and their new life of fellowship with the light of God. Their very first victories reveal that this is to be God’s battle, in God’s strength, under God’s Laws. If they go their own way or rely on their own strength, they will suffer judgment and defeat!

Judges and Kings

From here commences the long and infamous history of Israel’s descent into darkness. What had been intended to be a Kingdom of God and God’s light became a nightmare of the darkness of sin. Repeatedly they departed and deviated from God’s light.

Even though sacrifices were made, the heart of the people was dark and far from God.

God stirred men to bring His people back, men such as Hezekiah and Josiah. However, the heart of the entire nation was never stirred back to the light of God’s word. When the leader died, the apostasy set in and deepened.

First the Northern and then the Southern Kingdoms were captured and led into captivity. The nation was obliterated, the Temple, the Altar were destroyed. The darkness appears to have overcome the light of God.

Yet God reveals His light through Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They are faithful to the light of God; they sacrifice their lives to him on the altar of fire and lions. After Daniels prayer, God moves in a handful of remnant, people who still look to the light of God.

We read about this remnant in Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai and Zechariah. It is a great time of revival and restoration, but the darkness creeps back.

Malachi

There is more apostasy, rebellion, until we get the terrible conditions recorded in Malachi, leading up to the awful announcement:

You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Malachi 3:9

How black and dark things were! Were they ever worse? Yet God is not defeated; the light is not obscured; for, in the midst of the blackness, there is that which represents the most blessed victory:

Then they that feared Jehovah spoke often one to another; and Jehovah observed [it], and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared Jehovah, and that thought upon his name. 17 And they shall be unto me a peculiar treasure, saith Jehovah of hosts, in the day that I prepare; and I will spare them as a man spared his own son that serves him. Malachi 3:16-17

Malachi closes, and for four hundred years, there is darkness and chaos. Surely now the testimony has ceased and faithfulness has disappeared? Surely now the Lord has lost everything? The darkness has conquered the light?

LUKE

Now we take up the book that Luke wrote to his friend Theophilus. Luke brings into our view a certain priest

Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth

“And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. Luke 1:6

We also find Mary, to whom the angel Gabriel said:

“Thou that are endued with grace, the Lord is with thee”. Luke 1:28

There was also Simeon and Anna:

Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Luke 2:25-32

And there was one Anna, a prophetess… she… spoke of him to ALL THEM THAT WERE LOOKING for the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:36, 38.

Even in the midst of great darkness, God has always had a faithful remnant who seeks HIS LIGHT! Listen to their Witness:

  • Zechariah:  “because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:78-79
  • Mary: “And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. Luke 1:50
  • Simeon: “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel”.Luke 2:31-32

Throughout history, no matter how deep the darkness, no matter the degree of blindness, there has been a remnant, a peculiar treasure, a group of jewels who have sought the light of God! Even when there has been no written revelation, they have seen that

1. “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5)

2. The Kingdom of God is the rule of Divine light.

In the New Jerusalem, the heaven in which we shall one day dwell, it is recorded:

And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. Revelation 21:23-25

Birth of Jesus – FOCAL POINT OF CONFLICT

The Birth of Jesus was the revelation of God’s Light in human form. However, what made His light so intense, so beautiful, was that the manger they laid Jesus upon represented the altar that God requires for us to walk in His light.

For Jesus was not born to reign as a King, or Serve as a Priest, He was born to die. He was born to deal for once and for all the mighty deathblow to the prince of darkness.

While we sing of Peace and Silent Nights, the birth of Jesus was a focal point of intense conflict. For God has been set against the darkness from the very creation.

God has always attacked the Darkness

Genesis 1 opens with “Darkness upon the face of the deep”. God did not just look at that darkness and call out in a soft voice: ‘Let us have some light.’ I believe that God attacked the darkness by boldly declaring ‘Let there be light!’ Darkness is contrary to my nature.

In 2 Corinthians 4:4, listen to the stern tone of Paul’s voice as he cries out:

“The god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4

This darkness is the work of the devil, and God is adamantly against it.

The Redemptive message of God’s Word is that the Light will overcome the darkness through the altar, through sacrifice, through removal of the curse!

Jesus declared this about Abraham to the Jews:

“Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” John 8:56

The Jews were in darkness, their eyes blind to the truth of Jesus, and took up stones to kill Jesus. They refused the light of God, just as their fathers had before them, and their fathers before that.

Abraham saw the light of Jesus Christ!

Satan does not want our eyes open to see the True Light of Jesus Christ. He wants us to relegate him to a pretty story, a beautiful manger scene. However, God wants us to see the conflict that is raging between the darkness and the True Light.

This conflict is ever at our door, for by nature we love the darkness rather than the light. Look at God’s own people to see how easily they became blind to God!

Where do you stand? Where does your family stand? Are you with the faithful remnant? Are you ever looking to the True Light of God? Are you daily dying on the altar, the altar of death to the flesh, the altar of death to sin?

Are you daily looking to the True Light by looking to His Word, by seeking His light in prayer?

On the other hand, are you so rushed at Christmas time that Satan has stolen the True Light from your life. Are you so busy and stressed that you have no time for the True Light?

The supreme work of Satan is not to get good people to do bad things, not to drag good people into the cesspool of sin, nor does he drag young men and women into moral corruption, nor does he make infidels and atheists. These are only byproducts of Satan’s supreme work! His supreme work is to blind us!

Take away the blindness, open our eyes to the True Light, and all this will be dealt with. Satan wants to keep us in the dark as to the True Light! The True Light is the most fatal thing to the kingdom of Satan. Paul put it simply:

“LEST the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ should shine.”

Satan says:

‘If those people get the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, MY kingdom is gone. The battle is over for me. I am lost.’

Satan will do anything to keep us from having light.

This is why Paul prays in Ephesians that the eyes of our understanding would be enlightened. The darkness is ever around us.

Paul mentioned those who are “darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.” Ephesians 4:18

You may be thinking, ‘Well, we are not in the dark. We are saved people.’

  • That is exactly what the Jews were thinking. What happened to their Temple? What happened to their Holy City?
  • That is exactly what the seven churches were saying, yet every one of their candlesticks is removed today. Today Turkey is covered with the darkness of Satan.

If we want to keep walking in the True Light, we must realize it will only come with sacrifice and conflict. Satan is opposed to the light!

Divine light is POSITIVE.

You cannot have Divine light and be neutral. If God has shined into your heart to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,

Your life is a challenge to the kingdom of Satan, and his attitude to you will be: ‘We will get you out as soon as we can!’

You will find that Satan will stop at nothing to quench that light. You see, Jesus being the True Light of Christmas is not just a pretty story or Bible theory;

It is a menace to the kingdom of Satan.

Are you walking in the True Light of Jesus Christ? Then your very existence disturbs the kingdom of Satan.

Isaiah 60:1-2

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you and his glory will be seen upon you.

We love seeing the Nativity scene. We use it to decorate our homes. We even set them up in our front yard. But understand this. That was no simple manger that nestled the head of baby Jesus. That manger was the altar of sacrifice, the means of our fellowship with the Light of God. It was the means of the defeat of sin and Satan. That manger meant the death of God’s only begotten Son.

1. We must constantly be on guard against the darkness entering our life.

2. Realize that Satan’s number one goal is to bring dullness and/or darkness into your life, so that the Word of God has no effect.

3. Disobedience, disregard, doubt, distraction all work to dull our eyes to the light of God’s Word.

4. The Light of God only enters our life through the altar. We must die to our desires, we must lay aside our pride, we must humble ourselves to God’s sovereign will.

5. We must desire the Light of God’s Word more than Life itself.

6. We must daily seek the Light of God’s Word! We must ask for it! We must set our heart upon it!


This past weekend was LOOP Sunday for the folks of Pleasant Prairie Baptist Church. Pastor Jim Tompkins has been leading the church through a study of the Good Samaritan, asking “Who is my neighbor?” The church discovered that we must get close enough to people to discover their needs, and then do what is needed to meet those needs, sacrificing our time and resources. To serve our neighbors, Sunday church services were cancelled on Oct 24th, and the Pleasant Prairie family went to work.

Service projects took place the entire weekend, and included tree felling, tree trimming, fence line clearing, brushhogging, painting, ramp building, wall and flooring repairs, food baskets to the needy, and even a ladies tea to several homebound ladies. We also had the opportunity to serve the Missouri Baptist Children’s home on J Highway with trimming, painting, fence screening and storage organization.

Services were conducted at Raymore Rehabilitation Center as well as at Beautiful Savior Nursing Home. First Responders (Police, Sheriffs, Firefighters, EMT’s and Life Flight) from Belton, Raymore, Cleveland, Peculiar, Harrisonville and Freeman were honored with large bushel baskets chock full of homemade breads and other goodies prepared by the ladies of the church.

LOOP stands for Love on on Purpose, and represents intentional acts of service and love for our neighbors in the name of Jesus Christ. The Loop in our logo represents the infinity symbol. When we ask “Are you are in the LOOP”, we want to know if you will be spending eternity with Jesus Christ.

The weekend was exhausting, and as Pastor Jim remarked, “It is easier just to go to church!” However, many commented this was the most rewarding weekend they had experienced in their Christian walk. Several firefighters mentioned they had already had a rough morning, and the Baskets of Appreciation were just what they needed. One veteran policeman mentioned this was the first time he had ever received any appreciation from a church or other organization.

Without exception the people of Pleasant Prairie commented that we need to do this every year. How do we show our neighbor’s the reality of Jesus Christ? By getting close enough to them to discover their needs, and then doing whatever it costs to meet those needs.

Some of the pictures:

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