“As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭103:12‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

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Breastplate of Righteousness

Today at Mt. Pisgah Nick Coulston presented Paul’s teaching in Ephesians about putting on the full armor of God, including the breastplate of righteousness.  Isaiah 59:17 was referenced, but we didn’t get a chance to discuss this verse specifically as written in Isaiah:

The Lord looked and was displeased
    that there was no justice.
16 He saw that there was no one,
    he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
so his own arm achieved salvation for him,
    and his own righteousness sustained him.
17 He put on righteousness as his breastplate,
    and the helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on the garments of vengeance
    and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.

In Romans 3, Paul teaches that only God is righteous.  None of us has any righteousness on our own.

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11     there is no one who understands;

    there is no one who seeks God.

12 All have turned away,

    they have together become worthless;

there is no one who does good,

    not even one.”

I believe that Satan can use even the armor of God against us if we’re not careful.  We were reminded today that Satan tried to use scripture against Jesus in the temptations.  However, Jesus recognized Satan’s intentions as the evil that they were.  When we don our  defensive garments each day, we need to be very careful that we don’t put on the breastplate of self-righteousness.

The only righteousness that we can have is God’s.  He will give us His righteousness through His grace by our faith in His Son’s atoning death for our sins and resurrection from the dead.  (See Romans 3:22)  It is this righteousness that we need to put on as our breastplate.  Don’t fall for Satan’s temptation to put on the breastplate of self-righteousness.

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Are you being led by the Star?

Matthew 2:1-12

The Magi Visit the Messiah

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”  When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’[b]

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”  After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Content – List of topics or events

1- After Jesus was born during the time of Herod, Magi came to Jerusalem.
2- The magi didn’t know where Jesus was but were guided by a star.
3- Herod and all Jerusalem were disturbed to hear a King of the Jews was born.
4- Herod asked where the new King would be born.
5,6- Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem, no means the least as was prophesied (Micah 5:2,4).
7,8- Herod calls magi in secret and had them go find Jesus and report back.
9-10- Magi followed the star to Jesus, and they were overjoyed.
11- When they saw Jesus, they bowed, worshiped, and gave gifts.
12- The magi were warned not to return to Herod, so they went another way.

Divisions:

I.  v1-2  People were led/guided to Jesus.
II.  3-4  Powerful/prideful people are threatened by God.
III.  5-6  God is present even in the least.
IV.  9-11  Magi followed the leading to Jesus and were reverent and giving.
V.  Plans changed when God warned that Jesus was in danger.

Subject sentence (what this passage is about):  People were guided to Jesus and worshiped and gave thanks.

Aim (To cause the audience to):  If we follow God’s leading, we will find our King.

Specific application questions:

1.  Am I being led to Jesus?
2.  Am I seeking Jesus and following the guidance?
3.  Do I feel threatened by Jesus?
4.  Am I doing my part to divert threats to Jesus?
5.  Am I expecting Jesus to come?
6. Am I worshiping and giving my gifts?

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Christmas 2015

Boy, a lot of people are really sad at Christmas time. Some have obvious reasons, but others would never be guessed.  That’s unfortunate.

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Does God Call Everyone?

Thought you might enjoy this gentleman’s explanations. I especially liked “Ironside’s Door”.
https://gracethrufaith.com/topical-studies/tough-questions-answered/does-god-call-everyone/

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Of Parables, Talents and Minas

I heard Moody president Dr. Paul Nyquist speaking today about the parable(s) of the talents (Mina’s) in Matthew and Luke. Although differing in some details and the subject of some scholarly debate, the stories seem to convey the same wisdom. What talent/Mina has God given to you and to me? We all have individual gifts, but we have been given the same mina – the Gospel! All believers will be asked to give an accounting of their lives – What we have done with our mina. What have you done with yours? I know that compared with many, I feel as if I have done nothing with mine, analogous to the man who buried his in a hole. The only thing worse – What if I have lost part of it or damaged it for others? This is some scary stuff for me! I heard Dr. Nyquist speak on the radio driving to work this morning, and it’s still on my mind.

In the fall or winter of my life, I feel myself looking for a “fast return” on my investment! How can I earn quick interest on my mina? On one hand I can’t risk it foolishly, but on the other hand how can I not take a risk at this point? I must!

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The Christmas Experience – Luke 1:26-38

God sent the Angel Gabriel to Nazareth to a virgin promised in marriage to Joseph, a descendant of David.  The angel told Mary she had found favor with God, but she was troubled and afraid.  The angel reassured Mary .  He told her she will have a son named Jesus.  He will be great and given the throne of his father David.  Jesus will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever.  Mary doesn’t understand how this could be possible for she is a virgin.  Gabriel explained that the Holy Spirit will come over her and the Holy Child will be called the Son of God.  Gabriel gives an example of the power of God, saying that even the elderly Elizabeth will have a child;  thus no Word from God will ever fail.  Mary accepts God’s promise and is the Lord’s servant.

I.  God sent a messenger from Heaven.
II.  Mary was afraid but received divine reassurance.
III.  Mary hears the promise from God.
IV.  Mary doesn’t understand how the pomise is possible.
V.  Mary accepts God’s promise.

God sent an angel to tell Mary she will be the mother of God!

God promises his Son to us if we accept him.

Questions

1.  How would we recognize a messenger from Heaven?
2.  How do we look for or listen for a message from Heaven?
3.  Can we be messengers from Heaven?
4.  Can we accept that we have found favor with God?

5.  Are we afraid when we hear from God?  Why or why not?
6.  Will we let ourselves be reassured by God’s messengers?

7.  Are you hearing God’s promises?

8.  Why do we doubt when God’s promises seem impossible?
9.  Why do we only think in human terms?

10.  Have you accepted God’s promise?

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Cracker Barrel Bible Study – Nehemiah 2

Nehemiah 2

Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the king of Persia (modern day Iran). He was saddened that his homeland Jerusalem, where his ancestors were buried, laid in ruins while rebuilding efforts faltered. He prayed and then asked the king for permission to go to Jerusalem to organize the restoration of the wall and gates. Nehemiah asked the king for letters to the surrounding governors so that he would have safe passage through the land and supplies (timber) for his residence and the rebuilding of the wall and gates. He went by night to examine what needed to be done without telling anyone what he was doing – neither the opposition nor the people who would actually be doing the work. Only after he formulated a plan did he call out for rebuilding and ending their disgrace. He rallied the Israelites by telling them that the hand of God was on him and he had the king’s permission. Three foreign officers mocked Nehemiah and asked him if he was rebelling against the king. Nehemiah replied that God would give the Israelites success and that the foreigners had no historic right to Jerusalem.

I. Nehemiah was sad because his homeland laid in ruins and, after praying, asked his boss the king for permission to go rebuild the city.

II. Nehemiah examined the city and made a plan before telling anyone what he was doing.

III. Nehemiah had the king’s permission and gave credit to God.

IV. Opposition came, but Nehemiah had confidence that came from his faith in God.

Nehemiah saw a need, prayed to God, went, made a quiet plan, and then met opposition with reliance on God.

When you see a need, pray to God, ask for permission, go, make a plan, and meet any opposition by relying only on God (not your own resources).

Questions:
1.   Do you see a need? Do you pray about your ideas and test them to see if they came from God? (remember last week’s sermon points?) Do you need permission to go? Are you just complaining about something, or are you going to help?

2. Do you think out a plan before involving others?

3. Do you give God credit for your ideas and skills?

4. Do you have an unwavering faith in God when you meet opposition? How do you respond to naysayers who are not participating in God’s work?

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Daniel 10

Daniel 10

Chapter 10 tells of Daniel’s final vision about what will happen to his people.  Daniel  spent 3 weeks in a time of mourning during which he ate no choice foods and didn’t use any special skin care.  He then saw a special heavenly being, an angel or possibly even Jesus.  Daniel became weak and full of anguish, and was speechless.  However, the angel told him that from the time he first sought understanding and humbled himself before his God, his words were heard and he was esteemed.  The angel touched Daniel’s lips, and told him to stand.  Daniel was strengthened and could now speak.  He had prepared himself to hear God’s true message, and the angel further strengthened him to hear God’s Word for his people.

  1. Daniel prepared for 3 weeks to hear a true message from God which came in a vision.
  2. Only Daniel saw the vision; others fled in fear
  3. Since Daniel first sought understanding and humbled himself before God, he was heard.
  4. When encountering God, Daniel was speechless and overcome with anguish.  How could he speak to God?
  5. The angel strengthened Daniel and told him to stand.  He was now prepared to hear the message from God.

Know that if we prepare and listen, God will relieve our anguish and strengthen us to hear his true message for us.

 Questions:

How are we preparing to hear God’s message?
How might God’s message come to us?

Trust when we encounter God.  Others around us might not see Him.  Do you know God when you see Him?
Do you let the fear of others influence your relationship with God?

Do you seek understanding and humble yourself before God when you are seeking His Word for your life?
Are you confident that God hears your prayers even if the answer comes later?

Do you tremble and feel weak when you encounter God?
How can we, filled with sin, speak to our Lord?

Do you seek God’s strength to hear His message?
Will you stand before God and listen to His message for you?  Or will you tremble in anguish or flee?

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