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Selected personal sermon notes.  Some contain passages from various sources and adapted to the sermon theme.  Peruse and use at your leisure.  Alphabetically arranged.  All sermons are indexed by title.  Scroll to end of right hand column to locate archive list.


Choose Life

Genesis 2:6-7 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. 7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.  

Genesis 2:15-17 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. 

Job 14:14   If a man die, shall he live again? 

Choose life has been a slogan for the anti-abortion movement for years.  I, of course, agree with the idea.  But today, Easter Sunday, I believe the slogan needs an even greater application.  You do have a choice.  If the resurrection of Christ means anything, it means that you can choose life. 

Death had long raised the clenched fist of victory.

        Dust to dust, ashes to ashes, man goes to his long home and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

Death claimed the lives of God’s first human creations.

Every miracle of life ended in death’s icy grip.

Infants aborted, slaughtered, thrown into the fires of Molech.

Children wasted from malnutrition, disease, cold, heat and abandonment.

Soldiers marched into the machines of carnage by the hundreds of thousands.

Death, always death.

Heroes turned it back, slowed it down, but eventually succumbed to its relentless hunger.

Doctors gave brief respite, shut the front door, but death always went around to the back.

Health withstood it for years, but eventually lost the battle to the persistence of death.

Not money, not intellect, not talent, not knowledge, not political influence, not physical strength, not technological genius, not will power, not diplomacy—nothing could keep it at bay.

The Babylonian armies, the Persian hordes, the Greek phalanxes, the Roman legions could not stop the onslaught of death.

It was sung to, screamed at, cursed, reasoned with—but nothing anyone could say or do made the slightest difference.

It respected no name, it regarded no person, it avoided no man, it overlooked no race, tribe or ethnicity.

The Grim Reaper’s long-handled scythe sliced through all; it showed no mercy, no grace, no forgiveness.

The most famous names in history—Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Rachael had no advantage over the worst names—Nimrod, Pharaoh, Hophni and Phineas, Ahab and Jezebel, Queen Athaliah—all met the same fate of death.  It will not be swayed by miracle drugs, surgical suites, science labs, funeral parlors or burial vaults.  

                        “For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17

Ecclesiastes 12:1-5  Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; 2 While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain: 3 In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened, 4 And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low; 5 Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:  

Then, the most magnificent personage of all history walked on the stage. 

Death was stunned by his statement, “I am the resurrection and the life.”

Leprosy, the disease of living death, met its match, demons met their master, blindness met the light, and death met its fate.  The daughter of Jarius, the widow of Nain’s son, Lazarus, slipped out of handcuffs of death.  The vast underworld of evil and oppression convulsed.  Who is this man?

Some said he was Isaiah.  Other, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.

The Apostle Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!”

Never a man spoke like this man.  The wind and the waves obeyed His voice.

The name Jesus was on everyone’s lips.    

Then, a plan hatched in hell turned the tide.  It took the treachery of priests, a traitorous disciple, a cowardly Pilate, a fickle crowd and Roman soldier’s brutality, but it succeeded.

The perfect man, the sinless sacrifice, nails hammered though his palms and feet, fastening flesh to a blood-soaked cross, his head tilting forward on his lacerated chest, cried “It is finished!”

The limp form sagged on the shoulders of Joseph of Arimathea and spread out lifelessly on a marble slab.

The stone was sealed, and the laugh of death reverberated throughout earth and hell, chilling the bones of the living and the spirits of the dead.

Laugh, Satan!  It was to be the last gloat of earth’s greatest nemesis. 

Something was about to happen.

This irresistible force of death had reigned supreme for so long that it seemed omnipotent.

All of this was true for thousands of years—until…!

Until, the Almighty God decided that death had had its way long enough.

It was time for the irresistible force to meet the immovable object! 

Up from the grave he arose
With a mighty triumph o’er his foes.
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
And he lives forever with his saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. 3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: 5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen: Luke 24:1-6

But now, let’s shift gears.  We’ve been talking ancient history.  Let’s return from these first century happenings and wake up in the twenty-first century. 

You might be asking “What does this have to do with me?  It is a great story.  I even hope it’s true.  But my life will go on just like it has always done.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ may be great news but it is not my news.  I’ve got other issues—so many other issues that have nothing to do with a crucifixion, a burial or even a resurrection that happened two thousand years ago. 

But, you see, death has never changed, and it has not given up.  It is just as hungry today a it has ever been.  It doesn’t matter how modern, how up-to-date, how cutting edge, this same old nemesis of death still leaves its stench and stain on our lives today just as it did back then.  


Some people think that death can only be found in the morgues, funeral parlors and cemeteries.  But, anywhere Satan can spread sin, he can spread death.  There is a reason why the Bible says those who are without Christ are “dead in their trespasses and sins.”

I want to get real plain with you today.

Sin is deathJames 1:15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.  

When you abuse substances, you are injecting death into your body.

When you get involved in immorality, you are embracing death.

When you lie, cheat, steal and live a dishonest life, you are not free; you are dancing with death.

So, what does Christ’s resurrection have to do with you today?

Just this:  If He defeated death in His own body, He can defeat death in yours!

You need this resurrection message today!

Ephesians 2:1-10 (NKJV)
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.


But death doesn’t just stalk the open sinner.  Every time a cancerous tumor is diagnosed, every time you wince from the pain of arthritis, every time someone’s arteries get clogged, every time COPD suffocates a set of lungs, death is letting you know that he is still within arm’s reach.  These last two months we lost two of our good men here at First Apostolic Church.  This body is failing, subject to sickness and disease, and will finally lose its viability.  

Paul writes in Romans 7:24  O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?  Then, he answers his own question in the next verse.  “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”  

If you are here today with pain and suffering going on in your body, I want you to know that The same God who created you is able to heal you!  The Bible says, “And with his stripes we are healed!”  But even if none of us get our healing, this resurrection message is for us as well. 

1 Corinthians 15:51-57 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 


I also have a message for you today who are not ready to take spiritual things seriously.  You are in church physically, but a million miles away spiritually.  You may not realize it, but carnality is death.  Romans 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 

If you choose to be a half-way Christian; if you choose to be a sub-standard, Christian-in-name-only; if you choose to ride the fence, you are choosing death! 

 Galatians 6:7-8 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.   For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Would to God the holy winds of revival would sweep through your life and set you on fire!  


Finally, there is a whole group of people here this morning who have become disillusioned by life, bitter at your circumstances, angry at people you blame for your problems, and depressed over your future.  Bro. Tenney says, “You can call a pity party if you want to, but don’t look for me to show up!”  By this time in your live, you thought you would be healthier, wealthier and wiser, but instead you are sicker, poorer and dumber!  

2 Corinthians 7:10 (KJV)
10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. 

Don’t look for a better job to give you a better life.  Don’t put all your hope in a promotion, a better house, car, clothes, neighborhood, education, relationship or stock market performance. 

1 Timothy 6:9-10 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 

I challenge you this morning to CHOOSE LIFE!       

We can talk all day long about death, and leave here depressed, discouraged and destroyed.  But, let me tell you about the God that I serve!  Matthew 22:32  I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. 

Every time you draw a breath, you need to thank your Creator.  It’s called “the breath of life!”

God breathed life into mankind.

Life embodies the essence of God; life represents the power of God.

The ravages of winter can send its snow, sleet, ice and cold, but it can’t stop spring!  The ravages of death can send its pain, tears, grief and suffering, but it can’t stop life!

Choose life!

Life is unstoppable, irrepressible, inexorable, inevitable, unavoidable, and unconquerorable.

Choose life!

Life is relentless, persistent, insistent, constant, determined, adamant, resolute, and stubborn.

Choose life!

Let me be more specific:  I’m not talking about life as an impersonal force, life as energy, life as a universal element, life as raw power.  I’m talking about the One we call the Lord Jesus Christ! 

1 Timothy 6:13-16 (NKJV) I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen. 

Revelation 1:17-18 (KJV) And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: 18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. 

There ain’t no grave can hold my body down
There ain’t no grave can hold my body down
When I hear that trumpet sound I’m gonna rise right out of the ground
Ain’t no grave can hold my body down

Well, meet me Jesus, meet me. Meet me in the middle of the air
And if these wings don’t fail me I will meet you anywhere
Ain’t no grave can hold my body down
There ain’t no grave can hold my body down

Choose life!


Be baptized in Jesus’ Name.

Receive the gift of the Holy Ghost!

Choose Life!


Buy the Field

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Matthew 13:44 

My title this morning comes from the last clause in Matthew 13:44.  “Buy the Field.”  The story of this parable seems to be simple and straight-forward.  A man found a treasure, hid it in a field, then went and sold all that he had and bought the field.  We are not told what the treasure was—gold, silver, or precious stones—but we know that it must have been extremely valuable for him to totally sell out and go buy it.  When you begin to probe around the edges, however, the questions start coming.  Why didn’t he just take the treasure home?  Why did he have to sell out?  Why did he buy the field?  

Jesus Christ has lessons to teach that astound and astonish, perplex and puzzle, intrigue and mystify, and challenge and shame us.  He continually unfolds a value system to us that defies human logic, yet demonstrates the vast superiority of divine logic.  He places value on the strangest things like a little lunch consisting of five loaves and two fishes; two mites of a widow, a single coin, a baby lamb and a common traveler headed to Jericho.  On the other hand, he despises such treasures as the kingdoms of the world, the acclamation and adoration of the masses and personal pleasure.  God’s value system always seems to be mystifying to almost everything we think as rational human beings.  

Let me tell you why we bought the field we now call 5701 Sylvania Ave.  The FAC heard about this property in 1977.  It used to belong to the Champion Sparkplug people, the Stranahans.  It was part of Wildwood Wilderness Preserve to the south, Camp Miakonda, the Boy Scout to the north and the Stranahan Arboretum next to it. The construction of I-475 left this strip of land between  the freeway and Sylvania Ave.  It was held in trust by Toledo Trust Bank, and they had it up for sale.    Draper Construction Company had taken out an option on it and listed it for one day in the Toledo Blade.  They wanted $150,000 for it.  Brother Rod Farnsworth saw the ad and told Pastor Kinzie.  A group of our advisory board members drove out here to see it.  It was about five miles due west from our former location on Jackman Rd.  The property is about twenty-five acres, a half mile long, from Holland-Sylvania to the west and Ottawa Creek on the east.  Now, of that twenty-five acres, only about half of it is usable.  There is a huge ditch the runs all along the south by the freeway.  We can’t use it (at least not without a lot of money and red tape.)  There is a flood plain of about six acres on the east end.  The EPA says we can’t touch it.  But we couldn’t buy the just the remaining twelve good acres.  We had to buy the whole field.  Our attorney said wait until the option expired and offer TT $75,000.  We did and they sold it to us.  Do you know why we did?  Because there was a treasure here.  There was a church here.  Oh, it wasn’t built yet.  We had a lot of work to do before  we could actually see it.  But by faith, every one of us believed that a treasure existed on this field.  But if we bought the field, we had to buy the ditch and the flood plain.  It didn’t matter.  The treasure was worth it! 

Now, back to the parable.   What does it really mean?  (Scholars say Jesus was the man, Israel was the treasure, and the world was the field.  Jesus redeemed the whole world to save Israel.)  Without denying that interpretation, I submit to you that the parable may have been much more.  It could very well be that we were the man who found the treasure.  The problem was, it wasn’t truly ours.  It belonged to the owner of the field.  We hid our treasure because we didn’t really know what to do with it.  It was a major find.  It had the potential to change our very lives.  But, now that it was in the field, we had to go get some money to buy the field.  The amount it would cost was staggering.  We didn’t have that kind of money just lying around.  It meant that we had to sell everything we had and to buy the field.  We could not simply buy the treasure because the owner wouldn’t sell it to us.  We had to buy the whole field.  I don’t know how much it cost in actual currency.  All I know is that it cost everything we had.  

This is a perfect picture of grace.  Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Grace comes into our possession at no cost to us, but it is hidden in a field.  The only way we can access this grace is to pay the ultimate price.  Free grace costs everything you have!  But, don’t let that stop you.  The man who spent all to buy the field knew that he was going to come out so far ahead that the price he had to pay was laughable. 

2 Corinthians 4:15-17 (KJV) 15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. 16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” 

I think the first thing we need to understand is that the gospel is not accessible to thieves, robbers, killers and plunderers.  It doesn’t come as a stand-alone commodity, as though you can strip salvation from the hands of Jesus and run away with it.  Have you ever heard the term “cherry-picker?”  That means someone who picks out only what they want and discards the rest.  No, that’s not the way we come to Jesus.    If you want the Sun, you have to buy the universe that comes with him.  If you want the tree, you have to buy the forest.   If you want Him, you have the buy the field.  But, I will tell you this… 

When you buy the field, you get the treasure you found.

I came to Jesus, weary, worn, and sad.
He took my sins away, He took my sins away.
And now His love has made my heart so glad,
He took my sins away.

He took my sins away, He took my sins away,
And keeps me singing every day!
I’m so glad He took my sins away,
He took my sins away.

The load of sin was more than I could bear.
He took my sins away, He took my sins away.
And now on Him I roll my ev’ry care,
He took my sins away.

No condemnation have I in my heart,
He took my sins away, He took my sins away.
His perfect peace He did to me impart,
He took my sins away.

If you will come to Jesus Christ today,
He’ll take your sins away, He’ll take your sins away,
And keep you happy in His love each day,
He’ll take your sins away.

Colossians 2:13-15 (KJV)
13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

There is nothing in the world more important than your salvation!  Make whatever sacrifices you have to make.  Get rid of any baggage you have accumulated.  Abandon your personal dreams, ambitions, goals and loves to get it.  

Repentance: forgiveness.  Baptism: remission of sins.  Spirit infilling: Victory over sin.  These are the gifts we have been given.  It’s when you answer the sin question that you really begin to live.  These attributes represent the treasure that the world has no clue is in the field.  But remember… 

When you buy the field, you have to buy all of its challenges. 

Jack Hyles said, “Here is a treasure, the Bible says, found in a field. A man searches and he finds that treasure. The Bible says he goes and sells all that he has, and he buys that field. Now suddenly he finds out some things. He finds out what he has bought. He has bought some weeds. He has bought some rocks. He has bought some spiders. Now bear in mind, there is a treasure somewhere down there in that field. He bought some ants. No doubt, he bought some mice, or maybe some rats, maybe a skunk or a raccoon, or an opossum. He bought all of these things. Perhaps he bought some garbage that was thrown there on the field, or a dead tree, or some poison ivy. He bought some lizards there on that field. He bought all of that because he wanted the treasure. Are you listening to me? He wanted the treasure.” 

  • Some people want the blessing and benefits, but not the trials and tests.
  • Some want the signs, wonders and miracles, but not the prayer, fasting and sacrifice.
  • Some want the power of Pentecost without the stigma of Pentecost.
  • Some want to be holy without being holy!
  • Some want Christ the Savior, but not Christ the Lord.

But the Bible says that God hath made this same Jesus…both Lord and Christ.  Salvation is the coin of the realm, but Lordship is the other side of the same coin. 

One of the verses I like to quote often is Titus 2:11-12.  For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,   Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” 

Teaching?  Yes, teaching!  Grace sets up a classroom.  We have some lessons to learn.  Some of us are eager to get the grace of God, but we drop the class when we find out the course requirements!  

Last Thursday was Valentine’s Day.  What’s a man to do if he just had a huge fight with this wife?  What is a woman to do if she just got totally disgusted with her husband on Wednesday?  Now, I’m not talking about me.  I did buy her a dozen red roses, but my fighting days are over.  After a long time (We just celebrated 42 years together) I finally realized that my treasure was worth more than anything that displeased me.  In fact, she has to put up with a lot more than I do in this marriage! 

Now, some of you are mad at God.  You might even be in a fight with Him today.  He should have answered your prayer.  He should have supplied your need (it was probably a want, not a need.)  You’d better come down off you high horse and realize that God has to put up with a lot more from you than you would ever imagine!  You’d better be thankful he lets you even live! 

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise.” 

Your marriage is a treasure.  Your home is a treasure.  Your family is a treasure.  Your church is a treasure.  Your relationship with God is a treasure.  You may be looking at these things as liabilities, burdens, pains and problems.  But, you’d better buy the field!  Yes, there may be some weeds, some mice, some dead trees, some garbage, some ants, wasps and bees.  

Some are in the midst of Forty Days of Fire!  Can’t have this and can’t have that.  This is getting ridiculous!  But you are teaching your flesh a spiritual lesson.  Life doesn’t consist of what you eat or what you drink.  It is every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God!  Buy the field because that’s where the treasure is! 

But, God never lets you down.  He never gives you an even exchange.  Because… 

When you buy the field, you get more than the treasure. 

The story of Ruth and Boaz is a beautiful illustration of what Jesus Christ did for us.  Elimilech and his wife Naomi, when to the land of Moab to make a living.  While they were there, their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion married Moabite women, Ruth and Orpha.  Elimilech, Mahlon and Chilion died, and Naomi returned to Judah, to the village of Bethlehem.  Naomi had a field she put up for sale.  Now, Israel had a custom that when a man died without children, the nearest relative should marry the woman and raise up children by her so that the family name would not disappear.  So, when Naomi put up the field for sale, she also attached Ruth’s name to the deed.  This is where Boaz comes into the picture.  He was a wealthy man and he wanted to marry Ruth.  

There was a problem.  A man still lived who was a closer relative than Boaz.  So, Boaz went to him and told him about the offer.  We read what happened in Ruth 4. 

Ruth 4:3-5 (NKJV)
3 Then he said to the close relative, “Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, sold the piece of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech.   4 And I thought to inform you, saying, ‘Buy it back in the presence of the inhabitants and the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, redeem it; but if you will not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know; for there is no one but you to redeem it, and I am next after you.’ ” And he said, “I will redeem it.”   5 Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also buy it from Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to perpetuate the name of the dead through his inheritance.” 

Ruth 4:9-10 (NKJV)
9 And Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, from the hand of Naomi.   10 Moreover, Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, I have acquired as my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead through his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brethren and from his position at the gate. You are witnesses this day.”  The treasure was Ruth, but Boaz had to buy the field to get what he really wanted.   

Boaz is a type of Jesus, our Kinsman Redeemer.  We were the Gentile bride that needed redemption.  No one was qualified to be the sacrificial lamb and die for our sins.  Only Jesus could do it.  

Isaiah 63:5 (KJV)
And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. 

When you buy the field, you get Jesus.  And when you get Jesus, you always get more than you thought you were getting.  

C. R. Free’s illustration of the man a bought a field for the stand of hardwood trees. Unbeknownst to him, there was a mother lode of gravel worth much more than the trees.  Then, in excavating for the gravel, he struck oil!  Was he ever happy he bought the field! 

When I got Jesus… 

  • I thought I got my answer…but I got all the answers to all the problems in the world.
  • I thought I got life…but I got life more abundantly.
  • I thought I got life for today…but I got life everlasting.
  • I thought I got happiness…but I got joy unspeakable and full of glory.
  • I thought I got relief from sin…but I got victory over sin.
  • I thought Jesus gave me a hug…but I got a marriage proposal.
  • I thought I got a few friends…but I got an entire spiritual family.

Someone here today may be thinking, “I bought the field, but I haven’t found the treasure yet.”  Keep digging.  It’s there.  You’ll find it when you’re going through a crisis.  You’ll find it when you are in a deep depression and need help.  You’ll find it in the midst of the trial of your life.  Today, you need some comfort.  We who know Jesus have the ultimate comfort.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (KJV)
13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” 


Bread for Betrayal

1 Corinthians 11:23-29 (KJV)
23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:
24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.
27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 

This passage has become one of the most haunting, but at the same time most revealing passages in the Bible.  Whether or not we are serving communion at this reading (we’re not), it still has a powerful impact on us.  The situation is clear.  Jesus is in his favorite place to gather with his disciples.  From our vantage point, we know that Christ in now entering his week of passion—his capture, mock trial, crucifixion, burial, resurrection, ascension and glorification.  It is not clear that his disciples knew exactly what was ahead of them.  I do believe that they were beginning to comprehend the purpose and plan of Jesus.  

The time setting was significant.  “…the same night in which he was betrayed took bread.”  Paul, in writing this, did not say Monday night or Tuesday night.  He did not specify the fourteenth of the month—or whatever.  He associated the act of Jesus with the night of betrayal.  In other words, take note all you who read this, that this supreme act of Jesus took place against the backdrop of the worst act of betrayal in the annals of history.  It is in the worst circumstances that the best response can take place.  It is in the darkest night that the brightest beam of God’s grace and glory can shine forth.  

The body of Jesus was about to be broken; the blood of Jesus was about to be spilled.  Then, Jesus makes a statement that has caused much anxiety to the church over many centuries.  “Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” 

In a larger sense, this searing statement finds application to all of us who would take the Lord’s Supper in succeeding centuries.  But in a specific sense, Jesus had someone in mind.  If you recall, he referred to this person in the foot washing episode. 

John 13:1-11 (KJV)
1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him;
3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.
11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.


First, I want to talk to you about adversity. 

How do we handle it? Paul Stoltz, in Adversity Quotient, says we are quitters, campers or climbers. Some of us fold the tent at the first sign of adversity and just quit. Others find out where their level of tolerance to normal adversity fluctuates and learn to live within that range. They are campers. The most successful among us, however, never discover anything that stops them. They keep climbing, battling against the most brutal opposition, until they plant their flag at the top. 

Whenever you see spiritually successful people, don’t admire their brilliance or covet their favorable environment. Instead, examine their adversity quotient. No saint achieves a consistent prayer life without adversity standing in the way. No parent enjoys victory in their home without adversity. No godly man or woman lives an overcoming life without adversity challenging every moment. No flaming evangel witnesses for Christ without adversity showing up at every opportunity. None of these people have a superior strain of the Holy Ghost. They don’t have a better plan. They don’t command more angels as ministering spirits. They simply refuse to allow adversity to win. 

The Apostolic church has the best plan in the world. We preach the life-transforming gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. We teach the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. We know that repentance, baptism in Jesus’ name and the infilling of the Holy Ghost constitutes full Bible salvation. We not only know these things theologically, we witness them experientially. Everything we need and want is in our relationship with God. If any of us have a problem, it is not in our plan, but in our diminished capacity for adversity. 

Expect adversity. “Be sober…for your adversary, the Devil, walketh about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. Every trap, snare and stumbling block is before you. Sickness, tragedy, trouble, rejection, human failure, temptation and opposition of every brand, stripe and form will menace you. Many foes are real. Many are imaginary. Many are unrealized threats. All constitute adversity. Every great revival was spawned in adversity. 

God may never take away the adversity, but he will do two things: 

He will give you an increased capacity to absorb it! There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but 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. I Corinthians 10:13. Paul said, “None of these things move me.” Acts 20:24 . 

He will show you the way to victory over it! I John 4:4 says, Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” By going on the offense, by committing yourself to spiritual disciplines, by looking to your goals rather than your goblins, you will destroy the material sources of your failures. 

We cannot improve our plan. We can, and must, improve our adversity quotient! 

What did Jesus do? 

If you read through the remainder of John 13, you will know precisely what Jesus knew about Judas.  But the most amazing thing about the reaction of Jesus was that in the very presence of a traitor, in the very revelation of who was going to be responsible for betraying his trust, Jesus did not act to protect himself.  He did not curse Judas.  He did not disrupt the plan of God from playing itself out. 

Jesus was acting in accord with Bible prophecy. 

Psalm 41:7-9 (KJV)
7 All that hate me whisper together against me: against me do they devise my hurt.
8 An evil disease, say they, cleaveth fast unto him: and now that he lieth he shall rise up no more.
9 Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.

Yet, even though he knew what was happening, he still had options open to him.  

1) He could have called out Judas and stopped him from the act of betrayal.  That’s what most of us would have done.  We don’t like to be hurt, we don’t like to be threatened, we don’t like it when someone does something against us.  We scream.  We fight.  We counterattack.  We demand that they cease and desist.  We get up in arms.  We call 9-11, call out the national guard, call the media hot-line, whatever.  We do know that we are not going to sit back and take it.  We believe in the old saying “Don’t get mad, get even!” 

2) He could have ignored him.  Jesus may not have done anything proactive to stop Judas, but he could have ignored him.  He could have shut him out from the banquet.  Many people react to adversity or personal attack by our enemies by a self-righteous exclusionary technique.  The individual we don’t like—or that we know doesn’t like us—we treat as a non-person.  They don’t even exist as far as we’re concerned.  “I’m not going to hurt you—I just going to draw a circle around me and my friends and leave you on the outside.”  

3)  Jesus reached out to him.  And, in case Judas didn’t respond, Jesus broke bread with his disciples.  Breaking bread meant that Jesus continued to minister to people.  Jesus marched to the beat of a distant drummer.  He did not see this as a personal problem with one man.  He recognized that there was a much bigger plan at stake here.  The most incredible fact was that the betrayal of Judas was going to launch the very drama of redemption. 

Without the burial, there would be no resureection.

Without the death there would be no burial.

Without the capture, there would be no death.

Without the betrayal, there would be no capture. 

Some of us weary God with asking foolish and unlearned questions.  Why?  Why?  Why?  Why did this happen to me?  Why can’t things be better for me?  Why did this person do me wrong when I didn’t do anything to deserve it?  Why did this person get cancer and this other person didn’t?  Why did this person find a husband or wife and I didn’t?  

Do you know the danger of these kinds of questions?  Because mankind has a tendency to supply answers for them when the answer is not forthcoming.  And, our answer is usually accusatory against God!  

But, dismissing offense and reaching out in love and grace has always been the Christ way. 

Matthew 5:38-44 (KJV)
38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.
41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 

When Jesus came face to face with the man who would betray him, he disdained the dagger.  He broke bread.  In the face of his greatest adversity, he held out the bread and the cup.  I am convinced that Jesus was tested to a far greater extent in his encounter with Judas the traitor than he was with the Jewish high priest or the Roman executioners.  


I take you to Joseph, a figure of Christ in typology.  The betrayal of Joseph happened many years before.  Now he was in a position of great authority.  His brothers—the same ones who sold him into slavery—were gathered around him.  How did he respond? 

Genesis 45:1-8 (KJV)
1 Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren.
2 And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard.
3 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence.
4 And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.
5 Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.
6 For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest.
7 And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
8 So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt. 

When you are given betrayal, offer bread.

When you are threatened, maligned, hurt or attacked, offer bread.

When you think you cannot make it one more step, offer bread. 

Jesus knew that by offering bread, he was giving salvation to the world.  

Isaiah 30:18-26 (KJV)
20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers:
21 And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.

23 Then shall he give the rain of thy seed, that thou shalt sow the ground withal; and bread of the increase of the earth, and it shall be fat and plenteous: in that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures.

26 Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.


I’m Not Coming Down

Nehemiah 6:1-3 (KJV)
1 Now it came to pass, when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had builded the wall, and that there was no breach left therein; (though at that time I had not set up the doors upon the gates;) 2 That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief. 3 And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you? 

There is nothing more exciting in the world of salvation and righteousness than for a sinner to step up to salvation.  Mary Magdalene, the devil-possessed prostitute, found deliverance and salvation.  The Ethiopian eunuch, a pagan foreign traveler; Cornelius, the leader of an Italian band; Zacceus, the thieving tax collector; the demoniac from Gadara, the great Apostle Paul, persecutor of Christians—all escaped the shackles of sin and the clutches of the devil. 

Just as exciting as the initial salvation is when God calls someone to a higher calling, to preach, to be a missionary, to plant a church, to be a soul-winner, to be a pillar in the church, to be a great example or a powerful witness.  It’s a beautiful thing.  Simon Peter was converted from a cowardly defector into God’s chosen spokesman for the inaugural day of the church. 

Last week we had a man in this pulpit, Bro. Max Manley who had both a great conversion experience and also received a great calling.  He did a fantastic job teaching the Word of God.  We had other ministers rise up from the ashes right here in this church and are now doing marvelous things for God—Bro. Chuck Hurst, Bro. Dave Olsen, Bro. Ed Nichols, Bro. Travis Miller, Bro. Keith Kirk, and of course those who are still here in Toledo working for God.  We have others who have gone on to their reward, like Bro. Victor Bentley, and others who are now retired, like Bro. Paul Dennis, Bro. Roy Well and Bro. David Ward.  Some of their children are now at work in the kingdom.  We have spiritual grandchildren all over the world! 

I wonder how many more great instances of salvation are still waiting to happen right here in this church?  I believe that in the very near future, someone is going to walk down the aisle of this church and be set free from drugs, from alcohol, from a life of crime, from a lifestyle of immorality, and from the power of the devil.  This church is a soul-saving station and is getting ready to see more souls than ever set free from sin.  

Not only that, but I believe that God has young people in this church destined for a higher calling.  Right from the pews of this sanctuary are going to go preachers of the gospel, gospel musicians, missionaries and laborers in the fields of the world.  


The bible tells the story of Nehemiah.  He was the Jewish cup bearer to the Persian King, Artaxerxes.  It was during the time of the exile of the Jews, and Jerusalem had fallen into shambles.  Nehemiah lived far from Jerusalem, but he couldn’t get it off his mind.  It grieved him to think of God’s holy city in ruins.  Of all the men in the bible, Nehemiah probably had the greatest sensitivity to the things of God.  God began to talk to him, and laid a burden on his heart to go back and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.  

There are times when the pastor talks to people about a spiritual need in the church.  “Would you take this position?  Would you see that this gets done?”  I love it when someone comes to me and says, “Pastor, I feel a tremendous burden for souls, or Home Bible Studies, or outreach, or whatever.  I don’t have to build the fire, it’s already there.  This past year, I didn’t have to get Bro. Kevin Condon to think about a tent revival.  If I had, it would never have gotten done because it was such a huge task.  He would have found lots of excuses whey it couldn’t be done.  It was too much work, too many people would have to get involved, and it was going to cost too much!  When God talks to a person, though, it’s a totally different story.  Kevin was like a Mac truck; he wouldn’t be stopped! 

What I’m talking about is God elevating you to a place of His calling.  The Bible speaks of a hopeful calling, a high calling, a holy calling, and a heavenly calling.  When you get a summons from the throne room of God, it is undeniable, irrepressible, incomparable and impossible to resist.  Furthermore, it has to be this way.  This is the only way God works!  His gifts and callings are without repentance!  Do you know why?  Because you have never been in a fight like you are about to engage in when you answer God’s call in your life! 

Nehemiah had never heard of Sanballat, or Tobiah or the many other enemies of what he was planning to do.  He was about to find out. 

Nehemiah 4:7-8 (KJV)
7 But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, 8 And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it. 

Isn’t it amazing that people who never cared about any decision you made in life all of a sudden get beside themselves when they hear you are going to that Apostolic church?  And, as long as you are living a normal, secular life like everyone else, they’re fine.  But as soon as you announce that you are going higher in the things of God, or that you are going to pursue ministry in some way, WWIII breaks out. 

I am convinced that the only people the devil doesn’t bother are the people that don’t bother him!  As long as you subscribe to the philosophy that Bro. Max Manley taught about, you’re fine.  He talked about Moralistic Therapeutic Deism that has become the new religion among young people.  1.  There is a God.  2. Be nice to each other.  3.  The goal in life is to be happy.  4.  God doesn’t interfere in your life. 5.  All good people go to heaven when they die.  If that’s all you believe, you won’t even be a blip on the devil’s radar screen. 

But when you decide to move up higher, look out!  Satan doesn’t want you to find the highway of holiness.  Isaiah 35:8 And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.”  I submit to you this morning, that you not only have to fight to get your calling, you have to fight to keep your calling.  

You have to say, “This is who I am; I’m not coming down!”  You’re not just reforming yourself; you’re not just choosing a different way of life.  You’re not just joining a different church.  You have heard from God!  This is what separates people who get salvation from people who just get religion.  

When you hear from God, you are able to say, “I’m not coming down!”  You are willing to fight off every jeer, every criticism, every temptation, every discouragement, every defection of a friend, every well-intentioned advice from a relative, every attack and every threat.  You go up to your new work, your new life with a new attitude.  This is what Nehemiah did: 

Nehemiah 4:16-23 (KJV) “And it came to pass from that time forth, that the half of my servants wrought in the work, and the other half of them held both the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the habergeons; and the rulers were behind all the house of Judah. 17 They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon. 18 For the builders, everyone had his sword girded by his side, and so builded.”

I have a message for everyone who has made a trip down the aisle to this altar.  You’ve repented of your sins.  You’ve been baptized in the Name of Jesus.  You have been filled with the Holy Ghost.  You’ve started out walking on the high way of holiness.  Now, you’ve got to learn to say, “I’m not coming down!” 

Ephesians 2:1-10 (KJV) 1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.  

Do you realize where you are?  You have been raised up to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus!  You are breathing rarefied air.  You’re in the company of the redeemed of Christ!  You can lay your head on your pillow at night and sleep with a clear conscience.  You’re making right decisions in life.  You are not bound by alcohol, or drugs.  You can look your husband or wife in the eye and say I am faithful to you.  Why would you every want to come down from the high place where God has put you?  Why would you want to go back to the old life? 

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (KJV) 9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mnkind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.  

I’m not coming down! 

I’m saved; I don’t want to be unsaved.

I’m found; I don’t want to be lost.

I’m living for God; I don’t want to waste my life living for the devil.

I’m right; I don’t want to be wrong.

I’m rich; I don’t want to be poor.

No, Devil!  I’m not coming down! 

I Am A Person of Vision! 

  • I have been a pew-warmer, a fence-walker, a spectator for too long.
  • I am getting up, getting right and getting going.
  • I may not see the entire picture, but I see my picture.
  • I can’t try everything, but I will try something.
  • I may fail trying, but I won’t fail to try.
  • I may not make much on my investment, but I won’t bury my talent in the ground.
  • I will act even though I receive no thanks in return.
  • I will pray and leave the answer up to God.
  • I will witness and leave the response up to the person.
  • I will smile even though no one smiles back.
  • I will give because it is right, not because I expect something in exchange for my gift.
  • I am blood-bought, Word-taught and miraculously-wrought.
  • I am divinely created, Spirit-filled, God-called and Heaven-sent.
  • I am saved by grace, programmed to succeed, wired for power and mission-oriented.
  • God is my commander-in-chief.
  • Jesus is my Savior.
  • My pastor is my coach.
  • The Bible is my blueprint.
  • The Holy Ghost is my Guide.
  • The world is my mission field.
  • I will be immune to criticism, unbowed by critics, unmoved by suffering and unashamed of the Gospel.
  • I will obey like Noah, sacrifice like Abraham, fight like David, pray like Daniel, be patient like Job, see God’s greatness like Isaiah, weep like Jeremiah, preach like Peter and reach out like Paul.
  • I have nothing greater to live for and nothing better to die for.
  • I am a person of vision! 

Finally, there is one man I’m glad resisted all calls, all pressure, all temptation to come down. 

Matthew 27:33-42 (KJV)
33 And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull,
34 They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.
35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.
36 And sitting down they watched him there; 37 And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left. 39 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,
40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. 41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, 42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.

If you had been there, which crowd would you have joined?  Would you have said, It’s too much pain, come down.  It’s too hard; come down.  You don’t have to do this; come down! 

Hebrews 12:1-3 (KJV)
1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. 

My salvation depended on Him staying on the cross! Had He come down from the cross, his blood would have been shed in vain.  There would have been no burial, no resurrection, no ascension.  There would have been no upper room, no Day of Pentecost, no church, no salvation!

He couldn’t afford to let his enemies win. 

He is my example.  I have a cross.  I have a calling.  I have a consecration.  I have destiny!  I’m not coming down!  I can’t afford to let my enemies win! 

I am appealing to someone here today.  You know what you want to do. You know what you need to do.  You are weighing out all the pros and cons.  You’re looking at all the alternatives.  But you will never make a better decision than the one that finds you at this altar this morning. 

If you are in the midst of the battle, you need to come up here and get a better grip on the trowel in one hand and the sword in the other.  Today, we are living too close to the end.  Your work is not complete.  


The Spoils of God

And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”   Col 2:13-15

Ancient warfare was brutal and ugly.  Triumphant soldiers turned into marauding hordes as they pillaged and plundered the fallen enemy.  The spoil was considered the soldiers salary for joining in the battle.  If a man risked life and limb to fight, he looked forward to his part of the spoil.  

It is in this context that Apostle Paul tells us that Christ spoiled principalities and powers.  He disarmed them, rendered them powerless, and stripped them of everything of value.  He took the spoil because it was his right . 

The Prince of Peace invaded the domain of the prince and power of the air.  He rendered Satan powerless at the temptations. He humiliated him in front of the Pharisees and Scribes. He triumphed over him in the spiritual, emotional, and physical realms. He stripped him of his power over human hearts. He disarmed the last great weapon of the devil—-Death:  Heb 2:14-15  Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;  And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 

The Spoils of War 

The spoils of war belong to the victor.  Plunder, booty and spoils of war consisted of everything of value taken in battle—gold and silver, clothing, food, household items, weapons, implements of agriculture, camels, sheep, cattle, and men, women, and children to be used as slaves.  The triumphant army fell like vultures upon the spoils to restock their supplies and build up their strength.  Spoils, especially gold and silver, were taken for honor to the victor. 

The Spoil of  Jericho 

But, let us begin with a familiar Old Testament story of a man named Achan.  But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel.  Joshua 7:1   

After Achan’s crime, the unwitting Joshua sent his armies against a little village called Ai.  He expected a minor skirmish that would quickly be quelled by his victorious army.  Instead, he suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hands of much smaller troops.  Joshua fell before God, complaining and whining about the loss as though God had betrayed Israel.  God rebuked him. 

And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put [it] even among their own stuff.  Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, [but] turned [their] backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. 

How did this happen?  Examine The circumstances of Achan’s sin with me.  Victory shouts and exultant cries of wilderness-weary Israelites still punctuated the air when Achan scrambled over the collapsed walls of Jericho.  Pandamonium ruled.  Conquerored warriors were herded down  cramped streets, wails and screams of Canaanites assaulted his eardrums, and everybody was swept up in the post-battle operations.  As he stopped to catch his breath, his eyes fell on some irresistable spoils.  

Before you criticize Achan too harshly, remember he had not seen and new clothes for nearly forty years, and possibly had not possessed gold or silver coins since he left Egypt.  It looked inviting.  It was easy enough to pick it up without anyone paying attention.  In his own words, “When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they [are] hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.” 

The smallness of Achan’s sin.  Traditional thinking condemns Achan for the sin of stealing and hypocrisy.  Was Achan guilty only of petty thievery?  Was it simply a matter of disobedience?  How would Achan’s third-rate theft mean much in the great spoils of Jericho? 

Although we do not claim to differentiate between types of sins, this sin seems to rank below others.  Rahab, the harlot, went free, while Achan, the thief, was caught.  Achan’s act  was pent-up desire, proportionately unsignificant. However, Achan’s sin was so egregious to God that Israel lost the battle of the villiage of Ai, after the great victory over Jericho. 

The greatness of Achan’s sin.  As small as it may have seemed, Achan’s transgression incited the wrath of God.  We discover the reason when we remember what God’s instructions were before Jericho. 

And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city.  And the city shall be accursed, [even] it, and all that [are] therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that [are] with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. And ye, in any wise keep [yourselves] from the accursed thing, lest ye make [yourselves] accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, [are] consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.  Joshua 6:16   

In the Hebrew, the word accursed (charam {khaw-ram’}) is a strange word.  It means to destroy utterly, in some places.  In other places, it carries the meaning:  to devote, to consecrate.    Most of the time, the two intentions are carried out in the same act.  If you want to devote something, especially to God, you destroy it.  If you want to save it, you kill it.  If you keep something that is accursed, you become accursed yourself. 

This is the meaning given in other translations.  But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it.  19  All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the LORD and must go into his treasury.” Joshua 6:18 New International Version. 

God’s intention was not to literally destroy the vessels of silver and gold, but that the children of Israel would so disclaim them, so devote them to God that it would be just as if they were utterly destroyed. 

Achan’s Crime.  Achan’s greatest crime was not that he took what belonged to Jericho, or from his fellow Israelite.  It was not even that he coveted, stole or hid something. It was his unforgiveable failure to discern the spoils of God.  He usurped the divine prerogative.  He dared to claim that which was owned by God Himself. 

What did Achan take? Gold:  Symbolic of God’s glory, of doctrinal purity, of lives tempered with fire;  Silver:  The price of redemption, the singular objective of the divine cause; Garment:  The symbol of Israel’s image and identity. 

By taking the silver and gold, Achan was telling God…

  • that He could take care of himself instead of depending upon God.
  • that the manna, the water and the quale were paltry miracles.
  • that the deliverance from Egypt was coincidental.
  • that the crossing of Jordan was meaningless.
  • that the walls of Jericho would have fallen down anyway.
  • that he owed nothing to God for his deliverance and inheritance.
  • that instead of Achan conqueroring Jericho, Jericho conquerored Achan.

Outside Jericho, Achan knew his only hope was God.  Inside Jericho, he proclaimed victory, and himself the hero. 

Let us never forget who won our victory—-it has been won by Jesus!  It was his blood, his life, his death, his resurrection.  My efforts had nothing to do with my eternal salvation.  He spoiled principalities and powers for me! 

Beware lest any man spoil [rob] you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.  For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.  And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: Colossians 2:8-10           

Jesus took the initiative; he came down to my level; he identified with me.  Now He wants me to identify with him!  Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.  13  And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;  Col 2:12-15 

We are God’s spoils!

  • The world belongs to God.  Psalm 50:12
  • The nation of Israel belongs to God. Exodus 6:6
  • Our bodies are belong to God. I Corinthians 6:19
  • Our gold belongs to God.  Malachi 3:8-10 

Abilities, talents, gifts, ministries, plans, desires—-all are devoted to God.  Your dreams are not yours, they are God’s!  Revival and growth; Building programs; Prayer power; Dynamic spiritual life; all these are not self-generated, self-fulfilling dreams.  They are planted in our hearts by God Himself!  Not only must we disavow ownership of the concepts, we must renounce any part of winning the victory.  It all belongs to God! 

Don’t touch God’s gold, God’s silver or God’s garments!  How do we touch them?  By choosing…

  • Convenience over conviction.
  • Pleasure over power.
  • Personal gain over kingdom-mindedness.
  • Sales over service.
  • PR over the Precious Word.
  • Security over sacrifice. 

Our devotion to God must be so complete that it would be as though we are destroyed unto ourselves. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Romans 6:11 

Are you a modern-day Achan?  Have you entered Jericho only to frustrate the grace of God?  Have you reclaimed your identity, removed it from the reach of God?  Have you stolen your future from the control of God?  Have you deep-sixed your vision for your church?  Have you diverted God’s resources into a self-serving purpose? 

If you have buried God’s gold beneath the floor of your tent, it’s time to dig it up and bring it back to Him!  It is time to present your body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.  You are the spoils of God.