A&D Biker Ministries "Growing the Kingdom of God . . . one Biker at a time"

Sermons    

June 12, 2021

 

“Bible HERstory”

(A sermon series on women in the Bible)

 

Jephthah’s Daughter

“A Woman Of Faith And Grace”

Judges 11:29-40

 

So often, we focus on the men in the Bible and we forget about the other unsung heroes in scripture.  WOMEN played a vital role in the Bible!

 

And, many of these women had children and raised a family, but they also did heroic other things like risking their lives to establish peace, and offering wisdom as judges, etc.

 

Jesus’ earthly ministry was partly financed by women.  (Remember Mary & Martha, the brother of Lazarus?)  Jesus didn’t have to worry about the money because the women took care of that.

 

Today our scripture will look at another unnamed woman in the Bible, found in Judges chapter 11, who is lifted up as a young lady of unbelievable grace and faith!  

 

How many of US have ever done something that was really dumb?  Have you ever promised something that you could not fulfill?  Or, have you ever put your foot in your mouth?

 

Judges 11:29-40 (NLV)

29 The Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah.  So he passed through Gilead and Manasseh and through Mizpah of Gilead.  He went from Mizpah of Gilead to the people of Ammon.  30 Jephthah made a promise to the Lord and said, “You give the people of Ammon into my hand.  31 And I will give to the Lord whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the people of Ammon.  I will give it to the Lord as a gift and sacrifice.”  32 Then Jephthah crossed over to fight against the people of Ammon.  And the Lord gave them into his hand.  33 He killed many of them from Aroer to Minnith, through twenty cities, as far as Abelkeramin.  The people of Ammon were destroyed in front of the people of Israel.  34 Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah.  His daughter came out to meet him with music and dancing.  She was his one and only child.  He had no other sons or daughters.  35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, “It is bad, my daughter!  You have made me very sad.  You have brought much trouble to me.  For I have made a promise to the Lord, and I must keep it.”  36 She said to him, “My father, you have made a promise to the Lord.  Do to me what you have promised you would do.  Because the Lord has punished the people of Ammon, who fought against you.  37 But do this for me.  Let me alone for two months.  So I and my friends may go to the mountains and cry because I will never marry.”  38 Jephthah said, “Go.”  He sent her away for two months with her friends.  And they cried on the mountains because she would never marry.  39 She returned to her father after two months.  And he did what he promised the Lord and she died without having a man.  From this comes the Israelite tradition 40 that each year the young women of Israel go out for four days to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.

We only know this young lady as Jephthah’s daughter.  And besides this scripture passage, we really don’t know much more about her!

 

Her dad, Jephthah, did something really stupid.  I mean . . . it was extremely dumb!  And in the very middle of her dad’s huge mistake, this young lady showed uncompromising faith and grace.  Each time that I read this story about Jephthah’s daughter, in preparing for this message, my heart went out to this Godly and faithful woman.

 

Ok.  Let’s look a little deeper at what’s going on.  During this time in Israel’s history, Israel was without a king. 

 

Joshua had died and the nation of Israel was at war with the Canaanites.

 

For the next several generations, the nation of Israel was up and down, and up and down, in their obedience and disobedience to God.

 

And when Israel was disobedient, God would punish the people.  They would then cry out to God for help, and God would send a Judge . . . someone who would hand out justice, and punish the evil-doers, and vindicate the righteous, and offer wisdom.

 

This “Judge” would lead Israel for some time, then they would die.  Israel would go right back to sinning and disobedience!  God would punish them, they would cry out for help form him, and then God would send another Judge.

 

Jephthah, in our scripture today, was one of those Judges that God sent to help Israel.  Jephthah’s father was Gilead and his mother was a prostitute.

 

And after Gilead’s other sons grew up, they drove Jephthah away because he was not their mother’s son. (They were no doubt especially embarrassed, since Jephthah’s mom was a prostitute.)

 

Think about this.  Jephthah was “a child of shame.”  Like so many others throughout history (and perhaps like some hearing this message), through no fault of his own, Jephthah was rejected by his own family and by his community.

 

Once again, Israel gets in trouble for sinning and the Ammonites were coming in to destroy them.

 

Israel had no leaders at the time, so they approached Jephthah to lead them - because he was a very skilled and capable warrior.  That may have been because he had to learn how to fight to survive, being so rejected while he was growing up.

 

After some convincing (and maybe feeling the need to be accepted and not rejected) Jephthah agrees to lead Israel against the Ammonites.

 

During the battle, Jephthah makes a vow to God that whatever comes out of his house first, when he returns home, he will sacrifice it to God!

What did old Jephthah think was going to be the first thing to come out of his house when he got home from battle?  His mother-in-law?  SERIOUSLY!  Because you helped us win this battle, Lord, I will sacrifice to you the first thing that comes out of my house when I get home?  REALLY?  I mean, come on . . . it could have been his dog!

 

Now, I’m not sure what Jephthah thought was going to come out of the house first, when he returned home, but it was his own daughter.

 

As he sees her come out, he remembers his vow and he explodes with grief, regret and anger at himself.

 

In response to her father, here’s what Jephthah’s daughter said:  36 She said to him, “My father, you have made a promise to the Lord.  Do to me what you have promised you would do.  Because the Lord has punished the people of Ammon, who fought against you.  37 But do this for me.  Let me alone for two months.  So I and my friends may go to the mountains and cry because I will never marry.” 

 

Now let be honest with you.  In my studies of all this, I found that there is a lot of debate between scholars whether Jephthah actually killed his daughter or if he used an alternative option of sending her to serve in the temple and never to have children.  (This would have been akin today to being modern a nun.)

 

Remember, the Mosaic Laws that Israel followed forbid human sacrifices.  So, God probably would not have been happy if she was killed . . .

 

Deuteronomy 12:31

You must not worship the LORD your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates.  They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.

 

However, and this is a big one, even though scripture prohibits human sacrifice, Jephthah most likely did kill his daughter.  Remember what verse 39 said in our scripture from Judges chapter 11 today?

 

39 She returned to her father after two months.  And he did what he promised the Lord . . .

 

The bottom line is, whichever option Jephthah chose to fulfill his vow, the consequences were the same:

 

  • Jephthah would lose his only daughter

 

  • Jephthah would never have any descendants, because this daughter was his only child

 

Jephthah’s daughter is a woman who needs to be remembered in Bible HERstory!  She didn’t argue with her father, but she encouraged him to fulfill his promise to the Lord.  And when given the chance, she DIDN’T run away.  She returned to face the full consequences of Jephthah’s vow.

This message about Jephthah’s daughter, a woman of faith and grace, leaves us with these thoughts.

 

Jephthah should have never made the promise that he did.

 

We need to be careful what we ask of God and be careful of what we promise to God . . . especially when it could hurt someone else.

 

We need to remain faithful to God!

 

We can’t control other people and their actions.  But, with God’s Holy Spirit within us, we can work to control our own actions.

 

We all make dumb mistakes.  Jephthah certainly did, when he made a vow to the Lord that would forever affect someone near and dear to himself - his own daughter.  However . . . 

 

I’m thankful for this godly, unnamed, woman, and the example of her faith & grace - in Bible HERstory.  May we ALL reflect her commitment to God, in our lives!

 

 

May 29, 2021

 

“Bible HERstory”

(A sermon series on women in the Bible)

 

“The Faith Of An Unnamed Woman”

Luke 8:43-48

 

So often, we focus on the men in the Bible and we forget about the other unsung heroes in scripture.  WOMEN played a vital role in the Bible!

 

And, many of these women had children and raised a family, but they also did heroic other things - like risking their lives to establish peace, and offering wisdom as judges, etc.

 

Jesus’ earthly ministry was partly financed by women.  (Remember Mary & Martha, the brother of Lazarus?)  Jesus didn’t have to worry about the money because the women took care of that.

 

Today our scripture will look at a lady, found in the Gospel of Luke, whose name is not even known.  Yet, she is an example for us of incredible christian faith!  

 

Luke 8:43-48 (NLT)

43 A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, and she could find no cure.  44 Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe.  Immediately, the bleeding stopped.  45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked.  Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.”  46 But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.”  47 When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him.  The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed.  48 “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well.  Go in peace.”

 

This unnamed woman is both characterized and remembered by her physical suffering.  Day in and day out, this woman was reminded of her personal “uncleanliness” . . . as so described in one of the Old Testament laws.

 

A little history is important in this part of herstory.  In no small part, the law stated that when experiencing their monthly menstruation cycle, females were forbidden from even entering the temple to worship God.  There was such gross biological ignorance back then, that women were to temporarily remove themselves from society (during this time of the month) so that others would not be “contaminated” by their ailment.  So wrong.  So sad.

  

The truth is, back then ladies were often treated as “unclean” as those who had leprosy . . . during those periods of time in their lives.

 

Our Gospel reading today simply refers to this lady as the bleeding (NIV) or hemorrhaging (KJV) woman.  She was a real life, living breathing person.  I really wonder . . . what was her name?  We are never told.

 

So, we just focus on the “bleeding issue” that this woman had experienced, apparently, for well over a decade.

 

You just heard the story read from the Bible.  Maybe you’ve even read the story yourself - perhaps many times.  Or heard messages preached on this passage.

 

My question is this:  Why do we call her the woman with the issue of bleeding?  Why don’t we call her “the courageous woman who touched Jesus” or “the woman of faith?”   

 

I mean, that’s really what this story is all about.  This unnamed woman’s gift to us all is her faith!

 

Let’s take a step back a minute, and try to paint the whole picture.

 

Luke writes that Jesus was returning from the region of the Gerasenes.  Or as it’s better known, a Gentile (non-Jewish) area, where he had been ministering with his disciples.  A large crowd had gathered to greet and welcome Jesus.

 

As Jesus was being welcomed by the crowd of people, a big shot the synagogue (named Jairus), fell at Jesus’ feet and begged him to come to his home and heal his daughter who was extremely ill.  Jesus agrees to do just that, and he begins his journey to Jairus’ house.

 

As Jesus is traveling toward the house, he suddenly noticed that power - divine / holy / physically healing power - has been taken from him.  He turns around and looks at the crowd, searching for the person who had touched him.

 

Now, I personally believe that Jesus knew it was this woman who had touched him . . . because Jesus is omniscient.  Jesus knows all things.  Jesus knows.

 

Psalm 139:4 (NLV)

Even before I speak a word, O Lord, you know it all.

 

Luke 5:22 (NLT)

Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them,

“Why do you question this in your hearts?

 

Still, Jesus looks around at the crowd.  Out of fear, the woman approaches and admits that she touched Jesus . . . and that she is now healed.

 

Again, Dr. Luke tells us that this woman had been subject to bleeding for 12 years.  She had sought all medical treatment possible, but nothing was able to heal her / stop her continuous bleeding.

 

So, when she heard that Jesus was there, she had faith enough to believe that if she just touched the garment he was wearing - she would be healed!

 

If you spend some time looking at this passage, you will see that there were multiple miracles that day:

 

  • With the crowd pressing in, it was a miracle that the woman was able to even get to Jesus, let alone reach in her hand and touch his clothing.

 

  • It was a miracle that she was healed  . . . after 12 years of continuous bleeding.

 

  • Some might argue that it was a miracle that Jesus even noticed that someone had touched him in a “miracle working way” - with the crowd all pushing in on him.

 

So, with no other way out of her situation, this woman stepped forward, fell at Jesus’ feet and admitted that she had touched Jesus / was healed.

 

I remember one time when I was a pre-teen and I got in trouble because I was doing something inside our house that I wasn’t supposed to be doing . . . and I broke out a window.

 

My dad was NOT pleased.

 

I WAS SCARED.

 

Have you been in a similar situation?  You know, you start to feel light headed . . . and your face feels really warm . . . and you wished you could just hide somewhere?  YEAH!  That’s how the woman in this Bible story was probably feeling.

 

Jesus wanted to know . . . “Who touched me?”

 

I’m sure this dear lady was scared to death.  But, in the mist of her fears, she stepped forward and admitted what happened.  DON’T MISS THIS.  This unknown woman was both brave and honest!

 

She had the faith that many of us wish we could have.  And, she also had the integrity to be honest with God.

 

When’s the last time you had the integrity to be honest with God . . . when you were feeling scared / guilty?

 

When’s the last time you where brave enough to approach Jesus and fully admit what’s happened in your life?

 

I’m so thankful for this godly, unnamed, woman, and the example of her faith and integrity life in Bible HERstory.  May we ALL reflect her commitment to God, in our lives!

 

 

 

May 15, 2021

 

“Bible HERstory”

(A sermon series on women in the Bible)

 

“Abigail - a woman of strength & courage”

1 Samuel 25:12-31

 

So often, we focus on the men in the Bible and we forget about the other unsung heroes in scripture.  WOMEN played a vital role in the Bible!

 

Not only did many of these women have children and raise the family, but they also did heroic things - like risking their lives to establish peace, and offering wisdom as judges.

 

Jesus’ earthly ministry was financed by women.  (Remember Mary & Martha, the brother of Lazarus?)  Jesus didn’t have to worry about the money because the women took care of that.

 

Today our scripture will look at a lady, found in the Old Testament, named Abigail.

 

Does anybody know anything about Abigail IN THE OLD TESTAMENT?

 

  (NLT)

12 So David’s young men returned and told him what Nabal had said.  13 “Get your swords!” was David’s reply as he strapped on his own.  Then 400 men started off with David, and 200 remained behind to guard their equipment.  14 Meanwhile, one of Nabal’s servants went to Abigail and told her, “David sent messengers from the wilderness to greet our master, but he screamed insults at them.  15 These men have been very good to us, and we never suffered any harm from them.  Nothing was stolen from us the whole time they were with us.  16 In fact, day and night they were like a wall of protection to us and the sheep.  17 You need to know this and figure out what to do, for there is going to be trouble for our master and his whole family.  He’s so ill-tempered that no one can even talk to him!”  18 Abigail wasted no time.  She quickly gathered 200 loaves of bread, two wineskins full of wine, five sheep that had been slaughtered, nearly a bushel of roasted grain, 100 clusters of raisins, and 200 fig cakes.  She packed them on donkeys 19 and said to her servants, “Go on ahead.  I will follow you shortly.”  But she didn’t tell her husband Nabal what she was doing.  20 As she was riding her donkey into a mountain ravine, she saw David and his men coming toward her.  21 David had just been saying, “A lot of good it did to help this fellow.  We protected his flocks in the wilderness, and nothing he owned was lost or stolen.  But he has repaid me evil for good.  22 May God strike me and kill me if even one man of his household is still alive tomorrow morning!”  23 When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed low before him.  24 She fell at his feet and said, “I accept all blame in this matter, my lord.  Please listen to what I have to say.  25 I know Nabal is a wicked and ill-tempered man; please don’t pay any attention to him.  He is a fool, just as his name suggests.  But I never even saw the young men you sent.  26 “Now, my lord, as surely as the Lord lives and you yourself live, since the Lord has kept you from murdering and taking vengeance into your own hands, let all your enemies and those who try to harm you be as cursed as Nabal is.  27 And here is a present that I, your servant, have brought to you and your young men.  28 Please forgive me if I have offended you in any way.  The Lord will surely reward you with a lasting dynasty, for you are fighting the Lord’s battles.  And you have not done wrong throughout your entire life.  29 “Even when you are chased by those who seek to kill you, your life is safe in the care of the Lord your God, secure in his treasure pouch!  But the lives of your enemies will disappear like stones shot from a sling!  30 When the Lord has done all he promised and has made you leader of Israel, 31 don’t let this be a blemish on your record. Then your conscience won’t have to bear the staggering burden of needless bloodshed and vengeance.  And when the Lord has done these great things for you, please remember me, your servant!” 

 

Starting with the beginning of chapter 25, we read that the prophet Samuel had died.  He’s buried in Ramah and the whole assemble of Israel mourns for him. 

 

After the time of mourning, David, who had been wondering in the desert (because King Saul was trying to kill him), sends some men to seek food from a wealthy man named Nabal.

 

Nabal verbally abuses and ridicules David, and his men, and he sends them away without any food.

 

Now David and his men had been protecting Nabal’s herds of animals from being stolen by raiding bandits.  It was also not uncommon for herds of sheep and cattle to be raided by natural predators, as well as other nations.

 

David and his men were serving as police, or a standing army, in guarding Nabal’s wealth.  So, when David asked for some compensation to feed his men, Nabal refused to help David.

 

When David gets word of Nabal’s refusal not to help, he assembles his men and goes to destroy Nabal!

 

During this time, Abigail (Nabal’s wife), is made aware of the situation and she quickly makes enough food to feed David and all of his men.  Then she got on her donkey and intercepts David and his men . . . and she does two things:

 

1) Abigail asks that Nabal’s blame be placed on her.

 

2) Abigail offers the food to David and his men.

 

Abigail stopped a hostile situation from taking place! She protected her husband from the danger that he didn’t know was coming . . . by taking care of David’s needs!

 

Old Nabal was dumb enough to cross an army - after they had just protected him.  No wonder the name Nabal means “fool.”  (I’d say that his parents wisely named him.)

 

Abigail basically said, “The buck stops here.  Blame me for the wrong doing and spare my husband’s life.”

 

Abigail also recognized the injustice that took place.  Nabal’s servants told her how David and his men had protected the herds, and they were well treated by David and his men.  Nothing went missing while they were on duty!

These men had risked their lives for Abigail’s family, and they deserved to be paid.

 

Along with providing for the needs of David & his men, Abigail also instructs David with great counsel!

 

Abigail tells David that his actions were wrong.  She was saying, “David, you can’t just kill Nabal.  You are the future King.”

 

It’s almost like our wives offering us sound advice, using sports analogies to get our attention.

 

Fisherman wives might say, “Don’t worry about that, we have bigger fish to fry.”  A Golfers wife might say, “A decision like that may land you in the hazard.”  A hunter’s wife might say, “Be patient, you might not get another shot.”  An athlete’s wife might say, “That’s bad sportsmanship.”  A baseball wife might say, “Don’t swing at junk.”  A basketball wife might say, “You’ll be charged with a foul.”  A hockey players wife might say, “You’ll get the penalty box for that.”

 

Abigail was able to think straight - something David wasn’t able to do - and in doing so, she stopped David’s anger.  There is a lot that could be said about Abigail’s character, but I want to leave you with a few things that she modeled for us in the Bible.

 

  • In David’s anger, Abigail brought David food, and through this she acted to correct the situation that had made David angry.  Where an injustice has been committed, we must try to correct it.

 

  • Abigail asked David for forgiveness.  To ask forgiveness is a godly alternative to striking out, in an attempt to appear “right” or to get revenge.

 

  • Abigail pointed out the consequences of acting in anger.  David would be guilty of shedding blood needlessly.  And later, when David became king, this action might hurt the confidence and support the people of Judah were giving him.

 

  • Abigail also urged David to leave vengeance in God’s hands.  God, who rights all wrongs, WILL care for us AND will take care of all our enemies. 

 

Impressed by the words of this humble yet bold woman, David blessed her for keeping him from acting hastily!  And, God did deal with Nabal, Abagail’s husband.  When Abigail told him what happened, scripture tells us that he had a heart attack and died!

 

Oh, and p.s. - David heard about this . . . and he asked Abigail to marry him!

 

I’m so thankful for this godly woman, Abigail, and the example of her righteous life - in Bible HERstory.  May we ALL reflect her commitment to God, in our lives!

 

May 8, 2021

 

EFCA Statement of FAITH

(Part 10 of 10)

 

The EFCA, Evangelical Free Church of America,  is an association of autonomous churches united around these theological convictions:

 

Response and Eternal Destiny - We believe that God commands everyone everywhere to believe the gospel by turning to Him in repentance and receiving the Lord Jesus Christ.  We believe that God will raise the dead bodily and judge the world, assigning the unbeliever to condemnation and eternal conscious punishment and the believer to eternal blessedness and joy with the Lord in the new heaven and the new earth, to the praise of His glorious grace.  Amen.

 

“Under New Management”

 

There was a special needs couple named Dave and Carol.  They had confessed faith in Jesus Christ and were baptized.  Wanting to be more involved in the activities of their church, they regularly attended the Sunday School class for young married couples. 

 

They learned that in this particular Sunday school class, the men all had the same shirts, which they would often wear during certain group activities.  Wanting to be part of the group, Dave was eager to get his matching shirt . . . so Carol made one for her husband. 

 

After the next meeting, Dave came home with a look of disappointment on his face.  He had his shirt, but at the meeting he noticed that all the men had little emblems on their shirts.  Dave’s shirt did not.  So Carol, undaunted by her inability to read, sewed three words on Dave’s shirt - which she copied from a sign in a store window.  Dave wore it to the next meeting.  This time he came home excited with joy.  He said all the men really liked the inscription that Carol had put on his shirt.  They said it perfectly described the wonderful change they had seen in Dave’s life.  It turned out that his wife had sewn on the words, “UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT.”

 

We all enter this world “under management.”  We all live our lives under management.  And, we all die under management.  Sadly, too many people are living their lives - and too many people are dying - with the same management under which they were born.

 

The Bible says that we were all born in sin - that we have a sinful nature, from birth.  So many people around us are living and dying in that sin.

 

But, the Bible also says that we don’t have to live in sin and we don’t have to die in sin.


If you are a follower, a believer in Jesus Christ, you are no longer under the old management.  Through what Jesus did on the cross you have a new nature, and you have been placed under new management!  In Ephesians 2:1-10, the Apostle Paul provides encouragement for the believer - he gets at the very heart of who we WERE, who we ARE, and who we WILL BE.

 

Ephesians 2:1-10 (NLT)

1 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.  2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil - the commander of the powers in the unseen world.  He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.  3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature.  By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.  4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead.  (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)  6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.  7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.  8 God saved you by his grace when you believed.  And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.  10 For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

 

1. Consider Your Past

 

You WERE Spiritually Dead

 

1 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 

 

Paul is not speaking here about physical death, but spiritual death / separation from God. 

 

Ephesians 4:18 (NLT)

Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him.

 

Sin places a body of death upon us.

 

Romans 7:24 (NLT)

Oh, what a miserable person I am!  Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?

 

Many years ago there was a popular movie titled The Way We Were.  The characters in the movie spent most of their time taking a sentimental look at the past.  That’s the way most of want to remember the past.  After all, they were “the good old days!”  Paul is saying here that the "good old days" were not at all good.  Paul said, 1 “Once you were dead . . .”  The operative word here is not the word dead but the qualifier WERE“You were dead . . .”  As we reflect on our past we must keep in mind that we are believers in Jesus Christ / we WERE dead in sin /  but by God’s grace, we are NO LONGER dead in sin!

 

Paul does not simply stop at this point.  He goes further to say that we were not only dead in our sin, we were unrighteous.

 

You WERE Unrighteous

 

2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil - the commander of the powers in the unseen world.  He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.  3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. 

 

In verse 1, Paul focuses on our death.  In verse 2, he turns his attention to life - that is, the manner in which we lived our lives that resulted in our death.  Paul said, “You used to live in sin.”  Paul is saying here that we lived in our sins.

 

In the same manner that we describe our Christian walk, Paul refers to our sinful walk.  The remainder of verse 2 reveals the source of the old management under which we lived:  2 . . . obeying the devil - the commander of the powers in the unseen world.  He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.  

 

Paul continues this emphasis in verse 3:

 

3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature.

 

A gruesome description of how Eskimo’s kill wolves is a perfect picture of the consuming, self-destructive nature of sin.

 

First, the Eskimo coats the blade of his knife with animal blood and allows it to freeze.  Then he adds another layer of blood and allows that to freeze - then another, and another . . . until the blade is completely concealed by frozen blood.

 

Next, the hunter fixes the handle of the knife into the ground with the blade up.  When a wolf follows his keen sense of smell to the source of the scent, and discovers the frozen blood, he licks it.  The wolf soon begins to lick faster, more and more vigorously, lapping the blade until the sharp edge is bare.

 

In a frenzy now, the wolf licks the sharp blade harder and harder - into the arctic night.  So great becomes his craving for blood that the wolf does not notice the razor-sharp sting of the blade on his own tongue.  Nor does he recognize the instant at which his insatiable thirst is being satisfied by his own warm blood!  His appetite just craves more and more -until the dawn finds the wolf dead in the snow.

 

Like that wolf, Paul says that WE were consumed by our own lusts.  Our willingness to yield to the old management - to live in sin - resulted in our death and, as Paul says in v. 3, “subjects to God’s anger.”

 

You WERE Subjects of God’s Anger

 

Colossians 3:5-6 (NLT)

5 So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you.  Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires.  Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.  6 Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming.

Paul uses the word “anger” here in the context of an outward expression.  Rather than view the concept of anger as a process that sinners bring upon themselves, Paul personalizes the term.  The expression of anger comes in the form of our own alienation from God.

 

Paul says that we lived in sin, we were under the old management of the devil, and therefore we were spiritually dead and deserving of God’s anger.

 

If you don’t know Jesus Christ, as your personal Savior, if you’re still living under the old management, there’s very little reason for hope.  But, Paul does not leave us without hope.  Actually, the hopelessness of life without Christ magnifies even more the hope we have in him!

 

In our world today the message of salvation through Jesus Christ is not readily received.  Why?  Because, most people are in denial.  “After all,” some say, “I don’t have anything from which I have to be saved.”

 

That argument certainly does not stand up when put to the Biblical test.  The Bible says very clearly that if you are not a believer in Jesus Christ, you have plenty from which you need to be saved.  Paul says you need to be saved from death, from the power of sin, from the anger (wrath) of God.  If you are a believer in Jesus Christ - Reflect on your Past.  Paul says THAT’S WHERE YOU WERE! 

 

Then . . .

 

2. CELEBRATE Your PRESENT

 

By GRACE you ARE Saved

 

4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead.  (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)

 

8 God saved you by his grace when you believed.  And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 

 

The first two words in verse 4 are the springboard for the remainder of our text.  “But God.”  These two words stand between the picture of unrighteousness, death, and wrath / and the hope of eternal salvation though Jesus Christ.  God is the Initiator.  God is the Creator.  God is the Designer.  God is the Organizer of the plan of salvation.

 

Verse 4, conveys the theme of Psalm 145:8:  “The LORD is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.” The first quality mentioned in verse 4 in rich in mercy.  Mercy is the antithesis, the opposite, of divine anger. 

 

Definition of mercy: “having withheld that which is deserved.”  In this case, we deserved God’s wrath and ultimate condemnation.  But because of his great love he made us alive.  By his grace, the old life has ceased.  By his grace our past has been pardoned.  

THE OLD MANAGEMENT HAS RETIRED AND THE NEW MANAGEMENT HAS TAKEN OVER.

 

When King Frederick II, and eighteenth century king of Prussia, was visiting a prison in Berlin, the inmates all tried to prove to him how they had been unjustly imprisoned.  All except one.  That one sat quietly in a corner while all the rest proclaimed their innocence.  Seeing him sitting there, oblivious to the commotion, the king asked him what he was there for. “Armed robbery, your Honor,” was his reply.

 

The king asked, “Were you guilty?”  “Yes Sir,” he answered.  “I entirely deserve my punishment.”  The king then gave an order to the guard:  “Release this guilty man.”

 

THAT’S A PICTURE OF US!  Like that prisoner, you and I were in prison . . . we were in bondage to sin.  We were slaves to sin and spiritually dead.  And, like that prisoner, we were pardoned.  Did this man do anything to deserve it?  NO!  Likewise, what God offers us is by his initiation. 

 

8 God saved you by his grace when you believed.  And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 

 

You cannot earn your salvation.  Paul makes it clear that salvation is from God . . . and from God alone!

We have been given an everlasting gift.  For that reason, we are to celebrate the present. 

 

Not only did God save us from the power if sin, death and wrath, verse 6 says we were “raised up.”

 

BY GRACE you ARE Raised

 

6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 

 

God not only saved us, he has raised us up from death in sin to life in Christ. 

 

Colossians 2:12-13 (NLT)

12 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized.  And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.  13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away.  Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.

 

Romans 6:4-6 (NLT)

4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism.  And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.  5 Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was.  6 We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives.  We are no longer slaves to sin.

 

The highest spot in the continental United States in Mount Whitney in Northern California.  It stands a 14,495 feet.  From its top, a beautiful landscape unfolds.  But just 80 miles southeast is Death Valley, the lowest spot in the Unites States - at 280 feet below sea level.  Death Valley is also the hottest place in the country, with temperatures reaching 134 degrees in the shade.  Mount Whitney and Death Valley are a stark contrast to each other.

 

In these scriptures we can see the stark contrast between the death valley of sin and despair and the mountain peak of righteousness God lifts us up to.

 

 “God is so anxious to save sinners that he will take everyone who comes.  He will take those who are so full of sin that they are despised by all who know them; who have been rejected by their fathers and mothers, who have been cast off by their wives and their husbands.  He will take whose who have sunk so low that upon them no eye of pity is cast.”

 

- D.L. Moody -

 

Because of his great love and mercy, God reaches down to the very depths of our sin, saves us from death and lifts us up.  And in so doing . . . we are  re-created.

 

By GRACE we ARE Recreated!

 

10 For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

 

We are God’s making . . . his “masterpiece!”  We have been created.  We have been formed.  This is not in the general sense, but in the sense of a brand new creation.

 

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

 

Paul says we have been re-created “to do good things.”  The emphasis here is on holy living, the exact opposite of how we lived in the past!

 

When the Standard Oil Company began to refine petroleum, there was a black substance, a by-product, that no one knew what to do with.  It was black, sticky, stinking, and it could not be buried or burned - and everyone complained of the awful smell.  If it were run off into a stream, it killed all the fish.  So, the company offered a reward to anyone able to solve the problem.  Many chemists, attracted by the promised reward, occupied themselves with the task of coming up with a solution.  Finally, one walked into the office of Mr. Rockefeller with a white shiny substance free from every offensive quality.  In fact, it was extremely useful.  It was what we know today as paraffin - used for candles and hundreds of other purposes.

 

Like that chemist, God takes the dirty, sticky, stinkin’ parts of our lives and applies the cleaning agent - the blood of Jesus Christ - and all of our dirt is removed.  We’re cleansed and re-created!

 

In the past, we lived in sin; in the present we are to live in righteousness.  In the past we were dead in sin, in the present we are alive in Christ.  In the past we were under the old management.  In the present, it is the new management which now has control.

 

1. CONSIDER Your PAST

 

2. CELEBRATE Your PRESENT

 

3. Rejoice in your Future

 

7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus .

 

Why rejoice in the future? 

 

What does the future hold for those who believe in Jesus Christ?

 

No Death

 

Revelation 21:4 (NKJV)

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.

 

 

Eternity with Jesus

 

1 Thessalonians 4:17 (NLT)

Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.

 

 

A Home Beyond Compare

 

Revelation 21:11-23 (NLT)

11 It shone with the glory of God and sparkled like a precious stone - like jasper as clear as crystal.  12 The city wall was broad and high, with twelve gates guarded by twelve angels.  And the names of the twelve tribes of Israel were written on the gates.  13 There were three gates on each side - east, north, south, and west.  14 The wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were written the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.  15 The angel who talked to me held in his hand a gold measuring stick to measure the city, its gates, and its wall.  16 When he measured it, he found it was a square, as wide as it was long.  In fact, its length and width and height were each 1,400 miles.  17 Then he measured the walls and found them to be 216 feet thick (according to the human standard used by the angel).  18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city was pure gold, as clear as glass.  19 The wall of the city was built on foundation stones inlaid with twelve precious stones:  the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.  21 The twelve gates were made of pearls - each gate from a single pearl!  And the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass.  22 I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.  23 And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light.

 

There is no force in all creation that has the awesome power to make the changes that Paul writes about in our text today in Ephesians.  Our best efforts cannot fix our sinful depraved condition.  Regardless of how intelligent we are, how gifted we might be, how religious we claim to be, only the grace of God can pull us out of unrighteousness and the spiritual death we faced.  Paul gives

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