SEEK HIM FOR THIS PURPOSE

[SW353] 11/17/2018 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2018

“Seek Him For This Purpose”

Text: Hebrews 4:1, 9-11, Isaiah 55:6-7, etc.

NOTE: The Lord has directed me to speak three messages on seeking the Lord — the position from which you must seek Jesus Christ, the purpose of seeking Him, and the outcome of seeking Him. If He put it on my heart, then surely, there is a need for you to hear and heed.

Last time, I showed you that to seek Jesus Christ, you must sit at His feet, listening to His word. That is the entrance point, the required position for seeking Him. Mary sat at His feet and listened to His word, and that was the one work He requires. Martha was busy with natural work, as is much of today’s church.

Now you must understand the purpose for seeking Jesus Christ. It is so that you enter His rest, where you rest from your works, so He works in and through you. And He says you must seek Him now, not later! 

Hebrews 4:1   Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it (literally, lack it).

While a promise still remains . . . that is why it is necessary for you to seek to enter His rest NOW!

You must seek Him now, in order to enter His sabbath rest, for this is a “limited time offer.” The Lord speaks this to His people, through Isaiah, for their hearts go astray and they disobey Him —

Isaiah 55:6  Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts. Let him return to the LORD, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, 

for He will abundantly (exceedingly) pardon.

Judgment is coming, beloved! Seek Him now, in order to enter His sabbath rest!

Hebrews 4:9 So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. 11 Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience (as Israel in the wilderness).

Israel told God what to do — we want water, we want meat. This manna is lousy! Israel did not believe or trust Him. We’ll die out here in the desert! There are giants in the land — we cannot enter! We will go back to Egypt. 

This rest is not the Sabbath of resting from natural labor on the first day of each week. That was a shadow of the true rest for God’s people, a rest so complete that a new word was coined to describe this Sabbath rest — pronounced sabbatisMOS. 

When you seek Him in order to enter His sabbath rest, you rest from your works. You stop working! Then the Lord will work in and through you. He will not work in and through you until you stop working! 

Why will he not work until you stop working? If you are the one doing the work, it does not honor God, because you are glorified instead of Jesus Christ. 

But when you stop working and He works in and through you, they will see Jesus! And this truth comes to pass in you —

Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

These are not natural good works, but God works, for He works them in and through you! Do you see that if you do not prepare by resting from your works, you are unprepared to do His works?

When you seek Him in order to enter His sabbath rest, you obey His commands to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high, and to wait for the promise of the Father, the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5). Just as you cannot save yourself, you cannot make yourself holy. Stop trying to do it! When you are filled with His Holy Spirit, you are holy. 

Beloved, do you want to honor the Lord? You honor Him when you obey His commands. But you dishonor Him when you disobey His commands. Everything that you do in your own strength dishonors Him. 

What is it like, to enter His sabbath rest? You exchange your strength for His — 

Isaiah 40:31 Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength (exchanging theirs for His); they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.

What is it like, to enter His sabbath rest? The God of hope will fill you with all joy and peace, and you will abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit, just as Paul prays for the believers in Rome who have not yet entered His rest —

Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

What is it like, to enter His sabbath rest? It is to see Him face-to-face, because your heart is pure. Jesus says —

Matthew 5:8   “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

What is it like to enter His sabbath rest? You no longer go astray in your heart, so the Lord is no longer angry with you. You know His ways, because you intimately know Him —

Hebrews 3:10  “THEREFORE I WAS ANGRY WITH THIS GENERATION, AND SAID, THEY ALWAYS GO ASTRAY IN THEIR HEART, AND THEY DID NOT KNOW MY WAYS”

What is it like to enter His sabbath rest? You know His voice, always follow Him, and run from false teaching —

John 10:4 “When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 “A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.”

What is it like to enter His sabbath rest? Listen to the Lord speak through Isaiah —

Isaiah 55:12 “For you will go out with joy and be led forth with peace. 

The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, 

and all the trees of the field will clap their hands (in jubilation). 13 Instead of the thorn bush, the cypress will come up, and instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up. And it will be a memorial to the LORD, for an everlasting sign which will not be cut off (will not destroyed, will not perish).”

When you enter His sabbath rest, you will go out with joy unspeakable and full of glory (1Peter 1:8)! You will be led forth with His peace, which He will give you —

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”

When you enter His sabbath rest, you will have peace in every circumstance, as Paul writes to the church at Thessalonica — 

2Thessalonians 3:16   Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance . . . 

When you enter His sabbath rest, the God of peace will be with you, as Paul writes to the church at Philippi —

Philippians 4:9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you (literally, in, amid you)!

When you enter His sabbath rest, the mountains and the hills will shout for joy and the trees clap their hands for joy (when the winds rustle a tree’s leaves, it sounds like applause)! You will no longer produce thorns and nettles, but cypress and myrtle. 

When you enter His sabbath rest, all that He does in and through you will be a memorial (a witness) to the LORD, an everlasting witness that will not be destroyed. You will become His witnesses here, as Jesus promises —

Acts 1:8 . . . “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). I exhort you to diligently get into the position of seeking Him! Sit at His feet and listen to His word! He will see to it that you enter His sabbath rest! 

Will you believe Him? Will you seek Him for this purpose?

Lord, I pray that by faith in You, all believers ask you to fill them with all joy and peace, so that they will superabound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit, and be Your witnesses here, just as You command them to be. Amen! So be it!

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2Corinthians 7 — To a Church in Crisis, With Love

Text: 2Corinthians 7

With love, even God’s own divine love in our hearts, Paul and I speak to you from 2Corinthians 7 today. We want you to join us in being the Amen to God’s promises of reconciliation, of salvation, and of the infilling of the Holy Spirit! Yes! Truth! He has done it in me! You will say the same thing, when you are filled!

If I were to give this a title, it would be, “Sorrowful to the Point of Repentance.” I always pray that, like some of the believers at Corinth have done, today’s church will hear and heed Paul’s Spirit-inspired words, be stricken with grief over the condition of their hearts, and repent and ask the Lord to change them! If they do, He will cleanse their hearts and perfect (fulfill) holiness in them, by filling them full of the Holy Spirit!

Verse 1 —

Therefore, having these promises . . . what promises? These promises —

2Corinthians 6:16  . . . just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. 17 Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; 

And I will welcome you. 18 And I will be a Father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty.

Having these promises, what are all Christians to do? 

— cleanse (purify) themselves from all defilements (stains, immorality) of flesh (the body) and spirit (the human spirit)

— perfecting (fulfilling) holiness in the fear (terror) of God

Do so in the terror of God? Really? Yes, beloved. If you reject Jesus’ command to be filled with His Spirit, after you are saved, He will judge you because you have not obeyed Him. The promises are for those who obey His command to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Those who obey Him, love Him —

John 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. 24 “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.”

You will say, I do not see anything about purified hearts in the Acts 2 account of the day of Pentecost. But what does Peter say, in the rest of the New Testament?

Acts 15:8 “And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; 9 and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.”

1Peter 4:1   Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

2Peter 1:4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

So, stop stalling! That is your flesh, beloved. It does not want to die! But it must, so obediently ask your Father in heaven to fill you with the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13)! Then He will purify your heart from all stains and immorality, and will fulfill holiness in you, because the Father and the Son and the Spirit will dwell within you permanently and fully, just as Jesus says in John 14:23, above.

Verse 2 —

Make room for us in (give us a space, allow us to enter) your hearts, O church! We wronged no one (we did not injure you, we were not unjust), we corrupted no one (we defiled no one’s morals), we took advantage of no one (we defrauded no one). 

But others have done this to the church at Corinth, and to today’s church! Later in 2Corinthians, Paul writes —

2Corinthians 11:4 For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.

2Corinthians 11:20 For you tolerate it if anyone enslaves you, anyone devours you, anyone takes advantage of you, anyone exalts himself, anyone hits you in the face.

Oh, beloved! See what today’s false teachers are doing to you! 

Verse 3 —

Paul does not speak to condemn (sentence) them, as if there is no hope for their repentance. He loves them, just as I love today’s church! For he and I have said before, you are in our hearts (thoughts) to die together and to live together. We always pray that you will ask the Lord to crucify the sin nature in you (Galatians 5:24), so you die, and He lives in you (Galatians 2:20)!

Verse 4 —

Great is Paul’s and my confidence (boldness of speech) in the church! Great is our boasting on your behalf (our belief that you indeed will hear and heed)!

Therefore, we are filled with comfort and overflowing (superabounding) with joy, in all our persecution and anguish and trouble from without (the world) and even from within (even from the church)! We have within us the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit, His very joy, and as Christ said to His disciples, no one will take our joy from us (John 16:22)!

Verse 5 —

Paul again refers to the persecution Timothy and he suffered in Macedonia. Their flesh (bodies) had no rest. They were afflicted (persecuted) on every side. There were conflicts from without (from those who rejected Christ) and fears (alarm) within, because their persecutors tried to kill them.Yes, Paul and Timothy knew they would be with Christ if their bodies died, but Paul writes this way to emphasize the extreme danger they were in.

Verse 6 —

But God, who comforts the “depressed?” Oh, my! What a poor translation! Paul and Timothy are not depressed! The Greek meaning is humble, lowly! How can a Christian filled with the Holy Spirit be depressed? My goodness, no one will take  your joy from you, says Jesus (John 16:22)! 

But God comforts the humble and lowly with the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, who indwells us! He does not send out the proud! He does not fill the proud! And He comforts us amidst our persecution because we are proclaimer of the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Verse 7 —

The Lord used a visit from Titus, and a report from him, to greatly comfort them. Titus returned to the church at Corinth, after he had delivered Paul’s painful letter to them. And Titus saw evidence of repentance at Corinth — their longing (earnest, passionate desire), their mourning (lamentation), their zeal (passion) toward Paul, in the midst of Paul’s persecution in Macedonia, for the believers at Corinth had heard of it. 

And Paul rejoices even more greatly, because from Titus’ report, he sees that the Corinthians’ hearts have changed toward him. Their mourning was a sign of repentance for their hostile behavior toward Timothy and Paul. For those who mourned in the church at Corinth, they received comfort from Titus — both encouragement and further exhortation.

I tell you the truth, beloved. Today’s congregations are in dire need of painful letters! But our pastors and denominations fear the closure of their buildings!

Verse 8 —

I cause you sorrow (grieving so as to make sorry), O church, just as Paul did with his painful letter and visit that occurred between 1Corinthians and 2Corinthians. But he and I do not regret it. We have no remorse, for we did not do wrong. And the outcome is cause for rejoicing!

We did regret having to do it, in this way — it was not pleasant for us. But though we see that our words cause you sorrow, it is only for a little while (a season). 

Verse 9 —

We now rejoice, having heard that the sorrow we caused in you led to your repentance! Our exhortation that made you sorrowful was according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. 

If we had not caused you sorrow, you would not have repented, and would have remained in danger of losing your salvation! But some have repented at our words, and that has led to their salvation — they have been restored to their position of being saved. So, their restoration to a salvation without further regret.

Verse 10 —
For the sorrow that is according to the will of God (that is, godly sorrow, sorrow as God intended) produces a repentance without regret (that does not require further regret), leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world (which is grief over natural things, and thereby empty) produces death (spiritual death), because natural sorrow cannot bring anyone to repentance toward God and belief into His Son.

Verse 11 —

For behold! Look at the earnestness (diligence, eagerness) produced by your godly sorrow! Look at how you are now vindicated (cleared) regarding your past behavior! 

Look at your indignation (your concern that false teachers have treated you wrongly, by causing you to question our integrity)! What godly fear has been engendered in you, and what longing (earnest, passionate desire) and zeal (as one who has been done wrong by a false teacher), and avenging of wrong (punishment of such ones)! 

In everything, O repentant believers, you have demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter. That is, by their proper response to the “severe letter,” the repentant Corinthians have now obeyed and are “in the right,” even though they had previously believed the false accusations against Paul and Timothy.

Verse 12 —

So although Paul wrote to them, and though that letter offended them, he did not write it for the sake of the believers at Corinth, nor did he write it for the sake of the one who accused him, but for the sake of their salvation. He wrote it so that their hearts would be changed, and they would become repentant, and their new earnestness toward Paul and Timothy would make them right in the sight of God. 

Their earnestness showed God that they indeed cared for Paul and Timothy. These men were sent to them by the Lord, but were initially rejected and questioned by the believers at Corinth.

NOTE: In future chapters of 2Corinthians, you will see that some still have unchanged hearts, and have not repented. They have simply been shallowly sorry about Paul and Timothy’s troubles. 

Verse 13 — 

And for this, we are comforted, for your repentance which has made you right with God again. Paul and Timothy and all Spirit-filled teachers and preachers will keep speaking the truth, so you may be right before God, both in your position with Him and in your attitude toward us!

In this Paul and Timothy are comforted, and rejoiced all the more! For besides their own comfort, they rejoice at the joy Titus had, upon seeing the repentance among the believers at Corinth. Titus’ spirit was refreshed (eased, at rest) because he observed the fruit of repentance among them.

Verse 14 — 

Paul says, For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I was not put to shame (for indeed, some of you have repented) but just as I spoke all things to you in truth (in the truth of the Word, in the truth of Christ, as standing before God), so also our boasting before Titus proved to be truth. 

Titus observed the repentance that Paul knew he would see, if the believers at Corinth responded to Timothy and Paul’s words and believed the truth that they spoke. In the same way, I am encouraged that I will see repentance in the hearts of some in today’s church,  and I have seen true repentance among a few believers. In this, I greatly rejoice! 

Verses 15-16 —

Titus’ affection (tender mercy, inward affection) abounds all the more toward the believers at Corinth, just as mine does toward believers who repent! 

You make us glad on the inside, and we rejoice at the mercy of God toward you, because you have been obedient to our Spirit-inspired words and received us with fear and trembling (toward God). You who have repented have quaked with fear over your behavior toward those who love you with God’s divine love, and who have spoken the truth in the sight of God.

Therefore, Paul and I rejoice that in everything, we have confidence in you, we are encouraged and emboldened to continue to speak the truth to you, because you have repented!

O believer, as Spirit-filled ones teach you, it is always our prayer that you will respond with repentance. We speak boldly, so that your repentance would be seen by God and He would forgive you for believing the words of some who are against us and Him who sent us! 

Next time, Paul will test the obedience of the believers at Corinth, for they have not given as they ought, toward the spreading of the gospel. He will exhort them to fulfill their promise of support for the ones sent out into the harvest by the Lord. 

Lord Jesus, may many hear the truth you have asked me and others to faithfully speak, and may they bear the fruit of repentance. Amen. 

 

SEEK HIM FROM THIS POSITION

[SW352] 11/10/2018 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2018

“Seek Him From This Position”

Text: Luke 10:38-42

NOTE: The Lord has directed me to speak three messages on seeking the Lord — the position from which you must seek Him, the purpose of seeking Him, and the outcome of seeking Him.

From what position must you seek the Lord? The position He requires of all of His followers is to sit at His feet. When you sit at His feet, you do His will. When you sit at His feet, you are doing the one and only work He requires of you.

To sit at His feet is a humble position, a position of adoration, submission, love, a position taken by those who desire to intimately know Him.

Such a position was contrary to social norms of the days when Jesus walked the earth, and is even contrary to norms in today’s church. When you take such a position, many believers and even pastors will think you are odd.

But to sit at His feet is the only position from which to serve Him, and the only position from which to hear and heed His words and learn from Him. When you seek Him from that position, you are serving Him by doing the one and only work He requires. 

It is the position of a disciple. It is a position of waiting on Him, to hear Him. 

It is the one thing necessary (literally, “the required work”). And as you sit at His feet, the good part which you have chosen will not be taken (cut) away from you.

From the position of sitting at His feet, all else flows. The Lord showed me that truth, about nine years ago. It was for me and every believer. Beloved, apart from Him, you and I can do nothing (John 15:5).

Keeping in mind all that I have said thus far, look at Luke 10:38-42 with me. May this speak to your heart!

In this passage, Jesus had been traveling, and arrived at Martha and Mary’s home in Bethany, less than a mile from Jerusalem (John 11:1). He likely was accompanied by some of His disciples. 

Martha welcomed Him into her home. As you will soon see, she quickly went to work to prepare food and drink for Him. It is just as you and I would do for a guest.

But Martha’s sister, Mary, chose to sit down at Jesus’ feet, listening to His word. I see her looking up at Him, and hanging on every word that came from His mouth. 

Moses spoke this to God’s people —

Deuteronomy 8:3 “He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.”

By sitting at Jesus’ feet, Mary violated the social norms of the day. Women were banned from being disciples of men. But she was drawn to Him, and chose to sit in the position of a disciple, a position of worship, adoration and submission, at His feet. She did that which is essential, the one and only work that He requires.

But Martha was distracted (drawn away) because she was busy with much serving. She chose to serve Him by providing natural sustenance and comforts to Him. She did not choose to sit at His feet and listen to everything that proceeded from His mouth.

Soon, Martha became frustrated because there was so much to do! So she said to the Lord, “Do You not care that Mary has left me to do the serving alone? Then tell her (command her) to help me.” So Martha thought Jesus had no paid attention to Mary’s misbehavior and Martha’s own need for help, and ordered the Lord to command Mary to help.

Martha did not see that Mary was serving the Lord. What was Mary’s service to Him? It was to seek Him, to sit at His feet, to listen to His words, and thus, to worship and adore Him and learn from Him. She did the one work that He requires.

After returning with food for Jesus, His disciples urged Him to eat something. But He replied —

John 4:34 Jesus  said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.”

When you sit at His feet, you will do His will and thus, do His Father’s will. Then you will receive spiritual food from Him — even the infilling of the Holy Spirit —and you will be able to accomplish the work to which He will set your hands.

So, when Martha complained to Jesus about Mary, He rebuked her. She was wrong to resent her sister for not helping her with natural provisions. 

He said, Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about so many things! You are doing things that you think are good, but they draw you away from Me, and from doing the one work I require! You are doing unnecessary things. But only one thing is necessary, Jesus said. Only one! Just one thing is needful, only one work is required!

He told Martha that Mary had chosen to do the one work that He requires. She had chosen the good part, that which is essential. He did not command Mary to sit at His feet, but she chose to do what all of His followers are required to do.

And what is more, by sitting at His feet, she came to know His voice. By sitting at His feet and listening to His word, her obedience blessed Him! Listen to His response upon hearing the good report from the 70 disciples who had sat at His feet and who He had then sent out to proclaim Him 

Luke 10:21 At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight . . .” 

Luke 10:23-24 Turning to the disciples, He said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see, for I say to you, that many prophets and kings wished to see the things which you see, and did not see them, and to hear the things which you hear, and did not hear them.

In the same way, He rejoices greatly in the Holy Spirit when His followers do the one work He requires.  Mary expressed her devotion to Him, her love for Him, and her hunger to know Him just as deeply and completely as possible. And He rejoiced greatly! And there is more!

Mary, even Mary, saw what prophets and kings had longed to see, and heard what prophets and kings had longed to hear! I tell you the truth, many believers do not understand the inestimable value of His words!

Jesus said that the one required work that she had done would not be taken (cut) away from her. What did He mean? He would not command her to leave her position of sitting at His feet in order to provide natural things for Him. He was glad for Mary to remain at His feet continually! She was doing the one — the only — work He requires.

Are you seeking the Lord by sitting at His feet? Oh, do it! Know that you will be mocked. But do not let that deter you! It is the one work that He requires!

In today’s church, there are few who do this one work that He requires. I was one of them. This one work that He requires is not taught in most places of worship. 

As with Martha, the church is very busy providing natural things. This busyness draws believers away from this one required work. 

In surveys, many pastors report that they do not have time to sit at Jesus’ feet, and it is the same for those in church congregations. It is because they have determined that they will do natural work for their communities. But they have made that choice, just like Martha.

Many pastors “burn out,” and leave ministry because they are out of position. They must get into the position of seeking Him at His feet! Instead, they are frenzied and frazzled, just like Martha. But they have made that choice, just like Martha.

When Jeff and I were taking ordination classes, we saw many young pastors who were already on their way to burnout. They were not in position, sitting at Jesus’ feet and hanging onto every word that came from His mouth. But they made that choice, just like Martha. 

We found that during our ordination class times, both experienced and young pastors came to us because they were drawn by the Lord in us. We spoke of sitting at His feet, and of being filled with His Holy Spirit. They found us to be very odd! But no one will take away (cut away from us) what we do — the good part, the one work that He requires. We continue to sit at His feet and listen to His word.

These young pastors were already urging their congregations to do work in the community, and were already planning many outreaches. Their leaders urged them to do such things, in leadership class required for ordination. The leaders wanted their pastors to say a resounding “Yes!”, when they were asked if the community would miss their church if it closed!

But they have missed Jesus! 

The truth is that church leaders cannot lead and believers cannot become disciples unless and until they seek Him by sitting at His feet. All else flows from that one and only work that He requires. 

Beloved, if you choose to change your ways and seek Him by sitting at His feet and listening to His word, you will find that He will say, Ask your Father in heaven to fill you with the Holy Spirit (see Luke 11:13)! Your Father in heaven will do it! 

Then the Father and the Son and the Spirit will fully indwell you (John 14:23). And they will minister through you, flowing out of you to others. 

All of the busy work of Martha meant nothing to Jesus. All of the busy work of the church means nothing to Jesus, beloved. There is only one work that He requires. 

Stop all your busy work, sit at His feet, and listen to His word, beloved! It is the one work which He requires. And out of that one required work, all else flows! Amen!

2Corinthians 6 — To a Church in Crisis, With Love

Text: 2Corinthians 6

With love, even God’s own divine love in our hearts, Paul and I speak to you from 2Corinthians 6 today. We want you to join us in being the Amen to God’s promises of reconciliation, of salvation, and of the infilling of the Holy Spirit! Yes! Truth! He has done it in me! You will say the same thing, when you are filled!

If I were to give this a title, it would be, “Open Wide To Us.” The believers at Corinth, and much of today’s church, do not want to hear the truth of the gospel, for they have become accustomed to false teaching. They are not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for they are infants (Hebrews 5:13).

We say these things to you so that you will understand what happens when you obey Jesus’ command to be filled with the Holy Spirit and become the “Amen” to all of His promises. Open wide to us, but even more, open wide to the Lord! You will be able to readily discern truth from falsehood, when you are filled. You will know the voice of the Good Shepherd, and will run from the voices of strangers (John 10:4-5).

Verses 1-2 —

Paul continues from 5:20, in which he begged the believers at Corinth to be reconciled to God. And now, in 6:1, Paul says he and Timothy are working together with the Lord. For what purpose? To urge the believers at Corinth not to receive the grace of God (His unmerited favor toward them) in vain.

“In vain” means emptily. The picture is that of some believers coming before Christ’s judgment seat empty-handed. They received salvation, but they have discarded God’s grace toward them, in favor of sweet words from false teachers. 

They have refused Jesus’ command, spoken through those He sends, to be filled with the Holy Spirit. If they were filled, they would never listen to false teachers who encourage them to sin. Therefore, they have nothing to offer Jesus, when they stand before His judgment seat. Their hands are empty. They have forfeited their salvation.

If you don’t believe that it is possible to lose your salvation, listen to Paul’s words in Verse 2, beloved. The Lord shows you this to awaken you! 

Some of the believers have received the grace of God in vain. And Paul exhorts them, from Isaiah 49:8. Isaiah was also speaking to God’s people, exhorting them to repent and return to the Lord. And now is the day of salvation, for the wayward ones in Corinth, now is the favorable time, the acceptable time for these who were Christ’s to repent and return to the Lord! God will listen to them, He will help them, He will again receive them to Himself, if they repent and return to Him. 

Verses 3-4a —

Continuing from his words in Verse 1, “And working together with Him . . .”  Paul and Timothy have given no cause for offense (stumbling, sin on the part of the Corinthians) in anything, so the ministry will not be discredited. They have spoken the truth to the believers at Corinth. They are working with Christ.

In everything, Timothy and Paul have commended themselves as servants, by their actions and by their hearts toward this wayward church. They serve the Lord, and they serve this church.

What is the proof that makes Timothy and Paul able to commend themselves? Their experiences as Christ’s servants. they have ministered in these conditions —

Verse 4b —

—In much (abundant) endurance (patiently continuing)

—In afflictions (persecutions and tribulations)

—Hardships (distress from being in need, in the natural)

—Distresses (unable to move, being in a narrow room)

Verse 5 —

—Beatings (stripes from whips)

—Imprisonments

—Tumults (riots)

—Labors

and . . . 

—Sleeplessness (constantly watching over the flock)

—Hunger (fasting)

Verse 6 —

—In purity (blamelessness, because they are filled with the Spirit)

—In knowledge (absolute knowledge of and holy intimacy with the Lord)

—In patience (enduring insult and injury without anger or retaliation)

—In kindness (gentleness)

—In the Holy Spirit

—In genuine love (God’s divine love, which compels them in all they do)

Verse 7 — 

—In the word of truth (God’s Word, truthfully spoken)

—In the power of God (working His miracles and speaking with power)

—By the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left (weapons they possess because they are filled with the righteousness of God, weapons that are used against deceivers, including Satan himself, per 2Corinthians 10:5).

Verse 8 —

 

—By glory (honoring God, and His glory visibly emanating from them) and dishonor (the treatment they receive from men)

—By evil report and good report (defamation and lies, and positive reports regarding their reputation)

—Regarded as deceivers (liars) and yet true (filled with God’s truth)

Verse 9 — 

—As unknown (by men) yet well-known (by the Lord!)

—As dying, yet behold, we live* 

—As punished yet not put to death

*Again, a double meaning — many of Christ’s servants physically die from persecution, but also, they have died to self. 

And yet we live! Some survive persecution, as Paul has up to this point, and if they live, they are Christ’s, and have the life of Christ within them, but if their bodies die, they have eternal life! And we who have died to self also “yet live!”

Verse 10 —

As sorrowful (grieving over the state of the church) yet always rejoicing (with joy unspeakable and full of glory, per 1Peter 1:8)

As poor yet making many rich (through the salvation of many, and entire sanctification of many — that is, the infilling of the Holy Spirit!) 

As having nothing (in the natural) yet possessing all things (eternal life, and filled with God!)

Verses 11-13 —

Paul makes a direct appeal to the believers at Corinth. Our mouth is open to you, our heart is enlarged toward you! We have spoken of the freedom Christ has for you! Our hearts are filled with God’s love, and we love you with that love!

You are not restrained (hemmed in, cramped) by us, but you are restrained in your own inward parts (you withhold empathy, affection, and mercy toward us)!

We have opened wide to you, both our hearts and our mouths. Now, in a like exchange — we speak to you as if you are children — open wide to us! O infants in Christ, open wide your hearts! O infants in Christ, if you do it, the King of glory will come in (Psalm 24:7)!

Verse 14 —

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers, as you are doing now, O church! Stop joining hands with those who do not believe, to do works that anyone can do (benevolent organizations). Do not marry an unbelieving one (again, I am speaking of marriage between a man and a woman). Why? 

What partnership (participation together) have righteousness and lawlessness (sin)? 

What fellowship (koinonia, referring to holy intimacy) has light with darkness? As believers, you should desire fellowship with God the Father and God the Son! 

And you will, when you are filled with His Spirit! The Apostle John exhorts the church at Ephesus, which he oversaw in his later years —

1John 1:3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.

But alas, in today’s church, much fellowship has nothing to do with intimacy with the Father and the Son, but consists of church dinners and outings. And many participate with benevolent organizations whose members do not belong to Christ! Others do inter-faith ministries, joining hands with those who reject Christ and worship false gods!

Surely, go and tell everyone the gospel of Jesus Christ, but know this — many will not want you to be a member any longer You will promptly be asked to leave. And they will no longer want you to be their partner in benevolent activities.
But which is more important to you — praise from men who do not know God, or praise from God? Turn back to the Lord, O wayward church!

Verse 15 —

Or what harmony (agreement) has Christ with Belial (Satan)? When you are filled with the Spirit, you will not be with those who are still under Satan’s thumb, except to tell them how the Lord rescued you from Satan’s wicked grip!

What did Jesus call the Jews who claimed to know God but rejected Him? Sons of their father, the devil (see John 8:44). Who are you joining hands with?

Or what has a believer in common (literally, what sharing can happen) with an unbeliever? What can you share with someone who has rejected the gospel that you cannot stop speaking about (Acts 4:10)! Are you compelled to speak about the gospel, because God’s divine love has filled you? 

Oh, my brothers and sisters, compare yourselves with the believers at Corinth. If you find you are like them, you must cry out for the Lord to fill you with His Spirit!

Verse 16 —

Or what agreement has the temple of God — your body —with idols! What idols? Those who do not believe are idolaters of themselves, and sometimes we see the outworking of their idolatry in the form of gods they have made in their own image.

We cannot join hands with idolaters, because our bodies are the temple of the living God, just as God said — 

Ezekiel 36:26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”

And just as Jesus said —

John 17:26 “and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”

And just as Paul has said —

1Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

Verse 17 —

Therefore (because of all of these things) —

2Corinthians 6:17 “Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN (not of God); and I will welcome you (receive you to Myself).” 18  “And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty. 

Paul quotes Isaiah 52:11, when the Lord gave His instructions to those who were going to return to Jerusalem, after the 70-year Babylonian exile. 

If you come out from joining yourself with unbelievers, I will welcome you (receive you), says the Lord! I will receive you to Myself! But surely, continue to proclaim the gospel to unbelievers!

Verse 18 —

And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty —

Isaiah 56:5 To them (foreigners who now believe into Christ) I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial, and a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off.

And Paul says —

Romans 8:14 For all who are being led by (driven by) the Spirit of God, these are sons (the offspring, children) of God.

If you are filled with the Spirit, He is the driving force within you, and in everything you do, you are compelled by the divine love of God which has filled your heart! Then you are sons (and daughters) of God! You bear a striking resemblance to Him, for He is in you! You walk as Christ walked, and are as He is in this world!

False teachers will say, Oh, the Lord has no objection to you being a member of that organization. After all, you are all working for a good cause, aren’t you? So go ahead and join hands with unbelievers. But what fellowship do you have with those who are still under Satan’s thumb? And who gets the praise for what is accomplished? Certainly not the Father and the Son, for they do not believe in God!

You are light, they are darkness — the two cannot dwell together. But the question is this — are you light? Are you filled with His Light? Are you filled with His Spirit? 

I tell you again that God receives those who do not become yoked with unbelievers. If you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you will not join hands with them. 

But if you have not been filled with the Spirit, you will reason that God doesn’t mind. But God will not receive you unless you come out from them!

He commands you to be filled with His Spirit so you are not taken in by false teachers, and so that you do not join hands or hearts with unbelievers! He commands it for all believers, beloved, so that you are not led astray any longer! He will do it, when you see your need and ask Him to fill you!

Next time, Paul and I will continue to expose the hearts of the believers at Corinth, and of the church today, exhorting them to cleanse themselves and perfect (fulfill) holiness within their hearts, and it will happen, if they cry out to be filled full of the Holy Spirit! Stay tuned!

Lord Jesus, may many hear this truth, and ask you to change their hearts. Amen. So be it!

TESTIMONY FROM CINDY

Through a series of divine appointments, I have met someone who has a very powerful testimony of healing and deliverance, Cindy. Here is her testimony —

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13)…

“I grew up Catholic and attended Catholic school from kindergarten through high school. I thought I knew all there was to know about God and Jesus because of my schooling, church attendance, and receiving of the sacraments of baptism, communion, and confirmation. I saw Christianity as a religion, not a way of life, and therefore, lived my life according to my own terms. God was reserved for an hour on Sunday, or worse yet, only for holy days of obligation (Catholic holidays required to attend church). Christianity was an outdated belief system with unreasonable rules and demands, so I focused my time, money, and energies on the pursuit of my own happiness and pleasure. If someone had asked me if I believe in God, I would say I was “agnostic” because I wasn’t sure if I did believe in spite of what I was told I should believe my entire life. I simply thought believing in God was the right thing to do because my parents, church, and school told me that I should.

“Throughout my teenage years and into my twenties, music was a huge part of my life. Although I did quite well in school, I experimented with the “usual” teenage temptations like alcohol and partying. My “religion” did not inform my choices at all and was conveniently compartmentalized apart from other aspects of my life. Instead, I generally idolized many of the anti-establishment musicians of my time which had a profound influence on my lifestyle choices. While God had protected me during these college years, in retrospect, I recognize that my life could have ended up a sad story based on some of my choices. 

“After college, I sought a higher power to direct my life, but did not think to look at the same spiritual power in the faith I was brought up. I thought I already knew all there was to know about Jesus from religion text books I had read. I only understood my faith in terms of repetitious chants and rituals of sitting, standing and kneeling to follow along with mass. I spoke words of worship with my mouth, but not from my heart. Therefore, I had never seen evidence in my life of the spiritual power of Jesus, although others I knew had. Instead, I tried astrology, palm readers, and tarot cards for this guidance. These readings were often misleading. In fact, I had a very dark and ugly spiritual experience at one of these readings which made me vow never to go back. I now know that these black magic sorcerers will never see heaven unless they turn away from this evil (Revelation 21:8, Revelation 22:15).

“By my mid-twenties, I thought I had done pretty well for myself and I had a promising, lucrative career ahead of me. I had just married my beloved husband and we bought a house together. I was full of pride at my accomplishments and I believed I was invincible. Accidents or tragedies were something that happened to other people. I had only been married and settled into my new job and home for a little over a year when I suffered a severe back and neck injury that changed my life. The back injury (Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction) was rare. It could not be diagnosed by conventional radiology testing and evaded the diagnosis of dozens of doctors. My neck injury was also rare…a large herniated disc that went straight back into my spinal cord, threatening to paralyze me. In fact, by the time I had decided to undergo my second cervical spine surgery in 2009, my legs were so weak I needed the assistance of a cane, my right arm could hardly be raised and my left arm could only be raised halfway up my body. 

“I first came to know Jesus Christ in March 2007. I was in my kitchen, home alone, trying to prepare myself something to eat, but in too much pain to even stand. My mother, who is Catholic, had given me a nine day prayer called a Novena, to offer to Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes. After the nine days of prayer, I felt no different, but in that moment of excruciating pain, I cried out to St. Jude for help…my pain did not subside at all. 

“Then, something stirred inside of me, urging me to cry out to Jesus for help. In desperation, I cried out to Jesus and in that very moment, my pain COMPLETELY subsided. I called on His name and He listened and answered me! I went up to bed and laid there pondering the very real yet very miraculous thing I had just experienced. For the first time in my life I knew that the same God who created the universe hears US and heard and answered ME! I was humbled and awed. Jeremiah 29:12-13 says, “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”. This was the first time in my life, in my broken state of pain and fear, that I had sought God with my all heart. 

“Later, I would experience healing at the hands of Jesus on three more occasions. The other circumstances required a great deal of faith and prayerful persistence. But I did what Jesus instructed me to do: if I didn’t get an answer, I just kept persistently knocking (Luke 11:9-13). Each experience reaffirmed and strengthened my faith. During my second to last experience I had a vision of Jesus and heard, “I know your suffering. I died for you. I am with you always.”. Hebrews 13:8 says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever“. I had experienced this first-hand only because I believed with all of my heart in the the Word of God which says this and not because I am worthy in any way. 

“If you have this faith and believe with all your heart, mind and soul, that the same Jesus who healed 2,000 years ago in Bible accounts is the same Jesus who can heal today, He will be faithful. Even though He is not present with us in body on Earth, he is still with us 100% in spirit. James 1:6-8 says do not be double-minded when you ask for God’s help. Read the Word of God, BELIEVE in Jesus’ miracles and cast out all doubt that He can’t do them today. 

“From 2008-2013, I have had 5 spine surgeries and had been mainly bed-ridden on and off during this time, the longest period being 1.5 years. All that time allowed for two things, introspection and reading. I read my Bible for the first time in my life, since I was never encouraged to do so by any priest, nun, or teacher I knew growing up. I began with the Gospels, then read it cover to cover and front to back. I had never found such wisdom and absolute truth as I did in the words of Jesus. I immersed myself in learning as much as I could about who God is and the fulfillment of God’s divine plan for humanity through Jesus Christ. I understood that my rebelliousness as a teenager was a confused hatred for human hypocrisy that only Jesus can cure. Jesus was the ultimate rebel…he rebelled against the establishment of his time!

“This experience led to developing an insatiable appetite for Bible reading, teachings, and sermons. I had been moonlighting as a Catholic and taking in false teachings on a part-time basis; teachings that go against the Bible’s accounts (i.e. – baby baptisms, mere men acting as an intercessor to God, and purgatory). It wasn’t until I turned to my Bible as the ultimate authority on God’s word and beliefs that I understood clearly. Baptism should happen as an adult when you are born-again and have a choice. I can confess sins and pray directly to God the Father because of the imputed righteousness of Jesus. I only have one shot at ensuring my eternal salvation…once I die, there are no other opportunities for this. 

“All the answers I had been looking for were sitting in the Bible that stood as a talisman collecting dust on my book shelf. You may have seen this acronym before, but to sum it up plainly, I understood: The B.I.B.L.E = Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. It wasn’t until I turned to my Bible as the ultimate authority on God’s Word that I understood clearly. Perhaps most importantly I realized I could have an unbreakable, daily and prayer-filled relationship with Jesus Christ. I knew that I needed to trade in the rules and religion I had been accustomed to, for a relationship with God Himself. 

“The Holy Spirit also led me to share what I was learning with my husband. He heard the Holy Spirit’s calling and gave his life to Christ too. Within a year, we made the decision to pursue a church that taught sound, Biblical truth. Our faith and knowledge grew very fast in a few short years. If you are to be used of God for a purpose, He will grow you up fast! God does not heal for the sake of healing your body, but to use you as an instrument for the purpose of growing his heavenly kingdom here on Earth.

“I cannot take credit for my ability to understand so clearly what I read and heard…in Mathew 16:17, Jesus says that flesh and blood can’t reveal the mystery of faith. Only God can do that. Ironically, I used to think that being “Born Again” was code for “fanatical Christian”, until I learned that Jesus himself said we MUST become born again if we wish to see the kingdom of God (John 3:1-18)! What I had once thought Christianity was…merely dry, boring religion and a set of rules, became a relationship with the creator of the universe through the righteousness of His son, Jesus. I now know His commandments are for my protection and safety and they are written on my heart now, not just in my head as a conscience-driven set of rules. Just as Isaiah 51:7 says, “Listen to me, you who know right from wrong, you who cherish my law in your hearts” and Jeremiah 31:33 says ” “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people”.

“Today, God has realigned my priorities. My husband and I study and fill our minds with things that honor God. Our life is no longer shallow and superficial and we have found our true purpose. My eyes have been opened and I realize that I don’t exist for my own pleasure. Rather, I exist for the pleasure of the God who created me. God has revealed these things to me and I am so thankful that he opened my eyes and my husband’s eyes through the teaching of many great Bible instructors and pastors, and of course by Jesus Himself. I used to believe that I needed a priest…a man, to be the intercessor between God and me. Then I learned that Jesus is our high priest, the highest intercessor between God and man (Hebrews 4:14-16). 

“I am pain free today and in the midst of my suffering and my surgeries, Jesus had proven Himself to be faithful time and time again, often in miraculous ways with healing, in spite of medical mistakes and malpractice. He has been an ever present help in my times of need. Each surgery has served to strengthen my faith. He was with me and gave me absolute peace during a scary revision surgery. I am 100% better than I was at my worst, and most importantly, after this fleeting life is over, I will be in the presence of our creator, God, and with Jesus. God had different plans for me than the path I had originally chosen for myself. He loved me enough to save me, even if it meant allowing something terrible and painful to enter my life to humble me so that my eyes could be opened to see Him. Because of this, I can truly say that although my injuries and surgeries have been the worst things I have ever experienced, at the same time they are the GREATEST blessings of my life. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. He disciplines who He loves (Proverbs 3:12).

“No matter what circumstances, trials and tribulations come my way, I know God is always with me. John 16:33 says “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage; I have overcome the world”. – Jesus. Thank you Jesus. I have a new faith and purpose to see others come to the knowledge of the Lord, to live intentionally for their family, friends, and communities, and to live holistically healthy and whole lives. 

“Thank you for reading my story. If you are praying for healing, I highly recommend reading your Bible and scriptures that pertain to the topic of healing to strengthen your faith. The Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are full of stories about how Jesus supernaturally healed the blind, sick and disabled. Do not lose faith, continue knocking. Although I know my circumstances are miraculous, I also know that there are times we must trust that when God does not provide a physical healing here on Earth, it’s because he has that miraculous cure waiting for us in Heaven. This is not a cop out…healing is temporary. I am fully aware that I could suffer another debilitating spine injury tomorrow that would put me right back in bed. Heaven, the home of God, my eternal home, and where this is no more suffering or disease…is the permanent cure. No matter what your present circumstance is, please remember that suicide is not the answer and will NOT bring you to heaven. The Bible speaks of only God having the authority to take life. 

“I also recommend two additional resources I used during the most difficult health crisis I faced: “From Death to Life” by Susan Wynn (her story of God’s healing her MS) and listening to the healing ministry of Andrew Wommack. If you are a musical person like me, praise and worship in the form of song will also fuel your faith!”

 

CindyHeadshot-11 

RUINS HAVE A PURPOSE

[SW351] 11/3/2018 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2018

“Ruins Have a Purpose”

Text: Nehemiah, various verses

The heart of the Lord, and my heart, is that His people be restored, rebuilt, and that they be a testimony of Him. Beloved, if the Lord’s heart is to restore and rebuild His people, then His people must be in ruins. But ruins have a purpose!

I will show you through one whom the Lord used — Nehemiah. He was in captivity in Babylon (1:1), but had a high position, for a Hebrew slave. He was cupbearer to the king (1:11). His job was to guard against poison in the king’s drink, so he tasted it before giving it to the king. The king trusted him, and confided in him. And he had the king’s ear (2:1-4).

He was visited by one of his brothers and some men from Judah, and asked them to tell him about Jerusalem and the remnant who were there (1:2). There were a few who were left in the land to tend vineyards and fields. There were a few who had escaped the exile. 

The report from his visitors was devastating, just as it is today. God’s people were in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem was broken down. The gates were burned with fire (1:3). But ruins have a purpose!

Jerusalem was in ruins, overrun and destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. God’s people had rebelled against the Lord, and despite the warnings of the many prophets He sent to them, they did not listen. 

And now, they were completely unprotected from attacks from their enemies. It is the same among God’s people today. It was the same with me, 23 years ago. 

He purposely sent them into exile from His presence. He purposely sent Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Jerusalem. Why? So His people would turn back to Him. He disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:5). Ruins have a purpose, beloved!

It was when I was far away from Him and rebelling against Him that I began to turn. I knew I needed Him. And beloved, just as with me, He will take you back, if you turn back! Ruins have a purpose!

After I was restored, the Lord saw fit to make me a restorer, like Nehemiah. So, just as he did, I beseech the Lord, who preserves His promise and His lovingkindness for those who love Him and obey Him (1:5). I ask Him to hear my prayer, the one I pray day and night, the prayer for restoration of the ruins. I confess the sins of His people, as if they were my own sins (1:6-7).

I had to confess my own sins in order to be restored physically from MS, and to know Him as He had given me a hunger to know Him. Just as with me then, and His people today, He will hear when you turn and cry out to Him!

As with Nehemiah, my constant prayer, day and night (1:6), is that you will turn back! In my prayers, I repent before the Lord on behalf of wayward believers, and ask the Lord to forgive their waywardness and draw them near, just as I repented, and He drew me near! I remember the Lord’s promise that if His people return to Him and obey Him, He will gather them and return them to Himself (1:9), and I beseech Him to do it.

The Lord has assigned many to pray for restoration. As Satan views the ruined condition of God’s people, he and his servants mock (2:19). The exiled psalmist writes —

Psalms 42:3, 10 My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” . . . As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me, while they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”

As with all who are called to pray for restoration, I pray, “Lord, You have restored me because I returned to You and obeyed You. So, bring Your people back, in the same way. 

“They are Yours, ones whom You redeemed at great cost. But they have gone astray. You want to restore them. You have said, If you return to Me, I will gather you. I cry, Hear my prayer, O Lord, I beseech You! 

“Lord, You have put it in my heart (2:11) to bring about restoration. O my King, I cannot do it without your provision.”

It has pleased the Lord to send me, setting my hand to pray for restoration and to exhort His people to repent (2:8). He gave me then and still gives me His protection as I go. He has given me greater provision than what I requested (2:7-9)! 

Satan is angry when he hears of rebuilding (1:10). But by the Lord’s power, many spiritual battles have been won, many threats and many mocking words from Satan have been heard and rebuked. And so, like Nehemiah, I have had had a front-row seat to see Him restore many from great ruin. Praise His holy name!

So when He put it in my heart to rebuild (2:12), I went to the ruins and inspected them. Surely, the report I heard was true! The walls were destroyed, the gates consumed with fire (2:13-15). Indeed, God’s people had no protection against the enemy, Satan. 

All of this was ruin was caused by the rebellion of His people. But His heart is to restore them, if they return to Him. Ruins have a purpose!

Despite the devastation that I have seen for myself, I say, “Come, let us rebuild, so we are no longer a reproach (2:17)!” I tell them that the Lord’s hand has been favorable to me, for I, too, was once in ruins but am now restored! And other restorers have joined me, saying, Yes! Let us arise and rebuild, and have put their hands to this good work (2:18).

Though Satan says, “It cannot be done,” the restorers say, The God of heaven will give us success (2:20)! Therefore, I and the rest of His servants take heart, arise, and begin to restore the ruins! 

During the restoration, Satan continues to mock, belittling us and telling us it is impossible to restore the ruins (4:1-2). But he is a liar and the father of lies, and there is no truth in him (John 8:44). 

Satan will mock the quality of the restoration, saying the restored ones will be weak and unable to withstand his attacks (4:3). But the restorers pray to our God (4:9). We cry, “Lord, strengthen our hands for the work (6:9)!” 

And we strengthen those whom we are restoring, exhorting them to be filled with the Holy Spirit so they will be built up to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13)! 

As the restoration process progresses, the restorers gather God’s people to hear the Word of God (8:1-8). As they hear His words, the Holy Spirit convicts them of their rebellion, and they weep and sin, even a lifetime of it, is confessed. 

The ruins in Jerusalem were visible, but the spiritual ruin of His people was not seen by the naked eye. Nevertheless, it was just as extreme, for they were cast away from the presence of God.

But today, the ruins within the church cannot be seen by the naked eye, for they are spiritual ruins. The church looks good on the outside, but there are many believers who are in ruins. But those ruins have a purpose!

When people hear the exhortations of the restorers and the encouragement that  they can be rebuilt, and are willing to admit that they are in ruins, they will be restored! Ruins have a purpose! 

But some are unwilling to admit that they are in ruins, and remain in ruins, exiled from His presence. For them, all restorers continue to petition the Lord.

I have had a front-row seat to see the restoration of some who have agreed that they were in ruins because they had rebelled against the Lord. Such ones have been restored, just as I was! Ruins have a purpose! 

It is just as in Nehemiah 6:15. After a miraculously short time, those who agree they are in ruins are made whole, by the Lord’s power working through us. But that is not the end of the story. 

The Lord has a promise for those who repent and cry out to Him. He will fill them with His Holy Spirit, so they never stray again! They will no longer be ruins, but completely restored, purified, and inwardly dedicated to the Lord, entirely His (12:27)! Oh, my! Ruins have a purpose!

And when they are restored, both the restorers and His restored people arise and bless the Lord our God forever and ever (9:5)! We sing songs of praise, and rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory (1Peter 1:8)! 

My heart is that God’s people be restored, beloved. Your ruins have a purpose! Do you see that you are in ruins? That is the first step to restoration! Know that many restorers are praying for you to see and turn back, and are prepared to be used by the Lord to restore you. 

Lord, may Your people be willing to see that they are in ruins because of their rebellion, and turn back to You. That is the purpose of ruins. Let it be so. Amen.

2Corinthians 5 — To a Church in Crisis, With Love

Text: 2Corinthians 5

With love, even God’s own divine love in our hearts, Paul and I speak to you from 2Corinthians 5 today. We want you to join us in being the Amen to God’s promises of reconciliation, of salvation, and of the infilling of the Holy Spirit! Yes! Truth! He has done it in me! You will say the same thing, when you are filled!

If I were to give this a title, it would be, “Compelled by the Love of Christ.” When we cried out for the Lord to change our hearts, He filled us with His Spirit and His divine love, the very love of God the Father and God the Son. And His love compels us (we are glad prisoners of it), in all that we do!

We say these things to you so that you will understand what happens when you obey Jesus’ command to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Then, you will become a prisoner of the divine love of God, just as He has done with us!

Verses 1-3 —

Paul continues his testimony of ministry in the Spirit from 2Corinthians 4:18, in which Paul said we who are filled with the Spirit do not look at the temporal, but the eternal. 

Now he explains why — it is because we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down (demolished), we have a building from God not made with hands, eternal in the heavens! Jesus Christ has gone to prepare a place for us —

John 14:2 “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”

For indeed in this house we groan (sigh inwardly), because we long (intensely crave) to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven (our spiritual, eternal bodies). We do not want to be found spiritually naked, but clothed with the body that is eternal. Do you know, without a doubt? Do you long for that day when you are clothed with Him? Is He in you, even now?

Verses 4-5 — 

For indeed, while we are in this tent, we sigh inwardly, being burdened (troubled), because we do not want to be unclothed and in our decaying body, but clothed with our eternal body! Then the mortal will be swallowed up (gulped down entirely) by life — eternal life! Do I hear a “Hallelujah!” out there?

God has prepared us for this very purpose, that is, that we would ultimately be clothed with our spiritual body, an eternal body, when our natural bodies die. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality! The change will be in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye (1Corinthians 15:52-53)! 

And He gave to us the Spirit as a pledge, a foretaste of glory divine! Oh, this wonderful infilling is just the appetizer, beloved! How kind and merciful is our God, to change us in such a wonderful way!

Verses 6-8 —

Because we have this foretaste, the fullness of the Holy Spirit, we are always of good courage (confident). We know that, while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord. We are not yet present with Him, in our spiritual bodies, in heaven. but we know we will be!

Paul breaks away in Verse 7 to say why we are of good courage (again, confident). It is because we walk by faith, not by sight! We believe! And we know He has filled us! There is no longer any doubt. To walk by faith is to walk with our eyes on      our heavenly Father, our Lord, and the coming glory!  We do not look at temporal things. They will pass. Persecution is a temporary, light affliction. We press on toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14)! We look at the eternal things!

Now, Paul continues on “at home in the body and absent from the Lord.” Paul says, We are of good courage (again, confident), “I say,” Paul says, for emphasis! There is no wavering, no questioning, we know!

Because we are completely confident, we would rather be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord, than be home in the body and absent from Him! So, when we die, beloved, we go directly to the Lord! Glory to God!

Paul writes to the church at Philippi —

Philippians 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain (that is, the prize). 

22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better . . .

Verses 9-10 —

Therefore, our ambition is always to be fully pleasing to Him, whether we are with Him in heaven, or absent from Him and still walking about on the earth. Why? First, because we love Him with His love. We live to please Him, and because He has filled us with His Spirit, we please Him greatly!!

But also, we will all be held accountable, and Paul speaks this particularly to the believers at Corinth, whose motives and actions have shown that they are infants in Christ. Each will receive reward or rebuke, according to his deeds while he was in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

The commentator for the Expositors Bible Commentary rightly says that some believers may “suffer loss” (1Corinthians 3:15) by forfeiting Christ’s praise or losing a reward that might have been theirs, had they obeyed. 

But the eternal destiny of some of the believers in Corinth hangs in the balance. The man who wrote this commentary believes, “once saved, always saved.” But I must disagree, because the Bible is quite clear that though no one will snatch you from God’s open hand, you can leave Him! How?

Jesus Christ Himself states that a believer may lose his salvation, if he continues to sin. Addressing His disciples (who are believers), the multitudes of Jews who have come to listen to Him, and the scribes and Pharisees who continually persecute Him, Jesus says —

Matthew 5:29 “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 “If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.”

And He also says to Sardis, the church with soiled garments (sinning) that it is possible for your name to be erased from the book of life —

Revelation 3:5 “‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase (blot out, wipe away) his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.’”

Verse 11 —

We persuade (convince) men that they are sinners in need of a Savior, and that they must believe into Jesus Christ in order to receive forgiveness for their past sins and be reconciled to God. And we persuade believers that they must be filled with the Holy Spirit, just according to Jesus Christ’s command. 

Why?  Because we know (understand) the fear of the Lord, that is, the terror of Him, His response if we reject His Son or are found with soiled clothing when we stand before Him. But we are made manifest to God — we appear before Him even now. Because of His work in our hearts, we stand before Him. 

And Paul hopes (expects, is confident) that Timothy and him are shown to the consciences of the believers at Corinth, that they are doing the work of the Lord, and speaking the words of the Lord. 

The believers at Corinth have questioned Paul and Timothy’s credentials because they do not like their exhortations, and because they are listening to “super apostles,” who teach falsely. 

In saying that he expects that the Corinthian church sees the truth, Paul is prodding them to examine their consciences. Do they not see that they are falsely judging him?

Verse 12 —

For none of us who are Spirit-filled commend ourselves to others. We are already commended by God. But we give those to whom we minister an opportunity to be proud of us (to rejoice and to boast in us). 

The false teachers, whom Paul later calls “super-apostles,” and even some of the believers at Corinth, take pride in outward appearances. But they do not consider and evaluate the poverty-stricken condition of their own hearts. 

And the believers at Corinth are prideful about these “super-apostles” that are outwardly dignified and seem wise, and are eloquent speakers. But they do not discern the hearts of those super-apostles that they boast about. And as we have seen throughout 1Corinthians, some in the Corinthian church boast about themselves!

So Paul corrects them, for they should be boasting about Timothy and him! The believers at Corinth have a right to boast about them, because they are truly sent from the Lord to the Corinthians, and their hearts are for the Corinthians, not for personal gain or notoriety. It is the same for all of us who are Spirit-filled!

Verses 13-14 —

Some say we are insane — beside ourselves — because of what we speak! But we say what we say for God. We speak for Him. If we are of sound mind (which we are!), it is for your sakes, O church, so you may know the truth!

For we are compelled and held captive, by the love of Christ. It is not love for Christ, but His divine love, in us! 

His love compels us to go forth with His gospel. Why? We are sure that Christ died for us, and for all mankind. In that way, we have come to a “conclusion” (a judgment). What is the judgment?

If Christ died for all, so they may have eternal life, then all are spiritually dead until they come to Him! All stand condemned, because the Father sent His Son! Had it not been necessary, He would not have done it. I stood condemned, until I believed into Christ and was forgiven and reconciled to God!

Verse 15 — 

And Christ died for all, so that all who turn to Him and believe will live. He died for all, so that they are forgiven, and reconciled to God. 

But they must no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. There is no “might” in the original Greek. It is not “might live,” it is “live!” There is no question about it, when you are filled with His Spirit!

That is why, when Christ was glorified, He poured out the Holy Spirit for all who would stay and wait to be filled with the Spirit! Those who obey His command to stay and wait  will die to their own self-interest (the sin nature) in a moment of time, and they will live life as God has it, while still on the earth and in heaven, serving and adoring and proclaiming Him who died and rose on their behalf! 

Verse 16 — 

Therefore, from now on, we (and the Corinthian believers) should recognize and judge no one according to the flesh. We are to judge no one according to outward appearances. We are to judge no one according to great oratorical skills or outward appearances, or words that tickle our ears. 

We have known Christ according to the flesh — perhaps thinking of Him as a great philosopher or a wise man or just a good man. But we do not know Him that way any longer! 

When He fully indwells us, we no longer think He is real — we know He is real! We know that He is the Christ, the Son of God and Savior of the world, and the One who cleaned us up on the inside! I’m dancing!

The believers at Corinth should not judge anyone by outward appearances or great oratory, belittling leaders who do not meet their “standards.” Do you, do such things, beloved?

Verse 17 —

So, are you a new creature? Has the old sin nature gone and the new divine nature come? Then you are “in Christ.” Then you are new!

Some say that you are “in Christ” the moment you are saved. They reason, Well, I’m saved. I must therefore be “in Christ.” 

But that was not my experience when I was yet an infant in Christ, nor is it what I see from infants in Christ in Corinth or in today’s church. The old Sue remained and was still in charge. My sin nature was alive and well. But I became new when I was filled with the Spirit, and so I conclude that Paul equates “in Christ” with being entirely sanctified, filled with the Holy Spirit.

The Word of God confirms that to be “in Christ” means Christ and the Father are literally dwelling in you as He promised in John 14:23. Then the old things (the sin nature and its fruit) have died — the sin nature has been crucified (Galatians 5:24). 

Behold! See! All things have become new! When you are filled, you become a partaker of a new nature — the divine nature of God (2Peter 1:4)!

Believing into Christ surely makes you a child of God. But your heart is not changed, you are not a partaker of the divine nature, until you are filled with the Holy Spirit. Then your sin nature dies, and you become NEW! All glory to Him who does it!

Verses 18-19 —

Now these things — becoming a new creature, dying to sin — are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ. And we who are filled have been given the ministry of reconciliation. 

What is this ministry of reconciliation? Namely, that God was, in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their past sins against them, but forgiving their past sins.

And so, He has committed to us (placed in us who are filled with His Spirit) the word of reconciliation. What is the word of reconciliation that we announce? We proclaim that if you will believe into Jesus Christ, you will be reconciled to God, and your past sins will be forgiven. But that’s not all!

We proclaim “the rest of the story,” as radio host Paul Harvey used to say. We proclaim that after salvation, Jesus Christ commands you to be filled with the Spirit so your sin nature is crucified and you become His witness here!

Verses 20-21 — 

We are ambassadors for Christ, announcing the terms of the kingdom we represent. God makes an appeal through us, to a lost and dying world. Amen!

But brace yourself, O believer. Paul now begs the church at Corinth, on behalf to Christ — be reconciled to God! Remember, he is writing to the believers at Corinth, not to the lost.

What? Didn’t the believers at Corinth come to faith? Yes, through Paul’s ministry! But now, some of them are far from God. They have turned to false teachers. They are in danger of losing their salvation. Their spiritual survival is in jeopardy, unless they will finally heed His words!

At the end of 2Corinthians, Paul beseeches them —

2Corinthians 13:5   Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you — unless indeed you fail the test?

He reminds them that He who had no sin became sin (that is, He took upon Himself the sin of the world) on our behalf , so that they become the righteousness of God in Christ.  

Wait a minute, Pastor Sue. Doesn’t the Bible say, “might become?” We have a choice and don’t have to become the righteousness of God in Christ, right? “Might” is not in the original Greek, beloved. 

But some will say, you are boasting or lying if you say you have become the righteousness of God in Christ! But I will say that we are commanded by Christ to stay and wait and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Then we become the righteousness of God because His righteousness is literally in us. We boast in Christ —

Galatians 6:14 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

We are filled with Him! We are filled with His righteousness! Then, we have become the embodiment of the righteousness of God — the expression of it, to this world. We become His witnesses here. It is His work, and His righteousness!

Paul has exhorted the believers at Corinth to be reconciled to God. In the next chapter, he will warn them not to receive the grace of God in vain (empty-handed) when they stand before Him. He will exhort them that now is the day of salvation! Stay tuned!

Lord Jesus, may your church have ears to hear, that they might know what it is to be compelled by your love, to no longer fear death, and to have a new, changed heart that is filled with Your righteousness! Amen.