Lessons Of A Lifetime

SUNDAY DEC. 23, 2018

Scripture To Consider:
“Now when Jesus heard that John [the Baptist] had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: ‘The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.’”

“From that time, Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Matthew 4.12-17

Something To Consider:
Jesus left Nazareth, a city where its religious leaders chose to remain in the darkness of doubt and spiritual death. They chose to believe that nothing good could come out of Nazareth. They remained close-minded in their unbelief, doubt, and spiritual death. Later in John 4.44, Jesus declared again, speaking of Himself, “A prophet has no honor in his own country.” And so, Jesus left Nazareth in all its doubt and darkness.

These leaders had an open door of opportunity to allow great light to be the dawning of a new day in Nazareth. Like so many other people, towns, cities, states, countries, families, and even churches, who have chosen the darkness of doubt and death over the dawning of God’s great life-giving light found only in our abiding in Jesus Christ, the Word of God come in the flesh. In the judgment that is to come, billions upon billions will wish they had chosen Jesus, the great Light of the world rather than the momentary pleasures of this wicked and decaying world.

We are reminded in Psalm 119.105, “Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” There are two paths in life to be traveled according to Jesus in Matthew chapter 7 where He instructs all in every generation and especially this 21st century generation, by declaring, “Enter by the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Those of our text today refused Christ and His offering of great light, and instead chose to remain in darkness, disbelief, and doubt, which leads to spiritual death. According to Scripture, the last days will be filled with great difficulty if a person or a family chooses to remain on the narrow and more constricting path that ultimately leads to eternal life.

But it will require enduring to the end! Which path will we choose to follow and will we remain on that path even in the midst of end time persecution and extreme oppositional hatred from the world? As we approach the end of 2018 and the dawning of 2019, which path will we choose to follow and attempt to encourage others to do the same simply by our lifestyle?

Something Else To Consider:
Buried just below the surface in the Old Testament in the book of Numbers, chapter 32 verse 23, are these words; “Be sure your sin will find you out.” As religious leaders of Jesus’ day, these so-called spiritual implants of Satan were actually false mediators between God and man who were all living a lie. The truth of God’s Word eventually unveiled their darkness of doubt, their deceiving disbelief, and the stench of their spiritual death. Great light was made available to the city of Nazareth of all places, the hometown of Jesus. And like so many cities around the globe today, most choose to live in darkness.

Their sin of doubt, disbelief, and their unwillingness to accept truth when presented, brought out the sin that so permeated their inward thoughts. So, Matthew wrote; “Jesus left Nazareth.” As believers and as leaders in training, we must be convinced that our sin will find its way to the surface. It is only a matter of time that light will expose the darkness of doubt and disbelief, unless we are willing to deal with it! Therefore, let us not allow a single day to go by without confessing our sins, and taking full advantage of God’s mercy that is new every single morning.

Let us not allow one more Christmas morning pass us by without taking full advantage of God’s grace, mercy, and great forgiveness. Let this Christmas become the time of our new birth in Christ and become the beginning of our surrender to the will of God in Christ Jesus. Trust me, we will never regret our decision!

The beloved disciple John wrote in 1 John beginning in verse 9 of chapter 1, “If we confess our sins, He [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word [His great light] is not in us.” The confessing of our sins to God the Father, and not to man, leads to the forgiveness of our sins and the forgiveness of all our unrighteous deeds, thoughts, and hidden iniquity. Why then would we not confess our sins as soon as we are made aware of them?

Something More To Consider:
And leaving Nazareth, Jesus came and dwelt in Capernaum, the village of comfort. According to Matthew, “From that time, Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ And because of His message of repentance, some people who had sat in the darkness of doubt, disbelief, and spiritual death, welcomed and experienced the great light of God through the gracious words of Jesus. Great light had dawned in the lives of those who believed. And still today great light is dawning in hearts and lives of all those who believe in the true light of God’s truth.

But not all have taken advantage of repentance as if it is a sign of weakness or a giving up of self-identification. Yes, repentance requires our following Jesus, taking up our own cross, denying ourselves those things that lead us into temptation and sin and places us back on the wide path to eternal destruction and the darkness of doubt, disbelief, and eventually spiritual eternal death. And yet, great light, the great light of Jesus Christ in the form of the written Word of God has been faithfully presented and proclaimed as the truth to every generation. Therefore, no generation has an excuse that they never heard the message of repentance!

A Few Final Words:
What is important to us living in this 21st century generation and most probably the last generation? To us who are true end time believers, what should be most important to us is that we must ensure the gospel message of repentance and of enduring to the end is proclaimed until the coming of Christ, His gathering the faithful, and the culmination of all things according to Scripture. And yet, the darkness, like the lawlessness Jesus predicted that would abound in the last days is ever increasing at an alarming rate. What can we do to lessen the lawlessness of these last days?

Think with me for a moment. Just decades ago who would have thought corrupt and evil judges would attempt to railroad a sitting American president’s attempts to slow the influx of possible radical terrorists from entering into our country illegally? Who in their right mind would have ever thought an American president would establish a nuclear treaty with a world-wide known terrorist state such as Iran? Who would have thought in 2017 any nation such as Canada would create and pass a law that would declare the right to remove a child from the home of parents who would not tolerate a child’s decision to act out his or her personal choice of sexual orientation though it differs from their biological sexual gender?

And I have said nothing concerning the legalization of abortion which has led to millions of innocent unborn babies being murdered by a so-called American supreme court. Yes, lawlessness has been unleashed upon planet earth on a grand scale and completely out in the open. Yes, the darkness of doubt, disbelief, and spiritual death is on the rise around the world in these end times and apparently will continue until the end. But a great light has dawned over two-thousand years ago and is still shining tremendous life giving light and enlightenment quite adequate to dispel any and all demonic darkness.

Therefore, wise understanding leaders and leaders in training are always open to the dawning of biblical light giving words of encouragement and instruction. Knowledgeable leaders and leaders in training know that the scriptural light of the true gospel message always brightens one’s outlook and eternal perspective. “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.”

Our Father in heaven, open our eyes to the great light of Your Word and Your Son Jesus. Let Your illuminating light dawn in our hearts this Christmas. In Him Always, Amen!

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