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How To Enter The Kingdom of God


John 3:1-7

We sing a song: “What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” 1 John 1:7; Rev. 1:5. According to scripture, when are those sins washed away?

Now, let’s look at the passage that was read. This is a very familiar passage…we have all read this…we have all heard it many times.

When it comes to the spiritual realm, there are only two kingdoms.

Then there is this kingdom spoken of here in John 3 by Christ…the Kingdom of God.

So, there are two kingdoms.

But, not only did Jesus come to provide a way for us….but He also came to tell us how to get out of the one and into the other.

Look at verse 1. “Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Him by night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with them.”

Now as you look at this I want you to notice some things.

  1. First of all, Nicodemus was a religious man!
  1. Not only was he religious, but it says that he was a “ruler of the Jews.”
  1. Not only that, if you go over into John 19:38-39 you find out that after Jesus died, this same man brought about 100 pounds of spices to embalm Jesus’ body with.

So what you have here is a man that had it all.

Now, a lot of people today would look at a man like Nicodemus and say “He’s going to heaven!”

But look what happens in verse 3.

Here was a perfect opportunity for Jesus to make an exception!

Look at verse 5: “Jesus answered, “Truly, truly I say to you, UNLESS one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.”

 Look at verse 7: “Do not marvel that I said to you, “You MUST be born again.”

This isn’t optional!

 A lot of people today think they are the exception to this.

But Jesus says, “Unless you are born again….unless you are born of the water and the Spirit, you cannot enter into the Kingdom of God!”

And the reason he won’t make an exception for you is because entrance into the Kingdom of God is not based on human performance.

Entrance is based on believing what Christ says here in vs. 3 and 5 and 7…and then doing what He says.

Just recently I talked with a fellow who had just recently gone to a relative’s funeral and he told me that because this relative was “a real nice and decent man” he had no doubts that he had gone to heaven.

If that is your thinking…if that is your idea….you keep in mind that Jesus himself said, “Unless you are born again, you will not enter into the Kingdom of God.”

So, what does Jesus mean in verse 3 when He says, “unless one is BORN AGAIN he will not see the Kingdom of God.”

There are several different ideas on this issue.

There are several different ideas but surely, in a matter as important as this one…Jesus didn’t have several things in mind.

Well, Jesus tells us in verse 5.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

But they try to ignore…or excuse the being “born of water.”

For 1500 years after Christ said these words…no one disputed what Christ meant here by being “born of water.”

But let me show you a couple passages of scripture. Turn to Galatians 3:26.

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”

Notice he says they are “sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”

And now look at verse 29: “And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.”

And some say, “Well, Nicodemus didn’t even know about baptism at the time.”

If you want to be “BORN AGAIN”…Jesus says you must be “born of water”…and the only water ever involved in anyone’s salvation in scripture is the water’s of baptism.

But Jesus says you have to be BORN OF THE SPIRIT ALSO.”

Well some think that this means that the Spirit “comes on you in a miraculous way” and makes you a child of God…and that man has no part in it.

So what does He mean when he says you must be “BORN OF THE SPIRIT”?

Anyone can be baptized…but just because you are baptized doesn’t mean that you are going to be saved.

There are only two kingdoms: the kingdom of darkness and the Kingdom of God.

The Value of The Soul


Matthew 16:24-27

I have a few pictures that I want to show you…these are things that are highly valued in our society…

I could go on and on and show you picture after picture of all kinds of things…but I only have one more to ask you about. How valuable is this?  (Your SOUL)

 We have all seen in the news, instances where mobs of people go into a business or a department store, grab armloads of merchandise like X-boxes and Louis Vuitton purses and Nike shoes and walk out without paying for it.

This is the example that the world sets before us.

And it is easy to be lured into this trap.

Obviously our Lord doesn’t think so. Remember Matthew 6:19-20. Jesus says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;

Remember in Luke 12:16-21 the rich man who was very productive and decided to build larger barns to store his grain and his goods.

Remember the “Rich, Young, Ruler” of Mark 10:17-22. He had it all. He was rich, he had power and influence, and he had youth and morality.

In Mark 9:43-48 Jesus tells us that we would be better off being lame, crippled, and blind in this life and enter into heaven than it would be to be whole and enter into hell.

Everything in this world, all the luxuries; all the things; all the X-Boxes; all the Louis Vuitton purses…all of those things will be eaten by moths, destroyed by rust, left to someone else or ultimately be burned and yet people act like they are more valuable than their souls.

I suppose that one of the reasons why most people strive for what the world has to offer is fear.

But again Jesus says that there is something much more valuable. Look what He says in Matthew 10:28: And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

 So, what do we do? What do we do as we see some of our brothers and sisters in Christ, some of our family members, some of our children and grandchildren, some of our friends dangerously in the process of forfeiting their souls for the things of the world?

2 Tim 4:1   I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.

2 years ago over $240 billion dollars was spent in this country on advertising telling people that you just can’t live without this purse, or this car, or this set of ear buds, or this game console.

That is why it is critical that we, as the Lord’s people, step up and boldly proclaim the word of God and warn not only our brothers and sisters in Christ, not only our children and our grandchildren, about gaining the world and losing their souls…but we must also warn those who are in the world.

And I don’t believe that we have to be harsh. I don’t believe that we are to be judgmental.

In 1 Cor. 13 the apostle Paul says, “Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things; Love never fails.”

Yesterday I had a man who claimed to be a follower of Christ tell me that he was seriously considering moving to Russia because things are so bad in this country and that things are only going to get worse. Perhaps he is right; perhaps things are only going to get worse.

We must quit being afraid of hurting people’s feelings; we must instead be concerned about their souls, and in love teach them that if they don’t get to heaven, nothing else matters.

What about you? If your life were to end today or this week, what would be the eternal destination of your soul? You can put that concern to rest if you will “Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him.” Will you come…






1 Cor. 13:4-13

I want to direct your attention back to vs. 13.

The apostle Paul says, “But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest is love.

 We all know how important “faith” is.

And we all know how important “love” is.

 But now, what about “hope?” Of the three, “hope” is probably the least talked about and yet, the Bible indicates that it has an essential part of, not only our Christian walk, but also our salvation.

First of all we need to understand what “hope” is.

This word “hope” here literally means “a confident expectation.” It is a certainty!

Listen, we “all fall short of the glory of God”; there are none perfect…but if we are “walking in the light as He Himself is in the light”; if we are living a faithful life in service to Christ, our “hope” is not based on how perfectly we walk; it is based on how “perfectly” Christ walked.

And look at what the apostle Paul says in Titus 1:1-2. He says,  Paul, a bond-servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, 2 in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago,

Now, It may be that some need to repent, and they may need to be more obedient, but for those who are daily “keeping the faith and fighting the good fight”, don’t say, “I hope God will save me.”

Now, let me show you how important, how essential your “hope in Christ” is. Look with me at 1 Thess. 1 starting in vs. 2. The apostle Paul says:

  We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; 3 constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, 4 knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you;

Look at this Paul says, “Even as faith produces work; even as love produces labor; in the same way hope produces steadfastness; endurance; perseverance; or patience.

In the last 2 years, as God’s people, we have been through a lot.

And then individually some of you have experienced and are continuing to experience serious health issues; and some of you have lost family members and friends that are close to you.

Look at this found in 1 John 3:3. John says: And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He (our Lord) is pure.

What is it that motivates us from giving in to those temptations?

Look at Romans 8:24-25:  For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

In vs. 24 the Greek actually says, “For by hope we were saved.”

And then Paul goes on to says in vs. 25 that we haven’t realized what we “hope” for, but with “perseverance we eagerly wait for it.”

I guess that is what puzzles me today. For some here this morning, I don’t know why you have not come to Christ. But it seems to me if you understand the “hope” that He offers, you would not delay. But if you refuse, well there is no hope.

Look at 1 Thess 4:13: But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope.

While those who have not fallen asleep in Christ …well there is  no hope; there is no confidence in the assurances of God, and we are left to hopelessly grieve.

And then another verse that we are all so familiar with, Heb. 11:1: The writer says, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

 So what happens if our faith grows weak? Well, our hope will grow weak.

For the sake of “hope” we should strive daily to keep our “faith” strong; strong by reading and studying our Bibles; by being in the worship assemblies; and by attending Bible classes.

In fact, let’s read Heb. 6:9-12. In the context of this passage some new converts to Christ were being tempted to leave Christianity and go back to Judaism.

But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. 10 For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. 11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Hope in a heavenly home; hope in salvation; hope in eternal life…motivates us to persevere; motivates us to be pure; motivated us to be saved; gives us comfort in times of sorrow; and motivates us to keep our faith strong.


What Is Prayer


Matthew 6: 4-13

As I look at what Jesus says here in this passage, I have to confess that my prayer life is not what it should be.

You have heard it said that the “family that prays together stays together.”

In 1 Thess. 5:17 the apostle Paul says, “Pray without ceasing.”

In Colossians 4:2 the apostle Paul says, “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving…”

 Then Luke 21:36, Jesus speaking of the judgment that was to come on Jerusalem tells His disciples; “Keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

And then Rom. 12:12 the apostle Paul says, “Be devoted to prayer…”

 Whether it is a prayer of thanksgiving, or praise, or adoration, or confession of sin, or a personal petition, or intercession for the needs of others, or strength in a time of trial or persecution, prayer is essential to our spiritual growth and survival.

Now, for just a few minutes, to help us have a deeper, richer, more meaningful prayer life I would like to learn some things from this passage about prayer, perhaps to correct some misconceptions.

I have noticed that some of our men are hesitant to lead a prayer in our assemblies; I don’t know why for sure; but if you have some misconceptions like I did, hopefully our study will help you.

 I want to begin by asking the question, “What is prayer?” Look starting in vs. 5:

And when you pray, you are not to be as the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, in order to be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

 First, understand that scripture nowhere condemns public prayer; Acts 4:24-31 we have an example of public prayer.

What the Lord does condemn is ostentatious praying; praying intended to impress others or to attract attention to one’s self in order to be honored by men; to show how righteous and religious you are.

And when Jesus says, “go into your inner room and shut the door”, don’t take that to extremes.

Now, notice in verse 6, Jesus says that when you pray, you are to “pray to your Father.”

And who is the prayer to be addressed to? Jesus says, “pray to your Father.”

The Bible is God speaking to man…

Understand, prayer is not talking or communicating with other people!

Prayers are not intended to be sermons to the brethren about things that need to be corrected, or things that need to be taken care of, “and God you can listen in if You want to.”

If you or I used our prayers as sermons to each other about things that need to be corrected, or things that need to be taken care of, or things we need to learn, we just as well get up and read this (the Bible) because that is what this is all about.

If I am talking to God and my brothers or sisters listen in, that’s great.

Look at vs. 7: And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition, as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 “Therefore do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him. “Pray, then, in this way:

 When I was a kid, periodically my mom would take me to church; and there was one man who, from time to time, would lead the opening prayer.

Here in vs. 7 Jesus is saying, “You don’t have to think that you have to pray long, lengthy prayers like the pagans do, for God to hear and bless you.”

This may be a hindrance for some who have been asked to lead a prayer for our assemblies and they are hesitant because they are not sure of what to say; and consequently their prayer won’t be very long; and their prayer may not be as eloquent as others they have heard.

He says, “Pray, then, in this way:

 ‘Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.

10’Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.

11’Give us this day our daily bread. 12’And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13’And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.]’

How long did it take to read that prayer?

I am not saying that a prayer should only be a few seconds long. What I am saying is, when it comes to public prayers, if they are too long, those who are listening in often quit listening.

And as far as a prayer needing to be “eloquent” enough; eloquent to who: God or people?

Now look at vs. 10: ‘Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.

When my daughter came down sick I prayed and prayed that God would make her well; and when she didn’t…I lost my confidence in prayer.

I don’t know for sure what God is doing with her illness; I am confident somewhere He is using it for His purpose; perhaps to prove my faith; perhaps to teach me something.

Remember in Matthew 26:39, Jesus was in the garden and knowing that He would soon be crucified, prayed 3 times that God “would let this cup pass from Him” and remember what He said: “Yet, not as I will but as Thou wilt.”

Our will may not match up with God’s will and when it doesn’t we are often disappointed.

Our prayer should always be one of “not my will, but Thy will be done” and humbly accept whatever He wills.

So what are some things to pray for? Well, in 1 John 5:14, the construction of the verse in the Greek basically says, “Ask for anything you want; but allow God to mark things off your list according to His will.”

I have already mentioned somethings we can pray for: courage, wisdom, love, healing, provision, for forgiveness; peace. But look starting in vs. 10 again. Jesus says, “Thy kingdom come.”

In vs. 11 Jesus says, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

Vs. 12  And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And then vs. 13: And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

There is so much we can pray for…so much we need to pray for. We have a strong adversary and we need to devote ourselves to prayer and be alert in it.

Prayer is very important; it is essential; it is very much needed.










The Blessing of Affliction


2 Cor. 1:3-11

Of all the dilemmas we face as Christians, the one Paul speaks of here in this passage…the problem of affliction…is perhaps the most difficult for us to deal with.

And when it does happen we often criticize God and blame Him.

Sometimes we handle suffering and affliction in a different way.

True, our wrong doings can cause us to suffer.

This kind of thinking only brings about confusion…and frustration….and accusations and guilt on the sufferer that they may never recover from.

Well, here in this passage Paul has some things to say on this subject and hopefully what he has to say will help us as we deal with affliction and suffering in our lives.

First thing I want you to notice is “no one is exempt.”

And the truth of the matter is, the fact that you are a faithful servant of God may mean that your afflictions will be more than those who are not faithful to God.

Look at Paul.

In verse 5 Paul says that what they were suffering were “sufferings of Christ.”

So much of what Paul and Timothy suffered was due to their commitment and devotion to Christ.

So, no one is exempt from afflictions and suffering.

But now look at vs. 3. Paul says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all afflictions…”

Some people seek to find comfort by complaining…or by entering into depression and hopelessness.

Some simply try to ignore the affliction…or deny it….or pretend to forget it.

We look in all of these different places to try to find comfort during our times of affliction.

But the one place we should look…we must look…in order to find true…real comfort in affliction is to God.

The verse says that He is the “God of ALL comfort.”

And verse 4 says “He comforts us in “ALL our afflictions

And when it says that “He comforts us“, that is present tense which means that He continually….and constantly comforts us.

Far too often we look in the wrong places for our comfort.

Well, that isn’t the place to look!

No wonder He said,   “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of rigteousness For His names sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for Thou are with me, They rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

In times of affliction…of suffering…of stress and pressure…turn to God for only God can make sense of it all.

And in the end, it is only God who can and will deliver us from all afflictions. He alone can and will wipe away all of our tears.

Look again at verse 3. At the time that we are suffering some affliction, it is hard to see any good in it.

Now watch this…“who comforts us in all our afflictions so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

When our daughter was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome….and we were told that she would have to deal with it for the rest of her life…it was really hard to accept that.

She was afflicted….and comforted by God….and as a result she has been able to comfort others….and do so in an effective way because of her own experiences.

God is an evangelistic God.

Some times our afflictions….and the comfort we receive from God…qualifies us….and equips us to be powerful tools for God to use to bring others to Him.

Look at verses 8-9.

But look at what he says next about this affliction.  In vs. 9 Paul says,

“We had the sentence of death within ourselves IN ORDER THAT WE SHOULD NOT TRUST IN OURSELVES, BUT IN GOD WHO RAISES THE DEAD.”

We tend to rely on ourselves.

If you go back to the Old Testament you find a guy named Nebuchadnezzar that was that way.

But the best thing that ever happened to Nebuchadnezzar was for him to suffer affliction and eat grass like a beast…because that experience brought him to a better understanding and knowledge of God.

Some times, our afflictions are the only thing that will cause us to slow down long enough to make us realize that we need God.

And sometimes our afflictions are the only thing that will make others realize their need for God as well.

God preaches some of His most powerful sermons…and He extends some of His most appealing invitations to others…through our afflictions.

In this passage Paul speaks of afflictions. Something that none of us want to experience.

Vs. 11: “You also joining in helping us through your prayers, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed upon us through the prayers of many.”

Afflictions will come. Turn to God for your comfort.