Weapons of Satan

sunday’s sermon outline

Fear;  Pilate lost the battle against Satan’s weapon of fear, which he used through the enemies of Jesus against Pilate. The fear of a lie becoming truth is real, and we must face it with the truth of God’s word, Jn. 19:11. We will meet the discouragement that can come from the fear of this world’s threats, trials and temptations, Mk. 13:12-13.  Our Couragecan be found  in His power,  2Tm. 1:7. Please read Mark 12:24, our mistakes are often caused by our ignorance of his word and His power.

Ignorance; All the Roman Soldiers that nailed Jesus to the cross lost the battle of overcoming evil with good, Lk 23:34. We should grow in this matter of ignorance in God’s will for our lifestyle, 2Pt. 3:18 & 1Tm. 4:15.   Imitate Jesus by feeding on His word and growing in His grace & knowledge, Mt. 4:1-4. 

Greed;  Ananias & Saphira lost the battle of pride, they were more concerned about how they looked in their giving as a Christian, than how God looked upon their hearts.  Our Honesty with God in prayer is often a cure for pride and greed for a greater reputation, Acts 4:32-5:11. Faith & Love is the victory, 1Cr. 16:14 & 1Jn. 5:4.

Have you won the victory of overcoming evil in your life with His goodness, His strength, His knowledge and His love?  Or do you rely on your own goodness, strength, knowledge and love?

Mary & The Angels

Her position was almost as low in ancient Jewish society as any citizen could be. Only criminals were lower. A female, uneducated, poor and unmarried. When she became pregnant outside of wedlock, she could easily be mistaken for worse than a sinner, rather an iniquitous lawbreaker. However, she proved to be blessed and shared that blessedness. She however was not sinless, nor was she a perfect mother. She once went a whole day without even making sure of her 12 yr old child’s whereabouts, Lk. 2:43-44. But, her faith was imbedded in her respect for God.  See Luke 1:38.  Her first question to Gabriel indicated her willingness to find a husband. But Gabriel revealed that her pregnancy will originate with God’s Spirit, not a husband. Mary immediately submits. God knew that He needed a woman who could demonstrate humility and immediate submission. Without a strong sense of servitude, Jesus would not be able to learn the utmost obedience He needed in order to be The Messiah.  

Her praise is almost verbatim in content with Hannah’s praise after the birth of Samuel, 1Sam. 2:1-10. Jesus had a mother who knew the importance of rejoicing in the Sovereignty of God. Mary had an appreciation of God’s holiness (Lk 1:49) and expressed her faith in His faithfulness BEFORE the journey to Nazareth. Lk. 1:46-56. Since she already knew she was pregnant with the most important baby in the world. Why would she take such a risky journey? Because of two reasons. She loved Joseph, and she was learning how to take her submission to God and apply it to her husband, and go ahead and go with Joseph. Joseph takes the lead in obeying the law and Mary follows! Her journey to Bethlehem with Joseph was proof that her honesty and the Angel’s message to Joseph were in harmony and to both Mary & Joseph, it was believable !  This couple had a faith in God’s ability to perform miracles! They took the journey betrothed, and had started to make plans for a wedding, regardless of the exact timing of the Baby’s birth. Their journey was an act of faith, they both surely reasoned that if God could make Mary pregnant, then God could help them get to Bethlehem and back to Nazareth for the wedding. But of course God had other plans for them in Egypt.

The honesty Mary & Joseph shared with each other is exemplary, (Mt. 1:18-25).  Her preparation is another way you can see Mary’s unwavering faith. No one accidentally finds clean swaddling cloths for wrapping a newborn to lay in a feeding trough for animals. Mary came prepared! This was an act of faith, she was determined to have Baby Jesus ANYTIME, ANYWHERE God willed it to happen. No matter how poor or how rushed, she would do her best to be prepared, Lk. 2:7. Jesus had a mother who knew preparation was very important! God did not give the Innkeeper a dream or visionary angel to announce the coming of Mary in labor, but He did give Mary the heart to be humble, subservient and prepared! Her honesty with Joseph would have helped them both to perform the delivery safely. In their day, natural child-birth was a high-risk event filled with all kinds of dangers.

Gabriel & The Host:The angelic appearances were made to Zechariah, Elisabeth, Mary, Joseph, and many Shepherds. But not to anyone inside Bethlehem!  Why? Because God’s messengers work to prepare us for humble service, Heb. 1:14.  If it’s from a barn, then that is where we start. God wants us to recognize that it is Him that makes us what we are to become in the future, not ourselves! God loves humble minds and humble beginnings, we must learn to fall in love with them too. Php 2:3-8.

Genealogy of Jesus

Judaism has taught from the earliest times that the Messiah is pre-existent (especially in view of Mic.5:2 and Dan.7:9-18); and the claims of Jesus in the Gospels reflect this clearly.  It seems best to say that there is a hint in Prv.30:4 of the nature of the Messiah as Son,  a hint that will later be revealed in full through the incarnation of God as Baby Jesus. This solves the problem of confusion in verses like Gen.1:26 & Isa.7:14, 9:6 & Mat.1:23.

Genealogical tables in Judaism were always recorded by male descendents, never female. But Matthew inserts women! (Mt. 1:-17) His noting Joseph’s father as a “Jacob” and not “Eli or Heli” as Luke does, is best explained by the custom of brothers and uncles being used to replace men who died an untimely death in a marriage. Matthew has an interest in using the numerical significance of having 3 groups of 14, signifying his relationship as divinely royal with Abraham & David. The name David in Hebrew is only 3 letters, but in Hebrew, as in Roman numerals, some letters have a numerical significance. D 4 + w 6  + ]D* 4 =14. Matthew’s table is an obvious work of art in acrostics! Keep in mind that there were public records of genealogical tables in the Temple for readers of Matthew and Luke to compare against. Herod the Great tried to destroy them, but rumours abounded concerning their existence. This would enforce the idea of Jesus being a Davidic Messiah from God, truly a son of David with rights! And it may be the explanation for there being so many Jewish priests becoming Christians, Acts 6:7. It was important in the mind of first century disciples that Jesus have no heir, because that would ruin the idea of an eternal priesthood in Jesus which is superior to the priesthood from Abraham, who gave tithes in submission to Melchizedek, a priest forever, Gen.14:18-20 & Heb.7:1-3. Since Jesus knew this from Genesis, he would have no interest in a spouse or an heir.

Luke is concerned with showing Jesus is the Son of God since before creation and is sent for the benefit of helping all humanity have access to His heavenly family (Lk. 3:23-38). Notice there are 76 human generations plus God listed, making 77. The number 7 is always prominent in showing divine maturity, which relates to something God grows to full perfection. Christians in Christ are a part of this family. See Ephesians 3:15 & Galatians 3:26.

Both lists have this in common: A Single Mystical Generation. Matthew has only 13 in the first group of 3, but naming 3 women, Tamar, Rahab & Ruth in that group, as a mystical statement signifying that God planned on using women in His royal lineage on earth from beginning to end in Mary. Both writers want to use numerology, but show intentional anomalies reflecting the unexplainable miracle of God becoming human. The city of David, Bethlehem in Judea is prophesied to be the Messiah’s birthplace in Mic. 5:2. God was specific with Micah in clarifying which Bethlehem he was to be born in, that is Judah, not the one in the northern tribe of Zebulun. This again emphasized his lineage to King David. His birth is linked with Caesar’s census decree while Quirinius was governing Syria, Lk. 2:1-3. Luke recorded this, not for the sake of timing, but the for the sake of authenticity. The problem from our perspective is the timeframe of Quirinius governing Syria. A. W. Zumpt, of Berlin, has shown it to be probable that Quirinus was twice governor of Syria and, by striking and satisfactory arguments, fixes the time of his governorship from 4 BC to A.D. 1: the second governorship in A.D. 6-10. 

Again showing that God is not concerned with the exact calendar date, but rather He is emphasizing the fact, linking it with real secular events. From our perspective, this makes it clear that God is not concerned about which day we honor as his ‘birthday’, but rather puts more significance on the day of his resurrection.

A Stronger Prayer

Boldness, Acts 4:23-31, Hebrews 4:16. Peter is arrested here and kept in custody for a day, then when released he and all the other Christians ask for more boldness. Later on, Peter is arrested and jailed, but miraculously released (Ac. 12). Boldness in prayer obviously comes from real faith growing stronger. We know that faith comes from hearing the word of God, Romans 10:17, but once we have been given a measure of faith, Romans 12:3, how can our faith grow stronger? We must know the power of God, Mt. 22:29 & Mk. 12:24. Boldness in prayer comes from God, Jude v20. What does the phrase “pray in the Holy Spirit” mean to you? Ephesians 6:18. I do not believe in prayer, I believe in God, therefore I pray! When we pray, we are not relying on the power of prayer, we are relying on the power of God. This is only true, if we are praying a prayer instead of just saying a prayer.  

Perseverance, Luke 18:1-8, Romans 12:12, 1Thessalonians 5:17. Every mature Christian with any life experience knows how valuable it is to make prayer a daily part of your lifestyle, Acts 6:4. The persistence of the begging neighbor in the parable of Jesus, (Lk. 11:5-8) is to teach us that God wants us to do more than express our concerns, He wants us to express how deeply and genuinely we are concerned! Why? Not because He wants to make us beg!, but because, enduring prayers help us to grow in our understanding of God’s will, which is what we are supposed to be praying for. So the more the child asks for a particular present, the more the same child learns whether or not they really want it. Every good parent judges their children’s desire by the number of times they ask. A Christmas present requested for once on a list, isn’t likely to be found under the tree, like the present the same child begged for everyday in December. Lastly, never forget that the begging widow in Luke 18, was shown to us, as a reminder of how perfect God’s timing is, He gives us exactly what is best, more of Himself (Lk. 11:8-13) A consistent prayer-life creates a more Christ-like Christian!

Providence, Acts 4:29 & 12:5, 11-17, James 1:6-8, 16-17 & 4:3, 13-15.
If God wants to work a miracle today, He will, regardless of our prayers & faith. But if we pray in faith about the problem, and God surprises us with what we want. Why do we say it was going to happen anyway regardless of our prayer? What did our prayer do? Our prayer made us acutely aware of God working and even greater, our prayer was expressing faith in a God who can answer and work beyond anyone’s expectations. Prayer helps faith grow! Jude v20. Without praying, we are not made aware of the providential and powerful grace of God. If God does not ‘fix the problem’ the way we prayerfully suggest in faith, He is answering an obvious ‘no’, but does that mean God doesn’t care and isn’t fair? We must learn to adopt the attitude of Paul when we believe God has said ‘no’. Read and memorize 2Corinthians 12:6-10. God’s will is to be prayed for in faith, with the objective of PROVING HIS WILL, not just learning about it. Romans 12:2.

Joyful Praise

In learning how to pray and sing joyfully, it is very useful to examine the way other people have expressed their rejoicing. Some good examples to view are Hannah, Mary and of course Jesus (Lk. 10:21).  Although Christ was truly a man of sorrows, he also rejoiced. Paul emphasized this part of Christ’s character when he wrote, ‘rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice!’, Php 4:4. James emphasized it saying, “is anyone cheerful, he should sing praises! Jas. 5:13. But even when we are sad, it is wise to look for a reason to rejoice, Jas. 1:2. Why does God put such an emphasis on rejoicing? What makes God’s children rejoice?   

Hannah: (1Sam.1:27) She was convinced God heard her prayer and answered it positively! “Samuel” means “God hears”. Do we really believe this? After Samuel had been born, she considered the event as her ‘salvation’ 2:1. Do we come through life threatening events with a stronger faith in the Lord’s mercy or grace?  The holiness of God (2:2) was made personal in Hannah’s life, she saw her pregnancy, labor and weaning as God’s work, it was all holy and she felt she was privileged to be used by Him. Do we count the Lord’s work in service to each other as holy and a special divine privilege? She knew God was omniscient and was in control of the future, Samuel’s birth seemed to prove to Hannah that God knew (2:3) exactly how events would transpire to exalt his maid-servant and the baby’s future. Are we equally confident about God’s knowledge and control of our own future? James 1:5. She saw how God humbled the mighty and exalted the lowly (2:4-8) and it made her happy enough to sing about it. See Matthew 23:11-12. This is exactly what makes Jesus happy too, Luke 10:19-22. Oddly enough, he is only recorded as actually singing just before his betrayal during his last night with his closest disciples, Mt. 26:30. But we know Jesus must have sung during the Jewish Feasts he attended throughout all his life on earth (Psalms 108-118). The joy of Jesus is taught upon in John 15:1-12, and it is founded upon growing the fruit of His Spirit like a branch should do being grown from the true vine that provides divine love. In order for us to experience the joy of Jesus we must be more than acquainted with God’s love, it must be growing from within our heart so much, that it spills out in service to one another, Galatians 5:22-23. Hannah couldn’t hold her happiness in because she was certain of God’s care for His children, (2:9) See Psalm 37:23 & Jer. 10:23. Jesus taught us that we should pray that we will not be led into temptation, Mt. 6:13. When we fully realize that our happiness depends on God’s direction of our steps in daily life, then His happiness will overflow in praise and prayer. 

Mary: (Luke 1:46-55) In some ways, Mary’s song is almost verbatim repeating Hannah’s song. The holiness of God is reiterated because Mary is overwhelmed by the privilege of her position in giving birth to the Messiah. Mary must have had knowledge of Isaiah 7:14 and could rejoice in the insight of seeing herself helping God fulfil prophecy, Matthew 1:18-23. Mary reasoned that if God could bring baby Jesus into the world through her as a virgin in poverty and risk, then He could easily help her and Joseph to raise Jesus into the acclaimed Messiah God wanted for the world. This filled her with joy! She was convinced that her baby was the seed promised to Abraham, Gen. 15:1-6, Gal. 3:16-18. Do we really believe that God uses us to exalt the lowly and humble the proud? When we see this as Jesus does, we will experience the joy of the Holy Spirit.

Prophecy in Proverbs

Key Text, Prv. 30:1-9. 

Every disciple needs the strength of God to maintain his discipleship, or else we as disciples become slow and distracted in following God and learning more about Him. God has always provided access to His strength derived from His word or message of truth. How can Solomon or any Jewish father such as Agur expect his son to grow in wisdom and use it in his daily lifestyle without providing God’s strength to accomplish it? The answer is God’s word itself. In this case, prophecy & fulfilment, or hope & an answer. This is why so many prophecies of the Old Testament writers had a two-fold fulfilment. See Isaiah 7:14 & 8:3-4 & Mt. 1:23.Judaism has taught from the earliest times that the Messiah was pre-existent (especially in view of Micah 5:2 and Daniel 7:9-18), and the claims of Jesus in the Gospels reflect this clearly. It is best to say that there is a hint in Prv. 30:4 of the nature of the Messiah as Son, a hint that will later be revealed in full through the incarnation of God in baby Jesus. Would it not bolster the faith and feed the hope of any Jewish boy, to know that His Creator has a son? Yes of course, but why, you might ask. Because Agur’s clear implication in this passage is that His creative power is within His son’s name. 

Could we use this name? God’s name was and is used in many powerful ways, and of course should never be used in a vain, common or senseless way. Immediately following this prophecy concerning the name of the Son of God, we have a prayer from Agur which is concerned about stopping God’s name being used in a shameful way, 30:7-9.  Why is it sinful to use the name of Jesus in a sense of exasperation, frustration or even fright? Because other people hearing it, have the very clear understanding that you do not really respect Him, nor do you treat Him as being present and powerful enough to help us with whatever problem that caused you to use His name in vain.Prv. 30:4 begins questioning how we can know more about God, by learning of our expectation of his coming into our reality on earth, from his transcendent existence in heaven.  The Son of the “Holy One”, being the Creator was somehow letting Agur know that His knowledge can not grow unless there is MORE than communication from Heaven, there must be a transmigrating Presence from Heaven to earth. This gave the first readers of Proverbs hope of learning more, and since Jesus has made the fulfilment clear, it gives us today real answers and strength.

God’s strength should be used to bolster our determination to follow Him no matter what happens to us. John 3:13 is the record of Jesus making this clear and further elaborates in 6:35-39. His transmigration and presence was for the searching and finding of lost souls within Israel, and His Spirit is here for the same purpose wherever you are located now! The reason Agur was so ‘dull’ and uneducated was because he simply didn’t know how much and how long God wanted to save people worse off than him!  Do you know how big God’s love is for the lost? If yes, then how much love has he lavished on you? Does this strengthen your resolve to follow Him? If we have the faith the size of a mustard seed in the truth revealed through Jesus, we will do amazing things for Him, not ourself. His freedom is worth all costs we may need to pay in our discipleship, Mt. 17:20. His truth will set you free to move that mountain and share your faith! Jn. 8:32

Intercessory Prayer

Can our prayers change the mind of God? Moses changed God’s mind when he prayed to save Israel from being destroyed. Hezekiah’s prayer changed God’s mind from his death to adding 15 years to his life. Abraham interceded for the wicked city of Sodom & Gomorrah with the hope of saving it, if God could find just ten righteous people in it. God already knew their outcry of sin was great, but He did not know HOW GREAT until He sent the angels into the city to discover, Gen. 18:21. After the angel’s visitation, He couldn’t even find 10, so it was destroyed. Not even Abraham saw fit to save it, if 10 couldn’t be found. So what was the point of his intercession? Abraham was concerned about his nephew Lot’s abode & family, he loved Lot and had raised him as a son, and delivered him from warring kidnapping Kings. Gen. 12:4-5, 13:8-11, 14:12-16. Even though God’s promise to Abraham would not be fulfilled through Lot, Abraham still wanted to save him. As events happened, only Lot and his two daughters came out alive. Remember Lots wife, Luke 17:32. This was the necessary point of Abraham’s intercession. Do we make intercession in prayer for our neighbors salvation in the context of impending judgment from God’s wrath, they rest under? Colossians 3:5-6. If Abraham had not interceded, then Lot and his daughters would have certainly been killed along with his wife!

The church practiced a devotion to prayer (Ac.2:42), and when a problem arose to be solved, (Ac.6:3-4), the apostles devoted themselves to prayer. Why? So that the Message would be spread and received into the hearts of men, (2Ths.3:1 & Mt. 9:38 & Rm. 10:1). Most people assume that it was for the problem to be solved, or that God would grant strength and wisdom for the ‘deacons’ in charge of solving the problem, but that is a superfluous assumption because God’s answer to the problem lay in the Apostles’ appointment and instruction. What the Apostles then prayed about was for God to give them the opportunity to spread the Word and that the truth would be received into the hearts of lost people, Mt. 13:18-19, Acts 15:7-9.

 When Jesus interceded in prayer, why did He intercede? John 17:17-26. For the apostles sanctification, our unity and to share in His glory. Without this being answered, there is NO WAY for the world to know who Jesus is and why He came!,v21. A million more Bibles can be printed and distributed, but if they are not PRAYERFULLY read, no salvation results! Today He is our mediator to the Father, so therefore He is still interceding for us, with the same intent. 1Tim. 2:5. This is the will of God! Luke 18:1-8, Persevere in prayer so that the Kingdom will increase!