This morning I turned to the book of Ezekiel and came across a short outline I prepared years ago. That 5-point outline directed me across the page to a verse that has, in the past, been what you would call a “life verse.”
And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.
Upon leaving the church where I last pastored, I’ve been forced to do some self-examination. Being completely honest, there are still some things I need to improve. With humility and prayer, I will seek God’s help in those areas.
Regardless, now is not the time to accept defeat or wonder about my abilities – NOW is the time to step up and stand in the gap. That is true for all of us!
I will probably preach a sermon this coming Sunday based on this passage of Scripture, so I won’t go into much detail in this post. However, I feel it important to encourage you (and myself) to remember that God isn’t looking for the perfect soldiers; all He is asking for are WILLING ones.
Unfortunately, all it takes is for us to receive one discouraging comment or critical observation to make us abandon our posts and our weapons, thereby leaving just enough of a gap through which God’s judgment can enter and destroy the very ministries and individuals we supposedly love.
Do your own study of Ezekiel 22, particularly verse 30, and then see how you can use the following outline to create your own sermon.
5 Ways to Stand in the Gap
Answer the Call
Be a Warrior
Look for Broken Places
Pray for God’s Mercy
Don’t Give Up
Lord willing, this coming Sunday on my YouTube channel I will address this subject and use this outline. Join me for the premiere at 11 a.m. Eastern.
Believe it or not, crossing the Jordan River was never meant to be a metaphor for dying and going to Heaven. I know that a lot of songs make it seem that way, like “when I cross ol’ chilly Jordan,” or “I don’t have to cross Jordan alone.”
But if Heaven is like the Promised Land, you better hope there’s a “Second Amendment” somewhere. I mean, because God didn’t tell Moses to tell the people that WHEN they pass over the Jordan into the land of Canaan they could lay back and eat grapes, drink milk, and get fat on endless supplies of honey.
No, when they passed over the Jordan they were to engage in total warfare – we’re talking “scorched earth” stuff. Look at Numbers 33:52-53.
Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places: And ye shall dispossess [the inhabitants] of the land, and dwell therein: for I have given you the land to possess it.
Drive Out ALL the inhabitants
This isn’t their land anymore! Even though they have been here for ages, they are only squatters, now. But their history goes back so far! Doesn’t matter. Make ‘em get gone! They might say, “You can’t come in here and make me leave; I own this place!” Oh, well, you may THINK you do, but it’s actually God who holds the title.
The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein. – Psalm 24:1
For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are Mine. “If I were hungry, I would not tell you; For the world is Mine, and all its fullness. – Psalm 50:10-12
Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the LORD your God, also the earth with all that is in it. – Deut. 10:14
Maybe this is a good time to be reminded that whatever we think we own, it’s only on loan from the Owner of everything. I mean, seriously, people find it so hard to give to the Lord, and I do mean give…like in an offering, or to missions, not just your time and prayers. But what they tend to forget is that there is NOTHING they have that is theirs!
“Oh, preacher, but I worked for everything I’ve got!” Yeah, and do you know what God has to say about that? Turn back a little way to Deuteronomy 8:17-18.
And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.
There is nothing in this world, not a thing, that we own. It’s all temporary. Sure, we may have a title or a deed that keeps other people from taking our stuff, but never forget that you and I wouldn’t have a thing if it wasn’t for the grace of God.
As a matter of fact, it could be argued that one of the obstacles we face is the giant of our own arrogance that makes us think God’s will is a matter of opinion, that we have a right to keep all He has given us like we own it.
If you want to see the sermon I preached in its entirety, click on the video link below.
This past Sunday morning, the third Sunday in the Advent week, I preached a sermon that taught about the joy that was experienced in the Christmas story.
This morning I am uploading my outline from the sermon so that you may have it. But it is also the same outline I’m going to use this morning on our Discord server, FaithChatt.
The Joy of Christmas
Opening Text: Luke 2:10 “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”
1. Joy Defined: What is Joy?
Examples: “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart!” “Joy to the world, all the boys and girls…” “Happy Happy, Joy Joy Song” (from Ren and Stempy)
A. How many words translated as “joy”? 10 in Greek, 25 in Hebrew! If the word LOVE could have multiple meanings (4-5 different words in Greek), then JOY might be much more difficult to define, correct?
B. Merriam-Webster: The emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : DELIGHT; the expression or exhibition of such emotion; a state of happiness or fidelity (bliss); a source or cause of delight.
2. Joy Delivered: Who Were the Recipients? Who Delivered?
A. Zacharias and the “many” – Luke 1:14 (Gabriel)
B. Mary (Gabriel, Elisabeth, God) Luke 1
C. Elisabeth and John the Baptist (Mary, the Holy Ghost) Luke 1
D. The Shepherds (the angel of the Lord: Gabriel?) Luke 2
E. The Wise men (Testimony, the star) Matthew 2
F. To All People Luke 2
3. Joy Described: How they Responded
A. Khar-ah: cheerfulness, i.e., calm delight
1. Matt. 1:14: Zacharias and people
2. Matt. 2:10: Wise men (great (megas) – joy) REJOICEDχαίρωchaírō, khah’-ee-ro; a primary verb; to be “cheer”ful, i.e. calmly happy or well-off; impersonally, especially as salutation (on meeting or parting), be well.
Luke 2:10-17: to The Shepherds – they shared the news!
“To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.” ― Mark Twain
3. All people – we’ll get to that in a second…
B. ἀγαλλίασιςagallíasis, ag-al-lee’-as-is; from G21; exultation (a feeling of triumphant elation or jubilation; rejoicing) ; specially, welcome:—gladness, (exceeding) joy.
Elisabeth For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. – Luke 1:44 KJV
C. σκιρτάωskirtáō, skeer-tah’-o; akin to σκαίρω skaírō (to skip); to jump, i.e. sympathetically move (as the quickening of a fetus):—leap (for joy).
1. Luke 1:41, 44 KJV – And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: … For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
Luke 6:23 KJV – Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward [is] great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.
D. ἀγαλλιάωagalliáō, ag-al-lee-ah’-o; from agan (much) and G242; properly, to jump for joy, i.e. exult:—be (exceeding) glad, with exceeding joy, rejoice (greatly).
1. Luke 1:47 KJV – Mary – And my spirit hath rejoiced (jumped for joy) in God my Saviour. (In reply to Elizabeth’s statement about John)
2. Matthew 5:12 KJV – Rejoice (jump for joy), and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven… (Jesus)
E. χαίρωchaírō, khah’-ee-ro; a primary verb; to be “cheer”ful, i.e., calmly happy or well-off; impersonally, especially as salutation (on meeting or parting), be well.
Matthew 2:10 KJV – Wise men – When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
4. Joy to be Determined
Luke 2:10-17: to The Shepherds – they shared the news! “To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.” ― Mark Twain
A. We’ve heard the news
B. We’ve seen the “star”
C. “Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is Lord!”
This past Sunday I preached a sermon on salvation. It wasn’t a sermon calling people to salvation, although that was certainly a part of it; it was a sermon explaining what salvation actually is.
To help the congregation, I provided my notes with the intent to keep things moving along and to give everyone something to take with them. That’s what I’m providing for you in this post.
More than 5
As I told my congregation, there’s a lot more to what salvation is than what I could cover in only five points. However, the five points I do share in this outline are pretty important and worth noting.
When you get to the comment section, feel free to add more things that salvation is. As we who are saved know, the depths are limitless.
Opening Text: Acts 16:30 – . . . and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
(Speak to the context of the Philippian jailor’s question)
But there are other questions people ask, like:
Does God still love me after what I did?
If I was really a Christian, why did I do what I did?
If I am a Christian, why can’t I stop sinning?
Can I still go to heaven?
First, Let Us Ask: What Is Salvation?
1. It’s a Legal Transaction
We must understand that a crime was committed, and a verdict has been issued: Sin is breaking of God’s Law, and judgment for that is the DEATH PENALTY.
Romans 5:12 – Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
BUT! Romans 5:6 – For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
2. It’s an Appeasement of God’s Wrath: Propitiation
1 John 4:10 – Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.
Before we go any further, we need to understand something else: God is Love, but He’s also a God of wrath.
John 3:36 – He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
Romans 1:18 – For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
Of course, his anger is not an irrational lack of self-control as it so often is with humans. His anger [His wrath] is the … opposition of his holy nature to everything that is evil.To turn away the wrath, the anger of God, will take more than a wave of the hand or any amount of apologizing on our part. On the contrary, Hebrews 9:22 – And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
(Propitiation: Turning away of anger by the offering of a gift.)
1 John 4:10 – … [He] loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.
3. It Is Redemption
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
Galatians 3:13 – Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that hangeth on a tree:
Hebrews 9:12 – Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption [for us].
1 Peter 1:18-19 – Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, [as] silver and gold, from your vain conversation [received] by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
4. It Is a New Birth
John 3:3, 7 – Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. … Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
1 Peter 1:23 – Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
5. It is a Limited Time Offer
Genesis 6:3 – And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man …
2 Corinthians 6:2 – . . . behold, now [is] the accepted time; behold, now [is] the day of salvation.)
So then, what is the answer to the original question? What must I do to be saved?
Is it simply believing there is a God? Answer: No.
James 2:19 tells us: “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.“
Is it doing good, or at least more good than bad? Answer: No.
Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV – For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; – Titus 3:5 KJV
All one needs to do is …
Acts 16:31 “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved …”
Romans 10:9, 13 – That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. … For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
John 10:28-30 – And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave [them] me, is greater than all; and no [man] is able to pluck [them] out of my Father’s hand. I and [my] Father are one.
 Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, “Propitiation,”Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 1784.
It is 1:27 in the morning, and I just finished preaching to the congregation in Pakistan. It was a sweet time of fellowship with brothers and sisters 10 time zones away.
This time I told Pastor Victor that I would provide to him a transcript from which I would preach so that he would be able to know exactly what I said. But that being said, having a transcript made things easier for me, too. As some of you may understand, it is not at all easy to preach through an interpreter.
So, doing the best I could with the little time I actually had – because a 10-minute sermon can take 15 minutes to translate – I preached a sermon on the Rapture. Honestly, it was a VERY SIMPLE sermon, one which was meant more to encourage the believer than convince the skeptic.
After all, how many unbelievers do you expect to show up to a Christian service in a 98% Muslim country?
I hope the following sermon transcript encourages you, too (even if you didn’t vote for Trump – LOL).
Good morning, brothers and sisters, I am so happy and honored to be worshipping with you today.
It is also my honor to have been asked by Bro Victor to preach to you each Sunday the rest of this month.
When Bro Victor asked me if I would preach each Sunday in February, I asked him what it was that he thought I should preach.
That is not something I normally do; I normally never ask another man what I should preach, only God.
But this time, because your pastor knows you better than I do, I wanted to hear what you needed or desired to hear from God’s Word.
So, today I am going to talk about something that should be an encouragement to all of us… to every Christian in every country… This morning I am going to talk to you about the Rapture of the Church.
I am going to ask Bro Victor to read to you my opening text…
1 Corinthians 15:51-53 – Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality.
This year in America we had a very controversial election. According to the numbers reported, this year more people voted than ever before – the most for a Republican candidate, the most for a Democrat candidate.
Unfortunately, many Americans just like myself think something was not right.
We look at the crowds President Trump had at his campaign rallies, then compare them with the tiny crowds Joe Biden had, and it’s very hard to believe that more people voted for Biden than Trump.
So, when people ask me, “Anthony, do you think the election results were manipulated?” I say, “Yes, I do.”
Now, the problem is that anyone who thinks like I do these days is laughed at and mocked. It is now being said by some people that those who voted for Trump should be sent away to re-education camps!
They even say that Trump voters are as crazy as Christians – and as dangerous – for believing in a “fairytale,” a “myth,” even a “lie.”
This should come as no surprise to us, for Jesus said that His followers would be hated by the same people that hated Him. Those who mock the name of Jesus will mock Christians, too.
But what do people think of you and me when they ask if we believe in the Rapture of the Church? Should we be surprised if they laugh at us?
Just like those of us in America who think something went wrong with the election, they will laugh at us and say, “Show us the evidence!”
But this is nothing new, for they have been saying the same thing for 2,000 years! Saint Peter wrote about these people…
2 Peter 3:3-4 – Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as [they were] from the beginning of the creation.
But let me tell you, dear church, that things have not always gone on the same from the day of creation. For one thing, everything changed when a Virgin gave birth to a Child and called His name Jesus!
The world went on like normal for thousands of years until the King of the Universe, the Living Word of God, became flesh!
John 1:1-2, 14 KJV – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. … And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
This was the First Coming of Jesus Christ! The fact that Jesus came to earth the first time is all the evidence I need that he will return again.
For you see, for thousands and thousands of years a Messiah was promised, even as far back as the Book of Genesis when Eve rejoiced at having a man child.
Throughout the Old Testament we read of One who would be our Kinsman Redeemer, our Great Shepherd, our Fountain in the wilderness, our Rock in the storm, and the Servant who would suffer for the sins of mankind (Isaiah 53).
The Messiah was promised, His birth, His life, and His death… especially His resurrection… were all prophesied, and it all happened just as we were told it would!
Acts 1:9-11 KJV – And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
Did you hear that last part? This SAME JESUS shall so come!
Jesus told us that He would return. Do I believe Him? Yes, I do!
As the Apostle Paul said, one day a trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised, and we who are living will be caught up! We will be snatched up, like pulling a fish out of the water! We will be taken out, like pulling a cork out of a bottle!
In the blink of an eye, when the trump of the Lord shall sound, we shall be “caught up,” raptured to be with Jesus!
IF I can do nothing else this morning, dear church I want to encourage you!
You live in a world that hates you for what you believe, for you believe in grace, not works.
You believe in freedom, not slavery.
You believe that all men and women, boys and girls, are made in the image of God.
You believe that God became flesh, that Jesus died for our sins, and that He rose again.
You believe in Jesus, yet you are mocked, you are laughed at, you are hated.
But you and I have a HOPE! Our HOPE is not in our good deeds.
Our HOPE is not in how many times we pray or in what direction we pray.
Our HOPE is in Jesus! Our HOPE IS Jesus!
And one day, whether we live or die, one day He will receive us unto Himself!
Listen to what the Apostle Paul wrote to encourage the church at Thessalonica:
1 Thessalonians 4:13 – But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
Some people are full of sorrow and fear because they don’t know where they will go when they die, but you know! You have hope in Jesus!
1 Thessalonians 4:14-15 – For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive [and] remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
You see, Paul was trying to encourage the Church, for many thought that those who had already died would never see the return of Jesus. But Paul said that not even death would prevent the Christian from receiving a resurrected body!
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 – For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
Did you hear that? Those are the words of COMFORT! That is TRULY encouraging! One day, we don’t know when, but one day a trumpet is going to sound…
Do you believe that?
One day the Lord Jesus is going to descend from heaven with a shout! Do you believe that?
One day we will be caught up, taken out of this world, and given a new body fit for eternity in heaven!! Do you believe that?
Then, church, be COMFORTED WITH THESE WORDS! HALLELUJAH!
Do I believe that Jesus is coming again? Yes, I do.
Do I believe that at any moment a trumpet could sound and I could be raptured out of this world to be with Jesus? Yes, I do!
And why do I believe that? Because God keeps His promises! If Jesus came the first time as promised, then I believe He will come again just as He promised.
The only thing is that none of us knows when, so we must always be ready to meet Him.
Are you ready to meet Jesus? Are you ready to meet God?
Please be sure you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, dear friend. For if the trumpet doesn’t sound, we are also promised something else, that it is appointed unto man once to die, and after that the judgement (Heb. 9:27).
You could die today, even before the rapture, and you want to know your soul is right with God.
Brother Victor, I will now give the service back to you.
I hope every one is doing well on this sunny Wednesday afternoon in Georgia! I know some of you have snow and rain, but for now it’s in the high 40’s and bright and sunny where I am at.
I just wanted to take a moment to share some photos of what I did this past Sunday morning – I preached in Pakistan!
For those of you who don’t know, I do my best to help support a worthy ministry in Pakistan and my pastor friend, Victor Sammuel. I will tell you more in a future post.
Anyway, this past Sunday morning I was able to speak to Victor’s congregation during their morning worship service – at 1 a.m.! Talk about an “early service”!
And what is awesome is that I was asked to preach each Sunday morning the rest of this month!
But this is more than simply live-streaming our regular services at church. This is me speaking live to a group of Christians in a Muslim nation where persecution is common (even expected) and the average wage of a teacher in a Christian school is $60 a month (more about that later, too).
I would just encourage you to pray for me and for this congregation as I preach and teach God’s Word to a congregation who genuinely want to hear whatever I have to say.
And the topic they want to hear me speak on the most? The Rapture.