Steve Jobs’ last words

Three Sayings from the Cross
The words of a man on his death bed are usually fairly important. According to reports, Steve Jobs’ last words were: “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.” I don’t know why. Maybe it is because he saw another rich man welcoming him to his final destination.
Let’s direct our attention to the statements in John. We can learn many things about the nature of Jesus and what was on His mind in His last hours on earth.
FAMILY – 19:25-27:

Standing at the foot of the cross is Mary, Jesus’ mother. Since Joseph has not been mentioned in the Gospel accounts since Jesus’ early childhood, we presume that he has passed away.
But, Jesus has her care in His heart. He may be carrying the load of the world on His shoulders, but in His heart is His mother. Maybe John even stayed around, thinking about Mary, his friends’ mom. Jesus had one earthly concern before He left this world and He placed her into the hands of John.
How trustworthy are we with what God has put into our hands? We may have children to care for. We may have parents to provide for. Are we dependable? Could Jesus have that kind of trust in us?
HUMANITY – 19:28-29:

They had tried to give Jesus wine mixed with myrrh right before He was hung on the cross (Mark 15:23) but He refused that. Myrrh was a narcotic. It would have relieved His pain, dulled His senses, and perhaps put Him to sleep. But Jesus refused. When He died for you and me, Jesus endured the full extent of the pain with full consciousness.
In order to understand the depth of this “word,” let’s take a look at Psalm 22. Jesus has already quoted Psalm 22 (Matt. 27:46). Now, let’s read Psalm 22:6-8. Then, let’s read 22:14-15.
“I thirst” is the cry of mankind! It’s the cry of a human soul that thirsts for God! It is more than just the cry of a man who has hung on the cross for six hours! It is the cry of mankind who has thirsted for spiritual water since Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden.
“FINISHED” – 19:30:

Everything that was set in motion, literally from the dawn of creation when God said, “Let us make man in our image” – has now reached its consummation. God’s plan to redeem man has come to its final hours.
All of the rituals in the Old Testament, the temple, the sacrifices, the promises, the covenants – everything has pointed to this moment. Everything has led mankind to this hour.
The promise of the “seed” (Gen. 3:15) is now realized. Now, it is fulfilled. Now, it is finished. There will be no more animal sacrifices. There will be no more anointing a new high priest. There will be no more Days of Atonement. It is finished. It is done. It is accomplished.
Remember these words from the cross: Family. Humanity. Finished.

–Paul Holland

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The prophet Jeremiah

“Are We Prepared to Restore the Old Paths?”

Jeremiah 6:16

Jeremiah preached adherence to the Mosaic covenant. The book presents Jeremiah as one who knew, appreciated and proclaimed the law. But he was not appreciated much by his own people, nor by his own family (11:21; 12:6). Jeremiah’s preaching lasted about 40 years and embraced the last four kings of Judah after King Josiah.

Jeremiah also had to stand against the coalition of priests and prophets who charged him with blasphemy for predicting the destruction of the temple (26:8-11). Jeremiah had at least two brushes with death – one under Pashur the priest who beat him (ch. 20) and when the princes of Judah left him to die in a cistern filled with mire (ch. 38).

“Only acknowledge your iniquity,” God told Israel through Jeremiah, “that you have transgressed against the Lord your God … and you have not obeyed My voice” (3:13). About 15 times, God commands or refers to Judah as “returning” to Him.

Their problem was “stubbornness of an evil heart” (3:17) – a “stubborn and rebellious heart” (5:23). So that in 4:4, God told Jerusalem to “circumcise themselves to the Lord and remove the foreskins of their heart.”

It all has to do with one’s attitude toward the Word of God – “Behold, the word of the Lord has become a reproach to them; they have no delight in it” (6:10). The prophet and the priest of their day “healed the brokenness of [God’s] people superficially, saying, ‘Peace, Peace,’ But there was no peace. Were they ashamed,” Jeremiah asked, “Because of the abomination they have done?” But Jeremiah answers his own question, “They were not even ashamed at all; They did not even know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall…” (6:14-15).

In that context, God tells the remnant of Jerusalem: “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls” (6:16).

Yes, every generation has had its faithful leaders who called God’s people back to God’s way. “Return to me,” thus says the Lord.

Every generation has its own trials and challenges. Higher criticism and evolution – both challenges are still with us. Skepticism is still a challenge. Pentecostalism and ecumenicism have come along and even now, post-modernism, have all reared their ugly heads and scared many once-faithful men and women to compromise and veer off the ancient path.

The danger of leaving God’s way is always present among us because our adversary the Devil continues prowling like a roaring lion. Every family has to make its own choices on a weekly or daily or monthly basis if it will serve God first. Every individual as he or she matures has to answer the question for himself or herself: “Ultimately, whom am I going to serve?”

Will we keep the dream to restore, to continue the process of restoring the New Testament Christianity, alive? “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths.”

–Paul Holland

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Sermon outline on King Saul

Which Way is North? (1 Samuel 15:22-23)
All of us have probably been lost at one time or another. If you get lost when you are in the woods, you can use a compass to help you find your way. A compass, as you know, operates on the scientific basis that the core of the earth sends out a magnetic signal. We are able to line up an arrow based on that magnetic signal so that our arrow always points north.
Yet, you may not know that there is a “magnetic” north and a “true” north. “Magnetic” north is what we normally think about as “north.” It is the direction a needle points as it lines up with the magnetic field from the core of the earth. But, that magnetic field changes depending on your position of the earth and it changes over time. So we also have “true” north, which is the direction along a north-south direction [meridian] that moves toward the geographic north.
Let us examine someone who offered worship to God, but since it wasn’t in accordance with God’s will – the “true” north – it was rejected. That man is King Saul (1 Samuel 15).
The Command:

God’s command to Saul was to “destroy all:” Man, woman, infant, nursing child; ox, sheep, camel, donkey (verses 1-2).
Partial obedience:

Saul separates the Kenites from the Amalekites – 15:6, 7. These were members of Moses’ father-in-law and had helped Israel during their wilderness travels. But he also spared alive the king and the “best of the sheep, oxen, fatlings, lambs, and all that was good.” The middle of verse 9 emphasizes that what Saul had done was still not obedience – he was “not willing to destroy them utterly; but everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.” So even in Saul’s “obedience,” he still disobeyed as he was the one who decided what was “despised” and what was worth saving.
Disobedience:

Notice Saul’s presumption – 15:13. He assumes he was obeying the Lord when he did not have authority to do what he had done. In Saul’s mind, the end (offering sacrifices to God) justified the means (saving some of the animals in disobedience) – vss 15 & 21.

Sincerity is necessary: Joshua 24:14 – “Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth…” Paul also tells Christians in 1 Corinthians 5:8 – [perhaps speaking of the Lord’s Supper] – “Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

But sincerity itself is not sufficient… (it’s not “true” north). Samuel reminds Saul of the past – 15:17 and how God had sent Saul on a mission – 15:18. But, Saul disobeyed – 15:19. Saul hasn’t learned yet that obedience is: Doing what God says do, the way God says do it, for the reason God says do it.

Take a close look at 15:22-23 and observe that obedience is better than worship.
So, “true north” is obeying Christ as closely as we can. That is faith. That is trust. That is humility. That is godliness.

–Paul Holland

Veritas non verba

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Evangelism in the book of Acts

To whom should the gospel go?

GREAT EVIL EXISTS IN OUR WORLD. SHOULD WE TRY TO WITHDRAW FROM SOCIETY OR SOMEHOW ENGAGE OUR WORLD? THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION IS FOUND IN ACTS.

1) Acts 1:4 – apostles were to “stay” in Jerusalem.
2) After Acts 1:4, we read about the apostles “going” (leaving) for some places. Acts 1:8 – READ
a) After receiving the promise made in Acts 1:4, these men were “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:1-4).
b) Acts 2:13 tells us some said the apostles were intoxicated.
3) Mocking did not stop these men; beginning with verse 16 Peter and others presented a Bible study.
4) Acts 3:11-12 – READ
a) Did these men try to withdraw from the limelight or did they use it to talk about God?
b) Acts 3:14 – READ
5) Peter and John were arrested and put in jail (Acts 4:3).
6) Acts 4:8 – another discussion about the Word of God and salvation.
7) Acts 4:12 – READ Acts 4:18-20 – READ
8) Verse 31 in Acts 4 says the first Christians spoke God’s word with “boldness.”
9) The commitment to sharing God’s word in an evil world continues in Acts 5.
10) Acts 5:20 – READ
11) After being abused, did these men go into hiding (Acts 5:40)?
12) Acts 6:7 – God’s word “increased” (continued to spread).
13) By the time described in Acts 7, the opposition to the gospel was so great it led to a man’s death.
14) Acts 8:4 – READ
15) God’s people had a message that could not keep inside them; this message was like a fire.
16) From Jerusalem to Samaria (Acts 8:5).
17) Acts 8:26 – gospel taken to a man on a desert road.
18) The man who was likely the greatest persecutor of the faith (Saul—Acts 9) was told about the gospel. 9:28-29
19) Acts 10 – gospel made it into the lives of military people. Gentiles as well (Acts 11:1-3)
20) Acts 12 describes King Herod Agrippa – high officials were informed about the gospel. Acts 12:4.
a) A sorcerer (Acts 13) was exposed to the truth of God’s word.
b) Acts 13:15 – the gospel was taught in a Jewish synagogue.
21) Acts 14:8-9 – handicapped man exposed to the truth.
22) Acts 15:36 – Christians went back to some places they had already gone!
23) Acts 16:13-15 – gospel to business owners.
24) Verses 27-33 – a jail house.
25) Acts 17:16 -idol worshippers.
26) Acts 18 tells us about a man who was an “eloquent speaker” (Acts 18:24).
27) Acts 19:1-5 – gospel was taught to those who were religious, but not religiously right.
28) Gospel taken to the “young” (Acts 20:9) as well as the “unmarried” (Acts 21:8-9).
29) Acts 22:21 truth was taken to “far” (distant) places.
30) Acts 23 describes how news of the gospel was brought before the Jewish priest (“pope” today).
31) Acts 24-26 describes how the gospel even made its way into the legal system.
32) Those on board a ship (Acts 27) got some information about the God of the Bible.
33) Summary – Acts – 28:30-31 – READ
34) How and what are we doing?

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Why we need the Bible

A Dry & Thirsty Land

We recently brought before our attention the words of Amos in 8:11-14 in which he bewails a famine in his land. Not a famine of bread nor a thirst for water but of hearing the word of the Lord. Amos’s description of 8th century Israel is exactly the same as 21st century America. Man has not changed.

If knowledge of God is withheld, there is no solution to all the mysteries of the universe and life. If the Law of God is concealed, there is no sufficient guide through human life. If the Gospel of Christ is withheld there is no peace for the conscience, no assurance of immortality. If divine revelation is denied, there is no power sufficient to guide and to govern human society.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). So we need the Word of God. It furnishes us unto every good work. Paul says in verse 15 that the Scriptures make us wise unto salvation. They tell us about Christ, about the salvation that he offers – the facts, threats, commands, and promises.

The word is given to us by the inspiration of God. God, through the Holy Spirit, instructs men (Nehemiah 9:20). “However, You bore with them for many years, and admonished them by Your Spirit through Your prophets” (Neh. 9:30). When we read the Scriptures, we are reading what the Holy Spirit has to say to us. That is why John, inspired by that Holy Spirit, told the seven churches of Asia at the end of each letter, “He that has ears to hear, let him hear.” In 1 Corinthians 2:13, Paul declares that the things he taught were not in words of man’s wisdom, but in words which “the Holy Spirit teaches.”

So, the Bible – as it is – is adapted to man – as he is. “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul” (Psa. 119:130). Paul says that when we read, we can understand his knowledge – we can understand what we read (Ephesians 3:3-5). The word “is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). So the Bible is adapted to man’s intellect. The Bible challenges us mentally.

But the Bible is also adapted to man’s volition. Man has a will. God created him with that will and God allows him – even calls on him – to exercise that will. America is not lost because she cannot understand the will of God. America is suffering from spiritual thirst because America does not have the desire to do God’s will. The prodigal son did not arise and return to the father until after he said, “I will arise and go to my father…” (Luke 15:18).

Man also is an emotional creature. The Gospel also appeals to our hearts. God’s love causes us to love him in return (1 John 4:19). Faith works by love (Gal. 5:6). The Gospel appeals to us to love God with all of our hearts, souls, minds, and strength (Matt. 22:37).

When we give our hearts to the Lord, with all of our desires, we can say with Joshua, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (24:15). Believe the Gospel. Yield in humble obedience to it. Trust. Obey. Your life will be enriched and your days will be sweet. Your family and home life will be better. You’ll be safer from the temptations of Satan. Your opportunities for success in this life will be improved and you will have hope for the life that is to come.

–Paul Holland

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Cathy Newman Every Shoe Tells a Story

Footwear

“Should we be silent and not speak, our raiment …would [betray] what life we have led,” wrote Shakespeare. Some people love shoes. Some people are addicted to shoe-buying. Others are not so impulsive, but do have a plethora of footwear – far more than the average man thinks is necessary!

National Geographic, September 2006, had an article entitled, “Every Shoe Tells a Story.” The author, Cathy Newman, details the history of footwear and the practicality of various types – sagebrush bark fiber was used in the early stages of this country’s history. A stainless steel, polyester & aluminum space boot will be used on the moon.

Spiritually speaking, what does your footwear say about the life you lead? Listen to Paul’s words about our God-provided armor: “as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). Notice Paul’s words that our feet are to be clothed, not with the Gospel, but with “readiness.” Our feet are to be shod with “readiness.”

Are you ready? Do you know that you know what you know? Are you ready to defend the existence of God? Do you know the four major arguments for the existence of God? Are you ready to defend the nature of God as it is depicted in the Bible? Can you defend the deity of Christ? Why do you believe that Jesus is the Savior? Do you have any reason stronger than “that’s just what I believe?” Are you ready to defend the doctrine that the Bible is God’s Word, inspired by the Spirit and without error?

With what are your feet shod? Readiness? Silence? Reticence? Complacency? Compromise? The apostle Peter writes: “in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

If we want to evangelize our community, we’ve got to put “readiness” on our feet. What story does your footwear tell about you? What are you wearing today? Bible class on Sundays and Wednesdays are designed to help all of us be prepared. Join us this week.

Paul Holland

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America’s problem is sin

Why America Needs the Bible

Amos was not a prophet; he was not the son of a prophet. He was a gatherer of sycamore fruit, a shepherd. He was from a little village in Judea called Tekoa, six miles south of Bethlehem and twelve miles south of Jerusalem. He was not trained in the school of the prophets but he had a message for his sinful nation, “Thus says the Lord!”

The thrust of Amos’ prophecy was against Israel for drunkenness, sexual licentiousness, religious perversion, idolatry, scorning, chastising, and mocking the faithful of God. God warned them to repent. He withheld rain, blasted them with mildew and blight, sent plagues similar to those on Egypt. But the state of the union was lamentable: “Yet, you have not returned to me,” God said. So, “Prepare to meet your God.”

Nations, as well as individuals, are obligated to live up to the light and knowledge granted them. “You only have I known of all the families of the earth,” God told Israel through Amos, “therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities” (3:2).

God would send a famine on the land – not a famine of bread or thirst for water but a famine of hearing the word of the Lord. Men would wander from sea to sea, and from north to east. They would run to and fro, staggering like drunk men. Their youth – their fair virgins and strong young men – would faint from thirst. “They shall fall and never rise again” (8:11-14).

America, as you know, needs the Bible. We, too, have been blessed beyond any nation ever created by the will of man. Resources in abundance that have allowed human ingenuity to create things that continue to fascinate the human mind and push the boundaries of creativity. God has blessed America such that we are not only the wealthiest nation in the world now, but we are the wealthiest nation that has ever existed. Yet, our society is cutting itself off from the Source of those blessings.

America needs the Bible because it alone tells us where man originated. Evolution, obviously, is deeply flawed. The Word of God, alone, can tell us what man’s worst problem is. Maslow, Rogers, Freud, Dewey – they can’t tell us what man’s worst problem is. Sin is America’s problem. Not Barak Obama. Not John Boehner. Not Harry Reid. Not the Tea Party. America’s problem is sin. The solution, then, is not political. It is spiritual.

Sin breaks up homes. Sin leaves little boys and little girls orphans, fatherless and motherless. Sin lifts up the politician in pride. Sin makes the business man greedy. Sin joins man to man and woman to woman in the homosexual relationship. Sin destroys the baby while she is still in her mother’s womb. Sin divides believers in Christ into denominationalism. Sin causes young people to drop out of school because of teen pregnancy. Sin takes the lives of the innocent on every street corner. Sin loads the welfare rolls with people too lazy to work. Sin kills the couple hit by the drunk driver. America’s problem is sin!

But only the word of God has the solution. It is the Word of God and it alone that has the remedy for man’s rebellion against God. To the Israelites, God said, “Seek me and live” (Amos 5:4). Repentance was the prescription given to the nation of Israel and it is the prescription for America today. “In truth, I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation, whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:34-35).

America needs to return to God. That’s why America needs the Bible.

Your fellow-servant in Christ,

Paul

Veritas

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God made the male to be stimulated visually

It’s His Problem

Several years ago, while teaching at Faulkner, our Life of Christ class was discussing the Sermon on the Mount. We read Matthew 5:27-28: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” I pointed out to the class – mostly freshmen – that women also have a responsibility to dress in a way that does not provoke lustful thoughts in the minds and hearts of men.

One student, writing in some assigned work, that she believed it was the man’s responsibility to control his thoughts. We have since heard women make a similar statement – “I do not dress to cause lustful thoughts. I dress because it is comfortable, etc… It is his problem if he can’t control his thoughts.”

At the bottom of this student’s paper, I wrote something to this effect: “If I knew I was doing something that made you mad, that caused you to lose your temper, would it be morally acceptable to respond, ‘It’s your problem. You have to control your temper. I don’t do… to make you mad.’ Is that acceptable?”

She did not respond but perhaps she thought about it. God made the male to be stimulated visually. God made the female to be stimulated through tactile affections. When you put the two together in the marriage commitment, you have the recipe for a positive, physical relationship.

But, as with every thing else God has created, man corrupts God’s beauty and turns it into something else. Thus, we have women (and men, too) who show off their bodies in ways that ought to be reserved for the privacy of the bedroom. I fail to see how putting sand beneath your feet or a water slide beneath your bottom makes it morally justified to walk around in nothing more than your underwear. If men are present, the stakes are the same.

Yes, men have a responsibility to keep their minds as pure as they can (Matt. 5:8). Yes, there are men who will have impure thoughts, regardless how women may dress. Peter says some men have “eyes full of adultery” (2 Peter 2:14). Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:23).

But, women also have a responsibility not to lay a stumbling-block before their male counterparts. Later in Matthew, 18:6-7, Jesus says, “whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man [or woman] through whom the stumbling block comes!”

Some shorts and skirts are too short. Some dresses are too tight. Some blouses and tops are too low. Bikinis are no more acceptable to wear in the presence of men than panties are.

Men have a responsibility. Women also have a responsibility. Rather than showing our bodies off, we should be more concerned about expressing our Christ-like spirit (1 Timothy 2:9-10; 1 Peter 3:4).

Paul Holland

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What kind of ice cream does Jesus like?

Over the car radio came the words of a song in a very irreverent context, “What kind of ice cream does Jesus like?” I don’t know about you, but references to Jesus and other spiritual matters in such an uncouth way ignites an offensive posture in me (cf. 1 Samuel 17:26b). The refrain is just another attempt to make Jesus a common “good ole boy.” Jesus never has, and never will be “common.”

Jesus never has, and never will be associated with any rock group. He is not a “soul man.” He is not a “superstar,” and He is not just another “good ole boy!” Though Jesus was “man” (2 Timothy 2:5), He was far above our equal. In Him dwelt the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9). He was Deity (John 1:1). He was equal with God the Father (Philippians 2:6). He took on the “form” of a bondservantand came in the “likeness” of manand was found in “appearance” as a man (Philippians 2:7-8).

Jesus is not just another one of “us” who is interested in ice cream and cake. He is the Christ, Savior, Son of Man, Almighty, Wonderful, Counselor, Prince of Peace, Mighty God, the Great I Am, the Alpha and Omega, the Lamb of God, the Lion of Judah, Emmanuel, Lord of Lords, King of kings, and Redeemer!

Don’t call Him, refer to Him, or treat Him in a “common” way. His message and life were the most UNcommon of all ages. He is the only One who has the power to help us escape being common. Let us not lower Him to our level, but rather strive (Luke 13:24), to rise up to His standards, because His words will be our final Judge in eternity (John 12:48-50). Stay Hungry (Matthew 5:6)

by Toby Miller

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Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it

The Wise Foundation – Matthew 7:21-29

The Corvette Museum is located in Bowling Green, KY, 60 miles north of Nashville and 100 miles south of Louisville. Early one morning back in February, after 5:00 AM, before the Museum opened, a 40’ wide, 60’ deep sinkhole opened up.

A total of 8 cars were damaged, at a value of over $1 million. The illustrations are abundant of the need to have a solid foundation when you build.

The same thing is true relative to our lives. Solomon said in Psalm 127:1, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.”

At the end of the sermon on the mount, Jesus teaches us how to lay a strong foundation for our lives. We will be wise if we listen to the words of Jesus in this context and – here’s the important point – do what He says do. Let’s take a closer look at this text…

Words are cheap – vs 21

There are many who call Jesus, “Lord.” But that is not the line that separates the saved from the lost. The fundamental distinction between the saved and the lost, between those who spend eternity in heaven and those who suffer in hell is found in vs 21b – “He who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter [into heaven].”

Actions can be hollow – vs 22

“Lord, Lord” repeated, shows that they did indeed accept Jesus as their Lord, their Master. The question here is not what they believe. Jesus emphasizes the point from verse 21 in verse 23. Jesus will tell some religious people on the day of judgment: “I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.”

The bottom line is that we can profess with our lips our faith in God and even claim that we are acting under the Lord’s authority but if we are not acting with His authority, we’ll find that He will claim to have never known us.

Later, in Matthew 12, His mother and brothers come to speak to Him and, on that occasion Jesus tells the crowd, “Whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother (vs 50).” Notice it is not one who calls God Father who is His child but rather one who does the will of the Father!

JESUS’ SONG – 7:24-27:

So, Jesus gives us a song (tongue in cheek) to teach us how important it is to build our lives upon obedience to His word.

Notice the difference between the “wise man” and the “foolish man” is this – “everyone who hears these words of Mine [“My” is emphasized] and acts on them.”

Jesus is the Truth. We cannot build on anything else besides the words that Jesus taught. As parents, children, employers, employees, we will not have a stable, healthy, productive life – especially our spiritual lives – unless and until we obey Jesus in all of the relationships of life.

Build your house upon the rock of complete and submissive obedience to the Word of Jesus.

–Paul Holland

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