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Pursuing God's Perfection



"7 As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces! But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written,

‘Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You,
Who will prepare Your way before You.’
11 Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
Good Morning my beloved,
We welcome you to worship in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is my honor and great privilege to have you here with us today and share God's Word. We are especially grateful for those of you who have continued to share the ministry website, and social media platforms with all of your family and friends. Because of your faithfulness, dedication and commitment to share God's Word with others, we have seen a tremendous increase of people from all around the world, who are responding to God's Word and coming to Christ. I want to let each of you know how grateful I am for you. May God richly bless you for your efforts.
If you have recently received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please write or text to let us know so that we can pray for you. Also, let us know if you would allow us to share your story. Each one of us have been blessed with a unique testimony. We'd love to hear from you.
When it comes to sin, God's view is very, very different than it is for the world. The Bible says something to say about sin, God hates it. Fortunately for us, on the heels of that Truth, the Bible says because of His tremendous love and amazing grace, God graciously forgives all who repents, confesses and turns away from sin. I believe it should be the goal, the focus of every Christian's thoughts to pursue the holiness and greatness that is required of us by God's Word. Though not perfectly on this side of eternity, because we are still living in the flesh, that should be the ongoing upward pattern of our lives. To pursue His Kingdom. In Matthew 6, Jesus said "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." It's amazing what the power of the Holy Spirit can do to help those who are willing and eager to live by God’s holy and perfect standards.

We are literally living in the days where every evil deed, every conceivable sin is being accepted, condoned and even celebrated. Because of the anonymity of the internet and wireless technology it has allowed people to pursue every wicked deed under the sun. The result of straying from God's designed path has been destructive, far-reaching and devastating. I believe our society is literally unraveling before our very eyes.

Let us pray
Heavenly Father,
Father, thank You for Your Word. Lord we know that you have not called us for the purpose of impurity, immorality but to a life in sanctification. Forgive us our of our unrighteousness. Thank You for grace, mercy and faithfulness to cleanse us from sin. We pray that You would grant us increasing victory in overcoming temptation and the habitual sin in our lives. May we not overestimate our own ability to avoid temptation and situations of sin, and to keep Your commandments. Direct our steps that we flee from the seduction of our sinful lusts and desires. Lord, we know that true greatest is not a human attribute, but can only come from You which is divinely ours through Christ. May the greater we become in the Spirit the greater we become in our humanity. We ask and pray this in Christ's name, for His sake and Your glory.
Today's Message: Pursuing God's Perfection
Open your Bibles with me if you would to the eleventh chapter in the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew 11:7-11. I invite you to follow along with me as I read, while we open our hearts for what the Spirit of God is saying to us. Matthew chapter 11, verses 7 through 11. 
John spoke of the coming of Messiah without knowing exactly who He was. In some sense, John would have understood that he was to fulfill the prophecies of Malachi concerning the forerunner to the Messiah.
There's no doubt about it, Jesus was the Messiah. The divine events occurring at the baptism of Jesus settled that. The Holy Spirit descending upon Him and the voice from heaven saying "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased," That all made it very clear. John the Baptist performed no signs or miracles during his earthly ministry. But that wasn't the only difference between John and Jesus.

John lived alone in the wilderness, he wore unusual attire, made of roughly woven camel hair, which could endure the extreme heat of the desert. It certainly set him apart from the crowd. He ate a very odd diet of locusts and wild honey. John the Baptist and his disciples fasted much, Jesus ate and drank with sinners. For all intent and purposes, Jesus would have blended in so far as His surroundings, He wore normal clothing, He ate the normal diet of the day.
Verses 7 through 10, "As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces! But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You, who will prepare Your way before You.’"
Jesus is confronting a multitude making sure that they understand the greatness of John. They already perceived that he was a prophet, now they were aware of John's doubt. It is possible they were thinking that John was not as great as they thought he was, that he was weaker than they thought. Jesus knows what they’re thinking, He points to their own attitude and their own experience with John, and what attracted them to John. The reed shaken by the wind symbolizes one who yields to popular opinion, who tells people what they want to hear, the world is filled with people like that today, rather than telling them truth in with courage, conviction and boldness. John knew what was right and nobody could intimidate him. The reed shaken by the wind does not symbolize one who is unwilling to compromise the truth, ready to go to prison, to be martyred for their convictions. Jesus is making a point of reaffirming his greatness.
Yet, in verse 11, Jesus says "Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."
In of human history, among those born of women, there has never been anyone greater than John the Baptist. More importantly, He's illustrating an even a greater spiritual truth. In spite of John's greatness, "he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." Jesus is marking out what it takes to be great. John, being faithful in that which is less, should we not be more diligent when we have that which is more?

The first thing we should note, is John's personal character. He was a man who could overcome his weakness, he was able to rise above his circumstances. There seems to be few people who can today, everybody is a victim. We live in a society that accepts no personal responsibility for their failings and  problems. Instead, they blame anyone and everyone for their infirmities. In their own ignorance, claiming to be wise. In their own laziness, they claim to be oppressed. They quickly blame their parents, circumstances, others and even race for their unfulfilled expectations and unwillingness to overcome. I have personally known many people, from all upbringings, economic backgrounds, races and disabilities who were able to become very successful people, rising high above where they first began.

As I stated before, John’s doubt concerning Jesus was not one rooted in unbelief, but rather in his concern that Jesus was not fulfilling the Old Testament Scriptures. John didn't complain, telling everyone all his problems, blaming outside influences for being in prison. In his doubt, he immediately went to the Lord with his lack of information and understanding. In prison, a long way away from where Jesus was, it was not an easy task, in his greatness he overcame his circumstances and dispatched two of his disciples to where Jesus was. John was humble and able to get past his weakness.

In John 3, he said "He must increase, but I must decrease." John had no false delusions of who he was or what he came to do. And in Matthew 3, he said "As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." John knew he was sent to prepare the way for God’s kingdom, so that we may experience God’s kingdom through Jesus.  

John was familiar with the Old Testament, that the Messiah would come into power to subdue His enemies and establish His kingdom. And in our text, John was humble enough to say, "I don't have all the answers. I don't know all there is to know." So he sought to gain clarity and understanding from the One Who did. John had not seen what Jesus' disciples had seen, nor had he heard all that the disciples heard, his knowledge of Christ was limited. A lesson I believe our culture would do well to learn today, where everyone thinks he is an expert about everything. If you can't first acknowledge your own weakness, you cannot grow. False pride inhibits growth.

John faced Herod’s sin, face to face and nose to nose and told him his illicit marriage was a sin, he told him the truth about the awaiting judgment of fire that would burn them both. In fact, it was that truth that landed him in prison, and for what he would soon be beheaded and delivered on a plate.

As I was preparing for this message, I couldn't help but to think about all of those who willingly put their life on the line, standing for the truth. Who denied themselves, were thrown into prison, even martyred for the work of Christ.  Many today are diverted by their desire for fleshly lusts and personal comfort. True greatness understands the need of self-denial. Many of the religious leaders of that day were attracted to Herod, the scribes even took off the plain clothes, which was their mark, to put on the ornate, luxurious robes offered by Herod's court. The testimonial of a true sell-out! Today, many claim to follow Christ but are unable to sustain His teaching, selling out to a world's system of sin. Like Christ, John stood apart from the religious institutions, uninterested in gaining favor from people but upholding the Truths of God. An attribute not seen in many self-proclaimed followers of Christ today.. 

A true teacher of the Word has the responsibility of preparing the hearts of the people for His coming. What a tremendous honor and privilege it is to be a pastor, one that must not be taken lightly.

Verse 12, "From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force." Like Christ, John created violence, when he confronted the Jewish religious leaders, calling them a "brood of vipers."  I love that. Two thousand years since Christ's crucifixion and the violence still goes on. God's Truth has been met with violence ever since Jesus came along. Even to this day, the Kingdom of heaven is suffering violence. Those who continue to truly represent Christ are being attacked, persecuted, thrown in prison, even martyred by those vigorously reject Jesus Christ.

In John 15, Jesus said "If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well." They were not only kill the preacher but were willing to kill the King Himself. John the Baptist had a tremendous impact on people, they were repenting of their sins, and turning toward to God. Because of their own sinfulness, they violently took possession of the kingdom of heaven as well as those who dared to break their tradition. The Kingdom was moving ahead under the influence of John, in spite of those who were violently and aggressively taking that kingdom. In stark contrast to what many believe today, you don't easily follow Jesus Christ, nor do you easily enter His kingdom. If you're going to come to Christ, you must deny yourself and take up your cross.

Matthew 7:13-14, "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." Nothing in Christ's teaching ever implied that it was easy to enter into His Kingdom. Yet many continue to believe a false theology, taught by the agents of Satan and his demons, that you can continue to live an ungodly life, marked by easy believism and cheap grace, rather than learning for themselves and living by the Truth of God's Word. The hard Truth is the Kingdom of God is not for unrepentant sinners, worldly compromisers, waverers of Truth, who seek Christ hoping to collect their eternal inheritance.

Verse 13, "For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John." From the beginning, Genesis to John, it was always one message; the Messiah is coming. John preached the same message, over and over: "The Messiah is coming, repent, the kingdom of God is at hand."

In verse 14, "And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come."

The Old Testament prophets were not given the entire prophetic picture, but a divinely-inspired piece of the puzzle. They searched their own writings and others, in an attempt to fully grasp what it all meant. They had to learn to be content serving others, with the awareness that these prophecies would be later fulfilled. Obviously, John was not the real Elijah. In Luke chapter 1, we read " It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

Malachi 4 says "Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse." Just Elijah, John would come as a forerunner proclaiming the Messiah is coming to set up His kingdom on earth. Like many before us, John's problem was one that only time can solve, and as we now proclaim these Truths of prophecies that will later come to pass. 

That brings us to our final verse for today, verse 15 "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

In Closing..

The Kingdom of God is a two-fold offer; receive Christ into your heart and receive the eternal Kingdom. Yet, still today many refuse to fully receive Christ into their hearts, forfeiting the eternal Kingdom.  Today, I proclaim the same message as both John the Baptist and of Christ Himself proclaimed over and over, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven at hand."

All of these events we are witnessing today are signs of what's to come, prophesied in Scripture. I pray that many receiving this message will be filled with humility, gratitude and burning desire to heed this warning and become citizens of God's eternal Kingdom. 

May it be so..

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,

And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name
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