Gates Of Hell

Matthew 16:18-19
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘prevail’ as,

“to gain ascendancy through strength or superiority, . . .to triumph over.”

2015/01/img_1337.jpgThis verse has always fascinated me. Jesus is promising He is the one who will build the church. Since the church is not a building, but people, He is saying, He will add the living stones to the church of God. Jesus is also telling us, the devil and his forces seek to prevail against the church. The Bible gives us just enough insight into the realm of the spirit to know there are spiritual battles that take place. The battle is between the forces of God and the forces of Satan, and they are fighting over the souls of men. Jesus said He came to give us abundant life, while the devil is trying to steal, kill, and destroy us. The gates of hell will not prevail against the church. You can have great confidence this morning that the forces of Heaven are far superior to the forces of hell.

It also strikes me, the weapon which Jesus refers to the devil using, is a gate. In all of my experience, I have never heard of an army or even an individual soldier, going into battle carrying a gate. I have heard of people with guns, knives, swords, pitchforks and other farming tools, but never a gate. You see, a gate is not an offensive weapon, but a defensive weapon. A gate would be used to enclose the city and keep people in. Jesus is giving insight into what the devil is trying to do. He wants to keep people in bondage to sin and death. Jesus is also giving insight into the role of the church. We are on a mission to rescue people held captive to sin and death, by declaring to them the message of Christ

Take a few minutes this morning to pray for your sphere of influence; your family, friends, co-workers and neighbors who have not yet come to Christ. Pray that the gates of hell would not prevail, and that they would listen to the Gospel and be saved.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Chapter 16
1. What sign does Jesus give to prove that He is who He claimed to be?
2. Leaven is like yeast; a small amount permeates a dough ball and causes the whole lump to rise. Sin does the same thing in our lives. It starts out small and grows out of control. Have you
3. What important questions did Jesus ask the disciples?
4. How does Peter respond?
5. What promise does Jesus give to Peter regarding the church and the gates of hell?
6. What are the requirements if we want to follow Christ; verse 24?

Old Testament:
Genesis 31- God In My Pocket
Genesis 32- The Champion 

Ministry Principles

Matthew 15:36
“And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude.”

2015/01/img_1335.jpg
It is against the law to give away what you do not own. If it does not belong to you, it is not yours to give. That is one of the most basic principles that governs when serving Jesus. If we want to help others walk with the Lord, we must first receive from the Lord. The story of the loaves and fish illustrate that principle quite well. The disciples took what they had, brought that to Jesus; He multiplied it, and they distributed it to others.

If we want to be involved in serving the Lord, it starts with taking what we have and making it available to the Lord. Perhaps the most important commodity that we possess is time. When we make time to serve the Lord, He will always give us something to pass on. Over the years, we have seen this principle in action time and time again. Someone will venture out in faith and step into an area of service, they have an overwhelming sense of being unqualified, but as they spend time seeking the Lord and moving forward, God always provides more than what they needed to serve effectively.

We cannot neglect to take what we have and give it to the Lord, nor can we neglect to spend time with Him, if we want our service to be successful.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Chapter 15
1. Are there any traditions you are holding on to that transgress God’s commands?
2. Explain the contrast between what goes in a man and what comes out?
3. What does Jesus commend the woman of Canaan for?
4. Why do you think the disciples had a hard time believing the multitude could be fed with so little?
5. According to verse 32, how does Jesus feel about the unsaved multitudes?
6. How does that affect the way you view the lost?

Old Testament:
Genesis 29- Dysfunctional
Genesis 30- Plotting And Scheming 

Why Do You Doubt?

Matthew 14:31
“O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

2015/01/img_1330.jpgAs Peter’s eyes left Jesus and began to focus on his surroundings, his great faith failed and he began to sink. In desperation he cried out, “Lord, save me” to which Jesus replied, first with a stretched out hand, then with gentle rebuke.

“O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

If I were in Peter’s place I might have responded, “I am doubting because what I thought was a good idea, in a moment of great courage, I am now thinking was not such a great idea.” I am doubting, because the wind is boisterous and the waves are large. I am doubting, because of the law of gravity, and I do not swim that well. I am doubting, because it is night, dark, and I do not want to drown. I am doubting, because what I asked to do is humanly impossible, and I am now suffering the consequences of that decision. In other words, Peter had many reasons to doubt; however, he had many more reasons to trust.

Just before his doubt, he had witnessed Jesus walking on water; a humanly impossible task. We might argue, Jesus was more than human, and defies the laws of the universe that control us. However, just before this event,we read that Jesus looked to the disciples to feed a great multitude. “They do not need to go away, you give them something to eat” (Matthew 14:16). When they responded that all they had was five loaves and two fish, He said “bring them here to Me.” Jesus was teaching them a vital principle for Christian living: what is impossible for man, is possible for God. The same God who can multiply fish and bread, can keep you afloat in the midst of the storm.

Rather than focusing on the problem, which leads to doubt, fear, and despair, let’s focus on the Savior, who not only walks on water, but is able to help us do the impossible.

Pastor Jim

Chapter 14

1. Why is it silly for Herod to think Jesus is John the Baptist risen?
2. What are some of the silly views that people have of Jesus today?
3. What motivated Herod to kill John?
4. What does the story of the 5 loaves and two fish teach us about:
a. God’s ability to provide for us
b. God using us in the lives of other people
5. From Peter’s experience on the water, what do we learn about:
a. Faith
b. Focus
c. Failure

Old Testament:

Genesis 27- It Must Be The Lord
Genesis 28- Terms And Condition

Shining Like The Sun

Matthew 13:43
Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

2015/01/img_1327.jpgWhile explaining the Parable of the Tares, Jesus spoke of the harvest at the end of the age, when all humanity will be gathered together. In Revelation 19, we see this event unfolding. We see all of humanity standing before the throne of God, and the books opened. The first book we might call the ‘book of works’. It contains every sin committed, every idle word spoken, every vile thought we’ve had. The second is the Book of Life. When we receive Christ, not only is our name written in the Book of Life, but all that was in the ‘book of works’ is erased. Paul spoke of “the handwriting of ordinances that was against us has been erased, having been nailed to the cross” (Colossians 2:14). Those, whose names are found in the Book of Life, will be escorted into heaven, where they will forever be with the Lord.

What a glorious future awaits the child of God! Jesus goes even further. He tells us, not only will we be in heaven, but we will shine in heaven. This reminds me of the words of Daniel 12:3,

“Those who are wise shall shine
Like the brightness of the firmament,
And those who turn many to righteousness
Like the stars forever and ever.”

The stars of today are those who act, sing, play sports, or make a great deal of money, but the brightest stars in the kingdom of heaven, are those who lead others to Christ. Pray today about how God might use you this week to win someone to Christ

Pastor Jim

Questions for Chapter 13

1. Because the people did not listen to spiritual truth Jesus spoke to them in parables. Look up the word parable, what does it mean?
2. What does each of the following represent in the story? Don’t guess keep reading and Jesus will tell you.
a. Seed
b. Sower
c. Path
d. Stony ground
e. Weeds
f. Good soil
3. In the parable of the tares, what is a tare? What do they represent?
4. What is the purpose of the story about the tares?
5. What is the lesson from the stories of the hidden treasure and the pearl?
6. Why was Jesus rejected at Nazareth?


Old Testament:
Genesis 25-When All Else Fails
Genesis 26- Curse Or Choice

Unforgivable

Matthew 12:31-32
“Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.”

2015/01/img_1323.jpgThere are some verses in Scripture that are more difficult to understand than others. Satan, who is a master of manipulating the Word of God, (he did it in the garden to Eve and in the wilderness to Jesus) uses this verse to confuse, discourage and frighten believers. Because of the severity of the warning in this passage, it is of utmost importance that we understand what Jesus is saying.

First of all, we know Jesus came to forgive sin. We see in Scripture, those guilty of heinous sins being pardon by Christ. We know Matthew, as a tax collector, was guilty of theft and corruption. Simon the Zealot, no doubt, broke the law in his campaigns against Rome. Paul was guilty of murder. Mary Magdalene, of adultery, and the list goes on and on. We even find a man sentenced to death, receiving pardon for sin during his execution. So we understand ALL sin can be forgiven.

Second, “blasphemy” is the translation of a Greek word meaning, “to speak evil against.” And if we are honest, we will admit we have all been guilty of speaking evil against God. Maybe in a moment of anger, or perhaps like Job, in a time of great despair, or even as the punch line to a joke, whatever the case, we all have been guilty of speaking evil against God. Is Jesus saying we cannot be forgiven? Take a look at the words of Paul the apostle,

“. . . although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.” (1Timothy 1:13-14)

Paul admits he had been guilty of blasphemy and yet received pardon from the Lord.

Finally, the key to understanding what Jesus is speaking about, is to look more carefully at the blasphemer to whom He refers. Notice He calls it “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.” The work of Christ in the world was primarily to provide a ransom for the sins of mankind. The work of the Holy Spirit is primarily to lead people to Christ to receive that pardon. If a person rejects the work of the Holy Spirit by refusing to accept Jesus Christ, they have no remedy for their sin. That is why it is unforgivable. Any person who receives Christ will be forgiven any sin they have committed past, present and future. The key is to receive Christ.

If you would like to accept the forgiveness Jesus offers, pray now:

“Lord Jesus, I am a sinner and I ask you to forgive me of my sin, I ask you to come into my life and help me to follow after you.”

If you prayed that today, contact us today at prayer@ccvb.net

Pastor Jim

Questions for Chapter 12

  1. The Pharisees were upset that Jesus broke their tradition. Are there any traditions in your life that Jesus needs to break?
  2. Who was Jesus drawn to when he entered the synagogue? What does that tell you about Jesus?
  3. Jesus gives a basic principle of unity, “a house divided cannot stand.” take some time to pray for unity in your home and in CCVB.
  4. “The strong man” is a reference to Satan. Jesus says when he is bound his goods (unsaved people, struggling Christians) can be plundered. Prayer and the gospel message plunder his goods. Pray again for your unsaved friends and family.
  5. From the list below, circle the sins that can be forgiven?
    1. Murder
    2. Theft
    3. Adultery
    4. Blasphemy
    5. Lying
  6. The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is rejecting the salvation that God made possible through Christ. If a person rejects Christ there remains no way for them to be forgiven. If you have not prayed to receive Christ as your Savior, do it now.
    “Jesus, I ask you to forgive me of my sin and make me your child”
    If you prayed that prayer contact us at prayer@ccvb.net and let us help you grow in Christ.


Old Testament:
Genesis 23- Foreigner
Genesis 24- Finding A Wife

The Coming One

Matthew 11:3
“Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”

2015/01/img_1319.jpgThe circumstances of life often cause us to question God. It is hard sometimes to reconcile what we are going through with who God is; compassionate and good. This happened to John the Baptist. From the words of Jesus, we know John was the greatest man to have ever lived. He was a man that preached the gospel to thousands, the man who pointed the way to Christ, and the man who baptized Christ, Himself. Yet, in our text, we read he was also the man who doubted. Laying in a prison cell, the cold, the dampness, the suffering, all seemed to squeeze his faith and cloud his vision of Christ.

The response of Jesus, to John’s question of doubt, gives us great insight into the solution when we are facing the same dilemma as John.

Matthew 11:4-5 “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: the blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.’”

In other words, Jesus answers John’s doubt by reminding him of who Jesus is and what He does. I think the solution in times of difficulty and doubt is to go to the Word and be reminded of all that Jesus is.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Chapter 11

  1. Why was John in prison?
  2. What would cause John to doubt that Jesus was the Messiah?
  3. What does Jesus give as proof that He is the promised Messiah?
  4. According to Jesus who is even greater than John the Baptist?
  5. Who does Jesus invite to come to Him?
  6. Take some time right now to give your burdens to Jesus.
  7. What are some verses that might help you today with your situation?
  8. Jesus spoke of taking His burden. His burden is the lost. Take His burden up by spending some time praying for your unsaved friends and family. Look for an open door this week to share Christ’s love with them.

Old Testament:
Genesis 21- The Battle Won
Genesis 22- Instead Of Me

The Twelve

Matthew 10:2-4
Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.”

2015/01/img_1316.jpgThese twelve ordinary men were chosen, empowered, and sent by Jesus into the world with the simple message of salvation. As a result, their lives have transformed the world.

John Foxe records the plight of many of them:

Phillip labored in Asia and was scourged, thrown into prison, and crucified.
Matthew served the Lord in North Africa and was speared to death.

Andrew served in Asia and was crucified.

Peter’s ministry, to some degree, is recorded in the book of Acts. He is said to have been crucified upside down.

Bartholomew spread the Gospel through India, and was beaten and crucified.

Thomas preached in India and was speared to death.

Simon the zealot is thought to have taken the Gospel to Britain, where he was crucified.

John lived to be an aged man. He faced great persecution, but is thought to have died a natural death.

Their brief time on planet earth forever changed the course of human history. D.L. Moody said, “the world is yet to see what God can do through a life completely surrendered to Him.” Oh, that we would follow the example of the twelve, and live lives committed to Christ.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Chapter 10

  1. Note that the word “disciple” means, “a learner and follower”
  2. Before Jesus sends out the 12, what does He give them?
  3. In vs. 7 they were to declare that the kingdom of God is at hand. What does the term “at hand” mean?
  4. Why do you think they were sent with so little?
  5. In verse 20, what promise is given to those who are facing persecution?
  6. The promise of persecution is not one that we look forward to being fulfilled in our lives. According to Jesus, why do we face persecution?
  7. What application can you make to your life from verse 32-33?
  8. How do the words of Jesus in verse 39 effect you today?

Old Testament:
Genesis 19- You’re Kidding
Genesis 20- Turning Around