Tag Archives: Gentile


Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said. (Luke 18:31-34)

Now, this is really rather shocking. Jesus told them bluntly that He was going to be “shamefully treated, mocked, and spit upon,” and that three days later He would rise from the dead. But yet, “they did not grasp what was said.” Of course, we know that the saying was hidden from them, but it simply seems absurd! … Or does it? Well, as there is a verse dedicated to the subject, perhaps it’s not so uncommon as all that:

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)

Satan, who is the god of this age, can blind people’s mind to the Gospel. Which is precisely why pastors can stand up and preach a sermon devoid of the Gospel, why those who believe in a doctrine of legalism can simultaneously believe themselves to be Christian’s. The Devil has blinded their minds to the Gospel, and so the only thing they can do or say is legalistic in nature.

But, what’s something we can do to keep Jesus’ death and Resurrection as our focus, and not wander off into other things?

Well, if we only fill our minds with the Gospel, the Gospel is the only thing that’ll come out of our mouths and actions. Filling ourself up with junk is a bad practice, both physically and Spiritually. If our focus is on  something filthy (such as a dirty picture/movie, and anything else which would be considered morally wrong), then that’s what’s going to come out of us. As Luke puts it elsewhere:

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45)

The point being this: if we look for the Gospel in passages of Scripture, if we thank God constantly that He would give His son for us, to die and then three days later rise again, then the Devil will never be able to blind us to the cross.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland


Posted by on August 9, 2012 in Delivered Through Love


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The Sermon Today

Hello again!

Today my Dad preached at The Fountain of Grace Church, here’s what he said:

Psalm 107:10-1610 Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom, prisoners suffering in iron chains, 11 for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High. 12 So he subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help. 13 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. 14 He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains. 15 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, 16 for he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.” Let’s sing together:

Romans 15:14-22 “14 I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. 15 I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. 17 Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. 18 I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done– 19 by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. 20 It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. 21 Rather, as it is written: “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.” 22 This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you.”

Let’s pray together:

We have now completed the major doctrinal teachings of the Book of Romans. And what we come to now is an epilogue, where Paul makes 3 comments about the Romans and then 3 comments about his ministry. Then he talks about his future plans, gives some personal greetings, and he closes with a benediction. That’s all that’s left in Romans.

And today we’re going to study Romans 15 verses 14-21 and this passage could be summarized by these three points having to do with the Apostle Paul: 1—Paul the Priest (vs. 16), Paul the Preacher (vss. 17-19) and finally we have Paul the Pioneer (vss. 20-21). Let’s see what we can learn, and what we can apply by studying Paul in these 3 roles.

Now in verse 14 Paul says the following things about the Romans: that they are, 1—full of goodness, 2—filled with all knowledge, and 3—able to admonish one another. Now it would really benefit us to look at these things together this morning.

First, Paul said the Romans were full of goodness. They had high moral character and were living righteously. Shouldn’t this be the aim of every Christian, to have character and conduct that represents Christ? Maybe you’ve heard that Ghandi said, “I like your Christ, I don’t like your Christians.” Well this should never be said of us, our character should be such that people see we’re full of goodness. Jesus said to “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

But wait a minute, Paul taught in chapter 3 that all people are sinners and fall short of God’s glory; that we’re born in sin and that we practice unrighteousness. So how did these Romans get to be full of goodness? We’re not born that way. Well this is simply part of the great exchange that happened at the cross, where people who were previously full of evil become full of goodness. Picture for a moment, Jesus Christ dying on the cross. What do you see there? You see that God has taken your sin away from you and put it on His Son, that’s why Jesus is dying. He is taking your place, suffering your punishment, making payment for your sin. Your sin is now nailed to a tree and buried in a tomb. And look what He is giving you in its place: His righteousness. This is the great exchange that happens for all believers at the cross. As a believer you are full of goodness because you are full of Christ.

And the believers in Rome genuinely hated evil and loved righteousness, they were full of goodness, and so they showed by their very lives that they were transformed, that their old lives had gone and the new had come.

Question: if people look at our lives, would they see that we are full of goodness? Have we consciously turned away from sin and burned all our bridges to it, and radically amputated all access to it? Can they see that we’re living in the light, that we’re not in bondage to any habitual sin? That we live in truth, in love, in holiness, in purity? The Romans were not perfect in their lives, but they were full of goodness.

But notice also from verse 14 that the Romans were filled with all knowledge. They clearly had a hunger for the truth, they searched it out, they gave themselves to studying, to learning, to gaining knowledge. Maybe they read what God said in Hosea, that “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” so they said, “that’s not going to be me” and they set out to learn. Oh what a blessing it is to want to learn.

But what Paul means here is not that the Romans had general knowledge and information about their world that they lived in (that they knew mathematics and science and history, etc.), but that they had the full knowledge of the gospel. They were learned in the gospel. They were doctrinally sound. They saw all the Bible as pointing to Christ, because in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. You see? They were filled with Christ.

They were filled with goodness and knowledge, or virtue and truth. They had “a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith”. They knew God, they knew His truth, and, by the power of His Spirit, they were committed to living holy lives.

The third thing Paul says about the Romans in verse 14 is that they are able to admonish, or competent to counsel one another. They were qualified by the first two: they full of goodness and full of knowledge, therefore competent to counsel. Paul is talking about the responsibility that every believer has for encouraging and strengthening other believers.

You know what is so sad? Many people today are convinced that competent counseling can only be done by a person who is trained in the principles of secular psychology—despite the fact that the various schools of psychology are at extreme odds with God’s Word and with each other. But this passage tells us exactly what qualifies us to counsel one another: spiritual maturity; that is, being filled with goodness and truth.

So God has set down for us how counseling is to happen: it is to be Christian counseling Christian. If we have a problem in our lives we are supposed to go to a wise and mature brother and sister in the Lord; not someone trained in worldly wisdom but someone who is mature in Christ, and has character, and especially who loves the gospel. They can counsel us, admonish us, instruct us.

So Paul made these three comments about the Romans, now we’ll see him as priest. He says in Romans 15:16 that he was “a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” See how Paul compares himself, in preaching the Gospel, to the priest performing his sacred duty—preparing his sacrifice to be offered, arranging it on the altar, adding the oil, so that the sacrifice would be acceptable to God.

See what is being taught here? It is preaching of the gospel that makes people acceptable to God. If you’re here today and you believe this message that I’m giving you from the Bible, that Christ died in your place and rose for your justification, you are acceptable to God.

Now this is such an important point and I want to illustrate it. If you would, look with me in your Bibles to the Book of 2 Kings, chapter 4. This is a story from the history of the nation of Israel. A story about the prophet Elisha. 2 Kings 4:38-41 38 Elisha returned to Gilgal and there was a famine in that region. While the company of the prophets was meeting with him, he said to his servant, “Put on the large pot and cook some stew for these men.” 39 One of them went out into the fields to gather herbs and found a wild vine. He gathered some of its gourds and filled the fold of his cloak. When he returned, he cut them up into the pot of stew, though no one knew what they were. 40 The stew was poured out for the men, but as they began to eat it, they cried out, “O man of God, there is death in the pot!” And they could not eat it. 41 Elisha said, “Get some flour.” He put it into the pot and said, “Serve it to the people to eat.” And there was nothing harmful in the pot.

Now notice, the stew was not acceptable. There was poison in it, there was death in the pot. It was unacceptable. So what did Elisha do, did he tell the people to start pulling out the poison, just reach in and take out the bad? No, you could never do that, it’s all mixed in together. Instead, Elisha said to put in the flour, the substance. And this flour acted like a sponge, and soaked in all the poison, and left the stew perfectly acceptable. As if this flour took all the poison into itself, and left nothing but pure stew. It took the death to itself and left life for those who ate it.

Now let’s not miss the point. We were all like that stew: born with poisonous sin in our hearts, unacceptable to God. And what did God do? Did He tell us take out all that sin, clean up your life, you better remove lying and lust and greed and selfishness, etc. NO! He sent His Son to die for us, thereby taking all our sin to Himself, and giving us life. Jesus is the substance that makes us acceptable to God.

Now this passage has very practical teaching for us. A family can have sin in it, poison in the pot: father and mother yelling at each other, the kids disobeying, and what needs to be done? Focus on the bad and try to remove it? No, add Christ. Add the substance of the gospel. Fathers add Bible study to your home. Add singing of hymns and worship songs. Bring your family together for prayer. Add Christ and there will be nothing harmful in the pot.

Churches can have sin: gossip, people speaking ill of other people, slandering, backbiting, dissention, division. And what is needed? And what role should the pastor take? Point out everyone’s faults and failures? How about preach the gospel, add the substance of Christ and there will be nothing harmful in the pot.

It is preaching of the gospel that saves people, and sanctifies people, and in the next chapter we’ll see it is preaching of the gospel that stabilizes people (16:25). Do you see how extremely important preaching of the gospel is?

So we’ve seen Paul as the priest, next we see him in the role of preacher. And this is very important: why? Because we’re looking for a preacher for this church. And so I want to give us five features of a faithful preacher. Let’s remember these as we’re looking for a preacher:

First, the preacher should take no credit for himself. Paul says in Romans 15:18 “I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me.” In other words, he was not boasting in what he accomplished, but rather in what Christ accomplished through him. Look for a preacher who has accomplished a lot, but who knows that it was Christ who accomplished all that through him. “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.” We have no right to take any credit for any spiritual effect that we have had. Paul refused to boast in anything, except his weakness. The preacher should take no credit for himself.

The second feature of a faithful preacher is that he emphasizes obedience. See in verse 18 “…leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done.” See the gospel calls people not only to faith in Christ as Savior but to obey Him as Lord. Notice Romans 6:17 “But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.” A faithful preacher must call people to, and emphasize the need for, obedience to God.

The third feature of a faithful preacher is personal integrity. Look at the end of verse 18: “by what I have said and done.” Paul led people to obey Christ through both his words and his life. His life was totally consistent with his message, without hypocrisy or self-righteousness. There should be no difference between the message we proclaim and the life we live. A preacher must have integrity. No hidden sins, nothing that could come out and cast shame on the name of Christ or the church.

The fourth feature of a faithful preacher is God’s approval of his ministry. Look at verse 19: 19 by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit.” God attested to Paul’s ministry. A preacher ought to have conversions; people who have turned from sin and are now following Christ because of his influence. This is God’s hand of approval on him. We ought to be fruit inspectors when pastors come to us—where are the conversions, the baptisms, the real spiritual influence?

The fifth feature of a faithful preacher is a laser-like focus on the gospel. Notice Romans 15:19 (NIV) “19 …So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.” The message should never change, no matter where he preaches. Let’s not be as interested in whether or not he is funny, intense, relevant, significant, but let’s ask ourselves one question: does he preach the gospel? I remind you of Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 2:2 “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” This is a laser like focus on the gospel. That’s what preachers are supposed to preach.

So Paul was not only in the role of priest, and a preacher of the gospel, but also a pioneer. He says in Romans 15:20 “It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation.” And he quotes Isaiah 52:15: that “those who were not told about Him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.”

So Paul was a partner, a priest a preacher and a pioneer. He was someone who didn’t take credit to himself, someone who emphasized obedience, someone who had personal integrity, someone who had God’s approval on his ministry and who focused squarely on the gospel. May we be the same!

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

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Posted by on May 13, 2012 in Todays Sermon


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Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.” (Romans 11:5-8)

Yes, sure there’s a remnant of people; those who have been lucky enough as to be “chosen” to be saved by grace from the wrath of God, but it seems God has put everyone else into a spirit of blind stupor! What sort of God would purposefully close the eyes and ears of His people to His own message of salvation? What God would bother sending His son to die a horrible death for the sins of “all people”, when all along He never actually intended to save them, but rather to doom them? Surely this “God” is both confused and cruel!

So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean! (Rom 11:11-12)

God is neither confused nor cruel. Rather, He purposefully blinds some people’s eyes, for a time, so that others may be saved. Not only that, but by the salvation of those ‘others’, to make the first group, in essence, realize what they’re missing out on; eternal life, and thus, perhaps repent. To put it as simply as possible: God puts some people into a spirit of stupor, in order to have a bad example. Others look at what they have become, and where it seems they’re going, and recoil from them, and towards Christ. Then, God opens the eyes and the ears, and takes away the spirit of stupor, so that the “bad example” realizes there is indeed a better way; trusting in Christ.

Yet, does this affect us today? So far everything we’ve been talking about is rather abstract; it doesn’t really touch our lives.

Well, there’s also an exhortation in the verses that we read. We can see it rather more clearly in the following verses:

Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? (Rom 11:13-15)

Paul says that he, “magnified his ministry”. In other words, he made his ministry known to them; made the radical changes that were happening in the lives of those he spoke to, known to them. We, even if we don’t have a “ministry”, such as an actual Church, should still magnify our lives to those around us, by living in a way different to those who aren’t Christians.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

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Posted by on May 8, 2012 in Delivered Through Love


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The Sermon Today

Hello again!

Today my dad was the pastor at The Fountain of Grace Church. Here’s what he said today:

Jesus Christ, the Fulfillment of All God’s Promises

Micah 5:1-4 1 Marshal your troops, O city of troops, for a siege is laid against us. They will strike Israel’s ruler on the cheek with a rod. 2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” 3 Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. 4 He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.

2 Corinthians 1:18-22 18 As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. 20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

Well let’s ask a few questions this morning to get us thinking about this passage of Scripture. What did Jesus Christ accomplish when He came to this earth? Well that’s easy, He came to save the world. True, but the Bible tells us that He came to accomplish something specific for the Jewish people. And He accomplished something for the Gentiles. What did He come to do? And what does this have to do with us today?

Well if we look at our passage of study today we’ll see what He accomplished for the Jews and what He accomplished for the Gentiles. Let’s look at Romans 15 verses 8-9:

Romans 15:8-9 8 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.”

And so we see clearly that Jesus came to show the Jews that God is a truthful God, that He keeps His promises. And He came that the Gentiles might praise God for His mercy. The Jews are to praise God for His truth and the Gentiles are to praise God for His mercy, and we see both of these in Jesus Who is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

So in this passage let’s notice just two points: 1–what Christ became, and 2—why He became it.

So just looking at verse 8, first we see that Christ became a servant. I wonder if you are in awe of the tremendous humility here? Before this time, Jesus was the King of heaven and He received the worship of all the angels. He is Lord of all created beings in the whole universe, and was clothed with majesty and glory, and now He has became a servant. One day He took a towel and washed His disciples feet like a common house-slave would do. Though He was the Lord of glory, He became the servant of all, the lowliest of the low. What tremendous humility. And what a stark contrast to today’s world where people walk all over other people to get up one step higher on the ladder of success. Here Jesus came down, and made Himself nothing, taking on Himself the form of a servant.

And just notice in passing that this word “servant” is “diakonos” where we get our word “Deacon.” One who ministers to the body of Christ. Christ became a deacon. Now we have deacons in this church and they are charged with ministering to the needs of the body. So think how Jesus elevated the role of a deacon by becoming one Himself. Deacons you have the same ministry Jesus did: a servant who meets the needs of the body. What an honorable role.

And secondly, why did Jesus become a servant? Verse 8 tells us it was “to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs.”

So the very existence of a man named Jesus Christ tells us something right away: God is a truthful God.

Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? The existence of Jesus Christ answers these questions: God has said and He did it. In Jesus. God has spoken and He fulfilled it. In Jesus.

And turn with me if you would like to the Book of John chapter 3. Here John the Baptist is speaking about Jesus and he says something very interesting about all believers:

John 3:31-33 31 He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. 33 Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true.

So if we’re here this morning and we believe in Jesus Christ what we are saying is that God is true. But if we reject Christ in essence we are saying “God, you are liar.” But God cannot lie. God has fulfilled His promises in Jesus Christ. The Jews are to praise God for His truth, and Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and therefore the Jewish nation is to praise God for Jesus.

Now what does this have to do with us? I wonder if you have considered the amazing benefits of reviewing the promises God made to Israel and seeing the fulfillment in Jesus Christ? This method of study convinces us that God can be believed, His Word is good, we can count on what He says.

And what Romans 15:8-9 invites us to do is to examine the promises God made to the Jewish nation, and then to see the fulfillment of them in Jesus Christ. So today we’re going to look at just a few promises in the Old Testament, and see their fulfillment in Christ. Wait a minute, aren’t we studying Romans? Yes, but sometimes a passage of Scripture invites us to study other passages to confirm the truth. And that’s what Romans 15 has done, both last week and this week. So we just take a little break from Romans and come right back to it. Now just watch how this creates faith in us. See if you don’t find tremendous confidence in the Word of God as we do this study together.

So I invite you to turn to Micah chapter 5, which was our first Scripture reading this morning. It has been proven beyond all doubt that Micah was written 700 years B.C. So 700 years before Jesus was born as a baby in Bethlehem, Micah wrote this book of the Bible. And here God promised that Israel’s ruler would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). And of course we know that Jesus fulfilled this. And it says that his origins would be “from old”, from ancient times. And so Jesus said to the Jews of his day, “Before Abraham was born, I am.”

But did you notice that His sufferings were actually predicted before His birth? Vs. 1 says that Israel’s ruler would be struck on the face with a rod. It reminds us of Matthew 26 where Jesus is before the Roman soldiers and verse 67 says,Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him.” Jesus was fulfilling the promises and predictions of Micah chapter 5.

And vs. 3 says that “Israel would be abandoned until” this ruler would be born. And we know that for 400 years God said nothing to the nation of Israel. 400 years of silence, of no prophets, and no visions. Nothing. Until Jesus was born. And He was born as the Word of God—God’s final communication to man.

And vs. 4 tells us He would stand and shepherd His flock. In John 10 Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd—the Good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” And vs. 4 tells us He would be a king. A shepherd-king like David who ruled in the majesty of the Lord His God. And so over the cross Pilate wrote “The King of the Jews.”

And vs. 4 tells us that His greatness would reach to the ends of the earth. His ministry wouldn’t be limited to the nation of Israel. And Philippians 2 shows the fulfillment, that because Jesus was obedient unto death, and rose from the dead, at the name of Jesus every knee will bow. Unity of worship through the gospel. The whole world will acknowledge the greatness of King Jesus.

And finally, notice what the effect of this ruler would be on the nation: vs. 4 says “they will live securely.” Well of course. If you had a Shepherd that would die to save you, if you had a king who would reign in righteousness and justice, and these two were combined into one Person, you could live in security. You would have peace and safety.

And so look what hope the nation of Israel would have, based upon this writing 700 years BC. Someone was going to come and be born in Bethlehem, who would be their ruler, but He would be struck on His face with a rod, there would be suffering in His life, but then He would reign as a Shepherd-King over the whole world, bringing security and peace and joy to the people. And Jesus fulfilled every word of this promise.

So we looked at His birth, now let’s go back and look at the first promise God made, in Genesis chapter 3. And in this chapter we see that sin has entered the world: Adam and Eve have disobeyed God and now everything is messed up. When sin came in the ground was cursed (vs. 17), thorns and weeds came up (vs. 18), hard work; Adam would work by the sweat of the brow (vs. 19), pain in childbirth (vs. 16), banishment from paradise (vss. 23-24), and finally death (vs. 19). All of this came through sin.

But God had promised that somebody would come and fix the whole mess. Look at vs. 15. God is talking to the serpent, to Satan, and He says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Now notice that this promise is to the woman’s offspring, not the man’s. Well how can the woman have an offspring and without the man? I mean it would have to a miracle, like a virgin birth for this promise to be fulfilled, where the offspring is only the woman’s, the man is not included. And we read in Matthew 1:21-25 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”–which means, “God with us.”

And then notice the reference to the battle in Genesis 3:15. There would be a fight. But the woman’s offspring would win: he would bruise the head of the serpent, a fatal blow, while He Himself would be bruised in the heel. Like someone stomping on a serpent, who might be bit as their foot is coming down. So the woman’s offspring would be victorious and would destroy the devil and His work; He would fix the whole mess and put things back right again. 1 John 3:8 The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. Hebrews 2:14 Jesus “shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil.

So Jesus, the Seed only of the woman, not a man, destroyed the work of the devil, made everything right. He perfectly fulfilled the promise in Genesis 3:15, born of a virgin, destroyed the devil and his work, receiving wounds in His flesh as He did so.

Now there are literally hundreds of these promises made to Israel, it would take us years, maybe a lifetime to go through them all. But let’s look at one last promise, this one in Isaiah chapter 9. We hear this a lot at Christmas time:

Isaiah 9:6-7 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

So the promise is that David would have a descendant who would sit on his throne forever. A king would rule forever. Now question: looking at the nation of Israel today, who is king? I was just in Israel last week and there is no king. There’s a democracy but there’s no theocracy: no king is reigning. Has God lied? Could He not fulfill this promise? Well let’s look at the promise:

Notice verse 6 says “to us a child is born.” That’s just a natural thing, a child would be born, a human being would become king. But look at the next part, “to us a son is given.” A son given is different than a child born. A child born is humanity, but a son given is deity. It reminds us of John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son…” This God-Man would be King. The Government would be on His shoulders. And so Jesus said to Pilate, “you’ll see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, sitting at the right hand of God.” And He would be called “Wonderful.” Do you know Jesus as wonderful? Marvelous? Magnificent? As the Counselor, Mighty God.” The Son given is the Everlasting Father. Jesus said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30).

But still, we don’t see a king reigning on the throne in Jerusalem. Did God not fulfill His promise? Oh yes He did, because Hebrews 12:2 …for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Revelation 7:17 says the Lamb of God is “in the midst of the throne.” He’s reigning from the heavenly Jerusalem. We aren’t people who put off the reign of Jesus for some time in the future, no He is reigning right now in the heavenly Jerusalem. He’s on David’s throne.

And so this promise is wonderfully fulfilled. The child born is a human, the Son given is God, the God-man reigning on the throne forever and ever. So just like the cross was a sign, the throne is a sign that says “God is truthful. He fulfills His promises.”

Now as I said, there are literally hundreds, maybe thousands of promises God made, and Jesus fulfills them all! So, what does this mean to us today? We’re not Jews, what does God fulfilling His promises in Christ mean to us today? Just this: God is trustworthy. Jesus confirmed the promises made to Israel. We can believe Him, put our faith in Him, trust in Him, rely on Him, count on Him, take His Word to the bank.

This builds our faith, it gives us confidence in God. We can say just like Joshua did: Joshua 21:45 Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.” We have faith that God will be true to His word because He sent Jesus. And so we see that Christ did indeed come as a minister to the Jews to fulfill all of God’s promises to them.

So let’s close by just looking at a couple of promises God makes to us today. We can be sure that God will be true to His Word as we read these. So the first one is in John chapter 6. As we read this together, see if you can pick out the promises God gives:

John 6:37-40 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

This passage tells us how to be saved. By looking to Christ and coming to Christ. In  other words, all people whom God saves first are made to see our sin and feel condemned and rejected and hopeless. We have failed, we don’t measure up. But then we hear the words “whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” No matter what you’ve done, no matter the sin you’ve committed, come to Jesus and He will welcome you and receive you and never send you away. All you have to do is look away from your sin and look to the Son of God as having paid your penalty on the cross, and believe that. And His promise is that He will save you and never lose you.

Hebrews 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Do you believe this promise that God is always with us, will never leave us? There is a way to know if we believe this promise. When something catastrophic happens in your life, do you lose it? Do you go crazy? Or do you have absolute confidence that God is right there with you in the midst of it? So that you have stability and strength? David could walk through the valley of the shadow of death, even, because He knew God was with Him.

Galatians 6:9-10 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Do you believe that if you do good you’ll reap a harvest if you don’t give up? If you stay the course, if you keep plugging along, doing good?

Jesus came as a minister to the Jews, to show that God has fulfilled all the promises in Him. And He will fulfill all His promises to us too. Let’s pray.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

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Posted by on April 15, 2012 in Todays Sermon


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For It’s By Grace You Have Been Saved

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

For by grace you have been saved. So now we have, “by God”, “by Jesus” and now, “by grace”. It seems we’re compiling a mini-database. — Why is it Paul decided to point out that ‘no one can boast’? Does he find it important? It seems to me to be just another fact.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

“Ah, well what can I say? I’m amazing, it’s true! I’ve managed not to figure out gravity, such as Sir Newton has. But rather, to never once commit a sin! I have been good to the poor and have even kept all the commandments, to the last jot and diddle! One may even claim I’ve built myself a later to Heaven by my sinless perfection.” — Sir Non E. Xistent the 1,531 of the First League of Perfect Arch-Angelic Persons.

What’s your opinion? Do you think God wants us to end up like Sir Non E. Xistent? Thinking we’ve obeyed all the law, yet in reality failing in every aspect of it (such as, um, pride). Guess what! The answers no. In fact, God took specific measures to prevent anyone from being able to boast. Yet still, certain Arch-Angelic persons insist upon believing we must work for our salvation… Something that would go a little like this:






Something which can be compared to this:





Or… Something like that, anyway. The point being this: God has created us to do good works, that true. Just not for working for our salvation. Rather, in that matter, we must trust and lean upon God.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland


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The Gospel Changes Everything

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; (1 Timothy 2:5-8)

I find it interesting how Paul seems to put all three things he talked about here, into one category. Jesus’ Death and Resurrection; his own preaching; “lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling”. All lumped in with each-other. But why? How can something like the Gospel of Jesus, be connected with something like “lifting holy hands without anger…”?

As the picture states: the Gospel changes everything. It has the power to change a person from wanting to raise their hands into a fist; to a person who wants to praise God so much their hands end up joining in. But an obvious question comes up, “how?”. How could such a thing change a life?

for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)

Take Paul: Originally he was a terrorist. Then he was an apostle, then after Jesus’ death and Resurrection he was an Apostle, preacher, and teacher. Why? Because Jesus had saved him and now God was working in his life. The same happens with us. Though possibly we didn’t start out physically killing Christians… Accepting Jesus as Lord causes a dramatic change in a life. This is because you go from Spiritually dead to alive and growing in(/into) Jesus.

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. (Ephesians 4:14)

But now, looking at the situation practically, it’s not as if God could change a rapper, right? Surely he couldn’t change either a murder or an all-out-terrorist. Not true. Something everyone should be glad for, as everyone is a cold-blooded-serial killer. Which for your information, doesn’t just mean we’ve killed captain crunch. The bible equates murder with hate, thus when we hate, we kill (they become dead to us to some aspect). God can and did save me, thus it can happen.

The point being this: Because Christ died for us, our lives should be changed or changing (if it’s not, we should check our relationship with God).

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland


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The Sermon Today

Hello again!

Today’s sermon was on Galatians 2:11-21. For the most part, I remember the first part of the sermon, wherein the Pastor talked on verses 11-13. For the most part (in that section) he talked about, go figure, Paul rebuking Peter for retreating from the Gentiles when the Circumcision group walked in. Unless I’m mistaken, he used Paul’s rebuking Peter as an example: meaning, if someone is in the wrong, we should rebuke them in love.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

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Posted by on October 30, 2011 in Todays Sermon


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