We as parents know what it is 'supposed to mean' when we say to our children and grandchildren,
"There is no exception to that rule....or that type of behavior!"
In one of our pastorates, we had just moved into the new parsonage.
When the first rain came, La Moyne didn't want any of us tracking mud onto the new floors and carpet, so she put up a sign at every door:
'TAKE SHOES OFF BEFORE ENTERING!"
Our daughter Kristin (who was quite small....AND being the only girl after 3 sons) asked, "Does that mean ME too?"
We had to explain to her that there would be NO exceptions!
How much more do WE need to hear...and heed....God's 'no exceptions' from His Word, as inspired by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is powerful enough to lead us to interpret and practice THE Word of God.
Let us look at some of these Scriptures, using the word 'EXCEPT'.
Remember God's forgiveness is one thing.....God's 'no exceptions' are another!
1) John 3:3 "EXCEPT you be born again, you can not enter the Kingdom of God."
John 3:7: "Marvel not that I said unto you, you must be born again."
a) The New Birth is for everyone..."whosoever"
b) The New Birth is necessary...."except"
c) The New Birth is personal...."you"
d) The New Birth is simple....."believe"
e) The New Birth is spiritual....."born of the Spirit"
f) The New Birth is mysterious, but profound...."like the wind" (vs. 8)
g) The New Birth is miraculous....(see verses 14-15)
In Matthew 18:1-4, Jesus was asked, "Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven and Jesus called a little child unto Him and said, "Truly, I say unto you, EXCEPT you be converted and become as a little child (totally dependent upon God), you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Whosoever humbles himself as a little child, the same is the greatest in the Kingdom."
2) You still wonder how all of this comes to pass?
In Luke 13:3-5, Jesus said, "EXCEPT you repent, you shall perish"
(and He said it twice for emphasis!)
Paul knew what it meant to repent and the great joys from the salvation that followed. (Acts 8)
Years later, in Acts 20-21, he wrote, "I testified both to the Jews and the Greeks, repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ".
True repentance is always accompanied by a deep desire for Holiness.
Holiness is not the way to Jesus, but Jesus is the way to Holiness!
Paul in Acts 20:22 said, "I go bound in the Holy Spirit and will witness in every city."
DAVID repented of sin as recorded in Psalm 51:1-7.
Also please note the JOY he had and the WITNESS he gave after his repentance.
JOHN MARK repented of failure and the sin of omission and became profitable for Kingdom Service (II Tim. 4:11)
PETER repented of the sins of backsliding and denial and served well until his martyrdom.
ONE THIEF ON THE CROSS repented and Jesus said, "Today, you will be with me in Paradise."
JUDAS had regrets, but no repentance.
Any lost sinner MUST repent and lay down his arms of rebellion before the King of Kings....in absolute and unconditional surrender.
JOHN THE BAPTIST's message was: "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." (Matt. 3:2) and in vs. 6, it says, "He baptized those who were repenting of their sins."
Afterwards, he told them, "Go and bring forth fruits, worthy of repentance."
(showing that you have repented...vs. 8)
FOR US: Never forget that the same things that saved you, are needed the rest of your life! Proverbs 28:13:
"Whosoever covers his sins, shall not prosper.
But whosoever confesses and forsakes them, shall have mercy."
It is a false gospel that divorces 'Christ the Savior' from 'Christ the Lord'!
The alternative to repentance is judgment and yet God in Christ has chosen to come to us in Holy Love, Forgiving Mercy and Redeeming Grace.
3) John 12: 24: Jesus said, "Truly, truly I say unto you, EXCEPT a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it die, it brings forth much fruit."
Galatians 2:20: "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live: yet not I, but Christ lives in me and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God Who loved me and gave Himself for me."
What happens to a seed is a miracle and needs to happen to us, when salvation and the Holy Spirit are planted in us!
a) The seed softens and becomes very tender. We need tender hearts for Hebrews 3 says, "The Israelites had erring hearts (vs. 8-10). They also had hard hearts (vs. 15) and ended up with unbelieving hearts (vs. 19) that kept them out of the Promised Land.
b) The seed becomes larger. We need to 'enlarge' our love for God and our love for all people.
Life is too big to be 'small'.....and too short to be 'little'.
With God's help, we can be 'bigger' than we are!
c) The seed changes:
I understand that all the starches turn to sugar and become very sweet. We need to be sweet, for a 'sourpuss' is indicative of a sour heart and life. Only Jesus and the Power of the Holy Spirit can keep you sweet in attitude (within) atmostphere (around you) and actions (without) in the home and in the world.
d) The seed breaks:
God uses broken things....soil (by the plow or hoe), clouds for rain, grain for loaves of bread and in John 12:1-8, the alabaster box was broken for ointment to annoint Jesus.
e) A root system forms:
The plant is not worth much if there are no roots....or at least it won't last long.
(Prov. 12:3 and 12. Also Col. 2:7 and Ephesians 3:17 that speak of being 'rooted and grounded in love')
It is important to notice that all 5 of these take place in secret and quiet....and a miracle is happening. Reckon we need this in OUR lives?
If there is no quiet time, we may gorge our bodies and starve our souls!
Two of my favorites on this are:
Psalm 46:10: "Be still and know that I am God".....
Isaiah 30:15: "Return and rest in me, for your strength....in quietness and confidence, you shall be strengthened"
f) Growth and fruit happen!
Green shoots break the crust of the earth and fruit in time, will follow...IF....there is adequate growth.
Jesus best teachings on this are in John 15 where the emphasis is on Jesus as the Vine and we as the branches.
Verses 4-6: "EXCEPT you abide in me, you will wither and will be fruitless."
I grew up in cotton country, near Altus in Southwest Oklahoma.
We could plant, plow and care for the crop, but ultimately it depended on God to send the rain and sunshine.
Likewise, in our spiritual lives, we work and pray (and faith) but God gives the increase. (II Cor. 3:6-9)
I love where it says, "We are laborers together with God".
A great chapter on all of this is Matthew 13 which deals with the different kinds of soils.
Here are a few more EXCEPTs for us to accept:
1) John 6:44, 65:
"No one can come to God EXCEPT the Spirit draw them"
2) Matt. 5:20:
"EXCEPT your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees and Scribes,
you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven".
3) Psalm 127:1:
"EXCEPT the Lord build the home, you labor in vain."
4) Isaiah 1:9 and Romans 9:29:
"EXCEPT there be a holy remnant, we would be as Sodom and Gomorah"
5) Romans 10:15:
"How shall they hear the gospel EXCEPT we send someone?"
Missions is a requirement, NOT an elective!
God had one son and He became a missionary to earth!
6) John 19:11:
"No power at all EXCEPT given by God".
(See also 'Jesus on the Holy Spirit' in John 16:7-14)
Sometimes in our lives, God is too small...or a 'dull grey'....or the Bible is a 'blur'.
Someone once said, "When all else fails, read the directions."
No.....BEFORE all else fails, read the directions!!
I hope that this study will help you....
and through you, help others, for this is why we prepare these thoughts each week.
May God BLESS you!!
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