Archives for : July2009

What is the church?

1) 1 Cor. 2:13 says God has used “spiritual terms” to communicate “spiritual truths.”
2) If we are going to know God and know what is right, there are some words we need to know.
3) One of the words on God’s vocabulary list is the word “church.”
4) This is the word we want to think about this morning. What is the church?
5) The church is a “spiritual body.”
a) The world often understands the word “church” as a physical structure.
b) People “go to church” to worship.
6) The church is not a place where go; the church is a body of people.
7) The church is a group of people that is closely connected to Jesus Christ.
a) One might think that if Jesus is the head of the church, there will not be any problems.
b) If the head (Christ) is perfect, will not the body (the church) be perfect? No.
c) In 1 Cor. 11:18 Paul said the Corinthians were gathering “in the church.”
8) Archaeology suggests that church buildings as we know them were built about 100 years after Acts 2.

9) As we look at Corinth, we see the word “church” being used in the sense of a local congregation.
10) There was the church at Thessalonica, the churches of Galatia, the church at Philippi, etc.
11) In addition to describing a local congregation, the word “church” is used in some other ways.
a) Sometimes this term describes all the saved.
b) Listen to what Paul said in Eph. 5:23 – READ
c) Jesus is the “savior of the church.”
12) This point is not well understood by the world.
a) The world often struggles with knowing who is in the church and who is not.
b) At funerals it is common to hear a preacher to speak of a non-religious person in a favorable way.
c) Eph. 5 tells us that Jesus is the savior of the church (those who are in Jesus’ spiritual body).
13) Someone might say, “How do I come to Christ and this thing called the church?
14) We first have to be taught.
a) This is what we see in Acts 2, a place that mentions the church.
b) Acts 2:22.
c) Peter said, “hear these words.” What words, Peter? “Jesus of Nazareth.”
15) A time came when Jesus died – verse 23 – READ
a) Acts 20:28 adds that Christ “purchased the church with His blood.”
b) In Acts 20 church and Christ go together, just as we find in Acts 2.
16) Verse 32 in this chapter – READ
17) Jesus has been “raised up.” What is the Lord doing now since He is no longer in the grave?
18) We heard one of His activities earlier from Eph. 5 – He is now the head of His church.
19) This information was shocking news for these people on the Day of Pentecost.
20) Verse 37 – READ
21) Earlier it was noted how we must come to Christ. Verse 38 – READ
22) These people wanted to do what was right – let’s see what these believers did – verse 41 – READ
23) Christ was preached; do we see the church in this chapter?
24) Verse 47 – READ
25) The “Lord” (Jesus) “added to them.”
26) What would Jesus be adding people to? What institution is Jesus in charge of?
27) We have already answered this question from Eph. 5—it is the church.

Overcome evil by being good

The story is told of a motorcycle patrolman who was rushed to the hospital with an inflamed appendix. The doctors operated and advised him that all was well. However, the patrolman kept feeling something pulling at the hairs on his chest. Worried that it might be a second surgery the doctors hadn’t told him about, he finally got enough energy to pull his hospital gown down enough so he could look at what was making him so uncomfortable.

Taped firmly across his hairy chest were three wide strips of adhesive tape, the kind that doesn’t come off easily. Written in large black letters was the sentence. “Get well quick ….. from the nurse you gave a ticket to last week.”

There is a part of us that is anxious to repay someone else for hurt they may have caused us in the past. We almost view it as a virtue in our culture to “get even”, to refuse to be someone else’s doormat, to stand up for our rights. The result is that while any Christian qualities are viewed favorably in the world, the quality of a forgiving spirit is seen by many as a sign of weakness. But the words of Paul are clear: “Repay no one evil for evil….Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath….Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans
12:17,19,21).

It is a natural response to repay evil with evil, but that is not a quality of Jesus Christ and it must not be a quality of those of us who are his followers. So, how do you treat those who have done you wrong? Don’t respond by telling me how you treat your friends. Jesus says that anybody can do that (Matt. 5:46). That doesn’t make you any different from an atheist or a heathen. The question is, are we willing to strive to have a quality that will quickly set us apart as a follower of Jesus Christ?

That’s not an easy path to follow, but then again, Jesus never promised that it would be!

–Alan Smith

Skankoween

Have you heard someone use the above word? If not, you have probably seen what it means. Kids who go out “trick or treating” are dressing in provocative clothing. Scary has been replaced with sexy in the costumes of people, especially the young. Modest has been swapped out for mini. Fun has been turned into flirty and foxy. This practice has gotten to the point where various media outlets are now paying attention to it.

If you are a parent–and especially a Christian parent–let Christ and the Bible be your directive for proper clothing choice 365 years a day. There is no “night off” for modesty and that includes tomorrow (such is especially true in the summer months). At work or play live as a Christian example and teach your children to do the same. We cannot control what the world does, but we can be responsible for ourselves and our families

PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE?

The story is told of a Russian named Ivanovich who visited the Moscow zoo for the first time. To his amazement, he found a little lamb sharing the cage with a big fierce lion.

Ivanovich expressed surprise to his guide. The guide smiled and said, “That is peaceful coexistence.”

When Ivanovich shook his head in a doubtful way, the guide explained, “Of course, we have to put in a fresh lamb every morning.”

As much as we should strive for peace, there are some things which simply cannot coexist peacefully — truth and error, righteousness and ungodliness, morality and immorality. If we try to combine two such things in our lives, they will only coexist “peacefully” only if one gobbles up the other. That’s why James was so forceful in his warning:

“You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4, NASB)

This verse frightens me more than just about any verse in the entire Bible, because I see the influence that “the world” has on me and on Christians around me. We have just as much interest in accumulating “things” as the world does. We often don’t do a better job of taking care of those in need than the world does. We worry just as much as the world does. We value the same things as the world does. We imitate the world to such an extent that if you were to go into an average workplace and ask the boss, “Which of these men and women working for you are Christians?”, he wouldn’t be able to identify us.

Let us beware lest we make the mistake of thinking that our association with and imitation of “the world” doesn’t affect our relationship with God. Some things can’t live in peaceful coexistence, and “whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God”!

Alan Smith

SHARING WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU

What is the most important thing to you in your life? Normally, after spending just a few minutes with someone you will know the answer to that question. You will hear about their children or grand children. Perhaps they will tell you about their club or social network group. It could be that you will learn very quickly about their love for or involvement with some sport. The point is that we are anxious to share what is of real interest to us or of real importance. It’s not a problem for us to learn the rules to the games, to learn the player’s names, the type of crocheted patterns you like or the hunting or fishing technique you especially like. We share what is important to us!

Think about this: Some years ago a commuter on the Long Island Railroad was know to every regular rider of the 5 p.m. local run. He was a well dressed, soft spoken young man who lived at Jamaica. Every evening after the train left the subway; he would stand up and go to the front of the car. He would speak to every passenger, saying, “Excuse me; but if any of your family or friends are blind, tell them to consult Dr. Garl. He restored my sight.”

You see, he was sharing what was really important to him with courage and confidence. He didn’t argue or try to persuade anyone he was right. He told each person about the one who had opened his eyes. He had good news and he shared it with everyone he could.

Each of us who profess to be Christians have good news even more important to share! Why don’t we do more of it? After Jesus healed the man possessed with many demons in Mark 5 notice what took place: “When Jesus got back into the boat, the man who had been demon possessed begged to go, too. But Jesus said, ‘No, go home to your friends, and tell them what wonderful things the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been’.” (V. 18-19)

How often do we remember what wonderful things the Lord has done for us or how merciful he has been to us? Far too often we take it for granted, it seems it is normal for us as humans to forget, even when great things are done for us. Could it be time to recommitting yourself today, to begin sharing the Good News with others around you whenever you have the opportunity?

JUSTICE OR MERCY?

I heard about an 80-year-old woman who was arrested for shoplifting. When she went before the judge in Cincinnati he asked her, “What did you steal?”

She replied “A can of peaches.”

The judge asked her why she had stolen the can of peaches and she replied that she was hungry. The judge then asked her how many peaches were in the can.

She replied, “Six.”

The judge said, “Then I will give you six days in jail.” Before the judge could actually pronounce the punishment, the woman’s husband spoke up and asked the judge if he could say something.

The judge said, “What is it?”

The husband said, “She also stole a can of peas.”

It’s so true that whenever others are found guilty, we want to make sure they are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I sometimes ask people the question, “Do you want a judge (or a police officer) who shows mercy or one who administers justice?” The answer I get is almost always the same — if we are standing before the judge or pulled over by the police officer, we want mercy; if others are standing there, we want justice.

The interesting thing about God is that He is perfect in His justice while at the same time full of mercy. How can He be both? When we are guilty of sin, He finds us guilty to the full extent of the law. The penalty for our sin is death — spiritual death, separation from God (Romans 6:23). But, in His mercy, God has found a way to pay the price Himself.

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:21)

Praise God for being the just and holy God that He is, but praise Him as well for being full of grace and mercy.

— Alan Smith

A study of the apostle Peter

HE WASN’T EXACTLY a great prospect…

His resume had some rather obvious “gaps” in it. He was an uneducated (Acts 4:13) fisherman (Matthew 4:18). He was quick-tempered (John 18:10; Matthew 26:50-51), impetuous and impulsive. He was prone to break his word (Mark 14:29; Matthew 26:74). He made promises that he didn’t keep; in fact, he lied. He started things that he didn’t finish (Matthew 14:28-30). He was prone to fear and doubt (Matthew 14:30-31). He couldn’t always be counted on in a pinch (Mark 14:53-54). He could be cowardly (Luke 22:54-60a) and undependable (Matthew 26:40-41; Mark 14:37). He couldn’t always control his tongue (Mark 14:71). He couldn’t always see the “big picture” (Matthew 16:23; John 18:11), but was often preoccupied with the urgent and immediate. He was a narrow-minded racist (Acts 2:39; 10:13-14; Galatians 2:11-14) and a male chauvinist (John 4:27).

Let’s be brutally honest—Simon Peter (Matthew 16:17; John 21:15-17) wasn’t “the right man” for leading the early church. Right? The Lord needed an entirely different breed of man. He required an uncommon stock—a man with minor blemishes, a near-perfect specimen, a spiritual giant. He needed a man with a long track record of spirituality and maturity—or did He (Luke 6:12-14a)?

At Pentecost following the resurrection of Christ, there was Peter—boldly preaching the first Gospel sermon with his fellow apostles (Acts 2:14, 38)! Yes, Peter! However, it didn’t stop there. The very same man who fled for his life when he was identified as a disciple of the Lord was the very same man who, despite the threat of imprisonment, fearlessly proclaimed the risen Lord (Acts 3:11-4:20, 29-31). When the counsel commanded him not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, this once reluctant disciple replied, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (cf. Acts 5:29).

Think for just a moment; how can we account for this incredible transformation? How did this milque-toast Galilean fisherman become a notable force in the kingdom of the first century? How did he get from catching fish to catching men? How did Simon get to be Cephas (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:5; Galatians 2:9) the Aramaic for “stone” (John 1:42)? How did this common man with an unsubmissive personality become a rock-like leader—one of the greatest preachers among the apostles and in every sense the dominant figure in the first twelve chapters of Acts? Most significantly, what does Peter tell us about ourselves? Consider the following:

1. No matter what your previous background, the Lord can use you as a vessel in His service. Our faults can be molded and fashioned into virtue. Failure yesterday is not necessarily fatal tomorrow. Weakness can become strength. “Mustard-seed faith” (Matthew 17:20; Mark 4:31; Luke 13:19; 17:6) can be enhanced to move mountains. “[The Lord] specializes in transforming hearts, redirecting our self-centered energy, and reshaping our raw talent and abilities to achieve His purposes in the world” [Gene A. Getz, “Peter,” The Apostles, 21- 22]. This He did for Peter, and this He can do with/for you. “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; cf. Isaiah 64:8).

2. It takes time to become the person Jesus wants you to become. Evolving a Christ-like spirit is a l e n g t h y process (1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3:18; cf. Hebrews. 5:12ff). No one is shaped into a leader overnight. Peter certainly wasn’t. In fact, approximately twenty years after his service during the Lord’s personal ministry, Peter as an apostle, a Gospel preacher and an elder (1 Peter 5:1) still needed some “internal refinement” (Galatians 2:11-12). Whenever the Jews came to visit, Peter only ate with the Jews. However, when the Jews went home, he practiced open fellowship with his Gentile [uncircumcised] brethren and ate with them. Paul immediately recognized Peter’s hypocrisy and rebuked his fellow-apostle to his face (Galatians 2:14). Isn’t that ironic? In Acts 2, on the birthday of the church, Peter had taught, “…For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off [i.e., Gentiles]…” (v. 39). Then some eight-to-ten years later it took a vision from heaven (Acts 10:9-16) to convince him that God, in fact, accepted all men—including Gentiles—into the faith (Acts 10:34-35; 11:18). Later yet [perhaps another eight-to-ten years] in Galatians 2, Peter still struggled with the concept of the Gentile equality. He was a slow learner. You might say he suffered from SADD—spiritual attention deficit disorder. Growth was an incremental element for Peter. The same is true for each of us today.

3. Jesus seeks a willing spirit. Peter’s problem wasn’t his lack of desire and zeal; it was how he employed these qualities that often got him into trouble. One of the reasons Jesus chose Peter was because he was a man of devotion, determination and passion.* Granted, his passion was misdirected at times, but once Peter came to terms with the concept of the risen Lord (1 Peter 1:3), that same fervency was channeled in a very constructive and powerful way.

The good news is—the Lord sees beyond what we are to what we can become. We see spiritual resumes that are tarnished by transgression, failure and neglect (Romans 3:23). We see rank sinners; Jesus sees holy saints. We see humiliation; Jesus sees exaltation. We see despair; Jesus sees a living hope. We see Simon the crumbling disciple; Jesus saw Peter the rock-solid leader who would help stabilize the first century church.

Dear friend, are you looking for a job? Do you feel incapable? Is your work-history marred by defeat? Yes? Great! You automatically qualify. The Lord is hiring new laborers at this very moment! You can start your new work now (Acts 2:38; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 4:16). (Mike Benson)

HOW GULLIBLE ARE WE?

A freshman at Eagle Rock Junior High won first prize at the Greater Idaho Falls Science Fair, April 26, 1997. He was attempting to show how conditioned we have become to the alarmists practicing junk science and spreading fear of everything in our environment. In his project he urged people to sign a petition demanding strict control or total elimination of the chemical “dihydrogen monoxide.” And for plenty of good reasons, since:

1. it can cause excessive sweating and vomiting
2. it is a major component in acid rain
3. it can cause severe burns in its gaseous state
4. accidental inhalation can kill you
5. it contributes to erosion
6. it decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes
7. it has been found in tumors of terminal cancer patients

He asked 50 people if they supported a ban of the chemical dihydrogen monoxide. Forty-three said yes, six were undecided, and only one knew what the chemical was…

WATER!!!

The title of his prize winning project was, “How Gullible Are We?” The conclusion is obvious.

Religion is another area where people have a tendency to be gullible. Extreme examples can be found in David Koresh’s followers and the Heaven’s Gate cult. But it can happen any time we believe someone without checking out God’s Word to see if what is being taught is the truth. Faith does not mean blindly accepting whatever anyone (even a preacher) says.

The apostle John warned, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (I John 4:1). Use God’s Word to discern between what is true and what is false. And
if you feel like living dangerously today, pour yourself a big tall glass f dihydrogen monoxide.

— Alan Smith

No Black Dots

When Benjamin Franklin was 27 years old, he decided he would take control of his life. He selected 12 virtues he wanted to acquire, and kept a daily chart of his progress in the development of each one. Whenever he missed the mark, he put a black dot beside that virtue. His goal was to ultimately have no dots on the chart. This method contributed to Franklin’s success as an inventor, publisher, and statesman.

Unknown

THE FOOLISHNESS OF MATERIALISM

In the Perils of Prosperity is an ironic forecast from an economic expert, a man from Yale University named Irving Fisher. When asked about the future of the stock market as it related to the condition of the American economy, Fisher confidently boasted, “Stock prices have preached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” What is so ironic about that? He spoke these words a mere two weeks before the famed stock market crash of October 1929. The result of that was a decade of financial woe commonly called “The Great Depression.”

David, though a wealthy man in his own right, underscores the foolishness of trusting in finances over the Father in Psalm 49. The focus of his inspired thoughts are “those who trust in their wealth and boast in the multitude of their riches” (6). What of them? David reminds them–and us–of the limitations and frivolity of those who put their faith in earthly wealth.
THEY CANNOT REDEEM THEIR FELLOWMEN WITH THINGS (7). This is certainly not to say that money cannot be used for accomplishing the salvation of souls (cf. Matt. 28:18-20). What does it mean? It is the attitude that says, “I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing” (Rev. 3:17). David reminds us, “none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him–for the redemption of their souls is costly.” Indeed! Christ was the price of ransom for all (1 Tim. 2:6). No less can redeem the everlasting souls of men (Ti. 2:14).

THEY CANNOT TAKE IT WITH THEM (10). Mankind mistakenly thinks that the empire of his personal wealth will always stand, and that he will always be the curator of his museum of material things. No! Wise man and fool alike die. What happens to their wealth? It is left to others. Ibsen said, “Building one’s life on a foundation of gold is just like building a house on foundations of sand” (cf. Matt. 7:24-27).

THEY ARE BETRAYED BY THEIR VANITY (11). “Their inner thought is that their houses will last forever, their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands by their own names.” The rich farmer was duped by his possessions. When he looked into his future, he saw only good times and great prosperity (Lk. 12:19). He never considered that it might be taken from him at any moment (Lk. 12:20). An inordinate pursuit of material things is vanity (Ecc. 4:4).

THEY CANNOT BUY MORE TIME (12). Regardless of a man’s “net worth,” he “does not remain.” Life is as much a vapor for the rich as it is the poor (Js. 4:14). Paul says, “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (1 Tim. 6:17-19).

Spiritually, man is even more foolish than Fisher who boasts of riches as his Savior. By God’s Holy Spirit, David was moved to warn us of the foolishness of materialism. May we truly listen!

Self-Control Means Saying “Yes” As Well As “No”

Don’t you normally associate self-control with self-denial? Certainly, Jesus says that following Him means denying self in a variety of ways (Matt. 16:24). Gluttony, sexual sin, alcoholism and other physically detrimental habits, cursing, and the like involve this negative dimension of self-control. Yet, how many times have you heard a preacher or teacher emphasize the positive sphere of this fruit of the Spirit? Doesn’t it take self-control to get up out of the chair on Tuesday night and visit that non-Christian who came to church services the previous Sunday? Doesn’t it take self-control to work up the nerve to speak to a co-worker about the Bible? Doesn’t it take self-control to make time for daily Bible study and prayer? Doesn’t it take self-control to spend quality time with your spouse and children? My experience tells me that most people say “no” more often than they say “yes.” Many times, our saying “no” to bad things needs to be quickly coupled with saying “yes” to better and righteous things. Neither evangelism, edification, nor benevolence get done without this positive side of self-control! May I encourage us all today to say “yes” to opportunities to serve our Lord, His people, and the lost (cf. Gal. 6:2,10). He will bless us for such self-discipline.

— Neal Pollard

Can a Christian fall from grace?

WHEN I WAS a young teenager, a neighbor kept several cattle in a large pasture behind our house…
 
Perhaps it be would more accurate to say, “…A neighbor TRIED to keep several cattle in a pasture behind our house.”

One particular bovine found a broken strand in the barbed wire fence which separated the pasture from our property. Occasionally I would come home from school and find her traipsing around the backyard, browsing on the occasional patch of herbaceous vegetation, and scattering free fertilizer. Having spent my childhood in the streets of Dayton, Ohio, I didn’t have a lot of experience corralling large livestock, but eventually I would manage to direct her back to her side of the enclosure — at least, temporarily, until she decided to try the Benson backyard buffet again.

Once she discovered the way out, it was difficult to keep her in where she belonged. For “Bossy”, that twisted, three-strand barrier was the cow equivalent of the Berlin Wall and had to be breached. Those of you who have raised cattle know what I’m talking about.

Stay with me for a minute.

I’m always taken back when I hear denominational preachers teach the “once-saved, always-saved” doctrine. Essentially they’re saying, “You can’t leave if you’re ‘in’, and if you do in fact leave, you were never ‘in’ in the first place.” People aren’t cattle, but experience, observation, as well as the Bible tells us that sometimes folks, unfortunately, do wander (Heb. 2:1; Psm. 119:176; Isa. 53:6) from their saved state in the church (Acts 1:25; 8:20-22; Gal. 5:2-4; Heb. 5:12-6:6). For them, the grass appears greener on the other side and they want to “taste” what the world has to offer.

Remember the story of the Prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32)? A young man approached his father and asked for the immediate payment of his inheritance (v. 12). The request was granted and the son then left for a distant land. There he wasted his fortune, and then found himself on hard times (v. 13). Penniless, the young man was forced to seek employment feeding pigs (vv. 14-15). Eventually he came to himself, acknowledged his foolish ways, and headed back home (17-19). His grieving father saw him in the distance, ran to meet him, embraced him, and then gave a lavish party in his honor (vv. 22-23).

Now study the text carefully. The head-strong son “struck out on his own” and in so doing, severed his relationship with his father. The Bible says the lad journeyed to a “far country.” Now watch it. He was “in” (saved); then he was “out” (lost). He had once enjoyed the privileges of sonship, but later found himself an estranged, destitute, swine-feeding servant. Did the young man leave — did he, in essence, “break out of the fence?” Obviously, he did. What was his status while he was gone? Jesus said he was “dead” (v. 24), lost, separated.

Calvinism says, “You can’t leave…you can’t be lost.” Bossy left, at least, every once in a while. (A cow can’t leave a pasture she was never in in the first place). The Prodigal left. (A son can’t return to his father if he’s never left in the first place).

Some of you reading this very message have left the faith. You’ve either departed (1 Tim. 4:1; 1:6; 3:1; 4:21; 5:7; Heb. 3:12) from the truth by embracing religious error (Col. 2:8; 2 Tim. 4:3-4; Titus 1:14, 2 Pet. 3:17) or you have left in a practical way by engaging in sinful practices (Rom. 8:12-13; 1 Cor. 5:1-13; 1 Thess. 4:3-7; 2 Pet. 2:20-22) — or both. In either case, you’ve left the safe (Eph. 1:3) heaven of the body of Christ and alienated yourself from your Father in heaven.

Whatever your sin, you can come home again. Your Father is anxious for you to return. Come now.  (Mike Benson)

“You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4).

The preposition UP in the Bible

1)      Our beginning point is found in Acts 1:2.

2)      Luke says Jesus was “received up” into heaven.

a)      If Jesus is still “in” a grave, we have no reason to assemble.

b)      The word “up” in Acts 1:2 reminds us that Jesus is no longer in a tomb.

c)      The word UP also reminds us that Jesus was not the only one to be raised.

d)     At an unspecified future time, we also will be raised “up.”

e)      Up reminds us that we, like Jesus, do not die.

3)      Notice our next reference – Acts 2:24 – READ

a)      Heaven “loosed” Jesus from the pangs of death.

b)      Death has never been any barrier to God.

c)      No matter when we die, where we die, how we die, or why we die, we will all be raised up.

d)     In fact, the Bible actually promises that God will destroy death – Rev. 20:14.

4)      If we are going to be raised *up,* this suggests that we want to be ready for this future time.

a)      First century Christians understood this point and acted accordingly.

b)      Next on our list of verses to read is Acts 4:24.  READ.

c)      People knew who Jesus was and they responded to Him.

5)      God was honored in many different ways by the first century saints.

6)      Preaching lifted up God’s name and gracious acts of salvation.

7)      Prayers lifted up requests to God as well as praise.

8)      Singing lifted up vocal praise to God – the beauty of the human voice was offered in worship.

9)      Col. 3:16 says “singing unto God.”

10)  The Lord’s Supper offered up a memorial to what Jesus did on the cross.

11)  Giving was making a financial offering to God.

a)      Some were offering up good things in the first century.

b)      Others were offering up some things that we not so good.  Acts 5:5 – READ

12)  When the Bible says “gave up the ghost,” a writer is describing death.

13)  Luke described a man and his wife who both died.

14)  They “gave up the ghost” because they “lied to the Holy Spirit” (Acts 5:4).

a)      As we go through life we are going to present our life to God.

b)      Something is going to be offered up to God.

15)  If we could put a percentage on how much of life is being offered up to God, what would the amount be?

16)  The right time to start offering up as much of our life to God as possible is as early as possible.

a)      Acts 26:4 says “my manner of life then from my youth up.”

17)  If we do not make the right choices, God will eventually “give up” on us.

a)      This is what we find in Rom. 1:24.

b)      God says people can be given up to a “reprobate mind” (Rom. 1:28).

18)  Jesus was “delivered up” (Rom. 4:25) so we could be saved.

19)  We should be motivated to “rise up” to serve God versus serve sin – 1 Cor. 10:7.

a)      The choice of many is to “rise up and play” (1 Cor. 10:7).

20)  Jesus “gave Himself up for the church” (Eph. 5:25), and now He wants us to give ourselves to Him.

21)  This means we “take up” God’s armor (Eph. 6:13).

22)  We “build one another up” (1 Thess. 5:11).

23)  We “lift up” our prayers to God (1 Tim. 2:8).

24)  We want to “lay up a crown of righteousness” (2 Tim. 4:8).

25)  This world is one day going to be “rolled up” like a garment (Heb. 1:12).

26)  Heb. 12:12.

27)  Offer “up” a sacrifice of praise to God continually (Heb. 13:15).

28)  “Gird up” the loins (1 Pet. 1:13).

29)  Be a “holy priesthood” that “offers up” spiritual sacrifices to God (1 Pet. 2:5).

30)  The world is going to be “burned up” (2 Pet. 3:10); are we ready for that?

Be Strong

Be Strong!

We are not here to play, to dream, to drift;

We have hard work to do, and loads to lift;

Shun not the struggle–face it; ’tis God’s gift.

Be Strong!

Say not, “The days are evil. Who’s to blame?”

And fold the hands and acquiesce–oh shame!

Stand up, speak out and bravely, in God’s name.

Be strong!

It matters not how deep entrenched the wrong,

How hard the battle goes, the day how long;

Faint not — fight on!

Tomorrow comes the song.

–I believe this is from an older hymn and the words are by Maltbie D. Babcock – If you have additional information, please feel free to post it

A sermon on the Good Samaritan

OUR TEXT COMES FROM LUKE 10.  THIS IS THE PLACE WHERE WE READ ABOUT A SAMARITAN.

 1)      Jesus’ story begins in Lk. 10:30 – let’s first read verses 30-32 –  READ

2)      Imagine the last time that we were so sick we could hardly get out of bed.

3)      It may have been difficult to hold a glass of water.  Maybe when we sat up our head was spinning.

4)      Most of us have had a time or two when we felt half-dead.

5)      This fellow was on a roadside and in no condition to go and seek out assistance.

a)      Jesus now introduces a new character into this dramatic story – verse 33 – READ

b)      Most translations have the word “but” at the start of verse 33 because this forms a contrast.

c)      Two religious men would not help BUT a Samaritan would and did.

d)     Most of us know the Samaritans were a despised race; the Jews hated them.

6)      This Samaritan not only saw the wounded man, he was “moved with compassion.”

7)      He felt a deep pity for this fellow.

8)      This fellow acted like some mothers would act.

9)      Jesus gives us specific information on the compassion offered by this Samaritan – verse 34 – READ

10)  The first part of this verse says the Samaritan “came to” the robbed man.

a)      The road these men were on was dangerous.

b)      Robbers sometimes used fake victims to lure people into traps.

c)      This also reminds us of wives and mothers – they are usually willing to go and help.

d)     If someone has a need, they will spend the time and energy to go and offer assistance.

e)      That assistance may mean they have to travel several miles to go aid someone.

11)  This Samaritan Jesus described may have been traveling for a while and was possibly tired.

12)  Moms are sometimes tired or exhausted when they are asked to do something.

13)  Not only did the Samaritan come to this man, he used some of his resources.

a)      He “bound” the man’s wounds and then offered some medical treatment.

b)      He used “oil and wine” on this man’s injuries.

c)      Mothers and wives often act in this same type of way.

14)  Offering to help this man on the road was one thing.

15)  This fellow really went the second mile.

16)  Verse 35 continues the story – READ

17)  The Samaritan did all he could for this fellow.

a)      A wife, mother, husband or father may be so good in so many areas.

b)      Because of our culture, we are tempted to put in the little word “but.”

c)      “My wife is good, but.”

d)     “My mom is good but.”

e)      “My husband is ‘good,’” but.

f)       “My father is ‘good’” but. 

18)  No wife, mother, father or husband is going to be perfect.

19)  We want to be like the Samaritan – people who know what is right and do what is right, even when that is not always good and convenient.

Become a better student

Summer is not the time anyone still in school wants to hear such an admonition as “be a better student.”  Most of us who have been out of school for while do not feel much warmer or fuzzier about the idea.  But, biblically, all of us stand on the common ground of needing to be a better student.  We will never master the book by which we will some day be judged.  So, what are some practical suggestions that will help make us a better student?

1.  Be familiar with the textbook (2 Tim. 2:15).
2. Get to personally know the instructor (Hos. 6:3; Phil. 3:10; cf. Jn. 8:32).
3. Take copious notes (cf. Dt. 6:7-9).
4. Do not drop out of the course (2 Tim. 4:7).
5. Consider the long term benefits of the study (1 Tim. 4:16).
6. Work on making practical use of the material (Phil. 4:9; cf. Acts 1:1; 10:38).
7. Be prepared to share your knowledge with others (1 Pet. 3:15).
8. Use your knowledge when it is time for tests (Js. 1:2-5).
9. Make it personal through dedication (2 Tim. 3:14-15).
10. Study with alertness and zealousness to eliminate laboriousness (Heb. 2:1).

Remember that you will fail along the way, but God wants you to “pass” in the end!  He has paid the highest price with that goal in mind.  Just apply yourself and do your best.

kindergarten teacher asks her students to sign "pledge cards" in support of homosexuals

A CALIFORNIA SCHOOL system refuses to say what action, if any, it will take after it received complaints about a kindergarten teacher who encouraged her students to sign “pledge cards” in support of homosexuals…
 
During a celebration of National Ally Wee, Tara Miller, a teacher at the Faith Ringgold School of Arts and Science in Hayward, California, passed out cards produced by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network to her class of kindergartner. 
 
The cards asked signers to be “an ally” and to pledge to “not use anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) language or slurs; intervene, when I feel I can, in situations where others are using anti-LGBT language or harassing other students and actively support safer school efforts.
 
THOUGHTS: 1)  It was WRONG to indoctrinate these innocent hearts and minds by teaching them to endorse perversion.  2)  We certainly would not want our children, or anyone for that matter, to speak unkindly of others.  3) Since God’s Word speaks against homosexual behavior, will we one day be held accountable by man for upholding and defending what it says?  4)  Whom should we obey — God or man?
 
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”  Isaiah 5:20
 
–Mike Benson

What is Man's Greatest Achievement?

CNN producers armed with television cameras recently stopped passersby in Berlin , Madrid , Roman, Bangkok , Tokyo , New Delhi , and Paris . To each participant, CNN posed the question: “What is man’s greatest achievement?”

 Since July 20 was the 40th anniversary of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission, it was supposed that many would nominate the moon landing as one of man’s greatest feats. Answers given, however, were quite diverse. One woman in Germany suggested the computer. “It has opened up my world. I can stay in my house and travel all over the world,” she said. The internet was specifically stated by more than one participant to be man’s greatest invention.

Another suggested the airplane. “It’s the easiest way to get from one country to the other. Imagine if you would be able to only take the ship. It would take you ages to go somewhere, so it makes humanity more flexible.”

 Fire was also proposed. “Everything started there right?” said one man in Spain . There was agreement in Italy : “I think the most important is that man discovered fire because it’s bringing a lot of life.”

 The written word was also nominated in Italy , as were architecture and sanitation. In New Delhi , video games got one man’s vote. “It allows you to be whomever you want, in whichever world you want, and lets you live an alternate fantasy life,” he said.

Despite all of the tremendous achievements of mankind since the beginning of time, there is ONE THING that man could never achieve on his own… Even though man has been able to navigate the approximate distance of 240,000 miles to the moon, there is STILL one expanse that he has not been able to negotiate independently: the distance between GOD and MAN.

 Our SIN separates us from the Holy God (Isaiah 59:1-2). ALL of mankind’s advancements in technology are powerless to traverse the GREAT GULF between God and sinful man. But God loved us so much that He crossed that great divide and “stepped into our world” (see John 1:14). God became Man in the person of Jesus Christ. Then Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our sins (Ephesians 1:7).

 Through Jesus, man can be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). We are reconciled to God when we: by faith in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:26-27).

The blood of Christ continues to cleanse us from our sins as we continue to walk in the light of His word (1 John 1:7). Man has accomplished great things, but the GREATEST accomplishment is RECONCILIATION with God. God accomplished this for us through His Son, Jesus Christ. Now, we must accept His offer on His terms! Won’t YOU? David A. Sargent

"Vanishing Print"

  The Associated Press has a story about the “Ann Arbor News”, the only daily newspaper of the hometown of the University of Michigan. Today marks the last day this 174-year-old newspaper will be published as a daily edition. Print editions will come out on Thursdays and Sundays and an online version will be updated daily. But there will be no more newspapers pitched onto the porches of Ann Arbor subscribers. It’s a day few would have predicted just a few years ago.

 This is not an isolated event. Readers of newspapers all across the nation have watched the size of their hometown publications shrink as cost-cutting measures are imposed. The daily paper my mother receives in Eastern Kentucky recently dropped its Monday edition, going to a six-day-per-week format. The national news magazine to which I’ve subscribed for years stopped weekly publication months ago. The “Daily” on its masthead is now a misnomer.

  Most analysts point to the rise of the Internet as the reason for the decline of newspapers. There are dozens of sources for news that can be found, most of them free for anyone with Internet service. The younger generation sees little reason to sign up for home delivery. Not one of my three children, all now living on their own, receive a newspaper.  For those of us who are older, sitting down to read our newspaper is a ritual. We may not always like what we read, but we want to be informed of what is happening down at city hall as well as in the White House. To think that newspapers and news magazines may disappear entirely is unsettling.

  Will this trend spill over to the Bible? Will there come a time when Bibles are no longer printed and copies cannot be purchased?  There have been those who expected the Bible to disappear. Voltaire’s (1694-1778) prediction is perhaps the most famous: “One hundred years from my day there will not be a Bible in the earth except one that is looked upon by an antiquarian curiosity seeker.” Such skeptics view the Bible as outdated and are certain that it will one day go the way of all old books.

 The Bible, however, is not like any other book. Paul stated that Scripture “… is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). That means that God “breathed” His message into those who wrote it down. Peter affirmed this view of the Bible: “For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). The source of the Bible is God, not man.  Jesus spoke of the durability of God’s word: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35). One might also add newspapers to that list of things that will pass away. But God’s word is here to stay.

 There is one more statement by Jesus on this subject that must be observed: “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him – the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). It’s in our best interests to get familiar with the Bible. It’s the standard against which our lives will one day be judged.  Come to the light God offers! Study His word, the Bible. Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss these ideas further.

UNRECOGNIZED WORKERS

   One afternoon a man came home from work to find total mayhem in his house. His three children were outside, still in their pajamas, playing in the mud, with empty food boxes and wrappers strewn all around the front yard. The door of his wife’s car was open, as was the front door to the house.   

Proceeding into the entry, he found an even bigger mess. A lamp had been knocked over, and the throw rug was wadded against one wall. In the front room the TV was loudly blaring a cartoon channel, and the family room was strewn with toys and various items of clothing. In the kitchen, dishes filled the sink, breakfast food was spilled on the counter, dog food was spilled on the floor, a broken glass lay under the table, and a small pile of sand was spread by the back door.

   He quickly headed up the stairs, stepping over toys and more piles of clothes, looking for his wife. He was worried she may be ill, or that something serious had happened. He found her lounging in the bedroom, still curled in the bed in her pajamas, reading a novel. She looked up at him, smiled, and asked how his day went.   He looked at her bewildered and asked, “What happened here today?”   She again smiled and answered, “You know every day when you come home from work and ask me what in the world I did today?”   “Yes” was his incredulous reply.   She answered, “Well, today I didn’t do it.”

   There is no doubt that those of us who are husbands tend not to appreciate all that our wives do (and the converse may be true at times as well). But I think we often do the same thing in the church as well. There are certain members whom we regard to be valuable because they are always visible, always in the spotlight.   There are other members whom we don’t regard with the same value because the work they do is done quietly, behind the scenes. But the person who cleans the church building or fills the communion trays is no less valuable than the one who preaches or leads singing. And if we ever showed up one Sunday and none of those “little” things were done, we’d find ourselves in a state of confusion.   Paul described the church as a body and said that like a body has many parts, so the church has many members who all have different talents. But then he added this thought:   “Those parts of the body that seem to be the weaker are really necessary.” (I Cor. 12:22, NCV)

  I encourage you to take a look around you and find someone who is doing a job quietly, without recognition, and let them know how much you appreciate their efforts.  Alan Smith