Hell, Michigan, is a real place. If you are not familiar with Hell, Michigan, visit www.abiblecommentary.com/hellmichigan.htm to see some great pictures and to make some comparisons with the place the Bible refers to as “hell.”
Archives for : September2013
WE NEED A BIG CLUB
A hunter was walking through the jungle when he found a huge dead elephant with a pygmy standing beside it.
Amazed, he asked, “Did you kill that?”
The pygmy said, “Yes.”
The hunter asked, “How could a little bloke like you kill a huge beast like that?”
“I killed it with my club.”
The astonished hunter asked, “How big is your club?”
The pygmy replied, “There’s about 60 of us.”
**This will be the last post till 9/30.
There is great value in having a “club” of people who will fight with you, work with you, and be there for you when you need assistance. Solomon put it this way:
“If it is cold, two can sleep together and stay warm, but how can you keep warm by yourself? Two people can resist an attack that would defeat one person alone. A rope made of three cords is hard to break.” (Ecclesiastes 4:11-12)
God obviously knew that we need that support as we seek to follow Him. Think about it — why did God establish the church? We don’t need the church to worship God — we can worship God anywhere and at any time. We don’t even need the church to serve God — I can serve God in a multitude of ways on my own.
But what I do need the church for is to provide support, encouragement and strength as I walk the Christian path. I need a “club” to help me do battle against Satan. I need people around me who will help me to see ways that I’m not reflecting the image of Jesus Christ, and encourage me to move in that direction. I need brothers and sisters in the Lord who will show me what love is and teach me to learn to love as well. I need people who can rejoice with me when things are going great and cry with me when my world is shattered. I need the church!
Thank you, Lord, for surrounding me with a big “club” of people who are such a blessing to me! I can’t imagine having to travel this journey alone and I’m so thankful that you saw the need and met it long before I even realized there was a need. In the name of Jesus who unites us in this body, amen.
Have a great day!
Growing up in a preacher’s home meant many things, one of which was that we were always the last ones to leave the church building after worship.
There was a time in my earlier years that we were allowed to help clean up the building after the service. We would help pick up papers, put hymn books back in the proper place, and pick up communion cups.
There were always cups and bread in the trays that had not been used, and when no grown-ups were watching, we would eat some of the crackers and drink from some of the cups. As a child, I loved to eat the Lord’s Supper.
Nearly half a century later, I still love to partake of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of every week. However, the reasons are different. Allow me to share just a few reasons why we should love to partake of the Lord’s Supper.
We should love to partake of the Lord’s Supper because it is a constant reminder of the agony our Lord endured for us. “For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself.” (Hebrews 12:3) Luke reminds us of the agony that our Lord went through that dreadful, wonderful night (Luke 22:44).
We should love to partake of the Lord’s Supper because we know we are following the Lord’s example and obeying his commands (Matthew 26:26-29; Acts 20:7). Jesus said that he would be with us each time we partake of his supper.
We should love to partake of the Lord’s Supper because it allows us to examine our lives (1 Corinthians 11:27- 29). Every time we partake of the Lord’s Supper we should consider how we are doing in our spiritual growth and our walk with the Lord.
We should love to partake of the Lord’s Supper because it reminds us that we are a part of a family and fellowship that stretches around the world (Acts 2:46).
Every Sunday we are blessed to be able to commune with Christians in our home congregations, as well as Christians throughout the world. We should thank God for the blessings associated with partaking of the Lord’s Supper every Sunday.
by Jeff A. Jenkins @ www.forthright.net
“Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.” (John 17:17)
Have you ever noticed that a lot of sermons are preached on the subject of “truth?” Of course you have. And I’ve written several editorials on that subject in the past. I believe that the reason we hear sermons about “truth” and I know that the reason that I’ve written about it is because it’s very important to our salvation. Guess what, we’re going to look at it again today because of that importance.
And, talking about preachers and sermons, I’ve also noticed that many of them are delivered in the “standard three-point and a conclusion” format. If it’s good enough for preachers, then it’s good enough for me, so that’s how we’re going to consider this lesson today.
If you look up the definition of “truth” you’ll find that it means something like “a representation of things as they are.” That’s generally what Webster and Merriam and other dictionary writers say that it is. As far as our lesson today is concerned, the best definition is what Jesus says that it is: “Thy word is truth.”
I mentioned earlier how important “truth” is and I’ll back up that statement by citing a passage to you from 1 Tim. 2:4 where it says: “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” That simply tells me that “truth” is necessary for salvation and that makes it pretty important, doesn’t it? And, backing that up, Peter says that we “purify” our “souls by obeying the truth…” (1Pet. 1:22)
OK, let’s get to our three-point lesson and it’s going to come to you in the form of three messengers, their messages and the results of their efforts. Following that, we’ll draw a conclusion and see if I can produce a scriptural lesson that, hopefully, will benefit us.
Our first point and our first messenger is none other than Noah, identified by Peter as being a “preacher of righteousness.” (2Pet. 2:5) When we read the 6th chapter of Genesis we see that Noah lived in a wicked and evil world. A world so bad that God says that “it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth…” and that He was “grieved in His heart” over this situation. (Gen. 6:6)
But, in the midst of all this evilness, we find that Noah “found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” (6:8) This shows us that there had to be knowledge of God and His “truth” in the world at that time, it’s just that Noah and his family were the only ones believing in that “truth” and obedient to it.
So, what did Noah “preach” to the world around him? He did so by doing the same thing we are supposed to be doing today. He showed his faith, his belief in God’s “truth” by doing what God said for him to do. He built an ark, exactly how God said to build it and while the construction was taking place he “preached” to all of those who watched and heard him all those years spent in it’s building.
The results of his “preaching” was the saving of himself and his family when the deluge came and everyone else perished. I just wonder how many people must have seen and listened to Noah during those many years and rejected his teaching. Who had the opportunity to believe and change their ways. To believe the “truth” right in front of them and refused to do so.
My second messenger is another famous Biblical preacher by the name of Jonah. He was sent by God on a mission to “preach” the “truth” to the city of Ninevah. The Bible says that it was a “great city” but that it was also a very wicked city. God wanted the people living there to repent of their evil ways and save themselves from being destroyed.
Of course, Jonah wasn’t keen on doing this at first and tried to avoid the mission and, well you all know the story, God had a special way of persuading him to do his duty and it worked. He got to Ninevah and immediately began preaching (Jonah 3:4) the “word of the Lord.” At this point I want to remind you of the thought that we started with? – that God’s word is “truth” and then we’ll look at the results of Jonah’s preaching.
Did his message work?” Absolutely! The whole city repented and turned from evil and guess what happened then? God “repented” from His plan to destroy the city. Here’s my next question: What saved them? Answer – they heard the “truth,” believed it, repented from their evil ways and were saved. Don’t you think that if Noah’s “congregation” had believed his preaching they would have been like the “congregation” at Ninevah – SAVED? I do.
Now for our 3rd point and messenger. That, of course, will be Jesus Christ and His preaching to the Jews. To say Jesus was a preacher doesn’t adequately describe the scenario of what took place. He was the living, breathing, walking, talking visible example of God and His Word. He was the long-promised and long-awaited Messiah. He was God’s “Truth” in the flesh.
The results of His “preaching” to the “congregation” of the Jews can be summed up in the sad epilogue found in John 1:ll, “He came unto His own and His own received Him not.” Why didn’t they receive Him? One of the reasons is told us in John 9:29 where we find Jesus performing a miracle by healing a blind man and the Jews still not believing Him. They said, “We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we know not from whence He is.”
Don’t you find that revealing? That they could believe in Moses, whom they hadn’t seen and yet not believe in Jesus who had just proven that He was from God by His miracle. Here’s why I think this was so with the Jews. To believe in Moses and the other prophets of their past didn’t require any repentance or change of ways on their part. But, to believe in Jesus would require them to make some changes and they weren’t willing to do that. Jesus was preaching a “truth” that they refused to believe. They rejected the actual “Truth.”
What a sad footnote is seen regarding their lack of faith in Jesus’ comments as He lamented over the city of Jerusalem. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not. See, your house is left to you desolate. For you will not see me again, until you say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Matt. 23:37-39)
Now, as promised, the conclusion. Who is the messenger today? If you said, “The Church” you’re absolutely correct. And, who is the Church? Right again – Us. Proof of this conclusion is found in Eph. 3:10-11: “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God. According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We are to continue the preaching of Noah, of Jonah, of Jesus Christ to a wicked and evil world. We do this by showing the world the evidence of our belief, our faith, by doing as God’s Word (The Truth) tells us to do. And by doing so, we might have influence on whatever little part of the world is ours, with the result that souls will be “sanctified” by the “Truth.”
You’ve probably heard the story about the young man who wouldn’t marry unless the girl he picked to marry had the approval of his mother. This young man would bring home girl after girl to meet his mother, only to have his mother disapprove. After several years of trying, this young man finally found a girl his mother just absolutely adored! In fact, she was just like his mother. Now the only problem is, his father doesn’t like her.
In a time when marriage is being assaulted on so many fronts (e.g. co-habitation, homosexual marriage, divorce, adultery, etc.) what is needed more than anything is for men and woman to return to the time tested and proven pattern that God gave us for marriage. While volume after volume can be written, giving instructions as to how to have a happy marriage, God had a way to sum it up in a few short principles.
· Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Matthew 7:12). · Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and as you love your own body (Ephesians 5:25,28). · Wives, submit to your husbands as unto the Lord (Ephesians 5:23). · It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).
Observing just these four principles alone would eliminate most of the marital problems that people face today. Friends, the key to a better marriage is a better relationship with God.
Some helpful Bible verses on maintaining good relationships:
1) Matthew 18:15-17. Mend every tear in relationships before it gets serious.
2) Galatians 6:1
3) Matthew 5:21-26
4) Ephesians 4:26,27
5) James 1:19,20
6) Matthew 7:2-5
WHAT IS MEANT by the providence of God and how does providence work?
A concise statement of “divine providence” is difficult to set forth or explain, but the concept is that God exercises a preservation, care, and government over all that He has created… The subject, “divine providence,” necessarily infers God’s intervention into natural law.
Some contrasts of miracles and providence:
1. Characterized by maximum interference Characterized by minimum interference
2. End result only incidental End result especially primary
3. Obvious Not obvious
4. Declares itself Makes no declaration
5. Associated with an agent Not necessarily associated with any agent
With respect to God’s two channels of operation–that is, miracle and providence–a person should observe: 1) that the method of accomplishment is different; 2) the purpose of the events are different, and 3) that the awareness of the observer is different. Rex Turner, Sr. Daniel–A Prophet of God, 21
“…Give us this day our daily bread…” Matthew
Today I received an unusual offer. A man asked if I wanted to become a “balloon brother.”
The fellow who offered me this opportunity is a part time balloon bender (he and other “balloon artists” turn balloons into various items, many of which are animals). This “twister” offered to make me a “fellow twister” and said we could be in fellowship with one another. If I wanted to get involved with balloon bending, there would be no cost, plus the balloons and guidance would all be free.
With a new grandson on the way I may just learn how to twist a few balloons together. Maybe I could twist up a sword and a balloon belt to hold it or perhaps make a colorful dinosaur.
The few minutes I spent with this balloon artist left me with a lot to think about. On the outside this man seemed to radiate joy. Beneath the glowing and bubbly exterior was a man in pain. Several years ago this twister had worked as an unpaid preacher. At some point he lost his faith and now wants to reclaim it. After hearing him highlight his life I left him with some encouragement and a card for the free Bible study at www.lordletmegrow.com.
The offer for me to become a “balloon brother” brought to mind 1 Pet. 2:17, a passage where Peter said, “love the brotherhood.” The world offers many sisterhoods and brotherhoods, but God’s brotherhood is the greatest of all. It is also the only one that has eternal value.
Some organizations such as the one affiliated with the balloon twister allow people to join without cost, obligation, or commitment. The church built by Christ (Mt. 16:18) is the opposite of all these things. The church of Christ was bought with the blood of Christ (Mt. 16:18). Its members are obligated to seek spiritual things first (Mt. 6:33), and be so committed they are “living sacrifices” (Rom. 12:1).
When people are offered a brotherhood membership in an organization like balloon twisting, they often accept it with great joy. The offer to be part of the church which Jesus died for—an offer extended to all people—is often rejected and sometimes scorned. These choices will one day examined; a time will come when people will be asked if they were part of the right brotherhood—the church established by the Lord. When this day of examination comes, what will be true of and for us?
Today and throughout the remainder of this week ponder these questions: Who knows me and refers to me as brother or sister? Does God regard me as brother or sister in His kingdom because of my obedience to Christ?
“WE ARE THANKFUL for a faithful wife, husband, bank teller, teacher, doctor, etc…
But how much more to rejoice over the fact that the most faithful of all is God!” H. L. Willmington in Basic Stages in the Rock of Ages, 170
“God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:9
“Woe to you experts in religious law! You have taken away the key to knowledge! You did not go in yourselves, and you hindered those who were going in” (Luke 11:52 NET).
Spiritual knowledge permits access into the Kingdom of God. The key may be identified with Scripture, which gives access to that knowledge. Instead of ushering people into the kingdom, the scribes kept people out. Likely, Jesus refers to himself, since the scribes rejected him and dissuaded others from following the Christ.
How can we give people the key to knowledge? Here are some practical points.
#1. Emphasize the proper things.
Some things are “more important” than others (Matthew 23:23). Some commandments are weightier than others (Matthew 22:34-40). All the truths God has revealed are important, but not all reach as far and as wide as others. This is why we emphasize so much the character and nature of God, his purpose and plan in Christ.
#2. Put an understandable Bible in people’s hands.
Some teachers know their subject, but talk over the student’s heads. Near the end of one semester, a college professor agreed with the students to give them all a grade of “B.” Since they couldn’t understand him, they were all failing. To keep from looking bad, he made a deal with them.
When we put a Bible in people’s hands that they can’t understand, we’re like the college professor. Except at judgment day, no deals can be made. When we insist on using Bibles in our teaching and preaching that keep people from comprehension, we are taking away from them the key of knowledge.
#3. Teach people the whole will of God.
We all have our favorite Bible books and verses, or teachings which resonate more with our circumstances. Paul didn’t preach his favorites, but “the whole purpose of God” (Acts 20:27). He told them what they “needed to hear” (v. 20 NLT), that is, what was helpful. If the Lord thought it good for the Holy Spirit to guide the apostles into “all truth” (John 16:13), it behooves us to pass on to others the full content of God’s revelation. Piecemeal doesn’t cut it.
#4. Teach people how to study and think for themselves.
Scribalism develops dependency upon experts. Academics tend to drive the issues, prove their points by citing authorities, create a “shock and awe” theology by wowing the masses. Though by no means their exclusive provenance, religious experts tend to have the hardest hearts and the proudest chins.
Putting a concordance in people’s hands (or, these days, a Bible search program or site), rather than answering questions, might just be one of the best favors we do others. Jesus often asked, “Have you not read?” And he challenged people, “Judge for yourselves” (Luke 12:57; cf. John 7:24).
#5. Teach people context.
Instead of cherry-picking verses to stitch them into a lesson, showing others how to keep reading the text in order to understand the context will open many doors of knowledge. Sometimes, citing fewer verses leads to greater understanding.
#6. Teach people how to be saved and remain saved.
Bible study is no academic exercise. Proving the existence of God doesn’t put people into his presence. Apologetics has its place, but is not proclamation of the gospel. It scares me to see how much energy we’re spending on things that do not get to the point of salvation. We can teach the biblical perspective of cultural issues all day long without actually showing the way to the Cross. Paul told his son in the faith, “Be conscientious about how you live and what you teach. Persevere in this, because by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you” (1 Timothy 4:16). That’s the goal.
#7. Teach people how to teach others.
Not with evangelism classes, but by example in personal evangelism. But, first, not a few preachers and elders will have to learn how.
The scribes thought they were hold out the key of knowledge to people, but they were yanking it out of their hands. Let’s make sure we’re not like them.
–J. Randal Matheny, editor
Have you ever considered how different the true and living God is from the pagan deities spoken of in the Bible? The Pagan gods were seen but never heard, but the one and only true God is heard but not seen. I believe that acknowledging this difference will help us in times of trouble.
You see, how many times do people ask the question, “Where’s God?” especially when they are suffering. I would suggest that this is the wrong question. The better question would be to ask, “What has God said?” And when we ask that question, we’ll find comfort and understanding. What comfort and understanding can come from a god who can be seen, but cannot speak to us? Oh, how those pagan deities stand in stark contrast with the God of Heaven!
Next time you’re tempted to ask, “Where’s God?” remember that’s not how God has chosen to reveal Himself. Instead, ask “What has God said?” and it’s in His Word that you will find comfort and understanding. Give it some thought.
A farmer one time invited a friend to come to his orchard and gather some apples. The friend declined and explained why by saying, “I passed your orchard and picked up one of the apples that had fallen over the fence, and I never tasted anything so sour in all my life. I don’t care for that kind of fruit.”
The farmer answered his friend by saying, “Those trees around the outside are for the benefit of boys passing by. I went 200 miles to select the sourest apples I could find to plant around the edge so that they might give them up as not worth stealing. Now, if you come inside, you will find that we grow a different quality there. They are as sweet as honey.”
The world is filled with fruit inspectors and the church will be judged by its fruit. Those who live closest to the world usually disappoint the fruit inspectors. Their irregular attendance, their complaints about the brethren, and limited involvement leaves a bad impression of the Lord’s church. Where are you in the orchard? Let’s try our best this year to be positive and to say positive things about the church and our brethren.
Through the years, I have owned quite a few Bibles. I have two shelves in my office containing nothing but Bibles. They differ in size, translation, and binding. But of all the Bibles I own, one is particularly treasured by me. It is a little black Red Letter New Testament (3″x4.5″) that I have had for the past 39 years. You’ve seen some like it before. It’s the kind of Bible given to little children, and it is small enough for them to hold it in their little hands. The print in this Bible is just about too small to read. There are no study notes in it. And it only contains the New Testament. So what makes this Bible so special to me? Allow me to read the inscription on the first page:
“This New Testament is being presented to Steve Higginbotham for being the first in his Bible Study class to be able to say from memory all the 66 books of the Bible. Keep up the Good Work. God Bless you always. Your Bible Class Teachers, Mrs. Hester Shultz & Miss Sandy Wilson”
Isn’t it amazing the impact that a few words of encouragement can have on a person’s life? I was just four-years-old when this Bible was presented to me, but thirty-nine years later, I still treasure, and have this little Bible in my possession. My guess is that Hester (who is now deceased) and Sandy have no memory of the presentation of this Bible, or the message they inscribed in it. I’m sure they have no idea that something done so long ago, and something that cost so little, and took only but a moment of their time, would be so treasured by the little boy to whom they presented it.
My point? There is life-time lasting power and influence in encouragement! What takes us only a moment to say or do, can impact another person for the rest of his life. Be an encourager! Take the time and the little extra effort to compliment, commend, and encourage another. Chances are, long after you’ve forgotten your words of kindness, they will be locked-up, and cherished as a prize possession in the store room of someone’s mind.
By Steve Higginbotham