Archives for : October2015

Committed Bible study

JAMES NG INTENDED to propose to Sonja Bostic while floating in a hot air balloon over a heavily wooded area in Burton Township, Ohio…

He had the engagement ring hidden in a camera bag. But before he could pop the question, the camera bag fell over the side of the balloon’s basket and disappeared into the trees far below.

Sonja said she’d marry James, but she didn’t think he’d ever find the ring. “Not in a million years,” she says.

James, 26, searched alone and with friends every day, and on the seventh day, found the lost camera bag.

THOUGHT: What if we searched and studied the Scriptures with the same tenacity that James Ng looked for that lost camera bag?

“These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” Acts 17:11

Mike Benson

*Some Bible study web sites you might find useful include:

Free online Bible commentaries – http://www.abiblecommentary.com

Best Bible study tools – http://www.bumchecks.com/

Best online Bible commentaries – http://www.commentaryonthebible.com/

Free audio sermons – http://bit.ly/1hNmRHv plus the free itunes sermon podcast at http://bit.ly/1iXODli

Best free Bible study – http://www.bestfreebiblestudy.com/

Audio devotionals for Christian women – http://www.christianwomanaudiodevotionals.abiblecommentary.com/

Free audio sermons – http://www.freeaudiosermons.abiblecommentary.com/

Free online Bible study – http://www.freebiblestudy.abiblecommentary.com/

How to understand the Bible – http://www.howtounderstandthebible.abiblecommentary.com/

How to interpret the Bible – http://howtointerpretthebible.abiblecommentary.com/

Free Bible study – http://www.lordletmegrow.com

Reasons to be an atheist – http://www.reasonstobeanatheist.abiblecommentary.com/

Free teen Bible study – http://www.teenbiblestudy.abiblecommentary.com/

Free online Bible commentaries – http://www.freeonlinebiblecommentaries.com/

Free Bible studies for women http://www.whatthebiblesaysaboutwomen.abiblecommentary.com/

Who is Jesus – http://whoisjesus.abiblecommentary.com/

How to be saved – http://howtobesaved.abiblecommentary.com/

Free sermon outlines – http://freesermonoutlines.abiblecommentary.com

A summary of the Bible – http://summaryofthebible.abiblecommentary.com/

Stewardship – http://bibleversesaboutstewardship.abiblecommentary.com/

Philemon – http://whywasthebookofphilemonwritten.abiblecommentary.com/

Lesser known Bible verses – http://lesserknownbibleverses.abiblecommentary.com/

What are the works of the church – http://www.theworkofthechurch.abiblecommentary.com/

Christian articles – http://christianarticles.abiblecommentary.com/

What is the Bible – http://whatisthebible.abiblecommentary.com/

Woman’s daily devotional – http://www.abiblecommentary.com/christianwoman/

Online Greek word studies – http://www.bumchecks.com/biblecommentary/

Best free Bible studies – http://www.lordletmegrow.com/freebiblestudy

How to be saved by Jesus – http://www.commentaryonthebible.com/howtobesaved/

More free audio sermons – http://commentaryonthebible.com/audiosermons/

Thankfully, the teacher is facing disciplinary measures.

Jordan Wooley, a seventh-grade girl in Texas, was put to the test in class. Her teacher gave the class an assignment where they were forced to label God as “fact, opinion, or myth.” However, when students began getting upset and discussions took place, the teacher made it clear that unless they said God was a myth, they would fail the assignment. Even though several students tried to speak up and argue for God, the teacher wouldn’t budge and some students even left in tears. Jordan Wooley went home, talked with her parents, and had enough courage to take it to the principal and the school district. Thankfully, the teacher is facing disciplinary measures.

While it’s on the rare side for teachers to take such a staunch approach against God inside school walls, resistance against God is not uncommon. Perhaps what was most rare about the situation was Jordan Wooley’s willingness to stand up for her beliefs. Even though she was standing toe-to-toe with an adult teacher, which is hardly a fair fight, she stood her ground. She was even willing to take the situation up the school ladder, which her friend who also opposed the teacher was too scared to do (EAG News).

In Matthew 10:32-33, Jesus said, “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” In context, Jesus is speaking specifically to His disciples, but the overall idea still applies to us today (2 Timothy 2:2). We must be people who stand up for the Lord, being ready to give a defense of the hope within us (1 Peter 3:15).

It may not be fun. It may not be popular. It may not be easy. Let’s still be people who defend the faith and stand up for the Lord (2 Timothy 1:13; 3:14).

–Brett Petrillo

What if the perfection God is looking for is in us, not the imperfect bodies of people?

Why does God permit imperfection in His world? Why are babies allowed to be born handicapped? Why do limbs not move, eyes not see, mouths not speak, and ears not hear? Skeptics and Christians alike struggle with the answers to such questions. How can a perfect God allow such imperfection in his creation?

I don’t pretend to have all the answers to human suffering, but I do know there are some things that help me deal with such difficult questions. One such aid comes from a change in perspective. What if the perfection God is looking for is in us, not the imperfect bodies of people? What if the greater perfection God desires is in our reaction to people who are imperfect?

How compassionate are we with the afflicted? How patient and understanding are we with their trials? Do they have too many troubles to make getting involved with them worthwhile? Are we inconvenienced and resentful of their demands on our time and lifestyle? Are we annoyed at their presence or even worse, embarrassed by them?

Just maybe the perfection God is looking for is in our Christ-like response to imperfect people. Instead of allowing people born with physical disabilities to shake our faith in God, should we not rather allow them to challenge us to reach toward Christ-like perfection in our response to these people?

While Jesus walked this earth, he was God in the flesh (John 1:1,14). He came in contact with people who were burdened by imperfect bodies. In fact, multitudes of people with physical disabilities flocked to him because they knew he was one who had compassion upon them. On one occasion, a leper came to Jesus for help (Mark 1:41). The text says that Jesus had compassion on him and healed him. But not only did Jesus heal him; he also reached out and touched him! I wonder how long it had been since anyone had touched this leper? This passage gives us a glimpse into the heart of Jesus. He wasn’t one who stood at arm’s distance from the suffering, but rather touched their lives.

Friends, from God’s perspective, the imperfection in this world may not be in the physically and mentally disabled, but in a healthy person’s uncompassionate response to these individuals.

Steve Higginbotham

The debris of our lives is no different

SEVERAL WEEKS FOLLOWING the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina, a friend of mine traveled the Gulf Coast of Mississippi to survey the damage…

What he found was beyond anything he could have imagined. Entire neighborhoods no longer existed. Businesses had been destroyed. Countless lives had been lost. My friend described the scene as “apocalyptic.”

While driving through one particular subdivision on his way to church, my friend noticed the stacks of debris near the street in front of each house. The piles were enormous and included every household good imaginable, from clothes to appliances to boxes of personal items. But he could not help but notice how neat and organized the piles were compared to those on the other streets he had seen. This neighborhood street seemed out place, given the destruction and chaos that reigned everywhere else. This neighborhood had experienced the same calamity of water and wind, but their recovery was different.

As my friend looked closer at each pile, another fact stood out: On each pile was written the name of the family who lived in that particular house. At that moment, he saw a resident of the neighborhood dragging more debris to the street. My friend stopped and asked if he could help. The gentleman politely declined and turned back toward the house.

My friend stopped him and asked, “Sir, can I ask you a question?” “Yes, what is it?” the gentleman replied. My friend pointed to the piles of debris and said, “It’s about your debris piles. They seem organized and neat, and I can’t help but noticed that each pile has a name on it. Would you tell me about that?” The gentleman stood a moment looking at the piles. “We’ve always been a close neighborhood. Most of us have lived here for years–we’ve raised our children here, lived and died here…it’s been a good place.” The man paused a minute and then continued. “Notice came from the recovery folks that we needed to drag ‘all trash to the street.’ Not everyone has come back yet, but many did, and so we began cleaning up the neighborhood. We started with our own homes, but took time to help each other, and we all pitched in to clean up the homes of those who couldn’t make it back. Eventually, we got all the trash away from the houses and to the street, like they asked.”

The man stopped, pointed toward the debris and piles, and said, “We loved our homes and we loved our neighborhood. We realized as we began the cleanup that we weren’t just throwing trash to the street; those were our lives we were discarding–pictures, china, memorabilia. We didn’t want to just throw it out there and have some stranger pick it up without knowing that every pile represents a life’s worth of dreams, heartaches and struggle. That’s why we put the name on each pile–so that people would know that this was more than another impact zone…this place meant something.”

My friend turned to look at the piles and realized that each mound deserved to be owned and cherished, even as they were. The piles may not have looked like much sitting by the street, but by naming them, the neighbors gave value to their struggle.

THOUGHT: The debris of our lives is no different. Even as we drag it to the street, each sickness, each conflict, each season of profound darkness can be imbued with value and meaning when its purpose in the longer journey of our lives is named. Shane Stanford, “The First Encounter: Zacchaeus,” When God Disappears, 52-53

“And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.’ So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, ‘He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.'” Luke 19:3-7

Mike Benson

These posts are scheduled to resume

on October 27th. Jesus and His disciples took breaks and we believe in following His example.

The Sign of the Fish

Do you know what offends me?

You’ve no doubt seen the sign of the fish on some peoples’ car bumpers. It is one of Christianity’s oldest symbols. You may have also seen another sticker, presumably in response to it. The second one shows the fish with what must be a Darwinian amphibian, mouth wide open, consuming the symbol of Christianity.

That offends me.

Please understand; I am not suggesting that an atheist or proponent of Darwinist ideas has no right to express his views. Nor am I fearful of Christians’ ability to stand in the debate with Darwinists and survive. Don’t worry, truth has nothing to fear, and the Genesis account of creation is the truth.

Consider, however, the sign of the fish for a moment.
Early Christians formed an acrostic in Greek out of various names given to Jesus. These were, Iesus (Jesus), Christus (Christ), Theos (God), huios (son), soter (savior). The first letter of each name formed the Greek word for “fish” – (ichthus). The symbol consisted of two intersecting arcs, the ends of the right side extending beyond the meeting point so as to resemble the profile of a fish.

In the first centuries of Christianity, when persecution was heavy, spies were a distinct possibility. Was the stranger in worship a secret representative of the Roman Empire seeking to infiltrate the church and identify Christians, or was he what he claimed to be, simply a disciple from another region? One member would trace half an arch in the sand, and if the other person understood the symbol, he would trace the other arch, thus forming the sign of the fish.

The early church – your brothers and sisters – lived in dangerous times. They exhibited stunning levels of courage and faithfulness to God. They should be an inspiration to us today. I am amazed in a day of political correctness, when one can hardly name a trait that might or might not be characteristic of an ethnic group or nationality, when a cartoon of Mohammed can cause riots in a dozen cities, that this sad, scary time of repression against Christians is used so derisively.

Debate Christians on the merits of our beliefs if you wish. But please don’t mock this period when it was illegal to be a Christian, and when countless hundreds of thousands died unjustly for their faith.

“Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold the devil is about to throw some of you in prison, that you might be tested, and for ten days you will receive persecution. Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life,” (Revelation 2:10, ESV).

–by Stan Mitchell

If this guy had been working for me, I would have fired him

THIS SOWER HAD really bad aim…

If this guy had been working for me, I would have fired him. He couldn’t get the seeds where they belonged. He was throwing the seeds everywhere, and seemed to be wasting them. Didn’t he know that there was a limited supply of seed? Didn’t he watch where he was throwing? Maybe he had no aim. It just seemed like the guy would put seed anywhere. Seeds equal money, and this seemed to be a huge waste of money. I probably would have fired the sower.

This guy wasn’t concerned with where the seed was spread. He just threw seed left and right. He seemed to care less about the destination of the seed. Didn’t he know that we like middle-class, white people in the church? If we are lucky, he didn’t throw any seed into the projects or the trailer parks. If he did, we might have a church filled with Gentiles and Samaritans.

THOUGHTS: Sometimes we spend so much time make sure the seed is placed so perfectly in the soil, that we barely sow anything. We are so concerned about the destination of the seed, that we stop throwing seed left and right. The sower in the parable just casted seed everywhere. At times it seems that in the church we have courses on how to throw seed (church growth), but the sower just threw seed everywhere. We talk about how to throw seed, techniques for casting seed, but the sower just threw seed and let the soil do its thing. Matthew Morine

“…A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” Matthew 13:3b-8

Mike Benson

Sacrificing Ourselves to Reach the Lost

“I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls” (2 Cor 12:15). How much of ourselves are we willing to invest in the saving of souls? How much time, energy, and resources are we willing to sacrifice that the lost may hear the gospel? Paul the Apostle stopped at nothing to reach the world with the good news of Jesus Christ. He was willing to live in poverty and discomfort, suffer persecution and disgrace, and put his life in constant peril to ensure the spiritual wellbeing of those around him (2 Cor 11:23-29).

What sacrifices are we making to reach the lost around us? Are we willing to surrender our recreation or relaxation time to study the Bible with our neighbors? Are we willing to let our own personal goals and dreams take a back seat to the work of the Lord in our lives? Are we willing to exceed the limits of our comfort zone to speak to our friends or even strangers about Christ?

– by Grady Huggins

LOOKING FOR A CITY

Genesis 12:1-5 says, “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.” In Genesis 15:7, God said to Abram again, “I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.” This situation serves as one of our greatest examples of faith and obedience to God.

Abraham’s family in Ur
To be able to properly understand and appreciate the faith that Abraham had, we need to consider the background of this commandment that God gave to him. Why did God command Abram to leave his family and the only home he had ever known? Concerning Abraham’s family in Ur, God said, “Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods. And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac” (Josh 24:2-3; see also Neh. 9:7; Acts 7:2-4; Heb. 11:8-10,14-16). God took Abraham away from his native country and his physical family because they did not serve Him.

Seeking a country
At the age of 75, when Abraham was told to leave Ur (Gen 12:1-5), he “obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went” (Heb. 11:8). Abraham obeyed, because he did not identify himself with this world. Rather, “he looked for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10). Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Jacob “all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he has prepared for them a city” (Heb. 11:13-16). Christians are commanded to follow this example, though not by physically leaving the world (John 17:11, 15, 18; 1 Cor. 5:9-10). It would be contrary to God’s purposes for Christians to be physically removed from the world (Matt. 5:13-16; 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; 1 Tim 4:12). But, though we are in the world, we must not be of the world (John 17:14-16). We must not love this world or the things of this world, or else the love of the Father will not be in us (Matt. 6:19-34; Luke 12:13-34; 1 Tim. 6:5-12,17-19; 1 John 2:15-17). Friendship with the world is enmity with God and whoever is a friend of this world is God’s enemy (James 4:4). Jesus prayed that God would not remove his disciples form the world, but that He would keep them from the evil that is in the world (John 17:15; see also Gal. 1:4). God says, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing” (2 Cor. 6:17). “Them” refers to the unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14-16), which is the world (1 John 5:19).

Working God’s righteousness
Coming out from the world and being separate from it means that our manner of life should be completely different from the world (John 15:18-21; James 1:27; 1 Pet. 4:3-4). That includes what we think (2 Cor. 10:5), say (1 John 4:5), and do (Col. 3:17). This means that we must refrain from every evil thing (John 17:15; Heb. 12:1). Not being of the world also means that we must put off some things that are not necessarily sinful in and of themselves. For example, we have been commanded by God to put off all anger (Eph. 4:31) even though it is not a sin by definition (Eph. 4:26). The reason for this is “the anger of man works not the righteousness of God” (Jas 1:20). Therefore, even though anger is not a sin, it does not accomplish God’s righteousness. This teaches us that to come out from the world, we should not only put away all sinful things but also all things that do not work God’s righteousness even if they are not sinful. As the sacrificial animals were “burned without the camp” (Heb. 13:11), Jesus also, “that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate” (Heb. 13:12). Hebrews 13:13-14 urges us, “Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” We must not be conformed to this world (Rom. 12:1), be spotted by it (James 1:27), or corrupted by it (2 Pet. 1:4). Like Abraham, we need to be seeking for our eternal home. Like Abraham and Jesus, we need to regard our family as “these which hear the word of God, and do it” (Luke 8:21; see also Matt 12:48-50; Mark 3:33-35; 1 Tim. 3:15; 5:1-2). In Christ, we are all one (Gal. 3:27-28; Col. 3:10-11). We should prefer one another (Rom. 12:10; Gal. 6:10; 1 Pet. 2:17), because this world truly is not our home. Our citizenship is in heaven (Php. 3:20).

-Jon Macon

Their song can be heard more than 50 miles away

How Great Thou Art!

Humpback whales are about 40 feet long at maturity and weigh about one ton per foot. They carry a thousand pounds of barnacles, and when they jump or “breach,” they extend themselves totally in the air, and then free-fall back into the ocean. You can see the splash five miles away.

Humpback whales travel down to Hawaii from Alaska every year to calve in the warm Hawaiian waters. Year after year, each family comes back to the very same place around the island. When the calves are born (they weigh about five tons), they are born breech—or tail first. If they were born head first, these air-breathing mammals would drown during the birth process. As a baby whale is born, another humpback whale comes alongside and pushes it up to the surface to help the baby take his first breath of air.

The humpback whale sings a song that can be heard more than 50 miles away under water. Every one of these whales sings the same song. Each year, the song changes slightly, and every humpback whale in the world will sing that year’s song. Amazing! Incredible! What a display of the wonderful creative power of our God!

– Author Unknown

 

Living by Faith

More than 2500 years ago, Habakkuk, a man of God, approached God in prayer.

He literally “cried out” to God. He pleaded with God to do something about the mess in the world around him. He wondered aloud if God would hear his prayer?

He spoke of violence, iniquity, wickedness, destruction, strife, and contention. He talked about the wicked overcoming the righteous and the fact that many ignored the laws of God (Habakkuk 1:2-4).

God responded to Habakkuk by saying that if he were told all that God was doing he wouldn’t believe it (Habakkuk 1:5). God was working among his people. God was still in charge.

God then tells Habakkuk that there is something he could do to help. The first thing was to clearly proclaim God’s message (Habakkuk 2:2). In addition, he was told that he should live his life by faith.

“Behold, as for the proud one, his soul is not right within him; but the righteous will live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4) The point is that regardless of what others around you are doing, God’s people should decide to live by faith.

Now, 2500 years removed from the days of Habakkuk, people of God again find themselves in a world that has lost it’s way. The very words Habakkuk used to define his world, are words that define our world.

God’s people need the strength to live our lives by faith. When we gather as God’s people around his table we gain strength to live our lives by faith. We gain strength to live by faith when we encourage one another and pray with one another.

Dear God, help us in our fallen world to live our lives by faith. As we gather around the table, as your family may we gain strength from one another and from the feast that we share.

–by Jeff A. Jenkins

Leave the amount blank, and I will fill it in when I am finished!

Sign Your Name

A man took his car to an auto mechanic for repairs. “How much will it cost for the repairs?” he asked.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” responded the mechanic. “Just give me a signed check. Leave the amount blank, and I will fill it in when I am finished!”

Would YOU give him a signed check? Probably not, unless you know and trust the mechanic – or you have an unlimited supply of money in your bank account!

Usually, we want to know exactly what is to be done and what it will cost before we agree to pay for some service.

Consider the following scenario…

A woman once asked a preacher, “Will you please tell me what true consecration is?” Holding out a blank sheet of paper, the preacher replied, “True consecration is signing your name at the bottom of the blank sheet, and letting God fill in the rest as He wills.”

For many, this would be even more alarming than giving an unfamiliar mechanic a blank check for car repairs!

But “signing our name at the bottom and letting God fill in the details” really gets to the heart of what true consecration is all about.

Tom Moore shares this insight: “All too often, many are unwilling to assume this attitude. Many seem to want to ‘write their own ticket’ in life and then beg God to sign it. Instead of seeking earnestly to fashion their lives after God’s way, many seek to fashion God’s way after their lives. That is simply backward thinking.” *

Here are the important matters to understand:

1)   God loves us. In fact, He loves us so much that He gave His only Son to die
for our sins so that we might have forgiveness and the hope of eternal life
(John 3:16).

2)   God’s will is best for our lives. He created us and knows us and, therefore, knows how to “fix” us and keep us going for eternity (Jer. 29:11; Rom 8:28).

3)   God expects us to obey Him. Jesus said, “Not everyone who SAYS to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who DOES the will of
My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

But we don’t have to GUESS as to what His will is for our lives. He has revealed His will in His Word. . .  (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

He wants us to become His children and we can, if we will: place our faith  and trust 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 be baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38). Then, He wants us to live faithful, obedient lives as His children (1 John 1:7).

When it comes to obeying God, you can go ahead and “sign your name” on the dotted line through your trusting obedience. You won’t regret it!

Why not trust and obey Him today? 

David A. Sargent

* “True Consecration” by Tom Moore, Temple, TX