Archives for : November2016

Accurate Use of Religious Terms

We continue to hear folks misuse religious terminology.  This happens frequently in regards to the various titles that define the roles of individuals.  Here’s a simple grouping of some terms that are synonyms:

Christian; disciple; servant of the Lord; child of God; saint.  Note that the term saint applies to all baptized believers (Phil. 1:1Phil. 1:1
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Philippians 1 1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus that are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

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), not to a special select few who have had special honors conferred upon them.

Elders; pastors; bishops; overseers; shepherds.  Note that these are always mentioned in the plural.  The term “pastor” has been misapplied by many people and is wrongly used as a synonym for “preacher”.  The term “bishop” has been perverted through the centuries to mean someone high up in a universal church organization.  No such organizational structure or office is authorized in the Bible.  There are to be “elders in every church” (Acts 14:23Acts 14:23
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

23 And when they had appointed for them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they had believed.

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Preacher, evangelist.  Observe that the preacher may be an elder (1 Peter 5:11 Peter 5:1
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

5 1 The elders among you I exhort, who am a fellow-elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, who am also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:

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) and thus might be a “pastor,” but in most instances this is not true, and the terms are absolutely not synonyms.  The preacher is often referred to as a “minister.”  This is not really inaccurate, for all Christians are to be ministers (literally meaning one who acts as the agent or instrument of another), but to use the term “minister’ exclusively for the preacher leaves a potential for misunderstanding.  We should stress that the New Testament teaches no ‘clergy/laity’ distinction.  It is very important to point out that the term “reverend” is found only once in the Bible (Ps. 111:9Ps. 111:9
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

9 He hath sent redemption unto his people; He hath commanded his covenant for ever: Holy and reverend is his name.

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) and is applied only to God, not to any man.

Let’s be careful to use Bible terms in Bible ways.  Accurate use of these Bible words shows that we are “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:152 Tim. 2:15
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

15 Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth.

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– by Greg Gwin

When one is released from jail, he is not allowed to take anything with him.

THE CONGREGATION HERE has a very active jail ministry…

Twice a month, several men from here go to the Knox County jail, which probably houses a couple thousand inmates, and conduct Bible studies.

Recently, one of the men who we had been studying with was released from jail.  When one is released from jail, he is not allowed to take anything with him.  That includes the Bible Correspondence Course he was taking.  This man had such an interest in studying the Bible, that he finished his lesson, wrote his home address on the lesson so he could continue to study after he was released, and left this lesson with his cell mate and asked him to mail it to us.

This man left the jail, and before his cell mate ever had a chance to mail his lesson to us, he was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident.

This young man had every intention of doing further study.  He had made arrangements for further study that most people would not have done.  Yet, his time on this earth was unexpectedly cut short.

This man’s story could be played over and over again.  Same story, just different characters.  But here’s what I want you to consider.  Forget about jail.  That’s just incidental to the storyline.  Here was a man whose time on earth ended before he was prepared to meet his God.  Could that be you?  Could you be delaying your obedience, banking on another day of life?

Why risk your soul by delay when you serve a God who delights in mercy?

Steve Higginbotham

The Bible speaks of those who are “taken captive” by “the snare of the devil” (2 Tim. 2:26)

Mary Jemison was an illiterate, eighty-year-old woman when she recounted her abduction at the hands of the Seneca Indians to writer James E. Seaver.  Mary was probably taken in 1758, when she would have been fifteen years old.  Her first emotions were terror and confusion.  She passed a group of white settlers whom the Shawnee had killed and whose corpses they were burning in a fire. She was whisked by canoe to the Seneca village, where she was given a squaw’s clothing, accepted for adoption by the tribe, was taught to speak the Seneca language and not allowed to speak English in the hearing of her “sisters,” had children by a Seneca husband, and eventually measured time, approached life, and spoke as a Seneca Indian.  She even grew to feel contempt toward the white people and was completely sympathetic to those who snatched her from her home, saying that “one thing only marred my happiness while I lived with them on the Ohio, and that was the recollection that I once had tender parents, and a home that I loved” (America Firsthand: From Settlement To Reconstruction, Vol. 1, 3rd Ed. by Robert D. Marcus and David Burner.  St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1995, pp. 61-67).

 

Interestingly, time and interaction with her captors eventually, thoroughly changed her attitude and outlook toward them.  The Bible speaks of those who are “taken captive” by “the snare of the devil” (2 Tim. 2:262 Tim. 2:26
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

26 and they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him unto his will.

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), “the traditions of men” (Col. 2:8Col. 2:8
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8 Take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ:

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), and by the beguiling actions of deceitful, ungodly men (2 Tim. 3:1-62 Tim. 3:1-6
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3 1 But know this, that in the last days grievous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; 5 holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power therefore. From these also turn away. 6 For of these are they that creep into houses, and take captive silly women laden with sins, led away by divers lusts,

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).  When we are captivated by Satan and the world, we gradually grow accustomed to worldly dress, habits, and viewpoints.  We may even grow contemptuous of the righteousness and truth we once embraced.  Sin changes our outlook and skews our perspective.  We may have moments of fond recall of the life in God we once enjoyed, but the longer we stay where we are the harder it becomes to break free.  

 

Thankfully, since Jesus came to lead captive a host of captives (Eph. 4:8Eph. 4:8
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8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, And gave gifts unto men.

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), we can be freed from the confinement of sin!  Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32John 8:32
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32 and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

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).  Unlike Jemison’s situation, we only become prisoners by choice, there is a clear right and wrong party, and there is an absolute need to break free of life in spiritual captivity.  Rejoice that Jesus makes that possible, and has done all He can to make it happen!

–Neal Pollard

2 Tim. 2:262 Tim. 2:26
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

26 and they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him unto his will.

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Billy Bob died, 1983 Pickup for sale

 

 

LET YOUR WORDS BE FEW

A woman went into the local newspaper office to see that the obituary for her recently deceased husband was properly written (she had always been known for her accuracy to details, second only to her famous sense of thrift).  Only his beloved pickup truck remained to remind her of his presence.

The obit editor informed her that the fee for the obituary was 50 cents a word.  She paused, reflected and then said, “Well then, let it read, ‘Billy Bob died.”

Although amused at the woman’s cleverness, the editor said, “Sorry, ma’am, but there’s a 7 word minimum on all obituaries.”

This caused her to become a little flustered, and she thought things over for a few seconds.  “In that case,” she said, “let it read,  ‘Billy Bob died, 1983 Pickup for sale.'”

For reasons that go far beyond finances, we should learn to be a people of few words (and we should make those few words count).  Solomon had something to say on this subject:

“In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” (Prov. 10:19Prov. 10:19
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19 In the multitude of words there wanteth not transgression; But he that refraineth his lips doeth wisely.

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“Therefore let your words be few.   For….a fool’s voice is known by his many words.” (Eccl. 5:2-3Eccl. 5:2-3
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2 Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thy heart be hasty to utter anything before God; for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. 3 For a dream cometh with a multitude of business, and a fool's voice with a multitude of words.

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“He who has knowledge spares his words….. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.” (Prov. 17:27-28Prov. 17:27-28
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27 He that spareth his words hath knowledge; And he that is of a cool spirit is a man of understanding. 28 Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise; When he shutteth his lips, he is esteemed as prudent.

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Let your words be few.  I would say more, but…….

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

The years rolled by — World War I came and went.

Many years ago two boys were working their way through Stanford University. Their funds got desperately low, and the idea came to them to engage Paderewski, the great Polish pianist, for a piano recital. They would use the funds to help pay their board and tuition.  The great pianist’s manager asked for a guarantee of $2,000. The guarantee was a lot of money in those days, but the boys agreed and proceeded to promote the concert. They worked hard, only to find that they had grossed only $1,600.

After the concert the two boys told the great artist the bad news. They gave him the entire $1,600, along with a promissory note for $400, explaining that they would earn the amount at the earliest possible moment and send the money to him. It looked like the end of their college careers.

“No, boys,” replied Paderewski, “that won’t do.” Then, tearing the note in two, he returned the money to them as well. “Now,” he told them, “take out of this $1,600 all of your expenses, and keep for each of you 10 percent of the balance for your work. Let me have the rest.”

The years rolled by — World War I came and went. Paderewski, now Premier of Poland, was striving to feed thousands of starving people in his native land. There was only one man in the world who could help him – he was in charge of the U.S. Food and Relief Bureau. He quickly agreed to help and soon thousands of tons of food were sent to Poland.

After the starving people were fed, Paderewski journeyed to Paris to thank the man for the relief he had sent….

“That’s all right, Mr. Paderewski,” was his reply. “Besides, you don’t remember it, but you helped me once when I was a student at college, and I was also in trouble.”  The man’s name? Herbert Clark Hoover, 31st President of the United States of America.” *

Paderewski, with great generosity and kindness, was able to help a couple of struggling college students. Years later, one of those college students was able to say “Thank you” by assisting Paderewski and his people in a great time of need.  It is a wonderful thing to be able to return thanks for a noble action done on behalf of another.

Friend, something has been done for YOU!  You didn’t ask for it, but you desperately needed it.  It happened long before you were born, but you may still benefit greatly by the action of a loving, generous Person.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16John 3:16
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16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.

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).

Because of OUR grievous condition due to our sin, the kind and loving Heavenly Father gave us His Son to die on the cross for our sins (Romans 5:8Romans 5:8
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8 But God commendeth his own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

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).  Because of this great Sacrifice, we may have forgiveness from our sins (Ephesians 1:7Ephesians 1:7
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7 in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,

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) and the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23Romans 6:23
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23 For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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).

How can we return thanks for this indescribable Gift and receive those blessings?  By our humble submission to His will: believing and trusting Jesus (Acts 16:30-31Acts 16:30-31
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30 and brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house.

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), turning from our sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31Acts 17:30-31
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30 The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent: 31 inasmuch as he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

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), confessing Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10Romans 10:9-10
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9 because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: 10 for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

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), and being baptized (immersed) in His name for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38Acts 2:38
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38 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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).  Then we can continue to show our gratitude by seeking to live obediently to His will for the rest of our lives (John 14:15John 14:15
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15 If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments.

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).

Friend, a great thing has been done for you: Jesus died for you so that you might live.  Won’t YOU “return thanks”  by giving your life to Him?

David A. Sargent

Like a basketball team, the Philippian church faced opposition from without (Philippians 1:27)

A shrill whistle signaled another time-out. As the players gathered around their coach, wireless microphones and telephoto zoom lens transport us into their huddle. Another NBA Championship Playoff game wraps us up in the intensity of the struggle.

Whether it be an NBA game or one being played out in a high school gymnasium, the fundamental situation facing each coach remains the same. An opposing force desires to defeat his team while an equally dangerous force, self-centeredness, could tear his team apart from within. And so, during a critical time out or the half-time break, the coach lays out a clear strategy to motivate his players to overcome their rivals while simultaneously galvanizing their unity.

Enter Paul. We may not think of him as a basketball coach, but his message in Philippians comes straight from the huddle.

Like a basketball team, the Philippian church faced opposition from without (Philippians 1:27Philippians 1:27
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ: that, whether I come and see you and be absent, I may hear of your state, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one soul striving for the faith of the gospel;

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) and the dangers of relational tensions within (Philippians 4:2Philippians 4:2
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2 I exhort Euodia, and I exhort Syntyche, to be of the same mind in the Lord.

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). Comparable to an impassioned coach encircled by his players, Paul unleashed a strategy providing inspirational, directional, and solidaristic guidance.

Paul rallied their unity around a common cause that for a Christian should supersede any force capable of tearing them apart. What could be so powerful and valuable that would overshadow squabbles and differing opinions thereby cementing an unshakeable bond of unity? Be true to our team’s message – the gospel (Philippians 1:27Philippians 1:27
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ: that, whether I come and see you and be absent, I may hear of your state, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one soul striving for the faith of the gospel;

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)!

Striving together for the faith of the gospel should be more important to God’s people than any petty matter of personal preference or hurt feelings. Paul could encourage them from his own personal experience.

Although others had sought to stir up problems for him in prison by proclaiming Christ, what mattered most to Paul was gospel advancing (Philippians 1:12-18Philippians 1:12-18
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12 Now I would have you know, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the progress of the gospel; 13 so that my bonds became manifest in Christ throughout the whole praetorian guard, and to all the rest; 14 and that most of the brethren in the Lord, being confident through my bonds, are more abundantly bold to speak the word of God without fear. 15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: 16 the one do it of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel; 17 but the other proclaim Christ of faction, not sincerely, thinking to raise up affliction for me in my bonds. 18 What then? only that in every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and therein I rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.

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Having refocused their energy upon the proper goal, Paul let them in on a secret.  A united church proclaiming Christ and refusing to be intimidated by their rivals would cause the opposition to realize their defeat approached (Philippians 1:27Philippians 1:27
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27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ: that, whether I come and see you and be absent, I may hear of your state, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one soul striving for the faith of the gospel;

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-28).  God’s people would be victorious even though assaulted.

Coach Paul throughout this letter provided them and us with clear motivational models of how to be champions.

The most poignant example of an attitude shunning a self-centered focus upon one’s own desires Paul outlined under the rubric of the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:4-8Philippians 2:4-8
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4 not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others. 5 Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; 8 and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross.

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).  To possess the mind of Christ would undermine selfish ambition while empowering an obedient love striving for the faith of the gospel.

Whether a church is beleaguered or not, we would do well to join the huddle and listen to coach Paul.

God’s people would benefit by making what they value – striving together with one mind to further the gospel, which by its very nature involves seeking their wellbeing foremost.

—  by Barry Newton

Philippians 1:27Philippians 1:27
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27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ: that, whether I come and see you and be absent, I may hear of your state, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one soul striving for the faith of the gospel;

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WHY STUDY THE BIBLE?

Why should we study the Bible? Why bother opening this book to read it and try to learn its message? Why are preachers and elders always encouraging us to read our Bible at home and other places on our own? Christians get enough Bible on Sunday and Wednesday, don’t they? How important is it to read and study the Bible? If we believe the Bible to be God’s word, which it is, then we should see the importance in spending as much time as possible reading it, and try to gain as much knowledge from it as we can.

Why study the Bible? Here are twenty simple reasons:

  1. God has commanded us to (John 5:39John 5:39
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    39 Ye search the scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life; and these are they which bear witness of me;

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    ; Eph. 5:17Eph. 5:17
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    17 Wherefore be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

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    ).
  2. The Bible is the inspired word of God (2 Tim. 3:162 Tim. 3:16
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    16 Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness:

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    ; 2 Peter 1:20,21; 22 Peter 1:20,21; 2
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    20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation. 21 For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit. 2 1 But there arose false prophets also among the people, as among you also there shall be false teachers, who shall privily bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master that bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many shall follow their lascivious doings; by reason of whom the way of the truth shall be evil spoken of. 3 And in covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose sentence now from of old lingereth not, and their destruction slumbereth not. 4 For if God spared not angels when they sinned, but cast them down to hell, and committed them to pits of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; 5 and spared not the ancient world, but preserved Noah with seven others, a preacher of righteousness, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, having made them an example unto those that should live ungodly; 7 and delivered righteous Lot, sore distressed by the lascivious life of the wicked 8 (for that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their lawless deeds): 9 the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment unto the day of judgment; 10 but chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of defilement, and despise dominion. Daring, self-willed, they tremble not to rail at dignities: 11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, bring not a railing judgment against them before the Lord. 12 But these, as creatures without reason, born mere animals to be taken and destroyed, railing in matters whereof they are ignorant, shall in their destroying surely be destroyed, 13 suffering wrong as the hire of wrong-doing; men that count it pleasure to revel in the day-time, spots and blemishes, revelling in their deceivings while they feast with you; 14 having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; enticing unstedfast souls; having a heart exercised in covetousness; children of cursing; 15 forsaking the right way, they went astray, having followed the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the hire of wrong-doing; 16 but he was rebuked for his own transgression: a dumb ass spake with man's voice and stayed the madness of the prophet. 17 These are springs without water, and mists driven by a storm; for whom the blackness of darkness hath been reserved. 18 For, uttering great swelling words of vanity, they entice in the lusts of the flesh, by lasciviousness, those who are just escaping from them that live in error; 19 promising them liberty, while they themselves are bondservants of corruption; for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he also brought into bondage. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the last state is become worse with them than the first. 21 For it were better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22 It has happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog turning to his own vomit again, and the sow that had washed to wallowing in the mire.

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    Sam. 23:2am. 23:2
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    Izbrano poglavje ne obstaja!

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    ; 1 Thess. 2:131 Thess. 2:13
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    13 And for this cause we also thank God without ceasing, that, when ye received from us the word of the message, even the word of God, ye accepted it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which also worketh in you that believe.

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    ).
  3. It is the only way to know God’s Thoughts and Will for us (Isa. 55:8,9Isa. 55:8,9
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    8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

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    ; 1 Cor. 2:9-161 Cor. 2:9-16
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    9 but as it is written, Things which eye saw not, and ear heard not, And which entered not into the heart of man, Whatsoever things God prepared for them that love him. 10 But unto us God revealed them through the Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of the man, which is in him? even so the things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God. 12 But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that were freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; combining spiritual things with spiritual words. 14 Now the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged. 15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, and he himself is judged of no man. 16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

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  4. It is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16Rom. 1:16
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    16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

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  5. It builds us up (edifies), and is able to give us an inheritance (Acts 20:32Acts 20:32
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    32 And now I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you the inheritance among all them that are sanctified.

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  6. It is a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our path (Psalm 119:105Psalm 119:105
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    105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, And light unto my path.

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  7. It saves us (James 1:21James 1:21
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    21 Wherefore putting away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness, receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

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  8. It thoroughly furnishes (equips) us unto all good works (2 Tim. 3:15-172 Tim. 3:15-17
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    15 And that from a babe thou hast known the sacred writings which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: 17 that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.

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  9. It makes us wise (2 Tim. 3:152 Tim. 3:15
    English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

    15 And that from a babe thou hast known the sacred writings which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

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    ; Eph. 5:17Eph. 5:17
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    17 Wherefore be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

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  10. Its words endure forever and will not pass away (1 Peter 1:23-251 Peter 1:23-25
    English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

    23 having been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God, which liveth and abideth. 24 For, All flesh is as grass, And all the glory thereof as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower falleth: 25 But the word of the Lord abideth for ever. And this is the word of good tidings which was preached unto you.

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    ; Matt. 24:35Matt. 24:35
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    35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

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  11. It is through the Bible that we are called by God (2 Thess. 2:142 Thess. 2:14
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    14 whereunto he called you through our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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  12. It is that by which we will be judged (John 12:48John 12:48
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    48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my sayings, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I spake, the same shall judge him in the last day.

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  13. It is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth (John 17:17John 17:17
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    17 Sanctify them in the truth: thy word is truth.

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    ; Titus 1:2Titus 1:2
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    2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before times eternal;

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  14. Faith comes from it, and nothing else (Rom. 10:17Rom. 10:17
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    17 So belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

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  15. We study so that we will not sin (Psalm 119:11Psalm 119:11
    English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

    11 Thy word have I laid up in my heart, That I might not sin against thee.

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    ; 1 John 2:1; 11 John 2:1; 1
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    2 1 My little children, these things write I unto you that ye may not sin. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: The First Epistle General of John 1 1 That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, that which we have seen with our eyes, that which we beheld, and our hands handled, concerning the Word of life 2 ; 3 that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you also, that ye also may have fellowship with us: yea, and our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ: 4 and these things we write, that our joy may be made full. 5 And this is the message which we have heard from him and announce unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

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    Cor. 10:6-12).
  16. Those who search the scriptures are considered by God to be noble (Acts 17:11Acts 17:11
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    11 Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of the mind, examining the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so.

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  17. It reveals all we know about the church (Eph. 3:1-11Eph. 3:1-11
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    3 1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus in behalf of you Gentiles,— 2 if so be that ye have heard of the dispensation of that grace of God which was given me to you-ward; 3 how that by revelation was made known unto me the mystery, as I wrote before in few words, 4 whereby, when ye read, ye can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ; 5 which in other generations was not made known unto the sons of men, as it hath now been revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; 6  to wit, that the Gentiles are fellow-heirs, and fellow-members of the body, and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, 7 whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of that grace of God which was given me according to the working of his power. 8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, was this grace given, to preach unto the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; 9 and to make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery which for ages hath been hid in God who created all things; 10 to the intent that now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places might be made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God, 11 according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:

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  18. We will be able to teach it to others (Heb. 5:12Heb. 5:12
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    12 For when by reason of the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need again that some one teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of solid food.

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    2 And the things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

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  19. We will be able to give an answer to every man who asks about the hope in Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:151 Peter 3:15
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    15 but sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord: being ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear:

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    ), contend for the faith (Jude 3), and be set for the defense of the Gospel (Phil. 1:17Phil. 1:17
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    17 but the other proclaim Christ of faction, not sincerely, thinking to raise up affliction for me in my bonds.

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  20. We love God and His word (Psalm 119:97, 119, 127, 159, 167Psalm 119:97, 119, 127, 159, 167
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    97 Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day. 119 Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross: Therefore I love thy testimonies. 127 Therefore I love thy commandments Above gold, yea, above fine gold. 159 Consider how I love thy precepts: Quicken me, O Jehovah, according to thy lovingkindness. 167 My soul hath observed thy testimonies; And I love them exceedingly.

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Christians today do not know the Bible like Christians did in the past. In many congregations of the church, preachers and Bible class teachers are more concerned with pleasing the listeners, entertaining the youth and keeping large crowds.

We need elders who will make sure the flock is being fed God’s word (Acts 20:28Acts 20:28
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28 Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood.

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4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord.

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). But, sometimes, we ourselves simply do not put forth enough effort in reading and studying the Bible, God’s word, on our own.

Hearing it preached once or twice a week, or sitting in two or three Bible classes a week (if we attend them all) is not enough.

If something is getting in the way of our searching the Scriptures daily, then we need to get rid of whatever that is in our life, or learn how to manage our time better. A Christian who is too busy to read God’s word daily, is too busy. Satan is continually seeking Christians’ souls to destroy (1 Peter 5:81 Peter 5:8
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8 Be sober, be watchful: your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour,

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). When he gets one Christian to stop growing, that Christian has died. So, let us read, study, and know God’s word so that we can “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:182 Peter 3:18
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18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and for ever. Amen.

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), and “desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye [we] may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:21 Peter 2:2
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2 as newborn babes, long for the spiritual milk which is without guile, that ye may grow thereby unto salvation;

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Jacob Campbell

Beyond The Turkey & Trimmings

Thanksgiving Day is a time when many people pause to give thanks for many common blessings…(e.g. Jesus, family, friends, health, etc.). However, I want to share a few atypical reasons for which we should give thanks. Understand that by “giving thanks” for these things I don’t mean to imply they are pleasant and enjoyable, but they are things that help to mold our character and conform us more closely into the image of Jesus.  (I’ll also admit that I had to think long and hard about these things before I could truly agree to give thanks for them).

  • We can give thanks for those who have sinned against us.  Does anyone come to mind?  Has someone deliberately tried to hurt, defame, or undermine you? Such actions help us to better appreciate the strength of character and the love Jesus had for those who were undeserving.
  • We can give thanks for sickness, for it reminds us of the brevity and frailty of life. Illness often causes us to reevaluate our priorities and our need to wisely use the time we have been given.
  • We can even give thanks for our losses, for they cause us to lift our eyes to heaven and refocus our desire to go there.

As I stated, these aren’t pleasant or enjoyable, but they can be viewed in such a way they help us achieve our ultimate goal.  With the proper perspective, we really can be thankful for everything (Philippians 4:6Philippians 4:6
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6 In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

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The General Epistle of James 1 1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are of the Dispersion, greeting. 2 Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold temptations; 3 Knowing that the proving of your faith worketh patience. 4 And let patience have its perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing.

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Steve Higginbotham

Numbers 3:8 And they shall keep all the instruments of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the charge of the children of Israel, to do the service of the tabernacle.

Aaron and his sons were appointed to take charge of the priesthood. They alone enjoyed the privilege of entering the holy place to perform the daily services in the Tabernacle. The rest of the Levites were charged to perform the most common and laborious offices. Their tasks were to take down, put up, and carry the tabernacle and its accessories whenever they were on the move.

The Gershonites were in charge of the Tabernacle with its covering, the hangings and curtains. The Kohathites were in charge of the sacred vessels of worship. And, the Merarites were in charge of the boards, poles, and all the accessories needed for the erection for the Tabernacle. For all the necessary work connected with the sanctuary, the Levites were subordinate to Aaron and his sons: “And you shall give the Levites to Aaron and his sons; they are wholly given to him from among the people of Israel” (Numbers 3:9Numbers 3:9
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

9 And thou shalt give the Levites unto Aaron and to his sons: they are wholly given unto him on the behalf of the children of Israel.

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, ESV).

Let not anyone think that to be a Levite means slavery to Aaron and his sons. It was an honour to be a Levite. The Levites were a special people chosen by God to minister to the Tabernacle. God said of this tribe: “Behold, I have taken the Levites from among the people of Israel instead of every firstborn who opens the womb among the people of Israel. The Levites shall be mine,”  (Numbers 3:12Numbers 3:12
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12 And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the first-born that openeth the womb among the children of Israel; and the Levites shall be mine:

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It is an honour when God say to anyone: “You are mine.” The Levites belong to God. The firstborn of all Israel, man and beast, also belong to God (Numbers 3:13; 8:17Numbers 3:13; 8:17
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13 for all the first-born are mine; on the day that I smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto me all the first-born in Israel, both man and beast; mine they shall be: I am Jehovah. 17 For all the first-born among the children of Israel are mine, both man and beast: on the day that I smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt I sanctified them for myself.

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). But God did not choose all the firstborns to be priests in His Tabernacle but the Levites only. God appointed the Levites for this service because He had decided to adopt them as His own in the place of all the first-born of Israel; the Levites belong to God. They were consecrated to the service of God.

The Levites had proven themselves to be the most suitable of all the tribes for this appointment entrusted to them through their firm and faithful defence of the honour of the Lord at the worship of the golden calf at the foot of Mount Sinai. When Israel went into whoring in worshipping the golden calf, the Levites stood on the LORD’s side: “Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD’S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him” (Exodus 32:26Exodus 32:26
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26 then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Whoso is on Jehovah's side, let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.

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Brethren, count it an honour to serve the Lord. Where do you think the church should get her preachers, song leaders, teachers, and administrator? It is not from those who are unbelievers, but from Christians, who are the elect of God.

Paul pictured the church as a great house in which there are many kinds of vessels: “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour” (2 Timothy 2:202 Timothy 2:20
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20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some unto honor, and some unto dishonor.

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The question for every Christian is: “What kind of vessel are you?”  Are you one whom the owner is proud of and can show it to his guests? Or, are you one which he would rather hide it in the storeroom or drawer?

 Paul continues: “If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (2 Timothy 2:212 Timothy 2:21
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21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, meet for the master's use, prepared unto every good work.

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The Levites were given the honour to serve God in the Tabernacle. In the church, God wants us to be vessels of honour for Him. But, first we must purge ourselves from sins. We are to be sanctified, that is, to be holy, consecrated, so that we can be vessels of honour to Him. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1Romans 12:1
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12 1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service.

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Jimmy Lau

Psa 119:97Psa 119:97
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97 Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.

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  Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.

Numbers 3:8Numbers 3:8
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8 And they shall keep all the furniture of the tent of meeting, and the charge of the children of Israel, to do the service of the tabernacle.

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After each robbery the boys were debriefed, and their mistakes were spotted and corrected.

AFLORIDA COUPLE A made the news some time ago for the extraordinary job they were doing instructing their teenagers on the ins and outs of the family business…

 

The family business, however, happened to be armed robbery.

 

Husband and wife were schooling their sons in such tools of the trade as AK-47 rifles, police scanners, escape routes, surveillance and surivial gear, etc. They carefully taught them hand-to-hand combat, and expected them to memorize police codes and map layouts.  After each robbery the boys were debriefed, and their mistakes were spotted and corrected.

 

THOUGHT:  Are we serious about teaching and training our children about living for God?  Raising godly children is perhaps the most challenging task God bestows upon parents.  

 

“Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”  Deuteronomy 11.18-19

 Mike Benson

What Would You Do For $10,000,000?

What are you willing to do for $10,000,000?  This was a question asked in a poll back in 1991.  The people were given several options and then instructed to indicate all that they would be willing to do.  Here were the results:

  • 25%  – Would abandon their entire family.
  • 25% – Would abandon their church.
  • 23% – Would become prostitutes for a week or more.
  • 16% – Would give up their American citizenships.
  • 16% – Would leave their spouses.
  • 10% – Would withhold testimony and let a murderer go free.
  • 7% – Would kill a stranger.
  • 3% – Would put their children up for adoption.

This poll revealed that two-thirds (66%) agreed to at least one of these, and some to several (James Patterson and Peter Kim, The Day America Told the Truth, 1991).  With the exception of “giving up American citizenship,” every single one of these is wrong.  This poll gives us a very cold look at people’s hearts.

This is exactly what Paul was trying to warn people about in 1 Timothy 6:101 Timothy 6:10
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10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil: which some reaching after have been led astray from the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

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, “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

I tried to tell myself that this mostly applies to non-Christians, but I think we all know better.  Christian people are influenced by money just as much as everyone else.  So we must ask again, what are you willing to do for $10,000,000?  Are any sins on that list?  If so, I hope we will take a closer look at our lives and our hearts.  Are they really in the right place?

Jesus said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26Matthew 16:26
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26 For what shall a man be profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and forfeit his life? or what shall a man give in exchange for his life?

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There is no amount of money, no reward, and no sin that is worth giving up heaven for.

by Brett Petrillo

The preacher doesn’t always have the answers.

What to do when you don’t know what to do

Some people expect the preacher to stand in the pulpit and tell them what to do. There are times when this is relatively easy. The Bible leaves little doubt when it comes to such things as sexual immorality or pride.

Believe it or not, however, the preacher doesn’t always have the answers. There are times when one must choose, not between good and evil, but between good and better.

And when it comes to personal relationships, the best thing is not always a simple thing to determine.

Who was right? Who was wrong? Whose version of the story can I believe?

Usually there is a little bit of fault on both sides!

Shall I get a job in a city where the church is strong, or serve the church in a place where it is weak, and could use my help, says the church member?

Shall I marry this person or wait, asks the young person? Should I go to college, or try to make money immediately?

There are no simple answers to these sort of questions.

Life is usually more complicated than a bumper sticker slogan. You can’t always unravel life’s tangles in the time-space of the thirty-minute sitcom. So, what do you do when you don’t know what to do?

* You can pray. This is always a good place to start.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6Philippians 4:6
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6 In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

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* You can continue to search God’s word for guidance.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding…” (Proverbs 3:5Proverbs 3:5
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5 Trust in Jehovah with all thy heart, And lean not upon thine own understanding:

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* You can trust God’s wisdom and goodness.

“Casting all your anxieties on him,” Peter advises us, “because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:71 Peter 5:7
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7 casting all your anxiety upon him, because he careth for you.

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When you don’t know what to do, you trust the God who does.

— by Stan Mitchell

November 14, 2016

ACCORDING TO GALLUP, “Research indicates our image of Christ – while a bit murky in spots – is overwhelmingly favorable…”

 

When asked if Jesus was God or just another religious leader like Mohamed or Buddha, 70 percent of Americans surveyed affirmed he was God.

 

When asked, “In your own life, how important is the belief that Christ was fully God and fully human?”  81 percent responded this belief was either “very important” (58 percent) or “fairly important” (23 percent).

 

Some 91 percent believe Jesus existed as a historical figure.

 

After reviewing an impressive array of statistics regarding American’s evaluation of Jesus, Gallup concludes “virtually all Americans are, in some measure, drawn to the person of Christ.” 

 

But who is the Christ to whom they are drawn?

 

Gallup observed few were conversant with even the most basic Biblical material.

 

Only 42 percent of respondents knew Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount; only 46 percent could name the first four books of the New Testament; and only 70 percent knew Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

 

The lack of knowledge also betrays a lack of commitment.  Gallup says that “probing more deeply through surveys indicates that even if religion is an important force in our lives, it is not the center of our livesIt does not have primacyInterest may be high, but commitment is often lowSearching for the Real JESUS In An Age of Controversy, Douglas Groothuis, “Who Do You Say That I Am?” pp. 13-14

 

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14.6.)

 

Mike Benson

There is nothing more important than remaining spiritually healthy and “renewing our inner man day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).

“In 1846 former president John Quincy Adams suffered a stroke. Although he returned to Congress the following year, his health was clearly failing. A friend of his came in and made particular inquiry of his health. Adams answered, ‘I inhabit a weak, frail, decayed tenement; battered by the winds and broken in upon by the storms, and from all I can learn, the landlord does not intend to repair'” (Today in the Word, April 11, 1992).

The sad reality of life is the inevitability of death. All of our bodies will break down, some sooner than others. Cultures throughout time have tried to slow down and even beat the aging process, but all have failed. Death is one battle we will all eventually lose unless the Lord comes first. John Adams had the right perspective about life. He realized that (1) God is the owner, the landlord, of our bodies, and (2) He is in control of how long we live.

This is sad and discouraging, but there is good news! As 2 Corinthians 4:162 Corinthians 4:16
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16 Wherefore we faint not; but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day.

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says, “… Though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.”

Even though we are getting physically old, weak, frail, and broken, this doesn’t have to happen spiritually. We may get old physically, but we can remain young spiritually. We may get sick physically, but we can stay spiritually healthy. We may get physically weak and frail, but we can remain spiritually strong. We may be persecuted and beaten down, but our spiritual bodies will be renewed and protected. Being a Christian comes with so much hope and reassurance!

It’s important to keep ourselves physically healthy for as long as God allows us to live. However, there is nothing more important than remaining spiritually healthy and “renewing our inner man day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:162 Corinthians 4:16
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16 Wherefore we faint not; but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day.

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— Brett Petrillo

2 Corinthians 4:162 Corinthians 4:16
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16 Wherefore we faint not; but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day.

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Isaiah 2:2-4

God-Created Community

INTRODUCTION

Let me tell you a little about the birth of my daughters. In January of 1999, we learned that we were going to be parents. We started making preparations – selling my truck, preparing the baby’s room. Rachel was careful what she ate. She exercised and drank lots of water. We started going to the obstetrician regularly and Rachel started taking pre-natal vitamins. We had ultrasounds done although we did not want to know the gender. Jewell was born at 6:19 p.m. on a Friday night on October 29th in Glasgow, KY. We brought her home in a UK nightgown. Eric and Stephanie Welch, on our mission team, were at our house to welcome us home.

After moving to the mission field in July of 2000, we learned the following summer that Rachel was pregnant again. So we again started making preparations. This time the preparations were a little different since we were living in a foreign country. We were going to be with Rachel’s family in Georgia when this baby was born. Ana was born a week before my birthday, on a Sunday afternoon at 3:52 p.m. on March 10th in Canton, GA. We brought her home in the same UK nightgown.

Now, let me tell you about the preparations God made to create His own family – His own community.

Precedents in the Old Testament

Genesis 12:3Genesis 12:3
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

3 and I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

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. God has always wanted a “people for His own possession” (Titus 2:14Titus 2:14
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14 who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a people for his own possession, zealous of good works.

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). God loves the individual and salvation is an individual matter but salvation also puts the individual into a group, a community. That’s where God’s people grow and develop.

After the nation of Israel divided and split, God expresses His interest in rejoining that nation (Jer. 23:5-6Jer. 23:5-6
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

5 Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name whereby he shall be called: Jehovah our righteousness.

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; Amos 9:11, 14Amos 9:11, 14
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11 In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up its ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old; 14 And I will bring back the captivity of my people Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them.

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; Micah 5:2-4Micah 5:2-4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

2 But thou, Beth-lehem Ephrathah, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall one come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting. 3 Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she who travaileth hath brought forth: then the residue of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel. 4 And he shall stand, and shall feed his flock in the strength of Jehovah, in the majesty of the name of Jehovah his God: and they shall abide; for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.

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). Jeremiah spoke of it (33:7-8) as did Ezekiel (37:15-28). But this united nation was not just for the divided Israelites but also with the Gentile community (Zephaniah 2:11Zephaniah 2:11
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

11 Jehovah will be terrible unto them; for he will famish all the gods of the earth; and men shall worship him, every one from his place, even all the isles of the nations.

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). That’s what Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:11-17Ephesians 2:11-17
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11 Wherefore remember, that once ye, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision, in the flesh, made by hands; 12 that ye were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye that once were far off are made nigh in the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who made both one, and brake down the middle wall of partition, 15 having abolished in the flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; that he might create in himself of the two one new man, so making peace; 16 and might reconcile them both in one body unto God through the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 and he came and preached peace to you that were far off, and peace to them that were nigh:

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.

The Isaiah 2:2-3Isaiah 2:2-3
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

2 And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of Jehovah's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. 3 And many peoples shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem.

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(Micah 4:1-2Micah 4:1-2
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 1 But in the latter days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of Jehovah's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and peoples shall flow unto it. 2 And many nations shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem;

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) passage pictures much of what we are dealing with here. Isaiah is talking about a new covenant between God and man – that is brought into effect by Jesus Christ – and the preaching of that new covenant all over the world.

Prerequisites for the Church

Before the church of Christ could be established, there were certain things that God had to bring about.

  1. The crucifixion. Right after Jesus promised to build His church in Matthew 16:18-19Matthew 16:18-19
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    18 And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

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    , He tells His disciples that He must die (Matt. 16:20-21Matt. 16:20-21
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    20 Then charged he the disciples that they should tell no man that he was the Christ. 21 From that time began Jesus to show unto his disciples, that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and the third day be raised up.

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    ). The new covenant that brings forgiveness required Jesus to shed His blood (Matthew 26:28Matthew 26:28
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    28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many unto remission of sins.

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    ). The church is the community of the saved-through-the-blood-of-Jesus (Acts 20:28Acts 20:28
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    28 Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood.

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    ).
  2. The resurrection. Acts 2:36Acts 2:36
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    36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly, that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified.

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    shows that Jesus is declared Lord and Messiah through the resurrection. And, it’s His resurrection that allows our resurrection (Colossians 1:18Colossians 1:18
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    18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

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    ).
  3. The coming of the Holy Spirit. This, too, was part of the OT promise of the future kingdom (Ezekiel 36:27Ezekiel 36:27
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    27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep mine ordinances, and do them.

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    ) but Jesus teaches in John 7:38-39John 7:38-39
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    38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, from within him shall flow rivers of living water. 39 But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believed on him were to receive: for the Spirit was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified.

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    that the Holy Spirit could not come until after Jesus was glorified.
  4. The commission for the church’s purpose.  Our purpose is found in the words of Jesus in Matthew 28:19Matthew 28:19
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    19 Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit:

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    , Mark 16:15-16Mark 16:15-16
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    15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.

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    and Luke 24:47Luke 24:47
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    47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name unto all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

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    . The apostle Peter did that very thing in Acts 2 – proclaimed Jesus as the Savior, offered the forgiveness of sins and the giving of the Holy Spirit – and this brought the church of Christ into existence.

Pentecost was the Beginning

Acts 2 is called “the beginning” (11:15) for several reasons:

  1. The beginning of the age of the Holy Spirit. Luke 24:49Luke 24:49
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    49 And behold, I send forth the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city, until ye be clothed with power from on high.

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    and Acts 1:8Acts 1:8
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    8 But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

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    . The Spirit was a promise from God and He brought power through which the disciples were to be witnesses.
  2. The beginning of the public preaching of Jesus as Savior. Again, this is in fulfillment of Jesus’ words in Luke 24:46, 48Luke 24:46, 48
    English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

    46 and he said unto them, Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer, and rise again from the dead the third day; 48 Ye are witnesses of these things.

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    and Acts 1:8Acts 1:8
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    8 But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

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    . The apostles were to tell people what they had seen and heard.
  3. The beginning of the preaching of the gospel. The Gospel, preached in its fullness, with all the attendant blessings and requirements began in Acts 2.
  4. The beginning of the offer of forgiveness in Jesus’ name. Jesus said it would be done – Luke 24:46Luke 24:46
    English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

    46 and he said unto them, Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer, and rise again from the dead the third day;

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    and that was offered in Acts 2:38Acts 2:38
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    38 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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    .
  5. The beginning of the new covenant. The content of the covenant would be the forgiveness of sins (Jeremiah 31:31-34Jeremiah 31:31-34
    English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

    31 Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith Jehovah. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Jehovah: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people: 34 and they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith Jehovah: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more.

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    ) and the Spirit of God in the heart (Ezekiel 36:27Ezekiel 36:27
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    27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep mine ordinances, and do them.

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    ). Acts 2:38Acts 2:38
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    38 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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    brings those two together in the preaching of Peter.
  6. The beginning of the gathering of the church. Jesus told His disciples that they would make disciples by baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and then they would continue teaching those disciples (Matthew 28:19Matthew 28:19
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    19 Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit:

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    ). In Acts 2, we have that being fulfilled – 2:41, 42, 44.
  7. The beginning of worship through Jesus Christ and life in Christ. Jesus intended for this growing community to span the globe. Thus, worship and a corporate – community – life together, i.e. the church of Christ. Acts 2:44-46Acts 2:44-46
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    44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 and they sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all, according as any man had need. 46 And day by day, continuing stedfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart,

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    .

Let us share this message of community with those in our community.

 

–Paul Holland

Isaiah 2:2-4Isaiah 2:2-4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

2 And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of Jehovah's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. 3 And many peoples shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem. 4 And he will judge between the nations, and will decide concerning many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

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For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God

All it took was a small explosion at a power transfer line and a widespread power outage swept through the Washington, D.C. area. In just a few seconds, Washington was left powerless. If we think about it, it’s actually rather ironic that arguably the most powerful government in the world, symbolized by the White House, was without power.

Even though our government will remain powerful in its influence and military might, let’s not forget where their power came from in the first place. Romans 13:1Romans 13:1
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13 1 Let every soul be in subjection to the higher powers: for there is no power but of God; and the powers that be are ordained of God.

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tells us, “For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” Our government is only powerful because God has allowed them to be so. The real power is not in our government, but in the Lord.

Nations have risen and nations have fallen at the Lord’s command. If the Lord willed, He could remove our nations power as quickly as the power outage swept through Washington. Let’s remember to stay in subjection to our government (Romans 13:1Romans 13:1
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13 1 Let every soul be in subjection to the higher powers: for there is no power but of God; and the powers that be are ordained of God.

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-7), but keep in mind that the greatest and truest power is only found in the Lord.

— Brett Petrillo

The Gift of Voting

Jesus and Paul and the other Christians in New Testament times did not have the freedom to vote for their own rulers. They lived under an emperor who usually ruled with tyrannical power. Whatever the emperor decreed, that was the way of life for Christians in the first century. In fact, it was the way of life for Christians for about 1,600 years. Throughout Europe, Christians had to live under the rule of monarchs who may or may not have been benevolent.

But God be praised that our founding fathers had the wisdom to establish a representative democracy! We have the gift of voting for our own leaders, from the local mayor and board of aldermen to the president of the United States. We can even run for office if we choose, without being limited by our race, gender, religion, etc. It is the political leaders who make the rules that affect our daily lives. They can make more rules, thereby impeding our freedoms or less rules, giving us more freedom. They can impose more taxes, thereby shrinking our disposable income or they can increase taxes. But the leaders who make these decisions are our choices! That is a great gift – the gift of voting.

We can vote for four different types of individuals: One who has policies we agree with but is morally objectionable; one who has policies we agree with and is not morally objectionable (obviously our preference!); one who does not have policies we agree with and is morally objectionable; one who has policies we do not agree with but is not morally objectionable.

In Michigan, there are at least seven individuals eligible for our vote for president. Don’t cast your vote in ignorance. Look up their information and consider who would be most likely to lead the nation in a God-approved way. And keep this verse in mind: “Loyalty and truth preserve the [president], And he upholds his throne by righteousness” (Proverbs 20:28Proverbs 20:28
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

28 Kindness and truth preserve the king; And his throne is upholden by kindness.

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). As an apple does not fall far from the tree, so a president’s policies will reflect his (her) moral character.

Today, exercise your blessing and vote.

–Paul Holland

Who Packs Your Parachute?

Looking for illustrations concerning friendship, I came across this wonderful example:

Charles Plumb was a US Navy jet pilot in Vietnam.  After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile.  Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands.  He was captured and spent 6 years in a communist Vietnamese prison.  He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience!

One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, “You’re Plumb!  You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk.  You were shot down!”

“How in the world did you know that?” asked Plumb.

“I packed your parachute,” the man replied.  Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude.  The man pumped his hand and said, “I guess it worked!”

Plumb assured him, “It sure did. If your chute hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Plumb couldn’t sleep that night, thinking about that man.  Plumb says, “I kept wondering what he had looked like in a Navy uniform: a white hat; a bib in the back; and bell-bottom trousers.  I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said ‘Good morning, how are you?’ or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor.”

Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent at a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn’t know.

Now, Plumb asks his audience, “Who’s packing your parachute?”  Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day.  He also points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down over enemy territory: he needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional parachute, and his spiritual parachute.  He called on all these supports before reaching safety. *

With our plane “shot down” due to our sins and headed for destruction in enemy territory, God sent Jesus to our rescue.  Jesus didn’t “pack our parachutes;” He is our Parachute.  Only He could pay the price for our sins so that we may “land” safely, not in enemy territory but in an eternal home in heaven.  He paid that price on the cross as He died for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:1-41 Corinthians 15:1-4
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15 1 Now I make known unto you brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye stand, 2 by which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except ye believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures;

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).

To access that Parachute and enjoy the salvation and eternal life that He brings, we must place our faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31Acts 16:30-31
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30 and brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house.

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), turn from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31Acts 17:30-31
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30 The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent: 31 inasmuch as he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

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), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10Romans 10:9-10
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9 because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: 10 for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

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), and be baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38Acts 2:38
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38 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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).  Then, as long as we cling to the Parachute in trusting obedience, we will land safely (see 1 John 1:71 John 1:7
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7 but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

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).

When we were helpless and hopelessly lost, God “packed our Parachute,” and sent His Son to die on the cross so that we can be saved and live eternally with Him.

Won’t YOU “put on that Parachute” by trusting and obeying Him today?

— David A. Sargent

* “Who Packs Your Parachute” by Unknown Author as viewed at http://www.sermonillustrationlibrary.org

David A. Sargent