Archives for : September2017

Put A Pebble In Their Shoe

“Have a personal Bible study with somebody? Sorry, not for me! That’s just asking for a never ending argument.” If that’s your view of personal evangelism and Bible study, maybe you need to rethink how you’ve gone about it in the past.

Inevitably, during a Bible study, the time will come when you reach a critical point. It’s that time when you’ve shown a person to be inconsistent, or when you’ve shown a person a passage that contradicts what he was affirming. The Scriptures have backed them in a corner. What happens then?

Well, what often happens next is that we drive and hammer that point home. We don’t let up, and we demand an answer or a retraction? We want to claim victory for our superior logistic skills.

However, the Bible teaches us to preach the word (2 Timothy 4:22 Timothy 4:2
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

2 preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.

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), but it qualifies the way we are to do that. We are to preach the word with “all longsuffering.”

Friends, coming around to truth sometimes takes time. Mulling something over, and weighing all the evidences may require more than an initial hearing. Therefore, instead of being quick to claim victory, it would be much more beneficial to quickly tell the person with whom you’re studying that he doesn’t need to feel like he has to provide an immediate answer. Encourage him to think about it. After all, the point of a Bible study is not to “win an argument,” but to learn the will of God.

To sum it up, your goal is simply to “put a pebble in their shoe.” Give them something to think about. Leave a thought that nags at them, won’t let them get comfortable, and won’t give them rest until they find resolution through further study. Those with good and honest hearts will have to do something about it. So let’s get after it. Instead of demanding someone to say “Uncle,” simply put a pebble in his shoe and let the word of God work in their heart…or shoe. Give it some thought.

–Steve Higginbotham

O God, Why?

‘O why was I born’
Is not a request
For knowledge and truth.
But more a protest
Against all the hurt,
Unfairness of life
That causes conflict,
Confusion and strife.
Why must I be here,
A part of it all?
And why doesn’t God
Reply when I call?

O where is my God
When I call on Him?
For when I need help
Hope fades and grows dim;
I cannot survive
If He doesn’t give.
The help I require.
How then can I live?
I am not able
To stand on my own,
I do not dare think
That I stand alone.

Why can I not see,
Why can I not hear,
Why can I not feel
The God who is near?
I must learn to see
And hear with my mind,
God is here with me;
In His word I find
The answers I need.
Upheld by His hand,
His love and His grace,
I know I can stand.

By Gerald Cowan

SUPERFICIAL CHRISTIANITY OR SACRIFICIAL FAITH

Webster defines “superficial” as “(1) being on the surface; not penetrating the substance of a thing; as a superficial color; a superficial covering; (2) hallow; contrived to cover something; and (3) not deep or profound; reaching or comprehending only what is obvious or apparent; as a superficial scholar; superficial knowledge.” Superficial Christianity looks good on the surface, but it is of no “value against the indulgences of the flesh” (Col. 2:23Col. 2:23
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

23 Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship, and humility, and severity to the body; but are not of any value against the indulgence of the flesh.

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). Our Lord calls for sacrificial, not superficial faith. There is a marked difference between the two.

First, a superficial faith produces a comfortable Christianity; one that does not interfere with one’s predisposed life style. It is a “Christianity” that requires no repentance, exacts no restrictions, and asks for no sacrifice. Unaccustomed to feeding upon the word, superficial Christians are incapable of taking more than short doses of the spiritual medicine that is needed to cure their sin sick soul. The meat of word makes them gag. Moral principles that demand hard choices are rejected for mere platitudes that make them feel at ease, and any sermon that runs more than fifteen minutes is viewed as a waste of time and an imposition upon their busy schedule. Once a week, or in some cases only once or twice a year, these nominal believers make their appearance, pay their dues, and punch their spiritual clock – and that at the church of their choice that meets their personal taste in style of worship and brand of theology. Easter Sunday and Christmas are the apex of their spiritual activity. Daily cross bearing means nothing to them.

Second, superficial Christianity will produce a church that is foreign to the blood-bought institution we read about in the pages of the New Testament. The leaders are quick to provide those things that will help increase the numbers, but fall short of improving spiritual maturity. The denominations have long sought to entertain rather than enlighten. C.C. Crawford addressed exactly what I am talking about:

Receiving people into the church is not a process of administering a spiritual anaesthetic [sic]. The church is something more than a haven of rest, where the indolent, idle and tired may congregate. It is more than a house of refuge to which folks may flee from their pursuers. It is more than a safety zone in the midst of the highways of life, into which people may step to avoid the dangers of spiritual injury. It is more than an old folk’s home where the spiritually defective, infirm and incompetent may find shelter and be assured against all want for time and eternity. It is not a sort of spiritual Florida to which people can migrate in order to escape the chilling blasts of a cold, unfriendly world. The prevailing tendency in the present-day church is to make religion too easy. It is kept within the realm of convenience and comfort. Rarely is there a call for real sacrifice. By means of suppers, sales and pay entertainments and various ingenious devices people are tricked into giving. Through entertainments and other alluring programs an effort is made to surreptitiously inject a little religion into the unsuspecting. And when people have come into the church the greatest care is exercised to spare them; so that only a minimum of anything is asked of them. Do we need to wonder that the church is not more aggressive and victorious? It hesitates to propose a program that summons us to heroic effort, sacrifice, even the giving of blood (Sermon Outlines On The Cross of Christ, 86).

I wish that such misconceptions were limited to those in the denominational world, but so much of this “give me” mentality has infiltrated the Lord’s church today. Oh, how I wish it were not so! Having had the opportunity to travel about our country seeking funds for my mission work, I have learned that we have spent too much on creature comforts and neglected the Creator’s commission to go into all the world (Matt. 28:18-20Matt. 28:18-20
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

18 And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. 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: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

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). I have visited congregations willing to borrow millions to build an elaborate building, and make long term commitments to mortgage payments, but unwilling to commit themselves to more than a year at a time to mission endeavors. One wonders if we have not been the victims of superficial Christianity.

Third, superficial Christianity will not save. I am writing to an audience who knows (or at least should know) the demands from our Father and His Son. “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever would save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it. 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?” (Matt. 16:24-26Matt. 16:24-26
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever would save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it. 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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). “So therefore whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33Luke 14:33
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33 So therefore whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

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). “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24Matt. 6:24
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

24 No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

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). Superficial Christianity is the antonym of genuine saving faith. It is confined to the realm of convenience and comfort. Seldom is there a call for real sacrifice. Suppers, sales and entertainment are the means by which people are brought into the church, and through more exciting and more numerous entertainment and programs they are tricked into believing that they are making sacrifices and living the kind of life God wants them to live. No wonder the church has lost its influence in a world that seems to be overrun with evil and ungodliness. The gospel is no longer considered the power unto salvation, but the power unto sensationalism. There are churches out there that are indeed sensational, with their Broadway style productions and glitter and glamour that thrill men, but they do not offer what it takes to save the souls of men. In this they have long ago compromised.

Go back and read this tenth chapter of Matthew again. Having done that, ask yourself what kind of faith those twelve apostles had as they went forth as “sheep in the midst of wolves” (Matt. 10:16Matt. 10:16
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

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). With the exception of Judas, each of those men demonstrated a sacrificial faith that is exemplary beyond measure. Go with those men as they were delivered up to the religious councils, scourged for their faith, and “hated of all men” for the sake of the precious name of Jesus Christ. Follow the path those men travelled as they were “set at variance against” their immediate family members, and in the face of such incredible persecution, refused to deny their Lord, compromise the gospel, or flinch at the darts that Satan threw their way.

God help us to return to His great wisdom, and build churches that seek and save the lost rather than seeking to serve and satisfy the masses. Anything else is only superficial Christianity.

By Tom Wacaster

You were drunk last night, weren’t you!

I heard a story about a husband who came home drunk late one night and snuck up the stairs quietly to avoid waking his wife.  He looked in the bathroom mirror and bandaged the bumps and bruises he’d received in a fight earlier that night.  He then proceeded to climb into bed, smiling at the thought that he’d pulled one over on his wife.

When morning came, he opened his eyes and there stood his wife. “You were drunk last night, weren’t you!”

“No, dear.”

“Well, if you weren’t, then who put all the band-aids on the bathroom mirror?”

Despite our many failed attempts, we continue to try to hide our sins from others around us.  King Saul was commanded by God to kill all of the Amalekites and their animals (I Sam. 15:3am. 15:3
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

Izbrano poglavje ne obstaja!

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).  But Saul spared the Amalekite king and the best of the herds and flocks.  There was no question he had disobeyed God.  But notice the first thing he said to Samuel upon his return — “I have performed the commandment of the LORD.” (I Sam. 15:13am. 15:13
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Izbrano poglavje ne obstaja!

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Saul knew good and well he hadn’t done everything that God told him to do.  So why did he tell Samuel he had kept the word of the Lord?  Because one of our first reactions to sin is to pretend that everything’s OK.  If we ignore the fact that we have sinned, maybe no one will notice.

And we’ve all done this before, haven’t we?  Remember when you were a kid and your parents were out of the house and maybe you got to rough-housing with your brothers and sisters and in the process the lamp in the living room got knocked over and a piece broke off?  You stuck it back together hoping no one would ever notice and then you went back to your room to get away from the scene of the crime.

But Mom comes home and it doesn’t take her very long to notice.  She comes back to your room and says, “Did you break my lamp?”  And you say, as innocently as you possibly can, “What lamp?”  Because the hardest thing in the world is to admit that we have done something wrong.

The one thing that God desires most when it comes to our sins is the one thing we have the most trouble with — honesty and openness.

“He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13Proverbs 28:13
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

13 He that covereth his transgressions shall not prosper: But whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall obtain mercy.

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“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9John 1:9
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9 There was the true light, even the light which lighteth every man, coming into the world.

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May you be honest enough to be able to share with God what He already knows.  Only then can the healing begin.

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

Evangelism with a Roman Catholic

I was recently watching my grand-nephew playing a soccer grand-final and got talking to another spectator who turned out to be a highly educated and articulate Catholic High School teacher – a Mr Ptolemy. (That’s correct, Ptolemy. He was impressed that I knew about the Ptolemies in Egypt arising from the break-up of the Greek empire! BTW, here’s a useful site on the Ptolemies: https://www.thoughtco.com/rulers-of-the-ptolemies-172247 )

We got to talking about all kinds of things, including the connection between pedophilia in the Catholic Church and priestly celibacy, the celibacy which this catholic man seriously disagreed with. He said it was bizarre that the Catholic Church would not allow their own priests to partake of one of their own sacraments – the sacrament of marriage – that every priest authorizes before God in the wedding ceremony!!

I replied that forced celibacy didn’t make sense to me either, but my feeling was based on the Scriptures, and I reminded him of Paul’s words to Timothy – 1 Timothy 4:1-51 Timothy 4:1-5
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 1 But the Spirit saith expressly, that in later times some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies, branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron; 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by them that believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it be received with thanksgiving: 5 for it is sanctified through the word of God and prayer.

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, about the doctrine of demons, “forbidding marriage.”

He didn’t comment, but it was clear he was aware of the Scripture, seeing he was a teacher of Religion in the Catholic System. Mr Ptolemy has my contact details. Who knows where such a conversation may end?

–Name Withheld

How Committed are You to Jesus?

          Sam Houston was a good friend of President Andrew Jackson. They shared the same desire of Texas independence and admission into the union of the United States. President Jackson looked on Houston as a son and Houston returned the affection. On one occasion, Houston wrote a letter to President Jackson saying,

 

          “My firm and undeviating attachment to General Jackson has caused me all the enemies I have, and I glory in the firmness of my attachment. I will die proud in the assurance that I deserve, and possess, his perfect confidence.” (Magnificent Destiny, Paul I. Wellman, 1962, page 177).

 

          How committed are we to Jesus? As committed as Houston was to President Jackson? Could we honestly say that the only enemies we have are because of our attachment to Jesus Christ and His doctrine? Due to this commitment, Houston believed Jackson could have confidence in him. Can Jesus have confidence in us because of our commitment to His truth? Is truth safe in our hands?

 

          In 2 Samuel 23:13-172 Samuel 23:13-17
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13 And three of the thirty chief men went down, and came to David in the harvest time unto the cave of Adullam; and the troop of the Philistines was encamped in the valley of Rephaim. 14 And David was then in the stronghold; and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Beth-lehem. 15 And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me water to drink of the well of Beth-lehem, which is by the gate! 16 And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Beth-lehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: but he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto Jehovah. 17 And he said, Be it far from me, O Jehovah, that I should do this: shall I drink the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? therefore he would not drink it. These things did the three mighty men.

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, King David was in battle with the Philistines. He laments of his thirst. Hearing that, three mighty men break through the camp of the Philistines, defying death and loving David’s life more than their own, and draw water from a well in Bethlehem to bring it to David. The King actually pours out the water as a drink offering to God.

 

          How committed are you to Jesus? As committed as King David’s men were to him? Will we stand up for His truth regardless of the cost? Think of Paul’s words in Acts 21:13Acts 21:13
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13 Then Paul answered, What do ye, weeping and breaking my heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.

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: “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

 

          How committed are you to Jesus?

 

–Paul Holland

How sad to come to the end of your life and others not have anything good to say about you!

THE REASON WE REMEMBER GREAT PEOPLE

These are reported to be actual epitaphs on tombstones:

Here lies

Johnny Yeast

Pardon me

For not rising.   (Ruidoso, New Mexico)

 

Here lays Butch,

We planted him raw.

He was quick on the trigger,

But slow on the draw.   (Silver City, Nevada)

 

Anna Wallace

The children of Israel wanted bread

And the Lord sent them manna,

Old clerk Wallace wanted a wife,

And the Devil sent him Anna.  (Ribbesford, England)

 

Margaret Daniels

She always said her feet were killing her

but nobody believed her.   (Richmond, Virginia)

 

Anna Hopewell

Here lies the body of our Anna

Done to death by a banana

It wasn’t the fruit that laid her low

But the skin of the thing that made her go.

(Enosburg Falls, Vermont)

 

Harry Edsel Smith

Born 1903–Died 1942

Looked up the elevator shaft to see if

the car was on the way down. It was.    (Albany, New York)

 

An anonymous tombstone:

I was somebody.

Who, is no business

Of yours.       (Stowe, Vermont)

 

In Memory of Beza Wood

Departed this life

Nov. 2, 1837

Aged 45 yrs.

Here lies one Wood

Enclosed in wood

One Wood

Within another.

The outer wood

Is very good:

We cannot praise

The other.    (Winslow, Maine)

How sad to come to the end of your life and others not have anything good to say about you!  Hebrews 11 could be viewed as a collection of epitaphs of many who had died.  The chapter starts with these words:

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.” (Hebrews 11:1-2Hebrews 11:1-2
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11 1 Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen. 2 For therein the elders had witness borne to them.

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I like how the New Century Version translates verse 2:  “Faith is the reason we remember great people who lived in the past.”  That’s true, isn’t it?  Every single person in the Bible we regard as “great” was a man or woman of faith.  That faith made a difference in the way they lived and responded to God.  That’s why we remember them.

May your life be characterized by faith in God so that those who prepare your tombstone won’t struggle with finding something kind to say.

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

 

Have you ever heard of Quartus?

We appreciate your interest in these studies.  Please wait for us to return on 9/19.

It seems we are always wanting more. No matter the subject, and no matter how much we already have, we seem to always want more. But when is enough, enough? Can we be content with “enough.”

Is it enough to have a car, or must we have the latest model? Is it enough to have a house, or must we have a “nice” house? Is it enough to clothe ourselves and our children, or must we have a certain brand of clothing? Is it enough to meet our financial obligations, or must we have additional money to “play” with? Is it enough to be a servant of God, or must we be in the spotlight?

It’s really this last point I want you to consider. Have you ever heard of Quartus? He’s probably unknown to you by name, but he’s mentioned in the Bible. What the Bible records about him is not remarkable. He had no particular fame. He didn’t slay a giant or survive a fiery furnace. In fact I know of nothing that this man did that would cause him to be remembered. But here’s what the Bible says about him, “Gaius, my host and the host of the whole church greets you. Erastus, the treasurer of the city greets you, and Quartus, a brother ” (Romans 16:23Romans 16:23
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23 Gaius my host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the treasurer of the city saluteth you, and Quartus the brother.

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Did you catch that. “Quartus, a brother.” Nothing more; just a brother. But that’s enough, isn’t it? Whatever else I may or may not be able to achieve in life, if I can just be remembered as “a brother in Christ,” it will be enough!

Steve Higginbotham