WHY DO WE GO TO WORSHIP?

For over a year, our ladies’ Bible class studied the subject of worship. We spent our Tuesday evenings discussing the things we do when we worship and the object of our worship. We looked at the worship of the Old Testament. We also compared and contrasted New Testament worship with Old Testament worship.

When we looked closely at the elements God has put in place for us to observe as we worship Him, we found that we may be lacking in our form of worship and also in our attitude about worship.

Our Bible studies about worship have made me contemplate the question, why do most people go to services? I suspect there are many different reasons, and I hope you will examine your own to determine how you would answer this question.

You may be interested in knowing we don’t “go to church”. The word church according to bible studytools.com means:

“…ekklesia [ejkklhsiva] is used of the community of God’s people some 109 times (out of 114 occurrences of the term). Although the word only occurs in two Gospel passages ( Matt 16:18 ; 18:17 ), it is of special importance in Acts (23 times) and the Pauline writings (46 times). It is found twenty times in Revelation and only in isolated instances in James and Hebrews. We may broach the subject of the biblical teaching on the church by drawing three general conclusions from the data so far.
First, predominantly ekklesia [ejkklhsiva] (both in the singular and plural) applies to a local assembly of those who profess faith in and allegiance to Christ. Second, ekklesia [ejkklhsiva] designates the universal church ( Acts 8:3 ; 9:31 ; 1 Cor 12:28 ; 15:9 ; especially in the later Pauline letters, Eph 1:22-23 ; Col 1:18 ). Third, the ekklesia [ejkklhsiva] is God’s congregation ( 1 Cor 1:2 ; 2 Cor 1:1 ; etc.).”

Church actually refers to the people and not the building. So instead of saying, “we are going to church”, we should say, “we are going to worship”. I wonder, however, if this is what our real intentions are. Are we really coming together to worship God or are we coming together for other reasons?
An article appeared in our local newspaper recently that really caught my attention. David Cook wrote the article about a book by Rod Dreher called “The Benedict Option”. According to Mr. Cook, Mr. Dreher believes America has become a post-Christian nation. “What once influenced nearly all our institutions—government, media, education, business, entertainment—is now an afterthought.” Mr. Dreher says, “There are people alive today who may live to see the effective death of Christianity within our civilization”.

Does that scare you? It does me. I hate to think of my children and grandchildren living in a country without Christianity. We are living in a country where anything goes. Wear what you want; say what you want; do what you want.

If that attitude is not enough to show you that Christianity is faltering, look at what is happening with our worship services. They are often no longer God-centered but man-centered. God is not the focus, our desires, pleasures, and wishes are. Churches no longer meet several times a week, but they meet at a later time on Sunday morning to accommodate the late sleepers, and Sunday evening and Wednesday evening worship are almost non-existent.

Let me call your attention to a passage in John 4:24. Jesus said, “God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (KJV). We have a command to worship God, and we must worship Him with the right attitude and in the way He instructed us in the scripture. Anything else, any other way, is condemned.

So why do we go to worship? Some go because that’s what you do on Sunday. Some go for the social experience. Some go to enjoy the fellowship and the activities offered. Ask yourself, why do I go to worship?

• If we go to please ourselves, we are in violation of God’s teaching. Paul told the Romans, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:7-8). Though this does not speak directly to worship, it does speak to being fleshly minded.
• Worship to please self is not true worship. Jesus told the devil, “…Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matthew 4:10). Worship that does not center on God is not pleasing to God.
• Belief in a philosophy of men does not constitute true worship. “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power” (Colossians 2:8-10).

There are many examples of wrong worship in the scriptures. There are also scriptures that tell us what we are to do in worship.

Unlike Mr. Dreher, I know that God has promised that His kingdom, the church, will never be destroyed. “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (Daniel 2:44). This prophecy was fulfilled in Acts 2 when the church was established. I Corinthians 15:24-26 tells us that this kingdom, the church, will be delivered to God at the end of time. So the church that Jesus established will be here until the end of time.

Let’s be conscious of our worship and be conscientious in our need for and our participation in worship in spirit and in truth.

Sandra Oliver

 

J.J. ALTIZER AND THE GOD IS DEAD CONTROVERSY

Thomas J.J. Altizer

Emory University

Do those names ring a bell?

This website, GOD IS DEAD CONTROVERSY, mentions several sources, so it will probably help you remember what happened if you have forgotten, or never knew. You may be able to find the Time Magazine or other publications during the time Altizer proposed his idea.

The media at the time wrongly identified James D Bales as a member of the Church of God, who challenged Altizer to debate and later wrote a book about it.  Actually J.D. Bales was a professor at Harding for years and became the object of great opposition in the church for what was known as the Bales doctrine on marriage!  Originally, there was a rather disparaging article linked to The Georgia Encyclopedia about J. D. Bales’ “paperback denouncement” of Altizer.  A friend shared a link to Bales’ book still in print but only selling for $0.01 a copy: The God Killer? Altizer and His “Christian Atheism”

It was unfortunate that most Christians at the time were ill equipped to deal with such an onslaught.  Would we or they be in any better position to argue today?  Public school teachers and counselors, as well as professors in colleges and universities everywhere (even Christian schools) were teaching that man was the measure by which everything should be judged.  It was the era of I’m OK; You’re OK.  They said, “Man is God and God is dead.”

Why did Altizer declare that God is dead? Altizer taught that God came to earth in the form of the man Jesus, and was subsequently killed.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_God_theology

Altizer concluded that God had incarnated in Christ and imparted his immanent spirit, which remained in the world even though Jesus was dead. Unlike Nietzsche, Altizer believed that God truly died. He is considered to be the leading exponent of the Death of God movement.

Altizer did not believe Jesus was raised from the dead, and so, to him, God is dead.  Simply stated, Altizer’s ‘God is dead’ statement is a rejection of the witnesses who testify God raised Jesus from the dead.  The solution?  We must present the testimony of the witnesses who saw him after he was raised from the dead. Those who are honest will listen to the facts. All others will, with Altizer, willingly reject eyewitness testimony.

Even though some claimed Altizer’s was a “pre-mature” philosophy, people were ripe for such teaching–perhaps vulnerable would be a better word. Judging from today’s profligate society, I would say the idea has flourished and borne fruit.

Humanism has persuaded unsuspecting children in the public schools that there is no such thing as a miracle.  What tools did they use? They simply invented an imaginary evolution that takes more faith than believing in Santa Claus.  Mankind itself is living testimony of the miraculous creation, not only of their bodies, but also their minds!  Where did mind come from?  Evolution’s mouth is shut.  It can’t even imagine where it came from.  Such living testimony in the marvelous bodies each of us is indisputable testimony of God’s work from the beginning of the world.  If we can’t explain where mind came from, all our imagination about how our bodies evolved is meaningless.  Only a living and loving God could create, not one, but innumerable minds, each on in his image.  And he hasn’t stopped.  Each one who reads these words is another witness to the God who can create minds and bodies.  Only a dishonest judge would reject such obvious evidence.

 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…”

(Hosea 4:6).

One well-known hymn, OUR GOD, HE IS ALIVE, was written around this time period and served as a reminder of our faith that God is still alive and working today.

–Beth Johnson

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Three Most Powerful Words

Sally sat patiently while Heather explained how sorry she was for the ungodly things she said and did. She asked Sally to forgive her, even though she knew she didn’t deserve it. After a brief silence Sally said, “I forgive you.” Heather fell on her shoulder with great sobs. An immense flood of relief and peace poured into her soul. Sally assured her that all was forgiven and would never be brought up again. When someone asks for forgiveness, there is power to free that soul of the guilt and shame of sin. Sally knew that forgiving Heather would save her soul, too.

No one left a greater example of forgiving others than our Lord. As he hung on the cross, he prayed for the ones who were killing Him, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do (Luke 23:34). The soldiers ridiculed and blasphemed Him. The two thieves who were crucified with him, reviled Him (23:39-43). At some point, however, one of the thieves asked Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom. The Lord assured him, This day you will be with Me in paradise. Incomparable compassion and mercy. Amazing grace!

As children of God, we are called to be like our Savior. Are we supposed to forgive when someone asks for forgiveness, but for years has tried to derail us, said cruel things about us, and did evil against us? Yes. If we want the Father to forgive our sins, we must forgive those who sin against us (Matt. 6:14-15). Otherwise, He will not forgive our sins.

In Psalm fifty one, David used very descriptive words pleading for forgiveness. Have mercy…blot out…wash me…cleanse me from my sin…purge me…wash me and I shall be whiter than snow…create in me a clean heart…renew a steadfast spirit within me…restore to me the joy of your salvation…uphold me by Your generous Spirit…deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed.

The three most powerful words in any language are, “I forgive you.” When spoken from a sincere heart followed with forgiving actions, they have the ability to transform two lives. When spoken to God from a broken and contrite heart, He is merciful to save!

Today’s Verse: Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).

By Teresa Hampton
Bonus: Audios available at http://christianwomanaudiodevotionals.abiblecommentary.com

AUGUST: Preacher’s on vacation. He will never know I missed.

I came across the following calendar the other day, and it describes a number of people’s itineraries.  It would be humorous if it were not so true.

“Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it!  and ye have snuffed at it, saith the Lord of hosts;  and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick;  thus ye brought an offering:  should I accept this of your hand?  saith the Lord.”     Malachi 1:13

“And let us not be weary in well doing:  for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”    Galatians 6:9

“For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.  Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.  But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.  And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.  Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.  Now the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always by all means.  The Lord be with you all.”     II Thessalonians 3:11-16

“Sorry, I can’t today.  My sister’s friend’s mother’s grandpa’s brother’s grandson’s uncle’s fish died, and yes, it was tragic.”    ~ Unknown

JANUARY:  I hereby resolve to start to church this year, Gotta get over the holidays.

FEBRUARY:  Weather is terrible.  I’ll start when it gets a bit warmer.

MARCH:  Lots of sickness just now.  Got to keep away from those bugs.

APRIL:  Easter.  Big crowds.  They won’t miss me.

MAY:  I’ve been holed up all winter and now that the weather is getting pretty it’s time to hold reunions.

JUNE:  I’ll wait until the baby is older.  How on earth do some folks take their babies when they are just a few weeks old – and then never miss Sunday worship?

JULY:  Boy!  The heat is terrific!  That air conditioner in church gives me chills.

AUGUST:  Preacher’s on vacation.   He will never know I missed.

SEPTEMBER:  School’s started.  Vacation threw me behind in my work.

OCTOBER:  Leaves are beautiful this time of year.  I can worship God outdoors anyhow.

NOVEMBER:  Getting colder . . . can’t stand warm church buildings with a lot of people in them.

DECEMBER:  It belongs to kids.  Anyway, next month is January, I’ll resolve now to start going to church next year.

“tomorrow – (noun) 
a mystical land where 99%  of all human productivity, motivation and achievement is stored.”

Eileen Light

 

Encourage the Elders and Preacher

It is said, “To punish someone for your own mistakes or for the consequences of your own actions, to harm another by shifting blame that is rightly yours;  this is a wretched and cowardly sin.”     ~ Goodrich

It may astonish your preacher and elders, but uphold their hands when they are leading and/or preaching to your congregation  You never know the battles they may be fighting you know nothing about.  Battling against Satan is hard enough when Truth is taught.  Edify them, don’t discourage them.

“But Moses hands were heavy, and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon;  and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side;  and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.”      Exodus 17:12

“If he’s young, he lacks experience;  if his hair is gray, he’s too old.

If he speaks from notes, he has canned sermons;  if he is extemporaneous, he wanders.

If he spends time in his study, he neglects the people;  if he visits, he’s a gadabout.

If he is attentive to the poor, he’s playing to the grandstand;  if to the wealthy, he’s trying to butter his bread.

If he suggests improvements, he’s a dictator;  if he doesn’t he’s short of vision.

If he condemns wrong, he’s cranky and intolerant;  if he doesn’t he is a compromiser.

If he preaches thirty-five minutes, he’s windy;  if less, he’s lazy.

If he reaches the Truth, he’s offensive;  if not, he’s a hypocrite.

If he fails to please everyone, he’s hurting the church;  if he does, he has no convictions.

If he preaches on giving, he’s a money grabber;  if he doesn’t he’s not developing the people.”

And some folk think the preacher has an easy time.        ~ Unknown

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.”   Mark 16:15

“Render therefore to all their dues:  tribute to whom tribute is due;  custom to whom custom;  fear to whom fear;  honour to whom honour.”    Romans 13:7

“Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.”       I Thessalonians 5:11

“Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.”       Romans 14:19

“From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure  of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”    Ephesians 4:16

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”      Ephesians 4:29

“Today will never come again.  Be a blessing.  Be a friend.  Encourage someone.  Take time to care.  Let your words heal, and not wound.”    ~ Unknown

Eileen Light

 

WHY STOP THE CHARIOT?

A man named Philip stood before the church in Jerusalem in 33 A.D. having just been appointed as one of seven men to oversee the distribution of funds to Grecian widows (Acts 6:1-6).

He must have been a good and honest man to have been chosen for such an important position. The people trusted him. He was a man of “honest repute, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom” (Acts 6:3 ESV).

Time passed, and we don’t read anything about Philip until Acts 8. It is obvious that Philip continued to serve the church and had begun to preach the gospel.

An angel came to Philip and told him go to the desert. The angel didn’t tell him why. He just told him to go. So, Philip went!

Along the way, Philip met a man, an Ethiopian. This man was a eunuch and he was an authority figure in the service of Queen Candace. He had charge of all her treasure.

As Philip approached this man at the instruction of the Spirit (verse 29), he found the eunuch reading from the prophet Isaiah. He had been to Jerusalem to worship, and now he is reading on his own, the words of an Old Testament prophet.

Philip inquired of the eunuch if he understood what he was reading. The eunuch said that he couldn’t unless someone would help him. The scripture says that Philip began at Isaiah 53:7-8 and “preached Jesus” (Acts 8:35). He would surely have explained to him how Isaiah referred to the death of Jesus in this passage.

Let’s look at what the eunuch was reading. “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people.”

Philip may have heard from the apostles the details of what happened to Jesus. Maybe he was even present when Jesus performed some of his miracles and taught the people. Maybe he was in Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified. Maybe he was just guided by the Holy Spirit as he spoke to the eunuch. It doesn’t matter how he knew, but he knew; and he started with Isaiah’s description of how Jesus would stand silent before his accusers, and he shared that information with the eunuch as they rode along in the chariot.

Acts 8:36 says, “And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?’ And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him”.

Why did they need to stop the chariot? They stopped so Philip could baptize the eunuch. He needed to obey the commandment Jesus gave the disciples before He ascended back to heaven. “And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned’” (Mark 16:15-16).

The command is two-fold: believe and be baptized. One without the other is insufficient for one to be counted among the saved. One is no more important than the other, but both are essential for salvation.

The Old Testament Jews had to depend on a priest to offer sacrifices on their behalf. Those in the New Testament, the Jews first as well as the Gentiles, had a sacrifice made for them. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (I Peter 3:18). This sacrifice was the same man the eunuch was reading about when Philip joined him.

I’m not sure why many are unwilling to be baptized. Baptism is a washing away our sins. It is a death to sin being raised out of a watery grave to a new life in Christ Jesus. “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Romans 6:3-6).

So, why did they stop the chariot? The eunuch was a worshiper, but he didn’t understand about the significance of the events of Jesus death, burial, and resurrection. That is why he asked Philip to teach him.

Once Philip taught him, studying with him the words of Isaiah the prophet and the one of whom Isaiah spoke, the eunuch was ready and willing to be obedient to the gospel.

May we all have open hearts and minds as did the eunuch, as we study God’s Word.

Sandra Oliver

DO WE SERVE GOD MORE THAN MAMMON?

Are men justified to serve mammon ‘alongside of’ (para) God (Rom. 1:25)?  Some say God’s commands and the things of the world are important, but the things of God should be more important.

Let me point out that, “The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil” (Pro. 16:4).  Though it is true that “The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s: but the earth hath he given to the children of men” (Psa. 115:16), it is just as true that “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psa. 24:1).  He also reminds us “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Eze. 18:4). Further, in the New Testament, he explains the apparent contradiction this way: “Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; 22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; 23 And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s (Cor. 3:21-23).

Additionally, God says “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose [not purposes, plural] of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph. 1:11). And again he repeats the same fact: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose[Again, not purposes, plural].  Then he tells that purpose: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren (Rom. 8:28-29).

Once more, he tells us that he “Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds…” (Heb. 1:2). And in the book of Colossians he informs us: “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him” (Col. 1:16).

Did God indeed create this world for men to enjoy, or did he create all things for his own purpose.  Are we or are we not stewards of what God has given us (1 Cor. 4:1), and are all stewards not required to be faithful to only use the things he has provided for his purpose (1 Cor. 4:2)?  According to Luke 16:1-2, does he not teach that literally ‘everything’ he gives us is to be used for his purpose? “And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. 2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? Give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward” (Luke 16:1-2).

Didn’t Jesus die “for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Cor. 5:15)?  If we follow in Christ’s steps (1 Pet. 3:21) will we also follow his steps in doing nothing of ourselves, but only what we see the Father do?

Why didn’t the Pharisee like Jesus’ sermon when he said: “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Luke 16:13)?

Were the Pharisees willing to make serving God more important that serving mammon (material things)?  Because they were covetous, they were not willing to give up serving material things.

Similarly, shall we be holy, set apart fully to only do God’s will, so that we can agree with Jesus’ statement that, “…Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matt. 4:10).

If we listen to God’s judgment when he says: “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. 11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own” (Luke 16:10-12)?  Will we determine to choose the one master and reject the other (Luke 16:13)?  Then it would not be a matter of serving God and mammon (material things), but serving God and not serving mammon.

Unfortunately, we often get confused between what it means to serve mammon and to serve our master as a good steward of what he has entrusted to us.  It can be so alluring and so easy to love and serve earthly things—but just do it a little less than we serve Christ.

–Beth Johnson

MULIEBRAL STUDIES  http://pilgrimstranger.wordpress.com/
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BOOKS  http://tinyurl.com/km5bly

My job was to call the women of the congregation when a need arose

How many times in life have we felt as David in the book of Psalms?  I have felt as he did many times in my life, and I am quite sure you have also.  We needn’t expect all to go smoothly as a Christian. Satan tries much harder to deter Christians from allowing God’s cause to go forward.  Like it or not, we are in a spiritual battle for souls, and at times I believe Satan may be winning.

I remember being on a food committee at a congregation not too far from me.  My job was to call the women of the congregation when a need arose. Normally this was a case of a sickness or death within some of the member’s families.  We had about 200 members, and when a sickness or death occurred, I would call the ladies of the congregation to help in preparation of food for the families.  It was a shame most of the ladies wanted to give money.  Though money helps, we needed women to prepare dishes to take to the families during bereavement or illness.  This meant others had to double up in work to get the necessary food to the respective families.

Everything we have comes from God, and we are to use our talents to further His cause.  We need to be good stewards of His Word, by teaching others the plan of salvation.  Leaving our work to others will not suffice. We all will be judged accordingly out of His Word, whether we are profitable or unprofitable stewards.

“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”        II Timothy 2:2

We all have talents, and God needs our service to Him not only in monetary, but in work for His cause.

In the parable of the talents the third steward buried the money in the earth and had not a profit from the amount given him.  The profitable stewards are praised, and given more responsibility.  They are invited of the Lord to enter into His joys.  However, the unprofitable steward is rejected and punished.   Matthew 25:14-30

“And let us not be weary in well doing:  for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”    Galatians 6:9

“So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof:  for the people had a mind to work.”   Nehemiah 4:6

“Then saith He unto His disciples.  The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;  Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers to His vineyard.”      Matthew 9:37-38

“But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”    James 1:22

“To put it in literal form, “Contend thine own contention.”  Maintain the cause that is Thine – and, of course, Thy people’s.  Any attack on God’s people is actually an attack on Him.  This is reason enough to ask God to assert Himself.

The practical point for humanity is:  plead your cause.  The ancients did in several ways, including a request that God intervene.

For a cause to command the deepest loyalty it must grip the heart as a moral matter.  If you have a worthwhile cause, plead it – don’t let it die – pray in its behalf, speak to make it known, talk to sell it, sacrifice to support it and work to put it over.

Eileen Light

Most empires last no longer than roughly 250 years, with many not lasting that long

I’m a lover of history.  Any kind of history, be it Biblical, American or world history.  While researching this lesson I pared it down, and the same applies to individuals.

Sir John Glubb was a British author and lecturer.  In his essay, “The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival”, he looked at the lifespan of empires from their origins to their eventual decline.  In his essay he said most empires last no longer than roughly 250 years, with many not lasting that long.  He also wrote of the reasons why they break down and eventually disappear.

Assyria – 247 Years
Persia – 208 Years
Greece – 231 Years
Roman Republic – 233 Years
Roman Empire – 207 Years
Mameluke Empire – 267 Years
Ottoman Empire – 250 Years
Spain Empire – 250 Years
Romanov Russia – 234 Years
Britain – 250 Years

Glubb’s summary at the end of the essay:

a.  We do not learn from history because our studies are brief and prejudiced.   (Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  Those who do not remember their past are condemned to repeat it.”)    ~ George Santyana
b.  In a surprising manner, 250 years emerges as the average length of national greatness.
c.  This average has not varied for 3,000 years.
d.  The stages of the rise and fall of great nations seems to be:

The Age of Pioneers
The Age of Conquests
The Age of Commerce
The Age of Affluence
The Age of Intellect
The Age of Decadence

e.  Decadence is marked by:

Defensiveness
Pessimism
Materialism
Frivolity
An Influx of Foreigners
The Welfare State
A Weakening of Religion

f.  Decadence is due to:

Too long a period of wealth and power.
Selfishness
Love of Money
The Loss of a Sense of Duty

g.  The life histories of great states are amazingly similar, and are due to internal factors.

h.  Their falls are diverse, because they are largely the result of external causes.

i.  History should be taught as the story of the human race, though of course with emphasis on the history of the student’s own country.

Adolph Hitler had what he called the 1000 year Reich and it lasted 12 years.  1933-1945

When you apply the fall of empires to individual lives, the same applies.  It seems more likely than not, when individuals, families or congregations become affluent, their focus begins to become selfish, and though it does not have to be the case, it usually happens, for we tend to place our faith and trust in the material rather than the spiritual.  For our focus no longer is based upon God, but upon self.  The call of the world becomes enticing, and in the end is destructive, not only to empires but to individuals.

“O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself:  it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.”  Jeremiah 10:23

“For the love of money is the root of all evil:  which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
I Timothy 6:10

“And again I say unto you.  It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”   Matthew 19:24

“Ye have sown much, and bring in little, ye eat, but ye have not enough, ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink;  ye clothe you, but there is none warm;  and he that earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.”   Haggai 1:6

“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, Who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”  I Timothy 6:17-19

“And He said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness:  for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”    Luke 12:15

“But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee:  then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided.”     Luke 12:20

“And He changeth the times and the seasons:  He removeth kings and setteth up kings:  He giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding.  He
revealeth the deep and secret things:  He knoweth what is in the darkness, and the Light dwelleth with Him.”    Daniel 2:21-22

Eileen Light

 

Devo + new audio files

For quite some time I have dabbled in art. Painting seems to take my mind on a mini vacation. One of the first things I learned in art class was the color wheel. There are three primary colors; red, yellow and blue. Every other color is made with the blending of the three basic colors. Blue and yellow make green. Red and blue make purple. Yellow and red make orange, and so forth. These are hard and fast rules about color.

It is fascinating, then, to find something different in the Bible. Let me explain. Before the foundation of the world God planned to create man and woman with a soul that would carry them into eternity, as opposed to animals who do not possess a spirit. He would endow them with unique intelligence, giving them freedom of choice. So, He planned that if man sinned, He would offer His Son to redeem mankind—the blood of Jesus would transform sin-stained souls into refined white (Daniel 12:10).  It would take many, many years. But in the interim God put things in motion until the time was right to send His Son, “the fulness of time.” The entire Bible, then, focuses on this amazing scheme of redemption.

God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit were present at creation. Everything was very good for a time, until Adam and Eve violated the command given to them by the Creator, “Do not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 3). Their sin put God’s plan in motion, sending His son to live among men, and ultimately be crucified. God said the serpent would bruise the heel of the seed of woman, but the seed of woman would crush Satan’s head (Genesis 3:15). This was a prophecy of Jesus’ cruel death on the cross. Satan bruised His heel with painful crucifixion. But, Jesus’ resurrection crushed Satan’s head. This was where the color red was introduced. The blood of Jesus, would change everything.

God revealed to John the sight of those in heaven who endured faithfully to the end, So he said to me, These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14b).

    When we acknowledge our sin and put Christ on in obedient baptism, His red makes us as white as snow! This is not a work of man, but a work of God. It’s as simple as that.

Today’s verse:
“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool (Isaiah 1:18). — By Teresa Hampton

NEW AUDIO DEVOTIONALS BY TERESA HAMPTON:

Lessons from bear

Our Hands, Feet, Heart, Ears, Mouth, and Eyes

Scarcely Saved

When Red Makes White

Anaya’s Victory

More audios by Teresa are available at http://christianwomanaudiodevotionals.abiblecommentary.com