AD 2018 is the new year of our Lord!

    His promise is so powerful! “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8).

    The “universals” in this verse are mind boggling! Let’s commit the new year to allowing this verse to guide us every day God gives us in 2018.

1) “God is able”. “He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Eph. 3:20). God is able to work beyond all imagination. The only limitation to God’s power in our lives is unbelief! “According to your faith let it be to you” (Matt. 9:29). There is no question but that “God is able”! The only question is “Will I trust Him?” Faith is the umbilical cord that taps God’s power that it might flow into our lives. How much do we limit God’s ability to work in us by unbelief?

2) “To make all grace abound toward you”. God’s grace is His power made available in human weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). One cannot get any weaker than death. Those who are “crucified with Christ” fully depend upon Him to live. Salvation is “by grace through faith” — His “gift to us” (Eph. 2:8). God is able and is willing to give us all grace if we will trust Him for it!

3) “Always having all sufficiency in all things.” Fellow Christian, we will never encounter a bad circumstance more powerful than God! He is “always” on His throne; we just need to “seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1). Let us never focus upon dark circumstances, but always upon Jesus as the Light! He is the source of our “sufficiency in all things”. He will see us through any and all the shadows of this life as we trust and walk with Him in His light!

    4) “May have an abundance for every good work”. Christians are “His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Eph. 2:10). He promises to provide the abundance of His grace for our every good work. Satan whispers “but you can’t do that!” Let God’s people say “away with you, Satan, for ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’” (Phil. 4:13). AD 2018 is the new year of our Lord! Memorize 2 Cor. 9:8 and let us claim its promises every hour of every day that God allows us to live! “And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith” (1 Jn. 5:4).

Ralph Weinhold;

“Lost and Found”

When I was growing up it was not uncommon for public places to set aside a location on the premises where lost items could be turned in with the expectation that the object could be reunited with its owner. That designated spot might be a room, a box, or just some isolated corner in the office of a clerk. It was called “Lost and Found!” If we were to be technical, that place should only be called “Lost,” or perhaps, “Lost items,” for once “found” by the original owner, the item was reclaimed and no longer a part of that which was lost.

The fifteenth chapter of Luke is what Hastings calls “The Lost And Found” chapter of the New Testament. That is exactly what it is! In three wonderful parables our Lord pulls back the curtain of God’s amazing mercy and grace, the Lord’s never ending efforts to find the lost, and the Holy Spirit’s role in providing each of us the light that will help us, as God’s instruments, to “find” the lost; even those in the remote recesses of the dark and dismal world of sin. Think with me about those two words: “Lost and Found!”

Lost!

Here is a word that is filled with dread. Men speak of having “lost” a game, or having “lost” some precious possession. Such does not compare to the lostness of the soul. Think on that word. For centuries men have meditated on that word, and have yet to find in it any consolation, any hope, or any encouragement. The word brings only a sense of foreboding. Most, if not all of us, have experienced the feeling of losing our wallet, or some precious ornament or keep-sake. Our hearts sink; our countenance droops. Immediately we begin the search to recover the object. No stone is left unturned. Time is no longer important, and those comparatively insignificant things that crowd our life are put on the back burner as we put forth every effort to find that which is lost.

Now consider the lost sheep. The sheep was lost due to its inattention. Sheep are like that. A person might be lost as the result of a shipwreck. The vessel may strike a reef and sink, taking with it those on board. I don’t think Jesus is talking about being lost like that. In this parable the soul was lost, not as a ship floundering in the tempestuous seas, but as a wanderer missing his way. Here is someone who cannot find the way home; someone who, due to his ignorance and inattention, finds himself l-o-s-t!

Found!

It is notable that throughout these parables Jesus never said a word to indicate that the situation was a hopeless one. Quite the contrary. In spite of the lost condition of the sheep, the coin, and the prodigal, we find the Father, and the Good Shepherd ever searching for that which was lost. Our Lord had a living hope for those who were lost. Because of His great love for the lost, and His hope for all men, He keeps searching. As one author put it, “He was the friend of outcasts whom even the outcasts cast out!” (Hastings, 427).

Even though men may lose their way, that way remains open for a return to God. So long as man has breath within him there remains that possibility of a return home and the sweet reunion with one’s Creator. The journey home is not impossible, for when a man is lost and looking for his way home, he can be assured that he is being looked for by the Father. As Hastings put it, “This is the essential fact of the religious life – that the search of the soul for a path is met by the search of God for the soul.”

Lost and found! The first of these words is filled with sorrow; the second with joy. One fills the heart with hopelessness, the second points us to a living hope. Study the parable again and see if you don’t get that impression. Then let us shed a tear for the lost sheep and determine that we will allow ourselves to be instruments in the Father’s hand to leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after that one lost, dying, helpless sheep. And when that lost, dying, helpless sheep is found, let us rejoice, not only for finding the lost sheep, but for being ourselves found by the Good Shepherd Who was willing to leave His heavenly home in search for us.

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found,

Was blind, but now I see!”

By Tom Wacaster

 

PEACE ON EARTH Luke 2:5-14

INTRO.
A. Have you ever thought about what the heavenly host of angels said at Jesus’ birth?  – Lu. 2:14?
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”  – KJV (that’s the way I learned it.)
Q– What does that mean?
Has it happened?
– Do you see “peace on earth?  … good will?”

   I’ve started more than one sermon to explain this scripture and they inevitably end up in the “Sermons I’m Working On” file.
– If Jesus came to bring ”peace on earth and good will among men” … How’s that working?  Where is it?
– I don’t see much “peace and good will” among world’s nations … our own nation
– I know of lots of churches where there’s not much “peace and good will.”

– But this is what the angels said was going to be the result of this child being born.
– This is what God was going to accomplish through this child’s birth!

  1. Then one day as I was reading this passage in the NIV – “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men
    on whom his favor rests.”

    – I checked it in ASV – “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased.” *

    – This message is one that I can more readily understand- (2 statements which define Jesus’ mission on earth):
    1. To God (in heaven) Jesus will bring glory
    2. To Men (on earth- with whom God is pleased) Jesus will bring peace

IF- of all the things that the angels could have said about Jesus- THIS is what THEY were impressed about, I want
to know what it means, don’t you?

… I think the first part of his mission statement is pretty self-explanatory:

I- TO BRING GLORY (HONOR) TO GOD IN HEAVEN
A. Jesus constantly stated this as His priority:
– Remember his statement to his disciples (Jn. 11) when they received word of Lazarus’ sickness-
This sickness will not end in death.  No, it is for God’s glory…”
– Then, when they protested at his insistence that they move the stone covering the grave-
Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?
… That was his goal in everything he did.
– It’s what he wanted to accomplish for His Father – He wanted everyone to be awed by God and honor Him!

  1. Even his submitting to a painful, cruel death of execution on the cross was for the purpose of glorifying God.
    – “… it was for this very reason I came to this hour. ‘Father, glorify your name!” – Jn. 12:27-28
  2. He even made provision to continue accomplishing this same mission AFTER HE DIED!
    – He promised his disciples that he would “…do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to
    the Father.” – Jn. 14:13
  3. Jesus did nothing without consideration of “How will this glorify my Father?”
    – So, I believe that Jesus DID and IS accomplishing what the angels proclaimed at his birth that he would do.
Might I suggest that we use this same criterion in our lives!
– That we constantly consider (in our words and actions), “Will this glorify my Father?/Will this please Him?”
… How much would this change our lives?

II- (Second proclamation- which, I believe is directly connected to the first)…  TO BRING PEACE TO MEN ON EARTH
WITH WHOM GOD IS PLEASED.

  1. There is some sense in which God DOES bring peace “among” men when one of the parties involved pleases the
    Lord:
    Pro. 16:7– “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.”
       … But that’s not his primary objective
    – I know that because, Jesus said, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you…”  – Mk. 6:26
         – He also said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth.  I did not come to bring peace, but a
    sword.” 
    Mt. 10:34

  … So, in spite of what Miss America contestants wish for every year… and while world peace is certainly a worthy
ideal, that wasn’t what the angels indicated Jesus would accomplish.

… So, what “peace” was it that the angels were so excited about and that Jesus introduced into the world?

  1. God is a God who is all about Peace
    – You are likely familiar with the compound names of God in O.T…. (and studied their originating background)
    – One of those names was “Jehovah-Shalom
    – It was the name that the Judge Gideon gave God when he was terrified he was going to die and God said,
    “Peace.  Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.”  – Judges 6:24

… I believe the meaning “God is my peace,” summarizes what the angels meant in their statement at Jesus’ birth
– Peace is the result of security.
– Through Jesus Christ, God has given me ULTIMATE SECURITY!

– The world does not know what true peace is (and too many of us don’t know):
– Peace is being content rather than being dissatisfied
– Peace is not being afraid- to DIE or to LIVE!
– Peace is having real purpose in life!
– Peace is investing your treasure in heaven … (and knowing that God is guarding it for you)!
… Where are you going to get that peace?    -JEHOVAH-SHALOM … GOD HIMSELF IS MY PEACE!

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future,
nor any powers,
39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from
the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord
.” – Ro. 8:38-39

   Song: “My Only peace is You, Jesus, my only peace is you.
From early in the morning till late at night, my only peace is you.”
  1. When I was a young preacher, I would often get frustrated that things weren’t moving as fast as I thought they
    should be.
    – I can remember impatiently saying in a meeting with the elders, “I’d rather have a good fight than have nothing
    going on!”
    … That was before I was involved in fights where I saw brothers and sisters spiritually crippled …or killed!
    That was before I knew that, too often, “Even when you win, you lose!”

    – I’ve seen too many fights!  … I’ve been in too many fights!
    – I don’t like seeing people get hurt anymore!
    – I don’t want to hurt anybody anymore!

    D. I think Paul puts this in exactly this perspective in Ephesians 2:
    – He says, Remember when you were separated from Christ… excluded from citizenship in God’s family…
    foreigners… without hope… and without God!

Q– “How can you have peace when you are not part of God’s family?!”   … YOU CAN’T!

– Then he says, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of
Christ.  FOR HE HIMSELF IS OUR PEACE
”   -GOD IS MY PEACE!

CONCL.
A. So now I can sing with all my heart:
“When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

B. I have been blessed to come to know that peace
Philippians 4:7  – “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart [emotions]
and your minds
[thoughts] in Christ Jesus.”
– “emotions and thoughts” – the two things in our life that are the most difficult for us to control.
… God wants you to have that peace.
– You can know this peace only when you are secure IN CHRIST JESUS!
– Because it’s SIN, THE LOVE OF IT and THE CONSEQUENCES OF IT that keep you from having that peace which
can only be found in God.

 *NOTE:  There is a textual variation in one Greek word in this text which involves the inclusion/exclusion of a single letter (sigma) which allows for the variation in reading.  The oldest MSS tend to lean toward the rendering of the NIV/ASV.

Ken Stegall

“Beware Where You Break The Law!”

The woman in Long Island, New York is not named in the Associated Press report from December 6, 2017.  This 26-year-old was arriving for a court appearance in response to a summons she was given for possession of marijuana.  For most of us, that would qualify as a bad day.  This lady was just getting started.

She cut off an unmarked police car as she drove into the court’s parking lot.  That was probably because she was talking on her cell phone and didn’t see it.  That’s another violation of the law.

She topped it all off, however, when she pulled into the parking spot reserved for the chief of police.  When an officer approached her to tell her to move her car, she was found smoking a joint of marijuana.

It’s never a good idea to break the law.  But if you must break the law (I’m not sure how that scenario would arise), by all means don’t break the law while occupying the parking spot for the chief of police.

We chuckle over stories like that, but do we commit the same type of mistake?  Are we not “parked” in a spot that belongs to the Judge of all the earth (Genesis 18:25)?  We live on earth because God made us.  All things belong to Him; we are merely stewards of His acreage for a time.

Psalm 100:3 gives the reason why we should “serve the Lord with gladness” (v. 2): “Know that the Lord, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”  What does God own?  According to that statement (and many others like it in the Bible), we belong to Him.  And the pastures in which we graze belong to Him.  We owe everything to God!

Isaiah 1:3 makes the same point using different livestock: “The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master’s crib; but Israel does not know, My people do not understand.”  The sin of ingratitude is impossible to miss in that pronouncement.

Paul told the philosophers of Athens, Greece that they, like all people, “should seek the Lord” (Acts 17:27).  Why?  “For in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).  Those are pretty basic abilities – living, moving, being.  How is it that we have those gifts?  Because of God.

If I enjoy living in another person’s house, I should pay the rent they charge.  If we enjoy living on earth, we should give God the honor and service He asks.  And how foolish am I if I’m found violating His will while parked in His spot?!

Come to the light God offers!  Study His word, the Bible.  Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24).  Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss these ideas further.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Copyright, 2017, Timothy D. Hall

“The One Who Did”

Let’s take a look at Luke 17:11-19 – “The One Who Did.”

The incident of the 10 lepers is a familiar story, but perhaps one where we have stopped short of the real issue.  Here the border between Galilee and Samaria is a fitting location for this event involving both Jews and a Samaritan.  What Luke says here corresponds with what we know about lepers.  They kept distant from non-lepers (v. 12; Lev. 13:45-46, Numbers 5:2), they formed their own colonies (2 Ki. 7:3), and they positioned themselves near roads to make appeals to charity.  Showing themselves to the priest after healing was prescribed in the law (Lev. 14:2-32).  It’s important to note that leprosy was a social as well as a physical disease that resulted in outcast.  Ironically, it obliterated religious, political, racial and social lines.  Why else would a Samaritan be living among Jews?

Make note of a couple of things here.  It’s a healing story with the usual elements:  a cry for help; Jesus responds; the healing occurs.  But it occurs in the act of obedience rather than prior to their obedience.  Next, it is only the foreigner who returns, who praises God and who expresses gratitude to Jesus.  When Jesus says, “Your faith has made you well,” the blessing must refer to some benefit other than that which all, including the other nine, had received earlier.

On the surface, the story seems to be an issue of gratitude/ingratitude.  The nine who were privileged didn’t return.  It is true that much of the time those with the most are the least grateful.  But looking closer, what did their ingratitude cost them?

  1. It cost them a personal encounter with Jesus.  They had only seen him from a distance, and had no further connection with him.  Because they didn’t return, they missed the opportunity for a relationship with him, to spend time with him, and to know him personally.
  1. It cost them the blessing of salvation, and that was the real issue.  The verb Jesus used for “made well” (v. 19) is often translated “to be saved” (see Lk. 19:9,10, where “salvation” had come to Zacchaeus)

So what we have is a story of TEN HEALED AND ONE SAVED!  And the one saved was the one with the least religious privileges.  The one person who should not have gotten it, did.  Jesus recognized in him the attitude that brings salvation.  The other nine who should have gotten it, didn’t.

For Class:

  1. Look at Lev. 13:45-46, Numbers 5:2, Lev. 14:2-32, and 2 Kings 7:3 for some insight into lepers.  What would their lives have been like?
  1. Why was there such bitter tension (John 4:9) between Jews and Samaritans?

*2 kings 17:24-41 – descendants a of a mixed population with allegiances to other gods following the conquest by Assyria in 722 BC

* Ezra 4:2-5, Neh. 2:19 – they opposed rebuilding the temple and Jerusalem

*Samaritans worshiped at their own rival temple on Mt. Gerazim (John 4)

  1. Why would a Samaritan leper been living with Jewish lepers?
  1. What is unusual about the healing of the ten lepers?
  1. Why would Jesus instruct the lepers to go to the priest before their healing occurred?
  1. Read 2 Kings 5:1-14.  How is Naaman’s story similar to the one in Luke 17?
  1. How could being ungrateful cost someone the salvation that Jesus offers?

Patrick Langston

Worship is our acknowledgment of God’s worth.

Worship

Genesis 4 relates man’s first attempt to worship God. Abel, a shepherd, brought an offering of the firstlings of his lock. Cain, a farmer, brought an offering of the fruit of the ground. The Bible says, “And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering, but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard” (vv. 4-5). Whatever may have been the difference in this case, one thing is clear: God does not accept everything offered Him as worship.

The Concept of Worship
Worship is our acknowledgment of God’s worth. Occasionally, the Bible uses the term of everyday living which respects His will (Romans 12:2). Mostly, worship refers to special acts of devotion intended to express to God our regard for Him. Either way, the underlying principle is reverence for God. Worship may therefore be defined as a reverent attitude which is expressed by a life of service and special acts of devotion.

Common Mistakes
The prophets of the Old Testament had much to say about the ancient Israelites’ worship. While the forms were different back then – offering animal sacrifices, burning incense, tithing, etc. – we can still learn much from their experiences. The prophets identified three common mistakes: (1) People often mixed their own preferences with God’s instructions. Instead of honoring God by doing what He said, they added or substituted what they liked. (2) Even when people were doing exactly what God said, worship at times became a boring ritual. Isaiah called it “lip service,” “traditions learned by rote” (29:13). (3) Daily lives were too often segregated from what people expressed in formal worship. People praised God in songs and prayers but lived in complete disregard for His will. This was perhaps the prophets’ most common complaint (Isaiah 1:10-17; Jeremiah 7:1-11; Amos 4:1-4; 8:4-6; etc.). Surely you understand why God would not accept worship from people who are just going though the motions or who substitute their own will for His. How does that honor Him?

Modern Applications
Jesus taught that “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Spirit emphasizes that worship is the product of a spiritual relationship. Worship is a privilege, not a right. It is the privilege of those who are in Christ, who “through Him . . . offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Hebrews 12:15). Both in the formal sense and the broad sense of daily living, it is the conscious expression of a heart devoted to God. Truth emphasizes worship as God directs. Only that kind truly honors him. Omission of spirit leaves empty formalism. Omission of truth results in honoring self, not God.

The New Testament reveals several avenues of formal worship, either in individual or group settings. The history of the first-century church begins, “And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). Instruction in God’s word clearly has a part in our assemblies. Breaking bread refers to eating the Lord’s Supper, a memorial of Jesus’ death (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). This is to be eaten on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7), the day also specified for the contribution, a means of Christians joining together to do the work God has assigned us collectively (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). Prayer is our means of communicating with God, both for praise and requests (1 Timothy 2:1-6). Singing is another means of praising God, with the added benefit of teaching and admonishing each other (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).

Whether done individually or collectively, God’s honor, not our pleasure, is the goal of worship. Therefore, His word dictates what is done and how. Is it surprising that the means He has given appeal more to the spirit than the flesh? How it looks, how it sounds, how it feels – these are not the critical factors. Instead, God says, “Let all things be done for edification” (1 Corinthians 14:26). Remember, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).

– by Frank Himmel

When Someone is Nothing And No One is Something Galatians 6:3-4

 

(I vaguely remember Dad preaching this sermon which, from the date on his file folder, was first delivered when I was 15 years old, in August of 1986.)

You are a person of worth.

There is an emphasis in the text of Galatians 6 on thinking. Man is the product of his thinking. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 23:7 also says, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.”

There is a power in perverted thought. Listen as Paul describes his own actions in Acts 26:9-11: “So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death I cast my vote against them. And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being furiously enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities.”

There is also a power in positive thinking. Paul encourages Christians in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think on these things.”

In 2005, a dwarf named John E. Rice passed away. A few decades before, he was rather famous for starring in informercials and beginning a motivation company with his brother called “Think Big, Inc.”

Christianity is designed to enable man to see his own self worth. Some of the basic problems in life arise from a failure to appreciate one’s own self worth. Perhaps you’ve seen the cartoon poster in which a boy says, “I know I’m somebody ‘cause God don’t make no junk.”

Some causes for thinking one is something… Pride such as the Pharisee in Luke 18:10-14. One’s position as we see in Matthew 20:20, 25-28. Power, especially as it is embodied in money. Yet the “love of money” is the root of all sorts of evil, according to 1 Timothy 6:10. Popularity, but Jesus said in Matthew 16:24: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” Additionally, Paul wrote: “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). The fact is, the glory of the world is fickle and brief (1 Peter 1:24; James 4:14).

There are also, however, causes for thinking one is nothing… Sin is really man’s worst failure. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Sin can cause one to feel cheap and worthless. The sinner may get into a vicious cycle of despair to dejection. Yet, Christ could see in publicans and harlots hope for a better person (Luke 15).

Another cause for thinking one is nothing is improper comparisons with others, as Paul warns in 2 Corinthians 10:12. There are no inferior saints (1 Cor. 12:14ff). One talent people are also important (Matthew 25:14ff). The Lord makes His people great by making them His servants (Matt. 20:26-28).

Thinking one is important when one is nothing results in deception: “For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (Galatians 6:3).

Thinking one is nothing when in reality he is something leads to: demoralization, defeat, and destruction. One may “rejoice” in personal accomplishments for the Lord: “But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another” (Galatians 6:4).

One may indeed “glory in the cross” (Galatians 6:14).

–The late Wayne Holland, Sr.

a sermon delivered in Hiawassee, GA, August 3, 1986

and South Boston, VA, April 26, 1992

What the Bible Teaches about Itself: Its Finality

    As Paul and Silas traveled in Paul’s second missionary journey, they passed from Thessalonica (Acts 17) to the city of Berea. While in Thessalonica, Paul taught the Jews that Jesus was the promised Messiah, reasoning with them “from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead” (17:2-3). Paul knew that as the Jews were heavily invested in their Bibles (our Old Testament), he needed to show clearly that Jesus was that Savior.

    Paul had some degree of success in Thessalonica among Jews and Gentiles but the Jews, as a bloc, were jealous (notice their reaction was not grounded in Scripture nor reasoning) and wound up driving Paul and Silas out of town. At which point they came to Berea.

    Luke writes that the Jews in Berea were more “noble-minded” than the Jews in Thessalonica. The verb translated “noble-minded” means a “willingness to learn and evaluate something fairly” (Louw-Nida). I presume that Paul did in Berea the same thing he did in Thessalonica (verses 2-3). But in Berea, the Jews were willing to open their Bibles “with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (vs 11).

    Incidentally, if we, as preachers, want our congregations to have the same noble-mindedness, then we need to encourage, allow, train and insist that they search the Scriptures to see if what we are saying is true. In other words, don’t speak so fast that the audience cannot take down appropriate notes from our lessons. Don’t quote Scripture to such a degree that our audience cannot follow that we are appropriately interpreting the text within its context. Have them open the Scriptures in your sermons and allow them to see and read the text for themselves.

    Why? Because the Bible teaches, as the Jews and Paul illustrate, that it has the final word on any given religious or spiritual subject. Kevin DeYoung, in his book Taking God at His Word, writes that the Bereans were more noble because “they were utterly submissive to the Scriptures. They would accept something new – if it could be supported in the Scriptures. They would believe something controversial – if it were based in Scripture. They were willing to follow Christ for the rest of their lives, provided they were, in the process, following the Scriptures” (pg 75). What a remarkable point to make and so relevant for us today.

    There is a considerable degree of disunity and disharmony among professing Christians today. You have Catholics and Orthodox, liberal Protestants and so-called evangelical (conservative) Protestants. Then you have Christians who just follow the New Testament. The fundamental difference among them is their belief in and approach to the finality of Scripture. Where is your authority? Is it the Pope? The Patriarch? Modern culture? Respective creeds? Or just the New Testament of Jesus Christ?

    The Word of God is just that, the word of God. How can we ignore it? Add to it? Alter it? Diminish it? It is by the word of Christ that we will be judged (John 12:48) and that is final!

Paul Holland

“The Durable Binding”

The idea of a time capsule is intriguing.  Jim Croce released a song in 1972 that points to the seeming impossibility of putting “time in a bottle”.  “It can’t be done” is how most people respond to such a thought.  Time passes, and you can’t save it.

The people of Lancaster, in Schuyler County, Missouri opened a time capsule this past Sunday.  It had been embedded in the foundation of a local school building for 109 years.  The time had come, they decided, to reveal the contents of this capsule.

Not many details are given in news reports of that event other than “several handwritten items from the students of the school” and articles from some local businesses.  One item that received interest was the string which bound the wrapping on articles in the capsule: “… how that string were able to hold its strength after 100 years being sealed in a container was a little bit of a mystery to me,” said local resident Bob Bigsby.

Just yesterday someone spoke to me of a couple who are now experiencing serious health challenges.  They have been married for 67 years, I was told.  What memories those two must have!  Through the years they’ve seen many changes and have experienced much.  Their minds are something akin to time capsules.

What especially strikes me about this couple and others like them is the durability of their binding.  An old adage, “Familiarity breeds contempt”, has been proven true multiple times.  It’s hard for two people to get along for a long period of time, but in marriage we see it fairly often.  Those who surpass 50 years together are worthy of admiration.

Marriage is a gift God has given to people for companionship and intimacy.  He saw the need soon after Creation: “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:18).  Eve was thus created for Adam, and the institution of marriage was begun.

Jesus looked back to this event as an example to be followed: “… He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female’, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?  So then, they are no longer two but one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6).

It’s a happy occasion when a couple decides to “tie the knot” in marriage.  It’s important that the binding material be of a good quality, something that will survive the challenges and the years.  For that we suggest always looking to the Lord.  His way leads to the best life (see John 10:10).  He provides the binding that will endure.

Come to the light God offers!  Study His word, the Bible.  Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24).  Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss these ideas further.

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Copyright, 2017, Timothy D. Hall

Mom’s Influence

 

    Perhaps you will indulge me a few minutes to reflect on Mom. She was a preacher’s wife for 30 years or so. We often had members of the church over to the house for dinner on Sunday afternoon. Sometimes, Dad would bring home a stranger who needed a meal. Mom taught a ladies Bible class in many places where Dad preached. She taught Bible class for years as well as helping with Vacation Bible School.

 

    Mom loved to cook. She had tons of cooking magazines and recipes in other forms. She made sure that I knew how to wash my own clothes and could iron my own clothes when I left to go to college. Once, when I drove to college (about ten hours away) and did not call to let her know I had arrived safely, she fussed at me. I retorted, “If something happened to me, the sheriff would let you know.” She responded, “I don’t want to hear from the sheriff!”

 

    Mom dealt with life in a nonchalant manner. She was rarely thrown off by the events thrown at her. Mom knew God was in control. Once, when I was about middle school aged, I was concerned about some matter in my own life. I remember Mom responding, “Son, the Lord will provide.” I did not know it at the time, but she was quoting Abraham’s response to Isaac in Genesis 22. I have sense developed the same spirit in my own life. It is a worldview that recognizes that God is in charge.

 

    Along with that insouciant spirit, Mom also had a sense of humor. She did not have a loud laugh. She was also sarcastic in a good-spirit sort of way.

 

    For several years, Mom sat with an elderly woman who had cerebral palsy. The woman, in her 60’s, was cared for by her own mom, in her 80’s. So, Mom would arrive early in the morning and help bathe Molly. She could get her into and out of the bathtub. She would also go back in the evening to help get Molly ready for bed.

 

    From that experience, Mom decided to go into social services. When my parents moved to Roxboro, NC, Mom went to a community college and earned her associates degree in social work. Then, she worked several years at a group home, providing activities for adults with mental and physical disabilities. 

 

    My parents kept foster children when we lived in St. Louis. It takes a special woman to take a strange child into her home for temporary care. Mom also loved her own children. Back in the day, when Sears still printed a Christmas Wish Book catalog, I would make a long list of things I wanted for Christmas and then edit it a dozen times! Mom usually picked out 2-3 things each child wanted. She has done the same thing with her grandchildren (eight) and great-grandchildren (three).

 

    Mom was a good woman and lives on in the faith she passed on to her children and grandchildren.

 

    At the conclusion of Mom’s funeral service, one of the men from the funeral home told me it was a joy to sit through that service (cf. Psalm 116:15).

–Paul Holland