COUNTERFEITS

One of the most profitable and widespread forms of lawlessness is Counterfeiting. Large sums of good money is spent annually in an effort to prevent the manufacture of bad.

All good things, things of value, are counterfeited.  We see it in Money, Art, Clothes, Purses, and yes, even in religion.

An object is either genuine or counterfeit. The fact that a counterfeit is almost like the genuine does not keep it from being counterfeit. In fact a counterfeit that does not closely resemble the genuine will not be accepted by many.

COUNTERFEIT GODS: One of ancient Israel’s most frequent sins was idolatry. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them;” (Exodus 20:3-5).

We may not make “metal” images but we do make “mental” images as our god. How many today worship the counterfeit “god of pleasure”? There are so many misconceptions about God.  We need to read again Acts 17;22-31.

COUNTERFEIT FAITH: Genuine Faith come from hearing the Word of God. (Romans 10:17).  The Holy Spirit warns us that ‘there shall be false teachers, who shall privily bring in destructive heresies…”(II Peter 2:1-2).  The apostle Paul tells us that a perverted gospel is another gospel, and is no longer the Gospel of Christ (Gal. 1:6-7). I Cor. 15:12-17 tells us that if the preaching is vain, or counterfeit, then the faith it produces will also be counterfeit. Any difference, however slight makes it a counterfeit gospel.  Counterfeit gospels produce counterfeit faith, which results in counterfeit hope.

COUNTERFEIT PEACE: Jeremiah tells us that before the fall of the city of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel, there were prophets who went about preaching, “Peace, Peace…when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:14).  The people listened to the prophets and had a “counterfeit peace” until the Babylonian army destroyed them and their city.

People may posses counterfeit money and be happy and feel rich for a while…but when it is found to be counterfeit, their dreams end. Only that which is real, genuine, will endure; be it money, fame or faith. We need the peace that only Jesus can give (John 14:27).

COUNTERFEITS: How do you detect a counterfeit? The Banker spends much time in study. He does not study the counterfeit, but spends his time studying the real thing.  Everything that is not real, genuine, is counterfeit.

In Religion we need to know that the Bible is the Real Thing!  Paul tells us to “Study to show thyself approved unto God” (II Tim. 2:15). When you know the Real Thing, ….the Bible…you will recognize the counterfeit.  Is your religion genuine? Test it by the divine standard and be sure.  The true Christian has: “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.” (I Peter 1:3).

Frank Briscoe

A Bible study on the city of Ephesus

One source claims the church at Ephesus ceased to exist by the end of the 1st century because it didn’t heed the warnings. Today, Ephesus is 99% Muslim. The church in Ephesus had the cream of the crop as far as the teachers and preachers who taught them: Apollos, Priscilla and Aquilla, Paul, Timothy and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. But the best teachers in the world can do nothing if the church itself is not listening to the teaching and committed to God’s highest standards. Complacency is foolish. There is always some truth to learn, some one to love, some thing to repent of. We are blessed with every spiritual blessing and chosen for incredible riches now and in eternity.

Answer and discuss these 15 questions and statements about Ephesus:

  1. In what ways did the church in Ephesus leave their first love and works?

 

  1. How could they let this happen?

 

  1. What would this “first love” consist of? Others first. “Actions speak louder than words.” 1 John 3:14-18

 

  1. Doctrine is vital, but love should always remain “first” in our churches.

 

  1. Note how serious this is in Ephesus, as Jesus says that a failure to repent will mean the end of the church.

 

  1. Though there was serious false teaching that needed correcting in the early days of the church at Ephesus, it was their forsaking love that would bring the church there undone. What is the lesson here?

 

  1. This was also a major problem in Corinth – the church that was established immediately prior to Ephesus.

 

  1. See all the teaching on love in 1 Corinthians 13; 8:1-3 and 16:14.

 

  1. This all happened in Ephesus within perhaps only 16 years! It doesn’t take long for sin to take hold.

 

  1. How long has your congregation been going?

 

  1. What are some things that could be repented of?

 

  1. Any sin must be nipped in the bud. This is one sure lesson from Jesus’ censure of the church at Ephesus.

 

  1. What are some noble things we need to resume practicing?

 

  1. How much time do we assume Jesus gives us to get things right?

 

  1. How easy it is to slip into a habit of casual sin, and think nothing of it!

 

David Carr

“Six Days AWOL”

The story of Danny Filippidis, age 49, is intriguing.  The 49-year-old firefighter from Toronto was skiing with friends on Whiteface Mountain in New York last week – and then couldn’t be found.  A massive search was launched, utilizing hundreds of volunteers looking in hazardous terrain.  About 7,000 man-hours went into the search.

On Tuesday of this week, six days later, Danny was found.  He called his wife from Sacramento, California, almost 3,000 miles away.  He was still dressed in his ski clothes; his car and other belongings were still in New York.  He doesn’t remember how he got to California, though he vaguely recalls riding in a big rig-type truck.

According to reports, Danny has no history of drug abuse or mental illness.  What actually happened to him remains a mystery; the best guess is that he suffered a head injury while skiing.  Whatever be the cause, six days of his life have gone AWOL.

We commonly see reports of people who suffer temporary amnesia due to substance abuse.  An article in Scientific American on April 19, 2017 noted this developing trend among illicit opioid abusers.  In some cases, the article noted, the memory loss persisted after more than a year.  This is surely not something the user signed up for!

The problem reminds me of what the Bible teaches about sin.  Isaiah 64:6 is one such statement: “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”

Notice what Isaiah said: When sin takes over we become like faded leaves, the kind that fall from trees in autumn.  Sin then grows in intensity, “like the wind”, and takes us away.  We are powerless to resist, just as dried leaves have no say in where the wind will carry them.  Making it all the more tragic is that we invited this sin into our life.

Someone once said this about sin: “Sin will take you farther than you wanted to go, keep you longer than you wanted to stay, and cost you more than you wanted to pay.”  That seems to agree with Isaiah’s observation about sin.

If sin is so dangerous, why don’t people just stay away from it?  I don’t believe I’ll ever have a problem with snakes and spiders, for I have a natural fear of them.  I expect I will always keep my distance.  Why doesn’t it work the same way with sin?

Hebrews 11:25 notes the faith of Moses which enabled him to walk away from a life of royal leisure in Egypt: “choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.”  That’s why people are attracted to sin – it often comes packaged inside of pleasure. May we not forget that such pleasure is passing.  The consequences of the sin inside the package may not pass.

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.

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

Timothy D. Hall

Deeper blindness is the price one has to pay for the refusal to let facts shatter his illusions

A “theory” is defined by Webster as “a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation.” A number of years ago I came across a book entitled, “Official Explanations.” It was a “tongue-in-cheek” look at the uncanny ability of the human race to “explain” acts of irresponsibility and irrationality. For example, one explanation for the Three-Mile Island nuclear accident was, “Into every one’s life a little fall-out must rain.” I have, through the years, collected a number of excuses and explanations of everyday phenomenon which have, at least to date, eluded adequate explanation. For example, most of us are aware that yawning is contagious. Why? Explanation: You yawn to equalize the pressure on your eardrums. This pressure change outside your eardrums unbalances the pressure in the ear of others, so they yawn to equalize the pressure in their ears.” Makes sense! Here is one for linguistic experts: “The quantity of consonants in the English language is constant. If omitted in one place, they turn up in another. When a Bostonian ‘pahks his cah,’ the lost R’s migrate southwest, causing a Texan to ‘warsh and rinch his car.’ One of my favorite was an extended “reason” as to why fire trucks are red: “First, fire trucks have four wheels and eight men, and four and eight make twelve. There are twelve inches in a foot. A foot is a ruler. Queen Elizabeth is a ruler, and the Queen Elizabeth is the largest ship on the seven seas. Seas have fish, fish have fins, and the Finns fought the Russians. The Russians are red. Fire trucks are always rushin’ and therefore fire trucks are always red.” I thought, as I read these theories, that we should come up with some ‘theories’ of our own to explain some not-so-rare behavior of brethren.

In the area of church attendance: Attendance is the combination of two foreign words (the precise language hereto date not known). The first word, ‘atten’ is a system of rating. We might rate the preacher’s sermon well done and extremely entertaining as ‘atten.’ The second part of our word, ‘dance’ derives from the same root word as our English word ‘dance,” which Webster defines as “to move quickly.” Since attendance restricts my movement, such does not rate ‘atten,’ and hence my absence from the same.

In the area of personal Bible study: It has been said that your brain has a left side, and a right side. If you are left handed, your right side of the brain is the predominant portion of your brain. Right-handed people operate out of the left portion of the brain. With that axiom well established, it only makes sense that since most folks are right-handed, then most folks operate out of the left side of their brain. And since Bible study is the “right” thing to do, this robs most folks of the ability to study the Bible on a regular basis. Silly you say? Sure. But then, so are all attempts to excuse oneself from such basic Christian responsibilities as attendance and Bible study. The sad aspect of all this is the undeniable truth that God never accepted excuses for our misbehavior and irresponsibility, no matter how “official” the explanation may seem to mortal men.

Of course excuse making is as old as mankind. The response of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is a case in point. When placed in the garden they were given a law that forbad them from eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They ate the forbidden fruit, and when God demanded of Adam an answer he passed the proverbial buck with only 19 words: “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” (Gen. 3:12). Following the lead of her husband, Eve likewise offered an excuse: “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” The devil was smart enough not to argue with God and may very well have sleeked off the scene having done his damage. As one South African brother once said, “Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the snake, and the snake didn’t have a leg to stand on.”

Aaron was in the excuse making business with one of the most pitiful, if not comical responses for a grave sin committed while Moses was in Mt. Sinai receiving the Law. Having made a golden idol, he was confronted by Moses: “What did this people unto thee that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them?” Aaron’s answer? “Thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief. For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us…And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf” (Exo. 32:21-24). We might say, “Well, we threw in the gold and out popped a golden calf!” What a pitiful excuse for his sin!

King Saul, after refusing to destroy the Amalekites, blamed the people (1 Sam. 15:21). The would-be followers of the Lord attempted to shirk their duty with appeals to the land, oxen, and of all things, their family! (Luke 9:57-62). Even Moses attempted to excuse himself from God’s call to confront Pharaoh. His immediate response upon hearing the mission for which he would be sent was, “Whom am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Ex. 3:10). God seeks to reassure Moses, but the evasion of his God-given task continues. “But, behold, they will not believe me, nor harken unto my voice” (Ex. 4:1). One would think that by turning Moses’ staff into a serpent this humble man would have been convinced not only of God’s power, but of the foolishness on his part to evade the inevitable. One more excuse is now offered by Moses: “O my Lord, I am not eloquent… but I am slow of speech” (Ex. 4:10). You have to love God’s response, for therein Moses is reminded, “Who hath made man’s mouth? Or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind?” (Ex. 4:11). In one last ditch effort, Moses stops making excuses and directly requests of God, “O, my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou will send” (Ex. 4:11). “Not me, God! Send someone else whom you, in your wisdom, might send my way!” Aaron would be appointed to go with Moses; he would be Moses’ spokesman. But the bottom line was Moses would still stand before Pharaoh and deliver God’s message, “Let my people go.”

Someone once said that an excuse is “A devil’s lie dressed in fine clothing.” Or as Billy Sunday was fond of saying, “An excuse is a skin of reason stuffed with a lie.” Another has said, “Excuses are nails used to build a house of failure.” No one has ever “excused” his way to success. On the other hand, “The best day of your life is the one in which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins (Bob Moawad).

Maybe the better part of valor and courage is to simply speak the truth at all times, or at best keep silent. When it comes to sin, repent rather than seeking to justify your action. When it comes to our duties as Christians, we may be able to fool some folks with an “excuse” that sounds good to them. But never forget, God knows the heart, and whatever excuse we might offer for our neglect of Christian duty will be seen for what it is on the Judgment Day!

One more observation is in order before I close this column. The ever increasing display of violence in society has been blamed on everything except the real root cause. Some blame the far right; others the far left. Excuses abound, and the true cause is ignored. For more than five decades our political and religious leaders have sought to expunge America of her religious roots. In short, we have produced a society out of which comes the representatives of a mind set that disrespects life in general and practices the kind of violence depicted in the things upon which they feed their minds every day. The more we cast God out, the deeper will become our blindness and the more horrible our behavior as a nation. The late James Bales summed it up like this: “Deeper blindness is the price one has to pay for the refusal to let facts shatter his illusions.”

By Tom Wacaster

What’s in it for Me?

The Lord described one of the shortcomings of the ancient Israelites as follows: “Everyone loves bribes, and follows after rewards. They do not defend the fatherless, nor does the cause of the widow come before them” (Isaiah 1:23). Like many today, the people of Israel were not much interested in helping those who could not help them in return. The prevailing way of determining whether or not to be charitable and kind was apparently to ask oneself, “What’s in it for me?” and “What am I going to get out of it?” And so it is today. Unless there is some prospect of being rewarded with pleasure, financial gain or praise, few will show much concern for the welfare of the needy and lowly.

It has been said that you can learn a lot about a man’s character by observing how he treats someone who can do nothing for him. A person of quality will be kind to those who are in positions “lower” than his (e.g. waiters, cashiers, clerks, employees at work, underclassmen at school, etc.). He will go out of his way to be helpful to those who cannot pay him back.

Jesus expects His disciples to “condescend to men of low estate” (Romans 12:16). He explicitly commands us to do good to those who cannot or will not repay us. In Luke 14:13-14 Jesus said, “When you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just”. And in Luke 6:35 He commands us to love our “enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High” (Luke 6:35).

Note that in both of the preceding passages, the reward for doing good to others is not material, financial, or even emotional — it’s spiritual and eternal. Let not our love and kindness be sold cheaply for the temporary rewards of this life. Rather, store up eternal treasures in heaven by showing courtesy and compassion to all. Make it your task today to do something for someone who cannot pay you back.

– by Steve Klein

Nothing else matters. Nothing.

What’s Your Net — Worth?

These are sermon notes, not written in a polished or finished manuscript form. For this and other sermon videos:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCu4zUK_ahzdiU15PL6dcAXA/videos

Reading – Luke 5:1-11

(Crisis in Hawaii 1/13/18). Imagine that you are in Hawaii. That’s nice. It’s a beautiful day as always. You’re relaxed, calm, enjoying the water and the sun. Just another day in paradise. Then suddenly you hear a warning that there is a missile heading toward you. That’s not nice! Then what happens next? You remember a sermon you heard recently about procrastination, and, well … you panic! You’re not prepared! You rush to put things in order and do what you can. Then you learn it was a false alarm all along. A man accidentally pushed the wrong button. Relaxed again, you probably go back to what you were doing – or not doing – before it all started.

Have you ever felt alarmed about the urgency of serving Jesus Christ? Has your heart ever been stirred – your spirit moved – to the point that you were ready to make a drastic change, a complete surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord?

Something just like that happened just off the shore of Capernaum, on the Sea of Galilee …

It was all so ordinary – the fishermen, the boats, and the nets – until Jesus came on the scene. He challenged Simon Peter to move farther out in the Sea of Galilee and drop the nets just once more. Peter caught the fish, and Jesus caught Peter! Then He sent him to catch others! Say, what could He do with our boats and nets? What’s your net worth?

Fishing on the Sea of Galilee – Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Manners & Customs, p. 457

Fishing in the Gospels – Justin Rogers – GA Nov 2017, p. 13

Fish and Faith

Fishing villages: Bethsaida, Capernaum, etc.

Fishermen: Peter, Andrew, James, and John.

Fish stories: the dragnet (Matt 13:47-50).

Fish: Grk. ἰχθύς (ichthys) – ichthyology

– First letter in Ἰησοῦς      JESUS

χ – First letter in Χριστός    CHRIST

θ – First letter in θεός         GOD

ύ – First letter in υἱός          SON

ς – First letter in σωτήρ      SAVIOR

“Saint Peter’s fish” – Tilapia galilaea

Matt 17:24-27

“The Jesus Boat” – photos and history

An ancient boat built with wooden joints was discovered during the drought in 1986. It is believed to be a fisherman’s boat dating from the later part of the first century B.C. to 70 A.D. Dated by the coins and pieces of pottery that were found in it.  It is located in the Yigal Allon Museum, next to Kibbutz Ginosar, only a few minutes drive north of Tiberias. The boat is preserved to a length of 26 1/2 feet, a width of 7 1/2 feet, and a height of 4 1/2 feet. Seven different types of wood were used in the hull’s construction, which was built in the contemporaneous Mediterranean “shell-based” method, in which the frames were attached, with edge-fastened mortise-and-tenon joinery, only after much of the hull’s shell had been constructed. Could hold about fifteen adults.  For the full story with photos, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_of_Galilee_Boat.

Leading up to Luke 5

Luke 4:14-15       Power of Spirit, Widespread Report, Teaching, Being Praised

Luke 4:16-30       Powerful, Gracious Preaching: Offering Grace, Rebuking Unbelief

Luke 4:31-37       Casting out the Unclean Spirit in Capernaum Synagogue

Result: Amazement

Luke 4:37   Report About Him into Every Locality in Sur­rounding District

Luke 4:38-41       Rebuking Fever, Laying Hands, Healing All Types of Diseases, Exorcisms

(Note this earlier, first mention of Simon, before Luke 5.)

Luke 4:42-44       Heralding Good News of Kingdom, Sought by the Crowd (Unable to Escape!)

Luke 5:1-3  Multitude Pressing and Hearing, Forcing Him to Teach from a Boat!

To improve your net worth,

Get as close to Jesus as you can.

Luke 5:1

When we share their desperate passion to be near Him, all the externals (attendance in the assembly, Bible study, prayer, etc.) will follow. Those elements are symptoms, the fruit of our faith.

To improve your net worth,

Give Him control of your boat.

Luke 5:2-3

Your boat is not yours but His, if you are His.

Jesus is never a mere passenger. He is the pilot, the captain of every vessel He enters.

To improve your net worth,

Listen to His every word.

Luke 5:3

We can only imagine the content of His message, since it is not recorded here.

To improve your net worth,

Hear His personal challenge.

Luke 5:4

He calls you to do something different, something difficult, something even radical because of your allegiance to Him.

To improve your net worth,

Admit you cannot succeed alone.

Luke 5:5

Admitting your weakness is the first step to accessing His strength.

“Toil” renders the Gk. kopiao, “to labor to the point of exhaustion.” Peter had spent all he had, so he was spent.

You know that same frustration. Doing the same old, same old over and over, but not accomplishing what really matters.

To improve your net worth,

Say, “Master, at Your word I will.”

Luke 5:5

Note the term “Master.” Once you acknowledge Jesus in that way, you become His servant, ready to obey.

Notice Simon’s influence over others in that boat. He said, “I will,” but then we read, “They did.” You have that same kind of influence over others in your life.

To improve your net worth,

Launch out deeper and drop it.

Luke 5:6

How deep is “deep?” It’s deeper than where you are right now!

It’s a risk. It takes faith, the conviction that Jesus knows where the fish are, and we do not.

You’ll never know what He can do in your life until you drop that net where you have not dropped it before.

To improve your net worth,

Get partners to help.

Luke 5:6

Did you notice in Luke 5:1-2 that there were two boats?

There was no competition or rivalry among these seasoned fishermen. Nor is there among seasoned Christians. When God brings the catch, it’s “all hands on deck.”

To improve your net worth,

Fall before Him; confess your sin.

Luke 5:8-10

Some may think, “What business does Jesus have entering my boat and taking control of it?” Simon’s thought was just the opposite. “What business do I have being in the same boat with the Master? I am not worthy!”

It is that admission of failure that is the key to success.

It is when you confess your sin and fear – and only then – that Jesus will say, “Do not fear!”

It is pride that keeps some from that admission.

To improve your net worth,

Forsake, follow, and … FISH!

Luke 5:10-11

How could they leave their business, which was so vital to their lives and to the economy? As important as their work was, they were so captivated by Jesus’ call that they went after Him!

We may define conversion as a change in what one fishes for.

“From now on, you’ll be catching men!”

Measuring Your “Net Worth”

It’s not the size of your net …

Not the weight of the fish in your net …

Not the composition of your net …

Not the color of your net …

Not the history of your net …

But who controls your net and what you do with it as a result.

Nothing else matters. Nothing.

Cory Collins

A DEBT OF $0.00

Jesus took some breaks with His disciples (Mk. 6:31) and so do we.  These studies are scheduled to resume on 2/12.  We hope you will rejoin us at that time.

The following story appears to be an “urban legend,” but is fun to read nevertheless:

In March 1992 a man living in Newtown near Boston, Massachusetts received a bill for his as yet unused credit card stating that he owed $0.00.  He ignored it and threw it away.  In April he received another and threw that one away, too.

The following month the credit card company sent him a very nasty note stating they were going to cancel his card if he didn’t send them $0.00 by return of post.  He called them, talked to them, they said it was a computer error and told him they’d take care of it.

The following month he decided that it was about time that he tried out the troublesome credit card figuring that if there were purchases on his account it would put an end to his ridiculous predicament.  However, in the first store that he produced his credit card in payment for his purchases he found that his card had been canceled. He called the credit card company who apologized for the computer error once again and said that they would take care of it.

The next day he got a bill for $0.00 stating that payment was now overdue. Assuming that having spoken to the credit card company only the previous day and that the latest bill was yet another mistake, he ignored it, trusting that the company would be as good as their word and sort the problem out.

The next month he got a bill for $0.00 stating that he had 10 days to pay his account or the company would have to take steps to recover the debt.

Finally giving in, he thought he would play the company at their own game and mailed them a check for $0.00.  The computer duly processed his account and returned a statement to the effect that he now owed the credit card company nothing at all.

A week later, the man’s bank called him asking him what he was doing writing a check for $0.00.  After a lengthy explanation, the bank replied that the $0.00 check had caused their check processing software to fail.  The bank could not now process ANY checks from ANY of their customers that day because the check for $0.00 was causing the computer to crash.

The following month the man received a letter from the credit card company claiming that his check had bounced and that he now owed them $0.00 and unless he sent a check by return of post they would be taking steps to recover the debt.

The man, who had been considering buying his wife a computer for her birthday, bought her a typewriter instead.

As I read that story, I couldn’t help but think of the debt that we owe because of our sin.  “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).  But, for those who are in Christ, that debt has been canceled — we owe nothing. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:1)

Despite that fact, though, Satan continues to make us feel that we still owe something (he’s not called “the accuser” for nothing!).  But listen to these words of comfort:

“Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.’  And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” (Rev. 12:10-11)

Praise be to the Lamb whose blood makes it possible for us to have a debt of $0.00!

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

 

 

“HOW SWIFTLY FLY THE HOURS”

It has been slightly more than two months since I wrote my last “Tom’s Pen.” Some of you have inquired as to whether or not I am still sending these out on a regular basis. I did not realize so much time had elapsed since I last posted an article. The realization of this reminded me of how swiftly time gets by, and how our procrastination can eventually lead to complete abandonment. Someone once said, “Tomorrow, today will be yesterday.” When I travel overseas I have to adjust to the various time changes, and the fact that today is already yesterday in some parts of the world. Consequently, we don’t have to wait until tomorrow to reflect upon how I spent my yesterday. Or, to put it another way, if I will take the time each day to reflect upon how I am using that day, and “redeem the time” while today is still called today, then when tomorrow does arrive I will have no regrets for how I spent the yesterday that is now today.

You may find the rambling somewhat humorous, so let’s get serious for just a moment. Job tells us, “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble” (Job 14:1). From the inspired pen of Moses we come to learn, “The days of our years are three score years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be four score years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10). James summed it up by telling us that our life is but “a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14). Some months back I received an email in which the unstated author made an observation about the wise use of time: “Now is the time to learn the Scriptures the way we know we should. Now is the time to do a good deed, pay a much deserved compliment to someone, encourage some weary brother or sister. Now is the time to talk to that friend, relative, neighbor, or casual acquaintance about Christ and his church. Now is the time to be happy and optimistic. Now is the time to be a happy, fruit-bearing Christian.” It is indeed true that “the clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power, to tell just when the hand will stop, at late or early hour. Now is the only time you own! Live, love, toil and will. Place not faith in ‘tomorrow’ for the clock may then be still.”

By Tom Wacaster

 

Lord, Please Help Me to Submit

The ability to submit is vital to our eternal salvation.  Surely all serious Bible students understand the essential need to “submit yourselves therefore to God” (James 4:7).  Rebellion against Him will certainly lead to damnation.

But there is another area where submission is also necessary – in our relationships with one another.  In fact, this willingness to submit to each other is an indirect form of submission to God (Colossians 3:22-24).  Sadly, too many Christians fail in this crucial area.

Understand, of course, that we are not discussing areas where truth and righteousness are involved.  In those matters we ought not to yield or compromise at all.  When Paul was confronted by false teachers he “gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour” (Galatians 2:5).  Thus, the only area wherein submission to one another is possible and necessary is in judgment, opinion, and expediency.

But in these judgment matters, unfortunately, some are determined to have their way – and at all cost!  It seems that it does not register on their ‘radar’ that their stubborn argumentation and consistent griping and complaining is so terribly detrimental to peace and unity.  They are doggedly insistent on things being done their way and to their liking – or else!!!  Many congregations have been torn asunder by these folks.  They may not realize it, but their conduct puts them squarely in the corner of their forerunner Diotrephes (3 John 9,10).

A consistent plea throughout the restoration movement was: “In matters of faith, unity; in matters of opinion, liberty; in all things, love.”  That statement clearly sets forth the worthy principles of devotion and commitment to truth, and humble submission in matters of opinion and judgment.  Let us all observe these godly concepts.  And let us be especially mindful of the need for submission.  Think!

– by Greg Gwin

Praying when times are difficult

God’s Spirit & Our Prayers
(Romans 8:26-27)

Lk 11:1 says that once when Jesus had been praying, His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And Jesus then taught them what we today know as “The Lord’s Prayer.”

A. An interesting request, b/c the disciples were all devout Jews, so
we can safely assume they were men of prayer before they ever met Jesus.

B. But seeing Him praying – or perhaps hearing Him also – made them realize there was something lacking about their own prayers. So they asked for some instructions: “How do we pray better? How do we pray more in line with God’s will? What do we pray for & how do we go about it? Teach us to pray as you pray!”

C. I don’t think there is such a thing as a serious disciple of Jesus who doesn’t feel some inadequacy about prayer, some sense that there is more to it than we realize, that there is a better way to pray, & that we need to pray more.

D. But especially when we’re suffering, or someone we love is suffering, or when there are needs of the Kingdom confronting us, especially at those times we feel that we don’t know how to pray as we ought.

1. But in Rom 8:26-27, Paul acknowledges our neediness when it comes to prayer – but he says there is Good News: “The Spirit helps us in our weakness.” That, too, is part of “Life in the Spirit.”

A. Notice his first word in v. 26 – “Likewise.” He’s still talking about the problem of suffering, & he’s still talking about the Spirit’s help in our times of need. We are weak, & God knows it, & the Spirit is there to help us.

B. Specifically, the Spirit helps us when we pray, b/c “we do not know what to pray for as we ought.”

C. Let me point out something that this verse isn’t about.
(1) It isn’t about what James 4:2-3 is about.
(2) “You do not have b/c you do not ask. You ask & do not receive, b/c you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”
(3) James is talking about the spiritual unrest we experience when our desires – & even our prayers – are self-centered, & our motives are selfish: “to spend it on your passions.”

D. Paul isn’t talking about motives; he’s talking about our weakness due to our inability to know what is best & right to ask for. “We don’t know what to pray for as we ought.” In fact, we can’t always know.
(1) And we don’t, do we!?
(2) Someone we love is seriously ill & suffering. What do we pray for? For God to prolong their life? To heal them? To let them go on & be released from their suffering & be with Him, but no longer with us? And what if that person isn’t a Christian & doesn’t have the hope of eternal life that we have? How do we pray then?
(3) How do we pray for the church? That we & our loved ones might be spared all persecution & suffering, even though God’s Word teaches that persecution & suffering are just part of the life of a follower of Christ? Even though Scripture says that suffering strengthens us, & maybe we need strengthening, & may not be open to receiving it any other way but suffering? What do we pray for?
(4) How do we pray for the lost? Will God override their wills b/c we ask Him to, or if not, how do we pray for them, & what do we pray for?
(5) When the church is facing ministry needs & opportunities, & there are so many of them, how do we know which ones are God’s will for us & which are not? How do we pray in order to find out?
(6) Or what about when you’re hurting so deeply that you just can’t find any words at all? You know you need God’s help, but how do you know what specifically to ask for? And so you pray, but your prayers are at times wordless.

E. Here’s where the Holy Spirit w/in us comes to our rescue: “the Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”
(1) At those times when you don’t know how to pray or what to pray for, don’t worry about it. Just do what Paul says in Phil 4:6 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer & supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” If it concerns us, we should pray to God about it.
(2) Our problem is, we often pray timidly, b/c we’re afraid we’re going to ask the wrong thing. I have news for you: At times you will!
(3) But as long as it’s God’s will you’re seeking & not your own, the Spirit will intercede for you. He’ll tell the Father what it is that you can’t quite articulate properly, what you wanted to say but didn’t quite know how, or even the request you should have made, but you weren’t sure what God’s will is.

2. And how does that help?
A. V. 27 – “And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, b/c the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

B. Notice first of all what Paul calls God the Father: “The Searcher of Hearts.” He examines every corner of our hearts to know what’s really there.

C. Could sound like a scary thing, but that means that when you pray, God knows your heart. And He also knows the mind of the Spirit, b/c they are inseparably one. So He knows & understands what it is you’re trying to say. And He knows & understands what it is we really need – not just what we think we need – so that He can answer our prayers in the very best way possible.

D. Notice: The Spirit intercedes for the saints “according to the will of God.”
(1) B/c that’s what our praying is all about anyway – or should be – seeking not our own wills, but God’s will.
(2) That’s why we always pray as Jesus prayed: “Not my will but thine be done.”
(3) We aren’t trying to get God to bend His will to ours; rather, we should be seeking His will.
(4) And, when we miss the target with our requests, the Spirit intercedes & God knows what is the mind of the Spirit. And He knows how to give us what is best, even when we don’t know what “best” is.

3. So what does this promise mean as far as our individual & collective prayers?

A. First, it’s an encouragement to pray.
(1) Just b/c you don’t know exactly what you ought to ask, don’t let that hinder you from praying. God has taken care of that. The Spirit w/in you will see to it that God knows your heart, & God will honor your prayers in the very best possible way – which is “according to His will.”
(2) Too much of our teaching on prayer has been on getting it
just right so God will hear it, as if He won’t if it isn’t perfectly on target.
(3) You can forget about that, & do what Paul says, “Make your requests known to God” about everything that concerns you. The Father & His Spirit will work out the details.

B. Second, it’s an encouragement to pray boldly.
(1) Listen: Paul wouldn’t have written what he did in Rom 8:26-27 if God didn’t want to hear from you.
(2) He wants to know what concerns you, & He wants you to confirm your trust in Him by your willingness to ask Him about it.
(3) He wants you to do just as those earliest disciples did, approach Him & ask Him to teach YOU to pray, & to continue teaching you throughout your life on this earth.
(4) B/c prayer is one of the greatest privileges we could ever have. And God’s Spirit is w/in us to make sure we are able to pray, even when we don’t know what to pray for.
(5) So pray much, & pray boldly! Your life in the Spirit will only be enriched the more you pray.

Concl. – “Lord, teach us to pray.” “We don’t know what to pray for as we ought.” “The Spirit helps us in our weakness.” Be thankful for that!

Tommy South