DON’T WASTE GOD’S GIFT

Bonus file – study on the 12 apostles by Dr. Tommy South

     “And he said also unto the disciples, There was a certain rich man, who had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he was wasting his goods.  And he called him and said unto him, what is this that I hear of thee?  Render the account of thy stewardship; for thou canst be no longer steward.”  (Luke 16:1-2).

In life, one loses his job or place of responsibility if they do not take care of it.  We are held accountable.  We often hear of people wasting their time, talent, or life when they are not using it as well as they could, or when they are not using it in the right way.  As God’s steward, we are accountable for all that God has given us.  In the Parable of Talents, (Matt. 25:14-30), we learn that we must Use it or Lose it.  We want to look at some of the Gifts that God has given us.

TIME:  All have the same amount.  I know, some live longer than others, but all that any of us have is  NOW!  How are we using the NOW that God has given.  Remember the saying:  Don’t waste time…that’s the stuff life is made of.”

     TALENT—ABILITY:  God has given Talent to all of us.  He has not given us all the same talent.  Nor does He consider one talent more important than the other.  Neither should we.  That was one of the problems in the church at Corinth (I Cor. 12:12ff).  Paul used the physical body as an example of all working together and that same principle is true of our use of talents today.  Don’t waste your talent by comparing it to someone else.  Don’t waste it…use it.

OPPORTUNITY:  What is opportunity?  Do we recognize it when it comes?  The point is, we all have opportunities.  We know it…and we know what most of them are.  Do we USE or WASTE our opportunities?

BLESSINGS:  God has so richly blessed us.  The great country in which we live, the Freedoms that are ours, especially our freedom to worship and serve our God.  How are we using the Blessings that God has  given us?

The Bible tells us of two men, one Wasted his gift by keeping it…The other wasted his gift by throwing it away.  The first man ended his life “dressed in purple” and faring sumptuously every day.”  He wasted what he had…not by throwing it away or by foolish spending.  He “wasted” his gift by not using it in a good way. He had “It” but didn’t make good use of it.  (Luke 16:19-31)

The other man, known as “the Prodigal Son”, “He wasted his substance with riotous living.”  He did not appreciate the gift that was his and used it foolishly.  One wasted his gift by keeping it…the other wasted his gift by throwing it away.  From them we should learn:  “Don’t Waste God’s Gift”.

The Greatest Gift That God Has Given, Is The Gift of Salvation.  For God who loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).

Some “waste” the gift of salvation by rejecting it outright.  To some the gift is like the seed that fell by the “wayside”, trodden under foot.  Others “waste” the gift of eternal life by putting off their obedience.

    YOUR LIFE IS A GIFT FROM GOD…HOW ARE YOU USING IT?  Someone has written: “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these…IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN”.  Don’t waste God’s Gift!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Frank Briscoe

“Tiger On The Loose!”

Did you hear about the tiger roaming the streets of Manhattan last Thursday?  The report was called in to the New York City Police Department, and officers were dispatched to check it out.  They did indeed find a wild animal in the area, but it was a raccoon, not a tiger.

I’m trying not to laugh, because I was once guilty of such an exaggerated report.  While spending a few days in the Smoky Mountain area, I saw a large furry animal ambling up the road toward the cabin in which we were staying.  I ran to wake up the family so they could get an close-up glimpse at this black bear.  After returning to my post I discovered it was a large collie.  My kids have had many laughs over that sighting!

What about that person who notified police about the “tiger” on the loose?  Did they really not know the difference between a raccoon and a tiger?  Were they playing a joke on authorities?  The news reports don’t give any detail on who initially filed the report.

Here’s a third possibility about the one who notified authorities: Maybe they were just lazy.  Proverbs 22:13 speaks of such a situation: “The lazy man says, ‘There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!’”  Instead of reporting for work, he decided to make up a story that would make him seem prudent for not getting out.

Raccoons can be dangerous; they are armed with sharp claws and teeth and know how to use them when cornered.  They also are notorious for being carriers of rabies.  Still, I don’t fear raccoons the way I would fear a tiger, or a lion.

Peter used the image of a lion to stress the caution we must use against Satan: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).  Some have taken that warning to the extreme, and regard Satan as a foe without equal.  Who has any chance trying to oppose him?!

And yet Peter went on to say this: “Resist him, steadfast in the faith …” (1 Peter 5:9). James also gives encouraging news about our battle with the devil: “Therefore submit to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

Make no mistake, Satan is a very dangerous being.  Jesus revealed this about him: “… He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.  When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44).

Be wary of the devil: he wants to ruin you.  But you can overcome him with God’s help!

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, 2018, Timothy D. Hall

WHY THE RESURRECTION IS IMPORTANT

Paul concluded his affirmation of the resurrection by saying, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:19).  He reached that conclusion after saying, “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished” (1 Cor. 15;14-18). And keep in mind, this message and defense of the resurrection was to brethren who had been baptized in the name of Jesus. Their faith in the resurrection was under attack! Today, many celebrate our risen Lord and there is certainly nothing wrong with that, but many fail to understand the meaning and heed the obligations of the resurrection.

There will always be doubters and scoffers just as there were in the days of the apostles.  But many witnesses beyond the apostles bore witness to the resurrected Lord, “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time” (1 Cor. 15:3-8).  The resurrection gives us confidence and comfort, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him…for the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds…so shall we ever be with the Lord (1 Thess. 4:15-17).

Martyrs and heroes who sacrificed their lives for others dot the human timeline. And Jesus affirmed sacrificial death represents no greater love (John 15:13). But death is only half the equation that compels one to follow Jesus, “And that he died 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). He didn’t just die for a cause or a material possession, he died for us as a sacrifice for our sins, and was born from the dead (Col. 1:18) that we might have confidence and hope in the eternal resurrection.  Being excited about the resurrection does as much good as doubting the resurrection if one is not committed to living for the one who both died and rose again for them. And there is only one who meets that criteria – Jesus Christ.

Scripture describes the meaning and obligation of the resurrection in great detail; those who follow its obligation faithfully, have victory through Christ and will not taste of the second death (1 Cor. 15:57, Rev. 2:11).

–Matthew Johnson

 

RESULTS OF DISOBEDIENCE

Had Israel’s intention to live close to God been as genuine as God’s love for His people the story of the sojourn in the wilderness would have been much brighter.  In Numbers chapter 13, for instance, one can read an incredibly sad story of ten faithless men who came back from a task of 40 days duration with a report concerning Canaan.  It was truly a land flowing with abundant provisions, but Israel was too weak to occupy the land.  In other words, their verdict was a reflection upon Jehovah and His power. They were admitting that Satan’s host   towered above Heaven’s will for Israel.  Evidently they forgot the Red Sea, the Manna, the Passover—-yes, every display of the Creator’s dynamic love. Though two of the twelve men sent in to look over the promised land—-Joshua and Caleb—-had faith in God’s promises, the bulk of Abraham’s seed listened to the ten spineless men and the result was 40 years of wandering in the Wilderness of Sin.  A journey of a few days eventuated in 40 years of going around in circles.  That is what men always do when they disobey God!

Shortly after this heart-breaking incident, the people beg for “a captain who will take them back to Egypt” When men first want a captain it will not be long until they ask for a King (I Samuel 8.)  Seeds of apostasy begin in short steps on a long journey to Hell.  It will be well to recall that only Joshua and Caleb of the original 603,550 men entered Canaan years later.  There will always be a reward for loyalty and devotion for those who stand up for Truth (Romans 8:18; John 5:4).

In Numbers 16 the tragic rebellion of Korah and his cohorts is set forth.  In Jude, verse 11, in the next to the last New Testament book, we are reminded one last time about “the gainsaying of Korah”.  He opposed the authority of God vested in Moses and for such insurrection he and his friends were swallowed alive as the very earth opened up and consumed them.  Chapter 17 tells us of Jehovah’s choice of the family of Aaron to serve as High Priests in the Levitical system.  Aaron’s rod that flowered was placed in the Ark of the Covenant as a memorial of this selection and divine arrangement.

In chapter twenty of this monumental book we read of the sin of Moses.  For this indiscretion the valiant leader was forbidden to enter the promised land (Deuteronomy 34).  This is but another example of God’s absolute authority.  Anarchy for even a moment was not tolerated.  When Moses did more than was commanded, or something other than what was exactly stated, he was guilty of sin.  It is interesting to note that one reference calls his sin unbelief and another passage labels it disobedience. There is no difference between the two in Heaven’s view (see Numbers 20:12  and Deuteronomy 32:51).

The book of Numbers is a sad story of the lack of trust in God that caused Israel to wander aimlessly in the Wilderness of Sin.  It would seem that Numbers 13:33 is the  epitome of their problem: “And we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.”  It is interesting to note that Joshua 2 mentions that the people inside Canaan were actually afraid of Israel so the inferiority complex mentioned in the preceding verse was uncalled for.  We must trust in the Lord’s power at all times.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Johnny Ramsey

“He Even Washed Judas’ Feet”

Amazing isn’t it.  Jesus knew Judas would betray Him (John 6:70-71; 13:11).  He even said that it would have been better (for Judas), had he never been born (Mark 14:21).  Yet, He washed his feet anyway.  Jesus treated Judas like He treated all the other disciples.  Judas heard the same teaching; he saw the same miracles; he even performed miracles (Mark 6:7). In other words, Judas had no reason or excuse for betraying Jesus.  Had Jesus not treated Judas the same as He treated the others, Judas would have probably felt justified in betraying Jesus.

This reminds us of the Sermon on the Mount: “He makes His sun to rise on the evil and the good; He sends rain on the just and unjust” (Matthew 5:45; cf. Romans 2:4). Judas was comfortable with his life, after all, Jesus was providing everything (cf. Luke 22:35).  Yet, he was still lost.

Today we see people whose lives are seemingly flawless.  They enjoy good health, are able to work good jobs, and respect and enjoy this earth that God created for them to inhabit (Isaiah 45:18).  Yet, by their dismissing the Word of God in their lives, they prove to be in the same situation as Judas.  They may go to some services somewhere, and even be involved in good community works.  Judas was involved in many good works, even working miracles, plus he sat at the feet of the most powerful, compassionate, and loving preacher, yet, he was still lost.

We often hear people say, “I must be doing something right or God would not be blessing me so much.” However, just like Judas, you can enjoy the blessings of God (for a while), and still be lost.  The only criteria for pleasing God is following His Word (John 14:23-24).  Toby Miller

“The Road Of Music”

You may remember me telling you that I grew up in Eastern Kentucky.  In that region is the “Country Music Highway”, a stretch of road that honors several country music artists who have come from that area.  Names like Loretta Lynn, Ricky Skaggs, Naomi and Wynona Judd, Dwight Yoakam, and Patty Loveless are all familiar to fans of country music.  (Alas, the musical talent highway didn’t run through my county!)

There’s a road in The Netherlands which is also musical – literally.  Engineers devised a system of rumble strips that play a well-known local anthem when a car travels over them at speeds of 60 kilometers per hour (40 mph).  It’s quite a novel concept, and one I would enjoy experiencing.  But the strips will soon be removed.

Residents of that area probably thought the idea was interesting, too.  But the sounds are loud, especially at night, and some are losing sleep due to this road of music.  After many complaints workers are due to begin silencing the roads soon.

Living the Christian life is a journey, and in the early days of Christianity it was referred to as “the Way”.  Paul, for example, used this name in his defense before the Roman governor Felix: “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of our fathers, believing all things written in the Law and in the Prophets” (Acts 24:14).

If Christianity is like a road, does it also produce music, like the one in the Netherlands?  Actually it does.  An official from Ethiopia accepted the gospel invitation to be baptized for the forgiveness of his sins, we learn in Acts 8.  Following his baptism, he “went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:39).  Is it hard to imagine that he sang as he rejoiced?

Even in harsh circumstances you can find music in the Christian’s heart.  Paul and Silas were in a jail in the city of Philippi.  They had been falsely charged, beaten, and placed in uncomfortable stocks.  Yet look at what they were doing at midnight from their prison cell: they “were praying and singing hymns to God” (Acts 16:25)!  They were traveling a road which produced joy, and joy often expresses itself in singing.

James offered this advice: “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.  Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms” (James 5:13).  Paul gave this instruction: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16).

To live the Christian life is to travel a road that produces beautiful music.  How can we not sing?  Great joy is the result of being a child of God!

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, 2018, Timothy D. Hall

The Secret of Contentment

Joy for the Journey – A Study of Philippians                        David Owens

Sermon 17: “The Secret of Contentment”

Text: Philippians 4:10-13

Introduction:

  1. The story is told of a wealthy Englishman who came downstairs one morning and heard his cook saying to herself, “Oh, if I only had a five-pound note, I would be so content with that!”
  2. The wealthy Englishman, quickly considered the matter, and wanting to see the woman satisfied, came in and gave her a five-pound note (which was worth about $25 at that time).
  3. The cook thanked him profusely.
  4. The wealthy man left the room, but waited outside the door to hear if the cook might express her gratitude to God.
  5. As soon as the wealthy man left the room, the cook said to herself, “Why didn’t I say ten rather than five?!”
  1. How often do we find ourselves acting just like that cook?
  2. How often do we find ourselves always wanting more, and then when we get the more we wanted, we move right on to wanting even more?
  3. Do you know what true contentment is? Would you like to develop true contentment?
  4. Someone said, “Contentment has been praised more and practiced less than any other condition in life.”
  5. Another person observed that “All the world lives in two tents – content and discontent.”
  6. So, which tent do you live in? Content or discontent?
  7. Surely, one of the greatest causes of a believer’s lack of joy in their life is a lack of contentment.
  1. Webster defines the word “content” as: “Having the desires limited to that which one has.”
  2. Here is a good quote: “Bless God for what you have, and trust God for what you want. If we cannot bring our condition to our mind, then we must bring our mind to our condition.  If a man is not content in the state he is in, then he will not be content in the state he would be in.” (Erskine Mason)
  3. Those are wise words – we must learn to be content wherever we are; whatever state we are in.
  4. The story is told of an elder in the early church who was a remarkable example of contentment.
  5. When asked for the secret to his contentment, he said, “It consists of nothing more than making a right use of my eyes. In whatever state I am, I first of all look up to heaven and remember that my principle business here is to get there.  Then I look down upon the earth, and call to mind how small a place I shall occupy in it when I die and am buried.  I then look around in the world and observe what multitudes there are who are in many respects more unhappy than myself.  Thus I learn where true happiness is placed, where all our cares must end, and what little reason I have to complain.”
  6. That spiritual man was so right – contentment is a matter of how we look at things.
  1. Would you be interested if someone told you they had discovered the secret of contentment and that they were willing to share the secret with you?
  2. As we come to the end of our study of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, we notice his declaration that he had discovered the secret to being content, and that he was willing to share that secret with the Philippians and with us.
  3. What is the secret to contentment that Paul had discovered?
  4. Paul had discovered that contentment comes from a trust in our spiritual realities rather than a focus on our physical circumstances.
  5. My aim today is to encourage us to keep our focus off the wrong things and to keep our trust in the right things.
  6. Let’s notice that Paul mentions two spiritual realities in which we must place our trust, and when we place our trust in those spiritual realities the result is contentment.
  1. First of all, Contentment Comes from Putting Our Trust in the Unfailing Power of God
  2. Paul wrote: 10 I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Phil. 4:10-13)
  3. Paul deliberately chose the words “secret” and “content” which were words that were commonly used by stoics and practitioners of mystery religions.
  4. Those folks talked about mysteries and self-sufficiency, but in contrast to them, Paul spoke of a very different kind of secrecy and sufficiency.
  1. Paul’s life and ministry bear out the very things he wanted the Philippians to learn.
  2. And Paul pointed to his own experience and the things that he learned from experience.
  3. What Paul had discovered is that contentment is something that has to be learned – it is not something that comes naturally or automatically.
  4. And Paul had learned where true contentment is found.
  5. The problem that most of us have is that we keep looking for contentment in the wrong places.
  6. The devil and the world teach us that contentment comes from the people you know – if we could just hang out with the right people and could just be welcomed into the right social circles, then we would be content. Right?
  7. And we are led to believe that contentment comes from the positions you hold – if we could just have the right job or hold a high position, then we would be content. Right?
  8. And perhaps the biggest lie of all is: contentment comes from the possessions you have – if we just had enough money, or got to drive the nice cars, or live in the expensive houses, then we would be content. Right?
  9. Paul had learned something far different from that – he had learned to be content regardless of who he was with, what positions he held, or what possessions he had.
  10. Paul reported that there were times in his life and ministry when he had more than enough, and that there were other times when he was in need and went hungry.
  11. But regardless of his circumstances, good or bad, he had learned that he could do all things through Christ who gave him strength – that was his secret to contentment.
  12. Paul had discovered that there was not a single situation he was called to face where Jesus was not with him and where Jesus was not enough.
  13. And if Jesus was with him always, then the Lord gave him the strength he needed.
  14. Paul wrote about the “peace that passes understanding,” because he had experienced it.
  15. Eleven, or so, years previously, Paul had sat in a Philippian jail cell, battered and bleeding, and yet he discovered the strength to sing praises to God even in that situation.
  16. During the days of the Great Depression in the 1930s a panel of speakers were addressing a gathering of people from Chicago’s southside, most of whom were African American.
  17. One of the speakers was Clarence Darrow, a distinguished ACLU attorney and professed atheist, who defended John Scopes in the Scopes “Monkey” Trial of 1925.
  18. Darrow addressed the terrible economic conditions facing everyone – especially the black community.
  19. Darrow summed up their woes and asked, “And yet you sing? No one can sing like you do.  But what do you have to sing about?”
  20. Very quickly, a woman shouted out, “We got Jesus to sing about!” And her response was followed by many “amens” and “yeses” and “that’s rights.”
  21. Uncharacteristically, Clarence Darrow was stopped dead in his tracks and he had no response, for he was face to face with that which cannot be explained.
  22. People of faith can sing through tears and pain and struggle, because they walk with the One who gives them the strength to do everything that needs to be done.
  1. The devil wants us to believe two lies.
  2. He wants us to believe that things make a person happy.
  3. And he wants us to believe that all we need is found within ourselves.
  4. Both of those things are false, and Paul had discovered the real source of contentment.
  5. Paul had discovered that he was not self-sufficient, but that he could be Christ-sufficient.
  6. Paul learned that no matter what might be ahead, Jesus Christ was sufficient to carry him through it.
  7. The powers that be can take everything away from a person, but they cannot take away a person’s faith in the unfailing power of God.
  8. Trusting in the unfailing power of God brings contentment.
  1. Second, Contentment Comes from Putting our Trust in the Unchanging Promise of God
  2. Paul continued: 14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. 17 Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Phil. 4:14-20)
  3. The unchanging promise of God is that He will meet all our needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
  4. It is important that we understand that God doesn’t promise to meet our “greeds,” and there is a big difference between our “greeds” which are our “wants”, and our “needs.”
  5. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told us not to worry about food and clothes, because God knows that we need them. (see Mt. 6:28-32)
  6. Then Jesus concluded, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Mt. 6:33)
  7. How God will meet our needs is varied, but however God does it, whether through our work, or from the gifts of others, it ultimately comes through and from God.
  8. Someone has said, “God gives every bird its food, but He doesn’t throw the food in the nest.”
  9. I like the story I’ve shared with you before about the woman who lived next door to an atheistic man.
  10. Every day, when the Christian woman prayed, the atheistic man could hear her.
  11. The atheist thought to himself, “She sure is crazy, praying all the time like that. Doesn’t she know there isn’t a God?”
  12. Many times while she was praying, he would go to her house and harass her, saying “Lady, why do you pray all the time? Don’t you know there is no God?”  But she kept on praying.
  13. One day, she ran out of groceries and as usual, she prayed to the Lord explaining her situation and thanking Him for what He was going to do.
  14. As usual, the atheist heard her praying and thought to himself, “I’ll prove to her there is no God once and for all.”
  15. The atheist went to the grocery store, bought a bunch of groceries, took them to her house, dropped them off on the front porch, rang the doorbell and then hid in the bushes to see what she would do.
  16. When the Christian lady opened the door and saw the groceries, she began to praise the Lord with all her heart, thanking God for providing for her needs.
  17. Immediately, the atheist jumped out of the bushes and told her, “You silly lady, God didn’t buy you those groceries, I bought those groceries for you with my own money!”
  18. The Christian lady replied with great joy, “I knew the Lord would provide me with groceries, but I didn’t know he was going to make the devil pay for them!”

 

  1. The apostle Paul understood the Lord’s provision and he trusted that God would meet his needs.
  2. When the Lord gave him much, Paul was content, and when the Lord gave him little, Paul was content as well.
  3. Paul’s attitude could be summed up in this quote: “I am always content with what happens; for I know what God chooses is better than what I choose.”
  4. I’m wondering if any of us share that attitude?  It is not an easy one, but it is the right one.
  5. Can we receive the Lord’s provision, whatever it is, and be content with the Lord and His provision?
  6. That is the secret to contentment – trusting that the Lord will give what I need, and being satisfied with what He gives.
  7. Let’s look at the advice about this matter that Paul wrote to Timothy, his son in the faith: 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. (1 Tim. 6:6-8)
  8. How’s that for straight and simple truth?
  9. We enter life with nothing and we exit life with nothing!
  10. If our simple needs are met – food, clothing, shelter – then we must be content.
  11. That’s the opposite of more and better and faster – unless I have the nicest and the newest then I am not a happy camper.
  12. The greatest gain is not getting everything a person could imagine – no the greatest gain is godliness (a spiritual relationship with God) and contentment (being thankful and satisfied with who I am and what I have).
  13. The Hebrew writer said this about contentment: Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6)
  14. Did you notice that contentment has to do with a relationship with God where we depend on His presence and His assistance?
  1. Let me briefly share a few practical suggestions for becoming a more contented person.
  2. First, Refuse to compare yourself with others.
  3. Why is it that we tend to compare ourselves with others who have more than we have rather than less than we have?
  4. One of the surest ways to make yourself miserable and discontent is to compare yourself with those who have more than you.
  5. It’s easy to find someone who has a bigger income, bigger house, gets better grades, better promotions, is better looking, or taller or thinner or better proportioned or whatever.
  6. We must stop the comparison game or we will be the looser for sure.
  7. Second, Love people the way they are and not as you would like them to be.
  8. We must love people as they are because trying to change them will only make everyone miserable.
  9. The only way any of us are going to change and grow is if we are loved, accepted and appreciated, even in our imperfect state, because we will not be reaching a perfected state in this world.
  10. Third, Accept things as they are and not like you would like for them to be.
  11. There are many things that we can’t change and we have to learn to accept them.
  12. Wishing that something was different and refusing to be at peace with the way things are only makes us discontent.
  13. Ultimately, when we are not content with who we are, who others are, and how things are around us, then we are ultimately rejecting God and being critical of what God is doing or has done.

Conclusion:

  1. There is one final thing that I see in this passage that leads to contentment – it is knowing that we are bringing glory to God.
  2. There is a marvelous lesson on giving that can be found toward the end of Philippians 4.
  3. It would be a shame for us to miss this powerful principle.
  4. The more content we are with what we have, the more money that can be freed up to give, which brings glory to God.
  5. Look at verse 18 again: I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.
  6. Here Paul expressed his appreciation to the Philippian church for their financial gifts, which Paul believed were really gifts from God and to God.
  1. Let’s notice some important truths about giving.
  2. First of all, Giving affects the Receiver
  3. Paul needed the gifts from the Philippians and he greatly appreciated the gifts.
  4. I have been a receiver of gifts and I am sure you also have been a receiver.
  5. It is a wonderful thing to receive a gift, especially when it is a greatly needed gift.
  6. Second, Giving affects the Giver
  7. In addition to being on the receiving end of things, I have also been on the giving end.
  8. It is a joy to give to others and to watch them be blessed by the gift.
  9. When we give to others and to God, then there is an important accounting that takes place.
  10. Notice the language Paul used in verses 16 and 17: for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account.
  11. Both Jesus and Paul talked about us storing up “treasures in heaven by our giving on earth (Mt. 6:19-24; 1 Tim. 6:19)
  12. When we give, our account is somehow credited by God.
  13. Third, Giving affects the Lord
  14. Paul noted that the Philippian’s gifts were a “fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.”
  15. Our giving is a pleasing aroma to God – Our giving brings Him glory and pleasure.
  16. When we give to contributions to our congregation, we are not primarily giving to this church, but we are giving an offering of worship to the Lord – and our offerings are a pleasing aroma to God.
  1. Giving can be one of the most rewarding things we can do, but if we are spending all our money trying to bring satisfaction to ourselves because we are so discontent, then we will have nothing left to give.
  1. Let’s review what we have learned today:
  2. Contentment comes from trusting in the spiritual resources of God, rather than focusing on the physical circumstances of life.
  3. Regardless of the physical circumstances we face, we have the power of God and the promises of God and they give us great contentment, joy and peace.
  4. As we focus more on the spiritual and lessen our desire for the physical, then we will be more content with what we have, and we will have more to share and to give, which will lead to even more contentment, satisfaction and joy for the journey.

Resources:

The Bible Exposition Commentary, Philippians, by Warren Wiersbe, Victor Books, 1989

They both learned to swear

Evil Company

The story is told of two parrots who lived near each other. The one was accustomed to singing hymns while the other was addicted to swearing. The owner of the latter obtained permission for it to associate with the former in the hope that its bad habit would be corrected. Instead, the opposite happened as both learned to swear!

The little story reminds us of a passage in 1 Corinthians 15:33 which says, “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.'” (NKJV). A person may feel like he can associate with wicked people and not be hurt. He may think that he can be a good influence on the godless person. Perhaps he can, but influence can go in two directions, and there is a great danger of the wicked person influencing the good person. If a person thinks otherwise, he may be “deceived.” Young people, as well as older people, need to choose their friends carefully. Remember, “Evil company corrupts good habits.”

– by J. Mike Johnson

FIFTEEN TRAITS OF GENUINE CHRISTIAN LOVE

We Americans use the word “love” in a wide variety of ways. We “love” apple pie, banana pudding, hamburgers, French fries, and sweet tea. (When I lived in Selma, AL and ate at the Downtowner, I became convinced that “sweet tea” was really just one word with two syllables!)

We “love” our country, the state we are from, our hometown, summertime, springtime, fall (some of us even love wintertime and snow!), the mountains, and/or the beach.

Teenagers “love” their boyfriend or girlfriend.

We “love” to play golf, to fish, to hunt, to hike, our favorite sports team, college football games on TV, our cars and trucks, our dogs and cats, our husband, our wife, our parents, our brothers and sisters, our children and grandchildren, our neighbors, the Lord, the church, and our fellowman.

Yet it should be obvious that we do not “love” all of these in the same way or in the same sense.

The Greeks had four words for the one word we call “love.” Eros referred to romantic or passionate love, and is the word from which we get our word “erotica.” Storge referred to family love, love between parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, brothers and sisters, etc. Philia referred to the love of friends or brotherly love. Agape referred to selfless love, the kind of love that God has for all mankind and the kind of love that Christians are to have for all mankind.

None of these aspects of love is mutually exclusive, but agape is the highest form of love, and arises from a deliberate choice and act of the will and mind, enabling us to love even our enemies and those who hate us.

In I Corinthians 13:1-7, the apostle Paul sets forth the necessity of agape/love, along with fifteen characteristics of that love. It will help us to know if we are a person of true Christian love by looking at each of these traits. (Note: We will use the New King James Version as the basis for our examination of these traits, with comparisons to other English versions for help in understanding the meaning of the various traits.)

1. Love suffers long. It is patient (NASB, NIV). A person of love is willing to endure or put up with a lot.

2. Love is kind. It is good-natured, gentle, affectionate, and tender. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted . . .” (Ephesians 4:32).

3. Love does not envy (is not jealous, NASB). It does not have negative feelings toward the good fortune or success of others.

4. Love does not parade itself. It does not brag (NASB) or boast (NIV). A person of true Christian love is not “show off.”

5. Love is not puffed up. It is not arrogant (NASB) or proud (NIV). As David Lipscomb observed, “It does not engage in an inflated opinion of itself” (Commentary on First Corinthians, p. 197).

6. Love does not behave rudely. It is not ill-mannered, discourteous; it does not act unbecomingly (NASB).

7. Love does not seek its own. It is not self-centered or self-seeking (NIV). It is not concerned with its own selfish desires, but is concerned about the good and happiness of others.

8. Love is not provoked. Here I must admit to a little favor of the King James Version for it says, “Not easily provoked,” giving me a little “wiggle room” with people who do sometimes provoke, irritate, and aggravate me. The meaning, however, is that a person of genuine love does not readily take offense or is easily angered.

9. Love thinks no evil. It “does not take into account a wrong suffered” (NASB), “it keeps no record of wrongs” (NIV). “It does not surmise evil and put the worst construction on the action of others” (Lipscomb).

10. Love does not rejoice in iniquity. It does not delight in evil (NIV). Unlike those who approve of the wicked deeds of others (Romans 1:32), the person of genuine love does not find joy in wrong doing, whether in word or deed.

11. Love rejoices in the truth. It is happy at the triumph of truth. It loves to see the truth of the gospel being advanced. It rejoices to see people “walking in truth” (II John 4), rather than in wickedness.

12. Love bears all things. It “always protects” (NIV). “It does not lay bare and expose to public gaze the infirmities and wrongs of the erring and those led into sin” (Lipscomb). Instead, “Love covers a multitude of sins” (I Peter 4:8, NASB).

13. Love believes all things. This does not mean that love is gullible, but it means that it is slow to believe the worst.

14. Love hopes all things. It looks for and optimistically hopes for the best in all people and all situations.

15. Love endures all things. It always perseveres (NIV). It is not driven from the path of right, regardless of the actions of others.

Paul concludes his divine description of love by saying, “Love never fails” (verse 8). Unlike the miraculous gifts of the apostolic age which served a special purpose and then passed away (verses 8-10), faith, hope, and love continue to abide, with the greatest of these being love (verse 13).

Now for a challenge: Go back and read verses 4 through 7 again, and everywhere the word “love” appears, put your name there and see if it is true that (Your Name) “suffers long and is kind . . . does not envy, does not parade itself, is not puffed up,” and so on through all fifteen of the traits. It will make you stop and think about your own life and your own attitude toward others.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (I John 4:7-8).

Hugh Fulford

JERUSALEM’S DESTRUCTION IN 70 A.D.

Both Zechariah 14:1-8 and Luke 21:20-26 contain prophecies about the city of Jerusalem.  Even though the two prophecies were separated by more than five centuries of time, both prophecies describe the same event: the siege and destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans under Titus in 70 A.D. (see also Matt. 23:37-38; Matt. 24:1-2, Matt.15-22; Mark 13:1-2, Mark 14-20; Luke 13:34-35; Luke 19:41-44; Luke 21:5-19; Luke 23:27-31).  At that time, certain ones would not be spared or delivered while certain other ones would be delivered.  The ones who were delivered were the followers of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

 Zechariah’s prophecy of Jerusalem’s fall

Zechariah 14:1-8 says, “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: but it shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light. And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.”

We need to keep in mind that Zechariah was one of God’s prophets for the remnant of Israel who returned to Israel from the Babylonian captivity.  This prophecy was many years after the first destruction of Jerusalem, by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 586 B.C.  Therefore, it would necessarily have to refer to next destruction of Jerusalem, which was by the Romans in 70 A.D.  Zechariah 14:1-8 refers to the time of Jerusalem’s destruction as “the day of the Lord” (Zech. 14:1).  Jerusalem would be spoiled (Zech. 14:1), besieged, and taken (Zech. 14:2).  She would have her “the houses rifled, and the women ravished” (Zech. 14:2).  God said half the city would go into captivity, but a residue would not be cut off (Zech. 14:2). For this “residue,” the Lord would create a path by which his saints would flee like they had from the earthquake of king Uzziah’s day (Zech. 14:4-5).

Christ’s prophecy of Jerusalem’s fall

Jesus also prophesied of these events.  “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.  Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.  For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.  But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.  And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.  And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken” (Luke 21:20-26).

History records that the Christians in Jerusalem (the “residue” of the city referred to in Zechariah 14:2) recognized the signs and heeded the warning given by Christ in Luke 21:20-26.  As prophesied by Zechariah, the Roman army paused from their siege before destroying Jerusalem and at that time, the Christians (the “saints,” in Zechariah 14:5) fled Jerusalem and took refuge in Pella, eastward of Jordan.  God suddenly gave Christians this way of escape (Zech. 14:4-5).  None of them were harmed.  The Jews who remained in the city were destroyed and scattered.  Everything prophesied in Zechariah 14:1-8, as well as by the Lord Jesus himself in Luke 21:20-26, was exactly fulfilled when the Christians escaped the destruction of the Jews and Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

Jon Macon