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Pull on the Rope

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

We tend to forget. We forget appointments. We forget names. We forget things we learned in school. It's easy to forget. Sometimes we forget things we know that are true, but being distracted by storms that billow in our life what we know takes a backseat to what is currently on our mind.

We know God loves us - the Bible tells us so (John 3:16, Romans 5:8). We know there's a home prepared for God's people (John 14:1-6). We know God is able and willing to forgive our sins when we confess them to Him (1 John 1:7-9). We know God is with us always (Heb. 13:6).

Yet we tend to forget. When those storms start brewing, when we get bad news from the doctor, when we lose our job and bills are due, when loved ones are suffering or have passed away, it's then we question, "Does God love me? Is there no one who understands what I'm going though, who can be with me? Is there any hope for a righteous person?

That's where the confidence of our hope comes. The hope we have in God is not something weak or feeble. It's not like weather or opinions which change all the time. The hope we have in God is sure and steadfast. The Hebrew writer called it an "anchor of the soul" (Hebrews 6:19).

Brother Dee Bowman, a good friend and wise preacher, said that our hope is like a rope attached to an anchor and is tossed from here to the very throne of God. With that in mind, consider these thoughts from brother Bowman.

When you're down and out and no one seems to care - pull on the rope

When you've momentarily lost your way and everything seems blurred - pull on the rope

When depression seems your lot and you call out and no one answers - pull on the rope

When there is bad news on top of bad news - pull on the rope

When you're tired and it still must be done and you feel like you can't go on - pull on the rope

When time has eroded your health and this time it's worse than ever - pull on the rope

When you suddenly realize it's your fault and "I'm sorry" sticks in your throat - pull on the rope

When shame and disgrace have cast you into a pit of despair and no one seems to care - pull on the rope

When death has come and robbed you of someone near and dear - pull on the rope

When you must finally come to face your own mortality - pull on the rope

 

Don't forget the words of Jesus. His promises are true. He'll keep His word. When you start to doubt the goodness of God, when fear begins to replace your faith, take out your Bible and remind yourself of what God has said - pull on that rope. You'll find that God's promises aren't going anywhere. Your hope is safe and secure. Have you forgotten what hope you have in Christ? Why not get out your Bible today and pull on the rope!


Jesus and Mary

Monday, September 28, 2015

There is a tender, intimate moment that takes place at Calvary. As Jesus suffers the unimaginable pain, suffering, and shame of the crucifixion, He sees His mother standing by the cross.

Can you imagine being Mary? Can you imagine when she was told that she was pregnant with the Son of God? How scary, how exciting, how incredible, how hard to understand! Mary was able to know the Son of God in a way non other would. He would carry Him, give birth to Him, kiss His head, rock Him to sleep. And all the amazing events that transpired when Jesus was born, Mary treasured them in her heart (Luke 2:19).

Remember that when Mary and Joseph took Jesus to be presented at the temple, they met a man named Simeon who knew who Jesus was. He shared with Mary what the future fate of her child would be (Luke 2:34-35). How difficult it must have been on that dark day at Calvary, realizing everything Simeon said was true.

Imagine being Mary raising young Jesus - the laughs, the stories, the memories. Jesus was a good boy, an honorable son (Luke 2:51). He lived in subjection to His parents. He would have been an excellent son.

Can you imagine Mary at the cross? It's difficult to imagine how hard it must be for a parent to lose a child. Yet imagine losing a child like Mary, as a criminal, nailed on a cross. Mary was there to see her son, writhing in pain. Yes, this was the Savior of the world, the Son of God, but this is still her first born, the baby she raised.

It is here that Jesus, while on the cross, felt the need to take care of His mother. Perhaps it was that He was the first born, and her responsibility fell upon Him. He asks the disciple whom He loved to care for His mother (John 19:25-27). It wasn't just anyone, it was someone He trusted.

What a Savior! When facing the pains of the cross, with His life nearly gone, Jesus' focus is on others. What about you? Have you shown your family the same kind of care and devotion that Jesus demonstrated towards His mother? Remember Paul's words in 1 Tim. 5:8. Look to Jesus example. The parents that sacrificed a lot bringing us in and up in this world will one day need our sacrificial love and care. Our families matter to God, as they should to us also!

Word for the Week: Sharpen

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

To sharpen is simply to make something sharp. The word implies a principle to life - things become dull. When used enough, that which once was sharp looses it's sharpness. This is true of tools like an axe or saw. This is true of our bodies - our muscles and our mind.

Solomon spoke of sharp and dull in Ecclesiastes 10:10. It is foolish to continue to try and chop wood with a dull axe. It will require more effort. Each swing requiring more and more energy. This means the worker will work that much harder with every blow. His strength and energy will be spent quicker. His work will take longer, meaning he may not produce as much wood as before. And when we are tired and fatigued, yet we insist on continuing to work, that's when mistakes happen. We get sloppy. We overlook the obvious. People get hurt. The work suffers.

This simple analogy represents so many of us today. We're running on empty. With the many demands from work, home, and church, we find ourselves stretched thin. We find ourselves in burnout - unmotivated, sloppy, neglectful, short and rude in our attitude. When we continue in our roles and in our duties when we are dull everyone suffers. The work suffers. Our relationships suffer. We suffer.

In order to take care of others you have to take care of yourself. You need to make time to sharpen your axe. We see this with the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31. She was working for her family (Proverbs 31:12, 27). But to take care of her family, this woman took the time to care for herself. She made herself strong (Proverbs 31:17, 25). She made clothes for herself (Proverbs 31:22). She feared the Lord, pursued her own relationship with God (Proverbs 31:30).

We also see this in Jesus. One of the common things we see in Jesus was that He often got away by Himself (Mark 1:35; Matthew 14:13, 23). Jesus took time to be by Himself and talk with His Father.

What about you? Has your axe become dull? Are you burnt out? Don't keep plowing on ahead. It is not selfish or inconsiderate to spend time building up yourself. In order to properly care for your work and those under your care you must take care of your self.

This may mean taking some time to rest - stopping the work, getting away, turning off the phone, and letting your mind and body relax. This may mean exercise - you will feel your best when your body is in shape. This may mean getting away, taking a vacation, going on a date with your mate, reading a good book, spending time with good friends you look up to who can offer good advice in your area of work (Proverbs 27:17).

The point is you need to MAKE time to sharpen your axe. Rest, renew yourself, and return refreshed and ready to get back to the work. Sharpen your axe!

Jesus and Rest

Monday, September 07, 2015

Everyone needs rest. Our bodies can only do so much before they reach the point of exhaustion. This is why it is important to take time to rest, recuperate, and return to the work refreshed and renewed.

Jesus took time to rest. Luke 8:23 shows us that Jesus slept on the boat. Not only did it show the disciples that there was no reason to be afraid, it also reflects the daily schedule of the Savior. He was busy. Every day He had people with needs demanding His attention and care. For three years He poured His life out for the people. Jesus needed rest. 

What about you? Are you weary and tired? Are you running on empty? Do you need some rest? Is this true of you physically? Is this true of you spiritually? Do you feel like your spiritual well has gone dry? Does it seem like you're caught under the burden of your sin? Jesus can give you rest. "Come to Me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) The answer is in Jesus. Come to Jesus. Cast your burdens upon Him (1 Peter 5:7). In Jesus there is forgiveness. In Jesus there is peace. In Jesus there is hope. In Jesus there is rest. Are you in Jesus (Galatians 3:27)?

Thursdays with Bill - They Say And Do Not Do

Thursday, September 03, 2015

THEY SAY, AND DO NOT DO

 

  • There is great danger in teaching doctrines that are false.
    • 2Jn 9 -- “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.”
    • 1Tim 1:3 -- “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia -- remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine.”
    • Matt 15:8-9 -- “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”

 

  • There is also great danger in teaching true doctrine, AND THEN NOT DOING IT.
    • Some Christians who oppose false doctrines actually practice, in their everyday living, many of those same false doctrines.
    • Some Christians are right about the Calvinists, Pentecostals and others being wrong in the things they teach, but then those same Christians actually practice some of those doctrines that they rightly say are false!
    • This kind of thing is abhorrent to God

Matt 23:1 Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, 2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.

  •  3 “Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.
    1. Rom 2:17-24 -- “Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God,  18 and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law,  19 and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness,  20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law.  21 You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal?  22 You who say, "Do not commit adultery," do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?  23 You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law?  24 For ‘the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,’ as it is written.”

 

I want to point out some areas in which people who claim to be true Christians,  and teach true doctrine, are sometimes/often guilty of teaching one thing and practicing something else.

 

EXAMPLES AND APPLICATION

 

1. JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH

  •  
  • False doctrine: Salvation is by faith only.
    • “Wherefore, the doctrine of salvation by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine and full of comfort” (Methodist Discipline).
  •  
  • True doctrine: Saving faith is a living, active, obedient faith.
    • Jas 2:17    “Thus also faith by itself, without works, is dead.”
    • Jas 2:24    “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.”
    • Gal 5:6    “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.”

 

  • Yet, some Christians are seldom involved in actually DOING THE WORKS they say are necessary to saving faith.
    • Jas 1:27    visiting the fatherless and widows
    • Heb 10:24-25    encouraging and admonishing other Christians
    • 1Pet 4:9    practicing hospitality
    • Gal 6:1    restoring those who are involved in sin
    • 2Tim 2:2    teaching the lost

 

  • Christians (real Christians) devote their lives to the Lord’s work and doing good works.
    • 1Tim 6:18 (NIV)    “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”
    • 1Cor 15:58    “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.”

 

  • Who is the worst offender?
    • The one who says salvation is by faith only?
    • Or, the one who says we are justified by works, and not by faith only, butthen doesn’t do the works?!

 

2. BAPTISM

 

  • False doctrine: Baptism by itself will save (Baptismal Regeneration).
    • A leading Catholic authority defines “baptism” in the following fashion: “A sacrament of the New Law instituted by Jesus Christ, in which, as a result of washing with water accompanied by the words ‘I baptize thee in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost,’ a human being is spiritually regenerated, and made capable of receiving the other sacraments.” (Attwater, 45).
      1. This view involves the idea that “baptism” need not be accompanied by faith, or personal surrender to the Lord. Note these additional citations from the same source.
        •  
        • “Baptism of the unborn. If there is not a probable hope that a child can be baptized after birth, Baptism may be administered in the womb: in the case of a head presentation, on the head; in other presentations on the part presented, but then it has to be again baptized conditionally if it is living on complete delivery. Should the mother die in labour, the child is to be extracted from the womb and, if certainly living, baptized absolutely; if life is doubtful, conditionally. An aborted fetus must also be baptized, unconditionally or conditionally according to the circumstances.”
  •  
  • True doctrine: Baptism will save the believing penitent who lives faithfully before God.
    • Rom 6:3,4    “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
      1. Col 2:11,12    “In Him you also were circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,  12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”
    • Mk 16:16    “He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned.”
    • Ac 26:20    “but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.”
    • Rom 10:9-10“that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

 

  • But . . .
    • You don’t hear them confessing their faith when the opportunity arises.
    • You don’t see the fruits of repentance in their lives
    • You don’t see them walking in newness of life
    • You don’t see consistent dedication to living faithfully.

 

  • Who is the worst offender?
    • The one who says baptism by itself will save?
    • Or, the one who says baptism is just one of the conditions of salvation, but lives as though it’s the only condition that really matters?!

 

3. THE SECURITY OF THE BELIEVER

 

  • False doctrine: Nothing a Christian does or fails to do puts his soul in any danger (ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS SAVED).
    • “They whom God hath accepted in His beloved, effectually called and sanctified by His Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.” (The Westminster Confession of Faith)
    • “We take the position that a Christian's sins do not damn his soul. The way a Christian lives, what he says, his character, his conduct, or his attitude toward other people have nothing whatever to do with the salvation of his soul.” (Sam Morris, Pastor of First Baptist Church, Stamford, Texas)

 

  • True doctrine: The Christian must “be faithful until death” in order to receive “the crown of life” (Rev 2:10).
    • Col 1:21-23    And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and irreproachable in His sight - IF indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard. . .”
    • 2Pet 1:5-11    “ But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge,  6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness,  7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.  8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.  10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;  11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
    • Tit 2:11-14“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,  12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,  13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,  14 who gave Himself for us, that (1) He might redeem us from every lawless deed and (2) purify for Himself His own special people, (3) zealous for good works.”

 

  • Some members of the church say that a Christian must be faithful unto death to receive the crown of life, but . . .
    • they live however they want to
    • they go where they want to go
    • they do what they want to do
    • they say what they want to say
    • they act like they have some special exemption from God

 

  • Who is the worst offender?
    • The one who says a Christian’s sins do not endanger his soul?
    • Or, the one who says a Christian’s sins do endanger his soul, but behaves as though he doesn’t mean a word of it?

 

4. MUSIC IN WORSHIP

 

False doctrine: It’s alright to use mechanical instruments of music in our worship to God.

 

  • True doctrine: We are to sing and make melody in our hearts in our worship to God.
    • Heb 13:15    “Therefore by Him let us continually offer up the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”
    • Eph 5:19    “singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord”
    • Col 3:16    “singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord”
    • Psa 95:1-7 -- “Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.  2 Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.  3 For the LORD is the great God, And the great King above all gods.  4 In His hand are the deep places of the earth; The heights of the hills are His also.  5 The sea is His, for He made it; And His hands formed the dry land.  6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.  7 For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand.  . . .”

 

  • Who is the worst offender?
    • The one who enthusiastically sings songs of praise and admonition while accompanied by instruments of music?
    • Or, the one who insists that only singing is approved by God and we must make melody “in the heart” and not on mechanical instruments, but he finds no real enjoyment in singing and his heart really isn’t in it?

 

5. GIVING TO THE WORK OF THE CHURCH

 

False doctrine: Christians are required to tithe -- like the Jews under the law of Moses..

 

  • True doctrine: Christians are to give freewill offerings.
    • 1Cor 16:2“let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper. . .”
    • 2Cor 8:12 “For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has. . .”
    • 2Cor 9:7“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver”

 

  • Who is the worst offender?
    • The one who is a stickler for giving a tenth of his earnings because he believes the law of Moses (or that part of the law of Moses) is still binding?
    • Or, the one who contends that our giving is to be governed only by the teaching of the New Testament, but he gives as little as he can “get by with” and even that is given only because he feels obligated?

 

6. THE FELLOWSHIP MEAL

 

  • False doctrine: The local church is authorized by the Scriptures to provide social meals for the congregation (which many of our brethren refer to as “fellowship meals”).

 

  • True doctrine: The Lord’s Supper is the true “fellowship meal” . . . and common meals are to be eaten “at home” . . . and  social meals are to be provided by individual Christians and families as practical demonstrations of brotherly love and hospitality.
    • I say, “The Lord’s Supper is the true ‘fellowship meal” because . . .
      1. 1Cor 10:16    “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion (koinonia, fellowship, YLT) of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion (koinonia, fellowship, YLT) of the body of Christ?  17 For we, being many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.”
    • I say, “common meals are to be eaten at home” because . . .
      1. 1Cor 11:22    “What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in?”
      2. 1Cor 11:34    “But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment.”
    • I say, “social meals are to be provided by individual Christians and families as practical demonstrations of brotherly love and hospitality” because . . .
      1. Ac 2:46    “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,  47 praising God and having favor with all the people.”
      2. Rom 12:10, 13    “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;  11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;  12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;  13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
      3. 1Pet 4:9    “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.”

 

  • Brethren, it is NOT enough to oppose “fellowship halls” and “fellowship meals”and church-sponsored social and recreational activities.
    • The Lord’s apostle says we must be .
      1. means “pursuing hospitality” and it’s translated that way in Young’s Literal Translation.
      2. Marvin Vincent, in his Word Studies in the NT, says: “Lit., pursuing hospitality.” And he goes on to say: “The verb indicates not only that hospitality is to be furnished when sought, but that Christians are to seek opportunities for exercising it.”
      3. This same verb is translated “pursue” in a number of other passages.
        • In Paul says,
        • In he says,
        • In the writer says,
      4. So Christians are to pursue hospitality, looking for opportunities to practice hospitality . . .
        • to one another in the congregation
        • to new members
        • to visiting preachers
        • to travelling brethren
    • As we learn to love one another as brothers and sisters in the family of God we will want to spend time together, and be in one another’s homes.
      1. It will become a natural expression of our love and affection for one another.
      2. We will be closer to some than to others, but we will love all our brothers and sisters -- and we will be hospitable toward all of them.

 

CONCLUSION

 

  • This sermon has really been about HYPOCRISY.
    • Because we’ve been talking about people who SAY one thing, but DO something else.
      1. They SAY they believe one thing, but they BEHAVE as though they believe something else
    • Jesus reserved His very strongest rebuke and condemnation for just such people as that:
      1. Again and again He called them “hypocrites”
      2. And Jesus says the hypocrites will be damned.
      3. Matt 15:7-9    “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:  8 ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.’  9 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”
      4. Matt 24:51    “But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’  49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards,  50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of,  51 and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

- Bill Walton

Word for the Week: Right

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Right. It is the opposite of wrong. We think of words like correct and true. We talk about doing the right thing. It's not always the easiest thing, the most convenient thing, or the thing I always want to do - but it is what's right. 

Hosea 14:9 reminds us that God's way is the right way. That's a habit we need to develop - doing the right thing every time. When I'm checking out at a restaurant and the cashieer gives me too much change back, I give it back because it is honest, it is the right thing to do. When someone is waiting for a parking space while another backs out, I don't just pull ahead of them into the space even if I can maneuver it. I let that person who has been waiting have that spot because it is the right thing to do. Telling the truth is the right thing to do. When asked why I didn't do the assignment for class, I don't lie to cover myself. When pulled over for speeding, I don't fake an injury or sickness. We tell the truth even if it comes with consequences, because it is the right thing to do.

Paul instructs children to obey their parents in the Lord because it is right (Ephesians 6:1). Peter encourages us as Christians to entrust our soul to God in doing what is right (1 Peter 4:19). James provides a sobering thought in writing that the one who knows the right thing to do and doesn't do it, to him it is sin (James 4:17).

The easy way in life is not always the best way, nor the right way. We like things that are quick and easy. It's easier to cheat for the test. It's easier to lie to get out of trouble. It's easier to rack up a lot of debt for things you want to buy right now. It's difficult to do the right thing - to put the time in and study, to tell the truth knowing it will come with consequences, to work hard for money to buy the things you want, to wait until your married for sex, to live a holy life though you're tempted with sin.

In the ESV of Matthew 7:14 Jesus said that the way is hard that leads to life. It's not the easiest path to take. It takes effort on your part. But in the end it leads to life.

A prayer we need to say before we begin each day is, "Lord help me this day to choose the more difficult right rather than the easier wrong."

Jesus and Humility

Monday, August 31, 2015

Humility is the opposite of pride. Arrogance and pride lifts up self over others. Humility lifts up others over self. It puts others before self. This is what Paul instructed the brethren in Philippi saying, "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interest, but also for the interests of others" Philippians 2:3-4.

To further illustrate this point Paul points to the example of Jesus (Philippians 2:5-11). Our Lord was humble. His coming to earth demonstrated humility. The fact that God took on flesh (John 1:14), that the powerful, eternal being came in the form of weak, mortal man. As Paul would say, "though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor..." 2 Corinthians 8:9. The fact Jesus came as an infant, a helpless, little child, shows humility. He didn't come as a mighty warrior, riding on a white stallion. He entered life as we all do, through birth. Through His life Jesus had the habit of putting the needs of others before His own. He allowed constant interruptions. He listened to the people's complaints and concerns. He was touched by their griefs. In fact, Jesus illustrated the need for humble service to His apostles in a vivid, unforgettable way. He stooped low and washed their feet. Here is the Lord of Lords, the Creator of the universe, and He is washing the mud off of their feet! What a Savior!

The ultimate demonstration of Jesus' humility was the death on the cross. The crucifixion was Jesus putting the will of His Father, and the needs of mankind before His own.

Would humility be a word used to describe you? Are you a humble person? Do you put others before yourself? Is it only through begging and prodding that you serve those around you? Do you begin each day considering the will of God, and how you can seek and fulfill it this day? Do most of your thoughts and activity focus on self? Would you stoop low and wash the feet of others - would you give yourself in humble service to others, even when it appears lowly?

Learn from the Savior, the meek and lowly Jesus, break free from the cancer of pride and let a heart of humility shape your life.

Thursdays with Bill - Putting God First

Thursday, August 27, 2015

PUTTING GOD FIRST

 

In the Old Testament, in Deut 6:5, the Bible says: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.”

 

In the New Testament, in Matt 6:33, Jesus said “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. . .”

 

These two passages in the Bible command us that God must come first in our lives.

  1. Each one of you must “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.” And so must I.
  2. Each one of you must “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” And so must I.
  3. And this isn’t something God requires of elders, and deacons, and preach-ers--but something He requires of EVERY Christian.
    • EVERY Christian man and EVERY Christian woman—young or old

 

Tonight, I want to help you think about what it means to put God first in your life.

 

1. PUTTING GOD FIRST HAS REQUIRED SOME OF GOD’S PEOPLE TO MAKE GREAT SACRIFICES

 

Consider the fact that for some of God’s people putting God first meant and, in some cases,.

  1. The Christians mentioned in Rev 12 are examples from the New Testament of people who endangered their lives because they put God first.
    • Rev 12:10-11 ~ “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.  11 And they overcome     him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”
    • Also Priscilla and Aquila.
      • Rom 16:3-4 ~ “Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus,  4 who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles."
    •  “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev 2:10, NIV)

 

For some of God’s people putting God first meant .

  1. In fact, Jesus foretold how some people would have to make a choice between God and family.
    • Matt 10:34-37 ~ "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.  35 For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;  36 and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.  37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me."
  2. Not only did some of God's people have to make that choice in past generations, but some have had to do it in modern times too.
  3. There have been people in our own country who were
  4. Point: Even when sacrifices like that are necessary, we must still put God first: “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:26)

 

For some of God’s people putting God first meant .

  1. Apparently, in the early church, some Christians were faced with the choice of being Christians or being married: “But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace”(1Cor 7:15)
    • Modern-day example: David Watts told me about a woman in India whose Hindu husband left her and their 2 children when she became a Christian.
  2. This kind of choice has also been faced by people in unscriptural, adulterous marriages (cf Mk 6:18, Matt 19:9)
  3. So, for some people, putting God first meant giving up a marriage in order to be faithful to God.

 

For some of God’s people putting God first meant .

  1. New Testament examples:
    • Paul:  Ac 16:19-24 (jailed at Philippi); 2Cor 6:4-10 (“in imprisonments”)
    • Onesimus:  Phm 10-16 (returned to slavery).
  2. Old Testament examples:
    • Heb 11:36 ~ “Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment.”

 

For some of God’s people putting God first meant giving up their material prosperity or their financial security.

a. Moses in the Old Testament is an outstanding example of a man who faced that challenge.

Heb 11:24-27 -- "By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter,  25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,  26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.  27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible."

 

For some of God’s people putting God first meant

  1. New Testament examples:
    • Paul (1Cor 4:9-13; 2Cor 11:23-28)
  2. Old Testament examples
    • Heb 11:37b-38 -- "… They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented--  38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth."

 

For some of God’s people putting God first meant

  1. Old Testament examples:
    • Moses (Heb 11:24-27)

 

2. BUT PUTTING GOD FIRST MEANS MAKING LITTLE SACRIFICES TOO.

 

And think about this: It is in the LITTLE sacrifices that we demonstrate our willing-ness to make the GREAT sacrifices.

a. That’s not just my think-so; that’s the Lord’s say-so.

• “He that is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much: and he that is unrighteous in a very little is unrighteous also in much” (Lk 16:10)

 

It’s very unlikely that any of us will ever have to make any of the great sacrifices we’ve talked about in order to put God first.

 

The answer is: We may never be called upon to make any of the great sacrifices some Christians have had to make in order to put God first; but all Christians are called upon to make the little sacrifices all the time - and it’s in the LITTLE sacrifices that we demonstrate our willingness to make the GREAT sacrifices.

  1. When I talk about “little sacrifices” I’m talking about. . .
    • diligently attending all the services of the church
    • diligently attending all the services of our gospel meetings
    • being willing to teach a Bible class when you’re called upon
    • visiting the sick, and comforting those in sorrow
    • doing what you can to build up weak brethren and keep them from falling away
    • trying to teach the gospel to your neighbors and friends
    • etc
  2. None of these things compare with the great sacrifices that some have had to make, but they are sacrifices nonetheless.
  3. And it’s in the LITTLE sacrifices that we demonstrate our willingness to make the GREAT sacrifices.
    •  “He that is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much: and he that is unrighteous in a very little is unrighteous also in much” (Lk 16:10)
  4. The one who consistently demonstrates his willingness to make the little sacrifices he’s called upon to make day by day will make the big sacrifice when he has to.

 

The faithful Christians in the Bible who made such great sacrifices also made the little sacrifices.

CONCLUSION.

Now, what about you?

  1. Every day?
  2. In every way?

Putting God first begins with obeying the gospel.

  1. Don’t say you would be willing to die for the Lord if you haven’t confessed faith in Christ and submitted to Him in baptism.
  2. If you’re willing to live for the Lord, then maybe you would be willing to die for Him.
    • Are you willing to start living for the Lord now?

 

- Bill Walton

 

Word for the Week: Hunger

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What do you long for? What are you pursuing in this life? What occupies your thoughts and is the focus of your dreams? Jesus said that the citizens of His kingdom will hav ea hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matt. 5:5). It is making the things we crave and long for the things of God. It is seeking after the kingdom first (Matt. 6:33).

Many pursue the things that simply bring them happiness at the moment. Some don't have the time/desire for the things of God. They need to change their appetite. They're filling up on food that will not satisfy. It is like being starved and eating a bowl of cotton candy - you'll leave sick not full. Seek the real food that will leave you satisfied. Seek the will of God in your life (John 4:34).
 

Jesus and Jacob

Monday, August 24, 2015

Jacob had an incredible dream. It is recorded in Genesis 28:11-15. In the dream there is a ladder set on the earth with its top reaching heaven. On this ladder angels were ascending and descending. From above the ladder God repeats the promise He had given to Abraham and Isaac, now to Jacob. It's an amazing scene. Yet we leave this chapter wondering what was significance of the ladder and the angels.

Jesus gives us the answer. In John 1:50-51 Jesus explains the dream while speaking with Nathanael. Jesus is the ladder reaching from heaven to earth. Jacob's dream now becomes clear - Jesus is the access between heaven and earth. Jesus was God on earth (John 1:14). He came and brought the Father, that is, made the Father known to the people (John 1:18). Jesus also offers the only way to the Father, to heaven, and that is through Him. John 14:6 - Jesus is the only way to the Father.

The incredible dream given thousands of years before was pointing to how the world would be blessed through Jacob's family. Through his lineage Jesus would come, offering access to heaven for those who would trust and obey. Praise God for His awesome plan!
 

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