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Friday, August 17, 2018

Who are the 144,000 in the book of Revelation?

A Little Help with the Imagery of the Book of Revelation

·       144,000 is one of the many symbols in Revelation.

o   144 is a multiple of 12.

o   12 represents God's people: 12 tribes of Israel and 12 apostles.

o   1000 is the number of completeness.

o   So 12 x 12 x 1000 = 144,000 which is the number representing all of God's saved people.

o   It is never intended to be taken literally. Otherwise they could only be Jews of all but one tribe, as in chapter 7, and only virgins, as in chapter 14.

The beasts are the Roman Emperor and his henchmen – bent on enforcing Emperor worship.

 

“They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years” is another symbol. It just means that though Christians were killed for their faith - by the Romans - they lived forever with Jesus. In other words, complete victory. Another symbol. It’s saying the same thing, in a different setting, that Jesus says in John 6 and 11 about never dying but having eternal life.

42 months, time, times and half a time, and 1260 days are just a way of referring to the period of persecution of God's people, but also the period which they come through and overcome. Check out the references in context in Revelation to see that this is true.

This New Testament book of Revelation, as with all of the New Testament, is about victory in Jesus for those who remain faithful to Jesus, no matter how bad things get.

I'm sure this is a powerful encouragement to many people in countries today facing terrible trials.

The first-century setting of Roman Empire persecution is the sternest test for King Jesus and his people. The book begins by telling us what must “shortly come to pass.” If they could win that battle, anyone can win any battle at any time in any place. Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is King of time and place and history.

Just to whet your appetite:

And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” Revelation 12:9-12

Remember Jesus promising the kingdom would come with power within the apostolic generation in Mark 9:1? Just another clue as to the time-frame of the book of Revelation. We may lose our life, yet gain glory. Mark 8:34-38.

Satan’s time is short. Out time will never end … thanks to King Jesus - the Lamb slain who came to life and lives forever! No myth. Pure fact! Get real!

Never be deterred from reading Revelation. When you get used to it, you’ll love it. It’ll grow on you and you on it!

David Carr

 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

What to say to someone who has just lost a loved one

“WHEN THERE ARE NO WORDS” – JUST BE THERE

Charlie Walton and his wife answered the door to a policeman bearing the worst news parents can hear. Two of their sons had been found dead.  A friend, home from college, was found with them.

I didn’t know the Waltons, but had worked with the other young man’s mother and taught his younger sister. Stunned doesn’t begin to describe what each of us felt in the emergency faculty meeting called the following cold December morning.

Walton later wrote about the experience in When There Are No Words, a book that “describes that terrible moment when you want to say something to console a friend or loved one and no words seem appropriate (from the back cover). I recommend it, or something like it, because unfortunately, even “when no words seem appropriate,” we usually feel something needs to be said. Often, those we comfort remember it, but not always in a good way. So, we are wise to remember some basics.

Keep it Scriptural. We Christians should excel here, but some have apparently accepted some of the world’s distortions. One I’ve heard often affirms, “God now has another angel.” Whatever else we can know about angels, the Bible always distinguishes between angels and people. At death, we pass to another realm of existence; we do not become different creatures.

Don’t presume to know God’s mind. It may frustrate us, but God has simply not revealed specific thoughts about our life events. We are less than helpful (to be charitable) when we act like he has. Telling an impressionable child who still thinks his grandpa can do everything that, “God just needed your grandpa more than we do” is both presumptuous and may lead him to wonder what kind of God would just take his grandpa. Hard questions about God may eventually come (cf. Gen. 18:25). We should not help them along with ill-informed comments at the wake or funeral.

Postpone big theological questions.  Grieving people often feel and express anger at their loss.  Sometimes, they direct it toward God – urgently, passionately, forcefully.  We can help by providing them a safe place to vent. More discussion may be needed later; then again, it may not be. If it is, we also help by letting them know we will still be there for them then.

None of this should be taken to mean that we should not offer comfort to the grieving. As one who has been on the receiving end of that support, I struggle for words to describe just how strengthening it is. Others need us in those tough times. So, go. Comfort. Tell them how sorry you are for their loss.  Tell them you’re praying for them.

And if those words seem insufficient, remember this wisdom from Walton: “every hug dilutes the pain.”

 David Anguish - www.davidanguish.com - September 2011

 

THE “ANTI-SUNDAY SCHOOL” GROUP

A job transfer brought them to our area where we were one of only a couple churches within a reasonable driving distance of their home.  They soon placed their membership with us and proved to be good additions – well-versed in Scripture, active, and generally present for our services.

But, they didn't attend Sunday Bible classes. His background was in a congregation that saw Sunday school as an unauthorized addition to New Testament teaching. From conversations with him, I learned that the group's stance had to do with an understanding about dividing up the church on the Lord's day. They continued their practice for some time as they worked with us before eventually changing their view and practice.

Because of our conversations, I knew why they didn't attend Sunday classes.  I didn't know why the other 35% (on average) of our group didn't. I did suspect most of them would have objected had our elders considered discontinuing Sunday school.

What was the difference between the "anti-Sunday school" couple and that 35%? The couple understood the New Testament to teach a thing; the others just didn't come.

Sunday school as we know it began in the 19th century. But, that's not the beginning of the church's practice of formally teaching Scripture. We know a catechism was used as early as the third century. What began sixteen centuries later was a particular method of instruction.

That churches are to teach is a given. The first converts were approved for continual devotion to "the apostles' teaching" (Acts 2:42). Teaching is emphasized throughout the New Testament, as in texts like Ephesians 4:11-16, where "teachers" are among those charged to "equip the saints for the work of ministry." Even the idea of a catechism has New Testament roots. The verb katēcheō appears eight times, five of which refer to instruction in the Christian faith (Luke 1:4; Acts 18:25; 1 Cor. 14:19; Gal. 6:6; cf. Rom. 2:18). The question, then, is not whether we should teach, but how and when we will do so.

A few years after the "anti-Sunday school" couple came to us, we temporarily added a second Sunday morning worship service to accommodate our attendance growth. Our earlier service was the best attended, with classes scheduled between the two. Class attendance jumped from the 65-70% of worship attendance it had averaged for years to 85-90%. When we finished our new auditorium and classrooms and returned to a one service schedule, we scheduled worship first with classes following. Bible class numbers remained high — right up to the time we decided to go change our schedule back to what it had been before. From then on, our class attendance settled back at the 65-70% level it had always been.

Apparently, my suspicion had merit: the reason many did not attend Bible classes had to do with something other than a conviction about its propriety.

Lord willing, we'll meet for classes again this Wednesday at 7:00 pm and next Sunday at 9:00 am. Will we see you there?

David Anguish - www.davidanguish.com - January 2012

 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Davis Elementary School in Montgomery, Alabama

A Grand Welcome

Many children throughout the U.S. began school this past week. There probably weren't very many
students who received a welcome like the students and faculty of Davis Elementary School in
Montgomery, Alabama, on their first day of school last Monday.

Around 300 athletes from Faulkner University, a Christian school in Montgomery, lined the sidewalks
and the halls of Davis Elementary to welcome students and faculty with smiles, high-fives, claps,
and cheers. This is the third year that Faulkner athletes, including cheerleaders and members of
the golf, football, soccer, basketball and volleyball teams, as well as the Eagles' mascot, Baldwin,
have provided the welcome to Davis students, parents, and teachers.

"It's so neat to see the motivation and the enthusiasm on the kids' faces and of the parents," said
Dr. Jean-Noel Thompson, Vice President of Student Services at Faulkner. "Seeing our athletes out
here is a blessing and it gets everyone excited for who we are and what Faulkner stands for."*

It is the hopes of all that this grand welcome will be the beginning of a great school year.

There is another grand welcome that no one will want to miss.

The Apostle Peter wrote to some suffering saints (Christians): "you will receive a rich welcome into
the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:11 NIV).

They could look forward to this grand welcome into Christ's eternal kingdom because they had been
cleansed from their sins by the blood of Christ (2 Peter 1:9) and they had continued to follow Jesus
and had grown in their faith (2 Peter 1:5-8).

We can share in that grand welcome if we'll respond the same way those Christians did.

Sin will keep us out of the kingdom (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21). That is the bad
news, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

But the good news (the Gospel) is that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and rose
again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Through Him, we can have our sins forgiven and receive
the gift of eternal life (Ephesians 1:7; Romans 6:23).

God will save, give eternal life, and give a grand welcome to those who place their faith and trust
in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before
men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts
2:38). He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1
John 1:7-9).

And one day, Jesus will say to all of God's children: "Welcome home!"

It is our hope and prayer that the promise of that grand welcome will motivate YOU to accept God's
offer of salvation and life on His terms.

Won't YOU?

-- David A. Sargent

* Information gleaned from "Faulkner athletes offer surprise welcome at local elementary school" by
Chellie Ison in An Update from The Christian Chronicle, August 7, 2018.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Mordecai has appealed to Esther to intercede with the King on behalf of the Jews

 

Esther 4:1--Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, "Do not imagine that you in the King's palace can escape any more than the Jews."

 

An edict has been issued by King Ahasuerus to kill and annihilate all Jews in one day. Mordecai has appealed to Esther to intercede with the King on behalf of the Jews. Esther appears to be somewhat reluctant to do this so Mordecai reminds Esther that it would be false thinking to harbor the idea that she would be safe in the King's palace. In this temporal realm it is dangerous to  hold false ideas in our hearts. It is even more dangerous in the spiritual realm.

 

The day is coming for each one of us when we will lie down in the sleep of death, shedding these earthly bonds as we go out to our eternal home (Heb. 9:27; Eccl. 12:5). Multitudes of people, perhaps including a good number of the brethren, are embracing the false idea that on that day some extraordinary changes are going to take place, changes they are not willing to make while alive. Do not expect to die out of Christ and awake in him (Gal.3:27). Do not expect to die rejecting the teachings of God given to us through divine inspiration (2 Tim.  3:16; Matt. 7:21-23; 2 John 9) and hear "Well Done". Multitudes are expecting to stand before God in judgment and hear they have been forgiven when they have not obeyed his plan for being saved. To expect forgiveness without faith and repentance and confession in this life is to expect the impossible (Heb. 11:6; 2 Pet. 3:9; Acts 8:37). To expect sins to be washed away without being baptized is to expect the impossible (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; Acts 9:17-18).  

 

Do not think that you can be saved eternally without accepting your responsibilities and living faithful to God until you die (Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 1:2-11; James 1:27; Matthew 5:13-16; 1 Cor. 15:58; Rom. 12:1-2; Gal. 5:13; Heb. 12:1-3; 2 Pet. 3:18; Matthew 6:33).

 

What this all amounts to is that great numbers of people are expecting the impossible to happen when they put off this earthly tabernacle. Don't be one of them!

 

To God be the glory forever  and ever. Amen.--Philippians 20

 

Charles Hicks

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Facebook Bible study posts -

Check out a variety of our other “Facebook Bible study posts” at https://www.facebook.com/teachothersalso today!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Christian Endurance

 

“Let Endurance have its perfect result”

 

While studying something in the book of Revelation, I was struck by some very important words of commendation that Jesus had for some Christians in Ephesus who were about to face severe persecution:

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. Revelation 2:2-3

Verse 3 has three different tenses that each emphasise endurance differently. Maybe we could put it this way:

  Endurance is your enduring quality, and you stand firm in My name as an example of untiring defenders of the  faith.

 

Jesus had once said: He who endures to the end, it is he who will be saved. Matthew 24:13.

And James 1:4, "Let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Also Hebrews 10:36, For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.

Again in Revelation 14:12-13, Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God, and their faith in Jesus. And I heard a loud voice from heaven, saying, "Write. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on."

"Yes," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labours, for their deeds follow them." 

 

·       Faith is conviction, trust, obedience and endurance.

·       Endurance is faith that never gives up.

·       Your salvation depends on your enduring faith.

·       Never quit.

 

Financial Contribution as Worship

Our Financial Contribution as Worship

 

In last week’s essay on worship from the heart that pleases God, I did not include our giving in the worship service. This was not an oversight, nor because I don’t consider the offering as worship; it was about the space I had. Today we will look at giving as worship.

The following is an adapted version of: “Bible Verses to Help Make the Offering a More Meaningful Part of the Worship Service,” by Rob Chewning. michiganintouch.com.

Our offerings are an act of worship. The worship offering provides believers the opportunity to respond in gratitude to the grace, love, and mercy of God and to put their faith and trust in the Lord into action. The offering to God each Sunday is an act of worship just like participating in the sacrifice of Christ at the Lord’s Supper, singing the hymns, hearing the sermon, and engaging in prayer. The following verses will help you to see this:

Psalm 96:7-8 –“Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength! Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name; bring an offering, and come into His courts!”

Psalm 116:12-14 – “What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits to me?  I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD, I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all His people.”

Proverbs 3:9 – “Honour the LORD with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce.”

Proverbs 11:24 – “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.”

Matthew 5:23-24 – “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

Luke 6:38 – “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

Luke 12:15 – “And He said to them, ‘Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’”

Luke 12:48b – “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”

Luke 16:11 – “If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth (money), who will entrust to you the true riches?”

Luke 21:1-4 – “Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’”

Acts 4:32-35 – “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common … and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.”

Acts 20:35b – [Jesus said,] “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Romans 12:13 – “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”

1 Corinthians 16:2 – “On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.”

2 Corinthians 8:7 – “But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.”

2 Corinthians 8:12-13 – “For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that they may be fairness.”

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 – “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”

2 Corinthians 9:11-12 – “You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service (giving) is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.”

2 Corinthians 9:15 – “Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!”

Galatians 6:9-10 – “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

 

David Carr

 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Simple sermon outline on God

FORTY THINGS WE ALL NEED TO KNOW ABOUT GOD

 

1. God is self-existent and eternal; He had no beginning and will have no end (Genesis 1:1; Genesis 21:33; Isaiah 40:28; Psalm 90:2).

2. He is the creator of all things, including mankind (Genesis 1:1-2:1; Exodus 20:11; Acts 17:26-28).

3. He is Almighty God; He is omnipotent (possessing all power) (Genesis 17:1; Genesis 18:14).

4. He is the Lord God (Genesis 15:2; Numbers 14:17; Deuteronomy 3:24; Matthew 4:7; Hebrews 1:10).

5. He is “the Great, the Mighty God, whose name is the Lord of hosts” (Jeremiah 32:17-19). 

6. He is the “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14).

7. God is invisible (Colossians 1:15).

8. God is all-wise and all-knowing (omniscient) (Romans 16:27; Hebrews 4:13).

9. He is present everywhere (omnipresent) (Psalm 139:7-12; Jeremiah 23:23-24).

10. God is Spirit (John 4:24), and a spirit does not have flesh and bones (Luke 24:39).

11. God does not dwell in temples made with hands (Acts 17:24).

12. He is the living and true God (I Thessalonians 1:9; Matthew 16:16; Hebrews 9:13-14; Hebrews 10:31).

13. He is the only acceptable object of man’s worship (Exodus 20:3; Matthew 4:10; Acts 17:22-31; John 4:24).

14. He is the God of glory (Acts 7:2).

15. He is the first member of the Godhead (the Divine Nature) (Matthew 28:18-20; II Corinthians 13:14).

16. God is holy (separate) (Isaiah 6:1-3; I Peter 1:15-16).

17. God is love (I John 4:8-10).

18. He is a God of grace (I Corinthians 1:4; II Corinthians 6:1; Ephesians 1:6).

19. He is the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17).

20. He gave His Son as a sin-offering (an atonement) for all mankind (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; Romans 3:21-26).

21. God is merciful (Ephesians 2:4; I Peter 1:3; Hebrews 4:16).

22. He has blessed Christians with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3).

23. He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:3; I Peter 1:3).

24. As the creator of all mankind, He is the God and Father of all (Ephesians 4:6).

25. To Christians (those who have become His spiritual children), God is “our Father who art in heaven” (Matthew 6:9; II Corinthians 6:14-18; Galatians 3:26-27; Philippians 4:20).

26. God has spoken—in “time past (Old Testament ages, hf) . . . by the prophets,” but “in these last days” (the last epoch of earth’s history, hf) “by His Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2).).

27. God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18; Titus 1:2).

28. God gave the Scriptures as His complete, final, perfect and all-sufficient guide to mankind (II Timothy 3:16-17).

29. God does not change (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 1:10-12; cf. Psalm 102:25-27).

30. God is both good and severe (Romans 11:22).

31. He is to be feared (respected) and His commandments are to be kept, such being the whole duty of man and the objective evidence that one truly loves God (Ecclesiastes 12:13; I John 2:3).

32. He is no respecter of persons, i.e., He shows no partiality (Acts 10:34-35).

33. God disciplines His children so that they may be “partakers of His holiness” (Hebrews 12:5-11).

34. He is the “God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation” (II Corinthians 1:3-4).

35. God desires all to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth; He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (I Timothy 2:3-4; II Peter 3:9).

36. For those who believe that He is, God is “a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6)

37. God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29).

38. God is righteous (always does what is right) (John 17:25; I John 2:29; Revelation 16:5).

39. He is a God of justice and will judge the world in righteousness through His Son Jesus Christ (Genesis 18:25b; Psalm 89:14; Romans 1:32; Matthew 25:31-46; Acts 17:30-31; Romans 2:16).

40. In the consummation of all things, the kingdom will be delivered to God the Father “that God may be all in all” (I Corinthians 15:24-28; cf. Romans 16:27; Jude 25).

 

Hugh Fulford

 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Who's in Heaven?

I was shocked, confused, bewildered
as I entered Heaven's door,
Not by the beauty of it all,
by the lights, or its decor.

But it was the folks in Heaven
who made me sputter and gasp--
the thieves, the liars, the sinners,
the alcoholics, the trash.

There stood the kid from seventh grade
who swiped my lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbor
who never said anything nice.

Herb, who I always thought
was rotting away in hell,
was sitting pretty on cloud nine,
looking incredibly well.

I nudged Jesus, "What's the deal?
I would love to hear Your take.
How'd all these sinners get up here?
God must've made a mistake.

And why's everyone so quiet,
so somber? Give me a clue."
"Hush, child," said He. "They're all in shock.
No one thought they'd see you.”

Judge NOT.

 

Author Unknown

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