Free audio sermons: Get free audio sermons through this free Christan sermon podcast!

Friday, December 25, 2009

The perfect Christmas gift

Having trouble selecting that perfect gift for someone? Someone has suggested the following:
      Give the Gift of Listening – Really listen. No interrupting, no daydreaming, no planning your response. Just listening.
      Give the Gift of Affection – Be generous with appropriate hugs, kisses, pats on the back and handholds. Let these small actions demonstrate the love you have for family and friends.
      Give the Gift of Laughter – Clip cartoons, share articles, funny stories, and a good joke. Your gift will say, "I love to laugh with you."
      Give the Gift of a Written Note – It can be a simple "Thanks for the help" note or an "I appreciate you" note. A brief, handwritten note may be remembered for a lifetime, and may even change a life.
      Give the Gift of a Compliment – Everyone needs encouragement. Mark Twain said, "One compliment can keep me going for a whole month."
      Give the Gift of a Favor – Go out of your way to do something kind for someone.
      Give the Gift of Solitude – There are times when we want nothing more than to have some peace and quiet. Be sensitive to those times, and give the gift of solitude to others.
      Give the Gift of a Cheerful Disposition – The easiest way to feel good is to extend a kind word to someone. It's not hard to be polite and courteous, to say "hello" or "thank you."
But as we enter this Christmas season, why not pass on the BEST GIFT? Share the fact that the "GIFT OF GOD " is eternal life in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:23).
The BAD NEWS... "ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" and "the wages of sin is DEATH" (Romans 3:23; 6:23).
The GOOD NEWS... God sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins (Ephesians 1:7).  
If we will respond to Him in trusting obedience, believing and trusting Him (Acts 16:30-31), turning from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized (immersed) in His name for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38), then He will save us from sin and give us the gift of eternal life.
The BEST GIFT of all is Jesus Christ!  "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift"
(2 Corinthians 9:15).
Won't YOU receive the Gift on His terms?  Won't YOU share the Gift with others?
David A. Sargent, Minister

Get a FREE on-line Bible commentary on the book of Romans through http://www.abiblecommentary.com.  There are also FREE audio sermons - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/audiosermon and FREE sermon outlines - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/freesermons

Gifts We Give to God


Is there a name we omitted from our gift-giving
list?

The custom of giving gifts at Christmas has its
roots in information found in the Bible. Matthew
tells us of the response of the wise men to the
star that suddenly appeared: "For we have seen his
star in the East and have come to worship him"
(Matthew 2:2). They didn't come to worship empty-
handed; precious gifts of gold, frankincense and
myrrh were presented to the young child (2:11).

God didn't command us to celebrate the birth of
Jesus. He did, however, command celebration of his
Son's death for our sins, and we fulfill that
command every first day of the week when we
partake of the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians
11:26). But is it ever wrong for us to give gifts
to God? If loved ones merit tokens of love, God
certainly does!

What kinds of gifts might we give to the Lord?
Here are some suggestions:

• A commitment to draw closer to the Lord through
daily Bible study and prayer would be a wonderful
gift to give God. We'll actually receive the
greater benefit from such a gift, but a close
relationship is what God desires. Communication
with him is the way to make that happen.

• A decision to serve God more regularly would be
another great gift. It doesn't have to be
elaborate. Jesus said even a cup of water given to
some thirsty stranger would be rewarded by God
(Mark 9:41).

• A mission trip would be a way of showing our
gratitude to the Lord.  People in some places
rarely (if ever) hear pure New Testament
Christianity presented to them. Perhaps more could
consider devoting a week, month or more to doing
something for the Lord's kingdom.

• Your warm smiles and handshakes at worship and
Bible study assemblies are gifts to God. Will
visitors to these assemblies be warmly received?
You can determine to be more outgoing to visitors
as your gift to God.

• Your contribution each Lord's day is a gift to
God. Yes, it is how the church "pays its bills,"
but it's so much more than that. My offering is a
response of my heart, showing either gratitude to
God or a hollow act born of habit.

You can surely come up with other ways to give a
gift to the Lord. He has given so much to us.
Isn't it only right that we show in tangible ways
how grateful we are?
 
--Tim Hall

Get a FREE on-line Bible commentary on the book of Romans through http://www.abiblecommentary.com.  There are also FREE audio sermons - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/audiosermons and FREE sermon outlines - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/freesermons

MARKS OF A GREAT PHYSICIAN


The healthcare debate is still raging, with a vote expected to pass at least an expanded, tax-funded version of what we now have. To whatever extent tax subsidized abortion is part of the new plan, it is at odds with scripture.  God hates the shedding of innocent blood and any individual or nation that engages in what He calls abomination does so to their own ruin (cf. Prov. 6:17; 14:34).  The ancient Hippocratic Oath (usually dated around 400 B.C.), as quoted at PBS.org, includes these words from Hippocrates of Cos, ancient Greek physician, includes these words:  "I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art."  While modern medical school graduates are not required to pledge to uphold the ancient version, the assumption made by all patients is that doctors and nurses work to save rather than destroy life.  We should pray but also take every peaceful, law-abiding action we can to oppose any dangerous, national step away from our Creator and Redeemer.

About 200 years prior to Hippocrates' work, the prophet Jeremiah wrote of the ultimate physician.  Jeremiah's peers seriously needed His intervention, but they steadfastly rejected it.  In Jeremiah 8:22, the weeping prophet implies three invaluable traits of a great physician.  


A great physician knows how to properly medicate.  Jeremiah implies that the "balm" was present. Exell shares an interesting insight about this substance.  He says,

     There (in the rocky region of Gilead, NP)
the fragrant, resinous gum,
possessed of such famous healing properties, was to be found--
found,
however, not by the casual,
unobservant traveller who happened to pass

    by that way, but by the man who clambered
up the rocks, scaled the heights, diligently
searched among the precious, storm-stunted
shrubs, yielding the healing gum" (Vol. 9, 219).


So, this was a physician who knew what would help and was willing to engage in the painstaking process of administering the cure.  God knows what is best for us, spiritually, and He provides the cure for the soul.  At Calvary, He provided the only answer to an eternally serious problem.  We can trust His diagnosis for our condition!

A great physician is present.  Jeremiah's rhetorical question, "Is there no physician there?," demands an affirmative answer.  Judah's problem was not lack of God's presence.  They refused to "go to the Doctor."  Mayo Clinic or M.D. Anderson have some of the best physicians in the country, but they cannot save the patients who do not come to them for help. One never has to wonder if the Great Physician is "in," for He always is (Heb. 7:25).

A great physician helps the patient recover.  Judah's failure to recover was not because God was incapable of effecting the cure.  Again, Jeremiah asks the rhetorical question of why there was no recovery of Judah's spiritual health.  It was the sin and shortcoming of the patient, not the physician.  So it is with us.  Whatever your spiritual ailment, He is able to save you!  However seemingly fatal, it is curable!  

Our hearts break at the 27-year practice of legalized abortion in this country.  Wherever medical ethics breach spiritual ethics, God will bring about consequences for such.  Yet, whenever and wherever we live, we must urgently get the word out about the Great Physician.  It is such great news that He is perfectly knowledgeable, ever-present, and limitlessly able.  He offers free check ups, if we will meet Him in scripture.
 
--Neal Pollard

Get a FREE on-line Bible commentary on the book of Romans through http://www.abiblecommentary.com.  There are also FREE audio sermons - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/audiosermons and FREE sermon outlines - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/freesermons

Thursday, December 24, 2009

THE JOY OF GIVING

                    

     The Santa Claus at the mall was very surprised when a young lady about twenty years old walked up and sat on his lap.

     Santa doesn't usually take requests from adults, but she smiled very nicely at him, so he said, "OK, you can ask for something but it has to be for someone other than yourself. What do you want for Christmas?"

     "Something for my mother," said the young lady.

     "Something for your mother? Well, that's very thoughtful of you," smiled Santa. "What do you want me to bring her? "

     Without blinking she replied, "A son-in-law!"

     We often say that Christmas is a time when the focus is on giving, but let's be honest -- for many (perhaps most) people, the greater excitement of Christmas is in what we receive, not in what we give.  How many people do you know who are saying, "I can't wait to give a gift!"?  Now, how many people do you know who are saying, "I can't wait to see what I get!"?  As parents, we know the joy of watching our children open their gifts, but are we instilling in our children the joy of giving, or is Christmas simply a time when they are excited to receive what they wanted (or perhaps they're upset because they didn't get what they wanted)?

     While trying not to sound too cynical, how many of the gifts we give every Christmas are given because we feel obligated to give, or because we are hoping to receive something back?  Is it possible for those of us who are Christ-followers to give simply for the joy of giving? 

     Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, "If you love those who love you, what reward have you?  Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet your brethren only, what do you more than others?  Do not even the tax collectors do so?" (Luke 5:46-47).  To take it one step further, if we give only to those from whom we expect to receive something back, how are we different from anyone else in the world?  What should distinguish God's people is a desire to give with no thought no receiving anything back.

     In Luke 14:12-14, Jesus said, "When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid.  But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind.  And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just."

     May I encourage you, not only this season, but year-round, to seek to find ways to give to those who can't give back, to learn to give simply for the joy of giving.

Alan Smith

Get a FREE on-line Bible commentary on the book of Romans through http://www.abiblecommentary.com.  There are also FREE audio sermons - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/audiosermons and FREE sermon outlines - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/freesermons

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

FRIENDSHIP


Friendship is a thing to be treasured, especially when it is a true friendship. True friends love you enough to overlook the small flaws in your life and enough to try to help you struggle with the big ones. Proverbs 17:17 tells us, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."

My best friend of about 30 years, George, down in the heart of Texas sent me the following words after I sent him prepublication copy of an article I was working on, asking for his suggestions. I send it along with a note that it was "unproofed" and it still had lots of "Typo's". He replied: "A friend is one who reads your emails and does not count your typos." That may seem like a small thing, but at the old saying goes, "It's the little things that make a difference."

How does that concept translate practically into our modern way of thinking? Just what does that mean for us today? Does it have to be about big sacrifices or of unquestioning support for us all of the times when we mess up in life, or even when we make the wrong choices? I believe it does. You see when Proverbs talks about the love of a friend, it says "a friend loves (cares deeply) at all times". Dr. Laurence Peter said it this way, "You can always tell real friend: When you make a fool of yourself, they don't feel you've done a permanent job."

Friendship is very much about consistency, loyalty and mutual support. Friendship is not something you have only when it is convenient or cost you no personal investment of time and energy. Friendship is not seen in those who desert you when things get tough or messy in your life, that's a cheap imitation of friendship. Friendship is what causes you to believe in and support someone else even when it's not the cool or in your best interests to do so. Do you remember of what they accused Jesus in Luke 7:34? They said, "He is a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!"

Friendship does not mean that you have to condone the actions of your friend when they do wrong or intend to do wrong. Friendship is what causes you to try to help them see what the right choices in life are; after all, making "right choices" is what life is all about. Do you remember what Jesus said in John 15:14? Notice his words: "You are my friends if you do what I tell you to do (obey my commandments)."

There is a hymn we sometimes sing, titled "I'll be a friend to Jesus." In the third verse we often sing the words, but too often don't think about what we are promising to God. Notice the words: "I'll do what He may bid me; I'll go where He may send. I'll try each flying minute to prove that I'm His friend."

A true friend is not just one that occasionally sends prayer heavenward. A true friend of Jesus is someone who demonstrates through their actions (doing what he tells us to do) that we are his friend. The chorus of this song emphasizes the importance of being a friend of Jesus. When we sing: "I'll be a friend to Jesus; My life for Him I'll spend. I'll be a friend to Jesus, Until my years shall end." Can we do any less for our friends here on earth?

Russ Lawson

Get a FREE on-line Bible commentary on the book of Romans through http://www.abiblecommentary.com.  There are also FREE audio sermons - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/audiosermons and FREE sermon outlines - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/freesermons

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS


This is the time for holiday trips! Tens of thousands of people are planning and making trips home for the Christmas and New Year holidays. I heard a report on the news about a possible strike of airline workers in Great Briton. People who were desperate to get back to the United States to be with their families for Christmas were paying upwards to $2000 for a one way ticket.

I believe that I know one of the things that makes Christmas so special to most people. It's the fact that as at no other time we as a society realize how important family really is. People just like you, will drive, fly, take trains and bus thousands of miles, just to be with family. Why do we do that? Isn't it because we love our family? Isn't it because we want to keep that love alive, strengthen bonds, and spend time with people who are important to us? Yes, it is!

Would you like to know is really confusing for me? It's the fact that we as part of God's church are part of a family that can be found anywhere we are on earth, yet we don't appreciate it. God's church is described as "the family of God," "brothers and sisters in Christ," "Children of God". We will travel thousands of miles to be with our physical family, but far too often we won't travel a few blocks (or miles), to be with our spiritual family.

I can think of several reasons this happens. First, it is because we don't like the people in the church and don't want to be around them, or perhaps it is not a warm and friendly group and we don't feel comfortable with them, or could it be that we forget that the main reason we gather with the church is to be in the presence of God? Maybe we have out priorities wrong and stay home because we want to be with others or be involved in other activities than we find with God's church.

Let me tell you why this is confusing to me. You see, you can talk to almost anyone that calls themselves "Christian" and ask them if they want to go to heaven and the answer will be "Yes." I wonder why they would want to go to heaven and be with God and the Saints, when they don't want to do it (or feel comfortable doing it) here on earth. Some folks will even say, "I love God, I just have a problem with THOSE PEOPLE who call themselves Christians, because I don't think they act like it." A scripture comes to mind that deals with this problem. In 1 John 4:20c, John writes, "if we don't love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?" NLT)

I will grant you that I have been in churches where they have not been warm or welcoming, maybe like some part of your family may occasionally feel to you. I have been in some churches, where I feel like a total outsider who wandered in the wrong door by mistake. The problem is that even if I feel that way, it doesn't excuse me from meeting with the church to bask in the presence of God. And I've learned through the years that just perhaps the person who needs to change is me! I just like you, tend to put up walls and expect things of others that I forget to expect of myself. It's easy to say, "They didn't even speak to me," but who did you go out of your way to speak to?

Going home for the holidays, yes, it's exciting and we anticipate a great outpouring of love. We find comfort with those we hold close in our hearts. Let me encourage you that if you don't feel like part of a family in your church, to be the one who decides it's time to change that situation. You see, God says it is part of the job of every Christian. One of my favorite passages in Hebrews 3:12-14 where we are told: "Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still "today," so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ."

So the bottom line is this: Take a close look at your own life and make sure of your own heart, then make a real effort to encourage others so that you can all be family! Make it a priority to encourage others to live faithfully, trusting God as we "share in all that belongs to Christ."

Merry Christmas

Get a FREE on-line Bible commentary on the book of Romans through http://www.abiblecommentary.com.  There are also FREE audio sermons - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/audiosermons and FREE sermon outlines - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/freesermons

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Things we can do for God

Quite often in the Church we hear uttered the question "What can I do?" However, it's usually uttered in sort of a plaintive-like voice and not asked as in seeking something to do, but rather in a negative sense. As if to be saying "there's nothing (or not much anyway) that I can do." When said in that tone and in that sense, what the person is really saying is, "I have no talent or ability. I'm useless to the Church." Well, our lesson today is designed to, hopefully, dispel that sort of thinking. At least that's my goal and I'll do my best to accomplish it.

First off, if you're alive, breathing and reading this editorial, it's not true that you don't have any ability or talent. It's not true that there is absolutely nothing you can do. Everybody can do something, and yes, some are able to do more than others, but still, everyone can do something. To help make our point I'm going to use a couple of illustrations.

I really like to use illustrations to help teach lessons, I guess because that seems to be the method that helps me learn easier. Another reason I like using them is because that's the method Christ used, only He called them parables. But a parable is simply relating a spiritual lesson to something that is common to everyday life and thereby seeing the point.

Our first illustration is the Apostle Andrew. We've just wrapped up a study in our Wednesday evening class on the Apostles and of course, we talked a little about Andrew. But, we didn't talk a whole lot about him because there's not a whole lot known or said about him in the Gospels. But, I think we can look at the few things that are said and learn something about his character.

Andrew was not one of the more prominent Apostles. He did not seem to be possessed of any great and wonderful abilities. We really only know that he was a disciple of John the Baptist and the brother of Simon Peter, probably the most prominent of the Apostles. With his brother and some of the others, he was a fisherman by trade. But, he did have one ability that he used and that we can look at for our illustration.

He brought others to Jesus. He was one of the first followers of our Lord, and the first thing he did was to go and bring his brother Peter to Jesus. When he "found" the Messiah he went to tell others so they too could "find" Him. (John 1:41) We're not told how many people Andrew brought to Christ, but we do know that he was instrumental in doing so on two other occasions. He brought the "lad with the loaves" to Jesus (John 6:8-9) and then later, he along with Phillip, brought the "certain Greeks" to Jesus. (John 12:21-22) We're not told about any other talents or abilities possessed by Andrew, but we certainly know that he used the one he had - inviting and bringing others to Christ.

Our second illustration is a little story about a man named Rigsby. Rigsby lived in Scotland and was a traveling salesman. He didn't consider himself to be a person of any great talent or ability, but rather saw himself as just a faithful Christian. He liked it when his job took him to Edinburgh because he could attend worship services there and hear the great and famous preacher, Alexander White, speak.

Like traveling salesmen everywhere, he stayed in the local hotels while on the road and it was the same in Edinburgh. One of the things he always did was to invite the other guests at the hotel to go to church with him. On one occasion, while at Edinburgh, one of the guests went with him and was so moved by Bro. White's sermon that he responded to the invitation and was baptized. After that, the man could hardly stop talking to everyone about the effect the Gospel had on his life and how much it had changed him.

A few mornings later, he happened to be out for a walk and found himself in front of Alexander White's house. Rigsby wanted to tell Bro. White about how much of an effect his preaching had on his fellow traveler who had been converted, but Rigsby was actually pretty shy. None the less, he summoned up enough courage to knock on the front door and it was answered by the great preacher himself.

The preacher invited him inside and asked if there was something he could help him with. Rigsby introduced himself and said that he just wanted to let him know about how his preaching had changed his friend and how he was now telling everyone about Christ.

Bro. White looked at him for a moment and then said, "You're Rigsby!" He grabbed Rigsby's hand and while shaking it said, "I have wanted to meet you for a long time now. Wait here for a moment."

He ran over to a desk and removed a large stack of letters from it. He took them over to Rigsby and asked, "Do you know what these are?" When Rigsby answered, "No," Bro. White said, "These are letters from people you have brought to church to hear me preach." He told Rigsby that over 200 souls had been saved as a result of his bringing people to church with him and that four of them were now preachers themselves. He said that he had been receiving these letters for a long time and he had wanted very much to meet this person by the name of Rigsby who had such an effect on the lives of others.

Isn't that a great little story? Maybe Andrew and Rigsby were a lot alike. Neither were "great" in the sense that we think of greatness. They were simply men of faith and exercised the one ability that they did possess. They knew Christ and wanted everyone else to know Him too. They lived their faith.

The mission, or the ministry, of the Church is very simple - to "make known to the world the manifold wisdom of God" which "He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Eph. 3:10-11) In other words, the Church's job is to bring the Gospel of Christ to the world. The Church depends upon it's members using whatever ability they have to accomplish that mission.

Thus, I repeat what was said earlier - if we are still breathing and occupying space on this earth, we can do something. Maybe we can't preach or teach, or perhaps our physical condition prevents us from doing other things, as long as we're alive we can at least invite others to come hear about Jesus.

Ron Covey

Get a FREE on-line Bible commentary on the book of Romans through http://www.abiblecommentary.com.  There are also FREE audio sermons - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/audiosermons and FREE sermon outlines - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/freesermons

Don't Fall Behind

Last night in the NBA something interesting happened.  The Chicago Bulls had a 35 point lead on the Sacramento Kings in the third quarter.  Obviously this is a game that they should have won. However, when the final buzzer rang the score was 102 to 98 in favor of the Kings. The Bulls had blown a 35 point lead.  This was the largest come from behind win in 13 years.  However, it is not uncommon to see teams lose 20, 15, or 10 point leads. There seems to be a tendency for some teams when they take a large lead to start to take it easy. They do not work as hard as they did in the beginning.   As a sports fan I find it very frustrating to watch my favorite team jump out to a large lead and then allow the other team to come back and win. On the other hand I love to see my team fight back from a large deficit to take the lead.  I did not watch that game but I know that somewhere there were Bulls fans in utter disbelief and complete frustration. I also know there were Kings fans who were celebrating and jubilantly saying that is one of the best games they have ever watched. As we turn to a more spiritual discussion we see a great similarity.

            So often we see those who have become Christians (and in doing so gained a great victory) turn their backs on God. They had victory within their grasps but then gave it up for worldly pleasures that last only a short while.  They lose in the game of life though victory was so close.  John warned of this very thing happening when he wrote "Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward" (II John 8).

            On a more positive note we also see those who have seemed to be complete failures in life turn around and become great men and women of God.  When we see the druggies, foul mouthed, and sexually perverted who turn their lives around to serve God we then witness a great victory. James declared that this very thing was possible when he wrote "Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls" (James 1:21). 

            Everyday great leads crumble and everyday great victories take place. Do not allow yourself to be apart of that first group.  Continually strive to live pleasing to God and everyday strive for victory, it is within our grasp.  

 
--Garrett Bookout
 

Get a FREE on-line Bible commentary on the book of Romans through http://www.abiblecommentary.com.  There are also FREE audio sermons - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/audiosermons and FREE sermon outlines - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/freesermons

Monday, December 21, 2009

RECOGNIZING PRIDE


The Bible could not be clearer about God's attitude toward both the proud and the humble.  He plainly regards pride as synonymous with wickedness.  The wicked "speak arrogantly" (Ps. 94:4). The one with a perverse heart "has a haughty look and an arrogant heart" (Ps. 101:5). The proud treat others wrongfully (Ps. 119:78). But, when you imagine a proud person, do not think of a wino in a back alley, smoking crack, cursing, and indulging in every sort of immorality. More often, he looks like the Pharisee in the temple thanking God that he's not like that guy (Lk. 18:10-14). He could be the "older brother" of Luke 15, not obviously immoral or riotous or wasteful or overtly disobedient. He may go to church with us. He may even be us. How can we tell when we see him or her? Here are three questions to ask:
CAN I BE TAUGHT?
"The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor comes humility" (Pr. 15:33).  With these words, the Bible connects honor and humility but does so concerning the subject of instruction. Contrast this with Jeremiah's audience, of whom it was said, "But they did not obey nor incline their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear nor receive instruction" (17:23). All of us play the role of students in multiple relationships. Do we think we know more than our teachers? Do we feel like they cannot tell us anything we do not know or show us a way better than we are already doing it? Do we regard such teachers with contempt, looking down on them and even slandering them? Behind such folly is unteachable pride.
CAN I BE CORRECTED?
Proverbs 13:1 says, "A wise son accepts his father's discipline, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke." Proverbs 15:5 calls this same person "a fool." A proud heart leads one to bristle and rebel when another attempts to correct him or her. Correction is to be given with humility (2 Tim. 2:25) but mustn't it also be received that way? If not, why not? We are to show all humility to all men (Ti. 3:2), being clothed with humility (1 Pet. 5:5). That is most stiffly tested when we face the correction of another, whether parents, elders, a spouse, a friend, a teacher, an employer, or whoever may be in a position to have to suggest a course of correction for us.
DO I SEEK GOD?
David describes the wicked in a number of unflattering ways in the 10th Psalm, then adds, "The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts" (4). Few of us, if asked, would say that was true of us. We want to be thought of as those who seek God and think about God. Yet, if we are self-centered and full of self, there is no place in our hearts for divine guidance. If I am proud, I do not stop to think about what God thinks of my words before I speak them. I just blurt them out. If I am proud, I do not consider what His Word says before I act.  I just do it. Obnoxious, selfish, and proud behavior is not the mark of one seeking God. It is of one seeking self. The Holy Spirit calls us to use the mirror of scripture to honestly answer this question. Through James, He says, "For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is fist pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace" (Js. 3:16-18). Therein is the litmus test determining pride and humility.

This is a serious matter, deserving full attention. Pride drives a wedge in one's relationship with God (Ps. 138:6). Pride causes friction between one and God (Pr. 3:34). Perhaps no statement makes self-examination on this matter more urgent than Proverbs 8:13, where God simply says, "Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate." Lord, let us be a humble people!
 
--Neal Pollard

Get a FREE on-line Bible commentary on the book of Romans through http://www.abiblecommentary.com.  There are also FREE audio sermons - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/audiosermons and FREE sermon outlines - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/freesermons

ATTITUDES THAT MUST BE

 
 
Matthew 5:5, "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth."
    Our world regards "meekness" as a "weakness."  The common view of meekness is a weak, timid, spineless person who is morally flabby and desires peace at any price.  In contrast to the world, the Bible teaches that meekness is actualy strength, under control, and under submission to God. 
    We are told that Moses was the "meekest man on the earth" (Numbers 12:3). But Moses was not a spineless, timid, weak and morally flabby man. In submission to God, he led an estimated 2.5 million people out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and around the wilderness for 40 years, and finally brought them to the promised land.
    Jesus is the greatest example of meekness. One doesn't have to study the life of Christ very long before learning that Jesus was not a weak and spineless person. And He did not desire peace at any price! In fact, He told His followers, "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother...and a man's enemies will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me." (Matthew 10:34-37).
    "BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HUNGER AND THIRST FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS FOR THEY SHALL BE FILLED" (Matt. 5:6).  When one realizes his need, mourns over it, and becomes truly submissive to God, there follows the satisfaction of that need.  The state of "blessedness" will only come when one hungers and thirsts after righteousness.
    People spend billions of dollars each year on things to do and places to go in order to be "happy."  The result? Life grows duller, not brighter.  Suicide does not exist among those who seek righteousness, only those who seek happiness.  Happiness is NOT the root of the Christian character -- it is the FRUIT of it.  Happiness is NOT the cause of Christian character -- it is the effect of Christian character.
    You can place much food around a starving man, but if he will not eat it, he will starve anyway.  Only those who "hunger and thirst" for righteousness will be filled. Some will say, "I went to church a couple of times but it didn't do me any good!"  That simply shows the truth of this passage. To be filled, you must "want" to be filled, and be willing to pay the price.          Stay Hungry!   Toby Miller  
 
Get a FREE on-line Bible commentary on the book of Romans through http://www.abiblecommentary.com.  There are also FREE audio sermons - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/audiosermons and FREE sermon outlines - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/freesermons

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Thanksgiving and the Christmas Holidays



I think that I've mentioned before that this is my favorite season of the year. Mainly because it's the season that brings us Thanksgiving and the Christmas Holidays. I have a personal name for this season and I call it the "Food Season." Would you agree with me that there just seems to be an abundance of good things to eat during this time?
Plus, I've spent a lot of time and effort (not to mention money), lo these many years, at gaining experience at eating. And, I might add, pretty much all over this country and various parts of the world. I've told you all of this in order to tell you that, because of my vast experience (dast I say "expertise") I've read a lot of menus. You might just be asking right about now, 'What does this have to do with a scriptural lesson?' and I'll be happy to show you how we can take my "expertise" and end up with one.
The next time that you're dining out and are perusing the menu and making a choice from it, notice something stated on it, usually at the bottom. It's a little two word phrase advising you that there are "NO SUBSTITUTIONS!"
What exactly does that mean? It means that the owner of the establishment has decreed that those who dine there cannot mix and match foods different than they are listed on the menu. As an illustration, you cannot trade your "mixed vegetables" for a piece of Peach pie. When it tells you that there are NO SUBSTITUTIONS, that's exactly with it means.
You see, the owner has placed the items on HIS menu in the order he wants them and people dining there have no authority to change anything on HIS menu. Only the owner has that authority. And, if we take this thought a step further, one item does not equal another. IE: One thing is not as good as the other. Now, parabolically speaking, let's take a known and familiar thing such as a "menu" and see if we can't apply that to a spiritual aspect say, "The Bible" or "God's Word."
I don't know about you, but I have no problem seeing The Bible as God's Menu. And when we look at it in that respect, I think that there are a couple of areas we can consider here today. I suppose the most apparent one would be the substituting or exchanging of man's laws for God's laws.
Some of the things that man likes to do, as far as "being religious" can be what we might call "slight" in nature. As opposed to something of a "radical" nature. "Slight" might be something as simple as the way we praise Him in our song worship and "radical" would be seen as worshiping idols or including some paganistic ritual in the worship service. Perhaps we could even define this area as being of "minor" or "major" exchanges/substitutions.
I'd like you to remember this: the degree of substitution is not what matters here. The principle involved with "minor" or "major" is the same as a "little white lie" or a "big black lie." Either one is a lie. The degree does not matter with God. Thus, a "minor" substitution is just the same as a "major" one. We "diners" have no authority to change His "menu" in any way, shape or form. Remember the old saying: "It takes as much authority to change a law as it takes to make a law." When one takes it upon themselves to "change" one of God's laws, they are literally putting themselves on the same level as God. Bestowing on themselves the same authority as God. That, my friends, is a scary proposition to me.
When we look back at the Law given to Israel, we find that they were specifically told to not change anything the Lord told them to do in worshiping Him. Not to exchange (or substitute) one thing for another in the manner in which they were to sacrifice/worship Him. Check out Lev. chapter 27 and Ezek. 48 and see if I speak correctly about this.
But, we also know from our studies of ancient Israel that they made numerous "substitutions" in The Law and in so doing, basically made the Covenant with them of no effect. The Prophet Isaiah called them on this when he told them that the reason their "land" had become "defiled" was because the "inhabitants had changed the ordinance" and "broken the Covenant." (Isa. 24:5)
In actuality, what they did was the same as Paul talks about in the first chapter of Romans when he talks about "those who changed the truth of God into a lie." He goes on to say that, when "they" did this, they worshiped the "creature more than the Creator." When we extrapolate this on out, wouldn't the words of Paul there apply to those who "substitute" their own form of doctrine in place of that delivered by Christ. Would not they, in essence, be making themselves equal with God and then worshiping themselves. I see it that way.
Let's talk just a moment about another "area" of "substitutions." This area deals with people's propensity to "substitute" going to worship service for some other endeavor. And we see those "substitutions" falling into the realm of "charitable events" or participating in some "social organization" benefit of some kind. And these things, in of themselves, do not fall under the category of "bad" things and a lot of the time are really good and benevolent things.
They are things that have good causes like addressing tragic diseases or the relief of some calamitous event. People just seem to feel that being involved in these sort of activities is just as good as "going to Church." You see, they're doing something "instead of" what God tells us we are to do on the first day of the week. Did you notice that "instead of" is the same as "substituting?"
Yes, unfortunately, there are many people who believe that being involved in a social organization is equal to being a Christian. Is equal to doing what God commands that we do. Those people are doing nothing more than "substituting" what they want to do in place of what God says we are to do.
In closing: when God says on His Menu "NO SUBSTITUTIONS" that is exactly what He means. Revelation 22:18-19 tells us what the penalty is for assuming that we have the authority to "substitute" or "change" our laws for His. We have no more right to make "substitutions" to God's Menu than we do to get a piece of pie in place of stewed carrots. The café owner says "NO SUBSTITUTIONS" when it comes to his menu and God says the same regarding HIS!
Ron Covey
 Get a FREE on-line Bible commentary on the book of Romans through http://www.abiblecommentary.com.  There are also FREE audio sermons - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/audiosermon and FREE sermon outlines - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/freesermons
 
 

Saturday, December 19, 2009

ATTITUDES THAT MUST BE

   We generally refer to Matthew 5:3-12 as the "Beattitudes." They are placed at the beginning of the "Sermon on the Mount" which covers chapters 5, 6 & 7 of Matthew. These beatitudes describe Christian character, and we could not expect to have Christian conduct without first understanding the Christian character. Christian character comes before Christian conduct.
    To understand the beatitudes, we must understand the depth of the word "Blessed." It's often said to be similar to being "happy." This is true, but it goes much deeper than that. "Blessed" here means "an inward state which is not altered by outside forces."  "Happiness" depends on outside forces - - "Blessedness" does not.  Happiness can be dependent on, or subject to, many things such as one's health, friends, or even the weather.  "Blessedness" is dependant on developing a Christian character; developing a "state of being" within you that is not altered by outside, worldly things.
    The first step in developing a Christian character is to be "Poor in spirit."  And I want to point out that these Beattitudes are not arranged haphazardly.  "Poverty in spirit" must come first. It cannot come last, or even second.  One who is poor in spirit is one who recognizes he is totally dependent upon God for any righteous spiritual resources. Until this takes place, no spiritual progress can be made. God looks with favor at "him who is of a poor and contrite spirit and trembles at His word" (Isaiah 66:2).  It is sometimes said concerning morally upright people that "all they need is to be baptized." That is not all they need!  They also need an "absence of pride" -- "a sense of unworthiness" -- and a "humble spirit" toward God and His word.
    "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted."  This Beattitude grows out of the first. Not ANY mourner will be comforted. Jails are filled with people who mourn. This is a mourning over sins, of others as well as our own. David said, "I am sorry for my sin" (Psalm 38:18), "Rivers of waters run down my eyes because the people keep not Thy law" (Psalm 119:136).
    Those who joke and make light about sexual permissiveness, divorce, drunkenness, and sin in general, are walking a broad way that does not lead to life.  Solomon writes, Fools make a mockery of sin" (Proverbs. 14:9).  (continued next Monday)...   Stay Hungry (Matt. 5:6) - - Toby Miller
 
 Get a FREE on-line Bible commentary on the book of Romans through http://www.abiblecommentary.com.  There are also FREE audio sermons - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/audiosermons and FREE sermon outlines - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/freesermons

"No Going Back"


Those who are allergic to long lines might want to avoid shopping
areas the day after Christmas.  Stores have learned to expect lots of
returned gifts on that day.  That sweater doesn't fit?  Take it back.
The toy doesn't work?  Return it for a refund.  The past can be erased
in a matter of minutes.

That principle doesn't apply in all areas of life.  An example was
reported by the Associated Press on December 16.  The PNC Bank in West
Newton, PA was robbed on December 9.  The bank received an envelope a
couple of days ago filled with most of the money that was stolen.  No
amount was given in the story, but the money represented about 80% of
what had been taken.

Whether returned by the robber or by a family member or friend, the
thief is not off the hook.  Even if all of the money was returned,
they're still guilty of the crime.  Guilt can't be returned for a full
refund.

The arrest and condemnation of Jesus Christ was one of the greatest
miscarriages of justice of all time.  Pontius Pilate was the governor
in charge of Jesus' case, and he concluded that the charges against
Him were baseless (Luke 23:14,15).  Justice demanded that one who had
been tried and found innocent should be set free.  But the demands of
justice were shouted down by the demands of the mob gathered before
the governor.

Fearing a riot and the bad report that would get back to his
superiors, Pilate caved in to the desire of Jesus' enemies and ordered
Him to be executed.  One final statement of protest was made, however:
"When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a
tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the
multitude, saying, 'I am innocent of the blood of this just Person.
You see to it'" (Matthew 27:24).

Pilate's desperate act of self-justification did nothing to improve
the verdict of history against him.  If anything, it confirmed his
cowardice before the mob.  He obviously saw the injustice of the
situation but did nothing to correct it.

It works the same with us.  We each are guilty of falling short of the
standard of God's laws (Romans 3:23).  As violators of heaven's
statutes, we face a terrible prospect (Romans 6:23).  Will we attempt
to wash our hands and insist that our sins were mere mistakes, and
we're returning our sins for a refund?  No, the stain left by sin will
remain, despite our frenzied attempts to remove it.

Only one cure for iniquity has ever been found.  John wrote about it
in the Revelation God gave to him.  When questioned about the identity
of multitudes wearing clean white robes, John was told, "... These are
the ones who came out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes
and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Revelation 7:14).
Jesus' blood is the only agent available for removing the guilt of
sin.

The cleansing power of that blood is available today, just as it was
for Saul (later renamed Paul): "And now why are you waiting?  Arise
and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the
Lord" (Acts 22:16).  The act of baptism - immersing an individual
under water for a moment or two - can do what water could not do for
Pilate.  (See also Acts 2:38 and Mark 16:16.)

Come to the light God offers!  Study His word, the Bible.  Worship Him
in spirit and truth (John 4:24).  Get in touch with us if you'd like
to discuss these ideas further.
Timothy D. Hall
 
Get a FREE on-line Bible commentary on the book of Romans through http://www.abiblecommentary.com.  There are also FREE audio sermons -
http://www.abiblecommentary.com/audiosermons and FREE sermon outlines - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/freesermons

Friendship

Friendship is a thing to be treasured, especially when it is a true
friendship. True friends love you enough to overlook the small flaws in your
life and enough to try to help you struggle with the big ones. Proverbs
17:17 tells us, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for
adversity."

My best friend of about 30 years, George, down in the heart of Texas sent me
the following words after I sent him prepublication copy of an article I was
working on, asking for his suggestions. I send it along with a note that it
was "unproofed" and it still had lots of "Typo's". He replied: "A friend is
one who reads your emails and does not count your typos." That may seem like
a small thing, but at the old saying goes, "It's the little things that make
a difference."

How does that concept translate practically into our modern way of thinking?
Just what does that mean for us today? Does it have to be about big
sacrifices or of unquestioning support for us all of the times when we mess
up in life, or even when we make the wrong choices? I believe it does. You
see when Proverbs talks about the love of a friend, it says "a friend loves
(cares deeply) at all times". Dr. Laurence Peter said it this way, "You can
always tell real friend: When you make a fool of yourself, they don't feel
you've done a permanent job."

Friendship is very much about consistency, loyalty and mutual support.
Friendship is not something you have only when it is convenient or cost you
no personal investment of time and energy. Friendship is not seen in those
who desert you when things get tough or messy in your life, that's a cheap
imitation of friendship. Friendship is what causes you to believe in and
support someone else even when it's not the cool or in your best interests
to do so. Do you remember of what they accused Jesus in Luke 7:34? They
said, "He is a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!"

Friendship does not mean that you have to condone the actions of your friend
when they do wrong or intend to do wrong. Friendship is what causes you to
try to help them see what the right choices in life are; after all, making
"right choices" is what life is all about. Do you remember what Jesus said
in John 15:14? Notice his words: "You are my friends if you do what I tell
you to do (obey my commandments)."

There is a hymn we sometimes sing, titled "I'll be a friend to Jesus." In
the third verse we often sing the words, but too often don't think about
what we are promising to God. Notice the words: "I'll do what He may bid me;
I'll go where He may send. I'll try each flying minute to prove that I'm His
friend."

A true friend is not just one that occasionally sends prayer heavenward. A
true friend of Jesus is someone who demonstrates through their actions
(doing what he tells us to do) that we are his friend. The chorus of this
song emphasizes the importance of being a friend of Jesus. When we sing:
"I'll be a friend to Jesus; My life for Him I'll spend. I'll be a friend to
Jesus, Until my years shall end." Can we do any less for our friends here on
earth?

Russ Lawson

Get a FREE on-line Bible commentary on the book of Romans through
http://www.abiblecommentary.com. There are also FREE audio sermons -
http://www.abiblecommentary.com/audiosermons and FREE sermon outlines -
http://www.abiblecommentary.com/freesermons

Friday, December 18, 2009

How Do You Spell That?

 

About a week ago Alicia and I put some of our belongings into a storage unit. While I was in the office of the storage unit the lady who worked there was asking me some questions so she could put some information into the computer. She asked the typical questions that one would ask for this type of thing. One of the questions she asked me was "who is your employer"? So I told her the Bear Valley church of Christ. As she was typing the information into the computer she looked up and asked "is it C-h-r-i-s-t?" At first I was not sure if she was joking but after about a second or two I realized she was seriously asking me how to spell the name of Christ. So I told her and we finished filling out the paper work. Honestly, I have never been considered a fantastic speller nor have I ever won any spelling bees. If you look hard enough there is a good possibility that I have misspelled a word or two in this very article.  But to not know how to spell the name of Christ is baffling to me. Sadly, we live in a society that is far too similar to other societies throughout history.  It is hard to imagine a people who have been more blessed by physical prosperity than we in the United States. Sadly, this far too often results in people forgetting the Lord.  This took place time and time again in the Old Testament. The children of Israel (the very people that God chose too establish a great nation) had protection by God and great prosperity; yet, they turned their backs on God time and time again.  Hosea wrote "When they had pasture, they were filled; they were filled and their heart was exalted; Therefore they forgot Me. So I will be to them like a lion; like a leopard by the road I will lurk; I will meet them like a bear deprived of her cubs; I will tear open their rib cage, and there I will devour them like a lion. The wild beast shall tear them" (Hosea 13:6-8). When the children of Israel turned their backs on God their great prosperity and protection departed from them. Over and over again scripture talks about them forgetting the Lord and the great works that He had done for them.  Sadly, I am afraid we are living in a time where so many have forgot the Lord and the great things He has done for us.  Let us never be one of them.  Let us never forget the Lord.

 

--Garrett Bookout

 

Get a FREE on-line Bible commentary on the book of Romans through http://www.abiblecommentary.com.  There are also FREE audio sermons - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/audiosermons and FREE sermon outlines - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/freesermons

The Key


A self-proclaimed computer illiterate purchased a computer to help him with his business. After receiving a few pointers, he was left alone to do some experimenting. It wasn't long however, before a slightly panicked voice was heard from his office saying: "Hey, where's that 'UH-OH' button?"

What he had been looking for, of course, was the "undo" key that lets you backtrack when you've made a mistake....

Have you ever wished for one of those in your life? A provision to reverse, repair or restore what's been broken or damaged by SIN?

No doubt Peter wished he could "undo" his actions (see Luke 22:61-62).  But Peter was not left in his misery. After Jesus' resurrection, He restored Peter, giving him an opportunity to reaffirm his love (John 21:15-17).

Although it is not possible to "undo" our sins, it IS possible for us to be forgiven of them!  God loved us so much that He gave His Son to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16; 1 Peter 2:24).  "IN HIM we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7).

God will forgive those who... believe and trust Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Him before men (Rom 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).

Then as a Christian... when you sorrow over sin in your life, remember that God has provided a method of restoration: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

The real "key" to life is NOT the "undo" key.  The Key to the abundant life and eternal life to come is CHRIST, and the forgiveness which is found ONLY in Him.  

Won't YOU accept His offer on His terms?

 
Get a FREE on-line Bible commentary on the book of Romans through www.abiblecommentary.com.  There are also FREE audio sermons - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/audiosermons and FREE sermon outlines - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/freesermons
 

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dorothy Dix, American journalist

"You never saw a very busy person who was unhappy."


Dorothy Dix, American journalist (1861-1951)
Get a FREE on-line Bible commentary on the book of Romans through www.abiblecommentary.com.  There are also FREE audio sermons - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/audiosermon and FREE sermon outlines - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/freesermons

MEDUSA



    There were two characters that scared me as a little boy.  The first was a villain named the "Spellbinder" from the PBS show, "Electric Company."  Maybe it was because Joan Rivers was the narrator of "The Adventures Of Letterman," but I digress.  The other character was from Greek mythology, a female monster capable of turning anyone who looked at her into stone.  Being the snake lover that I am, the fact that a pit of vipers was swirling around where her hair should have been did not give opportunity for attraction.  I am over my Spellbinder-phobia, but Medusa still troubles me!  And, yes, it is the many-headed snake thing.
    There is another many-headed snake out there, more frightening than Medusa.  It is described and depicted in scripture.  "A gossip betrays a confidence" (Prov. 11:13a).  "A gossip separates close friends" (Prov. 16:28b).  "Without a gossip a quarrel dies down" (Prov. 26:20).  Describing those filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity, Paul includes that "they are gossips, slanderers" (Rom. 1:29,30).   Proverbs 25:23 decries the negative influence of "a backbiting tongue."  Paul feared that at Corinth he would find "slander and gossip" (2 Cor. 12:20).  David said that only one who "has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong, and casts no slur on his fellowman" can dwell in the Lord's sanctuary (Psa. 15:1,3).
    Gossip, backbiting, slander, or whatever other name we give this practice, is a difficult sin for the best of Christians to avoid.  It is, however, a true Medusa, a multi-headed snake.  That may sound harsh, but think about what we do when we engage in gossip.
    We are attacking the subject of our gossip.  Sometimes, the attack is overt.  We show open disdain or contempt for the one whose back we are biting.  At other times, we may be more sophisticated or subtle in our attack.  We might even launch it under the guise of a position of spiritual superiority or genuine concern.  A grenade by any other name still explodes and does damage.
    We are engaging in cowardice.  Few people who engage in gossip are brazen enough to say the same thing in the same way to the person that they say about the person.  If you would not sign your name to it and give it to them, do not say it about them.  Cowards are not admirable people.
    We are lowering others' estimation of ourselves, thus harming our influence.  That is an irony of gossip.  You cannot bring someone else down without taking the trip with them.  The weak-minded may hear slander or backbiting about another and completely swallow and follow the stated opinion, but most people see gossip as being much more telling a statement about the slanderer.  A further irony is that gossips threaten people's trust and intimacy with them.  A thinking person will be wary of a gossip, perhaps wondering, "If they say this about 'him' or 'her,' what are they saying about me to others?"  That's a great question.
    We are flagrantly disregarding the Golden Rule.  When we gossip, we are not treating the name, reputation, work, and character of the victim they way we would want ours treated.  Defamation of character, undermining, and whisperings do damage, damage we would not done to ourselves.
    Beware!  It is easy to become a Medusa.  If tempted to speak badly of another, stop!  You risk hurting others and yourself more than the mythic damage she did.  Let true, brotherly love prevail (cf. Heb. 13:1; Rom. 12:10).
--Neal Pollard
Get a FREE on-line Bible commentary on the book of Romans through
www.abiblecommentary.com.  There are also FREE audio sermons -
http://www.abiblecommentary.com/audiosermon and FREE sermon outlines -
http://www.abiblecommentary.com/freesermons

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

DOES JESUS FIT THE DESCRIPTION?

What were the Jews thinking who read or heard the prophesy of Isaiah?  After several warnings of pending captivity and doom for many of God's chosen ones, Isaiah, by inspiration, begins to look forward to a period of time in which God would send a special servant to redeem and rescue them.  So many Old Testament pictures of this Messiah was of One unlimited in power and greatness, a King, and One greater even than Moses or David.  They could envision the Jewish army led by such a commander in chief, perhaps conquering all other nations of the earth and ushering in unprecedented domination and prosperity.  Yet, at times they had an enigma on their hands.  Descriptions of this coming One in certain scriptures were at odds with their preconceived notions of who this Messiah would be.

Things have not changed in time.  It is not just a Jewish, first-century or 21st-century problem.  Man tends to try and fit Jesus into his own mould.  Many want Jesus, but only the Jesus they imagine and desire.

Some want the King, but not the suffering Servant.  Isaiah 52:13 through the end of the next chapter depicts One with an appearance disfigured beyond human likeness, despised and rejected, pierce, crushed, wounded, oppressed and afflicted, led like a lamb to the slaughter, cut off from the land of the living, suffering, and numbered with transgressors.  How could such a One be the mighty leader of Jewish conquests?  Rabbis chose to ignore or leave unexplained such passages as these.  Yet, we could not have the King God intended without His first having suffered and died (Heb. 2:9).

Some want an earthly Lord, but not a heavenly Lord.  Premillennialists have constructed an entire doctrine centered around their misunderstanding of both Old and New Testaments, the summation of which is that Jesus will return to earth for a thousand years to sit upon a literal throne in Jerusalem.  They strain symbolic and figurative passages, interpreting such things as the battle of Armageddon, the 144,000, a period of tribulation, and much more as having literal fulfillment at some future point.  On His way to the cross, Jesus emphatically told Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36).  No passage tells us Jesus will return to this earth, much less set up an earthly kingdom here.  Instead, the earth will be destroyed with fire at His coming (2 Pet. 3:10ff) and all mankind will be caught up in judgment before Christ's heavenly throne (1 Thess. 4:13ff; Matt. 25:31ff; John 5:28-29; etc.).  His spiritual Kingdom, the church (cf. Dan. 2:44; Matt. 16:18-19; Mk. 9:1; Heb. 12:28), is already in existence and is spiritual in nature.  That is not glamorous to the majority, perhaps, but it is biblical.

Some want a baby Jesus, but not the eternal Judge.  The babe in a manger, adorned with swaddling clothes, cooing and dependent upon Mary for food, clothing, and protection, is a safe Savior.  He makes no demands, sets no expectations, teaches no doctrine, and sits in a fetal position rather than a position of authority.  Certainly, the incarnation (Jesus coming in the flesh) and the virgin birth are essential doctrines of Christianity.  That He was a baby in this eternal scheme is not denied!  Yet, many want only such a Jesus.  They pass over passages that speak of Him sitting upon the throne of judgment some day, consigning the disobedient and ignorant to eternal condemnation (cf. 2 Thess. 1:7-10).  But sit in judgment He will most certainly one day do (Matt. 25:31-34).

He is a King.  He has all authority on earth.  He came to earth as a newborn baby.  Yet, as accurate as these pictures are, they are incomplete.  They must be understood in the full light of scripture rather than by looking through selected windows we cut to our own custom dimensions.  Let us accept the whole Jesus, love Him, serve Him, obey Him, and look forward to an eternity with Him!

--Neal Pollard

Get a FREE on-line Bible commentary on the book of Romans through www.abiblecommentary.com.  There are also FREE audio sermons - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/audiosermons and FREE sermon outlines - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/freesermons

 

Theme Songs For Bible Characters

Someone has suggested the following theme songs for Bible characters
(Warning: some of these are real oldies!):
Noah: "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head"
Adam and Eve: "Strangers in Paradise"
Lazarus: "The Second Time Around"
Esther: "I Feel Pretty"
Job: "I've Got a Right to Sing the Blues"
Moses: "The Wanderer"
Jezebel: "The Lady is a Tramp"
Samson: "Hair"
Salome: "I Could Have Danced All Night"
Daniel: "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"
Joshua: "Good Vibrations"
Peter: "I'm Sorry"
Esau: "Born To Be Wild"
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: "Great Balls of Fire!"
The Wise Men: "When You Wish Upon a Star"
Elijah: "Up, Up, and Away"
Methuselah: "Stayin' Alive"
Nebuchadnezzar: "Crazy"
There was no theme song suggested for Jesus Christ. May I suggest the
following song, entitled "A New Song," first sung by those two famous
groups, "The Four Living Creatures" and "The Twenty-Four Elders":
"You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; For you were
slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every tribe and
tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.....Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to
receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and
blessing!" (Rev. 5:9-10,12)
I don't know about you, but I look forward to joining them someday in
this great song of praise. Worthy is the Lamb!
Alan Smith
Get a FREE on-line Bible commentary on the book of Romans through
www.abiblecommentary.com. There are also FREE audio sermons -
http://www.abiblecommentary.com/audiosermon and FREE sermon outlines -
http://www.abiblecommentary.com/freesermons





















Izaak Walton

"Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter."

Izaak Walton, English writer (1593-1683)

Get a FREE on-line Bible commentary on the book of Romans through www.abiblecommentary.com.  There are also FREE audio sermons - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/audiosermon and FREE sermon outlines - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/freesermons

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

making poor exchanges for the soul

Last week's editorial dealt with the subject of abilities and talents. Today's subject is sort of in the same genre of last Sundays' only we're going to call it "values." And that is a subject that all of us can relate to, isn't it? Don't we buy gasoline where they have the lowest prices? Why we read the sales ads in the newspaper so we can get the best value for our money?

As most of you know, I'm an inveterate collector of a lot of things, with "things" being the operative word here. And the rule is, if you're going to collect something you'd better know what the value of those "things" are in the market place or you're going to waste a lot of money. So, we're going to talk for a few moments about the value of "things" and, hopefully, see a lesson about where we place our values.

Being a bonafide collector of old things I can attest to the fact that a "thing" is really only worth what somebody will give you for it. New "things" are something else, but still we try to make deals when buy them too, don't we? Basically, I guess you could say, that we like to get our money's worth when we make a purchase, and as previously stated, it's important to know what that "thing" is worth.

Let me tell you a little story that helps illustrate our lesson today. I think that we all can relate to this man's situation, because we've no doubt done the same thing in our lives, and if the truth be known, on more than one occasion. I'll step right out and admit that I have done so and will probably do so again down the line. Also, you might even be a little surprised at who tells this story on himself.

It's a story about a boy and his whistle and told by the man he later became. He was about 7 years old when some family friends gave him some money. He immediately headed out to buy himself a toy. On the way to the store, he met another boy tooting on a whistle and he liked that whistle so much that he offered the boy all of his money for it. Recognizing a deal when he saw it, the boy wasted no time in selling it to him.

He loved that whistle and tooted it all over the place, generally disturbing everyone else in the family. When they found out what he had paid for the whistle, his brothers and sisters started making fun of him because he had paid over four times more than it was worth. He said that all of their laughing at him and teasing him about his purchase vexed him so much that it ruined his pleasure in owning the whistle and tooting it.

But, this incident stayed in his mind and he never forgot the lesson he learned from his over-payment of the whistle. After he had grown to be a man, he said that he would observe the actions of others in their various dealings and sometimes note that many of them "gave too much for the whistle." He said, "When I met a man of pleasure, sacrificing every laudable improvement of his mind or of his fortune, to mere material satisfactions, and ruining his health in their pursuit, 'Mistaken man, say I, you are providing pain for yourself instead of pleasure, you pay too much for your whistle.' If I see one fond of appearance only, of fine clothes, fine houses, fine furniture, all above his fortune, for which he contracts debts and ends his career in prison, 'Alas! say I, he has paid dear, very dear, for his whistle.'

In short, I conceived that a great part of the miseries of mankind were brought upon them by the false estimates they have made of the value of things, and by their giving too much for their whistles." (Author: Benjamin Franklin)

Let's advance our thoughts from the "material things" of life to the "spiritual things" and think about what should be the "thing" most valuable to us - our soul. I suppose that the passage that hits home the most in this regard is something that Jesus said in the form of a question: "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matt. 16:26)

The Bible is replete with examples of people making poor exchanges for their souls. One great example, when we think of the "Promised Land" as being a type of heaven, is what the Israelites figured it was worth. Joshua warned them about transgressing the Covenant with God and if they did so, they would "perish quickly from off the good land which He hath given unto you." (Joshua 23:16) Short story, they did and they were. They paid a dear price for the whistle of idolatry.

Probably the most famous example in Biblical case history of selling something far too dearly that we can cite is the case of Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus. In the 26th chapter of Matthew we read where he negotiated a deal with the Chief Priests to deliver Christ to their custody. Think of it this way, what they were willing to pay, and what he was willing to take, was the value Judas placed on the life of Jesus Christ. Thirty pieces of silver. By the way, did you know that the amount of 30 pieces of silver was the value of a slave/servant under the Law of Moses? Sure was. Check it out in Exodus 21:32. But look at what he personally lost for that piddly little amount. His life and his soul. He paid dearly for his whistle.

In closing, let's return to the question Christ asked in Mt. 16:26 and ask it this way: What is a person's soul worth? Is there someway we can find out the value of a soul? Is there a reference book somewhere that will tell us? Yes, there is and it just happens to be the same book wherein we found the question.

Remember me saying that something is worth what someone will give for it? Well, think about this: to Christ, our souls were worth his dying on the cross. That's the price He paid for us having the opportunity to get to the "Promised Land." (Mt. 20:28) So then, the question becomes: What is a soul worth to man? The same reference book that gave us the first answer also gives us the answer to this question.

I cited to you Matt. 16:26 earlier and now I'd like to direct your attention to a couple of verses just prior to that one and I think we'll find the answer to our last question. Look at verses 24-25: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it."

So, the simple answer to the question 'what is a soul worth to man?' is really part of a simple equation: to Christ, if our soul was worth His life, then it's worth our eternal life to us. It's an even trade in value.

Ron Covey

Get a FREE on-line Bible commentary on the book of Romans through www.abiblecommentary.com.  There are also FREE audio sermons - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/audiosermons 

Phillips Brooks

"I do not pray for a lighter load, but for a stronger back."


Phillips Brooks, American theologian and author (1835-1893)

Get a FREE on-line Bible commentary on the book of Romans through www.abiblecommentary.com.  There are also FREE audio sermons - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/audiosermons 

THREE OBSERVATIONS ABOUT SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS



    The word "self-righteous" does not appear in scripture.  The dictionary defines the word as "filled with a conviction of being morally superior to others; smugly virtuous."  That attitude is certainly found and discussed in scripture.  Jesus told a parable "to some who  trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt" (Luke 18:9; the NIV has "confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else").  In Luke 16, Jesus tells the Pharisees, "You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men" (15).  Much of what Jesus says in Matthew 23 is devoted to confronting the scribes and Pharisees' feelings of moral superiority.
    There are some common traits among the self-righteous.  It is not a question of one's sincerity or conviction, but of how one behaves under the guise of either.  None of us should want to fall into the category of the self-righteous.
    First, the self-righteous often see others' failings, but not their own.  Such a one could fill a book with what the other one is doing wrong, but spend very little time in meaningful self-examination (cf. 2 Cor. 13:5).  Self-righteousness can display itself in constant criticism or hyper-criticism of others.  It is easier to pick apart the actions of others than to be self-aware.  Yet, reminding ourselves that all sin will add humility to the way we handle their perceived faults and flaws.
    Also, self-righteousness is not true righteousness.  There is a big difference.  True righteousness can be classified with goodness and truth (Eph. 5:9), but self-righteousness is neither good nor true.  True righteousness is coupled with peace and joy, but self-righteousness works against both (Rom. 14:17).  True righteousness can be mentioned in the same breath with self-control (Acts 24:25), but self-righteousness is often devoid of it.  That is the irony of self-righteousness.  It really is not righteous at all.
    Further, self-righteousness is often  a product of pride.  Such is often a byproduct of one elevating his or her judgments, opinions, and feelings to the level of law.  One's own preference can become what all should do.  One's conviction can become the best or the only way.  If we are not careful, conviction and preference can become self-righteousness.
    God wants His people righteous.  There is too much worldliness and embracing of sin among even children of God.  This is unrighteousness and no one should aspire to that.  Yet, let us be careful to place our trust in God's rather than our own righteousness.
--Neal Pollard
Get a FREE on-line Bible commentary on the book of Romans through ww.abiblecommentary.com.  There are also FREE audio sermons - http://www.abiblecommentary.com/audiosermon

How to be saved

Are you wondering how to be saved? Are you searching for information on how to be saved? Do you want to know what God requires you to do to be saved from your sins? Learn how to be saved from sin and have heaven you home by visiting http://www.abiblecommentary.com/newtestamentchristianity today! There is also a good discussion on how to be saved at http://www.commentaryonthebible.com/howtobesaved

Bible commentary search engine

Bible commentary on http://people.tribe.net

Bible commentary listing and Bible blog posts on http://people.tribe.net/7c4e37b3-b314-4ddc-a2fb-c122df71e9e5

Bible commentary listing

A great listing for my Bible commentary material is https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/user/5353867

On line Bible commentary

My Bible commentary books are now listed on openlibrary.org, a VERY useful web site! Check out this neat web site and my profile there at this link: http://openlibrary.org/people/abible

naymz and bible commentary information

I just learned about naymz.com and found this to be another great tool to advertise the Bible commentary and Bible study information from www.abiblecommentary.com - check out my bible commentary profile at this link: http://www.naymz.com/brad_price_3364268?preview=true

Commentary on the Bible listing

Yelp.com has helped me promote the "Bible commentary" products from www.abiblecommentary.com - my "yelp listing" is here: http://abiblecommentary.yelp.com

Flickr.com Bible commentary profile

I added my "Bible commentary" profile to flickr and it was EASY! Check it out at http://www.flickr.com/people/abiblecommentary/

www.capzles.com

I just joined www.capzles.com, a very interesting web site! My "bible commentary" profile is here - http://www.capzles.com/#/abible/ - and I was able to include a link to my new "First Corinthians commentary" which is also part of Google books.

Blogs from www.livejournal.com

Are you interested in blogging? If you are looking for a "free blog" that is EASY to use, check out www.livejournal.com. You can be up in running in just minutes - here is my first "Bible commentary" blog post: http://abible.livejournal.com/

Blog Archive