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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Problems In 1 Corinthians 5

There Was A Sin Problem (1).  It is concerning this sin problem that Paul goes into great detail from chapter five through chapter seven.  The general issue was fornication (sexual immorality), but the specifics of it were egregious.  A man had his father's wife.  This was perverse and incestuous.  It should have been obvious to the Corinthian Christians that such was as out of step with Christian living as anything could be.  It was a problem beyond the norm seen in the ungodly Gentile culture.  Serious immorality tainted the image and purity of Christ's body.  It is ever so.
There Was An Attitude Problem (2).  This is seen both by what they did and did not do.  They did not show godly sorrow (cf. 2 Cor. 7:10-11).  Instead, they evidenced sinful pride.  This is an enigma.  Were they proud to have a brother in Christ in fellowship who was committing immorality with his father's wife?  Were they prominent Corinthians?  Whatever the reason for their being "puffed up," Paul exposes it as a serious attitude issue.  Any reaction toward sin short of working to get it corrected or disciplined reveals attitude problems.
There Was A Spirituality Problem (3-8).  They had been more focused on the flesh, glorying in a bad situation, than trying to save the spirit of this rebellious man.  They failed to see the spiritual impact this had on the whole congregation.  How easy it is for us to focus on what is seen, the fleshly, and neglect or ignore the unseen, spiritual matters.  We see what can happen when this happens among us.
There Was An Association Problem (9-11).  Paul had written them before about not fellowshipping the disorderly, but now he is writing them again with further specifics and cautions.  Paul's warning was stern and the level of disassociation is comprehensive.
We commonly refer to this process as church discipline.  Paul's conclusion on this matter is, "Put away from you the evil person" (13).  We may have a hard time calling a rebellious, sinful brother "evil," but Paul did not.  He highlights the growing problem of allowing evil to go unnoticed, undisciplined, and unchecked.  Eventually, it can destroy the identity of a church as the bride of Christ.  We must always have greatest concern for pleasing and obeying the Lord.  The ultimate goal is also to save the souls of all who are part of the local congregation.  This occurs through proper teaching, fellowship and support of one another, love, and, when all else fails, "putting away from us" those who refuse to repent and return to right living.  Stark and disturbing?  Certainly.  Biblical?  Absolutely!
 
Neal Pollard

First Corinthians commentary:  Get the new First Corinthians commentary from www.abiblecommentary.com.  Preview the First Corinthians commentary through Google books at http://bit.ly/dfw86d.  Other Bible commentary material from www.abiblecommentary.com includes a FREE on-line Romans commentary:  http://bit.ly/3MRU5I  
 

God—A.Man.of.War.

Exo..15:3:
Intro:.
A...The.Old.Testament.is.filled.with."shadows"......
......a..."So.let.no.one.judge.you.in.food.or.in.drink,.or.regarding.a.festival.or.a.new.moon.or.Sabbaths,.which.are.a.
............shadow.of.things.to.come,.but.the.substance.is.of.Christ."..Col..2:16-17.
......b..."For.if.He.were.on.earth,.He.would.not.be.a.priest,.since.there.are.priests.who.offer.the.gifts.according.to.the.law;.
............who.serve.the.copy.and.shadow.of.the.heavenly.things,.as.Moses.was.divinely.instructed.when.he.was.about.to.
............make.the.tabernacle...For.He.said,.'See.that.you.make.all.things.according.to.the.pattern.shown.you.on.the.
............mountain.'"..Heb..8:4-5;.cf..9:24.
......c..."For.the.law,.having.a.shadow.of.the.good.things.to.come,.and.not.the.very.image.of.the.things,.can.never.with.
............these.same.sacrifices,.which.they.offer.continually.year.by.year,.make.those.who.approach.perfect."..Heb..10:1.
............1...Note:..Certain.OT.elements.were.shadows;.certain.NT.elements.are.substance...Ex:..Copy/original.
............2...Ex:..When.I.take.my.dog.walking.around.the.yard.in.the.evening,.we.turn.on.the.outside.lights...He.will.
..................inevitably.see.his.shadow.on.the.side.of.the.house.and.begin.to.bark...Question:..Is.he.barking.at.a.dog,.or.at.
..................a.shadow.of.a.dog?...
B...Biblically..speaking,.a.shadow.is.a.glimpse,.a.preview,.or.a."coming.attraction".(like.a.movie).of.a.corresponding.NT.
......truth...
......a...Examples:.
...........1...A.lamb.was.a.shadow.(i.e.,.glimpse/preview/coming.attraction).of.Christ...Jn..1:29.
...........2...The.Flood.was.a.shadow.(i.e.,.glimpse/preview/coming.attraction).of.baptism...1.Pet..3:20-21.
...........3...The.bronze.serpent.on.the.pole.was.a.shadow.of.the.death.of.Christ...Jn..3:14..(The.OT.is.the.NT.concealed;.the.
................NT.is.the.OT.revealed)....
......b...These.OT.shadows.were.given.to.help.us.better.understand.and.appreciate.the.blessings.of.being.in.Christ..."For.
...........whatever.things.were.written.before.were.written.for.our.learning,.that.we.through.the.patience.and.comfort.of.
...........the.Scriptures.might.have.hope."..Rom..15:4..Ex:."Positive.preaching…".
...........1...The.OT.is.often.viewed.merely.as.a.collection.of.historical.tales,.a.documentation.of.the.Jewish.people,.as.a.
................source.for.understanding.Oriental.manners.and.customs,.and.as.place.to.find.Sunday.school.stories.for.
................children,.but..of.very.little.practical.importance.to.Christian.living...1.Cor..10:6,.11...
...........2...Ex:..Have.you.ever.been.encouraged.to.look.at.an.antique.book.which.has.beautiful.illustrations.and.
................engravings,.but.you.have.never.taken.the.time.to.actually.look.at.the.book?..The.only.way.to.really.appreciate.
................the.book.is.to.look.at.the.illustrations....
................a)..The.only.way.to.really.appreciate.what.we.have.in.Christ.and.His.church.is.by.looking.at.the.OT.illustrations.
.....................and.shadows!..Gal..3:24..
................b).Shadow/type:."The.LORD.is.a.man.of.war;.the.LORD.is.His.name."..Exo..15:3.....
.
I...God.is.NOT.a.man.
.
....A...We.tend.to.think.of.God.in.totally.human.terms..
.
..........1...Our.brains.can't.wrap.around.the.concept.of.deity,.so.we,.in.essence,."bring.Him.down.to.our.level".in.order.to.
...............comprehend.Him.as.best.we.can..
...............a...I.suppose,.in.one.sense,.it.is.good.that.we.recognize.God.as.a.person.and.not.just.some."comic.force".like.
....................something.out.of.Star.Wars..
...............b...But.there.is.a.danger.in.thinking.of.God.like.we.think.of.man...."These.things.you.have.done,.and.I.kept.silent;.
.....................you.thought.that.I.was.altogether.like.you;.but.I.will.rebuke.you,.and.set.them.in.order.before.your.eyes.".
....................Psm..50:21.
..........2...We.think.that.God.is.just.like.us..
...............1...Examples:.
.....................a...We.think.that.we.can.hide.from.man,.and.therefore.we.can.hide.from.God..
.....................b...We.think.that.we.can.withhold.information.from.man,.and.therefore.we.can.withhold.information.from.
..........................God..
.....................c...We.think.that.we.can.give.lip-service.to.our.marriage.and."get.by,".and.therefore.we.can.give.lip-service.
..........................to.our.spiritual."marriage".to.the.Lord.and.get.by..
................2...Having.said.that,.God.and.man.do.share.certain.similarities...
......................a...Man.has.a.face,.eyes.and.ears,.a.nose,.mouth,.arms,.hands,.fingers,.feet,.and.a.heart..
..............................God.has.a.face..."When.you.said,.'Seek.My.face,'.my.heart.said.to.You,.'Your.face,.LORD,.I.will.seek.'".
..............................Psm..27:8.
..............................God.has.eyes.and.ears..."For.the.eyes.of.the.LORD.are.on.the.righteous.and.His.ears.are.open.to.their.
..............................prayers;.but.the.face.of.the.LORD.is.against.those.who.do.evil."..1.Pet..3:12;.cf..Psm..102:1,2.
..............................God.has.a.nose..."And.with.the.blast.of.Your.nostrils.the.waters.were.gathered.together;.the.floods.
..............................stood.upright.like.a.heap;.the.depths.congealed.in.the.heart.of.the.sea."..Exo..15:8.
..............................God.has.a.mouth...But.He.answered.and.said,."It.is.written,.'Man.shall.not.live.by.bread.alone,.but.by.
..............................every.word.that.proceeds.from.the.mouth.of.God.'"..Mt..4:4.
..............................God.has.arms..."Ah,.Lord.GOD!..Behold,.You.have.made.the.heavens.and.the.earth.by.Your.great.
..............................power.and.outstretched.arm...There.is.nothing.too.hard.for.you."..Jer..32:17.
..............................God.has.hands..."Therefore.humble.yourselves.under.the.mighty.hand.of.God,.that.He.may.exalt.you..
..............................in.due.time."..1.Pet..5:6.
..............................God.has.fingers..."And.when.He.had.made.an.end.of.speaking.with.him.on.Mount.Sinai,.He.gave.Moses.
...............................two.tablets.of.the.Testimony,.tablets.of.stone,.written.with.the.finger.of.God."..Exo..31:18.
..............................God.has.feet..."Exalt.the.LORD.our.God,.and.worship.at.His.footstool—He.is.holy."..Psm..99:5.
..............................God.has.a.heart..."And.I.will.give.you.shepherds.according.to.My.heart,.who.will.feed.you.with.
...............................knowledge.and.understanding."..Jer..3:5;.cf..Acts.13:22.
......................b...These.are.simply.figures.of.speech.to.help.us.comprehend.something.of.the.nature.of.God...(God.is.not.a.
..........................."flesh.and.bone".entity;.He.is.Spirit)..."Behold.My.hands.and.My.feet,.that.it.is.I.Myself...Handle.Me.and.
............................see,.for.a.spirit.does.not.have.flesh.and.bones.as.you.see.I.have."..Lk..24:39.
....
....B...God.is.God.and.man.is.man..."God.is.not.a.man,.that.He.should.lie,.nor.a.son.of.man,.that.He.should.repent...Has.
..........He.said,.and.will.He.not.do?..Or.has.He.spoken,.and.will.He.not.make.it.good?"..Num..23:19...
.
..........1...Examples:.
...............a...God.is.all-powerful/omnipotent;.man.is.not...cf..Rev..19:6.
...............b...God.is.all-knowing/omniscient;.man.is.not...cf..Psm..147:4-5.
..........2...God.portrays.Himself.in.OT.Scripture.as.a."flesh.and.blood",.finite.individual.in.order.that.we.might.identify.with.
...............Him.and.know.Him.in.a.deeper.sense....
.
II...God.is.like.a.man.of.WAR.
.
......A...Our.modern.culture.tends.to.emphasize.the.more.genteel.attributes.of.God—His.kindness,.compassion,.love,.
............mercy,.and.grace..
............1...Certainly.these.qualities.must.be.stressed.in.any.thorough.study.of.the.Father,.but.it.is.a.mistake.to.dismiss.
.................His.warrior.persona..
.................a...God.is.not.some.milquetoast,.weak-hearted,.soft-spoken,.tender-footed,.mamma's.boy!.
.................b...He.is.portrayed.in.OT.Scripture.as.The.One.Who.fights,.Who.wages.war,.Who.battles.against.sin,.and.who.
.......................is.bent.on.conquest...Exo..15:3.
.
............2...If.we.really.want.to.know.God,.we.must.study.this."warrior-element".of.His.divine.character...Illust:..Christ.in.
.................Matthew,.Mark,.Luke.and.John.give.us.a."3-D".view.of.the.Lord..
.
......B...How.is.God.a.man.of.war?.
.
............1...He.is.mighty..."The.LORD.shall.go.forth.like.a.mighty.man;.He.shall.stir.up.His.zeal.like.a.man.of.war...He.shall.
.................cry.out,.yes,.shout.aloud;.He.shall.prevail.against.His.enemies...Isa..42:13.
.................a...Some.Bible.students.think.this.is.a.reference.to.God's.conquest.over.Babylon.and.Israel's.deliverance.from.
.......................the.Exile..Others.think.may.be.a.foreshadowing.of.the.victory.of.the.Messiah.over.His.enemies,.and.more.
.......................specifically,.over.sin)....
.................b..."Mighty".is.something.to.consider...(Are.we.fighting.with.Him.or.against.Him)?..cf..Acts.5:33-39;.cf..23:9...
............2...He.is.a.deliverer...cf..2.Kgs..6:8ff.
.................a...When.Ben-hadad.sent.a.large.force.to.surround.the.city.of.Dothan.and.apprehend.Elisha,.Elisha's.servant.
......................cried.out.in.fear,."Alas,.my.master!..What.shall.we.do?".
.........................The.prophet.knew.that.a.very.real.danger.existed,.but.he.also.know.something.of.the.militia.arrayed.in.his.
.........................defense...vv..14-15.
.........................He.calmly.told.his.servant,."Do.not.fear,.for.those.who.are.with.us.are.more.than.those.who.are.with.
..........................them."..v..16.
.........................They.may.have.sounded.reassuring,.but.at.that.particular.moment,.no.allied.troops.could.be.seen.in.the.
..........................vicinity..
.........................Elisha.then.prayed.that.his.servant's.eyes.might.be.opened...v..17...
.........................His.petition.was.immediately.answered,.and.suddenly.his.aide.beheld.a.massive,.heavenly.detachment.of.
..........................horses.and.chariots.of.fire...v..17b.
.........................God.then.delivered.these.men.and.struck.the.Syrian.army.with.blindness...v..18.
.................b..."Then.the.Lord.knows.how.to.deliver.the.godly.out.of.temptations.and.to.reserve.the.unjust.under.
.......................punishment.for.the.day.of.judgment."..2.Pet..2:9..
............3...He.is.a.destroyer...cf..Isa..2:12-21.
.................a...The."day.of.the.LORD".will.come.and.the.proud.will.be.reduced.to.their.proper.size...(The.expression.
......................."day.of.the.LORD".is.a.common.Bible.idiom.for.judgment..
.................b...When.this.contest.between.proud.men.and.God.is.over,.the.Lord.will.stand.alone.in.victory...Idolatry.will.
.......................be.destroyed.and.men.will.seek.to.hide.themselves.from.the.wrath.of.God..
.......................1)..The.immediate.application.has.reference.to.impending.captivity..
.......................2)..But.the.principle.points.to.the.final.judgment.....
............4...He.is.fearsome..."For.God.made.my.heart.weak,.and.the.Almighty.terrifies.me."..Job.23:16.
.................a...When.Job.considered.the.awesome.power.of.God,.he.expressed.fear.and.trepidation..
.................b..."It.is.a.fearful.thing.to.fall.into.the.hands.of.the.living.God."..Heb..10:31;.cf.,.Mt..10:28.
.................c...When.the.Lord.saved.Israel.out.of.the.hand.of.the.Egyptians.(Exo..14:30),.Moses.and.the.people.sang.a.song.
......................about.those.who.would.subsequently.hear.of.God's.heavy.hand.against.Egypt.and.fear...cf..Exo..15:14-16.
.................d...Interestingly,.when.the.harlot.Rahab.met.the.two.men.who.were.spying.out.Jericho,.she.mentioned.how.
.......................the.hearts.of.the.people.melted.because.they.had.heard.of.what.Jehovah.had.wrought.against.Egypt.and..
.......................the.Amorites...cf..Jos..2:9-11;.Rom..10:17.
.
III...As.a.Man.of.war,.God.not.only.FIGHTS,.but.He.fights.for.us.
.
.......A...Illust:..Secular.history.reminds.us.of.numerous.fighting.races—the.Samurais,.Huns,.Mongols,.Vikings,.and.Celts..
............Each.possessed.fierce.fighting.skills.and.abilities...But.perhaps.no.group.was.more.renowned.for.its.expert.fighting.
............prowess.than.the.rugged.Spartans...Only.the.hardened.and.strong.survived.in.the.strict.discipline.of.the.Spartan.
............armies...Trained.only.for.battle,.a.young.soldier.knew.but.one.family—his.fellow.comrades.in.arms...Physical.
............development.was.his.primary.goal,.and.each.day.was.devoted.to.exercise.and.military.drills...From.the.tender.age.
............of.seven,.Spartan.boys.no.longer.lived.at.home,.but.were.raised.by.the.state...Training.was.harsh.and.austere,.but.
............each.youth.learned.unwavering.and.absolute.loyalty.to.his.country...Finally,.at.the.age.of.twenty,.each.cadet.
............became.a.full-fledged.member.of.the.Spartan.army...Spartans.were.considered.the.ultimate.warrior.race..
.
............1...God.is.pictured.in.Scripture.as.a.mighty,.delivering,.destroying,.and.fearsome.warrior!.."The.LORD.is.a.man.of.
.................war…"..Exo..15:3..(He.is.a.consummate.warrior)!.................
............2...Brethren,.there.is.no.problem,.there.is.no.enemy,.however.great,.however.intimidating.in.appearance,.that.
.................God.cannot.overcome!.."The.LORD.will.cause.your.enemies.who.rise.against.you.to.be.defeated.before.your.
.................face;.they.shall.come.out.against.you.one.way.and.flee.before.you.seven.ways."..Deut..28:7.
.................a...When.Job.faced.devastation.at.the.hands.of.the.devil,.God.the.warrior.was.with.him...cf..Job.1:12.
.................b...When.Joseph.faced.the.illicit.advances.of.Potiphar's.wife,.the.Bible.says.God.was.with.him...cf..Gen..39:2.
.................c...When.Moses.faced.Pharaoh.and.sought.to.lead.Israel.out.of.bondage,.God.was.with.him...cf..Exo..3:2.
.................d...When.Joshua.faced.the.Canaanites,.God.was.with.him....
.................e...When.Ehud.faced.Eglon.and.eighteen.years.of.Moabite.enslavement,.God.was.with.him...cf..Judg..3:12-30.
..................f...When.the.boy.David.faced.the.nine-foot.giant.of.Gath,.God.was.with.him...cf..1.Sam..17:45-47.
.................g...When.Jesus.faced.the.tempter.in.the.wilderness,.God.was.with.him...cf..Mt..4:11.
.................h...When.Paul.fought.the.figurative."lion".that.sought.to.devour.him,.God.was.with.him...cf..2.Tim..4:16-17.
.
........B...God.not.only.fought.in.the.OT,.but.He.fights.for.us.today!.
.
..............1...Examples:.
....................a...When.a.loved.one.has.passed.into.eternity.and.the.devil.whispers,."You're.alone,.so.just.give.up,".it.is.then.
.........................that.God.will.fight..
....................b...When.the.world.is.cruel.and.unkind.you.and.you.struggle.with.your.faith,.God.will.fight..
....................c...When.you.are.tempted.to.succumb.to.the.wiles.of.the.evil.one,.God.will.fight..."No.temptation.has.
.........................overtaken.you.except.such.as.is.common.to.man;.but.God.is.faithful,.who.will.not.allow.you.to.be.tempted.
.........................that.you.may.be.able.to.bear.it."..1.Cor..10:13.
...................d...When.your.teenager.has.been.led.astray.by.one.of.his.or.her.peers,.God.will.fight..
........................(When.your.daughter.announces.she's.pregnant—and.she's.not.married—God.can.fight)..
...................e...When.your.financial.debt.seems.insurmountable.and.your.future.looks.of.ruin.and.despair,.God.will.fight..
....................f...When.your.doctor.says,."I'm.sorry,.it's.cancer…".and.your.future.is.overshadowed.by.pain.and.uncertainty,.
.........................God.will.fight..
....................g...When.your.marriage.is.in.the.midst.of.a.mighty.storm.and.it.appears.as.though.there.will.be.survivors,.God.
..........................will.fight..
.....................i...When.you.really.want.to.do.right.and.Satan.seeks.to.discourage.and.disappoint.you,.God.will.fight..
.....................j...When.you.watch.the.moral.breakdown.of.society.and.feel.like.saying,."What's.the.use?".remember.that.
..........................God.fights..
.....................k...When.you.stand.in.the.Judgment.and.the.prosecuting.attorney.points.his.finger.at.you.in.slander.and.
..........................condemnation,.remember.that.God.through.His.eternal.Son.will.fight.for.you....
...............2...A.word.of.caution.is.in.order.here..
....................a...In.Acts.5.when.the.Sanhedrin.sought.to.kill.the.apostles.for.preaching.the.gospel.in.Jerusalem,.the.
.........................Pharisee,.Gamaliel,.counseled.his.peers.not.to."fight.against.God."...
....................b...God.is.a.Man.of.war.and.He.has.never.lost.a.single.battle!.....
.
Concl:.
A...God.is.a.Man.of.war.."The.LORD.is.a.man.of.war;.the.LORD.is.His.name."..Exo..15:3.......
B...Listen.to.these.words:.
.
.......
......Soldiers.of.Christ,.arise,.and.put.your.armor.on;.
......Strong.in.the.strength.which.God.supplies,.
......Strong.in.the.strength.which.God.supplies.through.His.beloved.Son..
.
C...God.is.a.Man.of.war—and.He.fights.through.the.His.Son.and.His.word....
.
--Mike Benson

James I of England, King of Scotland

Ever heard the myth, "We didn't know how unhealthy smoking was until recently?"  Try this on for size...

"A custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black, stinking fume thereof, nearest resembling the horrible Stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless."

James I of England, King of Scotland and Stuart King of England (1566-1625)


First Corinthians commentary:  Get the new First Corinthians commentary from www.abiblecommentary.com.  Preview the First Corinthians commentary through Google books at http://bit.ly/dfw86d.  Other Bible commentary material from www.abiblecommentary.com includes a FREE on-line Romans commentary:  http://bit.ly/3MRU5I  
 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What is the kingdom of God?

God's kingdom: What is God's kingdom? Where is God's kingdom? Who is in God's kingdom? Is God's kingdom the church? Is God's kingdom heaven? Learn about the "kingdom of God" with this FREE sermon from www.abiblecommentary.com today:
 

https://www.plum.com

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Wayne Gretzky

"You miss 100% of the shots you never take."

Wayne Gretzky, retired Canadian professional hockey player (1961- )

First Corinthians commentary:  Get the new First Corinthians commentary from www.abiblecommentary.com.  Preview the First Corinthians commentary through Google books at http://bit.ly/dfw86d.  Other Bible commentary material from www.abiblecommentary.com includes a FREE on-line Romans commentary:  http://bit.ly/3MRU5I  
 

THE CROSS AND EASTER BUNNIES


The time of the year celebrated by most Christians as Easter is now upon us. Did you know that traditionally, Easter Sunday has the highest church attendance of the year? But as I thought about that fact, I wondered how many people really attend for the right reasons. There is no doubt that the day has been shamelessly commercialized by almost anyone who wants to sell anything. There were Easter baskets, Easter candy, and Easter clothes for sale in our stores as early as February. It seems that everyone wants to cash in on this traditionally favorite holiday. As far as favorite family holidays it ranks almost as high a Thanksgiving. All of the grocery stores have been advertising special Easter sales on traditional foods. Many people have their "holiday gatherings" all planned and many families will attend the church of their choice together that day.

Now understand, that I'm not saying that aspect of Easter is wrong, we sent a package of Easter candy to our grandchildren who live in another state. I just hope that each of us will take time to focus upon what is truly important at this time.

I started wondering about how the whole idea of candy, eggs and bunnies became attached to Easter. Here is the basic history: "The idea of an egg laying bunny came to the United States in the 18th century. German immigrants in the Pennsylvania Dutch area told their children about the "Osterhas," sometimes spelled "Oschter Hase." "Hase" means "hare," not rabbit, and in Northwest European folklore the "Easter Bunny" indeed is a hare, not a rabbit. According to the legend, only good children received gifts of colored eggs in the nests that they made in their caps and bonnets before Easter. In 1835, Jakob Grimm wrote of long-standing similar myths in Germany itself. Grimm suggested that these derived from legends of a goddess called Ostara, but as a romanticist, he tried to connect contemporary customs to pre Christian traditions, knowing that no written sources of that time existed. Additionally, a goddess of that name is only mentioned in a single ancient source giving an ambiguous statement about an Ostara month." (Wikipedia)

I guess it boils down to the fact that we as humans like traditions, we like holidays and we like to celebrate. It doesn't take much to get us to set aside a special time to dress up, get gifts and eat great food. It really doesn't matter to most of us that "Easter" is not found in the bible. Yes, I know that it is in the King James Version of Acts 12:4, but the word actually is the word from which we get the English word "Passover," and is translated that way in the rest of the bible.

What's the point anyway? Well our traditional American Easter is just that, a tradition. Let's not confuse it with what is really important, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. It is through Christ's resurrection we have hope of eternal life, it is the proof that he has the power to overcome both Satan and death. That is what is really important!

Notice what the apostle Paul wrote in reminding people of this in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, "Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the GOOD NEWS I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you, unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place. I PASSED ON TO YOU WHAT WAS MOST IMPORTANT and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said." (NLT)

Chocolate Easter bunnies are great, just ask any kid! But the greatest, the MOST IMPORTANT thing is that we have a risen savior! Let's not lose what is really important in hunting for Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies.

Russ Lawson

First Corinthians commentary:  Get the new First Corinthians commentary from www.abiblecommentary.com.  Preview the First Corinthians commentary through Google books at http://bit.ly/dfw86d.  Other Bible commentary material from www.abiblecommentary.com includes a FREE on-line Romans commentary:  http://bit.ly/3MRU5I  
 

UNDERCOVER BOSS


     I don't know how many of you have watched the TV show "Undercover Boss", but it is one that intrigues me.  The show features a CEO of any given company who decides to go undercover and work as one of his men on the front lines.  The purpose is to find out what problems there are and what the CEO can do to make it better.  Now to some extent, this show seems a bit staged to me as the workers are almost always more than thrilled to be working for the company and they have unique, difficult situations that they open up about to this "stranger" filming a documentary, whether it be about dialysis or losing their home to a flood. But that aside, it is interesting to watch the reactions of people at the end of the show when they learn that the man that they serve, that they've never met, has spent the day working beside them.  And everything they did and said was being observed by the man who pays their salary.

     More often than not, the CEO is touched by how hard his employees work and they are rewarded.  Some are rewarded with bigger job opportunities within the company.  Some are given raises, some sent to school, some have foundations set up in their name.  It reminds me so much of the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25.  The show for me, makes that passage come alive.  I think a lot about God revealing himself to us at the end of our time and saying, "I was with you.  I was watching you work and heard what you said.  I was impressed with your work ethic.  You work very hard.  I know it hasn't been easy, but I'm going to make things better for you now.  You do an excellent job where you are at, but I would like you to take on more responsibility."

     This show is helpful in getting me to understand that passage.  I'm afraid too often that I relate far too easily with the steward with one talent.  I hope that God finds me neither afraid or lazy, but can warmly greet me in his "office" and say "Well done good and faithful servant!"

Charity Thomas
Johnson City, TN

First Corinthians commentary:  Get the new First Corinthians commentary from www.abiblecommentary.com.  Preview the First Corinthians commentary through Google books at http://bit.ly/dfw86d.  Other Bible commentary material from www.abiblecommentary.com includes a FREE on-line Romans commentary:  http://bit.ly/3MRU5I  
 

The blind side movie





We bought the boys "The Blind Side," and as the boys were watching it via Clear Play they arrived at that dramatic point when Michael Oher has to write an essay in order to get his GPA high enough to graduate eligible for NCAA college football.  Tim McGraw's character claims that "The Charge Of The Light Brigade" by Alfred Lord Tennyson was written to depict the rivalry between two SEC football programs.  Actually, Tennyson wrote it after reading an article in the London Times in 1854, written to describe a particular part of the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War.  Ironically, though written during the Victorian age of logic and reason, Tennyson's most famous line may have been, "Theirs was not to reason why."

What about for us?  Certainly, the Bible encourages us to reason together over spiritual truths (Isa. 1:18).  God endowed us with native intelligence, able to decipher right and wrong.  We can "know" (cf. John 8:32).  But, there also arises a time and circumstance in which we must cease rationalizing and reasoning away, content to follow the great Commander of the soul and to say, "Where He leads me, I will follow."  Too many have ceaselessly made it their business to "reason why."  God gives clear instructions, but they incessantly say, "Why?"  He says, "Follow. Teach. Purify. Yield. Obey."  Is ours to reason why?

-- Neal Pollard

First Corinthians commentary:  Get the new First Corinthians commentary from www.abiblecommentary.com.  Preview the First Corinthians commentary through Google books at http://bit.ly/dfw86d.  Other Bible commentary material from www.abiblecommentary.com includes a FREE on-line Romans commentary:  http://bit.ly/3MRU5I  
 

Monday, March 29, 2010

Yale-Between Wadsworth And Sheridan

 
 
Locals know that the title indicates the names of three streets, West Yale Avenue running east and west between Wadsworth and Sheridan Boulevards.  The church building is nearly halfway between the boulevards at the corner of South Lamar Street.  I drive that route daily, trying faithfully to observe the 30 MPH speed limit sign that is rigorously monitored by local law enforcement.  The cynical would say this stretch of road is a speed trap.  Those who have been ticketed on said stretch must reflect, ponder, and pray before talking about it.  Today, though, as I saw yet another poor sap pulled over by our men in blue, I thought about a few things. 
First, that speed limit sign is clearly posted multiple times down that two mile span of road.  We are accustomed to not only a "speed grace" level, we often find ourselves trying to drive as quickly as driving conditions will allow.  Those who think this way on Yale between Wadsworth and Sheridan are often surprised at how literally the police take that sign. 
Also, despite how regularly Yale is patrolled here, people continue to get livid with you if you drive no more than the speed limit.  You think to yourself, "Don't they know that Barney might be just behind that sign at the apartment complex!"  You may feel some measure of satisfaction if you're lucky enough to see the guy in the sports car rip past you and into the waiting arms of the man holding the radar gun.  Despite how well-known this area is for nabbing those criminals going 33 or 34, people continue to be caught on a regular basis (doing 45, 50 or more). 
Finally, it is tempting to blame the police officer for the government he serves and the law he seeks to enforce.  It wasn't the officer breaking the law, it was you (and of course the five other guys going faster than you that the officer totally ignored to give you a ticket).  Never mind that he doesn't pull over the people who are driving the speed limit (unless their registration is out of date).  He is a symbol of the law.  He's the messenger.  But, he's who we can see when we're waiting for that slip of paper with payment options on it.
How closely that mirrors life!  We know that there is a law in place (Gal. 6:2; Rom. 8:2; Js. 1:25).  It is tempered by grace (Eph. 2:8), but some abuse grace (Rom. 6:1-2; Jude 4).  They refuse to submit to or take Christ's will seriously.  And, how often will we find ourselves the object of others' scorn, those mad at us for trying to follow what He says (cf. 1 Pet. 3:16; 4:4)?  Of course, we should not take satisfaction in the thought of the judgment that awaits the lost, but be assured that it will come.  Then, may we never focus our anger at the one who is trying to humbly trying to show us what Christ's will is.  Such feelings should be reserved for the devil, the world, and ourselves, when we give in to disobedience.  Let us, "Therefore be careful how we walk, not as unwise men but as wise" (Eph. 5:15). 
Oh, and watch yourself on Yale between Wadsworth and Sheridan!

First Corinthians commentary:  Get the new First Corinthians commentary from www.abiblecommentary.com.  Preview the First Corinthians commentary through Google books at http://bit.ly/dfw86d.  Other Bible commentary material from www.abiblecommentary.com includes a FREE on-line Romans commentary:  http://bit.ly/3MRU5I  
 

LOOKING DOWN FROM THE CROSS

    By the time Jesus was nailed to the cross, there was very little left of Him physically. A Roman soldier had just lashed and shredded His back. Most men die from this alone, either from the loss of blood, or the pure shock of unbearable pain. Plus, when Jesus  endured the scourging, He had been without food, water, or sleep for nearly 24 hours.
    Then, a roughly cut wooden cross weighing about 200 pounds was dropped on what was left of His shoulders and He was forced to carry it most of the way to Calvary.
    No way can I agree with the artists who portray Jesus as a frail, insipid, effeminate-type person. Contemplating what this carpenter from Nazareth had to endure, He would have had to have been a man of awesome physical strength or He would've been dead long before Calvary.
    After reaching the hill called "Calvary," the cross was laid on the ground and without sympathy Jesus was stretched out on it -- the splintery wood digging into His lacerated back. His hands and feet were nailed to the wood. The cross was lifted up and dropped into a hole, and the people just stood back to watch Him die.
    Ever wonder what thoughts were going through His mind as He hung there looking at the crowd and hearing them cast insults at Him? Jerusalem off in the distance, a handful of terrified disciples, and of course, He could see Mary, the woman who had given Him birth.  Jesus knew that not even great men like Noah, Abraham, Jeremiah, Elijah, king David, and yes, even this godly woman He called "Mother," could go to heaven unless He bear His Cross.  Perhaps also, it passed through His mind the godly souls of all generations who would love Him and be saved because of what He was then going through, and such thoughts gave Him a little strength.
    It's somewhat amazing to me that Jesus asked His disciple John to care for His mother rather than His own physical brothers. We know that Mary had at least four other sons (Matt. 13:55), but with Jesus, spiritual blood-lines transcends physical blood-lines. Jesus had said earlier, "Whosoever does the will of My Father in Heaven is My brother, sister, and mother (Matt. 12:50). Jesus put more trust in one of His disciples than He did His own physical brothers.
    Looking down from the Cross, and having a full understanding of the total power at His disposal, rather than call on the angels for vengeance, Jesus simply said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34). It was necessary to say this to demonstrate a willingness to forgive His enemies and to set an example for us. However, we know that God the Father did not forgive them because we read in Acts 2 they were guilty and had to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.
    Now think about this: In Acts 2, people who believed, repented and were baptized were forgiven of this sin of crucifying the Son of God!  That is, on the Cross, there took place something so great that it could even wash away the sins of those who murdered the Son of God. Do we understand this? NO. Do we accept it by faith? Yes! Don't ever think that you have sunk so low that God could never forgive you!
    Jesus said, "I thirst," and was offered wine mixed with gall. Gall was a pain killer, so Jesus refused. He would not give future generations the opportunity to say He didn't suffer to the fullest extent.
    Finally, Jesus said, "It is finished." This is the Greek perfect tense. The perfect tense means "completed action with ever continuing results." Jesus died ONCE. The result of His death is "ever continuing."  He then commits His soul to the safe-keeping of the Heavenly Father, just like you and I must do. The Spirit of Jesus is now locked in Hades, but only for three days. On the following Sunday morning, Jesus came out of the grave.
    "Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty victory over His foes,
    He arose a Victor from the dark domain, and He lives forever with His saints to reign!"
    Hallelujah, Christ Arose!"
    You can share in this victory over death. Repent, be baptized, be faithful. God has reached out to you with His life, in order to make it possible for you to reach back to Him with yours (Romans 12:1-2).
                                                Stay Hungry - - Toby Miller


First Corinthians commentary:  Get the new First Corinthians commentary from www.abiblecommentary.com.  Preview the First Corinthians commentary through Google books at http://bit.ly/dfw86d.  Other Bible commentary material from www.abiblecommentary.com includes a FREE on-line Romans commentary:  http://bit.ly/3MRU5I  
 

A Tale of Two Cities

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION

Well, here it is again, the last Lord's Day of the year. Boy it seems like it got here quick. Sure doesn't seem like a year ago that we were feasting on the holiday goodies, watching the "bowl" games and making our New Year's resolutions. Speaking of resolutions, I'm only going to make one for this coming year: as long as I'm alive, I'm resolved to get up at least once a day. See, I believe in resolutions that are "keepable." (New word for the year)

So, having "preambled" (2nd new word) you to this point, I'm going to base our lesson today on some year-end and coming-year thoughts. And, to help me do that, I'm going to resort to a favorite method of editorial illustrating - the words of an old familiar hymn and a story accompanying it. I think this song will fit right in with our general theme of ending a year and beginning our journey through the next. Before we get any further along, the title of our hymn is "Abide With Me."

When we look back in remembrance of this past year we can pretty much relate it to the opening line of Charles Dickens's book "A Tale of Two Cities." You know, where he says, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." I guess that some events of just about every year can be viewed, in the rear-view mirror so to speak, as fitting into one or the other of those two states. Every year seems to have their highs and lows and their ups and downs, don't they? And I speak of them in both the individual sense and in the collective sense.

Congregational-wise, or collectively speaking, we've all experienced some good things occur with baptisms and way-ward souls returning to their "first love." And, we've had the "worst of times" occur with the death of members and loved ones. I think that the only thing we can surmise here is that our "times" on this old earth will always produce events that fit both of these occasions and when I bring today's thoughts to a close, I'll leave you with a quote befitting of what I just said.

Right now, let's look at the little story relating to our hymn and then we'll look at some of the words in the hymn itself. Perhaps some of you are working, or have worked in the medical field and if so, this story will have more meaning to you than others. It's the account of a nurse by the name of Edith Clavell, her heroic activities during The Great War (WW1) and the end of her life. In this account we'll see both the "good" times and the "bad" times with the bad being terrible.

Edith was the "nurse in charge"of the Red Cross Hospital in Brussels during the First World War. By taking advantage of her position, she was able to help English, French and Belgium soldiers to, not only survive wounds, but to escape to England. This wasn't an easy thing to do as Belgium was then occupied by German forces.  The saving of the soldier's lives were the "good" times.

History doesn't provide us with the information as to how the Germans "got onto her" but somehow they did and she was arrested. She was put into solitary confinement in a German prison. Her trial was before military court and when she was asked about her activities, she did not deny them. She readily admitted to helping at least 200 of them escape before she was caught. Apparently it never occurred to her to lie about what she had done even though she knew the cost.

The trial lasted two days, ending on a Friday. There were diplomats aware of her arrest and trial and were trying to get in to see her, but without success. The Germans, however, kept reassuring them that everything was going to be okay. On Sunday night the military court found her guilty and sentenced her to be shot to death by a firing squad on Monday morning. At 6:00 AM the next morning, she was taken to the place of execution, blindfolded and shot.

At a late hour on Sunday evening, the night prior to the execution, she was allowed to have a chaplain visit her. It's reported that they sang the hymn "Abide With Me" together during this visit. As we leave this year 2009 and journey forth into 2010 let's remember the faith and courage of Edith Clavell as she faced that "worst time" of her life. And let's join her in the words of this great hymn.

Abide with me: fast falls the even-tide. The darkness deepens, Lord with me abide: When other helpers fail and comforts flee. Help of the helpless, O abide with me!

Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day; Earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away;

Change and decay in all around I see; O Thou who changest not, abide with me!

I need thy presence every passing hour; What but thy grace can foil the tempter's power?

Who like Thyself my guide and stay can be? Thro cloud and sunshine, O abide with me!

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes; Shine thro the gloom and point me to the skies;

Heav'n's morning breaks and earth's vain shadows flee; In life, in death O Lord abide with me!

So, as we enter this new year, if by the grace of God we do, let's remember who we "Abide With." Whose "presence" we need every passing hour of our lives. Who we can count on to be our "guide and stay" whose power overcomes Satan's. The One who is there at all times whether they be "clouds or sunshine." During the "best of times or the worst." And never lose sight of "the cross." To always "hold it before our eyes" and recognize that it signifies salvation and eternal life to come.

And also remember that God will never leave us - will always "abide with us" so long as we "abide in His Way." God made "The Way" and will not abandon nor make another one. It's man that either doesn't get in "The Way" or chooses to leave it. And that "Way" is always "shining thro the gloom."

I said that I'd close today's thoughts with a quotation that I felt appropriate to our lesson, and so I will. It mostly fits with what we think of as the "good," or the "best of times" and without further ado, here are the words of Thomas Moore.

                        "Take all the pleasures of all the spheres

                          And multiply each through endless years -----

                          One minute of heaven is worth them all."

Ron Covey

 
First Corinthians commentary:  Get the new First Corinthians commentary from www.abiblecommentary.com.  Preview the First Corinthians commentary through Google books at http://bit.ly/dfw86d.  Other Bible commentary material from www.abiblecommentary.com includes a FREE on-line Romans commentary:  http://bit.ly/3MRU5I  
 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Truth exists, only falsehood has to be invented

 

Well, it's been some time now since we've had a lesson on the subject of "Truth" so that's what we're going to talk about here today. I have to tell you that my inspiration for an editorial on this topic came about because of a newspaper article I happened across last year and thought at the time that it would make a good basis for a short study about "Truth." Let's just do that, shall we?

The article of which I spoke was written about some comments made by a college professor lamenting the level of study and comprehension of students today. In discussing his views on this with the reporter he made this statement and I think you'll see why this stirred my thought processes. The professor said......

"Whether they realize it, ordinary people have become more comfortable with the idea that truth is relative and that emotion is a reliable and sufficient guide to finding it. For many of us, what's true is whatever is pleasing and useful."

After reading that statement, I think you can easily see what got me going on the subject of "Truth." (I capitalize it because I'm speaking of The Truth) A few years back they made a movie entitled "A Few Good Men" and if you saw it, you no doubt remember the courtroom scene where the Colonel was on the witness stand and spoke the most memorable line of the movie when he told the prosecutor: "You can't handle the truth!"

When it comes to looking at the spiritual aspects of our lesson, I believe that it's not that many people "can't" handle the "Truth" it's that they "don't" handle it "right." (2 Tim. 2:15) And, I further believe that the reason they don't do so is because they are one in the same as the ones Paul was speaking of in 2 Thess. 2:10. You know, the ones who "perished because they refused to love the Truth and so be saved." (ESV)

When we delve further into what Paul is teaching there in 2 Thessalonians we can see another tie-in to the statement made by the professor in regards to people following their emotions as a guide instead of The Word. Paul tells us that there are a lot of "deceptions" out there for people to follow rather than the Law of Christ and that they are there because they've been put there by Satan. In verse 11 we see him referring to them in another way - as "strong delusions."

You know, we've got a lot of "feel good religions" around us, don't we? People buy into those doctrines because of exactly what the professor said: "true is whatever is pleasing and useful." It's the same principle we see in another letter of the Apostle Paul, 2 Timothy 4:3, where he describes people seeing "Truth" by the use of their emotions as ones having "itching ears." Ones who "accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions." (ESV)

See how those two warnings by Paul tie together? Many people look for "Truth" by their emotions, by their "passions." And Satan has provided mankind with all kinds of "teachers" who operate with "wicked deceptions" and "strong delusions." In other words, there's no shortage of false and lying doctrines available to anyone who doesn't "love the truth" enough to study and know it. To "rightly divide" it as the KJV says it.

There's an old adage that I like to use in my classes when we're talking about "Truth" and it goes like this: "If you don't know the truth, you'll believe a lie." Isn't that the lesson in what Paul was teaching in 2 Timothy? That if we don't "study" to know the Truth, we won't know how to "rightly divide" it and then we'll believe any one of the "deceptions" or "delusions" that suits our fancy. We won't know any better. And trust me, Satan doesn't want you to know any better, to "know the truth" because if we do then it will "set us free." IE: from him. (John 8:32)

A man by the name of Georges Braque once penned these words, he said: "Truth exists, only falsehood has to be invented." What a tremendous statement, in light of what we've been seeing here in the writings of Paul. God exists! Christ exists! The Truth exists because God sent His Son to earth for the express purpose of bringing it to us. (John 1:17) And Satan exists with his express intention of being the "adversary,"the opposer,of The Truth (1Pet. 5:8) and as such, is the father of all the "deceptions" and the "delusions." IE: The inventor of all falsehood.

Yes, I believe that it's just like Paul said to Timothy when he said that there are a lot of people who have a "form of godliness" (IE: appear to be righteous or religious) but they've never gained a "knowledge of the truth." Therefore, what they teach is NOT "The Truth" but rather one of the deceptions. But, as said earlier and it serves as a serious warning to us, if we don't know "The Truth" and we want to be "religious" too, we'll probably buy into it and "perish" right along with our false teacher.

In wrapping up our thoughts here today, I think the professor hit the proverbial nail right on the head when he said that many people today make Truth "relative." They make their form of "Truth" whatever is pleasing to them, rather than doing what is pleasing to God. I guess another way of explaining the professor's "relativity" of truth as regards much of today's society is to say that, for many people, "Truth" is what's convenient to them. And sadly, this seems to apply both to our secular world and the religious world.

Ron Covey

First Corinthians commentary:  Get the new First Corinthians commentary from www.abiblecommentary.com.  Preview the First Corinthians commentary through Google books at http://bit.ly/dfw86d.  Other Bible commentary material from www.abiblecommentary.com includes a FREE on-line Romans commentary:  http://bit.ly/3MRU5I  
 

Friday, March 26, 2010

Irish proverbs

 
"An té is mó a osclaíonn a bhéal is é is lú a osclaíonn a sparán."

"The one who opens his mouth the most,
'tis he who opens his purse the least."


First Corinthians commentary:  Get the new First Corinthians commentary from www.abiblecommentary.com.  Preview the First Corinthians commentary through Google books at http://bit.ly/dfw86d.  Other Bible commentary material from www.abiblecommentary.com includes a FREE on-line Romans commentary:  http://bit.ly/3MRU5I  
 

Rhine River

 

An old legend tells of an old lonely man who, one cold dark night, wandered along the Rhine River . Thinly dressed and half-starved, he noticed a huge mansion brightly lit. As he came nearer, he could see the warm fire burning in the fireplace, the table laden with food, and he could hear the music as it floated out on the breezes of the night. Driven by hunger and cold, he knocked upon the door to beg for shelter for the night. An old servant answered the door and through the weathered face recognized the long lost heir to the mansion and estate. Here was a man wandering without any idea that he would be warmed, filled with food, and comfortable because he suddenly became quite wealthy. *

Similarly, many wander through life not realizing that each of us can 
become an heir to an ETERNAL inheritance that is more valuable than anything on earth!

Unfortunately, due to our sin we are unfit and unqualified to receive the inheritance.  In fact, our sin condemns us to eternal destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).

But God loves us so much that He gave His only Son to die on the cross for our sins so that we might have forgiveness of our sins (Colossians 1:14) and be made "heirs having the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:7).

The Apostle Peter wrote about this inheritance that awaits Christians:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
Who according to His abundant mercy
has begotten us again to a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you."  
1 Peter 1:3-4

YOU can become a child of God and a co-heir with Christ (Romans 8:16-17), if you will place your faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and be born again in baptism (immersion) for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; cf. John 3:3-5).  Then, if you will follow Him faithfully (Revelation 2:10), one day you will receive the inheritance that He longs to give to you.

Because of Jesus, YOU can become a heir to an ETERNAL inheritance "that can never perish, spoil or fade."  God has something wonderful for you 
–IF- you will only accept it on His terms.

Won't YOU?

David A. Sargent,


First Corinthians commentary:  Get the new First Corinthians commentary from www.abiblecommentary.com.  Preview the First Corinthians commentary through Google books at http://bit.ly/dfw86d.  Other Bible commentary material from www.abiblecommentary.com includes a FREE on-line Romans commentary:  http://bit.ly/3MRU5I  
 

He Believed a Lie

At first we feel pity for the unnamed "man of God" described in 1 Kings 13. After all, he accepted a potentially dangerous mission from God by confronting evil King Jeroboam about the unauthorized altar he had built in Bethel. This prophet was faithful and courageous in carrying out his assignment.
 
But he never made it home alive. As he traveled back to Judah, a lion killed him, and the obvious inference from the text is that God sent the lion. Why would God do such a thing to a man who had been faithful to His mission?
 
The man of God had not been completely faithful to his mission. One part of God's orders was that he not eat or drink while in Bethel. At first, he was obedient and refused Jeroboam's invitation to dine with him.
 
But an old prophet caught up with him on his way home, and told him that God had changed the orders. God now wanted the man of God to come dine in Bethel, according to the older prophet. The text tells us, however, that the old prophet "was lying to him" (1 Kings 13:18, NKJV).
 
In most respects, the man of God did well. As long as he listened only to the Lord and did His will, he would be blessed. But when he chose to believe a different message instead of the one God gave him, tragedy followed. He was sincere in what he did, but he was sincerely wrong.
 
Centuries later, Paul warned Christians about falling into the same trap:
 
 "And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thessalonians 2:11,12).
 
To put it simply, here is the choice we face: Will we believe God, or will we put our trust in what others tell us about God and His will? There are many religious people who speak things that are not found in the Bible. They sound so warm and sincere; how could we believe for a moment that they're in error?
 
But if their message doesn't match the message God has given us in His word, they are in error, and we would be foolish to follow their teachings instead of the Lord's.
 
Why have we been given this account about the man of God who believed a lie? Because it's a perennial problem, one that God's people continually face.
 
Let us follow two simple admonitions: "Buy the truth, and do not sell it..." (Proverbs 23:23), and "... Your word is truth" (John 17:17). When we walk only in the light of God's truth, we'll be safe.
 
Tim Hall

First Corinthians commentary:  Get the new First Corinthians commentary from www.abiblecommentary.com.  Preview the First Corinthians commentary through Google books at http://bit.ly/dfw86d.  Other Bible commentary material from www.abiblecommentary.com includes a FREE on-line Romans commentary:  http://bit.ly/3MRU5I  
 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Winston Churchill’s advisors

I think the time has again arrived for us to consider a few short, concise lessons in our editorial effort for today. A few little thoughts that I've run across and jotted down for future use. So, in keeping with a phrase that someone once coined, "the future is now."

Some time ago I read a little story emanating from World War 2. It seems that a "prayer group" was organized by one of Winston Churchill's advisors during the dark days of the bombing of England by the Germans. This group would stop whatever they were doing at a selected time, every evening, and pray for the safety of the country and for peace.

I'll finish my thoughts on that story in just a moment, but first I want to remind you of a Bible passage with which we're all familiar. It was spoken by Jesus in His sermon on the mount. In Matthew 6:26 He tells His listeners to note the "birds of the air." That their "heavenly Father feeds them."

With that passage in mind, I'm now going to combine it with my closing thought on the story of the WW2 prayer group. Yes, God feeds the birds, BUT, He doesn't throw the food in their nests! Yes, the "prayer group" stopped work at a certain time and offered their prayers, BUT, they went back to work!

The lesson here: yes, prayer is a wonderful thing in that we can thank God, we can praise God, we can obtain cleansing from God and we can appeal to God for His consideration in specific areas. BUT, I do not believe that it removes our responsibility for doing what we can and should do.

For my next little lesson I'd like to continue on with the topic of prayer. Many times we hear those offering congregational prayers ask for "strength to face everyday life," or words to that effect. I was reading a lesson written by Bro. Russ Lawson wherein he used a quote by Anton Chekhov, a famous Russian writer of short stories. I'm going to borrow this quote for my mini lesson here. The quote says: "Any idiot can face a crisis, it's the day to day living that wears you out."

You know, when you get right down to it, we don't face too many real crises in our lives do we? Of course one does come along every now and then, but really, most of our problems are of the day to day type, aren't they. It's the day to day problems that seem to pile up on us. And a lot of the time it's our own fault because we defer (read: put them off) to a later date. Maybe we do that hoping that they'll go away or solve themselves. Mostly, that's just wishful thinking, isn't it? They have a way of coming back to haunt us, and usually at a more inconvenient time than when we first deferred them.

In the passage I referred you to earlier, the one in Matt. 6 where it's talking about God feeding the birds, what Christ is talking about in that paragraph is our tendency to be over anxious about things of life. And all of us do that at times, don't we? But, He doesn't just tell us not to be anxious and leave it at that. He tells us how to live with and survive the nagging problems of everyday life. In verse 33 He says, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

The lesson here: to get our priorities in the right order. When we put God and living righteously first in our lives, then we are able to face and overcome the "wear-you-down" problems of everyday life.

Our last and final little lesson today is one based upon the subject of "faith." In Hebrews 11:1 is that oft quoted passage on faith that reads, "Now faith is the substance (assurance) of things hoped for, the evidence (conviction) of things not seen." I'm going to provide you with a little story who's author is unknown to me, but it teaches a great lesson about faith, especially in a world occupied by many skeptics.

A medical student once dissected a cadaver completely. Then he said, "I opened every organ of the body and found no soul, so how can religious people say a soul exists?"

The professor, apparently a very wise and astute doctor, replied to him in this manner. He asked the student, "When you cut open the brain, did you find an idea?" The student answered, "No." The professor then asked, "When you cut open the heart, did you find love?" Again, the answer was "No." The next question was, "And when you dissected an eye, was vision seen?" Once again the answer was, "No."

The professor/doctor then replied to the student with the following advice. "Because some things are not seen and/or proven conclusively to exist, is no reason to conclude that they do not."

Ron Covey

First Corinthians commentary:  Get the new First Corinthians commentary from www.abiblecommentary.com.  Preview the First Corinthians commentary through Google books at http://bit.ly/dfw86d.  Other Bible commentary material from www.abiblecommentary.com includes a FREE on-line Romans commentary:  http://bit.ly/3MRU5I  
 

Flannery O'Connor

"The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it."

Flannery O'Connor, Irish-American writer (1925-1964)


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Poor communication damages relationships


 

There is no one greater to build a relationship with than God. Certainly, a relationship with the Father is something we should all desire. Sadly, many mistakenly believe they have a good relationship with God. Jesus said, "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness'" (Matthew 7:22, 23)! It is terribly sad that so many will stand before God believing they have a good relationship with Him, yet God will say He never knew them. How have these individuals become so disillusioned? The truth is they have attempted to build a relationship without communication. Communication is pivotal for relationships to build. If I were to stop talking to my wife or stop listening to her it would not take long until our marriage began to suffer. Lack of communication is a leading cause in divorce. We cannot possibly have a strong relationship with someone we do not communicate with. Not only is communication key, but two way communication.  Both parties have to be willing to communicate if a relationship is going to be sustained. As we turn our attention back to building a relationship with God the same principle applies. We have a God who desires a relationship with us and has made painstaking efforts to communicate with us. God desires to speak to us everyday through his word, are we listening? He also desires to listen to our prayers, are we speaking? God desires communication with us. Are we willing to communicate to with the Father? Sadly, many say they have a relationship with God but they do not know Him at all. They do no know him because they do not listen to Him. They do not know what He desires of us doctrinally or morally because they have not listened. Therefore many will hear Him say, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness" (Matthew 7:23). Make sure this will not be the case with us. Let us build a relationship with God though communication. 


Garrett Bookout

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THE GIFT OF THE CROSS



What is a gift all about, how do you determine the value or what it costs? This week we sent a gift box to our grandchildren. The cost of the shipping was as much as what was in the box, but I didn't think twice about the cost of the shipping, because it was part of the gift.

I read a story years ago that went something like this: A teacher in a mission school in Africa was returning home after many years of service. The morning before she left a small boy showed up at her door with a beautiful flower. The flower only grew at the base of the mountains many miles away. On questioning him she found that he had walked the great distance there and back again to bring her this special flower. She told him it was uncalled for that he should have made that journey just to give her a present. To which he replied, "But the journey was part of the gift."

I have thought about these two incidents and about how they reflect upon the gift given us by Christ Jesus. Paul tells us, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23, KJV) I don't know if you have ever given any thought to it, but don't you think that God is wise enough to have found another way to bring salvation to the world? I believe he could have, but what other way would express the love he has for mankind than the one he chose. John writes in 1 John 4:10 "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."

The Son of God came down to this earth and lived among people. He grew, experienced all of the difficulties and heart aches that every person knows. Then he died in pain and agony on the cross for you and me. Did he have to do it that way? No! But I believe it is part of his gift to us.

The writer of the Hebrew letter puts it this way in Hebrews 4:14-16, "So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testing's we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most." (NLT)

At this period of time our world is focused as at no other time at the gift Christ gave of dying upon the cross. Let me encourage you to stop and think through all of the implications to your life. The gift didn't begin and end upon the cross; that just was the most visible part of the sacrifice and gift to us. Part of the gift also was in the long journey to the cross.

My prayer is that you may live lives worthy of the gift that has been given to us all.

Russ Lawson

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The Baby Or The SUV

 
 
Just when you think you've heard the most bizarre news possible, along comes a story like the one reported by the Associated Press on Thursday, March 25, 2010. A 28-year-old woman from Tool, Texas, had been arrested, according to the report, for endangering her one-year- old baby. What led a mother to put her young child at risk? She was trying to save her SUV!
 
The woman must have been behind on her payments because a repossession agent had come to take away her vehicle. As the SUV was about to be driven away, the mother tossed her toddler through an open window into the vehicle. Texas law prohibits repossession of a vehicle if a person is inside, so the mother thought she had found a way to save her ride.
 
What she did, however, was put her child at risk. The repo agent reported seeing the baby thrown into the vehicle he was about to drive away, and said it bounced "like a kid bouncing on a bed". The child was safely retrieved and handed over to its father, even as the mother was handed over to authorities. Choosing her SUV over her child was a mighty poor choice.
 
Three years ago a mother in Pueblo, CO was arrested for selling her five-month-old son and using part of the proceeds to purchase a used car. Though the mother was arrested, she was given probation four months later after entering a plea. The child, however, remained in state's custody.
 
Reading stories like the above always shock us. If even mothers lose their strong bonds with their children, what is our world coming to? Is the value of an SUV equal to that of a child?!
 
The disciples once asked Jesus about who was greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Before responding, Matthew tells us, He placed a small child in their midst. Jesus then said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:2,3). Nowhere do we read of Jesus placing such a high value on things. Children, obviously, are very special in the Lord's sight.
 
Later in that same passage Jesus continued: "Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 18:10). Do children have angels that watch over them? That seems to be what Jesus is saying. Since God has such great interest in the well-being of little ones, shouldn't we?
 
Sometimes, though, we forget the value of a child. You surely have heard of the time when King Solomon was approached by two women, both claiming to be the mother of one infant. Solomon ordered that the baby be cut in half so that each woman would have a part. The real mother quickly cried out that she would give up her parental rights if it meant her child could live. The impostor, though, would rather have seen the child die than for the rightful mother to be given her baby.
 
We dare not forget how precious children are in the sight of the Lord! Children must never take a lower priority to things. If spending more time teaching and guiding our children means that we will have fewer possessions, then so be it. May we never be guilty of endangering our children just so we can rescue an SUV!
 

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Why Haven't You Invited Me?

Nathan Williams told of two men who had been business partners for over twenty years. They met one Sunday morning as they were leaving a restaurant. One of them asked, "Where are you going this morning?" "I'm going to play golf. What about you?" The first man responded rather apologetically, "I'm going to church." The other man said, "Why don't you give up that church stuff?" The man asked, "What do you mean?" "Well, we have been partners for twenty years. We have worked together, attended board meetings together, and had lunch together, and all of these twenty years you have never asked me about going to church. You have never invited me to go with you. Obviously, it doesn't mean that much to you."

 
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Aristotle quote

 
"Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit."

Aristotle, Greek philosopher, student of Plato, and teacher of Alexander the Great (ca. 384-322 B.C.)

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name-calling

 
IT IS OFTEN the case that when one is promoting a position, and another stands in opposition to that position, efforts are made to discredit the one who stands in opposition...
 
This is often accomplished by "name-calling" and "false-labeling."  However, such tactics should not dissuade one who is standing in the right:
  • If opposing homosexual marriage is being "homophobic," Lord, give us more homophobes!  Romans 1:18-32
  • If demanding strict obedience to the Bible is "legalism," Lord, give us more legalists!  Hebrews 5:8-9
  • If opposing divorce, except for the cause of fornication, is "idealistic," Lord, give us more idealists!  Matthew 19:9
  • If opposing women in leadership in the church is "chauvinism," Lord, give us more chauvinists!  1 Timothy 2:11-14
  • If dressing modestly is "prudish," Lord, give us more prudes!  1 Timothy 2:9
  • If opposing abortion is "right-wing," Lord, give us more right-wingers!  Proverbs 6:15-17
  • If believing in the inerrancy of Scripture is "fundamentalism," Lord, give us more fundamentalists!  Romans 3:4
  • If total commitment is "fanaticism," Lord, give us more fanatics!  Matthew 22:37
  • If believing one should be a virgin when one marries is "Puritanism," Lord, give us more puritans!  1 Thessalonians 4:3
  • If believing in creation is "foolish" and unenlightened, Lord, give us more fools!  Exodus 20:11
No matter what names the world and even some Christians may call you, if you stand for the truth, the Lord will call you "right."  Give it some thought.  Steve Higginbotham
 
 "It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man."  Psalm 118:8
 
--Mike Benson
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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Being prepared

 

Our editorial lesson for today deals with preparation. As in our spiritual preparation. It was inspired by a little story I read some time ago and I saved it thinking that I would someday do a lesson based upon its message. Today is that day.

In the Bible we have several passages that talk of being prepared. In general, these passages are seen in sort of a "negative" sense, in that they are warnings of not being prepared. A good example is the passage found in Amos 4:12 where God, through the prophet, has been warning Israel of their sins and their lack of repentance of them. He says; "Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel."

We sometimes sing an "invitation" song inspired by that passage entitled "Prepare To Meet Thy God."   Notice the first few words are "Careless soul, why will you linger..." That's about the same thing Amos was telling Israel - why are you lingering, why are you not repenting and coming back to God? Why are you not preparing to meet your God?

Here's the little story I mentioned earlier and I hope you find it as inspirational as I did. It's entitled: CAN YOU SLEEP WHEN THE WIND BLOWS?

"Years ago, a farmer owned land along the Atlantic seacoast. He constantly advertised for hired hands. Most people were reluctant to work on farms along the Atlantic. They dreaded the awful storms that raged across the Atlantic, wreaking havoc on the buildings and crops.

As the farmer interviewed applicants for the job, he received a steady stream of refusals. Finally, a short, thin man, well past middle age, approached the farmer. "Are you a good farm hand?" the farmer asked him. "Well, I can sleep when the wind blows," answered the little man. Although puzzled by this answer, the farmer, desperate for help, hired him.

The little man worked well around the farm, busy from dawn to dusk, and the farmer felt satisfied with the man's work. Then one night the wind howled loudly in from offshore. Jumping out of bed, the farmer grabbed a lantern and rushed next door to the hired hand's sleeping quarters. He shook the little man and yelled, "Get up! A storm is coming! Tie things down before they blow away!" The little man rolled over in bed and said firmly, "No sir. I told you, I can sleep when the wind blows."

Enraged by the response, the farmer was tempted to fire him on the spot. Instead, he hurried outside to prepare for the storm. To his amazement, he discovered that all of the haystacks had been covered with tarpaulins. The cows were in the barn, the chickens were in the coops, and the doors were barred. The shutters were tightly secured. Everything was tied down. Nothing could blow away. The farmer then understood what his hired hand meant, so he returned to his bed to also sleep while the wind blew.

MORAL: When you're prepared, spiritually, mentally, and physically, you have nothing to fear. Can you sleep when the wind blows through your life? The hired hand in the story was able to sleep because he had secured the farm against the storm. We must secure ourselves against the storms of life by grounding ourselves. We don't need to understand, we just need to know that we can have peace in the midst of a storm. I hope you sleep well."

In keeping with the message of our little story on "being prepared," I'd like you to look with me at a message given us by the Apostle Paul in Col. 1:21-23. In my condensed version, he tells Christians that they have been "reconciled" from their "wicked works" by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. And, that they will remain "reconciled" on the condition that they "continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel...."

One last little thought on spiritual preparation. In the 25th chapter of Matthew we find Christ saying that there are two places "prepared" by The King (God). In verse 34 we find a place prepared for those on His "right hand," those He calls "the blessed of my Father." A place prepared from the very foundation of the world. John 14 tells us that this place is in heaven.

But, then look at verse 41. The King has also prepared a place for those on His "left hand." I don't like the description of this place because it's far different from the place prepared for the righteous, the blessed. This place is a place of "everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."

So, in closing, I think that a little inspection of our preparedness is in order and perhaps then we will be able to answer the question asked by the title of the story: CAN YOU SLEEP WHEN THE WIND BLOWS?"

Ron Covey

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