Thursday, November 19, 2015
The events of last week in Paris are still fresh in all of our minds. The questions I have heard several times are, "Can it happen here," or "what would you do in that situation"? Interestingly I just happen to listen to a commentary by Mike Adams whose title was: "How to survive a mass shooting." Now understand that the risk of a mass shooting event in your life is very rare. You may have a better chance of getting hit by lighting. You may not want to hear it or think about it, but there is a chance… Notice a few of the points from the commentary.
Mike suggested that you can:
1. Call 911, realizing that the police will be 10 to 20 minutes away.
2. Flee, run for your life.
3. Hide, try to get somewhere they can't see you.
4. Play Dead, not effective, in at least one of the mass shootings the shooters shot those who were playing dead anyway.
5. Attack physically, get inside the range of the rifle and it cannot be used against you. Scratch, bite, kick, hit, and poke eyes, whatever you can. Of course to do this you must be willing to sacrifice yourself to save the lives of others, maybe your family. But in doing so, you may inspire others to help you overcome the attackers.
6. And lastly you can shoot back. In other words, be prepared beforehand for when bad things might happen. Arm yourself properly.
Now you may wonder, "Why in the world is Russ talking about this?" Well, first I guess, because I am concerned about all of you. I wouldn't want any of you to lose your lives in such a way. But second, because it parallels our fight against the army of Satan.
1 Peter 5:8 tells us that Satan is as a Roaring lion, looking for opportunities to devour each of us.
We get that, we understand that concept I think.
Yet, if you think you can stand up to a roaring, charging lion, you are a better person than I.
Most of us might think, "Well I was Chuck Norris might be able to do it," but we're not; are we? Well, what about being a 12 or 13 year old boy, could you do it then? Most of us would think that idea is pretty stupid, yet that is exactly what David said he did (1 Samuel 17:34-36).
What does this have to do with surviving a mass shooting?
Simply, Satan is trying to kill us physically and Spiritually. We can understand the idea of Spiritual Warfare, but now it has progressed to both Physical Warfare also. The recent shooting at the collage out west, the shooter asked people if they were Christians before killing the ones that said yes.
Whose idea do you think that was? Satan has been working hard at it even before the beginning of the church, 2000 years, starting with Jesus the Messiah. And when the leaders of ISIS and other extremist saying they are coming to kill us, they are not going to target other Muslims, they are going to target Christians.
The best thing we can do is to organize and put on the Spiritual Armour of God and attack Satan. You may have some hesitation on agreeing with this, but notice what Jesus had to say in Matthew 16:13-18.
When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
That passage indicates that we need to be the aggressors, not in a physical war against Muslims as such, but against Satan and his armies. Against everything that is trying to destroy our Christian lives and Nation.
Our fight today is against ungodliness, the addictions, the moral decay, and the breakdown of godly family units, the distinction between the sexes, transgender, pornography and homosexuality. All of the things which our nation has been tricked by Satan into accepting as being OK, while God says it is not.
How does this follow Mike Adam's list of survival techniques?
1. Do we call someone else to deal with the problem?
2. Do we run away from it?
3. Do we hide our belief so it can't be seen by others?
4. Do we play dead and pretend we are not Christians?
5. Or do we join the fight and attach Satan and his army?
We might say, "But it's going to cost us something in our lives! Isn't that what Christ, Peter, Paul and all of the other apostles were willing to pay!
Satan is attacking our nation, our society, our churches and our families daily. Just turn on your television and you will see and hear him trying to take over people's lives… and succeeding.
What other decision can we make than to join the Lord's Army?
If we don't, what is our excuse? Will you die spiritually or allow your friends and family to die, because you are not willing to sacrifice something of yourself?
James writes in James 4:17, "Therefore to him who knows to do good, and does not do it, to him it is sin."
Do you know how to do good and fight Satan?
Are you doing it?
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Wednesday, November 18, 2015
"Gratitude" 1 Samuel 31:7-13
Aim: to emphasize the importance of gratitude.
Thesis: God wants us to be a grateful people!
1. Last Sunday we considered the sin of "grumbling" and what a negative habit it can be. Since that time I've continued to think about that passage, and how hard it is to turn that around. Maybe one of the reasons it comes so easily is that we all know instinctively how to be negative, but we don't have as many opportunities to practice being positive. For example, I've known of stores and institutions that had a "Complaint Department": but have you ever known of any place that had a "Compliment Department"? And last Sunday we saw that the opposite of grumbling is gratitude. This morning I want to offer a practical means of exercising gratitude.
2. TURN TO 1 SAMUEL 31 On Wednesday nights we have been studying the period of the Judges: during our Winter Quarter we will continue the story by reviewing the books of 1 & 2 Samuel. The theme of Judges has been "In those days there was no king; every man did what was right in his own eyes." Well in 1 Samuel they finally get their long-sought king, when the prophet Samuel anoints Saul, a young man from the tribe of Benjamin.
a. Saul's story began with such promise! But in our text this morning it ended with tragedy. Somewhere along the way Saul lost his dependence on God, engaged in disobedience to His will, eventually lost his mental stability because of an insane jealousy of the young warrior David, and in a final battle with the Philistines lost his life in a horrible defeat.
b. We have already learned in our Wednesday night class that the Philistines were both wicked AND cruel. It was not enough for them to defeat their enemies, they invariably wanted to humiliate them, even in death. READ Verses 8-10 Thus ends the reign of the first king of Israel: Deranged, deserted, defeated, dead, decapitated, displayed, disgraced.
3. But there is one note of grace is this sad spectacle that we often overlook: the response of the men of Jabesh-Gilead! READ verses 11-13.
a. The body of the man who had once been God's anointed, had once ruled all the tribes of Israel, was now subjected to the ultimate indignity of a public humiliation.
b. To truly understand the significance of what they had done, you need to know, as Paul Harvey used to say, "the rest of the story." You have to go back to the very beginning of Saul's reign as king. READ 1 Sam 11:1f. "Nahash the Ammonite" [To lose the right eye would render them defenseless in combat, since the shield was carried in the left hand.]
4. Once you know the background, you can better appreciate the motivation of the men of Jabesh-Gilead: they were acting out of GRATITUDE! As we enter this season of THANKSGIVING, might be appropriate to consider its close cousin: GRATITUDE! Gratitude ought to be a mark of God's people: we have been the recipient of so many blessings!
Deuteronomy 8:10-11 "when you are satisfied....be careful that you don't forget the Lord"
Romans 12:10 "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves"
Colossians 2:7 "overflowing with thankfulness"
BUT: have you noticed how we often take for granted those who are closest to us? Story of little girl who came home after a stay in the hospital – she received so much attention from everyone that she asked in bewilderment, "Am I company?"
5. The action of the men of Jabesh-Gilead is so remarkable because genuine GRATITUDE is, unfortunately, so rare.
a. One of the few times when even Jesus was astonished by human nature: INGRATITUDE!
"Were not ten healed? Where are the other nine?" (Luke 17:11-19)
b. The experience of Jesus is sadly true to life: One stormy night on Lake Michigan, back in 1860, a side-wheeler steamboat collided with a lumber schooner. It was a terrible tragedy: 279 people lost their lives as the steamboat sank about a mile offshore of Winnetka, Illinois. Even more would have died, however, were it not for the heroic efforts of Edward Spencer, a student at Northwestern University. When he realized what had happened Spencer jumped into the freezing waters of Lake Michigan and swam out to the drowning passengers. He towed one to shore and then immediately went back for another. Single-handedly Edward Spencer rescued seventeen people that night. But he paid a high price for his efforts, because the strain of that experience broke his health, and he was eventually confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. On his eightieth birthday an interviewer asked him what was his most vivid memory of that fateful day. He replied, "Not one of the seventeen ever returned to thank me".
Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind
As man's ingratitude.
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou are not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.
Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
Thou dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy stings is not so sharp
As friend remember'd not.
(Shakespeare, As You Like It, vii, 173)
WHY THE GRATITUDE OF THE MEN OF JABESH-GILEAD WAS SO REMARKABLE:
1. THEY DIDN'T FORGET. It had been 40 years since their deliverance by Saul, but they didn't forget what he'd done for them. For some reason it is so easy to forget to express our thanks! Tom Peters is one of the top business consultants in the world- he has written several best-selling books, is paid many thousands of dollars by corporations to make speeches, has a newspaper column. His newest book is entitled The Pursuit of Wow! In it he has a section he calls "the most important piece of advice in this book." What profound management insight does this highly-respected consultant give? "Don't forget your thank-you notes!"
2. THEY HAD NOTHING TO GAIN.
Their action was totally unselfish.....a mark of genuine gratitude. Not flattery, not "buttering up," not manipulation.
ONLY ONE CAVEAT: THEY WAITED UNTIL AFTER HE WAS DEAD!
Nancy Dickerson was a news reporter back in the early '60's, when Eleanor Roosevelt died. The day after the former first lady's death, Dickerson read a letter she had written the day before. It was a letter of thanks she had intended to send Mrs. Roosevelt to express her gratitude- but Eleanor Roosevelt died before the letter reached her.
If with pleasure you are viewing,
Any work a man is doing;
If you like him or you love him, tell him now.
Don't withhold your approbation,
Till the parson makes oration,
And he lies with snowy lilies o'er his brow.
If he earns your praise, bestow it.
If you like him, let him know it.
Let the word of true encouragement be said;
Do not wait till life is over,
And he's underneath the clover,
For he can't read the tombstone when he's dead.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
The Truth About Prohibition
Through the years, there has been a useful body of pertinent research done by well-recognized historians on the general background of Prohibition.
For example, Bernard Weisberger, a nationally- recognized historian who writes a current-events column ("In the News") for the popular historical journal American Heritage, recently addressed the widespread (mis)conception that Prohibition "didn't work." Among the facts cited by Weisberger are:
"Prohibition did reduce drinking. The average annual per capita consumption of alcohol by Americans of drinking age - that is, the total alcoholic content of all the beer, wine, and distilled spirits they consumed - stood at 2.60 gallons" in 1910. In 1934, after more than a decade of prohibition, Weisberger reports the per capita average of 0.97 gallons.
"Census Bureau studies show that the death rate from chronic or acute alcoholism fell from 7.3 per 100,000 in 1907 to 2.5 in 1932, Prohibition's last year. Deaths from cirrhosis of the liver, one cause of which is alcohol abuse, dropped from 14.8 per 100,000 in 1907 to 7.1 in 1920 and never rose above 7.5 during the 1920's. Economic studies estimated that savings and spending on household necessities increased among working-class families during the period, possibly from money that once went to drink." These are not the propaganda of some biased zealot, but the factual report of a nationally known historian. Furthermore, Weisberger reports that one reason why Prohibition may be commonly thought so unsuccessful is that even the above improvements were achieved with a minimum of enforcement. He continues:
"Drinking might have been cut back even further if more resources had been devoted to enforcement. In 1922 Congress gave the Prohibition Bureau only $6.75 million for a force of 3,060 employees (including clerical workers) to hunt for violators in thousands of urban neighborhoods, remote hollows, border crossings, and coastal inlets. State legislators were equally sparing: in 1926 state legislatures all together spent $698,855 for Prohibition work, approximately one-eighth of what they spent on enforcing fish-and-game laws. Even so, by 1929 the feds alone had arrested more than half a million violators. "
Nor is this "new" information; a 1968 article by historian of science John C. Burnham of Ohio State University in the Journal of Social History revealed even more data along the lines Weisberger adduces. To imply that attempts to restrict alcohol sales can't be effective ignores the available evidence. Professor Norman H. Clark's 1976 study, Deliver Us From Evil, makes a persuasive case that during Prohibition, arrests for drunkenness and alcohol-related crimes declined markedly.
Of course, a much earlier author reminds us across the ages that "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise" (Prov. 20:1).
- by Steve Wolfgang
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach's sake and your frequent infirmities I Timothy 5:23
A Little Wine for Your Stomach's Sake
Paul advised Timothy, “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities” (I Timothy 5:23).
“NO LONGER DRINK ONLY WATER…”
By this statement we learn that Timothy’s habit had been one of total abstinence from wine until instructed otherwise by the apostle. This is as it should be. Solomon taught, “Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly” (Proverbs 23:31). Since the appearance of wine ought not to be admired, how could imbibing in the same have God’s approval? Without the exception provided in the passage under consideration, wine should be abstained from.
“…BUT USE A LITTLE WINE…”
In the limited circumstance in which the use of wine is permitted, its quantity must also be limited. The authorization to use wine was not to be construed as a license to become intoxicated, for drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of God (I Corinthians 6:10), as it is written, “Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). Only a slight amount is here permitted for a specific purpose.
“…FOR YOUR STOMACH’S SAKE AND YOUR FREQUENT INFIRMITIES.”
The specific purpose for which Timothy was permitted the slight use of wine was its health benefit. It was not given as a social beverage, but as medicine. In particular, it was given for a remedy, not for prevention. Timothy was already known by Paul to experience frequent stomach trouble when the apostle suggested the use of a little wine to alleviate his ailment. The regular use of wine to prevent illness is not under consideration and is nowhere authorized in Scripture.
- by Bryan Matthew Dockens
“He Often Refreshed Me”
Paul, in recounting to Timothy his imprisonment in Rome, wrote, “The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains; but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me and found me — the Lord grant to him to find mercy from the Lord on that day — and you well know what services he rendered at Ephesus” (2 Timothy 1:16-18).
What brought Onesiphorus to Rome is unknown. Was he there on business? Was he a tourist? Whatever it was, Onesiphorus was not just focused on himself. While in Rome, he made considerable effort to locate Paul, and he kept trying until he succeeded. (Someone less dedicated might have made a minimal effort and said, “Oh well, I tried!”) He came again and again. These visits refreshed Paul, both the company itself as well as any needed provisions he may have received.
It is easy to get caught up in our own busy lives and fail to remember those who could use some encouragement. Stop. Take a moment to think about someone you could refresh. Then act. It likely won’t take you nearly as long or be as hard as it was for Onesiphorus. Be such that others can say of you, “He often refreshed me.”
- by Frank Himmel
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