Different People – Same Faith

Different People – Same Faith

Early in our Bible reading we are introduced to Abram (Abraham). He was called by God to leave the land of his fathers. He went. He was promised he would have a son in his old age. He did. He was told to sacrifice that son. He got up and set himself to that dreaded task, that was brought to a good conclusion. Isaac lived and from him the promised nation came into existence (Gen. 12-22).

Much later in Bible history we meet Rahab. Whatever we find detestable about her past, when she heard what was about to happen in Jericho, she hid the messengers and Joshua spared her and her father’s household (Josh. 6).

Very different people! A rich landowner, chosen by God to father the nation that would deliver the Messiah to the earth. A poor harlot of Jericho. What did they have in common? Their faith was not passive!

As James said: “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirits is dead, so faith without works is dead also,” (Jas. 2:21-26).

From Doy Moyer

People are concerned that there is evil in the government. Not to be trite, but of course there is evil in the government. It is the nature of human governments. There is a reason why Scripture uses the imagery of beasts to represent world empires (Dan 7; Rev 13; Isa 27:1). Every human government ultimately comes under the sway of the dragon of old. Every human government becomes Babylon, in which God’s people are in exile. Christians are told to come out of them, to trust God, and to rely on the blood of the Lamb. Christians who trust God will not resort to violent overthrows or become insurrectionists. No good will be accomplished in the name of Christ by these means. We may be persecuted, beaten down, afflicted, and perplexed, but not driven to despair, not forsaken, and never destroyed (see 2 Cor 4:7-12). Let us take the perspective of heaven. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints. https://www.facebook.com/doy.moyer

Reverence

Reverence – The Summation of Hebrews

Heb. 12:28,29

Warren E. Berkley

The book of Hebrews is a warning to all Christians, “that no one fails to obtain the grace of God,” (12:15). The original recipients were under pressure to abandon Christ and resume their previous practice of Judaism or make some attempt to re-involve themselves in the Old Covenant, now terminated. The writer moves from affirmation to argumentation, then issues warnings, prohibitions and imperatives lest anyone fall away.

For Christians today, the message is to persevere in the activity of our faith in Christ, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,” (12:2). We are urged to “lay aside every weight,” in order to “run the race.” We ought to endure hardship, accepting the discipline of the Lord and lifting our hands high to the task. We should strive for peace and holiness, carefully avoid any bitterness and see that we do not refuse Him who speaks from heaven.

Are you a Christian? Do you want to live out that identify and go to heaven? They you will want be to be engaged with God through Christ, as described in the warnings, prohibitions and imperatives written in Hebrews.

All the arguments, warnings, prohibitions and imperatives in Hebrews are summed up here:

“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire,” (Heb. 12:28,29).

What is reverence? It is our inner sense of who God is, with all the respect that will generate in all our behavior. It includes one’s attendance in and deportment in the assembly, but reverence is more than just one’s conduct in a building or audience. It is your inner sense of the greatness of God; your respect for Him, with all the godly behavior that will come from that respect. Bible reading and study is foundational and essential to reverence – but is not the essence of reverence. Prayer can help you develop reverence, and will be a product of reverence. Worship, association with people who are reverent . . . my point is, many things can lead to reverence and sustain reverence, but the definition, the essence is – your inner sense of who God is, with all the respect that will generate in all your behavior.

With such reverence, you will live in gratitude. “Let us be grateful.” This is not a single act of thanks, but a way of heart and life; a continuous awareness of your dependence on a great God. Gratitude enables a great joy and desire to please God.

With such reverence, we are able to “offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe.” We “offer to God” whatever He says is acceptable, out of “reverence and awe.” We offer to Him our worship, our resources, our very lives, and we do this motivated by our awareness of who He is and what He has done for us through His Son.

With such reverence, we regard ourselves as citizens of an everlasting kingdom. The highest possible encouragements to be a good citizen in the kingdom is the recognition that it is permanent! Earthly governments fail, suffer revolutions or change leadership. Not the kingdom of Christ.

With such reverence, we never forget that our God is a consuming fire. We do not take lightly that His glory and goodness involves His absolute hatred of sin and His promised negative and eternal response to apostasy.

“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire,” (Heb. 12:28,29).

Where are “we” going?

A bumper sticker reads: “Don’t follow me. I’m lost too.” Motion does not always mean purpose. Be very careful if you follow the crowd, for they may not know where they are going.

SOURCE: Green, M. P. (Ed.). (1989). Illustrations for Biblical Preaching: Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively (Revised edition of: The expositor’s illustration file). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

Mirror, Mirror …

On The Use Of Mirrors

The mirrors used in Roman antiquity were slightly convex disks of metal, either bronze, tin or silver, that reflected light when the surfaces were highly polished.

There are about four references to mirrors in the Bible (Job 37:18; 1 Cor. 13:12; 2 Cor. 3:18 and Jas. 1:23). In ancient times, mirrors might be used for a variety of secondary purposes (some suggest in military battle, mirrors may have been used to send signals or confuse the enemy). While the idea is intriguing, there is no solid evidence that the Roman chariots were equipped with rear view mirrors!

The primary use, however, was the popular current use: to see what you look like. To see if your face is dirty; to apply make-up or jewelry; to arrange hair.

Here’s something self-evident: To use a mirror and find something that needs attention, then do nothing about it, is futile. The point is totally uncomplicated, and finds ready application: To use the Word of God and find something that needs attention in your life, but do nothing is futile.

Why read the Bible, if you’re not going to do what it says? Why come to a Bible class and learn truth for a good life, then make no effort to apply it in your life? Why listen to Bible preaching, then ignore that teaching in the way you live?

Or as James said – “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does,” (Jas. 1:23-25).

I Love You

Did you hear about the old farmer and his wife? Having marital trouble, they went to see the preacher who was a young fellow; no experience in marriage counseling at all. He listened to the couple for an hour or so; couldn’t think of any profound or powerful solution to their problem. So, he decided to use a dramatic approach. He said to the old farmer: “Brother, in order for your marriage to improve – here’s what needs to happen.” The young preacher got up – walked around the desk and gave the farmer’s wife a hug and kiss and said, “I love you.”

The preacher sat down and said, “Now that needs to happen at least three times a week.” The farmer said, “Fine. You want me to bring her in on Monday, Wed. and Friday, or Tues., Thurs. and Saturday??”

Some men would do almost anything to keep from saying these words: “I love you!” I heard of a husband who said to his wife: “I told you I loved you when we got married … If I ever change my mind I’ll let you know.”

That’s about how we are sometimes. Yet one of the greatest things we can do for people we love is TO SHOW THEM, AND TELL THEM AND REASSURE THEM OF OUR LOVE. And I know some who hear this are ready to say THAT’S NOTHING BUT SENTIMENT AND EMOTION; there is no strength and substance to it. Really?

Let me tell you about a man we all know. He was a Christian, who lived many years ago; he was so faithful and bold and strong HE PREACHED THE GOSPEL, LIVED THE GOSPEL AND DIED BECAUSE OF IT!! He stood face to face with sinners and false teachers and rebuked them. He walked in among brethren who were in error and told them what they needed to hear. He was pursued by Satan and Satan’s men everywhere he went. His name was Paul, and over and over in his letters to brethren he said: “I love you!”

Biblical love is capable of being displayed by deeds and by words; and there is nothing weak or embarrassing or inappropriate in saying to the people you love: “I love you.” I’m persuaded – if we have real, biblical love in our hearts, we will find it only natural to speak, to express that love. {1 Cor. 13}.

The Holy Spirit and Context

The Holy Spirit And Context

In one of our Bible classes, we came to Acts chapter ten. Peter, after misgivings were answered by God, took the gospel to the house of a Gentile, Cornelius. It is an account loaded with historical significance and great practical benefit for us. Cornelius and his household respond to the gospel as all sinners are directed and there is rejoicing over this “break-through” event.

Here’s something that came up in our class discussion I’ll share. When you come to a passage in the New Testament that refers to the Holy Spirit, always pay good attention to the context before drawing conclusions and making applications.

That’s illustrated in Acts chapter ten. As Peter is preaching, he proclaims that Christ was the “God anointed” Messiah, with these words: “…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power,” (v.38).* Then later in chapter ten, as a sign that God approved of this conversion of Gentiles, “the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word,” (v.44).

Simple question: Are these two manifestations of the Holy Spirit the same? They are not the same. Jesus was anointed by God in an exclusive and singular way nobody else was ever or will ever be anointed. The manifestation of the Holy Spirit over the Cornelius event was not the same. It was to show clearly God’s approval of the gospel being taken to the Gentiles.

This little exercise in Acts ten goes to the point of never drawing a conclusion about the Holy Spirit, apart from the context in which He is mentioned. There is – in modern religion – a tendency to read every passage about the Holy Spirit as an emotional, direct operation that should be sought today. But the Holy Spirit in Scripture manifest Himself and causes various things to happen in different circumstances, relationships or contexts.

I should not assume, therefore, that everything I read in the New Testament about the Holy Spirit is something I should seek in my life today.

“What then,” one might inquire, “should we seek?” Here’s an example.

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:16-24

*When Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended on Him and the voice from heaven was, “You are My beloved Son, in Whom I am well-pleased,” (Luke 3:21-22). Later, Jesus began His work “in the power of the Spirit,” (Luke 4:14).

Forgetting What Lies Behind

Blog Post, Jan. 1

FORGETTING WHAT LIES BEHIND

Let me start here: I’m praying with all of God’s people that the new year will be new in specific ways that need not be explained in detail.

Leaving 2020 we are emotionally spent, uncertain and yet hopeful that this year will see a removal of the pandemic conditions. I’ve known several to catch the dreaded virus and yet do well with a quick recovery. I’ve known others who were extremely serious but recovered (some with residue consequences). Sadly, I’ve known five who have passed away, all of those either elders or preachers.

Let’s be safe, physically and most important, spiritually. May our prayers continue, not just about the virus. Praise God for His power, providence and rich provision for us in Christ. And may those prayers be accompanied by lives that likewise express our reverence for God.

Paula and I have been in a state of transition for several weeks now. We are selling our house and are in the process of finding something smaller. We are downsizing. (Interesting Note – the Realtor wrote up the ad for our house and said, “perfect for people who want to downsize.”) The move is physically draining, but we will be fine.  

Here are three things I’m doing this year. (1) I’m reading through Gary Henry’s new book, OBEYING THE GOSPEL. Gary is a master at writing “day books,” with a page to read each day of the year. I couldn’t wait till today, so I started back in December. This is an excellent book for people who have obeyed the gospel and people who have not. I want to recommend that readers of my blog get this book and get started. It will take you to some good places (the gospel is good news). But may also provoke you to consider some bad places you have visited (the gospel calls upon hearers to repent). Here is the link to order Gary’s book (click here).

(2) In my work as elder and preacher for the Laurel Heights church of Christ, I’m developing sermons around our goals for 2021. Based on Philippians – that our love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment (1:9); doing all things without grumbling and disputing (2:14); forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead (3:13) and practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you (4:9). I believe this will help each of us move away from the sadness of 2020 and press on faithfully in 2021.

(3) I’m going to make a concerted effort to do more writing, on this blog and perhaps in other places. When the Covid crisis hit in the spring, I was overwhelmed with learning technology, getting video and recorded content out to members, spreading the gospel in new ways – and that increase in my workload required I back away some from the blog and podcasting. I am intending to get back into those disciplines this year, at least once a week. Maybe you can go with me? Straining forward to what lies ahead!