What I lost in a foolish trade

“Buy The Truth And Do Not Sell It”

Can’t believe I lost my marbles

Prov. 23:23

Warren E. Berkley

In the neighborhood of my childhood there were two commodities of exchange: marbles and baseball cards. We were also fortunate to have crawdads, sock balls and various other treasures. But when you needed to do some serious trading, you had to have either marbles or baseball cards.

Sometime after 1953, I came into possession of about four Mickey Mantle baseball cards. Now the primary purpose of having baseball cards in the 1950’s was bragging and trading. (On rare occasions, baseball cards might also be useful to bribe a bully. As a last resort, before being beaten to a pulp, you could offer the bully a popular baseball card. It usually worked if he didn’t have the offered card.)

Back to these ’53 Mantle cards I owned. In a moment of juvenile whim, I traded those four cards to Charles Pruitt for a bag of marbles. I don’t even have the bag of marbles today (I lost my marbles). Those four Mickey Mantle cards sell today for about $7,000 each! If I had them today I would be driving a new truck.

Nobody told me in 1953 to hold on to those cards. I didn’t appreciate the value of what I had so I lost it.

Do you have a Bible? Have you learned the truth about Jesus Christ and what the individual response should be? Hold on to that truth, comply with it, share it. Do not sell it. You’ll be setting yourself up for eternal regret.

Am I Pressing On?

Philippians Podcasts #12

(Warren E. Berkley)

Phil. 3:12-21

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12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained. 17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

With experience, growth and an increase in knowledge, it is possible for the devil to convince you – that you are a completed work; that no additional progress or increase is necessary.

If you accept that lie, not only will your future spiritual growth stall, you will go backward. Your discipleship will be less effective and influential. Your influence will degenerate. Your zeal will dial back. And, your relationship with God will become increasingly distant.

The apostle Paul carried a wealth of knowledge and experience – yet he said, “Not that I have already obtained.” One translation has it: “I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect,” (Contemporary English Version). If this was so of Paul, it is certainly the case with me and with you. We are not there yet! So long as we live, we must press on to make our lives closer to God through Jesus Christ. Once you give up growth, you stop growing and begin to decay in your devotion to the Lord.

“Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” This is not (a) forget what you have learned, or (b) forget who you are, or (c) forget your earliest commitment to the Lord. Rather, forget what hinders, what corrupts your attitude, what keeps you from moving, what lures you back into sin. Dismiss all that so you can press on and keep growing and obtaining.

This is the way mature people think and live. And, should anyone think otherwise, God – through the means He has chosen – will correct such subdued indifference.

“Only, let us hold true to what we have attained.” You cannot hold true to where you are if you stand still, or let diminished motivation enslave you and stop you.

“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” The example, the model of good people can keep us pressing on, growing and obtaining more and more in spiritual benefit.

 

Grace and Peace

 

Right, Wrong

Many years ago I used this chart (transparency on an Overhead Projector!) Though presentation methods have drastically changed, the truth hasn’t.

IT IS RIGHT

Passages

IT IS WRONG

To State Disagreement Eph. 4:31,32; Col. 4:6; 1 Tim. 1:13 To Insult and Offend
To Proclaim & Defend Truth Acts 23:1; 2 Tim; 2:24,25 To Impeach Motives
 

To Rebuke Sinners

Lk. 17:3; 1 Tim. 5:20; 1 Cor. 5; 1 Sam. 1:12-17; Prov. 24:28  

Accuse without Evidence

To Express Opinion Matt. 23:4; Jas. 4:11 Bind on Others
To Study Controversy 1 Tim. 6:4; 2 Tim. 2:16 Become Obsessed

The Marvel of Unbelief

The Marvel Of Unbelief

Mark 6:1-6

Warren E. Berkley

Mark 6 –  Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him. 2 And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! 3 Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” So they were offended at Him.

4 But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.”5  Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And He marveled because of their unbelief. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching.

“He Began To Teach”

Jesus could have saved people by force, snatching sinners out of sin and making them righteous (theoretically this is argued by virtue of sovereign divine power). But there is every reason to believe God did not want robots, leaving their sin and doing His will without personal choice. God wants people who love Him to decide to serve Him by choice, not compulsion. So it was the purpose of Jesus to preach and teach (Mrk. 1:38,39). His miraculous power was never used to capture sinners against their will and drag them into the kingdom. He delivered God’s message, telling people of their sin and offering gracious forgiveness, inviting a response of active faith (Matt. 11:28). Jesus, who raised the dead (Mrk. 5:41; Jno. 11:43,44) and performed other miracles, gave priority to preaching.

God intends for His people to spread the word, to support and be engaged in the preaching of the gospel. Paul wrote to Timothy and we have the literary work in the New Testament, but in that volume, Paul said “preach the word,” and Timothy was to find other men to train and charge to deliver the word (2 Tim. 4:2; 2:2). So Jesus “began to teach.” And after this attempt in Nazareth, He left there but continued “teaching,” (v.6). Have we started?

“Many hearing Him were astonished”

To be “astonished” is to be amazed, but not necessarily changed (Matt. 7:28). Preachers have this experience all the time, when someone leaves the building with unrestrained celebration of the sermon, yet the celebration falls short of real-life change after the exit from the building/event. Many who heard Jesus immediately knew He was unique and they could not categorize him with their usual teachers. But, to take His teaching and listen to change; to give Him and His message inner access, often did not occur. This reminds us to be hearers who become engaged (Jas. 1:21-27).

“Where did this man get these things?”

“These things” refer to what He said and may also include what He did (note the series of four miracles that precede this section). It is enlightening – in these early chapters of Mark – to discover these two pressing questions: (1) “Who can this be?” in Mark 4:41, and (2) “Where did this man get these things?” To have the answer, the people needed to “stay tuned,” to keep listening with good and honest hearts. The vital inquiries about the person and work of Christ are answered clearly in four books I highly recommend: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. You will see who He is and you will learn where He got what He said. “For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God,” (Jno. 3:34).

“They were offended at Him”

Here was the Son of God speaking to them exactly the message they needed to hear from God, about how to change their lives and serve each other. They took offense! They were put off or annoyed by Him. It is a sign of weakness and immaturity on their part, produced by self-centered unbelief. Jesus became – to the unbelievers – a “rock of offense.” They stumbled as many today, who hold strong determination of heart that is against the truth of God and that favors self or attachment to a religious system.

And this prompted Jesus to make the statement: “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” Blindness to the truth can take people to such a place, they resist truth when it appears very close. Here (and in Jno. 1:46), there is evidence of what we often see today – that we make very quick judgments about people based on nothing more than the superficial. Indeed, as we have oft heard, “familiarity breeds contempt,” and (as David E. Garland said): “The expert at a conference is usually the one who has come from farthest away!” A local handyman (carpenter), telling us about our relationship with God, who sounds so much different from our rabbis? “No way,” to use modern vernacular. So . . .

Jesus “marveled because of their unbelief”

This was not just a typical or passing thought, “wow, these people don’t believe the truth when they hear it.” He was astounded and grieved that they would remain in their sin and continue under the ill-conceived oversight of selfish leaders. He cared and out of that care came his astonishment. The people of Nazareth enjoyed so many advantages. Jesus lived among them. He preached to them with power. They knew of His miracles. But they were blind to his identity, deaf to his message and hardened their hearts against Him, to their own peril and loss.

Jesus is not physically here on earth today. But His people are here and His message is sounded forth. Human responses often duplicate that of the people of Nazareth. The stubborn unbelief of sinners who are offered gracious forgiveness and life in Christ, is astonishing.

Matthew Henry: “If we cannot do good where we would, we must do it where we can, and be glad if we may have any opportunity, though but in the villages, of serving Christ and souls. Sometimes the gospel of Christ finds better entertainment in the country villages, where there is less wealth, and pomp, and mirth, and subtlety, than in the populous cities.”\

From the archives of Expository Files

 

Whatever You Do

Whatever You Do

Reading Colossians 3:16-17

The point in becoming a Christian is not merely to identify with a local group. The point is not merely to have previous sins forgiven. The point is not to satisfy family and friends who were urging you to become a Christian. While all of this has value – here’s what cannot be omitted: Entering such a close relationship with Christ, His word lives in you. And, not just residing there but activated your life on the richest level.

Therefore, if the Word of Christ doesn’t dwell in you, no matter how large and sound the church is, you are not engaged fully in God’s purpose for your life. The Word of Christ must dwell in you richly.

This point will not have to be argued with those who love Jesus Christ and deeply appreciate the grace of God. Such people will desire that the teaching of Christ dwell in them and govern all their thoughts, words, actions and reactions.

One expression of this is, singing. “Teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…”

Let me ask – when you first read this verse (Col. 3:16), do you immediately think of a stage band with drums in the background, lead singers and back-up singers pumping music through high decibel PA speakers to a swaying and dancing audience? Do you really think that’s what the apostle Paul had in mind (or the first century equivalent of popular music to entertain an audience)?

We must guard against letting modern images drive how we read Scripture. It is an interpretative enterprise that is impulsive, though perhaps comforting. What was Paul talking about?

First, he wasn’t talking about raw, worldly entertainment, where you listen to music you like and acknowledge the musicians. There is nothing in Colossians three or the New Testament to support such an idea.

Second, the very words used by Paul and the context strongly and directly indicate this is worship. It is engaged in by those who are filled with the Word of Christ. It is teaching, admonishing to share wisdom from God and it is “to God.” It is not entertainment to an audience. It is worship to God, shared by people who are filled with the Word of Christ.

Further, the absence of entertaining instruments leaves us with the simple presence of vocal music: SINGING.

Here is how simple this is: God said sing. Those in whom the Word dwells are satisfied with this because it is what God said. We do this “with thankfulness” in our hearts to God.

Please, think WORSHIP, not ENTERTAINMENT.

“And, whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

The simple application of verse 16 – respecting the limits of context – should characterize our understanding and use of all Scripture. So that whatever we do – as individuals, families, local churches – we do as people who belong to the Lord and uphold His name in all we do. May all we do carry the imprint of His authority.

For This I Toil

For This I Toil

Colossians. 1:24-29

It is hard for most of us to understand rejoicing while suffering. Typically, we “cope” with suffering by complaining. Paul’s attitude should cause us to pause and re-examine the sturdiness of our faith. Paul said, to his brothers and sisters in Colossae: “Now, I rejoice in my sufferings.” First, he knew his suffering was temporary (see 2 Cor. 4:17). Second, he submitted to suffering without typical complaining for the sake of the needs of Christians!

It is right in verse 24: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake…” For their sake – that is, for the sake of their knowledge and edification, Paul kept suffering with unselfish endurance.

Third, the apostle saw his suffering from this high perspective: “I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body, that is, the church.”

This cannot mean that anything about Christ’s suffering and death was lacking. While the translation may be awkward, the only way to understand this (compatible with everything else the New Testament says about the perfect sacrifice of Christ) – is that Paul, no matter how much he suffered, would always be “lacking.” He would spend his life “filling up” what was lacking in his suffering; his fellowship with Christ in suffering. This was his perspective of suffering “for the sake of His body, that is, the church.”

Paul’s next statement assures his readers of how he viewed his work. He became a minister “according to the stewardship from God, that was given to” him for this purpose: “…to make the word of God fully known.”

God gave to Paul this task, and held him accountable, “to make the word of God fully known.”

“The mystery hidden for ages and generations” was now being made known to men like Paul, for faithful transmission to others. “To them, God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

The gospel is not a message that Christ is just a part of. Christ is at the center of the message, with a generous offer of blessing to all men. As the message is accepted by the activity of faith, Christ is formed in His people with this outcome: “the hope of glory.”

So Paul rejoiced (though he suffered) to announce “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.”

The repetitious, “everyone” leaves no doubt of the universal scope of the gospel of Christ. God designed and delivered this message of salvation for “everyone” to hear, believe and obey. This was so important to Paul he said: “For this I toil, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me.”

Encouragement (John’s Gospel)

SIX ENCOURAGING SIGNS IN JOHN’S GOSPEL

Mark White

The gospel of John reveals six different miracles of Jesus, which, carefully examined, would yield encouragement to us on several different fronts.

If disappointments come our way, remember John 2:1-11 where Jesus turned water into wine. He remains the one to whom we can turn when things disappoint us. With Paul, we can say “The Lord stood with me and strengthened me.” ( 2 Tim. 4:17). If we have doubts, we can take encouragement from when Jesus healed a boy from a distance, telling his father to return home. The father did as Jesus said without question (John 4:46-54). Je- sus is still the one Who is “the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). When disabilities come to us, we can find strength from when Jesus healed a man who had been ill for 38 years (John 5:2-9).

By the Lord’s providence, we can still “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10; Phil. 4:13). When our desires are unmet, remember that Jesus once fed 5,000 with a boy’s lunch (John 6:1-14). He still meets the desires of those who say, “For to me, to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21). If we are in darkness, remember that Jesus once gave sight to a blind man (John 9:1-11). To those of us still stumbling in blinding darkness, Jesus is still “the light of the world” (John 8:12).

When death threatens us, we can recall when Jesus stood outside his friend Lazarus’s tomb and cried, “Come forth!” (John 11:1-44).

Better yet, the day will come when Jesus will speak and “all who are in the graves will hear his voice and come forth” (John 5:28-29). Death is not the end for the faithful Christian.

Jesus is a miracle worker. His name literally means “He who saves”. Jesus touches our lives in marvelous ways today, even though miracles have ceased (I Cor. 13:8-10). Like believing Thomas we can happily and confidently exclaim, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).

Source: Cy Fair Church of Christ Midweek Messenger, Aug. 12, 2020

Are You Sober?

alcohol bar beverage black background
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE SOBER?

By David Banning

Are you sober?

This is a question we would expect to hear a police officer ask a driver who he believes is driving drunk. The word “sober” has a very narrow meaning for us. We use it almost exclusively to describe a person who is free from the influence of alcohol. However, in Scripture this word has a broader meaning. It can certainly include the idea of being free from intoxication. But to be sober can also mean that you are thinking straight; that you are sensible. It sometimes carries the idea of having your passions and desires under control; that you are self-disciplined (Titus 2:12). It might also describe a person who is careful and cautious (1 Peter 5:8). So, are you sober?

Any serious disciple can quickly see the value of this quality. Think again about Peter’s warning (1 Peter 5:8). Every day we face a terrible enemy who is seeking to destroy us. He employs a vast array of tactics to lure us away from God. He is relentless. This is no trivial matter; it is life’s greatest struggle. Eternity is at stake. For this reason, we must go out every day ready for battle; we need to be sober! We need to be on guard and cautious, keenly aware of the danger we face. We need a sound mind and clear thinking so we can size up the devil’s work and see it for what it is. We need inner strength and self-discipline to control our passions and desires when Satan uses these to pull us into sin. In light of these realities, it is no surprise that Paul tells us to “live sensibly” (soberly) in this present age (Titus 2:12). Do you go out every day ready for battle? Are you sober? Continue reading “Are You Sober?”

Warning About Bitterness

“See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled,” (Heb. 12:15).

The theme and backdrop for the book of Hebrews is a warning to Jewish Christians against turning back to the old ways of Judaism. The message is, Christ is here now, serve Him.

The bitterness of this text is most likely associated with Deut. 29:18. The Israelites came out of Egypt by God’s power under the leadership of Moses. But as they were taken out of slavery to freedom and ultimately to the promised land – they complained and became bitter against their leaders and God. Forgetting about the good life in Canaan that lay ahead of them, they murmured, rebelled, and therefore, failed to obtain the grace of God (that is, a whole generation missed out of the promised land).

Thus, Heb. 12:15 becomes a warning to us. God, through Christ, has taken us out of the slavery of sin and has promised us the “promised land” of heaven. Complaining, murmuring and rebelling will gradually defeat us. It is like a bad root that eventually emerges and poisons others.

There is another context of bitterness referred to in Eph. 4:31. The bitterness of that verse has more to do with resentment toward people, holding grudges, harboring hostility, or smoldering resentment toward people – that has no spiritual value and helps nobody. Often, this bitterness toward people hurts the one who is bitter more than anyone else.

Additional Note

In his commentary on the Greek text, John Eadie puts it best: “Bitterness is a figurative term denoting that fretted and irritable state of mind that keeps a man in perpetual animosity—that inclines him to harsh and uncharitable opinions of men and things—that makes him sour, crabbed, and repulsive in his general demeanor—that brings a scowl on his face, and infuses venom into the words of his tongue.”

Teach and Urge

1 Tim. 6:2b-10

Teach & Urge

Warren E. Berkley

Teach and urge these things. If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.  But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.  But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.- 1 Tim. 6:2b-10

“Teach and urge these things” is one of those key statements, well identifying the work of the gospel preacher. Not only must he deliver the right instruction (from God), he is to urge, challenge, implore his listeners to respond as directed by God.

The person who teaches “a different doctrine” is “puffed up with conceit and understands nothing.” This isn’t about the sincere learner, but rather the deliberate, conceited mindset of the false teacher who suffers from an “unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions,” etc. The godly person who seeks to avoid these negatives will simply teach and urge only what God has revealed. The kind of false teacher Paul describes here has in view, the carnal motive: godliness as a means of gain. Sincere devotion to truth is the path away from this wickedness.

Speaking of gain – Paul wants Timothy to know that “there is great gain in godliness, with contentment.” If you are looking for real, lasting gain – it is found with God, not money or false teaching.

The godly person – the person who lives toward God – enjoys the highest and purest gain a human being can have. There is no money that is any better, however great the amount. There is no celebrity status that tops this. There just isn’t anything better, higher or purer than being godly, and being content with that way of life!!

Verse 7 says “for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.” You leave with exactly what you had when you came! When you were born, you had nothing; not even pockets! When you leave, your body may be well dressed – but even if there is something in the pockets – you won’t be able to do anything with it. (See also Job 1:21; Eccl. 5:14,15).

“But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” It isn’t wrong to have more than food and clothing, but what you have is not what makes you godly and content. Those with the minimum necessities can enjoy the contentment of godliness.

The spiritual killer is: “..the love of money…”  Paul does not say, THERE IS A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF MONEY – and once you have more than that – you are spiritually dead. Paul doesn’t say – ONCE YOU HAVE MORE THAN OTHER PEOPLE, at that point – you are guilty. There is nothing like that here.

The spiritual killer here is desire and love for money. The point is not that money, in and of itself, causes you to wander away from the faith. The verse doesn’t read that way. It is the desire and love for money; that’s the problem identified.

Three phrases make this clear:  “those who desire to be rich…” and  “the love of money” and  “through this craving.” So – it is conceivable and more than hypothetical, people who live in relative economic poverty – can be guilty of this craving, this love and this desire – that ruins their relationship with God.

___________________________

Sin never walks alone. The desire to become rich causes the man who, in today’s terminology, is “an incarnation of fat dividends” to fall into numerous cravings. One kind of craving easily leads to another. The person who craves riches generally also yearns for honor, popularity, power, ease, the satisfaction of the desires of the flesh, etc. All spring from the same root, selfishness, which, being the worst possible method of really satisfying the “self,” is both senseless and hurtful (cf. Matt. 20:26–28; see N.T.C. on John 12:25, 26).[1]

[1] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953-2001). Vol. 4: Exposition of the Pastoral Epistles. New Testament Commentary (199–200). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.