“By The Grace of God”

By The Grace of God

Hebrews 2:5-9

“For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere, ‘What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? You made him a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.’ Now in putting everything in subjection to Him, He left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”

This passage begins repeating the kind of arguments made in chapter one, showing Christs’ superiority to angels. You remember, in chapter one the writer essentially said – what was said about Christ in prophecy, was not about angels. Christs’ relationship to the Father is unique and exalted above angel status.

That same kind of argument is made here, but in this section – an important question is answered. If Christ is inherently superior to angels, why did the Father send him to earth in the flesh, making Him a little lower than the angels. The answer is – that Christ, by the grace of God might taste of death for every man, and having suffered – he crowned with glory and honor.

Now, the cause of this is identified and should not be missed. The grace of God. Jesus was “made lower than the angels,” to suffer death for us – and this was caused by, motivated by and perfectly exhibits “the grace of God.”

May each of us take this to heart, pay close attention and accept the gift of God’s grace – by obeying the gospel and living as a disciple of Christ.

What Then Shall We Do

“What Then Shall We Do”

Luke 3:10

As Luke provides an orderly account of the life and work of Jesus Christ, there is a section early in the book about the preliminary work of John the Baptist. In Luke chapter three, right after Luke’s characteristic “time stamp” (in verses 1 & 2), he reports that “the word of God came to John, the son of Zechariah, in the wilderness.” John, thus endowed, proclaimed “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,” and this fulfilled what Isaiah had prophesied, about preparing the way of the Lord.

As John delivered the message God gave him, to prepare for Jesus’ ministry, people came to him and said, “what then shall we do?” This should interest us, because it exhibits something fundamental: When God’s word is delivered, it calls for a response! A response to God that changes your life.

Listen to this, from Luke 3:10-14.

10 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” 11 And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.”14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”

The people knew something that many today miss: When God’s word is delivered, it calls for a response. There is something for the hearer to do, to receive what God offers.

With that thought in mind, consider what Luke also documents in Acts chapter two. After Jesus was raised and had ascended into heaven, God’s final message, the gospel of Christ, was delivered by the apostles. On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached the gospel and guess what the people said? According to Acts 2:37, the people said: “What shall we do?”

Peter gave God’s answer: “Repent and be baptized,” (Acts 2:38). If you haven’t responded to the gospel, here is what your response ought to be. If you have obeyed the gospel, tell others what the Bible says they need to do.

The Giving of the Poor

one dollar bill
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Giving Out of Poverty

Luke 21

Luke 21 begins with this brief narrative: “Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And He said, ‘Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on’.” (Lk. 21:2-4).

There have always been people who give in amounts greater than others. Comparatively speaking, they give more; the gifts are impressive. But they are giving out of their excess, not their poverty.

If a man has amassed a great treasure of wealth, but it only requires about 30% of that total to live, he has excess. If he gives, let’s say, 10% of that excess – there is no strain or sacrifice. He is giving out of his excess.

In the scene Luke records in Luke 21, Jesus saw a poor widow put in “all she had to live on.” First, this expressed her unreserved devotion to the cause she contributed to. Second, it reflected her trust that God would care for her. It illustrates sacrificial giving.

Similar to this, there is the instance over in 2 Corinthians 8, about the Christians in Macedonia, who gave “beyond their means” cheerfully (see also 2 Cor. 9:1-9).

When we give out of our excess, it doesn’t hurt and we may not even feel it. But when we reach deep into the budget and sacrifice, we are imitating the example Jesus commended, of the poor widow’s offering.

Family & Marriage Passages

adult affection baby child
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Family Life:

In Proverbs & The Bible As A Whole

I’ve recently taught from Proverbs about family life.

In that class, I highlighted various statements in Proverbs about good men, good women, obedient children, the need for discipline and love and mentioned respect for elderly family members. I used statements from Proverbs I sometimes call “God’s text messages” specific to marriage, parenting and family life.

Near the end of the study I made this point: In your application of the Bible in your family, don’t limit yourself to passages that deal specifically with family life!

Here’s what I mean. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of passages in the Bible not specific to family life – but demand our attention and application.

There are passages before and after Proverbs and in Proverbs – about temperament, attitude, self-control, justice, mercy, prayer, worship and so many other aspects of relationship with God through Christ – and all of those need faithful application in the home.

I’ve told married couples – put the Sermon on the Mount in your marriage; teach your children from the epistles; be certain there is good attention to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

God’s wisdom for families is not limited to the specific passages that deal with marriage and parenting. He wants us to be acquainted with His total revelation to us.

Put the whole Word of God in your whole life. The history, the poetic passages, the Proverbs, the gospels, the epistles. It is all meant to take us to God, take our families to good living and take each of us to heaven.

Psalm 119:129-131

Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them.
The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your commandments.

The Glory of God – Challenges

I’m preaching this morning on The Glory of God and Our Response. Working on the sermon throughout the week, the difficulty of the task impressed me through two challenges.
1- The preacher or writer is, without any doubt, the imperfect describing the perfect. I can tell you from my experience, as I study and prepare to speak or write about who God is, there is a fear and trembling that is humbling. I love to talk to people and write about my earthly father. But that is one human being describing another. The question I encounter is, who am I to describe Almighty God. Then I have to realize, God wants me to tell people who He is. It is certainly included in evangelism and edification, and I’m charged to do both. Also, I must bear in mind, I’m not speaking from inherent wisdom. What I’m asking people to do is, look at creation. Then look into the message given by the Creator.
2- The other challenge in delivering a sermon like this is, the world around us exhibits no interest in this. Beyond common indifference, the world is in rebellion against God … who He is and what He has a right to expect. The decline of western civilization is not a conspiracy theory. Abortion, homosexuality and the denial of gender truth; those are Genesis fundamentals.
So, I’m approaching this topic against these very real challenges. I’m imperfect yet talking about the perfect. And I’m aware, the world isn’t attracting to this subject.
You can listen to the sermon (audio) through our website, or pick up the Livestream on our Facebook Page: “Laurel Heights Church of Christ.”

Thoughts Obedient to Christ

 

The “heart” in Scripture isn’t just our emotional condition or mood. And it isn’t the physical organ that pumps blood. It is where we think, plan, dream and decide. It is the mind, and for disciples of Christ it is where “every thought” should be “obedient to Christ,” (2 Cor. 10:5).

  1. Put your hope in God (Psalm 43:5). We are not good at figuring out what’s going to happen. That may be one primary lesson we have learned during the current pandemic. The media isn’t going to give you the credible hope you need. The government doesn’t have that job. Don’t try to find sources, combine various opinions and dreams in some vain effort to become a self-appointed prophet or prophetess. “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.”
  2. Understand that gratitude combats cynicism. Give thanks “in all circumstances, for this is the will of God,” (1 Thess. 5:18). Gratitude is one of the most powerful medicines for the mind. It clears out the coldness, the darkness, the confusion, worry and grumbling. When you are weighed down with distracting worry, take a walk back through your life, pause and count on those blessings. It’s good for that matter between your ears.
  3. Don’t live in the past. Give up all that bitter baggage that just weighs you down and gets you down. Paul had it right when he said, “…one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind, I strain forward to what lies ahead.” What a powerful directive and example to clear your mind of junk (negative thoughts and bitterness that has no spiritual value).
  4. Be patient (Gal. 5:22,23). Has God been patient with you? And, do you expect people to be patient with you? Then be patient with yourself and be patient with others (because they are all imperfect just like you). This is the capacity to not be impulsive; to slow down, control yourself, correct yourself and calm down. I need that.

Yep. The greatest spiritual battle we face, in all generations, is the battle fought between our ears.

Let every thought be obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5)

Parents – Focus – Your Child’s Destiny!

SOURCE – Ortlund Jr., Raymond C. . Proverbs. Crossway. Kindle Edition.

Your few years with your kids are a life-shaping opportunity. It might feel, right now, as though these high-commitment, child-rearing years will never end. But they will, and soon.

Right now is your moment for enduring impact. There is more at stake for your child than getting into the best schools and the best sports and the best jobs. Your child has an eternal destiny. God has called you to train up your child to go to Heaven. That is ultimately “the way he should go.” How do you help your child get there?

 

A Day

A Day Can Make A Big Difference

Warren Berkley & Dee Bowman

Worries that weighed heavy on your mind as you fell asleep do not seem as dreadful in the morning. Storms that seemed threatening at midnight have passed long before breakfast. It is a new day with new opportunities. If you didn’t do well today, tomorrow you have a chance to do better.

“What a difference a day makes. Twenty-four little hours brought the sun and the flowers, where there used to be rain,” (Grever Maria, Adams Stanley).

Are these just clever, motivational sentiments?

“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,” (Eph. 4:26), and “making the best use of the time, because the days are evil,” (Eph. 5:16).

Yesterday’s attitudes and thoughts do not need to be resumed after a night’s sleep.

From Dee … 

In Ephesians 4:26–27, Paul commanded, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil.” This passage is variously translated. Phillips renders it, “Don’t give the devil that sort of foothold.” Goodspeed’s translation says, “You must not give the devil a chance.” The Twentieth Century New Testament gives it, “And give no opportunity to the Devil.” The thought in all of these is the same: mainly, don’t give the Devil residency in your mind.

Someone has said, “You can’t keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from nesting in your hair.” In the same way, you can’t keep the Devil from making periodic trips through your mind, but you don’t have to give him a place to stay.[1]

[1] Bowman, D. (1988). Front Lines: Competition for the Mind. Christianity Magazine, 5(8), 2.