“The preacher’s eyes I’ve never seen, though light in them may shine; for when he prays he closes his, and when he preaches, I close mine.” If I knew who wrote it I wouldn’t embarrass him by telling. Besides, if the writer had been worshipping as he should, he wouldn’t know that the other’s eyes are closed during prayer. That preacher had probably made a studied effort to learn how to get and keep attention. How many of us make a studied effort to give attention? Both sides may be failing. Granting (please do, or I’ll feel terrible) that absolute and unwavering attention is impossible; surely there is some way to improve single-mindedness in the public worship. Perhaps the most important prerequisite is an honest appraisal of our desire. If we do not care – are so little acquainted with true worship as to think “attending,” “visiting” and “gazing about the auditorium” is all God expects of us — there is little use in going further with this. But people who really want to worship God can improve their efforts. . . 1. “Make not Provisions for the flesh” (Rom. 13:14); that is, do not sit where there are distractions – move toward the front of the building. Unless you are forced (small children, physical disability, etc.) you cannot afford to overlook this means of improving your attention span and enriching your worshipping experience. 2. Practice charity – hear the monotone singer as one who sings to God; and the trite expressions in prayer as the efforts of an embarrassed man, saying what he thinks is expected. (You can pray your own prayer, you know; and if you lead publicly, you can set a better example for others.) 3. Listen with a view to learning! Take notes, reason through the process, being critical in a positive fashion. Better to forsake the preacher while making a note of your own, than to drift sleepily into “limbo.” 4. And, when you drift, apologize to God, right then! Ask His help, and worship will become more meaningful. – by Robert Turner
A specific man was messed with mixed up spells, redness in his face and swelling eyes. Consistently when he went to his office, he encountered these things. Ends of the week were not all that awful, so he finished up his work was causing his physical inconvenience.
He traveled between different doctors and none could disclose to him what the issue was. He counseled therapists, clinicians and psychics. What wasn’t right? Why was he continually experiencing unsteady spells, redness in his face and bulging eyes?
He took a stab at everything, it appeared. Nothing made a difference. He at long last surrendered himself to the way that whatever was causing this was lethal. It annoyed him so much he started to shed pounds. He couldn’t rest during the evening. He dreaded he could never beat this. He turned into an anxious wreck and his wellbeing started to break down. He had lost expectation that he could ever recover.
He chose to plan for the most exceedingly awful. He made out his will, purchased a burial ground plot, educated the evangelist what he needed at his memorial service, and even made game plans with the nearby funeral director. He was completely persuaded of his soon downfall. He even chose to purchase another suit of garments to be covered in.
When he went into the garments store he was measured for everything. He selected shoes, socks, coat, and jeans. The sales representative asked, “What measure shirt will you be needing, sir?” “Estimate 15, please,” he answered. The assistant stated, “Yet, sir, I trust that is a bitsmall. Give me a chance to gauge your neck estimate.” After the estimation, the sales representative stated, “I’m sad sir, yet your will require a 16 1/2, not a size 15.” But rather the man demanded, “No, I have worn a size 15 for a considerable length of time.”
The sales representative attempted a few times to persuade his client that he required a 16 1/2, however the man would have nothing of it. At long last, the exasperated sales representative stated, “Well, sir, on the off chance that you demand, we’ll get out a size 15, however I should caution you, you will have tipsy spells, get red in the face, and your eyes will swell out.”
A few people are so set in their ways, they will never concede the self-evident. Some are so unwilling to transform they seem to like to remain profoundly without comfort. Long prior, an extremely astute men composed:
“The method for a trick is appropriate in his own eyes: however he that hearkeneth unto advise is astute” (Prov. 12:15).
“The following day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and stated, Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the transgression of the world! This is He of whom I stated, After me comes a Man who is favored before me, for He was before me. I didn’t have any acquaintance with Him; yet that He ought to be uncovered to Israel, consequently I came immersing with water. Also, John took the stand, I saw the Spirit plummeting from paradise like a pigeon, and He stayed upon Him. I didn’t have any acquaintance with Him, however He who sent me to sanctify through water with water said to me, Upon whom you see the Spirit slipping, and staying on Him, this is He who submerses with the Holy Spirit. What’s more, I have seen and affirmed this is the Son of God.” (John 1:29-34).
The above content and various others propose that there was an uncommon connection amongst Jesus and the Holy Spirit amid the times of our Lord’s own service. It is out and out of concordance with the character of Scripture to have such a conspicuous reality put forward with no reason or configuration ascribed to it. I trust the Scriptures clarify in rather striking subtle element the express reason for which Jesus was given the Holy Spirit and the way of their relationship amid Jesus’ natural service. That is the motivation behind this review.
An Extension Of Their Eternal Roles
Every individual from the Godhead keeps up a remarkable part in working out Their interminable reason. The Three Persons in the Godhead are unmistakable however equivalent (John 10:30-33; cf. 5:18). Be that as it may, these Three Persons are joined in will and reason (John 17:21). In any case, They each have Their Own special capacity. In this way, the Godhead may work through just a single of its individuals so as to fulfill Their group will and reason.
These parts are reflected all through the Scriptures. For instance, in the Creation of the world the Father arranged and coordinated the creation week (Genesis 1:1-2; Jeremiah 51:14-15; Psalms 33:9), yet the Word executed that arrangement (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:1-2) with the Holy Spirit conveying it to fruition or flawlessness (Genesis 1:2; Job 26:13; Psalms 104:30; cf. Beginning 2:7).
Additionally, in the Redemption of Israel we see the Father guiding their evacuation to Canaan (Genesis 15:7-21; Exodus 2:23-25; 3:6-8; 20:2). In any case, as indicated by the Scriptures, it is the Word, Christ, effectively doing this Divine arrangement (1 Corinthians 10:4; Acts 7:30, 38; Exodus 23:20-21; 32:34) and the Holy Spirit finishing it at Mt. Sinai through the disclosure of the Law (Exodus 31:18; Luke 11:20; Matt. 12:28; Exodus 34:27-28; Numbers 11:24-26).
In the sending of the Word into the world it is the Father’s endless arrangement (1 Peter 1:18-20; John 3:16; Galatians 4:4-5) which the Word, Jesus the Son of God, completes (John 1:1-2, 14; Matthew 20:28; Revelation 5:5-6). The Holy Spirit finishes and idealizes that arrangement through wondrous works and the disclosure of the Gospel (John 1:31-33; Luke 1:35; Matthew 1:18; 1 Peter 3:18; John 16:7-16).
Prescience Predicts Christ Empowered By The Holy Spirit
Matthew, in his record of the gospel, cites Isaiah 42:1-4 (Matt. 12:17-21). While the Old Testament content does not particularly say supernatural occurrences, it says that the Spirit would be upon Christ so He could “indicate judgment to the Gentiles” by which exhibit they would confide in His name. The Apostle discloses to us this is done through Jesus recuperating these huge numbers of men and ladies – the wounded reeds and smoking flax (Matthew 12:15) – and lecturing the Gospel to them.
Jesus read Isaiah 61:1 in the synagogue at Nazareth on the Sabbath after He returned into Galilee from His absolution and allurement in the wild (Luke 4:1-19). Jesus remains before them, having the Spirit upon Him, asserting to have been sent “since He hath blessed me to lecture the gospel to poor people.” Peter said that Jesus was blessed at His absolution with the Spirit (Acts 10:38) and promptly started lecturing the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven and recuperating all that were abused of the Devil (Mark 1:12-15).
Paul makes a reference to Isaiah 11:1-10 in Romans 15:12. He sets up that the Christ was sent to the Jews as well as to the Gentiles (Romans 15:8-13). The content from which part of the citation comes attests that the Holy Spirit would “rest” upon the Christ (cf. Beginning 8:4; Numbers 11:25-26). The Holy Spirit “rested” upon Jesus at His sanctification (John 1:33; Matthew 3:16).
This Relationship Existed For Jesus To Complete His Mission
At the point when “the Word was made tissue,” the individual Jesus was liable to every one of the confinements of humankind. The Holy Spirit was given to Jesus, as other men, keeping in mind the end goal to do the supernatural works which the Father offered Him to do (John 3:31-36).
Jesus affirmed in His mankind, “I container of my own self do nothing” (John 4:34; 5:19-20, 30; 7:16-17; 8:28; 10:25, 32, 37; 12:49-50; 14:10-11, 28; 17:4). He unmistakably ascribed His wonderful movement to the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:28; Luke 4:18-28) as did the New Testament essayists (Matthew 12:14-21; Luke 4:1, 14-16; Acts 1:2; 2:22, 43; 10:38).
Jesus’ involvement in the substance was precisely similar to that of each other man (Hebrews 2:17; 4:15).
Things The Holy Spirit Did Not Do For Jesus
The Holy Spirit did not give Jesus Divinity. He had the Divine nature before the Holy Spirit happening upon Him (Matthew 1:23; John 1:27-30) and was Deity from the snapshot of origination (Luke 1:35). Regarding the Word before the incarnation, He has dependably been Divine (John 1:1-3).
The Holy Spirit did not keep Jesus from erring. The Holy Spirit never kept any man from erring (Matthew 10:1-5, 20; 26:69-27:10; Galatians 2:11; Numbers 20:11). The enticement of Jesus was genuine (Matthew 4; Luke 4). There was no wonderful power practiced for Jesus’ benefit against Satan keeping in mind the end goal to decrease the impact of the allurements which He encountered (Luke 4:1; Mark 1:12).
Neither did the Holy Spirit take away the will or the psyche of Jesus. The Scriptures show that the signs of the Holy Spirit in the prophets are liable to the prophets (1 Corinthians 14:26-32). Why might it be any extraordinary in Jesus? Nobody is guaranteeing that Jesus lost His will or His psyche, or that He didn’t realize what He was doing or why He did it.
Yes, there was an uncommon connection amongst Jesus and the Holy Spirit amid His service. It started at His sanctification and proceeded all through His open service. It was with the end goal of furnishing Jesus with the power important to finish His redemptive mission.
This uncommon relationship can’t be denied. It was forecasted by the Old Testament prophets, affirmed by the Father, recognized by Jesus and uncovered by the Apostles. It was significant to the expressed reason and plan for the Word who was made substance.
Thanks so much to http://www.wavecuttercharters.com for sponsoring my blog!
by Gene Taylor
Some things are difficult for me to understand. I am not referring to the sciences or mathematics, even though I could for they gave me a lot of trouble when I was in school — I am talking about some things that, on the surface, seem simple enough but yet often have me asking myself, “Why?”
Why is it, in the face of all we know about the dangers of smoking, people still smoke cigarettes?
A person would have to have been a hermit for the past 40 years not to know of the harmful effects of smoking cigarettes. It is well documented that this habit causes cancer, heart disease, lung ailments and other maladies. There is not a rational person who can say that he does not know how harmful smoking is to one’s health. Yet, people continue to puff away. Why?
The reasons are many but basically I believe there are three main ones.
1) The “Superman Syndrome.” This is the idea that while others may be adversely affected by it, it will not hurt me. I knew a woman who had smoked for 65 years. She had to have portions of both of her lungs removed because of cancer. She had less than 15% of her lung capacity. She needed oxygen nearly all the time. Yet she would not stop smoking. Why? She claimed it was not harmful to her. She said that her cancer came from working in a peanut warehouse when she was a teenager and that the peanut dust caused her respiratory problems. In spite of all the evidence to the contrary, she never admitted that her smoking harmed her. It may have hurt others but not her. Sadly, there are many people like her.
2) “Nobody’s going to tell me what to do. I’ll live or die as I please.” Many who know how harmful smoking is do it just to be rebellious. The more you warn and caution some people about the dangers of a thing or practice, they, instead of being deterred from it, have their interest in it heightened. They somehow think that it makes them an independent thinker. In reality, when taking up smoking they must not be thinking at all. Young people are especially vulnerable to this attitude.
3) They want to do it. Even though people might know the dangers involved in smoking they will still engage in it because it is something they just want to do. They usually say that, though, because many of those consequences, especially the most injurious, are not immediate. So they are willing to trade the future for present pleasure.
I must also ask “Why?” when it comes to using seatbelts while driving. Why is it that people who know the dangers of not wearing seatbelts or not having their children wear them, do not “buckle up?”
Again, the harmful effects are well documented and easily seen. Why is it that people do not wear them?
I believe the reasons are the same as those cited for smoking cigarettes: “It won’t happen to me.” “Nobody’s going to tell me what to do.” “I just don’t like wearing a belt. It is uncomfortable so I am not going to wear one. I’ll do what I like.”
You knew the main lesson of this article was not really smoking or seatbelt usage. It is just that when one starts asking “Why?” when it comes to these practices, one sees the same reasons that people use when it comes to sin against God and their participation in it.
The dangers of sin are plainly revealed in Scripture. The soul that sins shall die (Ezek. 18:20). “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). All sinners will have their place in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone (Rev. 21:8). Seeing the fate of the sinner, why do people sin?
1) They sin because they think others may suffer but somehow they will not. They believe somehow they will be exempted from such suffering. But God is impartial (Acts 10:34-35). He promises that one will reap what he sows (Gal. 6:7-8). If one sows to the flesh, to sin, he will reap corruption. There will be no exceptions. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10).
2) Some will not be guided by the Bible. They refuse to submit to the will of God choosing, rather, to follow their own will. Nobody, not even God, is going to tell them how to live their lives.
3) They want to sin. They want the pleasures of sin (Heb. 11:24-26). They are willing to give up an eternity of joy in the presence of God for the passing pleasures of sin. Many have exchanged their soul for sins they enjoy (Matt. 16:26).
Why is it that people sin? I have given some basic reasons but, given its harmful consequences, they still do not make sense. Sin does not make sense. But it still “brings forth death” (Jas. 1:15).
I smile when I think about it. As a matter of fact, I am grinning while I am writing this. I had overheard some of the young people at church talking. No, I was not eavesdropping on their conversation. They were talking loud enough for all around them to hear. One thing they said, though, did make me listen a little closer to what they were saying.
I heard one of them say something about me. They said that I must be addicted to Chap-stick. At first I thought what an odd thing to say. I wondered what made them come to such a conclusion. Then I realized, about the only time they see me is when we are at services together. So nearly every time they see me I am putting Chap-stick on my mouth. You see, I apply it to my lips before I get up to preach so that it will moisten them and keep those pesky “dry spit” globules, which are disgusting to look at and distracting to say the least, from forming in the corners of my mouth. But addicted to Chap-stick? Not hardly.
Such a charge is unfair because the only time I use the stuff is before or after I preach or teach a class. The rest of the week I never apply it. But what those young people were saying made me think about some timely lessons for all of us.
First, all of us must realize that people are watching us — even in the little things. We must be careful to conduct ourselves properly. Though I do not think I would cause someone else to become a “Chap-stick addict,” my influence and the power of my example, if erroneously exerted in other areas, might cause one to stumble. The apostle Paul said he would even abstain from lawful things if engaging in them would cause another to stumble so as to fall (1 Cor. 8:13).
Secondly, we must all be careful not to jump to conclusions when we do not know all the facts. Some people who only see me at worship services, for example, might conclude that I always wear a coat and tie. But those who see me on a day-to-day basis know that is not the case.
We must never make any judgments about others until we know the facts. The Jews during the time of Jesus had done just that in regards to Him. They were ready to arrest and condemn Him early in His ministry. Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews who had come to Him by night, was a voice of reason in the council. He asked this august group of scholars, “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?” (John 7:51).
Sadly, there are many, even some who claim to be Christians, who are quick to judge and condemn others without knowing the facts.
Let us all use our influence for good and let us not judge others too quickly.
by Gene Taylor
What kind of telephone would you expect to get if you paid $2400.00 for it? You would anticipate getting the latest in technology, possibly a video phone. The last thing you would expect would be just a plain old rotary phone that was not cordless; had no call-waiting, caller-ID or speed dialing; and would not even accept touch-tone service. But that is exactly what my parents got. As a matter of fact they had two of them for the same price.
You see, when they moved into their house in June 1958, no one could own their own phone. You had to rent it from the phone company. So they rented two of them — a desk model for the den and a wall model for the recreation room. Each phone cost them $5.00 per month on their bill. They paid that amount for each phone for 40 years, 480 months. When you multiply it out it comes to $2,400.00 per phone.
Several years ago when the government regulations changed and people could now own their own phone equipment, they just never bothered doing it. Their phones worked and they were happy with them. Anyway, five dollars is such a small amount. So they kept paying that rental fee every month never realizing how expensive those old rotary phones were to them.
The High Price Of Sin
As my parents never realized how costly those phones were, many people are in the same boat when it comes to the wages of sin. Sin seems pleasurable to them (Heb. 11:24-25) and they don’t seem to suffer much because of it. What they do not realize is that if they continue in sin they will find it to be very costly in the day of judgment. Romans 6:23states, “For the wages of sin is death…” The “death” in this passage is not the physical death which comes at the end of our lives here upon the earth. Rather, it is the “second death” of eternal separation from God in a place of torment. Revelation 21:8 says, “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Jesus tells of the high cost of sin in Matthew 16:26 where He says, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” The sinner forfeits his eternal soul when he sins. Because of ignorance, many never realize what a price they are paying for their sins.
There is hope for the sinner, though. Jesus died on the cross to pay the high cost of sin (1 Pet. 1:18-19). Sadly, some, knowing of that sacrifice and the saving power of the gospel (Rom. 1:16), refuse to obey Christ because they are happy with their lives and possibly even rationalize that “if God is really a loving God, hell won’t be so bad.” While God is described as love (1 John 4:8), He is also referred to as a “consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29).
Never underestimate the high price of sin. Wake up to what it really costs you. Give obedience to the gospel of Christ to have your sins remitted (Acts 2:38) so that you will not have to pay with your soul.
Thanks so much to http://www.bradentontowing.com for sponsoring my blog.
by David Padfield
Welcome to the first issue of Reflections On Truth, a monthly teaching bulletin published by the Lord’s people who meet in Zion, Illinois. This paper is mailed free to all who request it. Recipients will never be asked for a donation of any kind. This bulletin is paid for by a group of non-denominational Christians who are interested in your soul, not your wallet.
You are on our mailing list for one of the following reasons:
1) A member of this congregation was interested in your soul and requested that we send this bulletin to you. You might be one of their relatives, fellow-workers or neighbors. Hopefully, they have informed you that this bulletin was going to be mailed to you. If you would rather not receive this paper, just drop us a note and we will take your name off our list.
2) Many of the people on our mailing list have been receiving Reflections On Truth for the past five years, when it was published by the Eastside Church Of Christ in Evansville, Indiana. We spent over twelve years in Evansville, and a monthly teaching bulletin was one of the ways we used to get people interested in the Scriptures. Our family moved to Zion in March of 1993, and the brethren here have agreed to continue publishing this bulletin. Our desire is the same as it has always been, i.e., to preach the word as plainly as possible. The larger format of this bulletin will enable us to consider our subject matter in more detail.
3) About 150 denominational churches in the Zion area have been placed on our mailing list. I hope this does not sound too brazen, but I want to teach you the truth of God’s word. Denominationalism is wrong! It is contrary to the prayer of Christ for unity (John 17:20, 21). The apostle Paul condemned religious division (1 Cor. 1:10-13). We are not teaching the same thing, and thus one of us has to be wrong. Hell is going to be full of sincere religious people who thought they were obeying God (Matthew 7:13, 14). I do not want to be among that number.
We have no intention of hiding in our building and mailing out this bulletin without giving you a chance to respond. I am more than willing to engage in a public debate on the issues which divide us. If I am wrong in what I teach, I pray you will have enough love for my soul to show me my error.
It is easy for preachers to hide behind a pulpit and condemn other the doctrinal beliefs of others. It is an entirely different matter to face the opposition in a public forum. There was a time when Baptists, Methodists and Pentecostals were eager to challenge my brethren to engage in a public examination of the Scriptures. Unfortunately, very few denominational preachers today have the ability or fortitude to defend their teachings on the polemic platform. Many of them are too busy planning the next ladies tea party or trip to the zoo with their youth group.
Like the apostle Paul, I am set “for the defense of the gospel” (Phil. 1:17).
The Lazy Person In Proverbs
In the book of Proverbs, the characteristics of a lazy person are thoroughly described. In this short article, let us look at ten of them, make relative comments, and then make a personal spiritual application:
1) He was so lazy that he did not want to get up out of bed (Proverbs 6:9-11) — In fact, he had no ambition whatsoever. If he had his way, he would permanently remain in bed (Proverbs 26:14).
2) He was so lazy that he refused to go outside because he feared for his safety (Proverbs 26:13) — Folks, there are no guarantees in life because life is always uncertain (James 4:14; cf. Job 7:6-7). Always being fearful that we “shall be slain in the streets” (Proverbs 22:13) is a terrible way in which to live.
3) He was too lazy to work or plow — The Proverb writer declares, “The sluggard will not plow because of winter; Therefore he will beg during the harvest and have nothing” (Proverbs 20:4 ). The best time to plow the ground is in the fall after the harvest in order to prepare the ground for the following year. The lazy person will not be engaged in that preparation because it’s simply too cold for him. Even in the spring, the rains make it difficult to plow— thus another difficulty in the lazy man’s way.
4) He was so lazy that he did not take care of his own property (Proverbs 24:30-34) — We might be wondering, “How in the world did this individual ever gain this property in the first place?” From the Old Testament, we know the land that the Israelites possessed was passed down in the family from generation to generation (cf. Leviticus 25:1-55). This lazy individual had obviously inherited the property, but never took steps to keep it up or improve it in any way.
5) He was too lazy to do any work at all — The Proverb writer again states, “The desire of the slothful kills him, for his hands refuse to labor (Proverbs 21:25). All normal people have something by which they are motivated, whether by popularity, wealth, or social standing. The man Solomon here describes is only motivated to do nothing — to avoid any kind of work at any cost. The individual with this kind of self-destructive attitude will not work even if a temporary fit of madness overtakes him. The desire to avoid honorable labor is to his own detriment — even to the point of his death! This is indeed a sad picture of a wasted life.
6) He was so lazy that he would not complete any assigned job — Like the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-14), after this man has squandered his inheritance, he may occasionally earn just enough to exist, but he cannot be counted on. Like the vinegar that irritates the teeth and smoke that irritates the eyes (Proverbs 10:26), the lazy man doesn’t want to be irritated in any form, shape, or manner when it comes to honest labor.
7) He was so lazy that he would not go out and hunt for food — The same ploy that this man made to avoid working outside (see point number 3), will also keep him from hunting game (Proverbs 22:13; Proverbs 26:13).
8) He was so lazy that he refused to prepare his food — The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting” (Proverbs 12:27). This man was so lazy that he refuses to cook the meat he received in hunting, even though he might have been hungry. This indicates the extreme, deeply ingrained attitude of laziness in this man.
9) He was so lazy that even though he was prepared to eat, he would not complete the action of eating — The Proverb writer tells us, “A slothful man buries his hand in the bowl, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again” (Proverbs 19:24). Engaging in this “strenuous” activity “wearies him to bring it back to his mouth” (Proverbs 26:15). Folks, even in my most exhausted state, my failing to eat has never been a viable option. If any food is close enough to reach with either my fingers or silverware, it is headed straight to my open mouth — to be consumed with great gusto!
10) He was so lazy that he could only dream of possessing what honest work would provide — To this lazy person, success would only exist in his imagination (Proverbs 18:4). How terrible to be a prisoner by one’s own laziness. Let’s think about this: When a lazy person envies the prosperous lives of others, he knows that he will never achieve such success because he remains locked in a cell from which he can never escape. Having chosen to shun any kind of work, his mind refuses to release him — he becomes a prisoner of his own laziness.
The idea of laziness is condemned throughout the Bible. Even the inspired apostle Paul worked with his hands as a tentmaker (1 Corinthians 4:12; Acts 18:3; cf. Acts 20:34; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8) and told the brethren in the form of a command that, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). In the spiritual realm, Paul again exhorted the Corinthian brethren to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58). The Hebrew writer tells us that we must have a steadfast faith in order to inherit the promises of God (Hebrews 6:11-12).
Brethren, like our Savior, let us be found diligently doing our Father’s business (Luke 2:49), which is “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10; cf. Matthew 18:11; Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16).
There will be no lazy or disobedient Christians in heaven (cf. Matthew 25:24-30; Matthew 8:12; Matthew 21:43; Matthew 24:48-51).
There Is A Place Of Refuge
Bible scholars believe that David wrote the 57th Psalm while fleeing from King Saul, who had hatred in his heart for the former shepherd boy (1 Samuel 19:8-15). David ducked into a cave and barely escaped his pursuer (1 Samuel 22:1). He was safe temporarily, but the threat was still there.
We’ve all been there. Maybe not in a cave, but pursued by something that strikes fear into our hearts. Perhaps it is the deep sorrow that follows the death of someone we love. Maybe it’s the fear of an unknown future. Or it could be an oppressive physical illness that won’t go away.
In such circumstances, God does not always remove the difficulty, but He is present to help us (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). We wish that He would swoop in and whisk us to safety — just as David may have wished for a quick end to Saul’s pursuit.
We plead with God to stop the pain and make the road to tomorrow smooth and straight. We beg Him to eliminate our struggle. But the difficulty remains.
It is then that we have to take refuge in the Lord as David did. While hiding in that cave, he said, “In the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by” (Psalm 57:1).
Are we in the midst of trouble? Let’s take refuge in our heavenly Father (Psalm 62:8).
There is a place of refuge For every troubled soul
Where tempests beat no longer, Where billows cease to roll;
A calm and quiet haven, A harbor safe and blest,
Where storm-tossed barques may anchor, Where weary hearts may rest. Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee. —G.C. Stebbins
It’s been years since my family has “looked” for a church to call home. It’s been a great experience. I say great, because I’ve learned so much by not looking at things from an insiders perspective. Here’s a few thoughts from the past couple of months:
1. Please don’t ever tell someone they are sitting in “your” seat. It really doesn’t send a very welcoming message. And if you hear someone else say this, please smack them in the back of the head and remind them of how horrible it sounds. And yes, this actually happened.
2. People can tell whether or not the friendliness is authentic or just a ruse because you hope a family will “place membership.”
3. Whether you have a traditional, progressive or some other type of worship that we haven’t named yet, always strive for excellence in worship. Plan it out, be intentional and have a cohesive theme that seeks to lead the worshipers closer to God.
4. A good preacher is nice – but it’s not that important. I’ve sat through sermons that left something to be desired but walked away from worship feeling drawn closer to God through the experience of being with other Jesus followers. Likewise, I’ve heard a couple of dynamic sermons from very talented preachers but left worship discouraged because no one cared enough to talk to us.
5. The lyrics of the songs we sing matter, a lot. There’s a few songs from “our” hymnals that need to be retired. Actually, a bunch of them probably shouldn’t have made the cut in the first place.
6. Here’s the last one. PLEASE don’t make communion a routine, five minute ordeal that you speed through in order to get to the sermon. No matter “how” you do communion, plan it out and be intentional about honoring the essence of the purpose and theology behind it. If we do nothing else well, nail this one.