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Is He Talking About Us?
Following the visiting preachers gospel meeting sermon, a couple of the night's attendees were standing around discussing the lesson. I asked one fellow what he thought. "Well, I thought it was okay, but my wife was less than impressed. She kept leaning over to ask me, 'Is he talking about us?"
Preaching the truth to an audience of fickle believes is a funny thing. As long as everyone thinks you're addressing some distant, far-away situation, or some other church, you're okay. "Boy, that was wonderful," you'll hear, or ”He really let 'em have it this morning didn't he?" But when you dare to address specific situations, clearly known sins, or topics sensitive in certain households, then, all of sudden, you become the trouble-maker, the meddler. "Boy, that was wonderful" suddenly turns into "Man, who does he think he is." You can almost see it on their faces. "Who is he to tell us how to raise our kids. He doesn't even have kids." "Who is he to tell me who I can live with and who I can't. He doesn't know what's really going on.” "Who is he to tell me that my divorce wasn't scriptural."
Preachers whose sermons are with generalities and vague applications of poorly explained scriptures can last forever. No specific situations ever get called out. No specific names are ever mentioned for congratulations or praise. No personal stories are ever told. So, therefore, no one ever gets offended. He may bore his listeners to death, but he sure isn't going to offend any of them. Everyone gets the luxury of leaving the services thinking he was talking about someone else. He gets the luxury of having killed thirty minutes with words and collected a check without having to defend or explain anything he said.
These luxuries never seemed to be had by the apostle Paul, nor his audiences.. He commended the Galatians for once treating him so fairly and cordially. Obviously, though, not everyone continued to be enamored with his teaching. Some of his "friends" now considered him the enemy. So he asked, "Have I now become your enemy by telling the truth?" (Galatians 4:12-16). I've noticed though, as I study Paul’s letters, that his love for the Lord and his love for the truth overcame any trepidation he may have felt, or any fear of offending his audience.
So...if the preacher has offended you or your family, what are your options? You can get mad. "You looked right at my daughter when you said that,” an offended, angry mother once let me know. You can refuse to come back - "I'll show him and that church!" Or, you can look inward, and consider why you feel so guilty. Maybe the Holy Spirit, thru the preached word, has convicted you and is awaiting a change in your lifestyle and your attitude.
How Fast Are You Willing To Go?
We were all waiting for the traffic light to turn green. On the other side of the light is a quarter-mile stretch of four-lane road that eventually narrows to two lanes. I'm waiting in the left hand lane behind an early nineties model Ford Ranger with a rusted tailgate and no exhaust. Looks like something that should be driven straight to the scrap yard. To his right is a silver Ford Mustang GT. Looks like maybe a 2011 or newer model. The GT on the trunk signifies a V8 engine. The two drivers are talking with each other and laughing. The Mustang engine revs -- sounds fast. The Ranger truck engine revs -- sounds like a piece of junk.
The light indeed turns green and away they go. They're side by side for a stretch before the Mustang backs off and allows the truck to merge in front of him. The Ranger's driver triumphantly waves his fist in victory. The Mustang’s driver waves too, but not with a fist -- just one finger. The truck pulls into an Arby's restaurant and I decide I could use a roast beef sandwich myself so I pull up into the space next to him.
As we get out of our vehicles I say to him, "I wouldn't have predicted you to win that race back there." To which he replies, ”It's not how fast you can go, it's how fast you're willing to go." Over the roast beef, I contemplated the potential sermon.
The driver of that old rust bucket was right. It's not always the amount of power that separates the strong from the weak, but rather the amount of willingness to use what one does have. Such can be said about faith. Everyone can have it. It comes from God, who gives to anyone who truly desires to it. Some, however, have chosen to drive faster and go further with what they have been given than others.
And to what end? Victory in Jesus for some and defeat at the hands of the devil for others. You‘re telling me that Saul didn't have more horsepower than David? He was bigger, stronger, better equipped. more experienced. He was the king! He had been given power beyond measure. David, comparably, was simply a boy - smaller and weaker - a lowly shepherd! Saul even offered his own armor to the boy, but it wouldn't fit. Make no mistake about it, they BOTH had been given faith and power. One was simply more willing to drive faster and go further. (Start reading at 1 Samuel 17 and keep going)
It may appear to you that God has given to others better faith and more power. You should know that the SAME faith and power is available to you. It's right there in God's word. The same Holy Spirit is available to you. The same peace that passes understanding is available to you. You have access to all of it! So the question is not "CAN you?" It's "WILL you?"
The Joybus ministry enjoyed a great fishing day last Sunday (09/28/14). The fishing day began with a baptism and Heidi Postle caught the biggest fish. Congratulations Heidi. There were 37 fish caught. God Blessed us with 86 people.
We want to thank all the adults who helped the children keep safe while fishing. Special thanks to Martha Lee Ault for the use of her home and pond for the children. Clyde will always be remembered for the great hospitality and soul winning heart he had for the Joybus Ministry. It was great to see little ones catch their very first fish. Their smiles and eyes lit up with excitement and joy. This day Jesus was shinning thru a lot of people and we truly are blessed to have a great God who provided a wonderful creation for us to live in
We all recognize and understand the acronym WWJD. What Would Jesus Do? And to be sure, we should be asking ourselves this every day, all day. If he would do it, I should do it. If he would not...well, you get the idea.
Would it ever be appropriate to ask WWSD? What Would Satan Do? And what would he do? What is it that makes him happy? We often pray, "God, we hope we've brought a smile to your face today." Possibly, though, the life I've lived today has put a grin on the devil's face, and that's a problem.
The devil loves unloving Christians. John lets us know, how the children of God are identified compared to the children of the devil; "Anyone who doe not do what is right is not a child God, nor is anyone who does not love his brother" (1 John 3:10). So, continue to hold that grudge. Continue to have spiteful, hateful feelings toward your brother. Satan loves you for it.
The devil loves Christians who are constantly condemning each other. He understands that the most effective persecution comes from within. Oh, the delight he must take in seeing the hurt we can bring on each other. Keep on picking each other apart over insignificant, petty little things. Satan's smiling over it.
The devil loves a liar. Jesus said he is the father of lies (John 8:44). His entire mission is built on lies. He lied to Eve and hasn't stopped since. Want to please Satan? Keep on deceiving each other. Keep up with your hypocrisies if you want to please the enemy. Deceiving each other makes him smile, but deceiving ourselves, and attempting to deceive God probably prompts him to dance and shout.
WWSD? Whatever it is, let's make sure we do the opposite!!
Would you like to help us make a difference in the life of a Senior? We are looking for people that are willing to give the gift of "Time" to our residents. Whether it is making crafts, baking, working a puzzle or quality one on one time, our volunteers feel rewarded many times over for the help they provided in a making a difference in the lives of others. Call 740-472-2200 to find out more about how you can help. Thank you. We look forward to hearing from you.
Keith Jones will be teaching a series of lessons to the teens on Wednesdays on Redonkulous Faith, Radical Forgiveness, Ravenous Prayer, Real Obedience and Rowdy Kindness. Living five values from the parables of Jesus. For those who watch Duck Dynasty the Robertson teens have come out with a great lesson book on Christian values. Let’s pray for God’s teens to overcome Satan’s temptations.
What is The Purpose of Life?
How would you answer if asked the question, “What is the purpose of life?” Now it’s understandable that many may not agree with your answer. I believe that most people would answer this question based upon their own life experiences. For example one might answer the question similar to at least one of the following statements.
•The purpose of life is to be a good influence in the lives of others.
•The purpose of life is to share oneself and their goods with those in need.
•The purpose of life is to have good health and a long life.
•The purpose of life is to be successful and wealthy.
•The purpose in life is to put family and friends before self
•The purpose of life is to find peace within and with others.
•The purpose in life is to do something that will have an impact in the world.
These are just a few ways in which one might answer the question. Though some of these answers might be good, and help many live better lives, they are not the answers to the purpose of life. The wisest and richest man that ever lived sought out to answer this question. Solomon said,
I search in my heart how to gratify my flesh with wine, while guiding my heart with wisdom, and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the sons of men to do under heaven all the days of their lives. I made my works great, I built myself houses, and planted myself vineyards. I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made myself water the growing trees of the grove. I acquired male and female servants, and had servants born in my house. Yes, I had greater possessions of herds and flocks than all who were in Jerusalem before me. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of kings and the provinces. I acquired male and female singers, the delights of the sons of men, and musical instruments of all kinds. So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure. For my heart rejoiced in all my labor; And this was my reward from all my labor: Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had tailed; And indeed all was vanity and grasping for wind There was no profit under the sun (Ecclesiastes 2:3-1 1).
Solomon had the wisdom, wealth, and desire to really seek out and understand the purpose of life. At the end Solomon said that the purpose of life is summed up to do two things which go hand in hand and also gives us the reason for his answer. Solomon wrote, "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man 's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
Do you agree with Solomon? If so, then fear God and keep his commandments. For one day we will stand before Him and give an account of the things which we have done. ~Lupe Ruiz via Everman Church of Christ, Everman, TX
Back To Nature
We stood over the fence eyeing the twenty-three acre pasture which hadn't seen a baler or a brush-hog in a long time. What once had resembled a residential backyard now looks pretty wild. Tall, thick weeds of a all varieties dominate the view. Small trees are growing up everywhere. Some not-so-small trees now stand out. Freezing and thawing ground has pushed sizeable rocks to the surface. Oaks and Maples along the fence line appear to have eaten the barbed wire fencing
"Left to its own," my neighboring farmer said, "it just goes back to nature."
The same goes, it seems, not just for pastures, but even more dramatically, for golf courses. The other day, I drove by what was for over a decade one of my favorite places to golf. They say the oil and gas boom is too blame -- green fees apparently couldn't compete with lease money. The owners, I'm told, sold out to one of the big leasing companies. Consequently, it now looks like the golfers have been replaced by the gophers. Once manicured greens blend in with all the other uncut grass and algae scum hides the green-side ponds. It too has "gone back to nature."
I fear that some who used to be faithful brethren have "gone back to their nature" -- their sinful nature. As we have seen in our study of Romans, we do have a sinful nature. That is not to say that we were born in sin, but we were certainly born into sin, that is into a sin-filled world. Therefore, as Paul makes clear, we will be, for the duration of our time here on earth, engaged in a battle -- a war between what the spiritual side knows is best and what the sinful nature wants.
Some apparently have sold out. What the world had to offer just looked too good. They stopped feeding and maintaining the Spirit They use the excuse, like me concerning the neglect of my pasture, that there just isn't the time, or that they don't have the right equipment. Truthfully, laziness and selfishness are the cause of our return to the sinful nature. Our time in the Word diminishes. Our time in prayer is so minuscule as to be laughable. Next thing you know, we’re down to a couple hours a week in church services. Then., even that stops. The weeds of the world, the boulders, the trees have taken over. The Spirit, the One who’s supposed to live in us, to dominate us, can‘t be seen. Sadly, those who needed this bulletin article, probably aren't here to read it. Still, I pray for them. They do have the time. They do have the equipment. Will they look at the soul and see how overgrown it is? Will they come back to God, or will they continue to become more and more overrun by the sinful nature?
To Recognize, Or Not
3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. 4 They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. 5 Greet also the church that meets at their house. Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia. 6 Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you. 7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. 8 Greet Ampliatus, my dear friend in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my dear friend Stachys. 10 Greet Apelles, whose fidelity to Christ has stood the test. Greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus. 11 Greet Herodion, my fellow Jew. Greet those in the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord. 12 Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord. Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the other brothers and sisters with them. 15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the Lord’s people who are with them.
That was an excerpt from a letter Paul wrote to the church in Rome (Romans 16:3-15). Normally, this is a passage of scripture which is easily dismissed as insignificant and boring -- just a bunch of "hellos" to a bunch of folks whose names we can't pronounce, It is, however, not insignificant. Take a moment, if you will, to read it.
Do you see that Paul was not at all shy about recognizing those who stood out in the church? Do you see that he didn't worry about offending those who remained unmentioned?
Now someone may suggest that he did in fact mention everyone in the church at Rome, but I found it very hard to believe that the total number of Christians in Rome was 27!
The fact remains that individual members stood out. With their hard work, their dedication, their kindness, they came to his mind before others, and he wanted to acknowledge them. Obviously, there was nothing wrong with this.
Some in the church today say that individuals and individual families should not pointed out and recognized above others. This, they say, leads to hard feelings and awkward situations. "You may leave out someone who has done just as much," they say. Apparently, Paul didn't get that memo.
While a few thin-skinned folks may get offended experience has proven that public acknowledgement of hard-working, dedicated servants of the Lord not only encourage them personally, but also motivates others to want to do likewise.
It's clear that Paul had a special connection to those he mentioned by name, either through physical blood, the spiritual blood of Christ, or some other deep emotional attachment. They had all affected his life and his ministry for good, and he wanted them and all those who read his letter to know that.
What Happens With Your Time?
In our lifetimes, we will spend:
6.5 years eating
6.5 years driving
4 years being sick
20 years and l month working
10 years and 5 months in recreation activities
2 years and 4 months getting dressed
3 years bathing
12.5 years watching television
1 year and 2 months listening to music
2 years sitting in a classroom
A recent Barna survey did the math on how much time professed Christians will, in their lifetimes, spend reading the Bible and attending church services:
130 days reading the bible
120 days sitting thru a public worship service
If these statistics are true, an embarrassingly small amount of time seems to be devoted to the one who gave us the time in the first place.
Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom. Psalm 90:12
So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days. Ephesians 5:15-16