3 Ways the Lost RID themselves of Christ.

If you haven’t noticed, many of these articles are written for 2 purposes. First, to strengthen the Christian in their hope of salvation. Second, to empower the Christian with information that could be used to reach the lost. The titles are designed to evoke some emotion that makes someone want to see what it’s about.

Today’s article does both because we know the lost world needs Christ, and it’s possible for the Christian to drift away [Heb 2:2-3].

HOW DOES THE LOST RID THEMSELVES OF CHRIST?

Whether a person does it intentionally or by neglect, the results are the same, they’re lost. So, here’s what scripture tells us how a person RIDs himself of Christ.

REJECTING CHRIST:

One of the ways to get Christ out of your life is to reject Him, reject His commands and totally reject His will for your life. This is what the Jews did during His personal ministry. “And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner:” [Mark 12:10].

Jesus warned, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” [John 12:48]

The result of rejecting Christ is found in the example of Esau, “For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected:” [Heb 12:17] The same fate awaits those who reject Christ, that is, to be rejected by God.

IGNORING CHRIST:

Probably the most common way to RID yourself of Christ is to IGNORE Him. We see this in most folks as they take zero consideration for their eternity. These may say they believe in God & Christ, may even attend a church service somewhere, but they make no effort to know what His will is about godly living, worship or even His commands about baptism.

Paul faced this attitude when he spoke with Agrippa. “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” [Acts 26:28] To ignore Christ is just as fatal as to reject Him.

Our Lord spoke about those who ignored His commands when He said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” [Mat 7:21]

Some say that doctrine is not important. But the Holy Spirit says that there is a ‘sound doctrine’ which means that some would be following unsound doctrine ignoring the Doctrine of Christ. [2Tim 4:3; 2John 1:9]

DELAYING OBEDIENCE TO CHRIST:

The last one will RID Christ from your life just as effectively even though the person in this position may say they want to obey the Gospel. Saying you want to do something has zero effect on one’s salvation. Christ said, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” [Luke 6:46]

There is something you must do. Saul (later called Paul) knew this, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” Jesus then sent him to a Christian to tell him what to do. Nobody accesses salvation without actively doing what the Lord requires. The Jailor, upon hearing about Jesus, obeyed the gospel “the same hour of the night’ without delay. [Acts 16:33]

Don’t be like Felix; “And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.” [Acts 24:25] He delayed, and we have no idea if he ever responded to the gospel. How sad.

All 3 of these can be applied to those outside of Christ as well as those who are in Christ. You see, we can lose our salvation when we REJECT, IGNORE or DELAY in doing the commands of the Lord. Please, Salvation has appeared to all men [Titus 2:11], don’t RID yourselves of that Grace.

WHY MEMORIZE VERSES? Part 2

Last week we looked at 4 of 8 reasons to begin a Bible Memorization Plan. To recap here are the first 4

1: DEFENSE FROM SIN.

2: HELP IN TIME OF NEED.

3: AS A BIBLE STUDY AID.

4: EVANGELISM.

Today we will look at 4 more reasons to commit to bible verse memory.

5: TO LIVE SOBERLY & RIGHTEOUSLY. God’s word contains the instruction for Purity, Holiness and Godliness. “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;” [Titus 2:12] For us to live the best life we can that glorifies God, we need to know what He expects. Peter reminds us of God’s word when he wrote; “Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” [1Pet 1:16]

6: TO LIVE A JOYFUL LIFE. God’s word reveals so much about human nature and gives us hope that we can do better. In Proverbs we read; “The hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish.” [10:28]. That HOPE exudes from us during times of trial, drawing others to ask; “of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” [1Pet 3:15b] Another proverb says; “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine:” [17:22]. Not many of us have faced such a difficult life as Paul, but he could still say; “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.” [Phil 4:4]. We can find delight in the study of God’s word; “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” [Psalm 1:2]

7: TO RIGHTLY ENCOURAGE BRETHREN IN THEIR TIME OF NEED. Many times, we don’t have the words when one of our loved ones is facing tragedy & loss, but that doesn’t prevent us from speaking. Oftentimes we say the wrong thing, or worse, say something unscriptural. This should not be. We can encourage others much better with sound words from God’s book. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” [Heb 13:5]. There are words in scripture that, “…comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” [1Thess 5:11] The entirety of scripture can bring comfort; “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” [Rom 15:4]

I’ve saved the best for last…

8: JESUS DID. I saved this one for last so that it remains foremost in your mind. Jesus quoted nearly 200 verses from the Old Testament. He quoted God’s word when He faced Satan in the wilderness. He quoted scripture as He taught. He quoted scripture as He faced those who tested Him. Over and over He quotes scripture. Having been raised in a Jewish home, memorizing scripture would have been a part of His upbringing, “And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.” [Deut 6:4-9] Why wouldn’t you follow His example?

WHERE SHOULD YOU BEGIN?

In the last article I suggested you begin with those verses on God’s plan of Salvation. Another helpful set of scriptures to memorize would be those that answer the critics. Paul wrote; “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” [Col 4:6] this can only be accomplished by knowing what some of the challenges are and how to answer them.

  • What about the Thief on the Cross?
    • Luke 23:43; Col 2:14
  • Salvation by Faith Only?
    • James 2:24
  • The bible doesn’t say we can’t have instruments in worship.
    • Col 3:16-17
  • We can have fellowship halls to eat and drink in.
    • Rom 14:17; 1Cor 11:22

Brethren, the scripture is a treasure trove containing the wishes of God for us in how we are to live, how we are to love and how we are to get to heaven. But it must be mined, learned and written on our hearts.

The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide. [Psalm 37:31]

WHY MEMORIZE BIBLE VERSES? Part 1

 

Years ago, a young Christian was facing a choice. He could either take the lengthy final examination for his theology class or quote Hebrews. Not quote a few verses of Hebrews, no sir, he needed to quote the ENTIRE BOOK of HEBREWS. [13 chapters & 303 verses].

He chose the latter and quoted the entire book from memory. An astounding mental feat to be sure, but is memorization even necessary? We have smart phones apps and google that can return to us any inquiry of the bible we want. That is, if you know what you’re looking for.

Therein lies the rub, to get any benefit out of God’s word, you need to know what’s in it. Here are 8 reasons why we should commit to a bible memorization plan.

1: DEFENSE FROM SIN. An integral part of our defense against sin is the Armor of God [Eph 6:10-20]. The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God, the active piece that serves for both defense & offense. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” [Psalm 119:11]

2: HELP IN TIME OF NEED. God gave His children the avenue of prayer to give us help in our time of need [Heb 4:16], but how would you know that without study? Additionally, when a sudden problem arises, we most frequently utter some form of profanity. Wouldn’t it be better to immediately draw into our conscious mind a piece of God’s word to counter the negatives we all face in everyday life? Memorizing Bible passages can give us an inventory of alternative utterances to the worldly expressions. Oh, and stop pretending that a euphemism is a cleaner alternative to the real cuss word, we know what you’re saying. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” [Phil 4:8]

3: AS A BIBLE STUDY AID. As you begin to read & study your Bible you may find it difficult to understand. However, a person that commits to memorization will find that the Bible will become clearer as you connect the stories, especially the connections between the Old & New Testaments. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” [Romans 15:4].

Since the Word of God shall also be present at the judgement, a thorough understanding of it would be helpful. “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” [John 12:48]

4: FEAR of EVANGELISM. Let’s admit it, we’ve all experienced fear whenever an opportunity arose to share the Gospel. Bible memorization can alleviate that fear. Inherent in the verse; “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” [1Peter 3:15] is the idea of memorization. We know what is right, but could we prove it to them? Memorization is a great way to build your confidence in directing another through the scriptures as you show them the plan of God’s Salvation.

One fellow said to me, “I have John 3:16 and that’s all I need.” The extent of his bible memory plan was one verse! Others have committed to memorize “Jesus Wept” but have no idea where to find it. [John 11:35] Another person half quoted 1Peter 3:21 in an attempt to disqualify baptism. Because he didn’t know what it really said nor where it was located, he had a false belief that will leave him lost. “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:”

Next week we’ll look at 4 more good reasons to commit to a Bible Memorization Plan.

Click Here for a good place to start memorizing Bible Verses.

QUESTIONS YOU SHOULDN’T NEED TO ASK?

Ok, I got it, the only stupid question is the one not asked. However, I did come across a question that shouldn’t have needed to be asked.

At a local eatery, I asked, “can you make sure the egg on my sandwich isn’t burnt?” This is a question no customer should have to ask, but then the clerk asked the cook, “Do we have any GOOD EGGS to serve?” Had I not just written last week about asking questions, I may have never noticed, but this question immediately made me chuckle. THERE IS SUCH A THING AS A STUPID QUESTION. There are questions people shouldn’t need to be asked. It should have been the SOP that there is “GOOD FOOD” to serve.

Disclaimer: When you have a new hire, or beginning a new thing, you may need to ask these questions. However, after you’ve been trained, the answer should be automatic. If you need to ask, then you may not have understood the instructions.

SOME EXAMPLES

A person should never need to be asked, “are you going to work today?” Work is a basic function of life, whether you are of working age, retired or a child. Work is good, commanded and profitable. Taking care of your home is work.

For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

[2Thess 3:10]

A person should never need to be asked, “are you going to stop at red lights?” (obey the laws of the land?) Most human laws are there for organizational reasons. Not many will make you deny your faith. We follow the laws of the land as much as they don’t interfere with living faithfully. [Acts 5:29]

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. [Romans 13:1]

ARE YOU GOING TO WORSHIP GOD OR MAN?

Hananiah, Mishael & Azariah were faced with this dilemma, and they didn’t need to be asked this question, although someone went ahead and asked. You see, they were given the command to worship a golden image set up by the Kings decree. When they would not, they were brought before the king and given the option to worship a gold image or remain faithful to God.

They responded to this question by saying, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.” NKJV [Daniel 3:16-18]. What happened next is astounding, they were thrown into a fiery furnace that was seven times hotter than normal AND LIVED!!! As amazing as that was, what happened next is also truly amazing.

I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.” [Daniel 3:29]. Did you see it? The king that had once decreed that worship only be done to his gold image reversed and commanded that no ill word be said of The One True God of the Bible. Wow! Such a great example of how a few faithful followers of God can influence a nation.

IF WE KNOW WHAT IS RIGHT, WE SHOULD NEVER NEED ASK AGAIN.

  • Did the Apostles need to ask, “Should we keep preaching?” Acts 5:40
  • Did Joshua need to ask, “Who am I supposed to serve?” Josh 24:15
  • Did Noah need to keep asking God, “How many arks am I to build, how many doors?” Gen 6:14

QUESTIONS WE SHOULD HAVE ALREADY ANSWERED.

Are we going to worship on Sunday? Are we going to worship while on vacation? Are we going to give thanks for our meals? Are we going to cancel evening services Super Bowl Sunday?

WE KEEP ASKING.

Naaman asked, “Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel?” Maybe, but who cares, the instruction from God was to dip 7 times in the Jordan. That was it, no other river, no other way, no other method.

People read the Bible and ask, “Can I not be sprinkled, or skip out on baptism?” Or they might ask it another way, “What about the thief on the cross?” It’s the same thing, asking a question which ought not be asked. Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” [Mark 16:16] If you love Him, if you want to be called His friend, just do it. [John 14:15; 15:14]

QUESTIONS WE OUGHT TO ASK.

  • What must I do to be saved? – Acts 16:30
  • What wilt Thou have me do? – Act 9:6
  • What doth hinder me from being baptized? – Acts 8:36
  • What shall we do? – Acts 2:37

Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” [Acts 2:38]

 

WE LOVE QUESTIONS.

As said before, when a person is learning there are no stupid questions. We love questions. If you have a question, feel free to ask it and we’ll do our best to answer it with scripture.

DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION?

Have you ever had a question but were too afraid to ask? You’ve already been told that there are no stupid questions, so ask. If you have a question you’ve always wanted to ask, ask it (privately or personally) and I’ll do my best to offer a biblical answer. Below is a sampling of questions people should be asking but aren’t…

  • Why is attendance of religious services falling around the world?
  • How do I join the local church of Christ?
    1. Variation: Do I have to identify with a local group of Christians?
  • Are all churches of Christ the same? Does it matter?
  • What is the most important aspect of our Assemblies?
  • How come the churches don’t have crosses in their buildings?
  • Can we eat in the building? How come we don’t eat in the building?
  • How come we don’t have community benevolent programs?
  • What is the work of the church?
  • Why does the evangelist get all bent out of shape when someone calls him ‘pastor?’ Or when I use “church” as an adjective?

Future articles in 2019 will be dedicated to answering, with scripture, many of these questions.

CAN WE EVEN QUESTION THE BIBLE?

Jesus was asked a bunch of questions by folks. He never rebukes us for asking, unless we’re asking to justify ourselves or refuse to be honest with the answers.

In one such encounter, the Pharisees asked Jesus about His authority, “And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?” [Mat 21”23]

Jesus’ reply was not a rebuke for asking, for He said He would answer them, “if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?” But they refused to answer, as either possible answer would rebuke themselves. It was then that Jesus refused to answer their question, because they weren’t being honest about the truth.

In another place, the Apostle Paul went about preaching and came to some folks who took what he preached and searched for some verification. The Berean’s, “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” [Acts 17:11] You see, they took the preaching of Paul and compared it to the scriptures. Oh, if more people in denominations would do that!

Paul also told the Galatians, “though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” [Gal 1:8] He was ok with them verifying what he or anyone else preached. The problem was they had stopped following God’s word in favor false teaching.

He also told those in Thessalonica to, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” [1Thess 5:21].

In another place, John wrote to the saints and told them to, “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” [1John 4:1]

The moral of the story is that it’s OK to ask questions. It’s OK and even encouraged to verify whatever anyone teaches or preaches.

There are just a few criteria…

  • Be honest with yourself, even if it means you may be wrong,
  • Be willing to search for the truth and
  • Be willing to accept the truth and to follow it.

We here in this local body of Christ want to know the truth and to obey the truth. We don’t mind it when someone asks questions and we often invite folks to visit with us after services to ask questions. Just be honest and be willing to accept the truth. If you’re unwilling to listen to God’s word for the answer, don’t bother asking us, because that’s the only qualified answer. The Bible is our only Guide. If you don’t want a bible answer, don’t ask any of us.

There are many false places to which people appeal for the answers to their questions….

  • False teachers – 1Tim 4:1
  • Yes men – 2Tim 4:3
  • The book of ‘opinions’ & ‘I think so’ – Mark 7:7
  • “that’s how we’ve always done it” Mark 7:8

None of these are the source of sound doctrine, and there are many more. Jesus warned the Sadducees, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” [Mat 22:29] We must be careful from where we get the answers to the questions of life and eternal life. God’s word gives us all we need for life & godliness [2Pet 1:3].

Would you like your question answered, and do you want it to be from God’s divine word? Then you’ve come to the right place. Come, let’s reason together.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” [Isaiah 1:18]

Another Bible Reading plan 2019

It’s that time of year again when this bulletin is dedicated to helping you find the right bible reading program.

Before I introduce to you the plans for 2019, let’s remind ourselves as to why a regular plan for reading the bible is so valuable.

  • A life without the Bible is an empty life. God has given to us all things pertaining to life & godliness. [2Pet 1:3]
  • We will make mistakes by not knowing it. [Mat 22:29]
  • We’re commanded to study it. [2Tim 2:15]
  • The Scriptures are “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” [2Tim 3:16-17]

Now, let’s look at some plans for 2019.

THE CHRONOLOGICAL daily reading plan. This plan has you reading the entire bible in 1 year in chronological order. You can find these online, or through an app on your smart phone. Some of these apps will even read the bible to you.

THE 30-DAY PLAN FOR NEW CONVERTS. This plan leads the new convert through bible from the fall of man through the redemption of mankind in Christ Jesus.

THE 61-DAY OVERVIEW OF THE WHOLE BIBLE. This plan touches just the highlights of the whole bible. This is a good plan for someone who wants a reminder of major events or is trying to just get an overview before a more complete reading of the bible.

THE MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY PLAN. This plan has a focus on the New Testament. Each day of the week has a theme as follows:

  • Mondays – Read from the Gospels [89 chapters]
  • Tuesdays – Read from Acts [28 chapters]
  • Wednesday – Read from Paul’s letters (Romans – Philemon) [87 chapters]
  • Thursday – Read from the Old Testament [929 chapters]
  • Friday – Read from the General letters (Hebrews through Revelation) [56 chapters]

As New Testament Christians, this plan has a focus on the New Covenant and allows you to read through the New Testament several times in a year (just 5-10 chapters per day), with ACTS being read about 10 times in a year depending on your reading speed. You would need to read about 15+ chapters on Thursdays to complete a reading of the Old Testament.

Imagine, by this time next year you will have read about the Lord’s life 4 times, the beginning of the church up to 10 times and the instructions from the Apostles 3,4 or 5 times!

THE PROVERBS A MONTH PLAN

With any of the above plans, a great addition would be to read from one chapter of Proverbs each day. There are 30-31 days in a month, and there are 31 chapters of Proverbs. The book of Proverbs is an excellent book for helping with daily living principles.

The breakdown of the book of Proverbs is as follows:

  • 1-9 the value of Wisdom
  • 10-30 are the sayings of Solomon with a mix of topics.
  • 31 is the word of King Lemuel’s Mother about the godly woman.

A FEW TIPS for Reading the Bible Daily.

  • Just Start. You don’t want to be saying, “I wish I read more” this time next year.
  • Set an appointment for yourself to read your bible. Nothing ever gets done until it’s scheduled.
  • Pray before and after each time you read. [Jas 1:5-6]

There is no downside to reading from God’s word, only an upside. Even if you miss a day, you have a plan to stay on track, keep it interesting and help you to grow.

If you live in the Borger, TX area and would like to study with someone, click here.

PHARISAICAL

PHARISAICAL is defined as; practicing or advocating strict observance of external forms and ceremonies of religion or conduct without regard to the spirit; self-righteous; hypocritical. The term comes from the group called “Pharisees.”

The way it is most commonly used is when one person suggests a close adherence to the word of God in the Plan of Salvation, Worship and Godliness that others will claim that person is being PHARISAICAL. It’s a rebuke by someone who ISN’T closely following the Bible against the one who does.

Is that a fair use of the word? Does this usage follow with how the Pharisees were practicing Judaism? Let’s examine the Scriptures to see if this is so.

JESUS REBUKES THE PHARISEES

Matthew 23 is a great place to learn what Jesus felt about the Pharisees. The first 12 verses He describes their practices to the multitudes. He says:

  • Do what they say, not what they do. v3
  • They bind heavy burdens on others that they won’t do. v4
  • They do what they do to be seen by men. v5
  • They love the best seats & greetings. v6-7

After this, He then addresses them directly with a series of “WOE UNTO YOU” statements some of which are:

  • You shut up the kingdom of heaven against men and you don’t enter either. v13
  • For a pretense make long prayers. v14
  • Neglected the weightier matters of justice, mercy & faith. v23
  • You appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. v28

Upon examination of these verses and others, the conclusion you MUST come to is that the Pharisees were:

  • Ignoring the commands of God for their traditions.
  • Saying one thing correctly but not doing it. This is called hypocrisy.
  • When they did keep the commands of God, their heart wasn’t in it. Mat 23:23
  • They bound EXTRA commands on people that God never commanded.
  • Mat 7:21-23

“For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” [Mark 7:8-9]

SO, WHAT IS PHARISAICAL REALLY?

To be ‘PHARISAICAL’ is to:

  • Not follow the commands of God
  • To create new commands not from God
  • To say that you’re following God but aren’t.
  • To hold to traditions rather than the commands of God.
  • To appear to be righteous but are actually disobedient.

If anyone in our modern times is ‘PHARISAICAL’ it’s most likely to be the denominational churches and not the Lord’s church. Can we be guilty of hypocrisy? Certainly, but to call someone who is keeping the commands of God with his whole heart, ‘PHARISAICAL,’ is to make a false accusation. It’s usually the one who ISN’T KEEPING GOD’S COMMANDS that calls another ‘PHARISAICAL.’ If you’re not following the commands of Christ, YOU ARE THE PHARISEE! It is NOT PHARISAICAL to want to keep the commands of God. [Col 3:17]

Rather than call each other names, let’s try this:

  • Let’s Keep the commands of Jesus – John 14:15
  • Let’s Do what Jesus says – Luke 6:46; Mat 7:21-29
  • Let’s Love God with our whole heart – Mat 22:37
  • Let’s Obey the Gospel – 2Thess 1:8; Mark 16:16

God wants us to be saved and to go to heaven. Let’s do that.

Hearing Jesus

There was an old TV commercial where an actor in some public place would say, “My broker is EF Hutton, and Hutton says…” then everyone would immediately go silent, not a sound could be heard. You could hear the proverbial pin drop. Then the narrator would break the silence saying, “When EF Hutton talks, people listen.”

You’ve had that feeling before. That moment when you knew you were in the presence of someone with whom you cherish, or someone who’s words would have a profound effect on the world. It may have been that time when a loved one was taking their final breath and you held yours straining to hear their final words.

That’s what it was like for some who were in the presence of Jesus as they listened to His final public teaching, prior to the cross.

After Jesus cleansed the Temple, He was teaching them daily. Whereas some were seeking a way to destroy Him, others hung on His every word.

And could not find what they might do: for all the people were VERY ATTENTIVE TO HEAR HIM.” [Luke 19:48]

According to Luke’s account, He TAUGHT and PREACHED the GOSPEL [Luke 20:1]. Oh, can you imagine hearing the gospel message from the very lips of the one who was about to endure it? The Gospel is “how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” [1Cor 15:3-4]. They may not have realized the full meaning of what they heard, but Jesus did. In just a few days He would be betrayed, falsely accused & tried, scourged & then death by crucifixion.

Can you hear Him pleading? Can you imagine His passion? If you could sit in on that sermon, in our time, what would you be doing? Would you be playing on your phone? Would you be thinking about lunch? Would you be wondering how much longer He will go on? Would the cares of the world block out the voice of the Savior?

The Gospel Message:

The message of the cross is so important to our lives that it must be heard and understood. Although we can’t go back to that time, it becomes even more important for us to pay attention. We have not His voice, but we have His words.

“He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” [John 12:48]

It’s so amazing and yet so sad that a message so important is being ignored by our friends and our family. If that weren’t bad enough, there are those who seek to destroy it. Just as there were back then. Earlier in Luke, Jesus warned, “He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.” [Luke 11:23]

The message of the cross is still strange to many ears today, just as it was foolishness to some back then [1Cor 1:23]. The message is too difficult for some today, just as it was to some back then.

Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? … and walked no more with him.” [John 6:60,66]

As the new year approaches, and as we ponder our resolutions, let us take time to silence the noise of the world and take time to listen to the Son of God through His revealed Word. To read it, ponder it and to incorporate His teaching into our lives. Let it continue to convert us and be incorporated into every aspect of our lives so that others may see a light of hope emanating from us. May we hang on His every Word. [2Timothy 3:16-17; 1Peter 3:15; Matt 5:14-16]

The Last Day

When is the Last Day, the rapture or the Judgment day? Many ‘scholars’ have attempted to figure it out. They’ve combed the scriptures looking for clues. They’ve taken dates and times, done the math and have come up with what they believe is the last day.

I recall a fellow who claimed May 21, 2011 would be the end of the earth, the final call, the return of Christ. Either I missed it, or he was wrong. The bible says we’re not going to miss it, it will be the loudest day on earth.

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:” [1Thess 4:16]

Based on this verse alone, I’d say we didn’t miss it, it hasn’t occurred. There have been others who thought they had predicted the end.

Jehovah’s Witnesses – Charles Taze Russell preached the Second Coming of Jesus was 1874, and the start of the 1000 year earthly reign was 1914, as it was to end in 2914 A.D. When it didn’t happen, they just altered their teaching and set new dates saying something like, “”The light is getting brighter, and we are understanding Bible prophecy better now.”

John Hagee – He has been predicting the end for several years now. Looking at blood moons & eclipses as possible signs. Rather than set a date, he says, “the fuse is lit.”

There’s nothing new about this. The first century Christians wondered about this as well. Paul wrote to the brethren in Thessalonica, “That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.” [2Thess 2:2] He instructed them how they ought to behave as they awaited, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” [2Thess 2:15]

None of us can know when the judgment will occur, only God, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” [Mat 24:36].

Putting this all together we come to some very simple conclusions that will guide us…

  • Don’t believe the predictions. (and don’t follow those who are making such predictions. They’re false teachers. [Matt 24:11; 1John 4:1]
  • Live every day as if Christ is coming today.

Since we know that when He comes, destruction of the world will follow, we ought to “make our calling and election sure” today and every day. [2Pet 1:10]

Peter, writing through the Holy Spirit said; “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” [2Pet 3:11-12]

Don’t take my word for it, just do what Jesus said, “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” [Matt 24:42]

Coping with Stress

Life can be very stressful. Everyone faces, at one time or another, something that knocks them down or shakes them up. There seems to be 5 categories of stressors, I call them the 5 D’s…

  • DEATH – when someone close to us dies.
  • DISEASE – when we get sick or hurt and it changes how we live.
  • DIVORCE – when issues in marriage come up (not just a divorce itself).
  • DILEMMA – when non-health related issues arise, like loss of a job.
  • DEPENDENTS – when issues affecting our children.

This is not an exhaustive list, but most difficulties fall within one of these 5 categories. How do we handle it when we get bad news increasing our stress levels?

For a lot of folks, they run away or try to avoid the problem. Here are a few other negative coping mechanisms…

  • Acting out – not coping, but giving in to misbehave
  • Denial – refusing to acknowledge the problem
  • Distancing – moving away from the problem
  • Emotionality – outbursts and extreme emotion
  • Passive Aggression – avoiding refusal by passive avoidance
  • Provocation – getting others to react so you can retaliate
  • Somatization – psychological problems turned into physical symptoms

A clear example of this are those in Acts 7 who had become completely enraged when confronted with the reality they had killed The Messiah.

When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him.” [Acts 7:54-58]

In another place, when Nehemiah learned of the distress of his people, he wept. “And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted,” [Neh 1:4]

Stress is unavoidable, coping with it in a godly way is a choice and a blessing from God. How can we handle stress in a godly way? One of the ways is prayer.

In the Acts 7 passage, when Stephen was under attack, he prayed… “And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” [Acts 7:60]

What did Nehemiah do in his stressful situation? He prayed. “and prayed before the God of heaven, And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments: Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned..” [Neh 2:4-6]

It doesn’t take much time, it can be done in a moment. When asked about his sorrow by the king… “So I prayed to the God of heaven.” [Neh 2:4]

What is your first response to stress? Is it to run away? Is it to lash out at the one you perceive is the cause? Is it denial? None of these will be of any help in your time of need.

God’s people have the avenue of prayer, let that be our first response.

Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.” [James 5:13]