Many ways to be successful

There are all kinds of ways someone can be successful:
You can gain influence and power
You can make a lot of money
You can change peoples physical & emotional lives.
However, none of that means anything if you have to sacrifice what matters most to achieve it.
Time with family
Giving back to your community
Spending time with loved ones
Your health
God.
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Mark 8:36
Jesus said that. Nothing in this life can be considered a success if we’ve failed to follow Jesus. He knew that we would become preoccupied with striving for success, but He gave us this warning to keep our priorities straight.
It doesn’t surprise me that people will exchange their salvation for earthly treasure. What surprises me is how cheap they sell it.
Jesus warned about this as well as He continued teaching…
“Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:37-38
Let’s keep our priorities straight.

What do I do now?

The Franklin St church of Christ in Borger, Tx

IT IS WITH GREAT joy that we announce a new sister in Christ, Margie. Just as there is joy in the heart of the one who obeys the gospel, there is also much joy in heaven and we are also full of joy for her [Luke 15:7, 10].

After a person obeys the gospel, the most oft asked question is, “what do I do now?” However, this question is asked by both the new convert AND the members of the local congregation. The new convert, full of joy and gratitude, has a desire to serve and to do what is right. The older members want to help them, but where do you begin?

For the answer, let us turn to Acts 2, the place where the church of Christ began.

41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. That’s where we are with Margie, and all others who obeyed the gospel recently (a young man was also baptized into Christ on the same day.) Nobody joins the church; the Lord adds to the church [47].

42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Here’s where we find our answer to the question, “what do I do next?”

Continue in the apostles’ doctrine. The Apostles’ doctrine is Christ’s doctrine. Jesus said to the Apostles, that in addition to making disciples, as one who has all authority, teach them “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” [Mat 28:19-20]. Paul said about his letters, “let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” [1Cor 14:37]

So, the first thing we need to do is to continue to learn through study of the Scriptures what Jesus expects from us. The most effective way to do this is for the new convert and the “old” members to get together and study the scriptures. We need to note that “continue” means to do them. It’s not enough to learn what Jesus wants, we must obey Him [John 14:15]. We can also learn when we gather to worship on the first day of the week.

And Fellowship and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. The new Christians worshiped together. They had fellowship, which means that they were in partnership with one another. This partnership begins when we, “all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” [1Cor 1:10]. The partnership also includes the collection of money for the work of the church. (As you continue to study, you’ll begin to understand the work God has given the church is to spread the Gospel, Teach the saints and practice limited benevolence). The Philippians gave money to spread the gospel, and were in fellowship in the gospel [Phil 1:3-7].

One of the parts of worship (there are 5 activities in sound worship) the disciples ‘broke bread’ which is to remember the death of our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. Commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Supper” the first Christians met on the 1st day of the week, Sunday, where they would take unleavened bread and fruit of the vine to commemorate His death. The Apostle Paul wrote the early Christians how to properly observe this important part of our worship [1Cor 11:23-34].

They also prayed. Prayer is the privilege of the saints. Christians are called saint in the Scriptures [Rom 1:7; Eph 1:1; Phil 1:1; Col 1:1]. In obeying the gospel through baptism, we have “put on Christ” [Gal 3:27] and have been given access through Him to the “throne of grace” [Heb 4:16]. Prayer is an incredible part of becoming a child of God. We know that God does not listen to sinners [John 9:31] but He hears us!

God is not our “genie in a bottle,” to gift us with everything we want like a spoiled child. Rather, He wants to help us in our time of need. It says in Hebrews 4:16; “that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Temptation doesn’t stop when we become Christians, neither do troubles & pains, “but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” [1Cor 10:13]. So, all Christians need to pray.

Finally, let us note one more thing from Acts 2…

47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. As you begin your journey as a new Christian, and every Christian, let us never forget from whom we received the gift of grace. We received it from God through Christ Jesus [Eph 2:8-10]. May we never forget, may it never grow old and may we never grow tired of praising God for His indescribable gift.

Thanks be unto God for his indescribable gift.

2 Corinthians 9:15

Defending Sin

 

RECENTLY, a fellow asked, “why do people trust the opinions of men rather than the wisdom of God?” What surprises me is our surprise when folks do this. As any serious bible student understands, the answer has been revealed to us by God.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;

[2Timothy 4:3]

You see, folks trust the opinions of men because those opinions are first chosen by the seeker and when you go looking to defend sin, you find the opinion that won’t require a change. God’s word requires us to change. It’s called repentance.

I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.

[Luke 13:3]

Experts at defending sin use a more devious tactic, they resort to scripture abuse. It’s amazing, a person who seldom reads the scripture can quote certain passages in defense of their sin. Of course, it’s used out of context and often twisted to fit their desired meaning, but once again, no surprises. Peter, speaking about the inspired writings of Paul said,

As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”

[2Peter 3:16]

You see, the UNLEARNED and UNSTABLE do something with the scriptures to defend their sin. They WREST it, in other words, they TWIST them. In the original Greek, the word for WREST is the same word used for TORTURE. What an incredible description of what people are doing to the wonderful word of God to defend their own destruction.

Here are 6 verses used / abused to defend sin. Learn what they really mean so you can defend the truth.

A Godly Attitude About Reading

WHAT ARE PEOPLE THINKING? How come people don’t understand God’s will? We tend to tell people what is good in our own minds, rather than finding out what truly is good.

In life, there are two kinds of attitudes, a right one and a wrong one. God has said that we should have an attitude that desires to read His word. Reading the Bible is an important task. It is so important He had it written so we can understand His will, and His commandments. 1Co 2:12 “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” Also in Eph 3:3-5 “How that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets:” We need to read or hear, we need to know, what God’s Word says, for it reveals His will for us. Everybody’s destiny will be determined by whether we understand and obey those words, the Bible.

To meet fulfilling this command we need to have the right attitude. It is our attitude which will determine whether we understand. In Matthew 13:3-8, the Parable of the Sower, Jesus taught about different hearts or attitudes toward the Word of God. The seed, which is His word, fell on the wayside, some among rocks, some among thorns and some upon good ground.

In 13-15, we find the meaning. Some cannot understand because of closed ears, eyes, and minds, Jesus explains. It states, Mt 13:13 “Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.  And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.” It’s possible, with a wrong attitude, to read the word of God and be wrong because we’re not seeking to discover what He wants, rather we seek to find what we want to find.

Jesus applies the prophecy from Isaiah to the religious people of His day. They had preconceived ideas about the Christ, since Jesus did not fit their beliefs, they rejected and crucified him. Why did they not understand? It was neither because God’s word was incomprehensible nor because the teacher was incapable of teaching. The reason was because of a wrong attitude? Their preconceived ideas of a savior, didn’t match with the word of God about His Anointed one. Neither will we understand if we approach Bible study only to prove what we already believe, or want to believe.

What you or I do with Scripture is dependent on our attitude. We need a plan. We need a way to start off with a right attitude. Your attitude determines your understanding which springs to action and it is action the Lord seeks.

Set up a time where you can read your Bible, take time to reflect and think of what is God trying to communicate rather than searching to make His word fit your belief. Determine what is involved with obeying His commands, and then plan to do it. Will you be like those in Acts 17:11?

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Will you also learn from these people at Berea who searched the Scriptures daily? The people searched. This is what we do at Franklin St. Church of Christ.  Join us by reading, studying, and practicing the commandments of God. Let us find this right attitude.

Daniel Surges

Memorial Day

Do This In Remembrance…

MONDAY marks an important holiday for our country. It’s a day we take time to remember the people who have died while serving in the country’s armed forces defending the freedoms we often take for granted.

Unfortunately, it has become less about remembering and more about hot dogs, picnics and sleeping in. Until we became blue star parents we spent the holiday in much the same way. When two of our sons served simultaneously in Afghaninstan, the concern for their lives made us take notice of holidays such as this one. Fortunately, our sons returned safe and sound, but so many other’s children did not. It’s for them we take time to remember.

It’s sad to think that many, if not most, will not even pause to consider the cost of their freedom. It has become a day off, not to reflect, rather a day of revelry.

Do This In Remembrance of Me…

The church of Christ has a memorial day. It was instituted by our Savior on the night He was betrayed, and then observed in the church He bought with His own blood [Mat 26:26-29; Acts 20:28].

For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. [1Corinthians 11:23-25]

Rather than being an annual observance, the first century saints observed this memorial supper each week… “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them…” [Acts 20:7].

Even the first century saints neglected this memorial, turning it into a common meal and neglecting the ‘remembrance in me.’ The Apostle Paul rebuked this perversion when he wrote, “What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.” [1Corinthians 11:22]

Monday is a day to remember the soldiers who gave their lives in service for our country. Sunday, however, is the Lord’s Day, the day that Christians come together to worship, to pray, to sing, to learn, to have fellowship (to lay by in store) and to remember the Lord’s Death. When we take this supper, we “proclaim the Lord’s death til He come.”

Wouldn’t it be sad if folks today started to view Sunday (the 1st day of the week) as just another day off? Wouldn’t it be sad if folks treated the Lord’s Day as a day for hot dogs, picnics and sleeping in? Wouldn’t it be sad if folks started asking, “why do I have to go to church?” Wouldn’t it be sad if folks stopped observing the Lord’s Supper every week? Wouldn’t it be sad if folks looked forward to playing games at the worship rather than meditating on the incredible price paid for our freedom from sin?

May it never be so, but alas…

Is church a pill?

A couple of things first. I’m referring to the weekly assembly on Sunday when I say ‘church’, since that is how much of the world uses it. The scriptures clearly teach that the church is actually the people. [1Cor 12:14]

When I say ‘pill’ I’m referring to the idea of a prescription but could just as easily work as “something disagreeable that must be swallowed”.

Do we treat church like a pill? 

Many folks take pills to treat some illness, and in most cases, they seek the pill rather than change the underlying behavior that caused the condition. Take diet pills as an example. For many, rather than reduce their calorie intake, increase their exercise and eat better quality food they will take a pill as if it will solve their condition.

That’s what I mean when I ask, “do we treat church like a pill?” Do we believe we can act ungodly all week long, and if we take a pill (church attendance), that our sinful condition will go away?

Please understand what I am saying. The weekly assembly of God’s people is a necessity for continuing in the Apostles doctrine and shouldn’t be forsaken [Heb 10:25; Acts 20:7; 1Cor 16:2], but it is not a ‘pill’ one takes to offset our bad behavior and sinful heart.

James wrote; “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.” [James 1:23-24]

Here’s a question for you, how long after assembling with the saints before you revert to your sinful conduct. 24 hours or 24 seconds? I must confess that I’ve been guilty of this as well. For my family, we had screaming car fights before arriving to the assembly, acting all lovey dovey during the worship, then picking up where we left off with the battle as soon as we got back into the car.

How to take a pill

When you’re given a prescription from a doc, he also gives you a list of things to change. The weekly assembly can be viewed in much the same way. The lesson, prayers, songs, our giving and the Lord’s Supper all have an ability to teach us and remind us what manner of person we ought to be.

The medications we take, very often, would be much more effective if we also modified our behaviors that caused the illness. Without the modification of behavior we will remain sick and possibly die. Paul said something similar to the church at Corinth; “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” [1 Corinthians 11:28-30]

Church attendance should remind us of the sacrificial gift of Christ, and the promise of His return when He will gather up the saints and destroy the world.

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,” [2Peter 3:11]

 

2 Responses to every sermon Pt. 2

truth set you free

LAST WEEK, we began the discussion on the 2 responses to every sermon, WALKING OUT or WALKING FORWARD. We noted that these can be literal actions where a person really walks out of the building or comes to the front to confess sin, or it could be done mentally.

To recap WALKING OUT

We walk out on a sermon for a few reasons. We may be TIRED, we think it’s about SOMEONE ELSE or we just DISAGREE. Regardless the reason, we “check out” mentally or physically.

Now let’s look at…

Walking forward

It’s common for folks, when pricked in the heart by God’s message, to leave their pew and proceed to the front of the auditorium to confess the sin in their lives in a public way. This is good, it’s an accountability measure, especially for sin committed publicly. It’s not only good, it’s Godly for it is a confession of sin along with a vow of repentance. The Jews on Pentecost, upon hearing how they had been party to the crucifixion of Jesus the Christ, the text says; “they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” [Acts 2:37] These folks recognized their sin, recognized their need for forgiveness and made an immediate, public response.

If we’re paying attention to the message, and studying the Word of God, eventually we come to some area of our lives in which we’ve failed. We’ve sinned. I know this is true for John said, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” [1John 1:8] At this point we must either reject the word of God, or accept it and submit to it. What makes this difficult is when someone else comes to us and points out our error. [Matt 18:15-17; 1Corinthians] It’s in those moments that we’re most resistant to repentance. Honest folks choose the latter, as did those on Pentecost and Saul of Tarsus [Acts 9:1-19], they repent and “WALKED FORWARD.”

Whether the need is to make a public confession because of public sin, or a private confession which is a natural part of Christian growth, both require a Godly sorrow. When Paul wrote the 1st letter to the church at Corinth, he pointed out several problems, flaws and sins. His worry was that he had made them sorry in a worldly sense, but it turned out that it was a sorrow in a Godly manner [2Cor 7:9-10]. He wrote, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”

Did you catch it? “Godly sorrow” produces repentance and this repentance leads to SALVATION! Did you also see the other kind of sorrow, “sorrow of the world?” To fully appreciate what the Holy Spirit wants us to hear, let’s break this verse down.

For godly sorrow – A RESPECT for God’s word. A Godly sorrow is produced by faith in God which seeks to please God. Faith comes from hearing the word of God. [Romans 10:17]

WorkethRESULTS in the heart. ‘Worketh’ means to produce, or leads to; the word of God produces an effect on our heart which produces something. [Matthew 26:75]

repentance – the REVERSAL of a decision. The respect of God’s word, working on our heart produces a change, first in our heart and then in our activities. I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. [Luke 13:3]

to salvationREDEMPTION. Godly respect of God’s word which produces the Godly sorrow and repentance gives us access to the ransom paid by Christ Jesus. [Ephesians 1:7]

not to be repented of – no REGRET. This kind of repentance brings about the joy of knowing you’ve been pleasing to God the creator. [Acts 8:39]

but the sorrow of the world – selfish REASONS that are carnal, and fleshly which elevates the concern for self over the concerns of God. [1Corinthians 3:1-4] For some, the only reason to change is a concern for how others perceive them. This is the wrong kind of sorrow. This is why some are ‘rebaptized.’ They recognized that the only reason they originally submitted to God’s will was to be pleasing to mom & dad or because that is what everyone else was doing. Folks, this kind of obedience to God will fail us in the judgment.

worketh deathRUIN. A sorrow of the world produces complete ruin of our eternal future. [Matthew 7:21-29] When we’re only worried about what others may thing about us, we’ve set our sights too low. We haven’t sought to be pleasing to God, instead we seek to be pleasing to man. [Luke 16:13]

Another way the Bible describes ‘godly sorrow’ is with the phrase, a broken and contrite heart [Psalms 34:18]. A broken & contrite heart is a heart of sadness and regret for failing to serve the Almighty King, the Loving Creator who gave Himself as a payment for our sin against Him. [Romans 5:8-10]

Are we sad when we sin against God? Does our heart break when we fail Him? If it does, it will lead us to find out how to have eternal life.

2 Responses to every sermon

I’ve found that there are two basic responses to every sermon. I’ve also spoken to other Gospel Preachers and they have come to a similar conclusion.

Walk out or Walk forward

These responses can be literally walking out of the auditorium or coming forward to the front to confess your sin in a public manner. They can also be done with your mind. So often folks, myself included, walk out or walk forward in our minds as we listen.

WALKING OUT

Walking out on a sermon, whether in your mind or physically getting up and leaving, happens for a variety of reasons…

You’re distracted – You’re sitting there, hot, tired and hungry thinking about lunch. Hoping the sermon is short, you begin taking steps to prevent yourself from falling asleep. If you’re someplace else in your mind, it matters very little whether the speaker is dynamic or boring. Sometimes you’re distracted by the goings on of other members shifting and squirming in their seats.

The remedy for this type of walking out is simple. Take notes. Engage your mind with the theme of the sermon. I have personally found this to be most effective.

Another tactic is to get some rest. So many of us stay up late and fail to plan for our Sunday morning worship. I’m guilty too. Saturday is a day off for most folks, and we just want to enjoy as much of our weekend as possible. I get it, I’ve been there. Eutychus in Acts 20 had the same trouble. If you’re going to stay up late, here’s a little tip that may help you feel more alert in the morning. Plan your sleep length in 90min cycles. 1.5, 3, 4.5 or 6 hours. Our bodies have up and down sleep cycles and we are at the top of the cycle [close to being awake] every 90 minutes. Do an internet search for sleep cycles and you’ll see what I mean.

Another reason we walk out is…

We think it’s about someone else – Yup, I’ve done this one too. While listening to a sermon you say to yourself, “self, I hope so-n-so is listening to this.” It reminds me of Nathan telling David about a man that had stolen a lamb in 2Sam 12:1-5. David became angry and demanded justice for the victim. However, look at what Nathan did in vs7, “You are the man!” Rather than trying to assign a lesson to another, we should be examining ourselves to see if it applies [1Co 11:28; 2Co 13:5].

Lastly, one reason we walk out is

We disagree – It’s ok to disagree, but be careful about HOW you disagree. Is your disagreement based on scriptures? Will you “try the spirits whether they are of God:” [1Jo 4:1]? Or, are you just disagreeing because you or a family member are committing the sin under consideration and don’t see anything wrong with it?

You might say to yourself, ‘that’s just his opinion’. Are we entitled to have an opinion on scriptural matters? Some people have said, “I know what it says, but I don’t like it.” When it comes to sin & doctrine, as enumerated in God’s word, we have no choice but to accept it and to obey it. Nothing in scripture is up for a personal interpretation that suits your opinion, [2Pe 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation].

If the speaker is wrong, then go to him about it privately. Perhaps he misspoke, or you misunderstood, but bring BCV [book chapter verse]. We can both be wrong, or one of us can be wrong and the other right, but we cannot BOTH BE RIGHT. I want to go to heaven and you would be a great friend if you show me where I was mistaken so that I could make correction.

It’s for this reason some folks church hop. They find the teaching to be contrary to their personal desires and go searching for a place of worship that suits their tastes. Or they stop worshiping altogether. This is not new, Paul warned that there are some whose ‘god is their belly’ [Philippians 3:19]. He also said, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” [2Timothy 4:3].

There may be other reasons why folks “WALK OUT” on a sermon, but my desire is that we all “grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ [2Peter 3:18].

Where is your mind when you “WALK OUT” on a sermon?

Next week we’ll examine ‘walk forward’.