Becoming a Butterfly

We may never know what is going on in the mind of a caterpillar. What we do know is that its singular purpose seems to be the devouring of every leaf in its path until such time that it stops eating, hangs himself upside down and spins around itself a silky cocoon. Within about two weeks, the caterpillar breaks out of its self-imposed prison emerging as a beautiful butterfly.

You probably already have an idea of the 2 normal lessons of the caterpillar;

FIRST, it’s about devoting our time to nourishing our minds with the word so that we can go through our own metamorphosis.

Peter said, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:” [1Peter 2:2] He uses the metaphor of a newborn babe to express the same idea, that of devouring the word of God to grow and to change.

Jesus also used the idea of eating when He spoke about His word in John 6; I am that bread of life…I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” [48, 51]

THE SECOND typical lesson is about transformation. Romans 12:2a states; “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,” The Greek word ‘transformed’ is ‘METAMORPHOO’ which means to change. Just as the caterpillar goes through a metamorphosis, we also go through a transformation through the ‘renewing’ of our minds. This involves taking what we have devoured of the word and pondering it, thinking on it and learning it so that it causes that renovation of our mind.

“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.” [2Timothy 3:14]

THERE IS ANOTHER LESSON we can learn from the caterpillar, it is the lesson about sharing. You see, the butterfly acts very much like bees in that they are pollinators for plants. Without the likes of these creatures, there would be no plants, no flowers and no food. In addition to this vital role, they are beautiful and share with us the splendor of God’s handiwork.

The lesson on sharing is, for me, the more fantastic of the lessons. The key to incredible and lasting growth is to share what you learn. Sharing has a certain transformative effect on the one doing the teaching.

As scary as it is, talking to people about God, Jesus & the Word has a powerful effect on your own personal growth. When you teach 10 separate people about the Gospel, they only hear it once, whereas you get to HEAR IT 10 TIMES! Every telling of the Wonderful Story of Love strengthens the next.

Another incredible benefit to you is when they oppose you with their denominational views. In your struggles to learn how to answer each one [Col 4:6] you become even stronger and more knowledgeable. These are the keys to lasting knowledge; teaching it and defending it.

It’s been said that a person who never uses what they learn will lose it. This agrees with the Scriptures. “For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.” [Mark 4:25] In children it has been identified as ‘summer learning loss.’

Each time you share the Good News, not only will you continue to be transformed, but the other person may as well. You may have caught them at the right time or because of your own relationship with them your words penetrated their otherwise closed heart.

Why else should we develop the transformative mindset? In the same principle that tells us to use it or lose it, it also teaches that we shall receive even more than what we already have!

“Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” [Matt 25:28-29]

The amazing thing about teaching is also found in love. It’s said that to receive even more love you must give it. The more you give, the more you get of love AND SHARING.

The bigger & better you get enables you to give even more, and the more you give, the more you will receive.

“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” [Luke 6:38]

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Making the Best Choice!

“If you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

 

“Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.” Isaiah 66:10

God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, was very angry with His people because of their poor choices. It wasn’t as if He hadn’t given them clear direction on making good choices. God gave them, and us, all that we need for life and godliness [2Peter 1:3]. Look at what He spoke to the children of Israel about repentance and turning back to Him.

DEUTERONOMY 30:1-20

1-10 God had given clear direction to the children of Israel before He brought them into the land. If they chose to obey His commands, He would have compassion on them, protect them from their enemies and give them prosperity.

11-14 He tells them that His commands are never too difficult, never too far away, but are accessible by all so that they can keep it.

15-20 Here He makes a contrast between the BEST CHOICE and the worst. To Love the Lord thy God is the BEST CHOICE, and to walk in His ways and to Keep His commandments, statutes and judgements. By this He gives a promise of blessing.

However, by making a BAD CHOICE, that is, to turn away from hearing His commands, to worship false gods, then He will DENOUNCE them, remove His protection and not allow them to keep the land.

In verses 19-20, He makes it clear about the two basic CHOICES. Life is to CHOOSE GOOD, which is serving Him, or CHOOSE BAD, which is death. Choosing wrong is a matter of life or death.

“Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.” [Hosea 14:9]

THESE 2 BASIC CHOICES ARE STILL BEFORE US. Peter said, “We ought to obey God rather than men” [Acts 5:29]. Jesus said, “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour” [John 12:26]. Do you see the connection of God’s blessing to the one who follows?

These TWO BASIC CHOICES, following God or turning away from Him, are before us in all our day to day decision making…

  • The WORK we choose to earn our living. Eph 4:28
  • The FRIENDS we choose to keep. 1Cor 5:6; Gal 6:7-9
  • Our choice of SPOUSE. 1Corinthians 7
  • In how we choose to spend our MONEY. 1Timothy 6:17-19
  • In the way we WORSHIP God. John 4:24
  • By the way we choose to spend our TIME. Eph 5:16; Col 4:5

Don’t be confused, all this is to point out that we have free will. Just because we have choice doesn’t mean that God will accept that choice when we go against His commands. We can choose to ignore them, and when we do, we will pay the consequence of our BAD CHOICE.

God is not, as some suppose, a micro manager. He isn’t deciding whether you go to a specific place or another. He is letting you make those decisions. Those TWO BASIC CHOICES are ever before you. To do GOOD or to do BAD.

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” [Colossians 3:17]

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life [John 11:25; 14:6]. When He appears, this world of sin and doubt shall be dissolved. Since this is true, Peter asked, “what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?” [2Peter 3:11]

“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” [Romans 6:17-22]

Ye do Err…

Jesus said this to the Sadducees who had made an error in reasoning. He then explains to them why they were wrong by citing the scriptures which they had failed to understand. We can make some of the same errors in our own reasoning.

Reason is the process of drawing a conclusion based on evidence. For an argument to be legitimate, it must be true and valid, and logical reasoning must be used to back it up. Many critics of the Bible err because their arguments are just wrong about the facts. This is a factual error. Denominational Christianity is practicing a another form of error called the “LOGICAL FALLACY.”

A ‘LOGICAL FALLACY’ is, in general, an error in reasoning. God said through Isaiah, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD:” [Is 1:18]. God wants us to use our heads when examining His word. He wants us to examine the evidence, the arguments and the facts about His will.

We face these fallacies every day in our interactions with folks from the denominational world, therefore we need to prepare ourselves so that we may give an answer. [Col 4:6] It’s to that end we will examine the most common Logical Fallacies.

10 COMMON LOGICAL FALLACIES

FAULTY CAUSE: the assumption that when one thing follows another then the first thing caused the second. Claiming water baptism is not essential to salvation by citing Acts 10, when the Holy Spirit fell on the family of Cornelius. This ignores the biblical record where Peter commands them to be water baptized. [Acts 10:47-48 can anyone forbid water…?]

SWEEPING GENERALIZATION: assumes if something is true in one case, it must be true about all cases. Paul argued against this form of generalization in Titus 1:12 when he cited one of their philosophers who had used this fallacy. They say, “The folks in the church of Christ have no faith.” We have faith, just more than a dead lonely faith [James 2:14-26].

HASTY GENERALIZATION: assuming one small bit of information represents the entirety of the subject. People will cite Romans 10:9 as proof of ‘faith only’ salvation. This ignores all of what is said about salvation. [Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38, 8:36; 22:16; Rom 6:1-4 & more]. If both confession and baptism are linked to salvation, then both are essential. We must also note these other things linked to salvation [Mark 16:16 Belief, Luke 13:3 Repentance, 1John 5:3 continued obedience].

FAULTY ANALOGY: finding one similarity between two things and assuming they must be alike in all ways. Using Acts 10 again, they use the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, as proof that the family of Cornelius must have all the qualities given the Apostles. We cannot base religious practices on assumption.

FAULTY SIGN: identifying one thing or event as a predictor of future events. Many claim, since miracles occurred in the Bible then it must prove that every believer will be able to perform miracles. This ignores the facts about how the gifts of the Holy spirit were passed to another [Acts 8:17-18] and it ignores that the Roman Christians had none which is why Paul wanted to visit them [Romans 1:11].

APPEAL TO AUTHORITY: supporting a weak argument by citing famous people or ‘experts’ who hold the same position. This is also an appeal to the majority. Mark 10 & 12 show how the religious leaders cited Moses [improperly] to support their positions. Any appeal other than to God’s word is an appeal to error. “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.” Galatians 1:11

SLIPPERY SLOPE: the assumption that when a specific step is taken it will always lead to similar steps resulting in a negative outcome. We have come to condemn sinless activities just because they might lead to sinful activities. This is no way to determine authority. Some will misuse 1Thessalonians 5:22 as justification. Let’s not accuse folks of sinning because of what may or may not happen.

RED HERRING: changing the subject by diverting attention to an emotionally charged situation. They will charge, “You don’t think God would send someone to hell for using an instrument in worship, do you?” This is often an appeal to emotion. Watch for the often subtle and emotionally charged subject change. You will see these most often whenever you cite; Mark 16:16; Eph 5:19; Col 3:16; Acts 2:38.

APPEAL TO IGNORANCE: the call to disprove a claim, and when the person is unable, citing it as proof their claim is right. “You can’t tell me that I didn’t feel the Holy Spirit’s presence” is used to justify the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Probably one of the most difficult challenges to overcome. In these cases, asking them how this might look in other situations. For example: “I’ve met folks from differing [often competing denominations] who have said the same thing. Each practicing and teaching doctrines contradictory to one another. How could I differentiate between all of you?”

Ultimately, every discussion needs to be turned to reading the scriptures. God’s word is the only sound source for all that we say and all that we do.

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Colossians 3:17

LEGALISM

One of the most manipulative criticisms of the members of the Lord’s church is that they’re ‘legalists.’

Legalism is defined as “strict, literal or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code” (Webster’s Dictionary). Another way of saying it is, “one who follows the rules.”

What is unique about the definition of legalism is that it’s subjective. What does “excessive conformity” mean, who decides what is excessive and by what standard are they determining what constitutes excessive.

If you were to poll the denominations in a local area about what is a legalist, and pit their views on sin against one another, you’ll find that they would each think the other were legalists.

It’s really a made-up sin for people who want to continue in it. Paul addressed this in Romans chapter 6…

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” Romans 6:1-2

Here’s the rub, the workers of the devil have convinced people that NOT COMMITTING SIN IS A SIN! If you were to suggest that a legalist is a person who places their trust in the rule keeping ONLY, then of course that’s wrong. God clearly teaches an obedience through faith. Jesus condemned the Pharisee’s, not for keeping the law, rather for keeping it without their heart. I’ve met no one in the churches of Christ who believes or teaches salvation by works alone.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these OUGHT YE TO HAVE DONE, AND NOT TO LEAVE THE OTHER UNDONE.” [Mat 23:23] emphasis mine.

A careful reading of the New Testament will find commands like…

  • Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: Mat 28:18
  • By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: Romans 1:5
  • …according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: Romans 16:26
  • For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. 2Cor 2:9
  • If ye love me, keep my commandments. John 14:15
  • For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 1John 5:3

I believe the confusion comes from a misunderstanding of passages that teach the keeping of the Law could not bring life [ie Gal 3:11; 5:1-4]. The context of these passages is speaking about the Law of Moses, not the Law of Christ. Later in Galatians 3:27 Paul wrote, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” In many places, the Inspired Writers and Apostles of Christ warned those, that still clung to the fulfilled Law of Moses, that it would lead to death. And nowhere will you find any similar condemnation of strictly following the commands of our Lord. Instead, they commend it.

Now, based on a poor understanding of Scripture, millions are being led astray believing that strict obedience to God is a sin called legalism. They’re being told that a faithful Christian is one who is not overly concerned with knowing or keeping God’s commandments. They will often cite 2Corinthians 3:6 as a proof text. However, when you examine the context (v7) you’ll find that what is under consideration is once again, the Law of Moses as it refers to “tablets of stone.”

Listen up, those who love God will keep His commandments [John 14:15]. What does it mean then if you refuse to keep His commandments? In his letters, John also wrote…

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” [1John 2:3]

To love God, to truly know God, is to keep His commandments THROUGH FAITH for it also says in His divine word…

 

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” [Hebrews 11:6]

THAT’S SO FRUSTRATING!!

We all face frustrations in our lives. It’s a part of life for just about everyone. It comes because of unresolved problems or unfulfilled goals, desires, or needs. [These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:33] The definition of frustration is;

(n) the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of inability to change or achieve something.

Frustration is often manifested by feelings of discouragement, anger, and annoyance. Since each of these is condemned by scripture, we need to learn how to handle frustrations in our lives.

I’d like to offer a modification to the current definition of frustration:

the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because they DON’T KNOW HOW to change or achieve something.”

ANGER:  Col 3:8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.

DISCOURAGEMENT:  Ps 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

The regular definition has a feeling of inability, helplessness and hopelessness. That’s just not true. We DO HAVE ABILITY to do something about those things that frustrate us. There is hope.

OVERCOMING FRUSTRATION: Below are a few ways we can minimize or even eliminate frustration using the example of evangelism.

LEARN / GROW: Ask Yourself, “What Is Working?” Arguing with folks is very counterproductive. Has anyone ever been won over by an argument? Evangelism used to be frustrating when all I ever did was use conjecture without ever opening the Bible. When we study, we can turn to passages and show them to people. Their anger with us then becomes anger at the Bible and they know they can’t do that.

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. [2Peter 3:18]

LOOK AHEAD: Many sorrows come upon us because we just don’t pay attention. When speaking with someone about salvation they often jump around from subject to subject. Knowing ahead of time about this, we can prepare ourselves to remain on the subject at hand.

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, [Ephesians 5:15]

TRY AGAIN: We will face Mockers which can be very aggravating. However, it’s not new, Paul faced mockers when he preached [Acts 17:32]. What did he do? He kept on preaching, he just took those who wanted to hear and spoke with them.

So Paul departed from among them. Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed. [Acts 17:33-34a]

AUTOPILOT: Critics of the Lord’s church will use about 10 of the same arguments (i.e. thief on the cross, just love, the Roman road etc.). Rather then let that bother us, prepare an answer. If we’re going to get the same objections from most everyone we preach to, learn the answers. Now, instead of frustration, it makes me smile which always improves the interaction.

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. [Col 4:6]

STOP FIGHTING GOD: We often believe that just because we’re having a conversation with someone that we’re doing God’s will. Not so. When we face the mockers, the disinterested or the haters we end up in an argument and, fighting against God. Jesus explicitly told us not to do this.

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. [Matthew 7:6]

REMAIN POSITIVE: We need to acknowledge that we can’t change people, they must want to change. Once we admit that the only way things will change is when we change, then we can have a new perspective about frustrations and recognize them as just challenges to overcome. Challenges are good and very rewarding. [Mat 5:10-12]

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. [John 14:27]

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. [Philippians 4:6-10]

A life of frustration is no way to live and can never glorify God because it contains no joy, it has no hope and it leads to sinful attitudes.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. [Galatians 5:22-23]

Just Preach Jesus

I met a fellow this week who during his conversation with me said, “instead of looking at what we’re doing differently, we ought to be celebrating what the denominations are doing right.” He then cited the example of a denomination’s sound finances. As the conversation went on, he repeated this sentiment, the idea of “celebrating what’s right and ignoring what’s wrong. This has mass appeal in our ecumenical society.

When shown the passage; “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye 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.” 1 Corinthians 1:10 (emphasis mine), he swept it away as just a request Paul had and not a requirement of the Lord. [cf. 1Cor 14:37]. He said, “I’m not about logic and reasoning.” Then the conversation was over.

They tell us to JUST preach Jesus, His love and His grace. The thing is…we are preaching Jesus, His love and His grace, we’re just including the parts that they have left out. Leaving out key parts of the information is not to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Abram’s HALF TRUTH

Before we go on, let’s take a small detour back to the time when Abram (later changed to Abraham) was in Egypt [Genesis 12:10-20] when he was afraid the Egyptians would kill him to take his wife. He told the Egyptians the truth, that Sarai (later changed to Sarah) was his sister. Scripture tells us that she is the “daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife” [Genesis 20:12]. Abraham and his brother had married sisters. This made Sarah both Abraham’s wife AND his sister in law. So technically, he didn’t lie. However, we all know that the whole truth wasn’t conveyed. He told a story to protect his life but didn’t identify her as his wife. With that before us, let’s return to the main point.

JUST PREACH JESUS

When they say, “JUST preach Jesus,” they are saying to focus ONLY on His love and His grace which is to preach ONLY half of the truth. Just as Abraham told the partial truth about his wife Sarah, to preach JUST Jesus love, is to preach a partial truth about Jesus, that is, to preach faith only. James, using another example of Abraham, points out that no justification is by ‘faith only’. “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” [James 2:24]

God IS love, and we are saved by grace, but that’s only half of the story. [cr. John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8] There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Salvation is a gift of God, something none of us can earn. [cr. Romans 5:8-10] But we are not allowed to declare only half the truth, we must declare the “whole counsel of God.”

For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. [Acts 20:27]

PREACHING JESUS

What does it mean to “preach Jesus?” To learn that answer we turn to Acts 8:26-40, the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. Philip approached the eunuch who was reading Isaiah while returning from Jerusalem. Philip asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The eunuch invited Philip up into the chariot to guide him in the text. Philip then, beginning at the same scripture, opened his mouth and “preached unto him Jesus.”  [v35]

This next part is extremely important, please pay close attention and notice who speaks in the very next verse. “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” [Acts 8:36] The eunuch spoke and asked about BEING BAPTIZED!!! How did he learn about baptism? How did he learn about water being the type of baptism? How did he learn that baptism was immersion? How did he learn that it was a requirement of salvation? Where did he learn the answer to each of these questions? The answer is simple, and we already read it in verse 35, Philip “preached unto him Jesus.” To preach Jesus it to “declare the whole counsel of God.”

To preach the Love of Christ is to talk about how to love Him…

If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:15; cf. 1John 5:3

To preach the Gospel is to tell about obeying the Gospel…

In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

2Thessalonians 1:8; cf. 1Cor 15:1-4; Rom 6:1-4

To preach the Grace of God is to include how one can fall from it…

Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

Galatians 5:4

Preaching anything less is to come short of salvation. Let us speak the truth about Jesus, His love and His grace and let’s do it with LOVE.

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: Ephesians 4:15

FOLLOWING THE LEADER

Do you remember that childhood game, Follow the Leader, also called the “copycat game”? It’s where a leader is chosen who becomes the “head of the line,” then the rest of the children line up behind the leader. The leader then moves around the playground going over, through or around multiple obstacles (sometimes jumping, skipping & hopping) and all the followers must mimic the leader’s actions. Any player who fails to follow the leader is out of the game.

During play, if you were one of the kids towards the back of the line you couldn’t actually see what the leader was doing, so you had to watch and mimic the child immediately in front of you. All the while singing…

Following the leader,

the leader, the leader

I’m following the leader,

wherever he may go.

I hope kids are still playing some version of the game today. It’s games like these that can teach kids some very valuable lessons for when they get older and us too. Do you see the hidden truth in this game?

Children’s games with big lessons

As silly as it may sound, the FOLLOW THE LEADER game resembles our walk as Christians. We have our leader who is Christ….

Mt 10:32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.

And we follow Him in the Gospel, which is His death, burial & resurrection [1Cor 15:1-4]…

Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Then we continue to follow Him all through all the obstacles of life…

1Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

However, since we are towards the back of the line, in a figure, we are to follow others who are following Him…

1Co 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

BE A FOLLOWER OF CHRIST

Following others who follow Christ is following Christ. “And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:” [1Thess 1:6]. Paul also said to the Philippians, “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample” [Phil 3:17]. Paul is still urging us today, “Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me” [1Corinthians 4:16].

But we’re not to just follow someone who SAYS they’re following Christ, they must be actual followers whose actions can be compared to those things we learn from the Scriptures. “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” [Phil 4:9; see also 2Thess 3:7].

In a mature church, there will be Elders who are following Christ, these we are also to follow. “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation” [Hebrews 13:7]. Not as leaders who make up new things to follow, rather as examples. “Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock” [1Peter 5:3].

What are we to do if there are no good examples to follow? We can follow Christ and His righteousness because we have His word [1Thessalonians 1:6]. “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness [1Timothy 6:11]. It was so important that Paul told it to Timothy again in his second letter. “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” [2Timothy 2:22].

Some will make the excuse that the only folks they have aren’t very good examples. That’s no excuse. Peter asked Jesus about one of the other disciples. (the context is about sacrifice) Jesus replied, “what is that to you? You follow me” [John 21:21-22]. Whether the others in the church are walking right or not is no liberty for us to walk unworthily [cr. Eph 4:1; Col 1:10; 1Thess 2:12]. WE FOLLOW CHRIST regardless how the others are following.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: [John 10:27]

Being a follower of Christ is no game, but remembering a child’s game can remind us of mighty lessons. “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children” [Ephesians 5:1].

Besides, our LEADER wants us to be reminded of the purity of little children, “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” [Matthew 18:3].

– Spencer

WHEN YOU READ…

…ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ [Eph 3:4]. The beginning of a year is a great time to press reset, and to evaluate how our year went and to plan for the next. James reminds us that our plans should first be aligned with God’s [James 4:12-16]. The only way to know the will of the Lord is through a continual study of His word.

As we’re making our resolutions, let us include the reading of God’s word. There are several reading programs available. Whichever one you choose, here are a few suggestions…

Tips on Reading the Bible Daily

1 – Start today — there is no better time. This time next year will you be wishing you had started today?

2 – Schedule it. Find a time that works best for you. I like reading in the morning, but you decide what’s best. A friend of mine cannot read the bible at night, as the things he learns excites his mind preventing sleep. Others might find that it calms the mind, allowing God’s word to comfort. Whatever time you pick, just do it. Nothing ever gets done until a deadline is set.

3 – Read for the sake of understanding, instead of just trying to plow through that days reading. Before you begin, say a prayer, asking God for wisdom [Jas 1:5]. Then read, allowing His wisdom to grow inside of you.

4 – Keep a Bible handy, EVERYWHERE. We have bibles placed throughout the house, in our cars and on our phones. This does two things. First, they act as reading reminders as we go about our day. Second, having the bible within reach allows us to pick it up during those moments of waiting. It’s amazing how much time we spend in waiting rooms, or simply waiting for someone else.

4.5 – Replace some of your Facebook time. The average person has five social media accounts and spends around 1 hour and 40 minutes browsing these networks every day. This 100 minutes is accumulated over the course of the entire day. Reading at pulpit pace, aloud, not too quickly, it only takes 960 minutes to read the entire New Testament. This means that you can read the NT in just 10 days using our social media time. I’m not telling you to give up Facebook, but what if you just used SOME of your social media time to read the bible on your phone? You’re already looking at your phone anyway.

Whatever system you decide, let the word of God dwell in your hearts.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. [Eph 6:17]

Conversing at the Lord’s Table

We all know, that on the night of Jesus betrayal, He implemented what is commonly called the Lord’s supper: “He said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. 20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” [Luke 22:15-20; cr. Matthew 26:26-29]

A most important topic but, have you ever considered what ELSE He taught at that last supper? When we read all the gospel accounts regarding the supper, we find 5 other topics of discussion.

1 – The Hurt of Betrayal Among them. [Matthew 26:20-25] As they sat down for supper, Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.” They all wondered aloud, “is it I?” Jesus goes on to say, “woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.” So many lessons could be drawn, but one question keeps haunting me, “Is it I?” Could we betray our Lord? The Hebrew writer expresses this idea when he wrote about “crucifying afresh” the Son of God when we fall away. [Hebrews 6:6]

2 – The Value of Service. [John 13:3-17] While the twelve are all still there, Jesus humbles Himself and washes each of the disciple’s feet, INCLUDING JUDAS. Jesus tells them, “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” He is not commanding us to perform a ritual of foot washing, (that was a custom of that day), rather He is demonstrating service toward one another. To love one another. After this example He said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” [John 13:36]. The lesson is clear, have we such a love for each other?

3 – The Promise of Comfort. [John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13] At this supper He was telling them about His coming departure. As they wondered where He would be going, and how they might follow Him, He said, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” He then spoke about a Comforter who would come to “guide them into all truth.” He was speaking about the revelation of the New Testament scriptures, brought to them through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Today, we have the complete word of God. Can we still find comfort in them, just as the Apostles? I’d say we can.

4 – The Need to Bear Fruit. [John 15:1-8] As He was telling them of the Comforter, He also gave an illustration about being profitable disciples. He spoke of “bearing much fruit.” Connected with His word, and the words the Holy Spirit shall speak, the disciple can abide in Jesus, and He in us. Just as a branch bears fruit when attached to the vine, we too can bear fruit when attached to Jesus through His word. But there was also a warning, “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” What a terrible thought, to be cast away and burned for failing to bear fruit. We can only bear fruit through obedience to His word. [cr. Matthew 7:21-29]

5 – The Power of Spiritual Unity. [John 17:11-23] Prior to their departure to the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed to the Father in their presence. He prayed, “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.” Some today have the false notion that unity is found in just getting along and overlooking sin. This can never be right. Spiritual Unity is also called “fellowship.” Scriptural fellowship with God is achieved through heartfelt obedience to the Word of God. Jesus said it this way, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” [John 14:21].  Do you and I love Jesus? Then we shall keep His commandments and have spiritual fellowship.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. [1John 1:7]

What an amazing supper that must have been. These are the final words of the Master to His disciples before He is betrayed and crucified. They are important words with valuable lessons. Let us study them, learn from them and apply them into our lives.