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]

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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]

The Tears of Jesus

It matters naught where one lives, in what culture or what era, tears and laughter are a universal language of the world.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ shed tears for the very same reasons as we. The THREE accounts of our Lord’s weeping are representative of life.

HE WEPT FOR THE SORROW OF OTHERS…

The first account is found as Jesus approached the tomb of Lazarus and found his family weeping.

When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping who came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, and said, Where have ye laid him? They say unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept.” [John 11:33-35]

Jesus’ weeping was much more than sympathy, He had empathy for their loss, He felt as we feel. [Heb 4:15]

HE WEPT OVER JERUSALEM AND THEIR MISSED OPPORTUNITY…

The next scene occurs as Jesus approaches Jerusalem the week of His crucifixion.

And when he drew nigh, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known in this day, even thou, the things which belong unto peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, when thine enemies shall cast up a bank about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,  and shall dash thee to the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” [Luke 19:41-44]

It’s from this scene that we notice His sorrow for those who have wasted the most important opportunity of their lives, believing and obeying God’s sacrifice for our sins [John 1:29].

IN THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE…

The final scene is on the night of His betrayal that would result in His unjust conviction, scourging and crucifixion on a cruel cross.

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became as it were great drops of blood falling down upon the ground” [Lu 22:44; cr. Heb 5:7].

The context of His tears is for the battle He was about to face as He shed His own blood for our sins. It’s hard to imagine what He endured, for He was keenly aware of things before they happened. We face battles as they come, and only know the difficulties after the fact.

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM HIS TEARS?

The scenes of His tears can teach us about CONCERN. How concerned are we for the THREE biggest tragedies in a person’s life?

  • The sorrow of a deceased family member (for those not in Christ cr. 1Thess 4:18)? The reality that many a loved one has died outside of Christ compels me all the more.
  • The sorrow for those who have spurned the Gospel, or for our wasted opportunities to preach Christ? If you believe the first pain, this second one hurts nearly just as much. May someone’s rejection never be because of my failures.
  • The deep concern in prayer each night knowing that we MUST fight the Good fight of faith but realizing that the message will be rejected by most and we’ll be persecuted by many. Never allow the possibility of persecution prevent the preaching of Christ.

In the scene at Lazarus’ tomb, the witnesses said, “Behold how he loved him!” They saw how much our Lord loved him, and we know that He loves us. [cr. Jno. 3:16; Rom 5:8; 1Jno. 4:9]

You see, the weeping of Jesus demonstrates to us His concern for our soul, and if we’re to be like Him, we should be just as concerned for the souls of others.

This concern, our tears, will be seen by those we’re trying to reach. Perhaps a few more tears shed will win a few more to Christ.

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]

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