Are Prayers for Vegas insufficient?

As were all of you, I was horrified to awaken to the news of the ‘deadliest mass murder in US history.’ We were shocked and we grieved. Then we became angry as those who, ‘never let a serious crisis go to waste’ began the politicization of tragedy. Of course, many of us also prayed. Our thoughts and prayers went out to those affected (one of whom is the granddaughter of one of our own who hid under a table during the rain of gunfire).

With so many thoughts swirling through my mind, and so many arguments being presented, I didn’t know where to begin. But then, a national late-night talk show host said this, “your thoughts and your prayers are insufficient.” There it was, the tired argument that often surfaces after a tragedy, just framed with different words. It’s as if to say, “where is your God?”

This argument is not new, David wrote in the 42nd Psalm, “As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?” This argument is offered as proof from unbelievers that God is feckless at best and nonexistent at worst. That the wisdom of man is superior to that of God.

“Your thoughts and your prayers are insufficient”

The pure arrogance of this statement. How did he come to that conclusion? Does he have the mind of God? Can this comedian declare the end from the beginning [Isa 46:10]? How did his thoughts become worthier than those of the Almighty?

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” [Isaiah 55:9]

Prayer is essential

Our God is very clear on this matter, He wants us to pray, but He commands us to pray within His revealed will. For many, prayer is nothing more that the rubbing of a magic lamp so the powerful Genie will grant their wishes, this is NOT prayer. “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” [James 4:3]

We are to pray

  • According to His will [Matt 6:10; 26:42] which would require us to learn of His will.
  • In faith, without wavering, [James 1:6].
  • Not to eliminate problems, but for strength to endure them, [Acts 4:29; Eph 6:19].
  • For our leaders, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life” [1Tim 2:1-8]
  • That the word of God may have free course, [2Thess 3:1; Col 4:3]

In a sense, prayer is not enough

…if not followed up by our own obedience. James wrote, “And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” [James 2:16] We are to act, but what kind, for what purpose? The context of the James passage is not benevolence, though individual benevolence is a command. The main context is SALVATION. Note verse 14, “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?”

In all the above passages, there is a connection between prayer and the spreading of the Gospel. The enemies of God want the opposite, hence their mocking, “where is thy God?” So often during tragedy, folks begin to ponder their own future [Ecc 7:2].  Now IS THE TIME TO ACT, it’s the time to lead people to the Love of God found in Christ Jesus. Acting as lights of the world, we need to shine that light into this dark world with the truth of God’s word, the truth of salvation and the truth about Heaven.

Why is there so much evil?

I would be remiss if I failed to remind you of the answer. FIRST, there is no such thing as evil if there is no God. Do we call animal behavior of death evil when the roaring lion kills the infant water buffalo? We are more than animals, we have free will, which brings us to the SECOND answer. Free will has been given to us from God. He wants us to love, but with the ability to love, we can also hate. Without free will, choice, we cannot love. From where do wars, murders and fighting arise? They come from our worldly desires…

“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” [James 4:1-6]

But James reminds us of the solution

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” [7-10]

In other words, the answer to evil is turning to God. Isn’t that accomplished through evangelism? “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” [Rom 10:14]

-Spencer

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Taking a Knee

There has been a lot of news of late about football players taking a knee during the national anthem. What we’re witnessing are people, players, TV & Politicians vying for our attention in the most irreverent way possible, by making us angry. It seems to me that the real controversy here isn’t about patriotism, social justice, racial inequality, or free speech. It’s not even about the flag or the national anthem. It’s only about one thing – Gratitude.

You see, the reason anyone can “take a knee” is due to the fact that men and women of all colors spilled red blood on the ground to form this great country and to protect it from those who would want to see it fall. To be ignorant of that point is proof that many in our country have grown to be ungrateful. People often take for granted those things, the price of which was paid by another.

But this article is not for politics, it’s to give a biblical perspective on the world. You see, we’re not immune to becoming ungrateful. It’s easy for us to overlook the sacrifice and spilled blood that bought the church, that bought our lives [1Cor 6:20]. We too, take for granted those things that were done for us. And sometimes we forget that God is Sovereign, that Jesus is King and that He Reigns. [1Peter 3:22]

It reminds me of another person where it appeared he was being treated unfairly. A man who found himself in the middle of a discussion between God and Satan. His name is Job, and as he was living his life, minding his own business, everything changed. In a very short time, he lost all his 10 children to tragedy, he lost all his wealth worse than any stock market crash, he lost his health and then he lost the support of his wife. Last of all he lost all hope of receiving sympathy from his friends. You can read about it in the book of Job, chapters 1-2. Have any of us, or those players, suffered this kind of loss, experienced this kind of injustice?

Life is unfair, it’s cruel and often makes no sense. That was Job’s situation, he didn’t know why he had suffered so much pain. So, what did Job do? HE TOOK A KNEE!

Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, [Job 1:20]

Taking a Knee

Job didn’t give up, he didn’t curse God as his wife suggested, and he didn’t believe the false narrative of the mainstream. He maintained his integrity and remembered his creator. [Job 4:17, 36:3] This is gratitude. He could have easily believed the lie, but he had so much love for the truth [2Thess 2:10-11].

In good times, it’s easy to forget what God has done for us [Mat 5:45, Acts 14:17]. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. [James 1:17] In bad times, it’s even harder, often resorting to blaming Him or even doubting His existence. We can learn something from Job. We can learn to seek God in the good times and the bad.

But that’s not all. Job TOOK A KNEE on another occasion. At the end of the book, Job TOOK A KNEE for those who had been condemning him incorrectly. [Job 42:8-10]. It was after he prayed for his friends that God restored to him all his wealth.

With Job in mind, let’s see how we ought to ‘take a knee’…

  • Mt 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
  • 2Th 3:1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:
  • 1Timothy 2:1-4 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

One more thing, while a few are “taking a knee”, there will come a day when EVERYONE will ‘TAKE A KNEE’ as they face the judgement.

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

Romans 14:11

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; Philippians 2:10

What do I do Now?

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 named Nick, 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.

2Corinthians 9:15

School, Money and Nuclear war

ANOTHER SCHOOL YEAR has arrived for our young ones. Parents are scrambling for last minute school supplies, a panic that will be repeated for another reason the day after Thanksgiving. Excitement (or anxiety) is building up in the little hearts as the 1st day of school approaches. Their minds wondering, will the teachers be nice, will their friends be in the same class, will the lessons be difficult, all in anticipation of the chiming bell that brings school into session.

Moms are asking themselves, “will my little baby have friends, play nice and excel in all that he does?” Dads have worries too, “will my kid have the courage to face the perils of the playground, will he stand up for the weak, or will he be one of them, or worse, will he be one of the bullies?”

Let us remember the teachers who are under pressure to teach to a test instead of helping our children to fully understand the 3 R’s in favor of political correctness. The struggles of maintaining order in the classroom as more children enter the school from broken and dysfunctional homes. Just one question…

Did you think to pray?

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. [1Peter 5:6-7]

In many homes, the worries about money loom large as the accounts dwindle under the mounting pressures of debt and doubt. Moms & dads hoping their jobs will still be there tomorrow, fearing what new program the government will roll out to “help.”

Did you think to pray?

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. [Matthew 6:20-21]

Then there’s the constant worry about food, water and health. Is our food GMO’d into poison, has our drinking water been contaminated, and when will cancer affect me? All of it seems so impossible to control, what are we to do?

Did you think to pray?

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? [Matthew 6:25]

Did I mention North Korea? The threat of war, the rattling of sabers, by a despot in a foreign country that many of us will never see. A dictator who appears to be channeling the likes of Hitler, Mussolini or Mao. The uncertainties of our own leaders who appear to be more concerned for the next election rather than the current conditions. What are we to do?

Did you think to pray?

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. [1Timothy 2:1-2]

There are plenty of things to worry about in this world. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the chaos we call life. But there’s comfort in the scriptures. It tells of a man named Lot whose soul was ‘vexed (tormented) daily’ by the lawless deeds of those around him. [2Peter 2:7-8] The comforting part is in vs 9, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:”

Our world is beset with Sweat, Sorrow & Sin and our Souls are tormented every day to the point we don’t know what to do. Remember, “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,” but we’ve got to remember to pray!

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]

Lastly, we don’t serve a God who doesn’t understand. Our Savior lived on this earth and faced the very same things we face, and He prayed.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” [Hebrews 4:15-16]

THEY’RE WATCHING YOU

Have you ever caught yourself doing or saying things your parents said when you were a kid? If I ever fail to notice, my wife is helpful to remind me by saying, “you sound like your dad” or “you’re stubborn like your mom.” We all do it, as much as we hate to admit it. We all pick up some of the mannerisms of the folks with whom we spend the most time, our parents, close friends, etc. Many of us can even mimic our close relatives, (and because we’re related, we look like them too) as we often do when we remember those who’ve left this world. This is why we need to heed the admonition of Paul…

A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. [Galatians 5:9]

This verse is spoken as a negative warning, but picking up habits can also be positive, as Paul also wrote…

Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. [Philippians 3:17]

The reality of life is this, we’re all watching people, not for any malice or to pass judgement, it’s just a fact of human nature.

However, have you considered what people are noticing about you?

Just as we pick up little mannerisms and phrases from others without thinking about it, others are doing the same thing with us. Have you stopped to consider what those little mannerisms or phrases are? We can all stand to take time to examine ourselves to see how well we conform to the image of Christ.

And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: [Colossians 3:10]

Most folks aren’t really watching us to pick up good or bad habits, it just happens. Unfortunately, there are some watching us so they can see us fall. When David sinned, after listing all the horrible things David had done, Nathan said, “Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of Jehovah to blaspheme” [2Samuel 12:14]. There are some folks who just want to see us fall. All the more reason to take a look at our lives and work harder at transforming ourselves.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. [Romans 12:2]

IF JESUS CAME TO YOUR HOUSE

If Jesus came to your house to spend a day or two –

If He came unexpectedly, I wonder what you’d do.

Oh, I know you’d give your nicest room to such an honored Guest,

And all the food you’d serve to Him would be the very best,

And you would keep assuring Him you’re glad to have him there –

That serving Him in your own home is joy beyond compare.

 

But when you saw Him coming, would you meet Him at the door

With arms outstretched in welcome to your heavenly Visitor?

Or would you have to change your clothes before you let Him in?

Or hide some magazines and put the Bible where they’d been?

Would you turn off the radio and hope He hadn’t heard?

And wish you hadn’t uttered that last, loud, hasty word?

 

Would you hide your worldly music and put some hymn books out?

Could you let Jesus walk right in, or would you rush about?

And I wonder – if the Savior spent a day or two with you,

Would you go right on doing the things you always do?

Would you go right on saying the things you always say?

Would life for you continue as it does from day to day?

 

Would your family conversation keep up it’s usual pace?

And would you find it hard each meal to say a table grace?

Would you sing the songs you always sing, and read the books you read,

And let Him know the things on which your mind and spirit feed?

Would you take Jesus with you everywhere you’d planned to go?

Or would you, maybe, change your plans for just a day or so?

 

Would you be glad to have Him meet your very closest friends?

Or would you hope they’d stay away until His visit ends?

Would you be glad to have Him stay forever on and on?

Or would you sigh with great relief when He at last was gone?

It might be interesting to know the things that you would do

If Jesus Christ in person came to spend some time with you.

Lois Blanchard Eades

Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. [Revelation 3:20]

Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and shall come and serve them. [Luke 12:37]

There’s a man who has never been on time to work and the boss refuses to fire him. The reason will shock you!

A FEW WEEKS AGO, I learned of a man who has been working with the same company for more than 10 years. From the day he was hired, he has NEVER BEEN ON TIME. As a matter of fact, he’s been off his scheduled time by an hour and a half!!! A full 90 minutes! I know from personal experience that his co-workers probably hate him for it, but won’t say anything. Can you believe it? Yet, after all these years, his employer has refused to fire him.

This is a 100% true story. This is not a made-up illustration to make a point. It involves an actual person, with a real boss, a real job and real co-workers.

I said the reason will shock you

This person, who has never been on time to his job, and is scheduled to work, at 9am Monday through Friday, comes in at 7:30am every work day, 90 min BEFORE HIS SCHEDULED START TIME!! Now you’re saying, “OOOOH! I get it. He comes in EARLY for his shift.” You also see why it’s shocking. We know it’s a good thing to be on time for your shift or even better, to arrive early, but who comes in 90 minutes early?

Someone once said, “if you’re on time, then you’re 15 minutes late.” Very few people say that today, it’s from a bygone era. Our culture today seems to be asking, “what is the minimum amount of work I can do and still get paid?” Others work as if the minimum wage is the amount of money needed just to get them to show up, but if you want them to do any work they’re going to need more money! These days, it’s normal for the employee to blow through the doors in the very nick of time to punch in, then proceed to put their stuff away, use the restroom, get a cup of coffee and be ready to work within 15-20 minutes of arrival.

Christians are different, or at least they ought to be. We have learned from our Master that we are peculiar people set apart to be different from the world, not to be normal, rather we are to overcome normal.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. [Romans 12:2]

As Christians, we also know we ought to do MORE than what is expected of us, even if it means to arrive early for our shift at work. Let it never be said of us that we are just like the world in our thoughts and actions. Our Master taught us to go beyond what is expected of us, to go the EXTRA MILE.

And whosoever shall compel thee to go one mile, go with him two. [Matthew 5:41]

He also taught…

His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

[Matthew 25:21]

You see, Christians don’t work for people and our reward is not the check on Friday. No, we have a Heavenly Master, and our treasure is with Him.

Servants, obey in all things them that are your masters according to the flesh; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing the Lord: whatsoever ye do, work heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that from the Lord ye shall receive the recompense of the inheritance: ye serve the Lord Christ. For he that doeth wrong shall receive again for the wrong that he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

[Colossians 3:22-25]

There’s another point I could make, but alas, I’ve run out of room so I’ll leave it for you to ponder.

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.

Three Things Sin Will Always Do

THIS WEEK Pampa held a gospel meeting with Guillermo Alvarez. His sermon, “3 THINGS SIN WILL ALWAYS DO,” inspired this article.

Hebrews 3:12-13 warns us of the “deceitfulness of sin” which can draw us into sin if we fail to watch. Sin looks enticing, but the pleasures pass quickly leading us to even more [Heb 11:25]. This brings us to the first thing sin will always do…

SIN WILL ALWAYS TAKE YOU FARTHER THAN YOU WANTED TO GO: No one who takes that first step into sin has the intentions of dying, but that is where sin leads according to James, “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” [Jas 1:15]. Every alcoholic I’ve met had a first drink, usually without intending to get drunk, so too, the drug addict and the porn addict. The cool waters of sin look refreshing and so we dip our toes, only to find we’re soon up to our neck in sin. If you let the camel poke his nose under the tent, soon he’ll have his whole body inside.

Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.”

[Psalm 23:31-32]

SIN WILL ALWAYS KEEP YOU LONGER THAN YOU WANTED TO STAY: I met a man caught up in drug addiction from his youth up. After each high fell, he went back on the search for another, then another until the entirety of his life was spent in search of the next high. It moved him into homelessness, having destroyed trust with his family and friends. As each high required more drugs to achieve, his own life tumbled further down until he eventually hit rock bottom. For nearly fifty years of his life, and for the rest of his life, he will be an addict. Friends, heed the warning, sin will keep you longer than you wanted to stay. Sin enslaves, it puts us into bondage.

Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

[Romans 6:16]

SIN WILL ALWAYS COST YOU MORE THAN YOU WANTED TO PAY: Wouldn’t it be nice if every sin had a price tag to warn us of the cost? Most would probably ignore it anyway. The Proverbs are full of warnings of sin leading to poverty, broken relationships, poor health and the like [Pr 23:32; Pr 7:22; Pr 10:8; Pr 18:6-7; Pr 20:3; Pr 26:11]. How many families have been torn apart by addiction? How many lives have been taken? True paradise was lost because of a morsel of food that looked “good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise” [Genesis 3:6]

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

[Romans 3:23]

THERE IS A SOLUTION: You read of it earlier in Romans 6:16, “OBEDIENCE UNTO RIGHTEOUSNESS.” The only known cure for sin comes from the Great Physician, Christ Jesus [Mark 2:17]. We must ‘OBEY THE GOSPEL’ [2Thess 1:8]. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth;” [Rom 1:16], and it must be obeyed [Rom 2:8]. The Gospel is the Death, Burial & Resurrection of Jesus the Christ [1Corinthians 15:1-4]. We obey the Gospel when we DIE to sin, are BURIED in a watery grave (baptism = immersion) and are RAISED up to walk in newness of life [Romans 6:1-6]. *see “What Must I do to be saved?” on the back of this bulletin.

Once we’ve obeyed the Gospel, we must continue to remain faithful and continue in the Doctrine of Christ. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” [John 14:15]. He commanded that His disciples be taught to observe His commandments [Matthew 28:20]. Paul, writing to Timothy said, “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them,” “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” [2Timothy 3:14; 1:13; 2:2].

It’s a true saying, “all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God” [Romans 3:23]. Therefore, we’re all in need of a savior. How true are the words of the Psalmist…?

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”

[Psalm 1:1-2]

If the gospel is good news, then why did they need boldness?

IN ACTS 4 and verse 29, the early Christians prayed for boldness, “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word.” They sent up this prayer since Peter and John had just been arrested and released for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In chapter 5, they will again be arrested and we will see the fulfillment of their request when they told the council, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Immediately after this bold statement they also preach to them the Gospel (the Death, Burial & Resurrection of Jesus [1Cor 15:1-4]) in verses 30-32.

If the Gospel is such “good news,” then why where they arrested and beaten? Why was there such negative reaction to ‘good news?’ Why do we see the same reaction among folks today?

As we look through God’s word, we can find at least 3 reasons

FOOLISHNESS: For many people of their day, the Gospel appeared to them as foolishness. They didn’t believe it and thought it to be like a fairy tale. Paul wrote about this in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” This is as true today as it has ever been. Many today have placed their faith in evolution and ignored the signs of creation that point to an Almighty Creator. Paul noted about folks like these, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” [Romans 1:20].

In the same chapter, his example encourages us to remain faithful and bold against those who find the Gospel to be foolish, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth;” [Romans 1:16]

FOES: There are also enemies to the Gospel. The main enemy of the cross for those in the 1st century is very much the same for us today. There will be some who will hate the Gospel because it requires an end to a hedonistic life. Paul wrote that some will follow the Gospel, “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.” Then he said there will be some whose life is spent on their own lusts, “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things” [Phil 3:17-19].

In his warning was an encouragement for us, follow those who are living a godly life. It takes boldness to be different from the world, but it is extremely important that we succeed. “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat” [Matthew 7:13-14].

FALSE TEACHERS: Perhaps related to the other 2, there will be some who will lie about the Gospel and speak against it. For the first Christians, the false teachers were the Jews and they spoke against the Gospel because of envy, “But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming” [Acts 13:45].

There were also false teachers who tried to look like believers. In Paul’s time, he had to deal with people who wanted to exalt themselves, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ” [2Corinthians 11:12-13]. How true is this today? Men, owners of denominations, have become the center of attention and the main attraction. Professing to be Christians, they are, in reality, false teachers leading so many toward destruction. This is the most dangerous kind, for Paul compared these to Satan who, “himself is transformed into an angel of light” and calls these people Satan’s ministers [v15].

Boldness is needed here as well. Paul combated these through humble and faithful service. He preached the Gospel with a humility such as that of Jesus Himself. “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more” [1Corinthians 9:19].

So, you see, we are in just as much need of courage as they, for the Gospel, though Good News to us who are being saved, it is bad news for those who are perishing.

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]