Hold My Mule

Image result for farm mule plow

Robert F. Turner wrote a story that tells of an old Farmer, who couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket.

Many of the members thought the old Farmer compensated for his inability to sing by singing loud. His singing disrupted those who sat nearby and disturbed those that sat on the other side.

The looks of disapproval didn’t seem to catch the notice of the man’s joyful noise.

The men of the congregation talked amongst themselves and appointed 3 men to make the long drive to the old man’s farm and have a chat with him about his obnoxious behavior in the assembly. “Didn’t he know that we don’t act like that during worship? Didn’t he know that there are dignitaries and all sorts of important people hearing his off tune, off key, off tempo singing?” they reasoned among themselves.

Dressing in their suits and shiny shoes, which meant to make a statement about their importance, they trekked out to the old man’s farm.

As they pulled up to his run-down house, they saw him out back plowing a dusty field ‘Jeeing & Hawing” a tired old mule. They honked the horn hoping to gain his attention to avoid having to get out and mess up their nice suits. However, the old Farmer was busy wrestling that old mule.

After some time, they reluctantly pulled themselves out of their air-conditioned car and walked out to talk to him.

As they approached, the Farmer excitedly said, “Well looky here, what a pleasant surprise. It’s so wonderful you made the trip out to this old farm. What brings you ‘round?”

One of the men replied, “We’ve come to talk to you about your singing…” Before he could finish his prepared speech, the farmer interrupted. “I know what you mean. When we start singing those songs about heaven, I can’t help but think about my ramshackle house and the MANSION Jesus has gone to prepare for me.”

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”

[John 14:2]

“When we sing those songs about heaven, I can’t help but think about this dusty field, the sweat and toil. Then I’m reminded about how God promised there’d be no more sorrow.”

“When we start to sing those songs about heaven, I can’t help but be reminded of how much sin and sadness there is in this world. I think about my wife and son and how they died together at his birth and I’m reminded how the good book says that God will wipe away all tears. I’m reminded how we’re to meet our loved ones in the air when Jesus comes back to get those that are His.”

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” [Rev 21:4]

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” [1Thess 4:17]

He kept on, “I just get so excited about God’s promises that I can’t help but sing praises to our King. As a matter of fact, I feel like singing right now. HOLD MY MULE.” Then the Farmer handed the reins of his old mule to the men and began to sing (perhaps he sang “No Tears in Heaven”) as the men just stood there in the middle of that dusty field.

After a few moments, the men tied up the mule and somberly walked back to their shiny new car. After several quiet minutes of the long drive back to town one of them said, “You know, I didn’t realize how beautiful that man’s voice really sounds.”

“Yes indeed,” replied another. The third man said, “If I get to heaven, I hope that God will see to it that I get to sing with that good man.”

—Spencer

8 Scriptural Reasons to be Thankful

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Today begins Thanksgiving week for most of us in this country. A time when family gathers around a Thanksgiving Feast. The national holiday will be, for some, the only time in the year thanksgiving will be offered to God in prayer.

Ungrateful = Unhappy

I can say this with confidence because our culture is a complaining culture. One cannot be grateful while complaining. There are 2 main things we can’t have when we’re complaining:

Can’t be HAPPY.

Philippians 2:14

Can’t PLEASE God.

Numbers 11:1

Gratitude = Happiness

I can also say with confidence that HAPPY people are also GRATEFUL people regardless of circumstances. This doesn’t mean they’re without problems. NO. They’re happy despite the difficulties of life. Job is given as the classical example of HAPPINESS despite deep trouble. He both PLEASED God, and was called HAPPY.

“Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” [James 5:11; cr. Job 1:21-22]

Despite the deep pain and loss, Job teaches us about HOPE, which comes from maintaining gratitude toward God.

Here are 8 REASONS to be thankful.

First, we ought to be thankful for our EXISTENCE. “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:” [Ps 100:3; 139:13-14]

Second, we give thanks for the GIFT of CHRIST. “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” [John 3:16; 2Cor 9:15]

Third, we should give thanks for GOD’S REVEALED WORD. “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.” [2Cor 2:14]

Fourth, those of us who have obeyed the gospel can give thanks for CONVERSION & SALVATION in Christ. “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.” [Rom 6:16-18]

Fifth, we should certainly be aware of the blessings given from above for our DAILY NEEDS. “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:” [1Tim 4:3-4; James 1:17]

Sixth, we give thanks for PEOPLE, whether we like them or not. “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;” [1Tim 2:1-2]

Seventh, we give thanks for the VICTORY in Christ over death. “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” [1Cor 15:54-57; Rom 6:23]

The Eighth reason completes this gratitude list by covering the rest. “Be careful for nothing; but in EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” [Phil 4:6]

You may have also noted above that THANKSGIVING ought to be OFFERED to GOD through and in the NAME of CHRIST.

“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]

“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;” [Eph 5:20]

May not only this week be full of blessings and Thanksgiving, but also every day of every year.

—Spencer

3 Reasons Why to Share the Gospel

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“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

[Mark 16:15]

Last week we looked at 3 WAYS to share the gospel.

They are:

PRIVATELY

PERSONALLY

PUBLICLY

This week we look at 3 reasons WHY we need to evangelize to the lost. These are reasons beyond the fact that it’s commanded by God. That is enough to settle the matter. That being said, we take time to examine the importance of evangelism.

3 Reasons why

The first reason is the fact that people are in a LOST condition, being separated from God. Paul asked the Romans,

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?” [Romans 10:14]

We need to SEEK the FAITHLESS. People don’t like it when we state that someone is or may be lost, but this is a bible word given us by Christ Himself.

for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” [Luke 19:10]

Remember, someone told you about the gospel. I bet you can remember who it was and what you felt when your eyes were opened to the truth.

The second reason we need to preach is that some who had obeyed the gospel have LET GO of the faith and are fallen from Grace. [Gal 5:4]. The reasons for backsliding are varied, but all could be described as NEGLECT of their salvation.

“…how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation…” [Hebrews 2:1-3]

In these instances, we must go out to STAND up the LAX. The Hebrew writer encourages this very activity.

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” [Heb 10:24-25]

The third reason is to STRENGTHEN the LOYAL. This world is tough and unfair. The faithful need encouragement to keep on sharing the gospel despite the fact that the gospel will fall on deaf ears in the majority of cases [cr. Mat 7:13-14; Luke 13:23-24].

Those of us who actively share the gospel are constantly beat down by the LOST world. This mostly by denominational BELIEVERS. You would be amazed and surprised to hear what those, who claim they love Jesus, are willing to say and do.It should be no surprise, the bible says, “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.” [1 John 3:13; cr. Jno. 15:18]

It’s for this reason we need to STRENGTHEN the LOYAL. Paul, while in bondage in a Roman prison, wrote about how the faithful were encouraged by the preaching of the gospel.

And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” [Philippians 1:14]

Our Lord said, “The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.” [Luke 10:2]

Now that’s a good prayer.

—Spencer

3 Ways to Share the Gospel

Image result for evangelism"

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

[Mark 16:15]

There should be no doubt in any Christians mind about the necessity of sharing the Gospel, nor the command.

The question is HOW?

Brent Hunter wrote a very good resource answering in detail some of the HOW to reach the Lost. This article looks to answer how with the 3 basic styles.

They are:

PRIVATELY

PERSONALLY

PUBLICLY

 

Let’s look at the 3 Styles of Evangelism.

PRIVATELY: The first style could be classified as the COLD style. It is evangelism by STEALTH. The primary way this is done is through the leaving behind of TRACTS in public places. Most often left behind with your TIP at a restaurant (hopefully sizeable so the server will actually read it).

You may desire this method because you’ve yet to gain the ability to defend the faith. Maybe you are trying to avoid saying the wrong thing. Perhaps you lacked OPPORTUNITY to have a warmer conversation, so you leave behind some material the person could review later.

The Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8 may be an example of a cold contact. He was reading spiritual information about the Christ. Had someone pointed him to that passage?

The next style is what I call the PERSONAL style. This method is WARM in that there’s familiarity between you and the other person. It is evangelism that is more SYMPATHETIC as you know more about the person and their life.

They’re familiar with you as well, and your quality of life demonstrates Christ living in you. [1Pet 3:2; Php 2:15; 1Pet 2:12] You can share the gospel by turning the normal casual conversations into discussions about life, godliness and Christ.

The difficulty with this style is the chance that your Family, Friends or Fellow workers who hold onto their false belief system and might harbor ill will toward you. Do it anyway. You love them, right?

The story of Philip with the Eunuch turns WARM as Philip asks him if he knows what he is reading. The Eunuch then invites Philip to sit with him to discuss the scriptures. Philip then preaches Jesus. [Acts 8:35]

The THIRD style is the PUBLIC method. It’s called public because the evangelism occurs in the public square or the marketplace. Perhaps posting on SOCIAL media platforms, reading your bible at Coffee Shops or conversations with Strangers.

This method could also be called HOT, as it draws out folks who hold error so dear. This method is effective in reaching a lot of people. The difficulty is in remaining calm as others try to mock you or draw you into a debate.

MANY WILL REJECT IT. We noted this in the last bulletin. They may RESIST it, try to ESCAPE from it, many will SCOFF at it, others will only PARTIALLY obey. A few will OBEY fully the gospel, but then some of those will NEGLECT it. Don’t be like those who DELAY in obeying the gospel when it’s too late.Paul took this approach on Mars Hill in Acts 17. At the end of his presentation of the Gospel it says, “some mocked.” I don’t know why they mocked; some just do that. Do what Paul did, and have another presentation. You see, it also says, “we will hear you again on this matter.” Then some men joined him and believed.

Next week we’ll see, “3 reasons Why must we share the gospel.”

—Spencer

6 ways how not to RESPOND to the Gospel & 1 right way.

If you’ve done any evangelism at all, and many of you have, you’ll immediately recognize these most common ways folks RESPOND to the Gospel message, especially to the command to be baptized.

However, we need not rely on anecdotal evidence, we can see these same responses in the scriptures.

Following are a list of ways how not to RESPOND to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and ONE way to RESPOND, can you recognize the one?

How do folks RESPOND to the Gospel?

The preachers of the Gospel went far and wide to every type of person. They preached to the elite class and the lower class. They preached when it was in season and when it was out of season. They preached from a mountain top and from a prison. They heard every way one could RESPOND.

RESISTANCE: When Stephen preached the Gospel to the Jewish leaders, he recognized this first one, RESISTANCE.

Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” [Acts 7:51]

ESCAPISM or Ignore it. When Jesus was

Will Not Endure Sound Doctrine

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;”

[2Timothy 4:3]

asked how to inherit eternal life, He told the young ruler what must be done. He didn’t like it, so he turned and walked away. Also, those in John 6 who didn’t like the hard sayings of Jesus. When the sayings of Jesus are too hard for some, they choose rather to ignore it. They escape to other teachers [2Tim 4:3].

“And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.” [Mark 10:22]

SCOFF at it. Along with RESISTING & IGNORING the Gospel, some go further and mock it. They my also go a step further and SCOFF at the messenger.

“And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked:” [Acts 17:32]

PARTIAL OBEDIENCE: Partial obedience to God is no obedience at all. Unfortunately, far too many stop at faith alone, and fail to consider the whole counsel of God [Acts 20:7]. Jesus’ criticism of the Scribes & Pharisees was with their partial obedience to the Law.

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, 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.” [Matthew 23:23]

OBEDIENCE: This one thing is Resisted, Ignored, Scoffed at etc. The scriptures are so clear, OBEY THE GOSPEL.

“And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;” [Hebrews 5:9]

NEGLECT it. Here’s a sad truth. Some Hear, Believe, Repent, Confess & are Baptized, but then fall from grace through NEGLECT. Failing to be diligent unto the end. We NEGLECT reading, worship, communion, working, or serving.

“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation;” [Hebrews 2:3]

DELAY: Delay is to Disobey. How sad it is when folks hear the truth but delay obedience until some more convenient time. This is putting trust in a future that has no promise [James 4:14].

“… Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.”

[Acts 24:25]

How do you RESPOND to the Gospel?               —Spencer

HONK if you Love Jesus

Image result for honk if you love jesus"

 

While stopping at a light, a fellow got behind a car with a “HONK IF YOU LOVE JESUS” bumper sticker. So, he did.

The lady started waving her arms and using certain hand gestures then leaned out the window shouting, “THE LIGHTS RED YOU IDIOT!”

On social media you’ll find posts like…

“If you Love Jesus, share this post. If you love Satan, keep on scrolling.”

You don’t want anyone to think you love Satan over Jesus, right?

This appears to be what Loving Jesus has become, acknowledge that you love him by HONKING, LIKING & SHARING a meme [a meme is a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.].

INDISTINGUISHABLE FAITH:

We are living in a time when the believing world thinks all other believers are saved. This despite the variations in TEACHING, DOCTRINE, DEFINITION of SIN, & HOW TO BE SAVED. Clearly these differences are a direct violation of 1Corinthians 1:10.

“Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the SAME thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the SAME mind and in the SAME judgment.”

What does ‘ecumenical’ mean?

Promoting or relating to unity among the world’s Christian Churches, regardless of doctrine, teaching or organization.

The believing world is ecumenical. They have unity with Islam, Judaism, Buddhism & every other belief system. How? Simple, they are unified in the worldly definition of LOVE & TOLERANCE.

If you LOVE, and TOLERATE others who have love, regardless of what is being taught, then there’s unity. I’m not making this up. This is my experience whenever I suggest to someone that OBEDIENCE TO THE FAITH is a requirement of salvation. “That’s not loving,” they’ll say.

“Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name,” [Romans 1:5]

The love they believe is defined by the world. Definitions from the world are ever changing. LOVE, IN THE WORLD’S MIND, CAN INCLUDE SIN. It can include direct disobedience to the scriptures. The love of the world can include ignoring Christ altogether.

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” [1John 2:15]

They might even quote scripture (without understanding):

  • God is Love. 1John 4:8, 16
  • John 3:16 says, “God loved the world.”
  • “All you need is love.” (this is a quote from the Beatles, not God)

There can be no denying that God is Love, and that He requires Love from us. What needs to be clarified is what is the definition of that Love.

GOD IS LOVE:

Since God is love, He knows best how to define it, and He has. All we need do is search the scriptures to learn God’s definition of Love.

  • Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
  • 1John 3:16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
  • Eph 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
  • John 15:12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
  • John 14:15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.
  • John 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
  • John 15:10 “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
  • 1John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
  • 2John 1:6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.

And lastly, one of the most concise passages on love is 1Corinthians 13;

“Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil; rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never faileth:” [1Cor 13:4-8a]

Love in the Bible is so much more than a feeling, sharing a post or honking a horn. It’s about a sacrificial devotion to our creator which includes our obedience to His revealed will. DO YOU LOVE JESUS? Share His Gospel.

—Spencer

Jesus, the Way

The Hebrew writer speaks about Jesus as bringing better things for us:

But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.”

[Heb 6:9]

Jesus tells us about a few of these better things when He said that He is the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

[John 14:6]

We’ll study about more of these ‘BETTER THINGS’ as we delve into the story of Jesus, His ministry, His teachings & His sacrifice.

It’s important for us to study, as far too many have a misunderstanding about Jesus. They make Jesus into a genie. The struggles of life cause many to look to Jesus, but they often encounter erroneous & contradictory teachings. These false teachings won’t take away the struggles, rather they will turn them into despair.

  • Do you have problems? Are you confused about the answers? Do you know that Jesus has revealed to us all things pertaining to life & godliness [2Pet 1:3]? Through the guidance of His word we can smooth out many of life’s problems. When we study His word, we will discover how profitable it is to our life on this earth.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

[2Tim 3:16-17]

  • Do you feel lost with a feeling of despair? That can be overwhelming. You’re not alone. Jesus felt all of the same things you feel, yet without sin.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”     [Isaiah 53:3]

  • Are you afraid? “HAVE NO FEAR” is an idea found hundreds of times throughout scripture, and is one of those better things found in Christ. [1John 4:17-18]
  • Are you confused about the Bible? A confusion caused by the 1,000’s of denominations in our world. You don’t have to be, because Jesus is the way to a better truth. He is the truth.

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” [John 1:17]

  • Are you confused about the church? It’s easy to see why by the many denominations proclaiming to be the Lord’s church. All the while as they preach another Jesus, another Gospel and another spirit [2Cor 11:4]. Jesus spoke of better things about the church. Jesus made a promise to build A church. Just ONE, [Eph 4:4; 1:22-23]. The church that He would build would be paid for with His own shed blood [Acts 20:28]. The church that Christ built has Himself as the chief cornerstone [Eph 2:20]. And you cannot join His church. No sir, you cannot join the church of Christ. You must be ADDED TO IT by the Lord through obedience to His instructions, “repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” [Acts 2:38, 41, 47]

I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” [Matt 16:18b]

These are just a few of the ‘better things’ found in Christ. Everything will be better in Christ, in His WAY, in His TRUTH and in His LIFE. Please, I beg you, get in that WAY, that bright & shining WAY.

—Spencer

WHEN THE DEVIL WAS BAPTIZED

ON SEPTEMBER 23, 1911 the ‘devil’ obeyed the gospel. I’m certainly not talking about ‘THE’ devil, Satan. This article is about a man who was about as devilish as human man can be.

As a youth, his devilish tendencies were quite apparent. As is often the case, his brother was called the preacher on account of his good behavior, whereas our subject acquired ‘devil’ as a moniker for his devilish behavior. “He liked to carry on and play pretty rough at times.”

In his early twenties, he became an actual rebel. Being a southern sympathizer, he organized a group of rebels to engage in guerrilla attacks on Union installations during the war between brothers. Among his “Wildcats” guerilla fighting unit was a good friend named Dyke Garrett. Dyke found the brutality of war deplorable, denouncing it as against God’s will. After the war Dyke began to think much more seriously about Christianity and obeyed the gospel under the teaching of one Alexander M. Lunsford.(1) Lunsford himself being a student of another Alexander. The Devil and Dyke remained lifelong friends.

However, the ‘devil’s’ vengeful side showed up when one of his friends was shot & wounded. The ‘devil’ vowed and subsequently followed through with his promise to have retribution. This vengeance streak ran through the blood of his kin and another death was attributed to the ‘devil’ and his family.

It wasn’t long before the ‘devil’ and his family got into a feud with a neighboring family over a hog. Things escalated quickly after that. When the ‘devils’ brother was killed in the feud, he went all in killing 3 of them in retaliation. (2)

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” [Rom 12:19]

There were several more battles, and as many as 15 lives lost in the feud, including five children in the war between families that lasted for over 28 years.

For most, that’s the end of the story, but it wasn’t the whole story for the ‘devil.’ Some 20 years later, the ‘devil’ got some new information. He received some good news from his old war buddy, Dyke.

 

Dyke Garrett, gospel preacher

 

You’ll recall, Dyke had turned to Jesus obeying the gospel. Not only that, He became a circuit preacher for the church of Christ in the parts where the ‘devil’ lived.

Having been a friend of the ‘devil’ he went to him personally to deliver the good news. Receive it he did and at the urging of his friend, the ‘devil’ went to a gospel meeting and at the end of that meeting he went forward to repent and be baptized for the remission of his sins. They went down to the waters of Island Creek where Dyke Garrett baptized Anse ‘the devil’ Hatfield into Christ. (3) The feud between the Hatfield’s & McCoy’s was over. At least it was over for the ‘devil’ now turned child of God.

Anse ‘devil’ Hatfield standing on front right with hand on hip. Dyke Garrett is the seated man with white beard on front left.

 

According to those that knew him, Devil Anse spent the remainder of his life in peace, with the knowledge that God had forgiven him, his sins washed away in the blood of the Lamb in a cold mountain spring.

If the Gospel can have that effect on a fighting man like Hatfield, as it had on Paul who had been “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord,” then surely it can have that effect on anyone.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” [Romans 1:16]

—spencer

  1. Do you recall that Dyke Garrett had been converted to Christ by Alexander Lunsford who was converted through another Alexander? That was one Alexander Campbell. (4)

1: Uncle Dyke Garrett. https://www.wvencyclopedia.org/articles/2082

2: WIKIPEDIA.ORG “Hatfield–McCoy feud”

  1. Baptism of Devil Anse. https://thedailyhatch.org/2012/06/01/great-great-granddaughter-of-devil-anse-hatfield-said-he-came-to-christ/
  2. https://blueridgecountry.com/archive/hatfields-mccoys-revisited-blog/hatfields-and-mccoys-revisited-week-4religion/

 

Why so much evil in the world

19 Reasons Why There is so Much Evil in the World - YouTube

 

THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION is very simple but not liked. The question always arises after such violent tragedies as was seen this last week in El Paso & Dayton (just 2 of many in recent years). In reality, millions of people have suffered under tyrannical evil from the time after the Garden. [Gen 3]

Evil exists because of the fall in the garden of Eden. It entered the world through the tempting by the serpent.

Since then, mankind has had to struggle with sin (evil’s real name). EVIL does not exist unless there is something that is GOOD (it’s the absence of good). For us to distinguish between the two there must be a moral law. A moral law that doesn’t move with the times requires a MORAL LAW GIVER. We call Him GOD.

Paul wrote, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “There is none righteous, no, not one:” [Rom 3:10; Ps 14:1-3; 53:1]. This being true, mankind is not generally good. Neither are they generally evil as the error of inherited sin proposes. Babies are innocent (2Sam 12:23; Mark 10:14), as are those born with stunted mental ability & remain with a childlike maturity. What this means is that sin is in the world, and man learns to sin. We all sin, if we say we’re without sin we lie. [1John 1:7]

So, where does all of this evil come from? It comes from sin. James gives more information about the source of wars & fighting;

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.” [James 4:1-4]

Therefore, evil comes because of selfish, narcissistic lusts & desires. Now that we’ve established that sin is in the world, which is evil, let’s approach it from another direction.

Witnessing the terrible evils of our day give us much grief, perhaps anxiety. Definitely frustration and anger. The next question is this; “HOW DO I COPE WITH THE EVIL?”

This question is a bit more difficult to answer as each person must wrestle with their own emotions & reasonings. However, there may be help by understanding a major reality of this life. (This is just one of five things to help you cope. The other four will be in this morning’s sermon.)

PARADISE has been lost. It was lost within 100 years of creation and will no longer be found on earth.

And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.” [Gen 3:22-24]

We will never be able to eradicate EVIL; no laws will stop it. There’s no place on Earth you can go to avoid it. Therein lies the key, no place ON EARTH. Utopia, bliss, peace, whatever word you want to use shall not be found on the Earth. This is awaiting the faithful in HEAVEN.

God has provided a way of escape and a way to cope with the evil of this world by providing a rescue plan in Christ Jesus. “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” [Rom 5:21, cr. Rev 21:1-8]

This is the first of five keys to coping with EVIL in this life but, it’s one of the most important. Let me sum in up this way; EVIL angers & frustrates us because we think we can get rid of it. We can’t. We CAN make things better in this life by working on brightening our own lights in the Gospel and teaching others to obey the Gospel also. This is the only proven way to fight evil.

HE IS ABLE TO DELIVER THEE

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An enormous golden statue was raised up in the land of Babylon, and King Nebuchadnezzar commanded that all the people should worship the image upon hearing the sounds of the “cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.” [Dan 3:5-6]

At least 3 captive Jewish men ignored the command and were set to face the furnace for their faith. They were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (their Israelite names), better known as, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego [Daniel 3:12]. Faithful men who refused to bow down to any image or person except God.

What’s interesting to me about this whole event are the words spoken by these young men as they faced the fiery furnace being given the chance to worship the image & live or stand fast & die.

O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” [Daniel 3:16-18]

Here’s a summary of what they were saying…

  • We have no need to give you a new answer
  • Our God whom we serve
  • Is able to deliver us, and He will deliver us
  • But if not, (if God doesn’t deliver them)
  • Know this, we WILL NOT serve false gods, nor worship the golden image.

This is a remarkable response from these 3 young men to an all-powerful King. They understood that all Nebuchadnezzar could do was kill their body, but not their souls. [cf. Mt 10:28] In other words, never let fear override your faith.

There are 5 lessons we can learn from this simple example:

  • There is no amount of pain on earth sufficient enough to match the severity of hell.
  • There is no amount of worldly pleasure great enough to surpass the joy of heaven.
  • God is able to deliver us & reward us in this life, but if He doesn’t, don’t miss heaven over it.
  • Standing firm in your faith is going to make someone very angry, stand firm anyway.
  • Standing firm for your faith may change someone’s mind.

After they were thrown into the furnace with haste, God did deliver them, and Nebuchadnezzar became a changed man. Let’s read what happened. [Daniel 3:26-28]

Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire. And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.”

Today we face different challenges to our faith. However, the lessons of these faithful 3 can help us. Peter wrote about the suffering that Christians face and how we ought to respond.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” [1Pet 3:15]

You see, people see the confidence in our hope during the persecutions of Godly living and want to know why.

 

–spencer