GOD GAVE US

Every good and perfect gift comes from above – James 1:17 ...

 

AS WE LEARN ABOUT GIVING in our study of 2 Corinthians 9, we have come to a point where Paul is writing to encourage us to give BOUNTIFULLY.

He uses the illustration of sowing & reaping. This is still good imagery for today. Paul specifies 4 out of the 9 basic principles of the Law of Sowing & Reaping.

  • We expect to reap so much MORE than we sow.
    • If you plant a few seeds, you’ll get a smaller return.
    • If you plant a lot of seeds, you should expect a much greater return.
  • You will reap in a different season than when you sow.
  • If you don’t sow, you won’t reap.
  • You WILL reap what you sow.

Paul then goes on to emphasize the necessity of giving by pointing out the giving done by our Creator.

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.” [2Cor 9:8-11]

Upon reading this, along with a few additional passages on the subject, we glean 5 incredible gifts given to us by God.

SEED to SOW: v10. Everything we have was created by God. Isaiah 55:10 states, “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater::”

SEASON: God has given us the seasons, as Paul spoke in Acts 14:17, “Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” These seasons provide for the growth cycles as well as for us to see God’s might & power [Le 26:4; De 11:14; 28:12; Job 5:10; Ps 65:10; 68:9; 147:8; Jer 14:22]

SPROUTING with fruit: v10; What a comfort it is to know that God continues to provide for us the things need for life. David concluded, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” [Psa 37:25] cr 1Cor 3:6.

SUN: When God was displaying His power to Pharaoh, He darkened the sun for 3 days. It was a darkness so dark that it could be felt. [Ex 10:21]. Every time the sun rises, take a moment to thank God for the marvelous light. [cr. Jas 1:17; 1Cor 15:41]

SIGNS: God doesn’t leave us in darkness of His will, He also gave us signs that we can read about in the Bible. “God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?” [Heb 2:4] These signs are sufficient for our faith, if we’ll just read His word. [Acts 14:3; John 20:30-31]

HIS SON: v15; No listing of God’s blessings is complete if we fail to include Christ Jesus. All other blessings pale in comparison. God’s love is demonstrated toward us through the giving of His Son as a sacrifice for the sins of man.

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” [1John 4:9-10]

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16]

It’s a shame that people continue to reject the Grace of God given to us through Jesus, the Christ. It’s also a shame that those who have obeyed the gospel become stingy with their Time, Talents & their Treasures in service to the Almighty.

Let that not be one of us.

IT’S HOW MUCH?!

Surely, you’ve uttered those words after asking a vendor for their price. I’m often shocked at the price of certain items. With that in view, I thought it a good time to look at the prices of some of the finer things.

If you’re in the market for a new ring, here is the most expensive diamond in the world. The WINSTON BLUE DIAMOND weighs in at a hefty 13.22 carats and can be snapped up for a paltry $23.8 million.

Perhaps you’re in the market for a new production vehicle, then the ROLLS-ROYCE SWEPTAIL may be for you. You can lose 20% of it’s value when you drive this $13 million baby off the lot. If that’s out of your budget then you can grab one of the cheaper most expensive cars, the MCLAREN SPEEDTAIL for just $2.2 million.

If you’re like me, you’re saying, “I’ll never spend more for a car than I would my house.” So, you’re looking for a house? If BUCKINGHAM PALACE were on the market, you could grab it for $1.5 Billion. Unfortunately, it’s not for sale; however, you can pick up the VILLA LEOPOLDA, VILLEFRANCHE-SUR-MER in France for just under $800 Million.

All of these are likely out of your price range, so let’s look at a few ‘cheaper’ things. At $11,000 per night you could take a vacation at NORTH ISLAND IN SEYCHELLES. If you’re a bit more adventurous you could spend just one night at WHITE DESERT “GREATEST TRIP” TO ANTARCTICA. This trip of a lifetime will only set you back $195,000 for the 24-hour trip. That’s just $8125 per hour…or perhaps you could visit for a few minutes at just $135.42 per minute.

These things are just luxury items anyway, how about we look at some more practical items? The most expensive suit of clothing will only set you back $895,000, THE STUART HUGHES DIAMOND EDITION. Each one of the three suits ever made takes over 800 man hours to design & stitch the finest wool, cashmere & silk into this magnificent work of art. We all need clothing, right?

Moving onto food, how about THE FORTRESS STILT FISHERMAN INDULGENCE? You’ve gotta eat, and this fine dining experience is a mere $14,000. To wash it down, there are beverages ranging in price from $225,000 up to $3.5 million.

That’s some shopping list, but we don’t come here to give recommendations like Yelp. No, we need to talk spiritual matters.

For most, if not all of us, these pricey things are way out of our league. We’ll never experience such worldly pleasures. However, what would we do for much less, much less?

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” [Matt 16:26].

By the way, you can pick up everything that could be bought for just $241 trillion (based on the combined world GDP).

You see, when we reject God’s plan for us, His plan of salvation through Christ Jesus, we place a higher value on things that will one day burn up over the great cost paid for your soul. [2Peter 3:11].

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” [1Peter 1:18-19]

Jesus told us not to fret over things we shall eat, drink or wear. Rather, we are to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. [Mat 6:30-33]. While on this planet we may never take a luxurious vacation, nor live in a magnificent mansion, but there is a far greater place that awaits those who are in Christ. Lay up your treasure there [Mat 6:20; John 14:2; 1Thess 4:16-17]. (BTW, you can get a RTW ‘Round the World’ flight for just under $2k)

This Website contains the instructions for God’s plan of Salvation. Let’s go to heaven together, shall we?

Many ways to be successful

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

How Liberalism wins.

BEFORE WE BEGIN, for the purpose of this article, we shall use the simple definitions of liberal & conservative. Liberal means; “not opposed to new ideas or ways of behaving that are not traditional or widely accepted.”1 Conservative means; “the tendency to prefer an existing or traditional situation to change.”2

As it relates to religion, a conservative is one who wants to hold fast to the word of God. “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” [1Pe 4:11], means that we do not go beyond the text of the scriptures. We’re told to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” [1Thess 5:21], and “not to think beyond what is written” [1Cor 4:6]. [cr. 2Peter 1:19-21; John 12:48; 2Thess 2:15]. This is what the Christians here at Franklin & Juniper church of Christ in Borger Texas want to do, hold fast to the Word of God.

A liberal, therefore, is the one who believes that we have freedom to move from tradition and authority, and have the ability to adjust religious beliefs and practices for the culture. They believe that strict adherance to the word of God is legalistic and unloving.

Many folks will apply labels of “liberal” or “conservative” but those terms mean different things according to where you’re standing at the time. As for me, I start with the undefiled Word of God [John 12:48] and want to CONSERVE that purity in my life and the church. “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him” [Pr 30:5 (cr. Psalm 119)].

Have you ever wondered why folks with strong conservative values allow error to creep in and pledge support for these errors? How do the “grievous wolves” that Paul spoke about, appear and how do they lead astray so many, even causing division in the church? Paul warned the Ephesian elders; “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves” [Ac 20:29-30]. He also warned that Satan himself would appear as an “angel of light” and his ministers would appear as “ministers of righteousness” [2Cor 11:14-15].

I’ve noticed 3 arguments that are most often used in support of error. They are EMOTIONALIZE, DEMONIZE & CRITICIZE. Remember also, that change agents appear as “angels of light” [2Cor 11:14]. Let’s examine how this works, not with hate toward others, rather as a warning to all of us as we strive to do God’s will.

The 3 Arguments in support of error

EMOTIONALIZE: “It’s for the children” is the most oft used emotional argument to promote error. The users of these arguments seldom use scripture and when they do they “wrest the scriptures” [2Pe 3:16]. We saw it when denominations pushed for infant baptism. Truth teaches that babies are safe in the Lord [2Sam 12:23; Mat 19:13-14]. This argument continues to be utilized to go around the clear commands of God. We have to resist the urge to break God’s word when our emotions begin to burn. “Whether it is pleasing or displeasing, we will obey the voice of the LORD our God to whom we send you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the LORD our God” [Jer 42:6]. Remember, our hearts can be (and often are) deceived [2Thess 2:10-11; 2Cor 11:14; Gal 1:8-9; Gal 6:7].

If there’s no success with this, they move onto…

DEMONIZE; The promoters of error demonize those that oppose them. While hanging onto the emotional argument, they malign the opposition. Paul faced this himself, “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” [Ga 4:16] They’ll say we hate children, or are unloving, calling us “anti’s” & “legalists” because we say “I could not go beyond the word of the LORD, to do good or bad of my own will. What the LORD says, that I must speak‘?” [Num 24:13]

Then they will….

CRITICIZE; the opposition for doing things that they themselves are doing. The Apostles faced this very thing. They were criticized for preaching for gain, or for being arrogant, while the critics themselves were doing the very things they spoke against. “I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.” [3John 1:9-10 (cr 2Cor 11 & 12)].

Many errors begin due to a lack of understanding on how to determine scriptural authority (or permissions). They also come due to a misunderstanding of the true work of the church. The work of the church is found in “the Great commission”; “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen [Mat 28:19-20]. It’s to TEACH the gospel and TEACH the new disciples to observe WHATSOEVER our Lord has commanded.

Please understand, I’m not against helping children, or being benevolent to strangers. I just want to do it God’s way. “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” [Col 3:17].

1 – http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/liberal

2 – http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conservate

Flood Relief & Divine Pattern

EARLY ON AUGUST 11, torrential downpours dumped rain on the surrounding Baton Rouge and Lafayette areas. Rain fell at a rates up to 2-3 inches per hour and overall totals exceeded nearly 2 feet in some areas as a result of the system remaining stationary. Accumulations reached as high as 31.39 inches in Watson, Louisiana.

The Washington Post noted that the “no-name storm” dumped three times as much rain on Louisiana as Hurricane Katrina. It dropped the equivalent of 7.1 trillion gallons of water or enough to fill Lake Pontchartrain about four times. Hurricane Katrina, by comparison, dumped about 2.3 trillion gallons of rainwater in the state (though more in other states). The flood also dumped more water than Hurricane Isaac. According to the National Weather Service Hydrometeorological Design Studies Center, the amount of rainfall in the hardest-hit locations had a less than 0.1 percent chance of happening or was a (less than) 1-in-1,000-year event.

This flooding has caused heartache and hardship for some in our family of Christ. One congregation in particular, reached out to let brethren know of their plight. They requested help according to the pattern established in the New Testament, not through the institutions of man.

The pattern for aiding brethren in other areas has been established by Acts 11:27-30.Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.” (emphasis mine seb).

A famine had arisen in the days of Claudius that had severely stricken the Christians in Judea. The Holy Spirit directed Paul on how this relief should be made. Paul wrote about the contribution being sent by the saints in Macedonia; “For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem” [Romans 15:26], so too, the church at Corinth [1Cor 16:1-4].

What we see from this pattern are individual saints (and local congregations) collecting money and sending it directly to the parties affected. No middlemen, no organizations that funnels off money for “operating costs” nor do we see a board of directors who can decide to send the money for a non-scriptural use (as we see with so many “charities”). What we see are saints fulfilling the need directly. The pattern is simple, clean AND EFFECTIVE, because it is the divine pattern from God.

As individuals, we have liberty to be a bit more broad with our benevolence. We’re able to give aid beyond just the saints, unlike the limitations placed upon the church treasury by the Holy Spirit [1Timothy 5:9,16]. If we can, we should be benevolent, being mindful of those times when we ought to refrain [Ga 6:10; 1Thess 3:10-12].

That being said, here is the note from the brethren in Louisiana;

_________________________________

STOP! The need involving Christians in Louisiana has been met.

With several families displaced by floods and facing reconstruction on the inside of their homes, the cost estimate was $500,000 beyond what that local church could do. However, THE NEED HAS BEEN MET.

I just spoke with one of the elders. Their biggest concern is returning the funds beyond what they need. I told him he’ll have to get a roll of stamps. He said, “Wilson, it will take rolls and rolls AND ROLLS of stamps…” He said, “We never dreamed there would be such an outpouring of help for us…”

He went on…

“Please spread the word that the need has been met and that we will do our best to return the monies not needed back to the source.” I am sure they will. But be patient. They have been flooded (sorry!) with overwhelming generosity.

Want Bible? Exodus 36:5: “The people were restrained from bringing any more…” Don’t tell me it doesn’t happen. It just happened in Gonzales, Louisiana…

God is good. And so are His people. Please “Share” the news

___________________________________

Praise God, the need was met for these folks within a few weeks, following God’s pattern of benevolence. I’m sure more can and should be done by individuals, and it can be done following God’s divine pattern for benevolence.

Making Preachers Rich

An Excerpt of a sermon BY Moses E. Lard

EDITOR’S NOTE: In 1863, Moses E. Lard, one of the “second generation” Restoration Leaders wrote a tribute at the death of Allen Wright, another preacher of that era. Lard said “the Churches always managed to keep Brother Wright poor, very poor.” From this point Lard gave a “sermon” to the readers of his Quarterly. Speaking of the brotherhood he said,

” . . . (they) tell me they do not believe in making preachers rich. Neither do I. But, brethren, I do believe in making them comfortable, in supporting them this side of want, and in affording these faithful men the means of schooling their children well.

Is this right? But why, pray, do you not believe in making preachers rich? Do you think it would hurt them? You cannot say it would; for you have never made one rich, to know. Suppose before you longer preach your doctrine with so much confidence in its truth, you test it by making at least one preacher rich.

Hitherto you have kept them all poor; let us now have at least one exception to your rule. You are satisfied that it works well both ways. Preachers are not at all satisfied that you are right in what you say, neither will they be until, by making at least one of them rich you convince them that you are so.

Do you think it would hurt you to be rich, or hurt your children to educate them well, and thereby enable them to move in genteel circles? Of course you do not. How then can you imagine that it would your preacher, or injure his children to make him rich?

You tell me it would cause him to neglect his calling. But how do you know this? You have never made one rich, to have the point tested. Would making you rich cause you to neglect your calling? Why then should you think it would cause the preacher to neglect his? The closer you stick to your calling the richer you grow. Think you not, if the preacher, too, could grow daily richer by sticking to his calling, that he would not stick to it close indeed. But the difference is, that the closer you stick to your calling the richer you grow, while the closer he sticks to his the poorer he grows. Is there not something wrong?

But tell me truly, faithful brother, do you preach this doctrine really believing it. Is it really so that you do not believe in making preachers rich, and that, too, because it would hurt them and cause them to neglect their calling? Or is not this a mere plea to shield your own purse? Beware” (Lard’s Quarterly, September. 1863, Volume One, pp. 37, 38).