QUESTIONS YOU SHOULDN’T NEED TO ASK?

Ok, I got it, the only stupid question is the one not asked. However, I did come across a question that shouldn’t have needed to be asked.

At a local eatery, I asked, “can you make sure the egg on my sandwich isn’t burnt?” This is a question no customer should have to ask, but then the clerk asked the cook, “Do we have any GOOD EGGS to serve?” Had I not just written last week about asking questions, I may have never noticed, but this question immediately made me chuckle. THERE IS SUCH A THING AS A STUPID QUESTION. There are questions people shouldn’t need to be asked. It should have been the SOP that there is “GOOD FOOD” to serve.

Disclaimer: When you have a new hire, or beginning a new thing, you may need to ask these questions. However, after you’ve been trained, the answer should be automatic. If you need to ask, then you may not have understood the instructions.

SOME EXAMPLES

A person should never need to be asked, “are you going to work today?” Work is a basic function of life, whether you are of working age, retired or a child. Work is good, commanded and profitable. Taking care of your home is work.

For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

[2Thess 3:10]

A person should never need to be asked, “are you going to stop at red lights?” (obey the laws of the land?) Most human laws are there for organizational reasons. Not many will make you deny your faith. We follow the laws of the land as much as they don’t interfere with living faithfully. [Acts 5:29]

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. [Romans 13:1]

ARE YOU GOING TO WORSHIP GOD OR MAN?

Hananiah, Mishael & Azariah were faced with this dilemma, and they didn’t need to be asked this question, although someone went ahead and asked. You see, they were given the command to worship a golden image set up by the Kings decree. When they would not, they were brought before the king and given the option to worship a gold image or remain faithful to God.

They responded to this question by saying, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.” NKJV [Daniel 3:16-18]. What happened next is astounding, they were thrown into a fiery furnace that was seven times hotter than normal AND LIVED!!! As amazing as that was, what happened next is also truly amazing.

I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.” [Daniel 3:29]. Did you see it? The king that had once decreed that worship only be done to his gold image reversed and commanded that no ill word be said of The One True God of the Bible. Wow! Such a great example of how a few faithful followers of God can influence a nation.

IF WE KNOW WHAT IS RIGHT, WE SHOULD NEVER NEED ASK AGAIN.

  • Did the Apostles need to ask, “Should we keep preaching?” Acts 5:40
  • Did Joshua need to ask, “Who am I supposed to serve?” Josh 24:15
  • Did Noah need to keep asking God, “How many arks am I to build, how many doors?” Gen 6:14

QUESTIONS WE SHOULD HAVE ALREADY ANSWERED.

Are we going to worship on Sunday? Are we going to worship while on vacation? Are we going to give thanks for our meals? Are we going to cancel evening services Super Bowl Sunday?

WE KEEP ASKING.

Naaman asked, “Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel?” Maybe, but who cares, the instruction from God was to dip 7 times in the Jordan. That was it, no other river, no other way, no other method.

People read the Bible and ask, “Can I not be sprinkled, or skip out on baptism?” Or they might ask it another way, “What about the thief on the cross?” It’s the same thing, asking a question which ought not be asked. Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” [Mark 16:16] If you love Him, if you want to be called His friend, just do it. [John 14:15; 15:14]

QUESTIONS WE OUGHT TO ASK.

  • What must I do to be saved? – Acts 16:30
  • What wilt Thou have me do? – Act 9:6
  • What doth hinder me from being baptized? – Acts 8:36
  • What shall we do? – Acts 2:37

Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” [Acts 2:38]

 

WE LOVE QUESTIONS.

As said before, when a person is learning there are no stupid questions. We love questions. If you have a question, feel free to ask it and we’ll do our best to answer it with scripture.

“You guys think you’re the only ones going to heaven.”

Has anyone ever challenged you with this statement after telling them to which church you belong? Did you know what to say?

Before we offer an answer to this accusation, we need to identify it for what it is; it’s an intellectually dishonest accusation based upon an unstudied position. It’s emotionally charged based on another similar question; “will God actually send good people to hell?”

Here’s another way of stating these charges; “do you mean to tell me that God is going to send people to hell who disregard His authority and choose not to follow the whole counsel of God?”

When stated this way, you can begin to see the answer to their claims.

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

Most, if not all, attacks come from a position of partial understanding of God’s word. The real answer to most attacks should be “who has all authority, and how do we know what it is?” when faced with an emotionally charged criticism, I ask this question; “What does the bible say?

Jesus has “all authority” [Mat 28:18], and He alone has the right to determine under what conditions salvation is determined. He said that judgment will be based upon the standard of God’s word [John 12:48] and if this is true, are we to teach it accurately? Do any of us have the right to teach less or to add more to His word? Certainly not!

If the bible teaches that only those who have been added to the Lord’s church are saved [Acts 2:47], then to teach otherwise is to be a false teacher. To belong to a church not mentioned in the Bible is to disregard God’s word, the word upon which the determination of saved or lost is made.

The Lord’s church.
  • Jesus said; “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” [Mat 16:18] He could have built 1,000 churchES, but He only promised to build ONE.
  • Jesus purchased ONE church; “… the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” [Acts 20:28]
  • Jesus is the head of His church; “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body,” [Eph 1:22-23]
  • Jesus will save His body; “…Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.” [Eph 5:23b]

How many bodies (churches) did He build, purchase, is the head of and is the savior of? We read about followers of Christ assembling in local congregations called ‘churches of Christ.’ [Rom 16:16] These are not different denominations teaching different doctrines. These are adherents to God’s word assembling as commanded in their home towns.

Some argue that there are many members of that one body in all the denominations. Can that even make sense? Don’t forget about the word that judges us in the last day. Denominations teach different things about salvation, sin, worship, faith, apostacy etc. Some teach & bind MORE than what the bible teaches on these subjects. Can we be a part of a denomination that adds to or takes away from God’s word and say you’re following the whole counsel of God? When we examine the scriptures, we find the expectation that the same thing be taught to every person. [1Cor 1:10-14]

For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.” [1Cor 4:17]

A word of caution; not every person who attends a “church of Christ” belongs to Him. There are some who are in unrepented sin or practicing error. Revelation 2 & 3 also teaches that entire congregations have left their first love, hold the doctrine of Balaam, allow false teachers in, are spiritually dead, and are lukewarm. Jesus said to one congregation, “for I have not found thy works perfect before God.” [Rev 3:2]. They were not completely following God’s word!

If those who are in the Lord’s church are in jeopardy for not following His will, what makes you think He’s going to overlook denominational error?!

EMERGENCY ALERT, THIS IS NOT A DRILL

Last week an erroneous alert went out when a Hawaii Emergency Management Agency employee triggered a ballistic missile alert, and people freaked out. Rightfully so, what would you do if you learned that a nuclear missile was rocketing toward you?

The alert lit up the phones of people, many of whom were still in bed, having coffee or taking a morning walk on the resort beaches of Hawaii. They fled toward shelters and crowded the highways as panic and terror spread across the islands. Many more had no idea what to do when a missile is about to fall from the sky. One woman said, “We have no bomb shelters or anything like that. There’s nowhere to go.”

And they prayed. I’m sure that more than a few atheists began to pray as well. As with many catastrophes, there’s just isn’t enough time to come up with a doomsday plan, and then activate it. (It would take 20 minutes for a missile to reach Hawaii from North Korea and would leave only 12 minutes for the state to warn everyone.)

It was a normally beautiful winter day. Winter in Hawaii starts out in the mid 70’s and sunny. A Saturday in Hawaii would have found folks, sleeping in, getting ready for a wedding, going to work, babies being born and at least one man suffered a heart attack triggered by the startling alert. Being a popular vacation spot, there were many thousands of tourists beginning or finishing their vacations. In other words, everything was normal.

ARE YOU READY

As many of you already surmise, this article is not going to be about preparedness for a Global Thermonuclear War. We talk about spiritual issues here and this incident is an exceptional illustration of what will take place when Jesus returns.

He will return, it’s been promised. “Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” [Acts 1:11].

Unlike in Hawaii, there will be no advanced notice of His appearing. “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” [Matthew 24:36].

The world will be “acting normal” just as they did that morning in Hawaii. “And as were the days of Noah, so shall be the coming of the Son of man. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and they knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall be the coming of the Son of man” [Matthew 24:37-39].

Just as a thief catches the victim by surprise, so too will be the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up” [2 Peter 3:10, cr. 1 Thess 5:2].

There will be no sirens, but there will be trumpets louder than any you’ve ever heard. It will be the trump of God. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” [1Corinthians 15:52].

All of this means is that there just will not be any time to obey the gospel [2 Thessalonians 1:7-8]. To those of you who believe the error of “faith alone,” that also will fail, for the very instant Jesus appears in the sky is the moment “faith” will end. “Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen” [Hebrews 11:1]. Faith ends at sight. Scripture reveals no prayers an infidel could utter to place them in a right relationship with God. Only faithful obedience to the Gospel can do that through Christ Jesus.

Here’s what else will happen on that day; “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are left unto the coming of the Lord, shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” [1 Thessalonians 4:15-17].

The key to this verse are two simple words, “IN CHRIST.” The location of Salvation is “IN CHRIST.” Every spiritual blessing is “IN CHRIST” [Ephesians 1:3]. We are “IN CHRIST” when we have “PUT ON CHRIST” through water baptism by faith. “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” [Galatians 3:26-27].

The only way we’re going to escape any and all catastrophes is to be “IN CHRIST.” When one is in Christ, what looks like a disaster, will be the most wonderful celebration any could ever imagine.

– Spencer

Pierce my Ear

There’s a peculiar law in the Old Testament regarding slaves…

Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them. If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself. And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.” [Exodus 21:1-6]

It’s difficult to wrap our minds around the idea that God allowed slavery. What’s also strange to us is that a slave could submit himself to slavery (why would anyone do that?), and if he wanted to leave, the master had to let him go free. Even more strange to our sensibilities is that the slave could decide to remain with a master he loved. We’re most familiar with the brutal history of slavery in our own country where a person was stolen into slavery, or born into slavery and could never leave of his own free will. So, how could it ever be that a slave would ever love his master enough to stay?

As much as we detest the slavery we read about in history (and rightfully so), that slavery bears no resemblance to the master / servant relationship we read about in scripture. Some will say that any form of slavery is detestable, biblical or otherwise. Before you jump to that conclusion, let’s examine why God might use the example of slavery.

Slaves of Christ

The New Testament uses the biblical example of slavery to help us to understand our relationship with Him. Just as in the Exodus 21 passage, we come to Him of our own free will, and He BUYS us. The purchase price being His own blood.

For ye are bought with a price” [1Corinthians 6:20]

We can choose to leave this arrangement, also of our own free will. While nothing can separate us from the love of God [Romans 8:38-39], we can separate ourselves from Him. [Hebrews 2:3, 10:28-29, Galatians 5:4; 2Timothy 4:10].

When we obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ, [Believe, Repent, Confess, Baptism & Faithfulness] we are selling ourselves into permanent slavery. We’re essentially saying, “we will never leave Him, we are His slaves forever, and He alone is our Master!”

You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” [1Corinthians 7:23]

Although the thought of becoming a slave holds a very negative meaning in our culture, the Holy Spirit had no trouble using this institution as an example. When you consider the love behind the sacrifice of Christ, you realize that God had placed an incredible value for your life.

 

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]

This value wasn’t based upon how good you looked, or how good you were, or how much money you had. No, the cost of buying us was His own life. Additionally, Jesus promises His slaves an incredible and eternal reward. He said to His disciples…

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. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

[John 14:2-3]

When we consider the price paid, and the promises made, it begins to make sense how a slave might Love a Slave Owner. Understanding these things will give us strength to endure this life.

Looking again at Exodus 21, we note verse 6; “and he shall serve him for ever.” Applying the picture of slavery to us, we need to note that by becoming a slave to Jesus, we are placing His will above our own. We will have no other master, including those things that tend to rule in our lives [e.g. sin Romans 6:6; money Luke 16:13]. Thy will be done, becomes our song.

When we truly understand this picture, our entire attitude should shift toward humble appreciation for our Master. Let us not be like those slaves who search for holes by which we can escape, for we serve a Loving Master. Rather, let us strive to serve Him in everything that He has commanded and when we’ve done all that we are commanded, let us say…

We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.”

[Luke 17:10]

 

 

“Pierce My Ear”

By Steve Croft

Pierce my ear O Lord my God

Take me to your door this day

I will serve, no other God

Lord I’m here to stay.

For you have paid

The price for me

With your blood, you ransomed me

I will serve, you eternally

A free man I’ll never be.

Chorus:

So, Pierce my ear, O Lord my God.

Take me to your door this day.

For I will serve no other God.

O Lord I’m here to stay.

Crowdsourcing Sin

Crowdsourcing is the new term being used to describe the method folks are using to raise money. Due to the people connecting power of the internet, crowdsourcing has become the way to finance business projects, or to assist in paying medical expenses after an illness or injury. However, crowdsourcing is also used to gather information, as in the example of Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, which gains all its information through crowdsourcing. Contributors from around the world write, on the website, about any and every subject under the sun.

Crowdsourcing is the practice of obtaining information, money or input into a task or project by enlisting the services of a large number of people, either paid, or unpaid, typically via the internet. The practice has become so common, that Wikipedia has become a valid source of information, and a new TV program is set to air that uses the power of the crowd to catch criminals. This idea is not new. The Mormon church has been using crowdsourcing for years through their Ancestry website. When people sign up to do genealogical research, the information gathered allows them to practice their error of “baptism for the dead” as the one being baptized is immersed multiple times for the unfaithful deceased of their family.

Which brings us to our topic, Crowdsourcing Authority. As the years progress, and each new generation grows more dependent upon an internet connected society, we’re being trained to see crowdsourcing as a legitimate method of understanding Biblical Authority. THIS IS DANGEROUS!

Every generation has had to overcome the use of erroneous sources of Biblical Authority…

  • Men / Parents – “Well my Daddy said…” or “My Pastor told me…”
    • The Bible Says: “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” [Matthew 7:7]
  • Tradition – “We always did it this way.”
    • The Bible Says; “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” [Colossians 2:8].
  • Feelings & False Reasoning – “I think this” or “God wants me to be happy”
    • The Bible Says: “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” [Jeremiah 10:23]
    • “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” [2Thess 2:10]

Now we have a new one to deal with, crowdsourcing. But it isn’t new, nothing ever is (Ecc 1:9), crowdsourcing authority has been around since there have been crowds.

  • In Babel – “And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” [Genesis 11:4]
  • In the Wilderness – “And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!” [Numbers 14:2]
  • Jesus warned about the crowd – “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]
    • And again, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” [Matthew 7:22]
Crowdsourcing Sin

What we find from these passages is not the crowdsourcing of authority, rather, we find the CROWDSOURCING OF SIN. In each example, if the source of the activity came from the crowd, God condemned it. Do you suppose that we’re any less susceptible to this problem? Sin is never acceptable to God, no matter how many people are doing it. Your momma may have said it, but God gave her the idea, “if everybody wanted to jump off a bridge would you follow them?” As we view the crowds in our society, we see the biblical warnings being ignored as crowds (majorities) try to shape it. Crowds become nothing more than bullies when driven by the emotionalism and confusion emanating from the ignorance of God’s divine Word. [Hosea 4:6; Matthew 22:29]

There is only ONE source of Authority, for life AND godliness. It’s found in Christ Jesus. “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:” [2Peter 1:3] Jesus made this very direct claim; “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” [Matthew 28:18] This statement of fact covers a lot of ground, HEAVEN AND EARTH.

When Paul wrote to the Colossians, he reminds the church of this fact about Jesus when he wrote, “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” [Colossians 1:18] Some claim that Jesus was a good teacher, ney ney. Christ Jesus is PREEMINENT. Preeminent means He surpasses all of us and is superior to all of us. Jesus is not A SOURCE of authority, HE IS THE SOURCE OF AUTHORITY! This information will never be found through crowdsourcing, but only in His word, which He promised to give.

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”

John 16:13-14

Like a Hurricane

For over 2 weeks, hurricane news has dominated this countries attention. It began when Harvey struck S.E. Texas, and the relief efforts, then all eyes quickly turned to watch hurricane Irma.

For many, prayer has been the only thing that gives them comfort, while others are using these storms as evidence that God doesn’t exist, for if He did, then why does He allow such suffering?

One editorial cartoon mocks those who praise God for being rescued.

Many of us became very angry when we saw this cartoon, but when your blood stops boiling, the question about how to answer those who mock us, comes into view. How are we to address those who use natural catastrophe as proof that God is not real? They will pose these 3 problems…
1) “If God is real, why does He allow suffering?”
2) “If God is all powerful, then He must not be all good, because of suffering.”
3) “If God is all good, then He must not be all powerful to allow suffering.”

FIRST, the problem of suffering from natural disasters is not automatic proof that God is not real or uncaring. On the contrary, it offers proof that GOD IS REAL! When someone attempts to disprove God by pointing at suffering, their idea of suffering can only be true if there is a standard of good, and there is someone who sets that standard. That someone is GOD.

If God were not real, there can be no standard by which to determine if something is wrong. For there to be a wrong, there must be a right. For those who reject God in favor of evolution, then every natural disaster is just the result of the continual process of evolution. Therefore, your subjective feelings are the only standard by which you object to natural suffering. You may not like it, but without God, you cannot say that it is bad. It’s just nature doing it’s job.

SECOND, we should ask the skeptic how they would put one of these things (the earth) together. How would they run the world? How would they deal with free will and the problem of sin? How would they create a planet where gravity only works when we place something down, but never breaks bones when a person trips? How would they get heat to cook food and to keep us warm without the possibility of forest fires?

Would they interfere every time something bad was about to happen? If they prevented every injustice, would there be free will? If they stepped in to prevent every death due to natural catastrophe, would the people simply regard that as just the way nature works and be atheists anyway? How would they feel, if they could put one of these together, when their creation considered their benevolent activity as just nature doing what nature does?

LAST, If God were not real, the atheist has no answer for how wrongs are eventually made right. For the Christian, we believe that all wrongs will be righted and that all evil will be dealt with. The word from our Lord says; “Vengeance is mine; I will repay,” [Romans 12:19]. We believe that we all must appear before Him and; “…that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” [2Corinthians 5:10].

Here’s another thing, if God is not real, then there is no resurrection from the dead, then Christ has not risen, and if Christ has not risen then we are still in our sins and we are a pitiful people. I thank God daily for the blessings in Christ Jesus. I may not understand all suffering, but I do believe in God and…

For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. [2Timothy 1:12]

An open letter to “Prayer over Borger”

August 22, 2017

This open letter, to the organizers & participants of the “Prayer over Borger” event scheduled for September 23, 2017, is written as an appeal for Biblical Unity. This open letter does not seek to divide us further, rather it’s an appeal out of an earnest love for people to know the Lord, Christ Jesus. Neither is it to criticize the desire to pray over Borger. God’s word teaches us to pray for those who are in authority; “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;” [1Timothy 2:1] It’s truly refreshing to hear about folks who have a desire for the wellness of our community.

However, we must admit, that part of the problem we face in our community is the DISUNITY that exists among us. As the letter sent out states, “Borger only has ONE church but we meet in many buildings with various names.” How can we consider ourselves to be of “ONE church” when we are separated by so many doctrines of men? We are divided over…

  • God’s plan of salvation; Mark 16:15-16
  • Faith only James; 2:14, 17, 24
  • Baptism; Acts 22:16
  • Sin; Rom 3:23
  • Fornication; 1Cor 6:18
  • Worship; John 4:24
  • Names; Romans 16:16
  • Clergy / Laity; 1Peter 2:9
  • Which day we worship; Acts 20:7, 1Cor 16:1-2
  • Instrumental music; Eph 5:19, Col 3:16
  • Operation of the Holy Spirit; 1Cor 13:10
  • Repentance; Acts 17:30
  • And more…

How can we be called “ONE church” when these things divide us? The Holy Spirit, writing through Paul, said, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” [1Corinthians 1:10] It is clear from God’s divine word that divisions (denominations) are a sin and will affect our salvation. We are NOT speaking the same thing, nor of the same mind, nor of the same judgement.

Some may say, “We only differ in style” or “we’re all going to the same harbor on different ships.” This cannot be true. When you examine the list, you will notice that many of these do impact whether or not one is saved. Jesus said, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” [Matthew 15:19] We didn’t say that, the Lord Jesus did. Jesus is in complete authority over EVERYTHING (Mat 28:18), both in Heaven and upon earth. If it is possible to worship in vain, and Jesus is Supreme authority on all matters, can we truly say that we’re “ONE church” and differ on things pertaining to salvation and worship? Read Matthew 7:21-29.

I will continue to pray for our community (as I often do), but my prayer will be the same as the one Jesus prayed in the Garden on the night of His betrayal; “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” [John 17:21]. In that beautiful prayer, the Lord Jesus also said, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” [v17]. If God’s word is truth, and I know you believe that it is, then why aren’t our words the same?

With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” [Ephesians 4:2-6]

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.

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.

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]