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

OBEDIENT FROM THE HEART

Image result for romans 6.17

THERE IS AN OLD STORY THAT GOES SOMETHING LIKE THIS:

An old man, going on a journey, left instructions for his 3 sons to take care of the farm and to build a barn by the field to the west, a house on the hill toward the north, to plant an orchard toward on the east side and dig a well on the southern part of the property. He then departed on his journey.

After the old man had left, the 3 sons went to the west where the barn was to be built. They conferred and said,

Father has made an excellent choice for the barn.” So, they built the barn according to their father’s instructions.

Next they surveyed the hill to the north for the building of the house. They conferred once again and said to one another:

Father has chosen an excellent spot for the house.” So, they built the house according to what their father had said.

After this they went toward the east side of the property and examined the area for the orchard. Upon inspection they said to one another,

This is indeed a fine spot for the orchard.” So, they planted the orchard in the instructed location.

When they had completed the barn, the house and the orchard their attention then turned to the digging of the well. They went over to the southern side to inspect the spot their father had chosen for the well. They counselled with one another and said,

“Father has truly made fine choices for the locations of the other things, but his choice for the well is not good. It’s not in a convenient location. There’s already a nearby stream, let’s forgo digging and use the stream for our water.” They then ceased their work from the father.

The question then is this, in how many areas were the sons obedient to their father? Four? Three?

The correct answer is NONE!

We can easily see that they disobeyed in one area, but they had actually disobeyed in all four. Regarding the 3 areas in which they followed the father’s instructions, they only followed their father’s instructions in the areas after they agreed with his choices.

Obedience requires following instructions whether one agrees with them or not.

OBEDIENCE, IF ONLY IN AGREEMENT = DISOBEDIENCE.

This is exactly what we see regarding our Heavenly Father’s instructions. God has given instructions regarding salvation:

  • God said that one must believe in Jesus as the Christ [Acts 10:43; John 3:16]. This makes sense to many, so they agree to believe in Jesus.
  • God said that each person must repent of their sins. [Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30). To many this also makes sense, so they agree to repent.
  • God said that everyone must confess with their mouth the Lord Jesus [Rom 10:9, 10]. This is seen as a reasonable command, so they gladly oblige.

God has also clearly commanded the believer to be Baptized in water for salvation. [Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16; 1Peter 3:21] Unfortunately, some stop at this point because they don’t agree with the Lord. They don’t see the need for baptism. Naaman had this problem, he thought waving hands was better. [2King 5:11]

So, they refuse to be baptized to have their sins washed away. [Acts 22:16].

The question is repeated here; In how many ways have those who have faith alone obeyed God? The answer is the same, NONE. They’ve only acted on the instructions with which they agreed. Obedience requires submitting to God’s will whether you agree or not. Submission implies some disagreement.

Jesus asked it this way, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” [Luke 6:46]

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.

New Testament Christianity

Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” [Galatians 5:4]

This passage in Galatians is a warning for Christians that keeping any part of the Law of Moses will take you out of the grace of Christ. Some try to reinterpret it as a faith only passage. Not so. The followers of Christ are to be command keepers [Mat 7:21-23; Luke 6:46] of His New Covenant.

There is a reason why the churches of Christ do what they do (a Capella singing, simple worship, weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper). We recognize Christ as our Head [Col 1:18], He has all authority [Mat 28:18] and those that love Him will keep HIS commandments [John 14:15]. God the Father said this, “This is my beloved Son: hear him.” [Mark 9:7] This means that we listen to Jesus, not Moses, and especially not any man nor man made religion.

Jesus promised to build His church [Mat 16:18], and that this church [which is His kingdom Col 1:13] will begin within the lifetime of those that heard him [Mark 9:1]. On the first Pentecost after His resurrection, [Acts 2:1–47] the church began. No one spoke of it being in existence before that day, and thereafter it’s spoken of as being in existence.

The guiding rules of faith and practices are found in the covenant from Jesus, as delivered by the Holy Spirit [John 16:13; Eph 3:1-4] and not the Law of Moses from Mt. Sinai.

We need to pay attention to what The Holy Spirit reveals in the New Testament about the change from the Law of Moses to the Law of Christ.

• Hear Jesus, not Moses [Mat 17:5; Mark 9:7].
• Preach the gospel [Mat 28:18–20].
• The Word of Christ Judges [John 12:48].
• Dead to the Law of Moses [Romans 7:1–7].
• “Christ is the end of the law” [Romans 10:4].
• “Engraven in stones…done away” [2Cor 3:7–14].
• Broken down the wall [Eph 2:14].
• Nailing it to His cross [Col 2:14].
• A Priesthood change required a Law change [Hebrews 7:12; 9:11].
• He is the mediator of the new testament [Hebrews 9:16–17].
• He (Jesus) taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. [Hebrews 10:9].

No longer does man offer animals to atone for sin. “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” [Heb 10:4] Jesus shed His blood “once for all” and has “sat down on the right hand of God.” [Heb 10:12]

No longer does man keep the Passover, abstain from certain foods nor keep certain days [Col 2:14-17]. No longer do we need a special group of priests, for those added to the church are now a ‘royal priesthood’ [1Pet 2:9]. This new Law of Christ doesn’t require it, and to revert to it is to sin against the One who shed His blood, ‘ye have fallen from Grace.’

In the New Testament, no longer do we burn incense, build temples (we are the temple Eph 2:21), dance or play instruments. Did God leave New Testament worship up for us to decide? No, God tells us what He wants, and we do it [Mat 28:20]. We are given unleavened bread, fruit of the vine, prayers, vocal singing, giving & teaching.

The Old Testament is for our learning, not for New Testament law. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,” [Rom 15:4]. We should read the Old Testament to learn about many things, some of which is how God communicates with and how He instructs man. However, to go back to the Law of Moses to bring forward any practice (musical instruments, clergy / laity, feasts) will remove you from the grace of Christ and obligate you to do it all. You will have fallen from Grace.

We here at the Franklin & Juniper church of Christ practice New Testament Christianity with the Bible as our creed book. We Welcome you to come find out what the Bible says.

PHARISAICAL

PHARISAICAL is defined as; practicing or advocating strict observance of external forms and ceremonies of religion or conduct without regard to the spirit; self-righteous; hypocritical. The term comes from the group called “Pharisees.”

The way it is most commonly used is when one person suggests a close adherence to the word of God in the Plan of Salvation, Worship and Godliness that others will claim that person is being PHARISAICAL. It’s a rebuke by someone who ISN’T closely following the Bible against the one who does.

Is that a fair use of the word? Does this usage follow with how the Pharisees were practicing Judaism? Let’s examine the Scriptures to see if this is so.

JESUS REBUKES THE PHARISEES

Matthew 23 is a great place to learn what Jesus felt about the Pharisees. The first 12 verses He describes their practices to the multitudes. He says:

  • Do what they say, not what they do. v3
  • They bind heavy burdens on others that they won’t do. v4
  • They do what they do to be seen by men. v5
  • They love the best seats & greetings. v6-7

After this, He then addresses them directly with a series of “WOE UNTO YOU” statements some of which are:

  • You shut up the kingdom of heaven against men and you don’t enter either. v13
  • For a pretense make long prayers. v14
  • Neglected the weightier matters of justice, mercy & faith. v23
  • You appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. v28

Upon examination of these verses and others, the conclusion you MUST come to is that the Pharisees were:

  • Ignoring the commands of God for their traditions.
  • Saying one thing correctly but not doing it. This is called hypocrisy.
  • When they did keep the commands of God, their heart wasn’t in it. Mat 23:23
  • They bound EXTRA commands on people that God never commanded.
  • Mat 7:21-23

“For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” [Mark 7:8-9]

SO, WHAT IS PHARISAICAL REALLY?

To be ‘PHARISAICAL’ is to:

  • Not follow the commands of God
  • To create new commands not from God
  • To say that you’re following God but aren’t.
  • To hold to traditions rather than the commands of God.
  • To appear to be righteous but are actually disobedient.

If anyone in our modern times is ‘PHARISAICAL’ it’s most likely to be the denominational churches and not the Lord’s church. Can we be guilty of hypocrisy? Certainly, but to call someone who is keeping the commands of God with his whole heart, ‘PHARISAICAL,’ is to make a false accusation. It’s usually the one who ISN’T KEEPING GOD’S COMMANDS that calls another ‘PHARISAICAL.’ If you’re not following the commands of Christ, YOU ARE THE PHARISEE! It is NOT PHARISAICAL to want to keep the commands of God. [Col 3:17]

Rather than call each other names, let’s try this:

  • Let’s Keep the commands of Jesus – John 14:15
  • Let’s Do what Jesus says – Luke 6:46; Mat 7:21-29
  • Let’s Love God with our whole heart – Mat 22:37
  • Let’s Obey the Gospel – 2Thess 1:8; Mark 16:16

God wants us to be saved and to go to heaven. Let’s do that.

Hearing Jesus

There was an old TV commercial where an actor in some public place would say, “My broker is EF Hutton, and Hutton says…” then everyone would immediately go silent, not a sound could be heard. You could hear the proverbial pin drop. Then the narrator would break the silence saying, “When EF Hutton talks, people listen.”

You’ve had that feeling before. That moment when you knew you were in the presence of someone with whom you cherish, or someone who’s words would have a profound effect on the world. It may have been that time when a loved one was taking their final breath and you held yours straining to hear their final words.

That’s what it was like for some who were in the presence of Jesus as they listened to His final public teaching, prior to the cross.

After Jesus cleansed the Temple, He was teaching them daily. Whereas some were seeking a way to destroy Him, others hung on His every word.

And could not find what they might do: for all the people were VERY ATTENTIVE TO HEAR HIM.” [Luke 19:48]

According to Luke’s account, He TAUGHT and PREACHED the GOSPEL [Luke 20:1]. Oh, can you imagine hearing the gospel message from the very lips of the one who was about to endure it? The Gospel is “how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” [1Cor 15:3-4]. They may not have realized the full meaning of what they heard, but Jesus did. In just a few days He would be betrayed, falsely accused & tried, scourged & then death by crucifixion.

Can you hear Him pleading? Can you imagine His passion? If you could sit in on that sermon, in our time, what would you be doing? Would you be playing on your phone? Would you be thinking about lunch? Would you be wondering how much longer He will go on? Would the cares of the world block out the voice of the Savior?

The Gospel Message:

The message of the cross is so important to our lives that it must be heard and understood. Although we can’t go back to that time, it becomes even more important for us to pay attention. We have not His voice, but we have His words.

“He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” [John 12:48]

It’s so amazing and yet so sad that a message so important is being ignored by our friends and our family. If that weren’t bad enough, there are those who seek to destroy it. Just as there were back then. Earlier in Luke, Jesus warned, “He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.” [Luke 11:23]

The message of the cross is still strange to many ears today, just as it was foolishness to some back then [1Cor 1:23]. The message is too difficult for some today, just as it was to some back then.

Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? … and walked no more with him.” [John 6:60,66]

As the new year approaches, and as we ponder our resolutions, let us take time to silence the noise of the world and take time to listen to the Son of God through His revealed Word. To read it, ponder it and to incorporate His teaching into our lives. Let it continue to convert us and be incorporated into every aspect of our lives so that others may see a light of hope emanating from us. May we hang on His every Word. [2Timothy 3:16-17; 1Peter 3:15; Matt 5:14-16]

What the Bible DOESN’T Say

It’s a very good thing to find out what the Bible has to say. This is the only way to discover the will of God for our lives.

Bible students also know that when God is silent about something, that He is not giving His approval.

For example, when David came up with the idea to build a permanent temple to God in replacement of the tabernacle, God sent Nathan to him and asked; “Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the LORD, Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in? Whereas I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle. In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel spake I a word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people Israel, saying, Why build ye not me an house of cedar?” [2Sam 7:5-7]. The point God was making is clear, if He hasn’t revealed His will on the matter He has not given His approval.

We see this same thing in the New Testament in Acts 15:24 when the Apostles wrote a letter to the gentiles over the issue of circumcision. They applied this same principle from God when they wrote, “to whom we gave no such commandment.” Silence prohibits.

Unfortunately, people are doing all sorts of things contrary to this principle by saying, “God never said we can’t.”

THINGS NOT FOUND IN GOD’S WORD.

Thinking about this principle, what are some things we see in modern day religious activities NOT FOUND IN THE BIBLE.

  • Denominational church names – Rom 16:16; Acts 20:28; Heb 12:23
  • When any Denomination Began – Dan 2:44; Mat 16:18; Acts 1:5-8, 2:1-47
  • Where anyone ever ‘JOINED’ a church – Acts 2:47; Mark 16:15-16
  • How to become a member of any denomination – The N.T. only tells us how to become a Christian Acts 2:38, 47; Acts 22:16, Gal 3:27
  • Where any were ever voted on.
  • There is no description of any denomination or how to begin one.

If there are no instructions for denominational names, beginnings or how to join one, WHY BE A MEMBER OF ONE?

JUDGEMENT BEGINS – at the house of God [1Pet 4:17]

LOST – obey not the Gospel [2Thess 1:8-9]

US, THE CHURCH – ground & pillar of the truth [1Tim 3:15]

UNGODLY – ungodly men [2Pet 3:7]

RIGHTEOUS SCARCELY SAVED –  1Peter 4:18

SINNER – But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. [Rev 21:8]

SALVATION IN CHRIST – And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. [1John 5:11]

CONDEMNED – Mr 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

1Peter 4:17-18

Bible believers understand that there will be a judgement [2Cor 5:10; Ecc 12:14; Heb 9:27]. Peter said, “judgment must begin at the house of God.” Who are they? Those who have obeyed the Gospel. Note the contrast at the end of v17. This alone ought to end the discussion that one can be saved outside of the church.

Finally, look closely at v18; “And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”

The Bible never tells us one thing about a denomination, as a matter of fact, it condemns it [1Cor 1:10]. However, it tells us everything we need for life and godliness [2Pet 1:3-4]. Let’s do that.

I Can Worship Alone

We’ve all heard someone say, “I don’t need to go to church to worship God.” Or, “I worship God alone, because all organized religion is wrong anyway.” Others will say, “Our entire life is worship, so it doesn’t matter if I go to church or not.” Is there any truth in these statements?

For you to offer these folks better answers, below are 7 Reasons why Public worship is better…

  1. It’s Commanded. This should end the discussion, but in this day and age, the commands of our Lord are often ignored.

John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him MUST worship him in spirit and in truth.

Matthew 18:20 For where TWO or THREE are GATHERED TOGETHER in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

 

To do something “in the name of the Lord” is to do it by His command or with His permission. Doing whatever we want and attributing it to God is the sin of presumption [Deuteronomy 18:20, Acts 15:24].

  1. It’s what the 1st Century Christians did. One of the ways we understand the commands of our Lord is through the examples of the Apostles and the first Christians as revealed in the New Testament. They gathered on each 1st day of the week.

Acts 20:7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

1Corinthians 11:20-34 When ye come together therefore into one place… [1Cor 16:1-2]

  1. The only time we are authorized to take the Lord’s Supper. Paul wrote to the Corinthian brethren about their perverting the Lord’s Supper. He reminded them of the command of the Lord on this matter.

1Corinthians 11:23-26 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

  1. We are strengthened when we come together. Paul warned the brethren that many are weak and dying because of failure to worship properly.

1Corinthians 11:29-30 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

  1. Not worshipping together is called “FORSAKING THE ASSEMBLING.” If private worship is acceptable, then there could not be a forsaking of an assembly.

Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

  1. We teach and admonish one another in public worship. One of the five acts of worship is to sing (A Capella) psalms, hymns and spiritual songs for the purpose of teaching each other. Your voice is needed.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

  1. Private, in lieu of public worship is vain worship. Any time we replace the command of our Lord with our own, our efforts become worthless. Jesus warned us to always do His will.

Matthew 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 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? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

When we’re sick, or circumstances beyond our control, prevent us from attending the local body of Christ, we have not sinned. It’s when we have opportunity and willfully choose to skip it, or replace it with a private worship that we have disobeyed the Lord.

One more thing…If we’ve failed to obey the gospel [2Thess 1:8-9] no amount of worship will help us. Worship is only acceptable when it’s done by the FAITHFUL and is AUTHORIZED. On the back panel of this bulletin answers the question, “What Must I Do to Be Saved?”

– Spencer

GIVING THANKS

One winter, while a junior in high school in Fairbanks, a friend of mine invited me to have dinner with his family (we called the evening meal ‘dinner’ in Alaska). As his dad was plating the food and delivering it to the table one at a time, his mom began eating having been served first. As my plate was set before me, I refrained from eating as a courtesy toward the host. Mr. LaPerierre noticed me waiting and asked, “Spencer, are you waiting because you’re wanting to say grace?” At that moment, his wife, fork in mouth, looked at me with wide mortified eyes, filled with the realization that she may have committed a grievous faux pas.

Has something like that ever happened to you, folks begin shoveling food in their mouths before everyone even has a chance to sit down, much worse, discovering mid bite that a prayer of thanksgiving was going to be offered? Perhaps you’ve been the one with the fork in your mouth.

It’s called different things in different places. Some call it, ‘giving thanks’, ‘saying grace’ ‘asking a blessing’ or simply, ‘the blessing.’ As families come together this week to celebrate the national holiday of Thanksgiving, the above scenario will likely repeat as folks stumble through an awkward and unprepared prayer, while the rest choke down a premature mouthful or pause mid chew.

Is it your habit to ‘say grace’ for your food?

It may not, and not just for Thanksgiving. According to a recent poll, only about 43% of Americans pray before a meal. Of those that pray, the researchers discovered they only pray 2-3 times per week. When they examined denominational backgrounds, 52% of Catholics, 60% of Protestants and 74% of Evangelicals prayed before taking a meal. Interestingly, 80% of African American families prayed, regardless of religious affiliation.

It was surprising to learn so many folks were actually praying in America. However, surprise gave way to disgust as the pollsters found that it wasn’t necessarily God being thanked. Eleven percent who claimed to be atheist, agnostic or irreligious said a prayer. An atheist man, cited in a news article about the poll, said that he and his wife give thanks to the spirits of his food. When they eat beef, they thank the four-legged spirits, and the winged ones whenever they eat chicken. When eating veggies, he thanks the veggie spirits. Sounds like a veggie tale to me.

What does the Bible say?

Many who are reading this article already have a good handle on this subject, and I hope that had we been asked, we would have skewed the polling higher. Prayer is as much a subject of scripture as God Himself. We all know that it says, “Pray without ceasing” in 1Thessalonians 5:17, but did you know that verse 18 says “in everything give thanks?”

Among the “everything”, food is a daily opportunity to “give thanks.” We ought to be thankful for our daily food, “which God created to be received with thanksgiving by them that believe and know the truth” [1Timothy 4:3b].

Our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus, lived an example of praying before eating. In John 6:11 He, “took the loaves; and having given thanks, he distributed to them that were set down; likewise also of the fishes as much as they would.” Then, during His final meal with His disciples, “he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me” [Luke 22:19]. On the very night that he would be betrayed, Jesus knowing all things, was thankful. How simple a thing it is, and so worthwhile, to pause and to pray.

 

 

Our most Holy and Righteous Father,

Thank you for this beautiful day

For we know Father, only you can make our day.

Thank You for this food,

Which You created

And for the nourishment within it.

May it provide us the strength

For continued service in Thy Kingdom.

Please forgive us our trespasses,

For they have been many,

And we have been weak.

Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever.

Amen.

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.