Taking a Knee

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taking a Knee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romans 14:11

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

Memorial Day

Do This In Remembrance…

MONDAY marks an important holiday for our country. It’s a day we take time to remember the people who have died while serving in the country’s armed forces defending the freedoms we often take for granted.

Unfortunately, it has become less about remembering and more about hot dogs, picnics and sleeping in. Until we became blue star parents we spent the holiday in much the same way. When two of our sons served simultaneously in Afghaninstan, the concern for their lives made us take notice of holidays such as this one. Fortunately, our sons returned safe and sound, but so many other’s children did not. It’s for them we take time to remember.

It’s sad to think that many, if not most, will not even pause to consider the cost of their freedom. It has become a day off, not to reflect, rather a day of revelry.

Do This In Remembrance of Me…

The church of Christ has a memorial day. It was instituted by our Savior on the night He was betrayed, and then observed in the church He bought with His own blood [Mat 26:26-29; Acts 20:28].

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. [1Corinthians 11:23-25]

Rather than being an annual observance, the first century saints observed this memorial supper each week… “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them…” [Acts 20:7].

Even the first century saints neglected this memorial, turning it into a common meal and neglecting the ‘remembrance in me.’ The Apostle Paul rebuked this perversion when he wrote, “What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.” [1Corinthians 11:22]

Monday is a day to remember the soldiers who gave their lives in service for our country. Sunday, however, is the Lord’s Day, the day that Christians come together to worship, to pray, to sing, to learn, to have fellowship (to lay by in store) and to remember the Lord’s Death. When we take this supper, we “proclaim the Lord’s death til He come.”

Wouldn’t it be sad if folks today started to view Sunday (the 1st day of the week) as just another day off? Wouldn’t it be sad if folks treated the Lord’s Day as a day for hot dogs, picnics and sleeping in? Wouldn’t it be sad if folks started asking, “why do I have to go to church?” Wouldn’t it be sad if folks stopped observing the Lord’s Supper every week? Wouldn’t it be sad if folks looked forward to playing games at the worship rather than meditating on the incredible price paid for our freedom from sin?

May it never be so, but alas…

Is church a pill?

A couple of things first. I’m referring to the weekly assembly on Sunday when I say ‘church’, since that is how much of the world uses it. The scriptures clearly teach that the church is actually the people. [1Cor 12:14]

When I say ‘pill’ I’m referring to the idea of a prescription but could just as easily work as “something disagreeable that must be swallowed”.

Do we treat church like a pill? 

Many folks take pills to treat some illness, and in most cases, they seek the pill rather than change the underlying behavior that caused the condition. Take diet pills as an example. For many, rather than reduce their calorie intake, increase their exercise and eat better quality food they will take a pill as if it will solve their condition.

That’s what I mean when I ask, “do we treat church like a pill?” Do we believe we can act ungodly all week long, and if we take a pill (church attendance), that our sinful condition will go away?

Please understand what I am saying. The weekly assembly of God’s people is a necessity for continuing in the Apostles doctrine and shouldn’t be forsaken [Heb 10:25; Acts 20:7; 1Cor 16:2], but it is not a ‘pill’ one takes to offset our bad behavior and sinful heart.

James wrote; “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.” [James 1:23-24]

Here’s a question for you, how long after assembling with the saints before you revert to your sinful conduct. 24 hours or 24 seconds? I must confess that I’ve been guilty of this as well. For my family, we had screaming car fights before arriving to the assembly, acting all lovey dovey during the worship, then picking up where we left off with the battle as soon as we got back into the car.

How to take a pill

When you’re given a prescription from a doc, he also gives you a list of things to change. The weekly assembly can be viewed in much the same way. The lesson, prayers, songs, our giving and the Lord’s Supper all have an ability to teach us and remind us what manner of person we ought to be.

The medications we take, very often, would be much more effective if we also modified our behaviors that caused the illness. Without the modification of behavior we will remain sick and possibly die. Paul said something similar to the church at Corinth; “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” [1 Corinthians 11:28-30]

Church attendance should remind us of the sacrificial gift of Christ, and the promise of His return when He will gather up the saints and destroy the world.

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,” [2Peter 3:11]

 

2 Responses to every sermon

I’ve found that there are two basic responses to every sermon. I’ve also spoken to other Gospel Preachers and they have come to a similar conclusion.

Walk out or Walk forward

These responses can be literally walking out of the auditorium or coming forward to the front to confess your sin in a public manner. They can also be done with your mind. So often folks, myself included, walk out or walk forward in our minds as we listen.

WALKING OUT

Walking out on a sermon, whether in your mind or physically getting up and leaving, happens for a variety of reasons…

You’re distracted – You’re sitting there, hot, tired and hungry thinking about lunch. Hoping the sermon is short, you begin taking steps to prevent yourself from falling asleep. If you’re someplace else in your mind, it matters very little whether the speaker is dynamic or boring. Sometimes you’re distracted by the goings on of other members shifting and squirming in their seats.

The remedy for this type of walking out is simple. Take notes. Engage your mind with the theme of the sermon. I have personally found this to be most effective.

Another tactic is to get some rest. So many of us stay up late and fail to plan for our Sunday morning worship. I’m guilty too. Saturday is a day off for most folks, and we just want to enjoy as much of our weekend as possible. I get it, I’ve been there. Eutychus in Acts 20 had the same trouble. If you’re going to stay up late, here’s a little tip that may help you feel more alert in the morning. Plan your sleep length in 90min cycles. 1.5, 3, 4.5 or 6 hours. Our bodies have up and down sleep cycles and we are at the top of the cycle [close to being awake] every 90 minutes. Do an internet search for sleep cycles and you’ll see what I mean.

Another reason we walk out is…

We think it’s about someone else – Yup, I’ve done this one too. While listening to a sermon you say to yourself, “self, I hope so-n-so is listening to this.” It reminds me of Nathan telling David about a man that had stolen a lamb in 2Sam 12:1-5. David became angry and demanded justice for the victim. However, look at what Nathan did in vs7, “You are the man!” Rather than trying to assign a lesson to another, we should be examining ourselves to see if it applies [1Co 11:28; 2Co 13:5].

Lastly, one reason we walk out is

We disagree – It’s ok to disagree, but be careful about HOW you disagree. Is your disagreement based on scriptures? Will you “try the spirits whether they are of God:” [1Jo 4:1]? Or, are you just disagreeing because you or a family member are committing the sin under consideration and don’t see anything wrong with it?

You might say to yourself, ‘that’s just his opinion’. Are we entitled to have an opinion on scriptural matters? Some people have said, “I know what it says, but I don’t like it.” When it comes to sin & doctrine, as enumerated in God’s word, we have no choice but to accept it and to obey it. Nothing in scripture is up for a personal interpretation that suits your opinion, [2Pe 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation].

If the speaker is wrong, then go to him about it privately. Perhaps he misspoke, or you misunderstood, but bring BCV [book chapter verse]. We can both be wrong, or one of us can be wrong and the other right, but we cannot BOTH BE RIGHT. I want to go to heaven and you would be a great friend if you show me where I was mistaken so that I could make correction.

It’s for this reason some folks church hop. They find the teaching to be contrary to their personal desires and go searching for a place of worship that suits their tastes. Or they stop worshiping altogether. This is not new, Paul warned that there are some whose ‘god is their belly’ [Philippians 3:19]. He also said, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” [2Timothy 4:3].

There may be other reasons why folks “WALK OUT” on a sermon, but my desire is that we all “grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ [2Peter 3:18].

Where is your mind when you “WALK OUT” on a sermon?

Next week we’ll examine ‘walk forward’.

What if I don’t want to?

IMAGINE WHAT THE world would be like if we only did those things they wanted to do. What if we only ate the things we wanted to eat or got up only when we wanted to and only did things that felt good?

Actually, I’ve done that on the food side of things, eating only what I wanted, and the results are devestating. Weight gain, health and heart problems as well as the total lack of energy.

All success is predicated on the idea of doing those things we don’t want to do. Successes in business, in relationships and health are found when we do things that others don’t like to do. The fact is, we should do MORE things we don’t like to do. Better, we should find things we don’t like to do and learn to like doing them.

Paul said, “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” [1Cor. 9:27].

Rather than success, let’s use the word grow. Growing means more than just getting physically bigger, it also means getting better. We can grow in many areas, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Peter said, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever.” [2Peter 3:18]

Growth requires effort, it requires us to train our bodies and our minds by doing those tasks that seem unpleasant at the time. This is the full idea behind the word ‘chastening’ in Hebrews 12:11. “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

The word we often use to describe training is exercise. Not only should we exercise our bodies, we should exercise our minds. This training of the mind and the body prepares us to respond in those times of need.

Doing laps may sound horrible (they do) and boring, but come gametime, you’ll be glad you did. Michael Jordan said, “I play to win, whether during practice or a real game.” The same can be said about the hours spent in the study of God’s word. Come gametime (ie. Evangelism,  times of trouble etc.) you’ll be glad you spent the time. No one is ever faithful during difficult times or times of persecution that wasn’t first faithful during times of ease.

Success (growth) or failure in any endeavor is not an event. Successful marriages, financial well being, educational degrees and the like are only ever achieved by multiple tiny decisions to do unpleasant things over and over until.

Yes, I intentionally ended the sentence with ‘until’, because the next question is, “how long?” Until you’ve made it, until you have it, until you face the judgement.

“That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:” [1Tim 6:14]

The Lonely Ember

A MEMBER OF A certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going. After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire.

Guessing the reason for his pastor’s visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a big chair near the fireplace and waited. The pastor made himself comfortable but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the play of the flames around the burning logs.

After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent. The host watched all this in quiet fascination.

As the one lone ember’s flame diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and “dead as a doornail.”

Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting.

Just before the pastor was ready to leave, he picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.

As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said, “Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sunday.”

Source: unknown.

It would be difficult to add much to this simple illustration, but there’s a little room so I must. This story demonstrates an important reality regarding our role in the worship. Sure, you can see yourself as the lone ember, desiring to be uplifted by the others, but do you see yourself as a part of the larger fire?

Many complain, “I get nothing from the worship” or “that church is so cold” looking only at how it affects THEM. The illustration also shows what we GIVE to each other, of which you are a part.

Rather than asking, “what do I get” ask, what do I give? When we come together, as the Lord commanded, we give so much to each other. The New Testament writers presented a picture of giving in our coming together (I’m not referring to the monetary collection). You say that you gain nothing from the worship, but what do you keep with you in your absence?

Here’s what you give us

  • Love – And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Hebrews 10:24
  • Exhortation – not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh. Hebrews 10:25
  • Teaching – Teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Colossians 3:16
  • Proclaim the Lord’s death – For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord’s death till he come. 1Corinthians 11:26, 30
  • Fellowship – And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers. Acts 2:42
  • Edification – Let all things be done unto edifying. 1Corinthians 14:26b

Do you see it? We need each other. I need you as much, or more than, you need me. The worship is an assembly of the local saints together in one place. We can’t do it alone. Matt 18:20.

Is One Denomination as good as another?

all-denominations

IT ALWAYS amazes me when someone explains how one denomination is as good as another regarding worship or salvation. Denomination, by its very definition means division. Today, there are around 33,000 Christian denominations in the U.S.

These 33,000 are subdivided into 6 major mega-blocs in order of size, rounded slightly for convenience:

  • Independents (about 22000)
  • Protestants (about 9000)
  • “Marginals” (about 1600)
  • Orthodox (781)
  • Roman Catholics (242)
  • Anglicans (168)

One reason there are so many denominations is because of the variety of teachings. Some teach baptism by sprinkling, others teach no baptism at all. Still others teach sin is wrong whereas others teach no repentance is required. You can join a black only church, a woman church, or even a church of Satan! Is this what Jesus had in mind when He built His church?

WHY SO MANY DIVISIONS?

Some very important questions are raised when you begin to think about these divisions. Did God authorize so many divisions? Is one denomination just as good as another? Does it matter which church you join? All of them are important questions, so what does the bible say? The Apostle Paul found this division problem as far back as the 1st century, and he wrote to the church to correct it;

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. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” [1Co 1:10-13]

It’s clear from this text that God had no intention for us to divide up into these denominations. These divisions are causing confusion among people and they are being led astray, or even being turned off of religion because they don’t know where to turn for truth. If ANY DENOMINATION will do, does that make God an author of confusion? Certainly not…

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” [1Corinthians 14:33].

Let’s illustrate why this fallacy of “any denomination is as good as another” is wrong. Look at our own currency. We call the different size bills, denominations.

denominations-bills

If you could have only one of these bills, which would you choose? Since, “one denomination is as good as another” it makes no difference which bill you take, right? After using this illustration, one person said, “Yes it makes a difference, one denomination goes farther than the other.” That is exactly right, just as in our currency, so also with denominations of religion, one goes farther UP than another. Again, we go back to the scriptures for the answer…

Jesus said, “I will build MY church.” [Matthew 16:18]. He didn’t say “churches” plural, He said “church” singular.

Jesus sent the Holy Spirit who instructed Paul to write, “there is ONE body” [Ephesians 4:4], and the body is the church, [Ephesians 1:22-23].

The reason there are so many denominations comes down to this one point; error. Jesus said, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures,” [Matthew 22:29]. We are supposed to teach the same thing [Mat 28:20], when we do we will be added to the one church that Christ has built.

You’ll be shocked to know what one church is doing on Christmas

How’s that for a title? Did I get your attention? I’ve noticed that many websites use shocking titles to attract readers so I decided to give it a try. The trouble is, what I’m about to tell you is shocking for all the wrong reasons.

You see, our local congregation, The Frankilin St. church of Christ in Borger Texas, is NOT changing it’s services on Christmas day. This news is shocking because so many denominations have altered their services to celebrate a man made holiday instead of the God commanded commemoration of our Lord’s death.

Look at what was written to the 1st century church:

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. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
[cr. Mt 26:26; Mr 14:22; Lu 22:19]

Many will rationalize their decision to cancel services by saying, “it’s for the family.” That sounds great, but what about the family of God? “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” [Gal 3:26]

So, we shall be worshiping the Lord, as He described, on the day He ordered, in the manner in which He authorized, to remember His death as He commanded.

Besides, when you think about presents, what is the greatest gift ever given which was given for the whole world?

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.
2 Corinthians 9:15

 

God’s plan for you

new year 2016

As 2015 ends, and 2016 is about to being, folks are putting together resolutions and plans for the new year. But, have you ever considered what Godly planning looks like? As you make your New Years Resolutions, let’s consider a Godly formula for making plans. 

BIBLICAL EXAMPLES OF PLANNING… The Scriptures show us many folks planning, some good and others making evil plans…..

EVIL PLANS – The Psalmist said, “Who plan evil things in their hearts; They continually gather together for war. (NKJV) [Psalm 140:2]. Solomon warned his son not to go with those who plan evil, “If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood,” [Proverbs 1:11]. Jesus Himself told a parable of a man who planned fraud against his master [Luke 16:4 ].

Clearly, the scriptures condemn the making of evil plans, rather we should be making Godly plans….

GODLY PLANNING – Paul was planning to visit the church at Corinth to encourage them, “And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit; 17 Therefore, when I was planning this, did I do it lightly?” (NKJV) [2Co 1:15]

When MOSES was leading the children of Israel out of Egypt, he was working without much of a plan as he decided matters between one another. Jethro, his father-in-law, taught him a better way. “Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God:” [Exodus 18:19]

DAVID faced Goliath with a plan. “This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.” [1Samuel 17:46]. If you’ve ever wondered why David, a man of faith, needed 5 smooth stones, this is the reason, he needed one to kill Goliath and with the others he planned to route the Philistines!

There were others plans made as well. As men moved to fulfill commands of God to build the Temple, they made plans and set aside materials to ensure an expedient completion. [1Ch 22:1-19; 28:14-18; 29:1-5; 2Ch 3:1; 5:1]. Then Nehemiah also made plans as he oversaw the rebuilding of the Temple, after their return from the captivity. [Nehemiah 2:7, 8]

[Since God has ALLOWED MAN TO PLAN, ought you plan your life to serve Him?]

GODLY PLANNING FOR OUR LIVES – As we’ve seen, God has allowed and approved of man to make plans to serve Him. Looking at additional scripture, we find that planning is wise.

IT’S RIGHTEOUS TO PLAN – The book of Proverbs teaches us to make plans, by telling us to give thought to our steps, and that the plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance. Included is a warning to those who fail to pause and plan that living impulsively only leads to poverty. [Proverbs 14:15; Proverbs 21:5]

Our Lord commended planning when He told how the wise count the cost before building a tower [Luke 14:28], or when a King goes to battle [v31, 32]. Let us never forget that obedience to Him is like the wise one who built his house on a rock [Matthew 7:24-27].

The Prophet Isaiah wrote, “But he who is noble plans noble things, and on noble things he stands [32:8 ESV]. Shall we not, as children of God, make noble plans? The question then becomes, what are noble plans and how do we make them?

Using scriptures, let’s look at a 7 step formula for making Godly, noble plans.

Step 1 – KEEP GOD’S WILL IN MIND – The first, and most important step is to begin with God’s plan / will. Before making any choice or plans ask yourself, “Is this what God would want?” We should always consider whether or not our plans are involving sin, if so, it no longer qualifies as noble.

Looking again to the Proverbs, “There are many devices (plans) in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand” [Pr 19:21]. By committing our work to the Lord, our plans will be pleasing to the Lord [Prov 16:3].

“If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that,” ought to be our beginning attitude. [James 4:13-15]. Along with faithful obedience to the commands of God [Deuteronomy 28:1-68; John 14:15; Matthew 28:20].

Step 2 – SEEK WISE COUNSEL – “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed,” [Proverbs 15:22]. We need to seek advice, but seek it from the right sources.

We need to ask GOOD PEOPLE, folks that are already living a Godly life. “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils,” [1Corinthians 10:21; Ephesians 5:11]. Remember that Paul taught, “Evil company corrupts good habits,” [1Corinthians 15:33].

We should make plans by seeking advice, [Proverbs 20:18]. Even something like building a house, and filling it with our stuff, needs wise plans and advice or it will fail, [Proverbs 20:18; 24:3-4].

Sometimes NATURE provides us wise counsel. “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest,” [Proverbs 6:6-8]. Job said to “ask the beasts” [Job 12:7], “and they shall teach thee.” God’s own creation can be a source of wisdom and counsel.

But God gives us a warning about FALSE INFORMATION. There are silly myths, false and selfish desires which cause us to seek teachers to tell us what we want to hear, [1 Timothy 4:7; Proverbs 19:2; 23:4; 2Timothy 4:3]. You’ve met those folks. They ask for advice but seldom take it, doing what they had intended from the beginning as they chase their own lusts.

Step 3 – SET THE RIGHT PRIORITIES, Sometimes we make nonsinful plans, but we’ve neglected other areas of our lives. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for this very thing. “..ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith:” Note that He wanted them to do the “WEIGHTIER MATTERS” but He also wanted them “not to leave the other undone” [Matthew 23:23].

Our first priorities are always to seek the kingdom of God, [Matthew 6:33], then the others things will be added to you. We also need to be mindful of giving, being benevolent, and taking care of our family’s needs [2Corinthians 9:7; 1Timothy 5:8]. If we seek our own selfish ambitions, we’re no longer making noble plans.

Step 4 is to PUT THINGS IN THE RIGHT ORDER, to do the things that are expedient to complete our plans. “.. get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house” [Proverbs 24:27 ESV]. We’re commanded our worship be done “decently and in order [1 Corinthians 14:40], should our lives, which is a service to God, be any less?

Step 5 is to DO IT, we need to get busy with our plans. Without work, no plans ever come to completion. When we work, let’s do it with all our might, [Ecclesiastes 9:10], without being slothful with our business [Romans 12:11], and to “do it heartily, as to the Lord” [Colossians 3:23]. God wants us to be active, not to be thieves, rather, “labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” [Ephesians 4:28].

Step 6 is to EVALUATE the successes or failures of our plans. Are you still doing the right thing? Has your work changed making it sinful? Paul told the Corinthians to examine themselves, whether they be in the faith [1Cor 13:15], which must include our work activities as well as spiritual. If we stray away from the noble, Godly plans then let us bring ourselves back to the right.

Step 7 is to EXPECT TROUBLE and to prepare for it. This is a realistic view of life and many of us want to avoid or ignore trouble. Unfortunately, it is a part of life and the scriptures teach this. “time and chance happeneth to them all” [Ecc 9:11], is a reminder for us that things happen. Some good, and some bad. Look at the weather, God causes the rain on the just and the unjust, but sometimes floods come with the rain. [Matthew 5:45; 7:27] Consider the recent flooding in our own area.

Because of sin, and the broken world we live in because of sin, life is sometimes a struggle and we ought to expect it. We’re going to sweat, we’re going to get cut by thorns, but god has given us the strength to endure it. [Genesis 3:17, 18]

Even the people around us will sometimes be against us. Be it for jealousy or envy, they will be obstacles to our success [1Pe 4:4]. But don’t let the ungodly of this world, keep you from doing noble things.

CONCLUSION: With Godly planning, we can make the best of this world. God wants joy for us, but not just for this life. He has bigger and better plans. He has made a plan of SALVATION, which He made even before He created the world [Ephesians 1:4; Romans 16:25, 26; 1Peter 1:20].

His plans meant that His son, Christ Jesus, would be slain. This too was determined before the world was made [Revelation 13:8; Titus 1:2, 3].

His plans include for us to be a thinking people, [John 14:26]. His plans include for us to be obedient to Him [Ephesians 2:10; Titus 2:14; Matthew 28:20], to obey the Gospel [1 Thessalonians 1:8].

Finally, His plans include for us a FUTURE HOME which Jesus has gone to prepare [John 14:2]. A place that shall have no death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain and God shall wipe away all tears [Revelations 21:1].

We can make all the plans in the world, but if we fail to plan for eternity, we’ve lost it all. “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” [1Peter 4:17]

Spencer

The Force Awakens

star wars

It’s been 32 years since Return of the Jedi, the final episode of the Star Wars trilogy that began in 1977 with episode IV A New Hope. Since the announcement of an episode 7, adults and children alike have endured a 2-year, Christmas like anticipation for the movie to finally arrive in Theaters, of which I am one.

Stories abound of fans scrambling to purchase tickets, pilgrimaging to theaters in droves, to be witness to the first public viewings. Folks have called in sick, one website offered a list of plausible excuses to use when you call off work, so as to be a part of this momentous event. Threats of “unfriending” folks from Facebook if they reveal any spoilers to those of us who have yet to navigate through the sea of people for one of the early showings.

This article shall neither bash those among the masses who make the trek to the early movies, adorned in their Jedi regalia, nor those who couldn’t give a rip that a new Spock movie just opened. (laugh if you got that joke.) No, just a comparison shall I draw. (laugh at that one too.)

I am curious about a few things, have we as a church ever posted online, for any amount of time, displaying our excitement for the coming day to worship our Lord and Savior? Or even better than that, the breathless anticipation of the Return Of The Christ? Oh how I long for the day we could anticipate the 1st day of the week, or His wonderful, triumphant return.

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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. [Hebrews 10:25]
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I can’t believe you missed it!

Has anyone ever excitedly said to you, “I can’t believe you missed it!”, when referring to the Sunday worship that you had to miss due to illness or work? Have they ever gushed out every single line from the sermon, every emotion and every point drawn? No? Yeah, neither have I. What I HAVE heard was, “Missed you on Sunday”, in that tone as if they were really saying, “what kind of sin kept you from the worship?” Worse than that are those that say, “missed ya on Sunday”, but really saying, “I had to be there, why weren’t you?”

To be sure, If I were given a $200 million budget and 3 years, I may be able to produce a sermon entertaining enough to draw in the numbers comparable to Star Wars. But alas, I do not. I have 6 days to produce 4 lessons (2 sermons & 2 bible Classes). Not counting the myriad of other personal Bible studies, calls and questions I receive. No, my budget is far less.

We have no authority to do anything of the sort. We are to “teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:” [Matthew 28:19-20] We have no authority to draw anyone by any carnal lust whether it be food, entertainment or money. No, we have the Gospel to draw folks in, drawn in with a “true heart in full assurance of faith” [Hebrews 10:22].

Our Lord warned us about such things. “Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. 27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.” [John 6:26-27]

He was pointing out that some will only come if you feed them with food, but they should be laboring for the spiritual food that brings about everlasting life. A preacher once said to me, “what a person is converted with, they are converted to.”

I have nothing against Star Wars or many other forms of non-sinful entertainment. The question I must ask myself, and you must ask yourself, is this; Do I care as much about the worship of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His Triumphant return as I care about a movie?

Spencer Blackwelder
Evangelist, Borger, Tx