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Dec 17, 2017 - Humility
Dec 10, 2017 - “Great is the Mystery”
Dec 03, 2017 - Wait and Occupy
Nov 26, 2017 - “Grace, Favor, and Thanks”
Nov 19, 2017 - Scriptural Baptism Gives a Figure of Past, Present, and Future
Nov 05, 2017 - “Two Trumpets of Silver”
Oct 29, 2017 - “Unreasonable and Wicked Men”
Oct 22, 2017 - Paul’s Ministry in Thessalonica
Oct 15, 2017 - “He Must Increase, but I Must Decrease”
Oct 08, 2017 - “To Bear Witness of the Light”
Oct 01, 2017 - “My Father’s Business”
Sep 24, 2017 - “Turned the World Upside Down”
Sep 17, 2017 - “Fellowcitizens”
Sep 10, 2017 - “When the Storms of Life are Raging”
Sep 03, 2017 - “Labour is not in Vain in the Lord”
Aug 27, 2017 - “Jesus Christ, and Him Crucified”
Aug 20, 2017 - Does Your Faith Stand in the Wisdom of Man?
Aug 06, 2017 - “Nineveh is Laid Waste”
Jul 30, 2017 - Message and Methods
Jul 23, 2017 - “Love Life, and See Good Days”
Jul 16, 2017 - “Prosper and be in Health”
Jul 09, 2017 - Delight in the Lord’s Commandments
Jul 02, 2017 - Four Men in Acts 8:26-40
Jun 25, 2017 - Local Church Commission
Jun 18, 2017 - What a Christian Father Should Be
Jun 11, 2017 - “The Laborers are Few”
May 14, 2017 - Women of Faith
May 07, 2017 - Wings of Protection
Apr 30, 2017 - Jesus, Our Kinsman
Apr 23, 2017 - The Witnesses for Jesus
Apr 16, 2017 - New Testament Holy Days?
Apr 09, 2017 - “The Plowing of the Wicked, is Sin”
Mar 26, 2017 - “Gain the Whole World, and Lose His Own Soul”
Mar 12, 2017 - Banquets and Feasts
Mar 05, 2017 - Informed, Transformed, Conformed
Feb 26, 2017 - More Like the Master
Feb 19, 2017 - Change and Transform
Feb 12, 2017 - The Lord’s Church and the Lord’s Wisdom
Feb 05, 2017 - Equipped for Faith and Practice
Jan 29, 2017 - Focus on Bulgaria
Jan 22, 2017 - Anchored Within The Veil
Jan 15, 2017 - “If Our Gospel Be Hid”
Jan 08, 2017 - Take Up Your Cross Daily
Jan 01, 2017 - “The LORD Bless Thee, and Keep Thee”


Humility

Psalm 116:6, Matthew 11:29
Dec 17, 2017

“The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me” (Psalm 116:6). “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:29).

The lesson on humility is given in two divisions. In the bulletin, we will study the scriptures showing humility as the right attitude for any person (lost or saved) who comes to the LORD when seeking mercy and forgiveness. In the Sunday morning sermon, the second division, Christ will be shown to be the humble Savior.

An Old Testament example of humility is shown in II Chronicles 33:1-13. Manasseh, the king of Israel, turned away from the good example of his godly father, Hezekiah. “he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger” (II Chronicles 33:6). The LORD used the Assyrians to bring great affliction and change to Manasseh. “And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God” (II Chronicles 33:12-13).

Humility is also the right attitude for the child of God when sin against God has broken the fellowship between God and the disobedient child of God. A clear example of repentance and restoration is shown in the life of David, the king of Israel. Psalm 51 and 116 show God’s mercy and forgiveness for David when he was humbled before the LORD. David wrote in Psalm 51:7-9-10 and Psalm 116:5-6.

“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7). Hyssop is a small plant used at the first Passover to apply the blood of the lamb (Exodus 12:22). “Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:9-10). “Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me” (Psalm 116:5-6).

The New Testament shows the humble attitude of the Apostle Peter after he had cursed and denied the Lord at the trial of Jesus. “And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:75). God was not finished with Peter. He was used to preach the sermon when the Lord’s first church met in Jerusalem for the services on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-41). Because David and Peter both repented with a humble attitude, they received God’s forgiveness and restoration. David was chastised by the Lord but continued to serve as king and was blessed with great promises from the Lord. The message to Mary in Luke 1:30-35 shows that God’s promises to David would not fail.

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 51:17). The word “contrite” indicates humility.

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“Great is the Mystery”

I Timothy 3:16
Dec 10, 2017

“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (I Timothy 3:16).

Bible teachers who have served the Lord for many years still find it difficult when trying to explain this very precious doctrine. John wrote, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one” (I John 5:7). Just before Jesus went into the Garden of Gethsemane, he prayed,

“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. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one” (John 17:21-22).

When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River (Matthew 3:13-17), there was a demonstration of this great mystery. Jesus, the Son of God, “went up straightway out of the water.” God the Father spoke from heaven, and the Spirit of God “descending like a dove, and lighting upon him.”

When Jesus gave the commission to his church, he speaks of the administration of baptism with these words, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19).

Paul closed his second letter to the Corinthian church with these words, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen” (II Corinthians 13:14). We accept the truth of God’s word that our God is shown to us in the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

“God was manifest in the flesh” (I Timothy 3:16). “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). “God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3).

This sinful world needed a Kinsman Redeemer who could and would be willing to suffer and die for all mankind (Hebrews 2:9). “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).

To have his Son come into this world as the Son of God and as the Son of Man, God chose Mary, a virgin, and made this promise to her: “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS” (Luke 1:31). Mary was told that “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee”(Luke 1:35). Therefore, Jesus Christ is qualified to be our Redeemer, our Savior, our merciful High Priest, our Lord of Lords, and King of Kings.

Those around the throne of God praised our Lord, the Lamb of God, “Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing” (Revelation 5:12).

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Wait and Occupy

Luke 19:12-13, I Thessalonians 1:10
Dec 03, 2017

“He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:12-13). “And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come” (I Thessalonians 1:10).

Another parable in Matthew 25:14-30 has some lessons that are similar to the parable in Luke 19. In both parables, we learn of the servants and the master. In both parables, the master leaves his assets in the care of his servants. It is easy to see that the master represents the Lord Jesus Christ, who returned to heaven to take His pace at the right hand of God the Father. In Acts 1:11, we have the promise that our Master shall return for us. We read in I Thessalonians 1:10 that the servants in the Lord’s church were to wait. The servants were not to wait in unproductive idleness.

The word “occupy” used in Luke 19:13 lets us know how we are to wait. Consider how the word “occupation” is used in the scriptures to understand the meaning of Luke 19:13. In Acts 18:2-3, we learn of Paul’s coming to Corinth where he lodged with Aquila and his wife, Priscilla, faithful servants of the Lord. “And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers” (Acts 18:3).

Paul’s working as a tentmaker is a good example that, under some circumstances, a true preacher may have to seek employment and income in addition to his work with one of the Lord’s churches. We need to be careful to understand that a pastor who has employment with a hardware business, for example, is still a full time servant of the Lord. Doing a good honest job in any occupation will open up doors of opportunity to be a witness for our Lord.

The same text (Luke 19:13) was used in the bulletin of June 23, 2013, where the emphasis was on our responsibility to support missions. Some of that article, slightly modified, is in today’s bulletin.

The Greek word translated “occupy” (Luke 19:13) is also translated from the same word with the prefix dia (meaning “through”) where it is translated as “trading” (Luke 19:15). The lesson in these parables is that our church has a commission, a message, blessings, and assets that the Lord has placed in our care. No world conditions, no cultural changes, no hardships, no weariness, and no persecutions should cause us to lose sight of the Lord’s command to “Occupy [or do my business] till I come.”

A conversation with an aged, retired pastor causes me to add another obstacle that must not stop us. He said, “My age and physical health stops me from doing some things that I once could do. As long as I have life, I am going to pray, encourage, and offer any help possible in understanding the scriptures.”

We thank God for his willingness to still be busy while he is waiting.

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“Grace, Favor, and Thanks”

Ephesians 2:8, Luke 1:30, I Corinthians 15:57
Nov 26, 2017

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). “And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God” (Luke 1:30). “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:57).

The words “grace,” “favor,” and “thanks” in the scriptures listed above are translated in our King James Bible from the Greek word charis. In our service on Wednesday, we discussed this subject and I promised that more study would be given on the reason that different English words were based on the same Greek word.

From Strong’s Dictionary and Thayer’s Lexicon (Word #G5485), we can understand the connection between grace (occurs 130 times) and favor (occurs 6 times), which speak of the loving kindness, benefits, and goodwill that God bestows upon one that which is not deserved. This is unmerited favor. The words “thanks” and “thank” (occur 8 times) do require some research back into the Latin language and Old English use of the word “grace.”

The King James translators made use of previous Bible translations and the language that was in use in their time. Those language experts from Oxford, Westminster, and Cambridge did not invent “a new holy language.” Remember that Greek and Latin courses were common in all major Universities. The Greek text most in use at the time was the text published by Stephens in 1550. Corrections in spelling and grammar were made in 1624 by Elizevir. This is often called the Textus Receptus or Received Text. This is the Greek text that I use in my Interlinear Greek-English New Testament.

One of the old translations used by the King James translators for comparison was the Old Latin, used since A.D. 150, in northern Italy and by the Waldensians of the Alps Mountains. The Latin word for grace is “gratia.” Our word “gratitude” is from that word. Blended into our English language are many Latin words. In England, even in the fifteenth and sixteenth century, it was common to speak of prayer, especially before meals, as “saying grace.” In my lifetime, it has been common to use the same language. “Will you please say grace before our meal?” That request is clearly understood. It means to express our gratia, “our “gratitude”.

The words “grace” and “gratitude” were so connected in use by the people that the translators used “grace” or “thanks” to translate the Greek charis depending on the context of the verse.

“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20).

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Scriptural Baptism Gives a Figure of Past, Present, and Future

Romans 6:4-5
Nov 19, 2017

“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

The word “figure” has the meaning of “a picture” or “a type.” Examples of this meaning for “figure” are seen in Hebrews 9:24 where the earthly tabernacle is a figure of the true tabernacle in heaven. In I Peter 3:21, the events of the flood in Noah’s day are a figure to illustrate baptism. Noah’s building of the ark was his response to God’s command. Noah and his family were blessed by obeying God's command. Baptism is said to be the “answer of a good conscience toward God” and “by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” God’s command from Acts 2:38 is, “Repent, and be baptized.” The response that pleases God, following his command, is the response that satisfies our good conscience.

The word, “scriptural” is used in the title to emphasize that baptism requires that we follow the examples of baptism as taught in the Bible. Four requirements are:

  1. The one to be baptized must be saved by believing on Jesus Christ. John the Baptist required, “Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance” (Matthew 3:8) before he would administer baptism. On the day of Pentecost, the baptism came in this order: “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized” (Acts 2:41). The Ethiopian who was instructed from Isaiah 53 by Philip gave his testimony of faith before his baptism. “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:37). The scriptural order is shown in Acts 18:8 where “many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.”
  2. Baptism in the Bible was by a complete immersion. Notice two words in Romans 6:4-5: (a) “buried” and (b) “planted.” The word translated “Baptize” is from the Greek “to immerse.” When Jesus was baptized, He “went up straightway out of the water” (Matthew 3:16).
  3. Those who administered valid baptism in Bible times were serving under the authority of a true, Bible teaching New Testament church. The first church, serving during the earthly ministry of Jesus, acted by the authority of Jesus (Matthew 16:18-19). “Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John” (John 4:1). The baptism was by the authority of Jesus and done by his disciples.
  4. From the examples on the day of Pentecost and from the churches established in the book of Acts, we learn that those who became church members were baptized members.

Valid baptism is based on events in the past. We see the ordinance beginning when God sent John the Baptist to “make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17). Baptism looks back to the past when Jesus died, was buried, and rose again.

Valid baptism is a present day commitment to Jesus Christ and his work in the world today. We are not to live in the same manner as our life before we were saved. Our present day life is to be devoted to newness of life. In baptism, you are making a public commitment to take up your cross and follow your Savior. “IIf any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

The future resurrection of our mortal body is pictured by our body being buried under the water and then being raised up out of the water (Romans 6:5).

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“Two Trumpets of Silver”

Numbers 10:1-2
Nov 05, 2017

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps” (Numbers 10:1-2).

In the word by word study of I Thessalonians 1:1-10, the meaning of “sounded” in verse 8 brought attention to the way trumpets were used in Bible times. This word speaks of sounding out “as a trumpet or thunder” (Vine's Bible Dictionary). The LORD instructed Moses in the use of the trumpets for these purposes:

(1) To call the nation together. “And when they shall blow with them [both], all the assembly shall assemble themselves to thee at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation” (Numbers 10:3). This gathering of the nation was needed so that all the people could be instructed in the orderly movement of the nation.

Note: The New Testament word for “church” is “ekklesia,” which describes a body of citizens who are called out and assembled for transaction of business. We have a command for the church members to be assembled at regular times. “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). Please consider this verse as a trumpet call for you to be present in the church services.

(2) To sound an alarm for the nation to go to war against their enemies. “And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies” (Numbers 10:9).

Note: The New Testament reminds us that the servants of the LORD are still called to “Fight the good fight of faith” (I Timothy 6:12). “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)” (II Corinthians 10:4). Consider these verses to be a trumpet call to “endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (II Timothy 2:3). Do not be guilty of deserting your post and giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

(3) The trumpet sounded to mark the beginning of the fiftieth year Jubilee. “Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family” (Leviticus 25:9-10).

Note: the Jubilee trumpet brought good news to the slaves who were held in bondage and good news to those who had lost their family property. The gospel message of redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ that had sounded out from the church of the Thessalonians proclaimed a message of eternal life and freedom from eternal condemnation.“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).

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“Unreasonable and Wicked Men”

II Thessalonians 3:2
Oct 29, 2017

“And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith” (II Thessalonians 3:2).

There were wicked and unreasonable men in the city of Thessalonica when Paul and Silas taught in the Jewish synagogue that “Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ” (Acts 17:3). “But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people” (Acts 17:5).

Jesus explained this hatred and rejection of the gospel message in John 3:19-20, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.”

This same hatred of the gospel light shown in the assault on the house of Jason is also shown in the viscous attack on Stephen by the men who “were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth” (Acts 7:54). “Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul” (Acts 7:57-58). The last part of verse 58 shows that Saul, also called Paul, was part of that hateful mob.

Paul’s message to the Philippians and Thessalonians and Stephen’s message in Jerusalem were a message of love, redemption, forgiveness, and eternal salvation by God’s grace. It is not reasonable that men should reject such a blessed message and turn in anger to destroy God’s servants. We do not have the power to change the hearts of these unreasonable men.

We must not forget the power of the gospel when the message is blessed by the convicting, drawing power of the Holy Spirit. It is a great encouragement to read, “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20).

We must depend on the power of the gospel, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).

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Paul’s Ministry in Thessalonica

Acts 17:2-3
Oct 22, 2017

“And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ” (Acts 17:2-3).

This article is a short introduction to an orderly, systematic study of the two books that Paul addressed to the church in the city of Thessalonica. These two books show a good example for our church. See I Thessalonians 1:3, “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.”

Background Information

The modern city of Thessaloniki is the second largest city in the country of Greece with a population of about one million people. In New Testament times, the city was the capitol city of the Macedonian province. The city was at the intersection of two major Roman roads: one going west to Italy (Ignatia Way), and the other from the Danube Valley to the Aegean Sea.

The End of Paul’s First Missionary Journey

Paul and Barnabas returned to the church at Antioch at the end of their first missionary journey. “And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. And there they abode long time with the disciples” (Acts 14:27-28). The issue of the false teachers who were teaching that the Christian disciples had to be circumcised and keep the law of Moses to be saved brought Paul, Barnabas, and others to a meeting with the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. A letter was written by the council meeting in Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch to deliver the letter.

Paul and Silas Begin the Second Missionary Journey

A very sharp contention developed between Paul and Barnabas, and the result was that Barnabas chose Mark to go with him. Paul chose Silas, and they began their journey through Syria and Cilicia. In Derbe and Lystra, Timothy became a partner with Paul and Silas. As they traveled through the area of Phyragia and Galatia, they delivered the letter sent from the council in Jerusalem. Their plans were to go on into regions of Asia. The Lord sent instructions: “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us” (Acts 16:9). Their journey now took them into the city of Philippi. After a very fruitful ministry in Philippi, this missionary team arrived in Thessalonica.

The Short Ministry in Thessalonica

Their work in this important city is covered in the first 10 verses of Acts 17. On the sabbath day, they went into the Jewish synagogue. Notice the first words of Acts 17:3: “Opening and alleging.” The literal meaning of the Greek “anoigo” is used to speak of opening a door or a gate. In Acts 17:3, the word is “dianoigo” and means “opening completely,” and it is used in the Bible of “opening the understanding and the mind.” Paul’s teaching was not a mixed up confusing message. He “reasoned with them out of the scriptures” (Acts 17:2). The Holy Spirit used the message to bring people to faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah.

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“He Must Increase, but I Must Decrease”

John 3:30-31
Oct 15, 2017

“He must increase, but I must decrease. He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all” (John 3:30-31).

When Jesus began his earthly ministry of teaching and calling out disciples, John was still engaged in the ministry that God had given to him “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17). This preparation involved John’s message, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). People from Jerusalem and all Judea came to the location on the Jordan river where John was baptizing. Disciples who were baptized by John were prepared to become members of the Lord’s church.

John did set an important requirement for baptism, “Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance” (Matthew 3:8). The meaning is: Show by your testimony and actions that you have turned from unbelief to faith. If we also look at John’s message in John 1, we see that John proclaimed Jesus Christ with these words, “Behold the Lamb of God” (John 1:29, 36).

When Jesus came from Galilee to Jordan unto John to be baptized, John in his humble attitude did not think that he was worthy to baptize Jesus (Matthew 3:13-15). When John said, “He must increase, but I must decrease,” he expressed his attitude. Christ was Master, and John was a servant. John also said, “He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose” (John 1:27).

Jesus commended John for his faithful witness. “There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved. He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light” (John 5:32-35).

John said, “he that cometh from heaven,” which shows us that he knew that Jesus was no ordinary man. Jesus came from heaven and was above all. “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).

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“To Bear Witness of the Light”

John 1:6-7 and II Corinthians 4:6
Oct 08, 2017

“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe” (John 1:6-7). “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Corinthians 4:6).

The first scripture in our Bible that gives us a quote from God is Genesis 1:3, “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” This is the reference for our second text verse. The verse also speaks of the “face of Jesus Christ.” We learn from II Corinthians 3 that the face of Moses was shining so brightly after he had been in the presence of God on Mount Sinai that Moses had to put a veil over his face. II Corinthians 4:4 speaks of “the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God.” The reference to the face of Jesus Christ reminds us that we can look to Christ to see the glory of God and the wonderful plan that God has for us.

There is a statement in John 1:5 about the power of the light that shines forth from Jesus Christ. “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” The word “comprehended” is also translated as “apprehended.” The darkness of sin in this world can not conquer and make powerless the gospel message of Jesus Christ when the message is made known.

We are taught in II Corinthians 4:3-4 that there is the danger of the gospel message being hidden and covered. “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world [Satan] hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

The personal ministry of Jesus Christ is our example for getting the light out to those in darkness. “The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him” (Matthew 4:16-20).

When Jesus ascended back to his Father, there was a New Testament church of about 120 members, instructed in the work needed to get his message to all the world. In the book of Acts and in all the other New Testament books, we have the example of the plan, program, method, and technique to follow in fulfilling the commission of Christ.

With the Holy Bible as our instruction book and with the Holy Spirit to provide power and guidance, we can be a lighthouse for the LORD shining as lights in the world (Philippians 2:15) and giving glory to God in his church. “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21).

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“My Father’s Business”

Romans 12:11
Oct 01, 2017

This article will begin with five different Scriptures. As we examine these Scriptures, we can learn how they are connected.

  • (Luke 2:49) “And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?” Jesus was 12 years when he went to Jerusalem with Mary, his mother, Joseph, and others in the group, which is called “the company” (Luke 2:44). The one thing that this company had in common was that they were traveling together as a group.
  • (Romans 16:2) “That ye receive her [Phebe, our sister] in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.” Phebe had business to handle in Rome.
  • (I Thessalonians 4:11) “And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you.” We conclude from the context of Romans 16:2 and I Thessalonians 4:11, that these verses refer to regular commercial enterprises.
  • (Acts 1:21-22) “Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.” While the Lord’s church in Jerusalem was waiting for the Holy Spirit to come and empower them for their great work, they needed to select an Apostle to take the place of Judas. One of the qualifications for the new Apostle was that he must be one who had been a part of “the company” of disciples who had been working together as a group from the days of John the Baptist.
  • (Acts 4:23) “And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.” “Their own company” had this in common: they were disciples of the Lord Jesus and members of the church body in Jerusalem. Notice the words used to describe this company of disciples. They praised God with one accord (Acts 4:24). They prayed. They were filled with the Holy Ghost. They spoke the word of God with boldness (Acts 4:31).

God the Father has work to do, His business, in this world. Jesus Christ, the Son, was a servant and fully committed to faithful work in his Father’s business.

We do not view the Lord’s work as a commercial business, but we can view the Lord’s work in a spiritual sense as a “fishing business” (Mark 1:17), as a “building business” (I Corinthians 3:10), as a “farming business” (I Corinthians 3:6-9), and as an “educational business” (Matthew 28:19).

With the Lord’s work and business in mind, it is wise to heed this Scripture. “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11).

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“Turned the World Upside Down”

Acts 17:5-6
Sep 24, 2017

“But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also” (Acts 17:5-6).

The Lord blessed the ministry of Paul and Silas in Philippi with a church being established. The rulers of the city did not consider the Lord’s work to be a benefit to the city. They said, “These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city” (Acts 16:20).

Acts 17:2-4 shows that a multitude of Greeks and chief women in Thessalonica became believers and servants of the Lord. This greatly disturbed those who believed not. They saw trouble instead of blessings. The wording of Acts 17:5, “certain lewd fellows of the baser sort,” is literally “market-loungers” (Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, George Ricker Berry). In our language, we would say, “Lazy good for nothing, trouble makers.”

The charge against Paul and Silas, “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also,” was a true charge. When the Word of God is faithfully preached and received by faith, it produces these dramatic changes:

John 5:24, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” This is a change that will affect your eternity: heaven with the Lord instead of eternal condemnation in hell.

Matthew 4:15-17, “The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The ministry of Jesus Christ marks a momentous change from the Old Testament order of serving God to the New Testament order of Christian service.

Luke 16:16, “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.” The word “presseth” is used in the sense of “oppression,” and it teaches that the ministry of Christ in the kingdom of God faced very much opposition. II Corinthians 3 shows that the Old Testament order with Israel serving under the law of Moses is described as “the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones” (II Corinthians 3:7). The New Testament order, called the “ministration of the Spirit” (II Corinthians 3:8), had its beginning with John the Baptist -- who was sent “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17) -- and with Jesus -- who called out his first disciples and established his first church. Bringing the New Testament order right down to the local level, a community can be turned upside down and receive blessings and benefits by the effective scriptural work of one of the Lord’s true churches. The church of the Thessalonians serves as a good example. “For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing” (I Thessalonians 1:8).

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“Fellowcitizens”

Ephesians 2:19
Sep 17, 2017

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).

The subject of citizenship in Acts 22:25-28 concerns Paul’s relationship to the Roman government as a Roman citizen. The chief captain said to Paul, “With a great sum obtained I this freedom,” and Paul responded, “But I was free born” (Acts 22:28). In his family lineage and religion, Paul was Jewish, “of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee” (Philippians 3:5).

Three scriptures that use the word “citizen” to describe a person’s relationship to a country or kingdom are Luke 15:15, 19:14, and Acts 21:39. Paul said, “I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people” (Acts 21:39).

Ephesians 2:19 is using the subject of being a fellowcitizen to refer to a relationship or connection with the Lord and his house. The word “household” has the same meaning as the word “house” in I Timothy 3:15, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”

Even with all the problems facing our country, there are still many advantages and blessings in being a citizen of the United States. You can increase those blessings by being a good citizen. When you are saved by grace through faith, you can have great blessings in being a child of God in the family of God. Do not forget that you can have more than eternal life. You can have a part in God’s work.

God’s blessings can be increased and multiplied when you become a dedicated vessel in God’s service. Remember the word “saints” in Ephesians 2:19 speaks of those who are dedicated, set apart for use in God’s work. The word “fellow” connected to the word “citizen” refers to a “joining together in a partnership.” That connected partnership is also taught by the use of “the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:21). The same principal of being fellowcitizens joined together as one body is taught in I Corinthians 12:27, “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”

Salvation by Grace Through Faith, purchased with the precious blood of Jesus Christ, must be faithfully and fervently taught. Being a fellowcitizen in the Lord’s work in the membership of a true Bible teaching New Testament church must also be taught if we follow the example of God’s faithful servants of the Bible. “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).

This was Paul’s testimony to the Ephesians.

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“When the Storms of Life are Raging”

Acts 27:18-20
Sep 10, 2017

“And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship; And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship. And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away” (Acts 27:18-20).

When Paul was on his journey back to Jerusalem, he met with the elders of the Ephesus church. He knew that bonds and afflictions were ahead of him. “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).

In Jerusalem, Paul met with James and the elders of the Jerusalem church. There were Jews of Asia who saw Paul in the temple and stirred up the people while making false accusations against him (Acts 21:28). Through all the events described from Acts 22-26, Paul gave his testimony of Jesus the Messiah. Acts 26:32 shows that, with the serious charges against him, Paul appealed to Cesar.

The ship that was transporting Paul to Rome sailed into a dangerous storm near the island of Crete. “But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon” (Acts 27:14). The name given to this wind literally refers to a typhoon or hurricane (as it is called in the Western hemisphere). These tempestuous storms give us a picture of the Christian’s manifold temptations and the trial of faith, more precious than gold that perishes (I Peter 1:6-7). As in other circumstances, God did not take away the storm, but, in this case, the Lord promised protection for Paul and the other 276 people on the ship. “Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me” (Acts 27:24-25).

God kept his promise, and all from the ship safely reached the shore of the island, Melita (now named Malta). God had a purpose in bringing Paul through the storm to this island. Through Paul, God blessed the father of Publius, the chief man of the island. When God sends you through a storm, it may be for such a purpose in his will.

The title of this bulletin article is from the hymn “Stand By Me” (Hymn 60 in the American Baptist Hymnal).

When the storms of life are raging,
Stand by me (stand by me);
When the storms of life are raging,
Stand by me (stand by me);
When the world is tossing me
Like a ship upon the sea,
Thou Who rulest wind and water,
Stand by me (stand by me).

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“Labour is not in Vain in the Lord”

I Corinthians 15:58
Sep 03, 2017

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:58).

Consider two examples from the scriptures that show wasted labor.

The first example is from Haggai 1. The people of Judah who returned to Jerusalem were instructed by the LORD to rebuild the temple of the LORD, which had been destroyed in the Babylonian invasion. “Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste?” (Haggai 1:4). The people made excuses and said, “The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built” (Haggai 1:2). In the rebuke from the LORD, he said, “Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes” (Haggai 1:6). What miserable lives with wasted labor because they did not obey the LORD.

Another example of wasted labor is shown in the words of Solomon.

“I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards: I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits: I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees” (Ecclesiastes 2:4-6). After listing many other accomplishments (Ecclesiastes 2:7-10), Solomon then said, “Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:11). Solomon’s work did not give him any satisfaction. There is not a word in the first two chapters about doing any work for the glory of God. At the end of this book, Solomon did learn, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

The labor that is described in I Corinthians 15:58 is not wasted labor. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” The message of the resurrection of Jesus Christ shows that there is more to life than our physical life. We have opportunities to use our life for the glory of God. The words of this verse, “stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,” call us to be faithful to the Lord. I remember the words of a dedicated missionary, “Yes, I do get tired in the Lord’s work but never tired of the Lord’s work.”

In the Lord’s work, it is not good to stand back and depend on others to do the work. The Lord’s work is so important that there is no place for the welfare mentality. The command of Romans 12:11 is “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.”

See the example in the book of Nehemiah. “And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work” (Nehemiah 2:18). “So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work” (Nehemiah 4:6).

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“Jesus Christ, and Him Crucified”

I Corinthians 1:23, 2:2; Galatians 6:14
Aug 27, 2017

“But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness” (I Corinthians 1:23). “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save [or except] Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (I Corinthians 2:2). “But God forbid that I should glory, save [or except] in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14). (The word “save” in I Corinthians 2:2 and Galatians 6:14 means “except.”)

We learn from these verses that the preaching of Christ crucified had primary importance in the messages of Paul. He did preach on other subjects. For example, in I Corinthians 1:10, 3:4-9, there is a strong lesson that the Corinthian church should be in unity and fellowship and not be divided over the two preachers, Paul and Apollos.

Another important lesson in I Corinthians 11:18-34 concerns the way that the church was to observe the Lord’s supper. We can also examine the message of the resurrection in I Corinthians 15. These 58 verses are a very complete lesson on the facts and the blessings of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 15:52-57 shows how the Lord will change our mortal corrupt body to a body that is immortal and incorruptible. The conclusion in the last verse of the chapter shows how the truth of the resurrection can motivate us in the Lord’s work. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:58).

There is no contradiction between Paul’s teaching on different subjects and his inspired language in I Corinthians 2:2. Think of the message of Christ and him crucified as the very center of the entire Bible. Every lesson has a connection to that center.

Recall the two disciples who walked to the small town of Emmaus on the day of the resurrection of Jesus. As they walked and reasoned of all the events, “Jesus himself drew near, and went with them” (Luke 24:15). During this discussion, Jesus did not reveal himself at the first. “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).

In all the lessons of the Old Testament including (1) God’s power in creation, (2) Creation of Adam and Eve, (3) God’s promise of a Redeemer, (4) Abraham’s journey by faith, (5) Deliverance under the blood of the Passover Lamb, and (6) God’s law to the nation of Israel, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, is made known. Then with the giving of the New Testament, there is a more complete revelation of Jesus Christ.

In all of our preaching and teaching, we must never lose sight of “ Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

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Does Your Faith Stand in the Wisdom of Man?

I Corinthians 2:4-5
Aug 20, 2017

“And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (I Corinthians 2:4-5).

It is not sufficient to just have faith. Faith and trust must be placed and anchored in the right person and in the right power. “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7). The Bible warns us not to place our trust in the things that fail as Jeremiah warned the tribes of Benjamin and Judah. The LORD asked, “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD. Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein” (Jeremiah 6:15-16).

The people thought that they were safe and protected because they had the house of the LORD in Jerusalem. “Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these” (Jeremiah 7:4). When we study the book of Jeremiah, we learn that most of the people became very angry with Jeremiah because he told them the truth about the coming invasion by Babylon. The king sought prophets who would give a soothing message, that is, lying words.

Jesus gave a parable in Luke 18:9-14 to show the problem of those who trusted in their own righteousness. “And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others” The Pharisee was very proud of his works and needed to know that trusting his righteousness was a terrible mistake.

We can sum up the first part of this article: (1) Do not trust in the wisdom of men, (2) Do not trust in your military power, (3) Do not trust in lying prophets, and (4) Do not trust your own righteousness.

Who can we trust? “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

“That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ” (Ephesians 1:12). The Ephesian Christians were not the first ones to trust Christ as we can plainly see in the Acts 1-18. The word “first” in Ephesians 1:12 is telling us that we must have “first trusted in Christ” to be to the praise of his glory. You cannot be to the praise of his glory if you have not trusted in Christ.

“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13). Please notice that hearing the word of truth preceded their trusting in Christ. Their faith was anchored in the right Person.

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“Nineveh is Laid Waste”

Nahum 3:6-7
Aug 06, 2017

“And I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee vile, and will set thee as a gazingstock. And it shall come to pass, that all they that look upon thee shall flee from thee, and say, Nineveh is laid waste: who will bemoan her? whence shall I seek comforters for thee?” (Nahum 3:6-7).

When Jonah was called by the Lord to go to Nineveh, that city was the largest and most important city of the Assyrian Empire. The war between Hezekiah of Judah and Sennacherib of Nineveh is described in the Isaiah 36 and 37. The threats of the wicked king from Nineveh are shown in Isaiah 36:14-20. The messenger of the Assyrian king questioned the power of the Lord to deliver Hezekiah and his people.

When Hezekiah received the letter from the Assyrians, he “went up unto the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD” (Isaiah 37:14). Hezekiah then prayed, “Incline thine ear, O LORD, and hear; open thine eyes, O LORD, and see: and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent to reproach the living God” (Isaiah 37:17).

Bible historians date the book of Nahum to about 606 B.C. and the book of Jonah to about 750 B.C. We can estimate the span of time from the repentance of the people of Nineveh in the time of Jonah to their being laid waste as described in Nahum to be about 144 years. Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:39-41 that the people of Nineveh did repent. Jonah 3:5 shows that, “So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.”

What happened? The Lord did not break any promise he had made to Nineveh. The people of Nineveh changed as we can learn from the prophets Nahum and Zephaniah. “And he will stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria; and will make Nineveh a desolation, and dry like a wilderness” (Zephaniah 2:13).

The fact that the Lord’s own people will quickly turn from obedience and fellowship to backsliding is taught in II Chronicles 36:15-16, “And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.”

Revelation 1-3 shows us that even the Lord’s churches, after enjoying great blessings, can turn from their faithfulness and face the rebuke and judgment from the Lord. Our need to keep renewing our commitment to the work of the Lord is shown in Luke 9:23 (please notice how our Lord uses the word “daily”). “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

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Message and Methods

Acts 15:39-40
Jul 30, 2017

“And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.”(Acts 15:39-40).

I. Partners in the Lord’s Work

Paul’s ministry began in Damascus right after his conversion to the Lord. Paul’s life was threatened, so the disciples in Damascus “let him down by the wall in a basket” (Acts 9:25). When Paul came to Jerusalem, the disciples there were afraid of him and did not believe that Paul was a disciple of the Lord. Barnabas spoke up for Paul. “But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus” (Acts 9:27).

The church at Jerusalem sent Barnabas to Antioch where he worked with the disciples there. “For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord” (Acts 11:24). Barnabas made a trip to Tarsus, sought Paul, and brought him back to Antioch where they both “taught much people” (Acts 11:26). Paul and Barnabas were also partners in taking an offering to Judea for the relief of the disciples there (Acts 11:29-30).

Paul and Barnabas were working together in Antioch when the Lord called them, and the church at Antioch sent them forth on their first missionary journey. Acts 13, 14, and 15 give us an account of the blessings in the Lord’s work enjoyed by the team of Paul and Barnabas.

Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch and “gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27). Paul and Barnabas were sent by the Antioch church to meet with the apostles and the church in Jerusalem. Their meeting in Jerusalem was to discuss and correct the false teaching of a sect of the Pharisees who were teaching that the Gentiles could not be saved except they be circumcised and keep the law of Moses (Acts 15:1-5).

II. Sharp Contention

Paul and Barnabas returned to the Antioch church. “And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do” (Acts 15:36). This is when the disagreement developed between Paul and Barnabas. Paul objected to the determination of Barnabas to take John Mark because Mark had “departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work” (Acts 15:38).

III. They Departed Asunder

This sharp contention between Paul and Barnabas was not based on differences in teaching the true way of salvation and the other matters of the faith, the true doctrines of God’s word. Their disagreement was over the methods that would be used in the Lord’s work. For some reason not known to us, the Lord did not intervene in the disagreement. God did not send a vision to settle the contention between these two servants of the Lord.

Paul and his companions “were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia” (Acts 16:6). God sent a vision to Paul, “There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us” (Acts 16:9).

The very best way to understand the methods of work that will please the Lord is to carefully examine our Bible and follow the examples of the work shown in the inspired Scriptures.

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“Love Life, and See Good Days”

I Peter 3:10-12
Jul 23, 2017

“For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (I Peter 3:10-12).

Being at Camp Eden this past week with people from churches of the Rocky Mountain Missionary Baptist Association (RMMBA) was a blessed experience. It is especially enjoyable to see the young people that are so full of life and energy. There is a prayer on my heart that each of those who were at camp will have a life with the Lord’s salvation and with the blessings of serving the Lord. Jesus, describing this kind of life, said, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

“Abundantly” is defined in Vine’s Bible Dictionary as “exceeding” and “out of measure.” Jesus speaks of two degrees of life. When he said, “that they might have life,” I believe that he is speaking of the new eternal life in salvation (John 3:16), the new birth of the Holy Spirit (John 3:7-8). This eternal life is a free gift and is received just one time when you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31).

There is the life “more abundantly” that is also in John 10:10. Some of the Bible teachings connected to having the “abundant Life” are:

  1. “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it” (Luke 9:23-24).
  2. “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
  3. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 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 12:1-2).
  4. Peter wrote, “seek peace, and ensue [follow] it” (I Peter 3:11). Refrain your tongue from evil and your lips from guile. Do good. “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).
  5. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

What a great testimony the Lord’s churches would have if each member would follow these Bible commandments! They would shine as lights in this crooked world (Philippians 2:15)!

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“Prosper and be in Health”

III John 2-3
Jul 16, 2017

“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth” (III John 2-3).

The man, Gaius, addressed in this small book is named five times in the New Testament. In Acts 19:29, he is called Paul’s companion in travel. He is named in Acts 20:4 as one who went with Paul into Asia. In Romans 16:23, Paul speaks of Gaius as “mine host,” which indicates that Gaius provided lodging for Paul. In I Corinthians 1:14, Paul writes of having baptized Gaius. From these scriptures and from the things written in III John, we learn that Gaius was a faithful servant of the Lord and a blessing to the Lord’s churches.

Please notice that John’s desire for good health for Gaius is conditioned on the fact “even as thy soul prospereth.” It is scriptural to pray for good health for yourself and to pray for other people who have health problems. A good example of the concern of Christian people for the health of a fellow worker in God’s service is found in Philippians 2:25-30. Epaphroditus is described by Paul as, “my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.” The church at Philippi had heard that he had been sick. “Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me” (Philippians 2:30).

While we are concerned about physical health, III John 2-3 reminds us that it is very important to be concerned about the soul health of others. The word “soul” (Greek psuche) refers to the inner man in contrast to the outer man, i.e., the physical. “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (II Corinthians 4:16). In Colossians 3:10, the language is “the new man,” which speaks of the inner man, i.e., the soul. “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.”

A check-up that indicates soul heath will examine these conditions.

  1. Are you involved in study of the Holy Bible (II Timothy 2:15)?
  2. Are you growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord (II Peter 3:18)?
  3. Do you witness and pray for lost people (Romans 9:1-3, 10:1-4)?
  4. Do you love to assemble with fellow church members (Hebrews 10:25)?
  5. Do you seek first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33)?
  6. Are you involved in the church’s commission (Matthew 28:18-20)?

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Delight in the Lord’s Commandments

Psalm 119:45-47
Jul 09, 2017

“And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts. I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed. And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved” (Psalm 119:45-47).

The word “delight” speaks of rejoicing and having pleasure. Paul wrote, “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man” (Romans 7:22). This is the only verse in the New Testament in which we find the word “delight.” There are many synonyms for this word in the New Testament, and the most common are “joy” and “happiness.”

In the context of Romans 7:22, Paul is writing about the battle between the sinful nature, the flesh, and the new spiritual nature in the child of God. The flesh nature is very strong and pulls us away from the will of God. Paul wrote about the sinful flesh nature, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Romans 7:18).

What a blessing from the Lord! When we are saved, the Lord gives us a changed heart and the “love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5).

With the love of God in our heart, we can follow these examples from the word of God.

“Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself in the LORD and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (Psalm 37:3-4).

“I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea thy law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8).

“In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul” (Psalm 94:19).

“Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God; they ask of me the ordinance of justice; they take delight in approaching to God” (Isaiah 58:2).

Consider two things that bring delight to the LORD:

“They that are of a froward heart are abomination unto the LORD; but such as are upright in their way are his delight.” (Proverbs 11:20).

“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD; but the prayer of the upright is his delight” (Proverbs 15:8).

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Four Men in Acts 8:26-40

Acts 8:26-40
Jul 02, 2017

I. The Ethiopian of Great Authority

This man had charge of all the treasures of the queen of Ethiopia, the country that bordered Egypt on the South. He had been to Jerusalem to worship, which would indicate some connection with the Jewish religion. He could have been Jewish by birth or could have made the decision to accept the Jewish faith. The law of the Passover shows that a stranger could become part of Israel and be qualified to take the Passover (Exodus 12:43-49). As he returned home in his chariot, he was reading that section of the Old Testament scriptures that we now identify as Isaiah 53.

II. Isaiah, The Old Testament Prophet

Isaiah had been dead for hundreds of years, but his work and message for the LORD were still bearing fruit to the benefit of the Ethiopian. God promised that His word would not return to Him void (Isaiah 55:11). Consider also that those who had a part in copying, protecting, and publishing the scriptures used by the Ethiopian were being used by the LORD.

III. Philip, the Man to Guild the Ethiopian to the Gospel

The opportunity for Philip to witness came as he asked, “Understandest thou what thou readest?” (Acts 8:30). The next question is a great lesson that the Lord can use his servant to make the gospel known: “How can I, except some man should guide me?” Philip was the “some man” who was ready to explain God’s message.

IV. Jesus Christ, the Other Man of Acts 8:34

You have heard of the “perfect storm” where all weather conditions come together at one area to form a powerful storm. In this lesson in Acts 8, all conditions come together to form the “perfect opportunity” for Philip to preach Jesus Christ (Acts 8:35). The message was received by the Ethiopian. His next question was, “See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” (Acts 8:36). Philip responded, “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest” (Acts 8:37a). This man did believe with all his heart and gave this testimony, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:37b). This sincere faith is described in John 1:12, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”

Consider several lessons from Acts 8 and Isaiah 53: (1) The gospel of Jesus Christ is in the Old Testament and the New Testament. (2) Salvation can be received as a free gift because Jesus suffered for us. “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief; when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin” (Isaiah 53:10). (3) One must have faith in Jesus Christ before scriptural baptism (Acts 8:37).

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Local Church Commission

Acts 13:3-4
Jun 25, 2017

“And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus” (Acts 13:3-4).

During the past 10 days, I have had the opportunity to speak on behalf of Mongolian Missions. On Wednesday, June 14, I spoke in the services at Marlow MBC, near Sheridan, Arkansas. This church has been a regular supporter for Mongolian Missions. On Sunday, June 18, at Olive Hill MBC near Mablevale, Arkansas, where I had served as pastor during my seminary days, I was given the privilege to give a report before the regular preaching service. At the ABA messenger meeting in Daytona Beach, Florida, a booth was used to show pictures from the different churches in Mongolia. A computer was used for a slide show presentation of the activities in that mission field. Printed reports from the last two months showing God’s blessings were handed out.

An excellent message was delivered on Wednesday night, June 21, by missionary Chase Reynolds who serves in Papua, Indonesia with the Yetfa Tribe. I appreciate the way Brother Reynolds carefully gave a verse by verse exposition of Acts 13:1-4, Matthew 28:18-20, and Romans 10:13-13.

For example, in Matthew 28, the commission was delivered to a local, visible, functioning church body consisting of converted, baptized, disciples, united to obey the commission of Christ. Also, in Acts 13, Brother Reynolds correctly taught that a local, visible, functioning body of converted, baptized disciples were joined in the work of serving the Lord. Notice the pronoun “they” in Acts 13:2, 13:3. “They ministered,” “They fasted and prayed,” and “They sent them away.” This pronoun refers to the church body acting in agreement to send out Paul and Barnabas. It is interesting to note the close connection between the words “separate” and “send.” The idea is “to set free,” “to release,” and “to send away.”

I am in agreement that the “laying on of hands” in Acts 13:3 was by the whole church body, and this action is a statement. “We are joined with you in this work, we desire God’s blessings in this work.” In Acts 14:26-27, we read, “And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled. And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. The word “recommended” in verse 26 indicates that Paul and Barnabas had been committed and turned over to the grace of God by the Antioch church.

God’s mission program is shown in the Book of Acts. How that program works is demonstrated in all the books of the New Testament. Just as the churches of Macedonia assisted in Paul’s work in Thessalonica, we can help missionaries sent out by other churches in the same manner and concern.

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What a Christian Father Should Be

Ephesians 6:1-4
Jun 18, 2017

This article by Pastor Jim Brasseal was first published in the Landmark MBC bulletin on June 19, 2005 and is being reprinted here today as a means to recall the Biblical principles and expectations for fathers in this world today.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1-4).

First, a Christian father should be a husband before he becomes a father. Even though the moral standards of the world have changed, the Bible is still true and God’s way of raising a family within the pattern set forth in the scriptures is still the best way.

Second, according to Paul, the Christian father is to provide for his family. “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (I Timothy 5:8). The words “and is worse than an infidel” in this verse indicates that the Christian is under a higher law in his responsibility to his family.

Third, the Christian father is to provide loving discipline for his children. The word translated nurture in Ephesians 6:3 is a word that most often means discipline with emphasis on training discipline. This training is not to be done in a way that provokes wrath, but rather provokes respect.

Fourth, we can look to Joshua for the example of a father with a godly example. In a statement of spiritual leadership, he said, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).

Fifth, the Christian father needs to rely on the grace of God. The job of being a father is too big to do alone and without the Lord’s help. We fathers are in need of God’s forgiveness as we try to raise our children and come up short in so many ways.

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“The Laborers are Few”

Matthew 9:37-38
Jun 11, 2017

“Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).

Two statements that our Lord made about two thousand years ago are still true today. There is much work to be done in the harvest fields. There are few workers to do the work of getting God’s message out to the ends of the earth.

Throughout our nation, there are many churches where there is a great need for pastors and for other church members to work to fulfill the commission of Matthew 28:18-20. Three congregations in our local association are praying that God will lead the man of God’s will to serve as pastor with them. Pray for Greeley MBC in Greeley, Landmark MBC in Delta, and Victory MBC in Cheyenne.

One problem is that many small churches do not have the finances to support a pastor so that he can work full time with the church. The answer to this problem is found in the example of Paul in his laborers in Corinth. “After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.” (Acts 18:1-3). More information about Paul earning income by physical labor as he served to help the Lord’s churches is found in Acts 20:33-35. “I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

When I was a teenager. the pastor, C.A. Walker, served our church, Mt. Gilead MBC, and earned most of his income by farming, teaching music, and tuning pianos. A shortage of pastors back in those days was met by many churches having preaching on every other Sunday. Brother Walker served Mt. Gilead and Friendship MBC in this way. These two country churches were about twenty miles apart. I also have worked in bookkeeping, landscaping, and apartment maintenance.

God can use a servant in His work who is willing to devote himself to the same practice as Paul did in Corinth.

I have known many fruitful pastors who made sacrifices to go to a field of labor, work in some business, and, at the same time, work to serve one of the Lord’s churches. Their attitude of service is expressed in these words of Paul from II Corinthians 12:15, “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.”

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Women of Faith

Hebrews 11:11
May 14, 2017

“Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised” (Hebrews 11:11).

We must admit that the men named in the chapter of faith outnumber the women. However, we do acknowledge that the women of this chapter show strong faith in the living God. Other women, not named in Hebrews 11, do show true faith. Sara had to wait for many years to see God’s promise fulfilled. Her faith caused her to know that God was faithful to keep his promise.

The next woman of faith that we consider is the mother of Moses. Her faith is shown in Hebrews 11:23, “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment.” The names of the parents are not given in Hebrews 11, but we do get the information from Exodus 6:20 that the name of the father of Moses was Amram and the name of his mother was Jochebed. It was by faith that Jochebed disobeyed Pharaoh’s command and protected her son.

An unusual woman of faith is described in Hebrews 11:31. “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.” In James 2:25, we learn that Rahab showed her faith by her actions. We learn from Matthew 1:4-6 that Rahab is in the family lineage of David the king and is in the family of Jesus Christ. Her faith gave her courage to protect the two men from Israel and to say to them, “for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath” (Joshua 2:11). She knew that the army of Israel would have victory over Jericho, so she made an agreement with the two men that her family would be protected. We read in Joshua 2:18-21 how a scarlet line (rope) became the means of protection for Rahab and her family.

We are not given the names of the women in Hebrews 11:35, “Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection.” In I Kings 17, we read of one woman of faith, the widow of Zarephath, that fits the description of Hebrews 11:35. In II Kings 4, we learn of the woman who asked her husband to build a little chamber attached to their house where the prophet Elisha could have a bed, a table, a stool, and a candlestick. Her son died, but God honored her faith and, through Elisha, her son was restored to life.

We can be thankful to the LORD for women of faith who have been used of the LORD to bring blessings into our lives.

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Wings of Protection

Matthew 23:37
May 07, 2017

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37).

Just a few days before Jesus was taken in the Garden of Gethsemane, he had been teaching in Jerusalem. His lessons were filled with warnings of the coming judgments, but we can see his compassion as Jesus desired to draw people under his protective wings. The same kind of illustration is found in Ruth 2:12 where we read the words spoken by Boaz to Ruth, “The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.” Her trust in the LORD placed her under his protective wings.

David’s prayer in Psalm 17:7-8 also shows the LORD’s protective care. “Shew thy marvellous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them. Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings.” There is another picture of protection shown in the words, “Keep me as the apple of the eye,” which speaks of the pupil of the eye. The bone structure around your eye and the nervous system, which reacts quicker than you can plan to close your eye when there is danger, are designed by our great Creator to provide protection to the eye.

I grew up on a farm where I personally saw the lesson of Matthew 23:37 shown in real life. My mother always kept a large flock of chickens (Rhode Island Red and Plymouth Rock breeds). The hens and the roosters were careful guardians for the little chicks. If a hawk flew over the flock, the alarm was called out. The mother hen gathered the chicks under her protective wings while the rooster stood guard ready to attack any enemy to protect his family.

The Lord gave a beautiful picture in Matthew 23:37. He calls you to come under the protection of his wings where he is ready to protect and save you from danger. The first danger you need to consider is being lost and condemned. He came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). You also need protection under his wings after you are saved. The lesson in Ephesians 6:10-18 shows that the devil will attack God’s own people. We need to “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-11).

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Jesus, Our Kinsman

Hebrews 2:17
Apr 30, 2017

“Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17).

In addition to our text verse, we have another verse, Hebrews 2:12, that speaks of those who are the brethren of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament law of “The Kinsman Redeemer” (Leviticus 25) will help explain the connection between that Old Testament law and the verses in Hebrews 2 that speak of our kinship to Jesus Christ.

“And if a sojourner or stranger wax rich by thee, and thy brother that dwelleth by him wax poor, and sell himself unto the stranger or sojourner by thee, or to the stock of the stranger's family: After that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him: Either his uncle, or his uncle's son, may redeem him, or any that is nigh of kin unto him of his family may redeem him; or if he be able, he may redeem himself” (Leviticus 25:47-49).

It could have been possible from a physical and financial situation in the Old Testament for a person to pay the price and redeem himself, but, with the spiritual condition of a lost person, he could never redeem himself. Peter explains that corruptible things such as silver and gold could not pay the price to free us from our condemnation. Therefore, we are given this truth about our redemption price. “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (I Peter 1:19). Paul wrote, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

Christ often referred to Himself as “The Son of Man.” This title emphasizes that Christ is in the human family, our kinsman. “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son” (John 5:22). “And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man” (John 5:27). The Son of man, who will judge every person, knows what mankind faces in this wicked world because he lived and experienced the conditions in this world.

Jesus Christ is our High Priest. In Hebrews 2:17, His position as our high priest is connected to the fact that he is our kinsman who “suffered being tempted.” In Hebrews 4:15, we learn that Christ was “touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

These verses teach us to be regular in prayer throughout each day to seek help in time of need.

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The Witnesses for Jesus

Luke 24:46-48
Apr 23, 2017

“And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things” (Luke 24:46-48).

  1. Jesus was a witness for himself. In his earthly ministry, he said:
    1. “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
    2. “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).
    3. “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
    4. “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:9).
  2. John the Baptist was a witness for Jesus. He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light” (John 5:35).
  3. The works of Jesus were a testimony for him. “But I [Jesus] have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me” (John 5:36).
  4. God the Father was a witness for His Son. “And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me” (John 5:37a).
    1. At the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, the Father spoke from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
    2. On the mountain where Jesus had taken Peter, James, and John, they heard the voice of God, the Father, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” (Matthew 17:5).
  5. The Holy Scriptures bear witness for Jesus. “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).
  6. The resurrection of Jesus is a testimony for him. “And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4).
  7. A true, faithful New Testament church is a witness for the Lord. “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21). “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14-15).

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New Testament Holy Days?

Colossians 2:16-17
Apr 16, 2017

“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” (Colossians 2:16-17).

Please notice that there is a question mark in the title of this article because New Testament Christians had no law given to observe certain days as more holy than other days. The Old Testament did give the nation of Israel certain days that were to be observed as holy days. For example, Exodus 12 shows that the Passover was to begin the evening of the fourteenth day of the month that begins with the new moon. This year, Passover begins at sundown on April 10 and continues until sundown on April 18. The Passover meal is on April 14, and the remainder of the time until April 18 is called the “Feast of Unleavened Bread.”

There are two extremes that I have observed with the dates considered for the birth of Jesus Christ and for His resurrection. Some think that the date is most important, and they place emphasis on the date and worldly customs while overlooking the scriptural importance of the event. Very little attention is given to the truth that Christ came into this world to be our Savior. We should pay close attention to the fact that, without the resurrection, our message is in vain. It would be so good if more attention were given to Luke 24 and I Corinthians 15.

Another extreme is that people become so upset and negative about the pagan customs connected to these important events. As a result, they let the negative thoughts so rule in their minds that they overlook the wonderful precious truth presented in the Holy Scriptures.

In the years before he came to faith in Jesus Christ, a friend of mine would go to church services at least twice each year to please his wife. His last experience of going with that motive changed his life. He heard a plain Bible message on the resurrection of Christ. The Holy Spirit convicted him of his lost sinful condition. He received Christ as his Savior and became a faithful servant in one of the Lord's Missionary Baptist churches.

A good Bible lesson on the birth of Jesus Christ is always beneficial, even on December 25. A resurrection message is always in order because that message shows the hope that we possess because Christ has power over death. I Corinthians 15:57-58 is an excellent theme for any day. “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

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“The Plowing of the Wicked, is Sin”

Proverbs 21:4
Apr 09, 2017

“An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin” (Proverbs 21:4).

How could such a statement be true? We know it is true because it is written plainly in the inspired word of God. Other true statements will help us to understand. Paul wrote, “for whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). Another verse to consider says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

If we look at this man out working in his field, we might commend him for being productive, but we must remember that God sees more than just the outward appearance. The LORD explained to Samuel, “the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (I Samuel 16:7).

This man is described as “wicked,” which is defined in Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies, “Wicked men are those who pursue that which is vain and false with lawless desire, casting off the fear of God, and so come at length to trouble and sorrow.”

Jesus rebuked scribes and Pharisees, calling them hypocrites. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:27-28).

It is impossible to be right with God by establishing your own righteousness (Romans 10:3). You need the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ (Romans 4:5-6). God’s kindness and love have provided the way for us to have peace with God.

“But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7).

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“Gain the Whole World, and Lose His Own Soul”

Matthew 16:25-26
Mar 26, 2017

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:25-26).

In my early ministry, I used this text in messages to the congregation where I served as pastor in sermons at Youth Meetings, Mission Fellowships, and Association Meetings. I preached the truth but only had one aim in the messages: To make it plain to any lost sinner that if that person had every thing this world had to offer but died without eternal salvation in Jesus Christ, that person died as a loser. Having eternal life was worth more than all the riches of this whole world. God blessed those messages.

I have learned that the scope of our text covers much more than I first understood. “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Please consider the link between Matthew 16:24 and the two verses of our text.

To understand the full meaning of these verses, we need to consider the meaning of the word “soul.” This word is first used in Genesis 2:7, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” The same word is used in Exodus 1:5, “And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already.” Look carefully at Ezekiel 18:4, “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.”

In these verses, the meaning of the word “soul” is “a living person.” In fact, in the New Testament, the translators of the KJV sometimes used the word “life” (Matthew 16:25) and sometimes used the word “soul” (Matthew 16:26) to translate the Greek word “psuche.” Our word “psychology” is from that Greek word. The Greeks used the word to speak of the immaterial, invisible life of a person. The word “spirit” was also used to describe the life in a person. We know from Hebrews 4:12 that the Lord makes a distinction between soul and spirit, but common usage in our day does not often show the difference.

It is true that a lost man who rejects Christ as his Savior is throwing his life away, wasting all his precious opportunities, to eventually be condemned forever (John 3:18).

It is also true that a saved person should follow Jesus Christ, deny himself, and take up his cross. Sad to say, some of God’s own children do not follow our Lord in faithful, sacrificial service. Jesus warned that such a self-centered life is a life wasted and lost. “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” Jesus is in the business of saving lost sinners, and Jesus is also concerned about saving lives for his kingdom service.

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Banquets and Feasts

Luke 14:16-17
Mar 12, 2017

“Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready” (Luke 14:16-17).

Celebrations with great suppers are described in the Old and New Testaments of our Bible. Unger’s Bible Dictionary gives the following information on the different occasions for celebration:

  1. Birthdays (Genesis 40:20),
  2. The weaning of a son and heir (Genesis 21:8),
  3. The separation and reunion of friends (Genesis 31:27, 31:48-55),
  4. Weddings (Genesis 29:21-22, Matthew 22:1-4, John 2:1-11), and
  5. Special holy days such as the Feast of Tabernacles observed as a time of celebration by the people of Israel (Nehemiah 8:9-18).

Our text in Luke 14 illustrates a common practice in sending out the invitations to a wedding feast. There was a general invitation sent out. Later, those who had responded to that invitation were invited a second time when all things were ready. According to Unger’s Bible Dictionary, “This after-summons was sent only to those who had accepted the previous invitation, and to violate that acceptance for trivial reasons could only be viewed as a gross insult.”

Please notice that in Matthew 22:1-7, the second invitation was sent out, but “they would not come.” We see that the king was patient and generous, so he sent more servants. He said, “Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise.” Some took the kings servants and entreated them spitefully and killed them. “But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.”

Another interesting custom is shown in the Bible Dictionary. “In some cases, each guest was furnished with a magnificent garment of a light and showy color, and richly embroidered to be worn during the banquet. The refusal of such a mark of respect implied a contempt for the host and his entertainment that could not fail to provoke resentment.” This custom explains the very stern action of the king because one of his guests was not wearing this very special wedding garment (Matthew 22:11-13).

As we study the different scriptures connected to the feasts, we learn from the attendance of Jesus at the wedding in Cana of Galilee that Jesus was willing to be with friends and family on special occasions. We see in the generous provisions of the king in furnishing the banquet that our Lord and King is generous in providing all our need (Philippians 4:19).

To refuse the invitation of our Lord in calling you to eternal salvation or in extending His invitation for you to take his yoke upon you to labor as a partner in His work is not a light matter (Matthew 11:28-30). You will answer to Him for the way you respond to his call (II Corinthians 5:10).

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Informed, Transformed, Conformed

Romans 8:29
Mar 05, 2017

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29).

This lesson continues the theme that we have studied for the last several weeks. We have considered the precious truth of receiving eternal life by faith in Jesus Christ and passing “from death unto life” (John 5:24). As a new-born child of God, you can grow in grace and thus be “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). This renewing of your mind to be more fully informed and “prove” (learn, test, understand) the will of God helps you to develop Christian character so that you can be more like Christ, and, as you show the “glory of the Lord,” your are changed [transformed] into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord (II Corinthians 3:18).

God planned before the world began that he would have redeemed people serving and worshiping Him in the new heaven and the new earth. Ephesians 1:10 teaches us that in the fullness [completion] of times, God’s creation and God’s people will be in perfect harmony [together in one] in Christ. God is working out his eternal plan “according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Ephesians 1:11).

We should never think of the word “predestinate” to mean that, before people were born, God chose certain ones to be redeemed and the remainder of the human family to be condemned to eternal punishment. This doctrine is often called “Five Point Calvinism,” and it is not true according to the Bible.

The key verses to understand this truth are John 3:15, “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life,” and II Corinthians 5:14, “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.”

Jesus Christ is “the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29). This verse speaks of the preeminence of Christ in all things (Colossians 1:18) and his kinship to all of God’s redeemed people. “For both he that sanctifieth [our heavenly Father] and they who are sanctified [God’s people] are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Hebrews 2:11).

Jesus Christ is the pattern for God’s redeemed people. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (I John 3:2). Do you remember our lesson on those who are sons [tekna] of God because of the spiritual birth [Greek word in I John 3:2 is tekna]? Another word for “son” is “huios,” and it most often speaks of a child of God who is mature and of sufficient character and strength to be a partner with the Father in the work. See Luke 6:35 where there are requirements to be “children of the Highest.” This word “children” is “huios,” that is, the mature children.

God’s wonderful plan for your life is for you to be saved (II Peter 3:9) and for you to to be a Christian serving in his kingdom so that others will see Jesus in you as your life is conformed to the image of his Son.

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More Like the Master

Philippians 2:5
Feb 26, 2017

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).

In the past two weeks, we have studied Bible verses that teach how the Lord’s people can “grow in grace” (II Peter 3:18), be changed and “transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2), and “beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18). One lesson from Luke shows that when you are more like your Savior you will “love your enemies,” “Bless them that curse you,” “and pray for them which despitefully use you” (Luke 6:27-28). The compassion of our heavenly Father is our example “for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil” (Luke 6:35).

The word “mind” used in our text is also found three times in Philippians 2:2-3. The words “likeminded” and “of one mind” indicate agreement in attitude and way of thinking. The words “lowliness of mind” speak of a servant attitude and a humble spirit. Jesus is our pattern for the mindset of concern, humility, and obedience (Philippians 2:5).

Jesus fully understands the reason for condemnation. “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). Jesus knew that those who had no faith in him would face an awful judgment. “Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come” (John 8:21). Jesus returned to heaven, so he is telling these lost sinners that they can not go to heaven if they die in their sins.

Their fate would be to spend eternity in hell. Jesus gave a plain true message about one man who died and was in torment in hell. “And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:22-24).

The Lord does not desire that any should perish (II Peter 3:9). The rich man in hell had waited too long to be concerned about mercy and was calling upon the wrong person to receive mercy. There is a promise in God’s word showing that in this lifetime the lost sinner can call upon the Lord for salvation. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

We can follow the footsteps of Jesus in concern, compassion, and in teaching the true Scriptural message of salvation by grace through faith made possible by the sacrifice of our Lord on the cross of Calvary. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2).

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Change and Transform

II Corinthians 3:18
Feb 19, 2017

“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18).

If we will carefully examine II Corinthians 3 and Romans 12:1-2 and examine the meaning of the words “change” and “transform,” we can discover a lesson of wonderful Christian blessings.

  1. Consider the context of this chapter. Paul is writing to one of the New Testament churches concerning the Old Testament law given to the nation of Israel under the leadership of Moses. Moses, being in the presence of God on Sinai, came back into the camp of Israel with his face shining with such brilliant glory that Moses had to put a veil over his face. The law, as given by God, was glorious, but that law, as a guide for God’s people, would come to an end at the proper time. The law could not bring eternal salvation, but most people in Israel changed the true way of salvation by grace through faith. They invented a system of salvation by works by keeping the law. They tried to establish their own righteousness (Romans 10:3). There is another veil in II Corinthians 3:15, that is, the veil over the minds and heart of Israel. The blindness of mind and heart can be “done away in Christ” (2 Corinthians 3:14-17).
  2. Consider the blessed position of the New Testament Christians in Corinth. Paul had preached the true gospel unto them, “and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized” (Acts 18:8). That church was established with converted, baptized members. Paul reminded them, “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (I Corinthians 2:4-5).

The work of the Holy Spirit with that congregation extended beyond their initial conversion. With the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, they could experience liberty. “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (II Corinthians 3:17). They did not have a veil that kept them from seeing the glory of the Lord. The words “open face” in verse 18, mean an “unveiled face.” By seeing and understanding the New Testament order of Christian worship and service, they could look to Jesus Christ, and their life and service would be changed to look more like the life and service of Jesus Christ.

Vine’s Bible Dictionary has interesting information on the word “changed” used as a verb in our text. The present continuous tense indicates an ongoing process. The new birth is a once-for-all event. Our text is speaking of a growth in grace that is not once-for-all but is to continue throughout our lifetime “by the Spirit of the Lord.” The glory of the Lord is to show through you and the words “from glory to glory,” indicating an ongoing life which shows the glory of God.

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The Lord’s Church and the Lord’s Wisdom

Ephesians 3:10-11
Feb 12, 2017

“To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:10).

This article continues the subject that we were discussing in this past Wednesday night’s lesson (Proverbs 3:13-19, 8:10-14). The New Testament verses considered were James 3:13-18, which show clearly that there is a vast difference between the earthly wisdom of sinful man and the wisdom that comes from God. We have the promise of God in James 1:5, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

In Ephesians 3:10, we see that it is God’s plan and purpose that his churches are to make known the manifold wisdom of God. One of the precious truths in God’s plan is found in I Corinthians 1. The wisdom of this world does not bring sinners to faith in Jesus Christ. “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (I Corinthians 1:23-24).

“And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (I Corinthians 2:4-5). Paul was concerned that the people in Corinth have true faith, anchored in the truth of God’s word.

Jesus taught the truth and gave this promise. “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock” (Matthew 7:24-25).

Paul wrote to Timothy, “Preach the word” (II Timothy 4:2). In the same chapter, he warned Timothy of those who had itching ears and who would heap to themselves those teachers who would satisfy their sinful fleshly desires. “Heap” means to pile up in abundance.

John, the Baptist, was a faithful servant of God. Some received his message, but many rejected it. His straight preaching brought him to a cruel death. Jesus was the Truth, but mobs cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him” (Luke 23:21). Stephen proclaimed a wonderful message giving the history of the nation of Israel. He concluded his message by telling of the coming of The Just One, and he spoke of his listeners as being “betrayers and murderers” (Acts 7:52). That audience was “cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth” (Acts 7:54) and stoned Stephen to death” (Acts 7:55-60).

Teaching the truth is often very dangerous, but God, in his wisdom, knows that the truth is better for mankind than ear-tickling messages based on human wisdom.

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Equipped for Faith and Practice

II Timothy 3:15
Feb 05, 2017

“And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Timothy 3:15).

In my formative years as a young Christian and in the early years of my ministry, I was greatly blessed to have teachers who firmly believed that the Bible was the inspired Word of God. I heard time after time, “The Bible is our only rule of faith and practice.” That fundamental truth became more precious as I learned more of the struggles in the Lord’s work between those who were standing firm on Bible principles and those willing to compromise and weaken Bible truth.

Other teachers and I would become concerned when a young preacher would speak out with such statements as: “What we teach about baptism and the Lord’s supper is an obstacle to our church growth.” One student with great zeal “but not according to knowledge” (Romans 10:2) declared, “I think I could do more good in the Lord’s work if I devoted myself to winning lost souls and did not bother with getting people to become church members.”

Our oldest teacher and I had the opportunity to privately offer good advice to that student. We began with some questions. Does Jesus know what is best for his work? Was it right and good for the Lord’s work when Jesus “made and baptized more disciples than John” (John 4:1-2)? Did Jesus make a mistake when he gave the commission to his first church and included these three elements: (1) Make disciples, (2) Baptize those disciples, and (3) Teach those baptized disciples the same things that Jesus taught?

Was the ministry of Paul very fruitful? Was the church at Antioch involved in Paul's work (Acts 13:1-4)? Does the entire ministry of Paul show that he had great love and concern for the churches that he helped to establish? (Acts 20:17-38).

That particular student left the Missionary Baptist work and became a part of the interdenominational movement. Thank the Lord there were others who accepted the Bible as their rule of faith and practice and are still serving faithfully among the Lord’s true churches.

God in his wisdom knew how to convey the truth that is needed to equip us for his service throughout all the years since he established his first church. God could see into the future, so he provided the lessons that were good for the first century and are still our guide in the twenty first century.

In II Timothy 3:16-7, we are told, “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.” The word “perfect” in this verse means “mature, full-grown,” and the words “throughly furnished” mean “completely equipped.”

The truth for faith in Jesus Christ is in the Bible.

The truth for putting into practice the will of Jesus Christ is in the Bible.

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Focus on Bulgaria

Acts 1:8
Jan 29, 2017

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

One of the countries where we are helping to fulfill the command of Christ given in Acts 1:8 is the country of Bulgaria. This ancient country has about one half the land area of the state of Colorado but has nearly twice the population. The Northern border with Romania is marked by the lower Danube River. The eastern edge extends to the Black Sea. Bulgaria borders Turkey at its Southeast corner. Turkey was called Asia in New Testament times and was the location of the seven churches of Asia (Revelation 1:4). The Southern border begins at the Northwest section of Turkey and extends along the border with Greece, and the border along the Western section of the country is with Macedonia and Serbia.

Bulgaria was under the control of the Muslim Ottoman Empire until the late 1800s. After World War II, the Soviet Union took control of Bulgaria, and the country did not secure freedom and independence until the early 1990s. The history helps us to understand the strong influence of the Russian Orthodox Catholic Church and the Muslim Religion.

Our church began support for Brother Jim Black and his family when he first began working in Romania (about 12 to 14 years ago), and we continued our support when the family moved to Bulgaria. Following is from Brother Black's report for January 2017.

We praise God for family, friends, good health, another year to serve the Lord in Eastern Europe, our sending church, and for everyone that loves missions and missionaries. We could not be here without you.

Being so far away from family and loved ones during the holidays never gets easier. Hannah is finishing up her last year of high school. We are making plans to return to the states with her sometime in June, so that she may begin college in the Fall.

In Sandanski, we moved the services back into a home. Attendance has not suffered, and we have 10 –12 adults in most services. In 2016 we saw three adults saved through the work there.

Praise (that’s his name) came into our home last June. We did our very best to help his mother reunite with him. Unfortunately there was much more at play than we realized. She returned to Cameroon in December.

Special Thanks to everyone that sent a special offering during the holidays. It was a BIG blessing and help.

Language Helper -- Our landlord’s son has been coming to our home to help us strengthen some of our weak areas in the Bulgarian language.

Many of the people we are reaching out to speak Arabic, Farsi, Dari, or Kurdish. Very few are English speakers. If they have been in Bulgaria very long, we can usually communicate some in Bulgarian.

Love in Christ ---
Jim and Sherry Black

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Anchored Within The Veil

Hebrews 6:19-20
Jan 22, 2017

“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 6:19-20).

We have many hymns in our song books in which we find the themes of sailing on stormy seas, finding calm waters in a safe harbor, and the security of a sure and stedfast anchor. One of my favorite hymns is “We Have An Anchor” (In Spirit And In Truth, Hymn 289).

Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift, or firm remain?

We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior's love.

Many of our Lord’s lessons were around the Sea of Galilee. Men who made their living on the sea were called “to become fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). Jesus was asleep in the back part of the ship when a great storm of wind and waves beat upon the ship. The disciples awoke him with and asked, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” (Mark 4:38). Jesus said to the storm, “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39, see 4:36-41).

A very descriptive account of the storm and shipwreck of the ship transporting Paul as a prisoner across the Mediterranean Sea is recorded in Acts 27. Paul remained calm throughout the storm because he had received a message of assurance and peace from the Lord (Acts 27:21-26).

The sure and steadfast anchor of Hebrews 6:19 is the anchor of hope. The anchor may be heavy and unbreakable, but the most important feature of this sure anchor is the object to which the anchor is fastened. This sure anchor is fastened within the veil where Jesus has now entered. We learn from Hebrews 9:24 that Jesus has entered the true Holy Place, which is heaven itself, where Jesus now appears in the presence of God the Father on our behalf.

Faith connects us to that stedfast anchor, and we can be sure that the anchor cannot be pulled loose. The life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ was totally accepted by God. God saw the travail of His soul and was satisfied (Isaiah 53:10-11). His resurrection and ascension into heaven declares that He is the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness (Romans 1:3-4).

An understanding of the promises which God has given to us in his word will strengthen our faith and give us “full assurance of hope unto the end” (Hebrews 6:11).

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“If Our Gospel Be Hid”

II Corinthians 4:3-4
Jan 15, 2017

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (II Corinthians 4:3-4).

The gospel of Christ is also described as the “gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24) and “the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1). The basic meaning of the word “gospel” is “the good message.” In Ephesians 1:12-13, we read of the connection between trusting in Christ and the gospel message. “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.”

Paul understood the power of the gospel in the change that the Lord brought into his life. He wrote by inspiration in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” The life-changing power of the gospel is effective for all nations and races of people, so the command of Christ to his churches is to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

The word “gospel” encompasses more than the message of salvation from eternal condemnation. The scriptures show that Jesus preached the “gospel of the kingdom.” “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people” (Matthew 4:23). Luke 8:1 describes the same preaching of Jesus and uses these words to describe his preaching: “shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.”

My many years of study on the subject of the Kingdom of God convinces me that the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom covers the full range of (1) seeking God’s will in your life (Matthew 6:33), (2) serving faithfully in the work that Jesus gave to his churches (Matthew 28:19-20), and (3) having the lifestyle taught in Romans 14:17-18. “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.”

The good messages of God’s grace in salvation and God’s blessings in Biblical service are so precious that we should make them known in “Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). It would be a sinful shame to keep the glorious gospel covered or hidden.

Satan is described in II Corinthians 4:4 as “the god of this world,” and he is an enemy to Christ, to God’s people, and the true Bible message. Satan uses every method in his power to hinder and corrupt the gospel message. Let us not be a tool in his hands to hide the good news of salvation and Christian service.

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Take Up Your Cross Daily

Luke 9:23
Jan 08, 2017

“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

This verse of scripture is part of a discussion that Jesus had with his disciples. In his lesson, Jesus had asked them, “Whom say the people that I am?” (Luke 9:18). Their reply was that some thought he was John the Baptist, others said that he was Elias [ElT mean to give up your life to be a living sacrifice. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 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 12:1-2).

A very important consideration in Luke 9:23 is the word “daily.” Giving our life as a living sacrifice is not just once in a while and not just when it is convenient. Sacrifice for the cause of Christ and being faithful in our witness is to be regular every day.

Our prayer for our basic needs, such as food, is to be, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).

God’s blessings come to us daily. “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah” (Psalm 68:19).

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“The LORD Bless Thee, and Keep Thee”

Numbers 6:22-26
Jan 01, 2017

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them,The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace” (Numbers 6:22-26).

There are five different blessings that are named in these verses:

  1. “Keep thee,” which means that the LORD will guard and protect you.
  2. “Make his face shine upon thee,” and when the LORD makes His face to shine upon a person or a nation, the meaning is that the LORD looks with favor and good will toward that person. When the LORD told Israel to seek his face (II Chronicles 7:14), He was telling them to seek His will. To have God’s blessing is one of the most important assets in our work for the Lord.
  3. “Be gracious unto thee,” which means that God provides His grace. Paul learned that God does not always remove the things that trouble us (a “thorn in the flesh,” for example), but God does provide the sufficient grace to bear the difficulty (II Corinthians 12:7-10).
  4. When the LORD lifts “up his countenance,” the meaning is very similar to making his face to shine. That is, He is watching and looking out for you.
  5. “Give thee peace,” which is explained by the words of Jesus in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

The LORD gave the words of this blessing in Numbers 6:22-26 to Moses with instructions that Moses would teach these words unto Aaron and his sons to be used to bless the children of Israel. The LORD desired to give his blessing to Israel. Any time God’s blessings were withdrawn and Israel faced God’s chastisement, God was trying to turn them from their sinfulness and turn them back to his favor.

A very clear explanation of this principle is shown in II Chronicles 36:15-18. Verse 15 shows how the LORD God sent His messengers to warn the people “because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place.” “But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy. Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he gave them all into his hand” (II Chronicles 36:16-17).

The New Testament shows that our Lord still desires to bless His people. A very good lesson on this truth is found in the sermon taught by Jesus in Matthew 5-6 and 7. Notice carefully the way of blessing that Jesus taught his disciples:

  1. Be humble, poor in spirit,
  2. You will be comforted when you mourn,
  3. Be meek, not arrogant and self-centered,
  4. Hunger and thirst after righteousness,
  5. Be merciful,
  6. Be pure in heart,
  7. Be a peacemaker,
  8. Endure persecution for righteousness' sake,
  9. Endure false accusations for Jesus' sake, and
  10. Rejoice and be exceeding glad in the face of persecution for great is your reward in heaven.

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Featured Articles

The Great Sermon

Presented by Brother Jeff Barron, pastor of Edgewood Missionary Baptist Church, Danville, Georgia, at the Rocky Mountain Missionary Baptist Association Meeting hosted by Landmark Missionary Baptist Church, Lakewood, CO on August 10, 2012.

The “Mutual Faith” that Comforts

Presented by Brother Jim Brasseal at the Rocky Mountain Missionary Baptist Association Meeting hosted by Bradley Road Missionary Baptist Church, Colorado Springs, CO on August 8, 2014.

The Kingdom of Heaven with an Earthly Mission

Presented by Brother Jim Brasseal at the Rocky Mountain Missionary Baptist Association Meeting hosted by Landmark Missionary Baptist Church, Lakewood, CO on August 10, 2012.

Beautiful Feet

Presented by Brother Jim Brasseal at the Rocky Mountain Missionary Baptist Association Meeting hosted by Salt Valley Landmark Missionary Baptist Church, Clearfield, Utah on August 13, 2011.

Showing Compassion without Compromise

Written by Brother Jim Brasseal and answers the question “Can we love the sinner and hate the sin?”

The Coming of John the Baptist

Written by Brother Jeffery Barron and details the Old and New Testament scriptures concerning John the Baptist.

Scriptural Mission Work

Presented by Brother Jim Brasseal at the Rocky Mountain Missionary Baptist Association Meeting held at Loveland Baptist Church, Loveland, Colorado on August 8, 2008.

The Trail of Blood

A small booklet written By Dr. J. M. Carroll (1858-1931) that details the history of the Lord’s churches through the ages and identifies the marks of a true New Testament Bible teaching church.

Five Points of Calvinism Refuted

Written by Brother Jeffery Barron and examines the false teaching of Calvinism based on the scriptures.

The Influence of Baptists

This article originally appeared in the May 1999 edition of the “West Florida Baptist News” (a publication of the West Florida Baptist Institute). Used with permission.

Verses That Seem Impossible

Presented at the Rocky Mountain Missionary Baptist Association Meeting held at Landmark Missionary Baptist Church, Lakewood, Colorado on August 10, 2007. Bro Pierce is Pastor of Black Hills Missionary Baptist Church in Rapid City, South Dakota.