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Luke 6:31-33 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. 32For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 33And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
This passage of Scripture describes how we must treat each other during the Millennium if we are to remain in a “right” relationship with the Lord. Even though it is a millennium passage, it is still profitable for us today (2 Tim. 3:16).
There are some very good principles presented by the Lord Jesus Christ for us to use to navigate the pilgrims passage that we have before each of us. Although the keeping of these words does not determine our salvation, as it will in the Millennium, it will help us conform to a more likable image of Christ.
Treat others the way you wish to be treated.
Why is there not more of this happening in the church? Do people treat others the way the wish to be treated? There seems to be a great disparity between the way we are treated and the way we treat others. The two don’t always match. Should they, there would be less conflict.
People are not sensitive enough to observe how others are treating them. It is often overlooked because others are not looking for it. Face it, it is quite embarrassing to tell someone, “Now this is the way I wish to be treated…”. No one is likely to do that. There are self-help, sharing groups that are full of people saying how they wanted to be treated, but others could just not see it. It is expressed in statements like, “They knew I didn’t like that, but they did it anyway.” The answer is: they didn’t know you did not like it because they simply never paid attention to what you liked or not.
On the whole, people have a predetermined idea of how they wish to be treated, but seldom think of how they should treat others. Their focus is on “self” and not others. Once they come to that predetermined conclusion of how they wish to be treated, they do not broadcast it because it would not seem a right thing to do. Others are supposed to perceive it and if they don’t, then watch the sparks fly.
There is the story of Ted and Jane. Jane made herself up real pretty for her birthday so when Ted came home from work, he would notice something different about her and be reminded of her birthday. She didn’t feel right about saying to him, “Ted, you know it’s my birthday tomorrow.” It just felt too selfish of an act to do something like that. She opted for a more subtle way to help him remember.
Ted totally forgot about Jane’s birthday. He was completely oblivious to the matter. Coming home from work, he greeted her as always, with a kiss. They talked about their day and proceeded with their evening as usual. Not only had he completely forgot her birthday, he didn’t even notice that she had made herself up nice and pretty. Jane was deeply hurt inside. She had an expectation; he was supposed to notice and that would remind him of her special day, but that’s not what happened. He was not sensitive enough to observe how she was treating him. The result was pain and hurt. Had he observed how she was treating him, he would have noticed something different. The result would have been joy.
People don’t notice how others are treating them because they are more concerned with self; they are more concerned with the way others are treating “THEM.” This is purely a focus on self. We want others to notice us, but we don’t notice others. The Lord Jesus said, “…as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” That is not: “…as ye do unto men, they should do likewise unto you.” You treat others the way you expect to be treated, but you make the first step, AND have no expectation that they will treat you likewise. After some time, it will wear off on them and have an effect. But, you must take the first step. You must lead by example, treating them the way that you wish to be treated, all the while observing them so you can be sensitive to their expectations. There is no room for: “This is the way I am—take it or leave it!” This command by the Lord is not a goodie box of “what you get,” but rather “what you should give.”
Love those who do not love you.
This is perhaps one of the most difficult things to do as a child of God. It is difficult because when you love someone, you are laying your heart out before them and there is a risk that they will trample on it. Even though there is a risk, any attempt to master this precept will make you a much better person.
There is no doubt that the world is lacking in love. People love themselves (but they don’t know it), their family, and their friends. There is little room for anyone else. We hold back from helping others because we fear an obligation might develop, or they might take advantage of me. But we fall deeper and deeper into a selfish hole until we have no way for mankind to climb himself out.
To turn around this downward spiral we need to take the first step: love our enemies, remembering the weight of the enormous pressure our enemies can bring to bear. We need to adopt, and develop, a loving life to all. Yes, we may get bowled over by the world, but just as worldly living is infectious, so is love. You must not love your enemies looking for immediate results, but for long term solutions. This does not mean that there are no immediate results. Adopting this teaching into your life will help you immensely in your attitude towards others and your outlook on life. If you can do it long enough, it will become habit, and not only will it be easy, but it will make living for the Lord easier on the whole.
To love someone who loves you in return is easy, but to love your enemies is difficult. It is here where lies the true lessons of love. When you give out a good helping of your love and get some love in return, you have, in a sense, exchanged some love for some love. This is similar to purchasing something: you exchange something that is valuable to you so in return you may obtain something that is valuable to you. The Beatles sang, “Can’t buy me love.” The reality of the fact is we do it all the time when we love those who love us in return. We just don’t know we are doing it.
Do good to everyone
Too many people are doing bad things to others. Even Christians get drawn into the oppressive style of living, repaying evil for evil (1 Thess. 5:15). We like to “pay back” others who have wronged us. In fact, we are so good at it, we do it before we even know what we are doing. A wife says something mean to her husband. The husband responds with saying something mean back to his wife. We just react. So spontaneous is this exchange that we don’t even realize it happened. The proof is in the making up process when they say to each other, “I didn’t really mean what I said.” The question remains: “Then why did you say it?” The response is: they don’t know why, but they didn’t mean to do it. It is because we are so conditioned to live by such worldly standards that doing otherwise seems impossible, but it is not.
We must take the first step to do good to others. Although, the world as a whole may not appreciate such living, those whom we do good to will. When they in turn do the same to others, it begins to spread. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in a society where everyone loved each other? This is what living in the kingdom will demand, and this is what heaven will be like as well. You won’t have to worry about someone having some kind of ulterior motive when they do something good for you.
The Lord Jesus lived by this guiding principle. Not only was it His nature to love (1 John 4:16), but it was to us—His great example.
2 Peter 3:16 “…as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”
With the attack of the world (fueled by inspiration of the Devil) upon the church, Christians are showing wobbly backbone when the battle gets rough. With just a little goading by the devil, the yellow streak shows clear and bright. How can those who were once “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10) so easily lose their “steadfastness”? How can they change so suddenly?
In fact, the change in them (and perhaps in YOU) is not a sudden one at all. It has been happening over a long period of time. Instead of growing in GRACE, they wrest with the Scriptures and are led away by those who are unstable and unlearned in the ways of truth. Over time, they join the ranks of those who are of another Christ (1 John 2:18, 22; 2 Thess. 2:7-8; 2 John 1:7) because they were introduced to them by one of the “…many false prophets… gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). Instead of growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, they grew in knowledge of the world and self. Then one day–“snap!” They were gone.
When you belong to one fellowship or church, it is either because the Lord put you there or you put yourself there. If you are following the Lord and are true servant of the Lord, no matter what, you will obey the Lord’s decision for the rest of your life. If you are listening to self, or are lusting after the worlds temporary enlightenment, then you will bounce around from place to place looking for fulfillment of self.
In the Lord, there is no variableness (James 1:13). In fact there is not even a shadow of changing in Him; He does not change His mind. Any change of mind indicates that He was wrong and is now changing to be right, or He was right and is now changing to be wrong; or He is wrong and is now changing to another wrong. But you can never be right and change to be right. Right is right. Since God never makes any mistakes, everything He calls for is right. The problem is when people attempt to interpret God’s calling for their life and bring with the interpretation their selfish desires and nuances. When they do, they try to work it out that God’s calling for their life lines up with what THEY WANT instead of accepting what they know GOD WANTS for them. This way, self can get what it wants and justify it because they reason (and claim) that God is calling them this way. They join the ranks of the many “anti-Christ’s” on the scene today. “Preacher! Isn’t calling them anti-Christ’s a little harsh?” Well, when we go against God’s will for our life, we are “anti” to His plan. Since His plan is Christ: To love Him and obey Him; then to listen to self is to be against Him.
Since God put you in a fellowship of believers, it is not up to you to “feel” like you are a “hand” when everyone else in the fellowship is a “foot.” This is reasoning your selfish desire to gain acceptance with God and it will not work. You may rejoice initially, but that is just self being happy that you are listening to and feeding it. It won’t take long for the Holy Spirit of God to begin working on you or those around you; doing whatever it takes to get your attention so He can, “Reason together” (Isa. 1:8) with you. God is not unreasonable. He doesn’t satisfy self–He reasons with truth.
“But this doesn’t adequately explain the sudden change in a person. I know you said it happens slowly, but how?”
When you are a member of one church, but go outside of your church to other churches or para-churches for fulfillment in so-called “Christian activities” of interest, you are opening yourself up to follow self instead of obey God. This is a difficult thing for people to do: OBEY! Especially for the generation of young Christians today; they don’t like being told to obey. The world has successfully indoctrinated them with the “free willed philosophy” of self.
Little by little, as they learn a little about this church here; a little there; a jot here; a tittle there; the doctrine from the church which God placed them becomes diluted until it becomes totally unimportant. Oh, they say it is important, but the fact that they leave because they “FEEL” that GOD is moving them, betrays this line of thinking. Leaving, especially by clandestine means, speaks loudly against supporting what they say God is doing in them, because even the smallest babe in Christ knows God would not do something so foolish. They are led away with the error of the wicked until they fall from their own steadfastness. They are not steady nor are they fastened. They become shaky and loose; so much so that they one day are gone.
“How do I keep this from happening to me?”
First, you don’t get involved in activities from other churches or the world. If your church does not have an activity that you are interested in, then start one. If you cannot get enough people involved to successfully start one, then perhaps God is saying I have something else for you to do right now; something else that I wish to teach you; something else I want to develop in you at this moment. In other words, accept what God has for you and pray and ask Him for the other.
Second, Find comfort in growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord (vs. 18). In everything, God wants you to grow in two things: grace and knowledge. If these two things don’t “turn you on” then perhaps you don’t understand what they are. If grace and knowledge sound boring to you, then perhaps you have never delved into the wonderful overwhelming power that is contained in them. If you try, but get nothing out of it, then perhaps you are not patient enough to let God work on you in His own time, perhaps you are neglecting Christ and growing in self instead.
Third, Start thinking right. Are you one of those people who live by the saying: “live life to it’s fullest?” Or do you misunderstand when someone says, “you only have one life to live” or “That’s the life” or “You only go around once in life.” For the Christian it is true that you only have one life to live, but what we go through on this earth is so miniscule that God is going to burn the whole thing up after He takes us off of it. You can NEVER, NEVER “live life to its fullest” on this earth. It is a lie from the Devil to get you to focus on self instead of God.
Finally my friends, I leave you with this thought. If God has put you someplace, He has done it for a reason. If you are unhappy there, it is not because God is not working on you. It is not because the people have changed. Its because YOU MADE A DECISION FOR YOURSELF INSTEAD OF WAITING ON GOD. ONLY YOU CAN FALL FROM YOUR OWN STEADFASTNESS!
Why is it that the Love of many will become cold? Because iniquity abounds! Our present society has turned to sinful things like no other society in the history of man. Our mass communication system ensures that sin is now a world-wide venture in just a very few moments. The effect of such a bombardment of sin is that it dulls man’s ability to love.
God created us with the ability to love. Sin subtly hinders that ability. It is so subtle that we think we know how to love when in fact we don’t. The measure of true love is to be compared to God’s standard and not to what we think. When exploring God’s standard on love, we can see that He is the standard. None of us love like God expects us to love. He expects us to love the way that He loves. All of us fall way short of that amazing love.
How do we keep our love from waxing cold? How do we love like God expects? We keep clinging to the Lord Jesus Christ. Keep cling to His Word. Surround ourselves with people who are doing the same. We place ourselves in an environment where we are surrounded by God.
The Book of Romans
The book of Romans is the first doctrinal book of the New Testament. It sets the tone for understanding all of the following books that apply to the church age.
- Hand write the entire book in English. Write it in a notebook and turn it in for credit. This will be 25% of your total score.
- Keep a notebook of content taught in class or from watching the videos and turn it in for credit. This will be 25% of your total score.
- Take exam for the course, (Can use handwritten Romans notebook for reference). This will be 25% of your total score.
- Memorize verses: 3:10; 5:6; 5:7-8; 5:12; 6:10; 6:23; 8:28; 10:9-13; 12:1-2. Verses must be recited in person or over the phone by an authorized instructor. Arrangement for time must accommodate the instructor. This will be 25% of your total score.
- Textbook: King James Bible.
- Assignments are due before credit will be given for the class.
Title WORK SHEET VIDEO 1. Chapter 1 Work Sheet 1 1:1-2; 3-7; 8-15; 16-20; 21-32. 2. Chapter 2 Work Sheet 2 2:1; 2-11; 12-24; 25-29. 3. Chapter 3 Work Sheet 3 3:1-8; 9-18; 19-25; 26-31. 4. Chapter 4 Work Sheet 4 4:1-3; 4-8; 9-13; 14-16; 17-21; 22-25. 5. Chapter 5 Work Sheet 5 5:1-2; 3-5; 6-11; 12-17; 18-21. 6. Chapter 6 Work Sheet 6 6:1-7; 8-11; 12-13; 14-17; 18-23. 7. Chapter 7 Work Sheet 7 7:1-3; 4-6; 7-13; 14-25. 8. Chapter 8 Work Sheet 8 8:1-9; 10-16; 17-25; 26-28; 29-30; 31-39. 9. Chapter 9 Work Sheet 9 9:1-5; 6-13; 14-24; 25-29; 30-33. 10. Chapter 10 Work Sheet 10 10:1-11; 12-21a; 12-21b. 11. Chapter 11 Work Sheet 11 11:1-6; 7-11. 12. Chapter 12 Work Sheet 12 12:1-3. 13. Chapter 13 Work Sheet 13 13.1 14. Chapter 14 Work Sheet 14 14.1 15. Chapter 15 Work Sheet 15 15.1 16. Chapter 16 Work Sheet 16 16.1
The Seattle Seahawks football team is renowned for its fans which have earned the title: “the Twelfth Man”. This is because there are normally eleven men on the playing field at any one time, but because of the “heart” of the fans, the team considers them to be with them in spirit as well. Therefore, they are “the Twelfth Man.”
The Seattle fans are extremely enthusiastic and supportive of their team. They are wild and even border on the edge of becoming lunatic in their support of the Seahawks. Before each home game in Seattle, there is the ceremonial raising of the blue flag sporting the large white numbers: “12”. One of the largest selling items of team clothing is the jersey sporting the large numbers “12” with the name displayed proudly on the back: “Fan”. Seattle fans fanatically love their Seahawks.
Jesus too had twelve men on His team. Of all of the disciples following Him, He only chose 12 men to be on His team. Of course, I am talking about the 12 who later became apostles. They were the only twelve who were on the field of play during His battle for victory over death.
In addition to them, there were huge crowds of others who followed Jesus as well. They were His fans. Although they were not in play as starters, they were very dedicated fans. Recognizing this is what drove the Pharisees crazy with jealousy and envy. Like the “Twelfth” man with the Seahawks, these extra followers of Jesus could be called His “thirteenth man.” They were not on the actual field of play, but they were such fans that they were there in heart.
It is funny though that Seattle fans can be called “the twelfth man” where we can call Jesus’ fans “the thirteenth man.” This is because numbers have meaning in the Bible and the number 13 indicates rebellion. There were 13 American colonies that “rebelled” from their king to form the United States of America. The first time the number appears in the Bible is in Genesis 14:4 telling us, “in the thirteenth year they rebelled…” We read about Judas Iscariot in John 13:13 whose name consists of thirteen letters. John 13:13 also has thirteen words in it and thirty nine letters, which is three times thirteen. The word “dragon” appears thirteen times in the book of Revelation. Nimrod, who is the thirteenth from Adam, is a type of Antichrist. The Book of Mark mentions Satan in the first chapter verse 13. And so on… Jesus’ fans were, and still are a rebellious lot.
The thirteenth man of the followers of Jesus are those who love Him for what He can do for them, but never take a thought for what they can do for Him. In other words, they are selfish. The worst type of these are pointed out in Acts 4:33 to 5:11. There we have the story of unity in the church. The “team” is on the field and they are winning. The “thirteenth man” is supporting the team. They are fanatically cheering them on. That is all except two rebellious fans. They are Ananias and Sapphira. They are cleaver. They are sneaky. They have observed the others and patiently learned what is to be expected of them. They have not responded from their heart. With their heads, they have formulated a very elaborate plan. They would bring in some of their support of the team, but would “ACT LIKE” they were a true, blue, 100% lover of the team. They would pretend to be a fanatic supporter of the battle being waged, when all the time, deep down in their hearts, they were laying back, pretending to support the team, but waiting to see just what the team could do for them. They were evil and wicked, and for their wickedness, they were relieved from their position of being a “thirteenth man”. They were kicked out of the Jesus fan club. God KILLED THEM!
Later on, more and more of these rebels began to pop up. Everywhere that Paul went to start a church work, we see problems of people feigning a good Christian life, but their hearts are not in it as a real “fan of Jesus.” They in fact are “fans of self”, but are pretending to be Christians so they can receive the benefits of Christian life. They are like those who talk about Christ inside the church, or in the presence of other known Christians, but rarely, if ever, talk about their “team” with others. It is not that way with the Seahawks fans. They don’t care if they know you or not when they lift their fist in the air and convincingly say, “GO HAWKS!” Strangers coming away from that type of encounter know one thing if nothing else, that person loves the Hawks. But not so with the rebellious “thirteenth man” on Jesus’ team. They are watching, conniving, waiting for a way to incorporate Jesus into their life, when all the time they are supposed to be incorporating themselves into His life.
There are many fake thirteenth man “fans” that have ruined peoples chances for ever accepting Christ. These so-called fans of Jesus are the most dangerous of all people as far as spreading the gospel. They are dangerous because; on the outside they look like the right thing. They sound like the right thing. They act like the right thing. But, all the while, they are like rebellious Judas Iscariot. They are waiting to see how being a Christian can help them instead of how they can help the team. They have taught people how to “get by” as a Christian instead of “get into” supporting the team. They are proudly wearing the jersey, but the lack of fanaticism is apparently lacking. They are content to observe instead of get involved and their actions have taught others to do so as well. Like Judas, they sit on the fence because they don’t want to ruin their chances of getting the Pharisees mad at them and they don’t want Jesus or the team to get mad at them as well. Their balancing act has been intricately conceived and expertly managed, but what they don’t realize is that, like Judas, it will come to an end when they don’t realize it. All of their “playing” church; their “playing” at being a true fan will come to a crashing halt. Unfortunately for that hypocrite, they will always fall on the side of self, pleasing the Pharisees, and engulfed by the world. And with them, will follow all of those who were influenced by them and their lessons on how to be a thirteenth man. This is why they are so very dangerous.
Fans of Jesus should be like the fans of the Seahawks—They should dress up, get ready, stand in lines to see the team play, buy season tickets as soon as they come available, get their jersey, scream to the top of their lungs, and make such an impression that the entire nation knows that, coming to play our team at home is going to be tough because our team has—“the thirteenth man.”
What creates church growth? Are members responsible for growth of the body of Christ? Jesus used an analogy from farming to explain the manner in which the kingdom of God grows (Mark 4:26-29). Once the farmer plants the seed, it grows by itself. Although fruit comes through the miracle created within the seed, the farmer has to work hard to prepare the ground for productivity.
So it is with church growth. The apostle Paul explained that he had planted churches, Apollos had watered, but it was God who gave the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6). So how do Christians plant and water so God’s church can grow?
Empowering members to grow.
I more prefer to call this, “Allowing members to have ownership in their church.” Every member of a local church needs to feel that it is his/her church. This is a vital area in which a member can use their talents for the Lord; an area in which they can serve God, and thereby be an active part in the Body of Christ. Otherwise they become like a cancerous or foreign object. If they a member has no ownership in their church, then they will not consider it to be “their church.” These are those who fall away because they are not really connected to anything. Find something to do in your church and be a part of the body.
Using your God-given gifts to serve God and your neighbor.
God has given each member in the church certain talents that no one else has. When He leads you to a particular church it’s that He has a purpose for those talents to be used for that church’s growth. Most obviously, it would be impossible to have piano in the song service if there were no piano players willing to use the talent that God gave them. Other talents are more subtle; like fixing things, electrical work, greeting, or cleaning, just to name a few. Find out what you can do and do it in the church.
Use your passion, fire, and enthusiasm for the church.
Everyone is passionate about something. When Jesus gave sight to the young man who had never seen, He told him to tell no one. But the bible says he, “…went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter…” (Mark 1:45). He was passionate about telling others what happened to him. Some things which people are passionate about are such things as: sports, music, babies, family, health, cars, work, etc. You can tell what people are passionate about by listening to what they are continually talking about, especially after the service is ended.
Support the structure and function of the church.
When you support the structure of the church, you are building the church. Supporting the structure of the church shows respect, honor and love for it. Many churches die simply because they are filled with members who say they love the church but, do not support it. It is not supportive to tell people you love your church when you talk bad about its members behind their back. Taking an unsaved, potential member aside and warning them off about some member you don’t like is actually tearing down the church. It doesn’t matter how much you say you love the church, your actions are destructive. Paul faced this exact situation among some of the churches he planted (1 Cor. 1:10-13).
It is not necessary to agree with all of the structure of the church, but it is necessary to support it. And where you disagree, use prudence in not voicing it inappropriately.
Pray for and acknowledge inspiration in the worship services.
Prayer is necessary on all fronts. It improves the Believer’s relationship with God. However, it is vital to pray for God to inspire all aspects of the worship service. We did not come to church to hear a man give a speech or lesson. We came to hear what God has to tell us. It is vital to ask God to talk to us and give us exactly what we need in our life. Unfortunately, it hurts to get our “toes stepped on” by the message being preached. And we often blame the preacher for “preaching at me” and forget that God can use the preacher to deliver HIS message. We need preaching from God to shake us deep down in our souls so we can grow as believers. When the members of the church grow, so does the church. Pray that God will not only inspire the message, but the music, giving, specials, fellowship and our own hearts as well.
Form friendships with other members and do things together outside the church.
Everyone knows that a family cannot grow when each member of it only comes together for one or two hours a week. It is impossible! Likewise, the church cannot grow when its members only interact with each other one hour a week. It is crucial for church growth that the members develop friendships with each other and have fellowship outside the church. I know the main complaint about this is: “I don’t have anything in common with anyone else.” Unfortunately, you neglect to see the folly in such a statement—you have church in common. If you are a family with children, your kids may be friends. Why not get together and do something. How about invite someone over to eat? This is a basic and common thing for people to do so they can get to know each other.
When members have their friendships outside the church (with non church members), their hearts are slowly and subtly drawn away from the church. Therefore, the church not only doesn’t grow, it begins to shrink. It is important that Believers hold each other up. This principle is illustrated when the Israelites were battling Amalek. They prevailed over Amalek when Moses’ hands are raised up, and they lost when he gets tired and lowers his hands. So, Aaron and Hur helped him hold up his hands until the battle was over, and Israel won (Exo. 17:10-13). So must we support members when they are in time of need. This is easier when we become friends and we know what each other is going through.
Sharing your Christian life by example and story.
For the church to grow, it is essential that Believers share their faith with others. They must do everything they can to compel people to come in and hear the message of the Bible. Everyone knows the old saying: “talk is cheap.” This is very true and it indicates that talk is worthless. If then it is worthless, what then is of such value that it can make a life change in someone else? Of course, it is the life story of the Christian. The example of a believer living for God is the most powerful way to witness. When people see the life of a truly dedicated believer, and how it is lived, they are affected to their core. Your life story always supersedes what you say. Even children know this at a very young age. They will listen to mommy tell them to not get started in some bad habit, but if their mommy does it, they will eventually do it as well.
The best way to grow the church through witnessing is to tell the proper life story.
Possess sincere love for the other members.
Love accomplishes much good in growing the church. When members have loved one for another, they tend to be more tolerant and willing to accept anyone. Not only that, everyone wants to be loved; they want to experience true sincere love. The world is severely lacking in sincere love. It exists in many families, but in few other places. Since God is love and you cannot truly say you know God if you don’t have sincere love (1 John 4:8, 16), a church can never grow because you cannot grow a church without God. People know that you truly love God when you have love for each other.
It takes effort to love. You have to work at repressing your ugly thoughts about those whom you don’t like too much. But then you have to go the extra mile and set yourself aside and love the person in spite of what your feel. Love, among many other things, is the giving of self.
When a church is first formed, it is little more than a fledgling. It takes time and effort on the part of everyone for it to become established and for a root to go down into the fertile ground. Without the patient diligence of adhering to these outlined principles, it will never take hold and be able to support itself; it will always need a support to be tied to. It cannot be done by just the pastor alone. It cannot be done by just the faithful few. Everyone has to chip in and help. All hands must be involved. So, we must each ask ourselves, “which of the eight characteristics is my weakest?” Ask God for strength and allow Jesus to lead you to grow.
Which are your strengths? Use them to serve Jesus and his church.
Many people know very little about the Bible. What they do know about the Bible, they did not learn from the Bible itself. They have learned from teachers, books, radio, or other people. But, they never actually opened the Bible and learned from it. They have made their opinion about the Bible from the opinions of other men and not from the Bible itself. Many people have an opinion about the Bible, but they have not even seen a Bible. The Bible is a big book. A person can spend all of his life enjoying it. I want to help you to make an opinion about the Bible from the Bible itself and to understand it. But, mostly, I want to help you to see that it is God’s personal message to each of us.
God gave us the Bible because He wants us to know who He is. In fact, the main subject of the Bible is God. It’s not just a book of teachings about God. It is a story about history as seen from God’s point of view, from the beginning to the end. Because man is a part of history, the Bible also teaches us many things about mankind and man’s relationship with God.
When studying the Bible, you must start in the beginning and work our way it. You should start in the book of Genesis. Genesis is the first book of the Bible; thus, it is a very important book. You cannot completely understand the truths about the Bible unless you understand some things about Genesis first. If your understanding of Genesis is good, much of the rest of the Bible will easily “come into focus.”
2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”
All of the Word of God was given to us by God’s inspiration. God had the inspiration to write down a message and He used men called “prophets.” He gave them the exact message that He wanted written down. Sometimes God spoke to them out loud, sometimes in visions, and sometimes He put the message directly into their heads. Then, God caused them to write down exactly what He had said. This is where critics might just say, “Then the Bible was really written by men. So, it’s man’s ideas and not God’s.” We can know that the Bible is not man’s idea because it tells us so in 2 Peter 1:20-21 which says, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” It is God’s idea and God’s Words. It is not the private idea of any man. It is the only book in the world that is written by God Himself.
God took 1,600 years to write the Bible, and He used 40 different people to write it. But, even though God used so much time and so many people to write it, the Bible has perfect unity from beginning to end. Why? It has this unity because God is the one and true author of the Bible. If many people went to a meeting, they would all see the same meeting, but would they all have the same opinion? If we asked a person what was the most important thing that they saw in the meeting, not everyone would say the same thing. They would each have a different story to tell about the same meeting. Many different people wrote the Bible. They were not all together in one place like the people in a meeting. No! The people that God used came from very different cultures. They even came from different times. Many of them never even knew each other. But, when we read the Bible, it appears to be one story, one book. It has perfect unity. How can one book have perfect unity when so many people wrote it over a 1,600-year period of time? There is only one answer – the Bible has only one author: God!
Isaiah 43:1, 10 says, “But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. 10 Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.”
The author of the Bible is God, that God caused men called “prophets” to write down His Word. But, how did it come to be the book that we see today? God gave us His message through the Jewish people first. In fact, all of the people that God used to write the Bible were Jewish except one. His name was Luke, and he was a Gentile. (A Gentile is anyone who is not Jewish.) God wanted the whole world to receive His message through the Jewish people. At first, God used the prophets to write down His message. These original documents wore out from use and old age. So, new copies were made. These copies were made by hand and were done very carefully. Copies were made and given to other people. They also would copy it and then give the copy to still another. Even though this was all done by hand, there are more ancient manuscripts of the Bible than any other document. These manuscripts have been found through archeology. In fact, there are many that have been found. All of these ancient manuscripts are almost exactly the same. They only differ in very small details.
The original texts of the Bible were written in one of three different languages: Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. In the time that Christ was on the earth, the scrolls (Bible) were kept in the temple. Only a few people were able to have copies of these texts. Most of the time, if the people wanted to hear them, they needed to go to the temple and listen to them being read. As time passed, God caused men to begin translating the manuscripts into other languages. Copies of these were sent from place to place for the people to read. Today, the Bible has been translated into more languages than any other book in the world.
Psalm 119:89 says, “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.”
One study of history is called archaeology. It is when people dig into the earth to find ancient information about ancient cultures. Many discoveries have proved the accuracy of the Bible. The archaeologists have found things that agree with what the Bible says, even to the smallest detail. In fact, there are thousands of discoveries that have been found that ALL support the accuracy of the Bible. There are still new things being discovered today, and each new discovery adds to the support of the Bible. This can only prove that the Bible is not man’s book; it is God’s book. Books that man has written will often change. Even history books are rewritten. But, the Bible has never changed because God, who knows everything, wrote it.
The Bible is not just another “religious” book. Many people have written books trying to tell others about God. God wrote the Bible. In it, He tells us what He is like and who He is. He tells us about Himself and about ourselves, about our relationship with Him. It is a special book that answers the questions:
- Where did I come from?
- Why am I here on this earth?
- Where am I going from here?
It is a book that answers the question about “Absolute Authority,” and who has it. It teaches us what authority is and what our relationship is to it.
Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
It is important for us to read and study the Bible because it is God’s personal message to each one of us. It is like God’s voice speaking to us, teaching us about ourselves. It is the only book in which God Himself teaches us how to live in the world today. It is the only book in which God Himself tells us what He thinks, feels, and wants us to know. God wrote it to give to each one of us: young, old, boy, girl, man, and woman.
One of the most tragic things that have ever happened in the world is the gruesome and ruthless death of the Lord Jesus Christ. When you think that he did nothing wrong to deserve such treatment it makes the thought yet more sobering. I don’t think that any one of us can ever relate to what He endured. He had only done well for the nation of Israel and the recorded accounts of His life never reveal any violent actions at all. In fact, they all seem to be peaceful except when dealing with the Pharisees and religious hypocrites. Even then, there is never any account of violence towards them. On the contrary, he loved them enough to tell them where they were wrong in an effort to get them to do right. He was a man who was meek and peaceful yet at the same time hard and steadfast. To add to His treatment, when we read the Bible, it is hard to think that it was His own people who were crying out for His death. It was the very people whom He was a part of that were pummeling Him and spitting on Him with frenzied jeers of contempt. He was treating them in the most honorable way anyone could who loved someone. At the same time, they were treating Him with the most contempt that anyone could be treated. It is a sad picture to say the least, and I am glad I was not there to witness it.
As I think of every punch, slap, shove and strap He received, I become more mixed in feelings inside. When I imagine every stripe of the scourging; every rip in His body, every grimace of agony on His face, I become angry. When I come to the cruel crown of thorns placed upon His already bruised and puffy face, I want to do something about it. At every turn in the punishment where He could have just said something to end it all, I wonder why He didn’t. Why didn’t He speak to end it all? When every drop of blood streamed from His body, leaving a trail of goodness throughout a world of wickedness, I wonder why He did not just call the angels from His heavenly kingdom to end it all and prove to the Jews and Gentiles alike that He was a king to be feared. My hatred grows for the Pharisees, Scribes and Philosophers of the day. I want to fight. I want to do something to stand by Him, but I am frozen in my fear. Something is holding me back. Something deep within is not allowing me to move from my spot. How glad I am that I am not there, but alas I am. I am there in the imagination of my soul, and it is as real as if I were there that fateful day. I am ashamed.
Peter is not the only one who has denied Him. The world is full of people today who deny Him, although their state is much worse than mine. They ignorantly go about their daily activities as if He never existed. They are truly ignorant of every thought of Him, but I cannot be. My anger for the Pharisees who called for His crucifixion, and sought false witnesses, is real and present. When Pilate offered to let one prisoner go, they called for Barabas. When asked what they wanted to do to Jesus, they called out for His crucifixion. And so it began: The sad and bloody journey up to Golgotha.
He is carrying the burden of His very own cross, but it seems as if there is something much more, because He staggers under its very weight. He clings to it for support, barely able to lift the heavy load. He is leaving a trail of blood behind Him. The Roman soldiers are taking every opportunity to strike Him. His own people are jeering with contempt for Him. They are under the Pharisees spell. They sit comfortably upon their mules, their faces stream pride for their, yet another, accomplishment. I loathe them. Surely they could have a little mercy. How can there be no compassion for the beating of any human being beyond the point He is at? His eyes are puffed up and are barely able to open, yet the cruel blows continue to fall. His hands are shaking under the intense pain. He staggers, but still bears the heavy burden, and once again I would like to help Him, but I cannot. How can the Pharisees allow this barbarism? What is it in the heart of the people that drives them to such frenzied acts of violence? How can any human being be so grossly vicious?
My mind cannot process all that is being taken in. Why? How? He stumbles under the burden and I want to help Him, but I am fixed in one place. By chance, (Is it by chance?), our eyes make contact. Through all of the suffering; through all of the pain, through all of His spilled blood, it’s as if He is conveying to me a calm and merciful forgiveness. I feel torn. Why do I receive such a gaze? I have inflicted no blow. I have brought down no whip? I have not spit into His face, nor even jeered at Him. I have felt no contempt for Him at all. It is then that I realize: each blow He receives if because of me. The bruised eyes, crown of thorns, and open wounds are as if I put every single one of them there my very self. It is not the Pharisees, nor is it Pilate or the Roman soldiers. It is not because of Judas (His betrayer). It is not because of any skeptic. It is I who has inflicted this pain upon Him, for I have sinned.
He suffers because of the sin of the whole world, of which I am a part. I cannot even say that each wound that He bears represents a sin that I have committed, for I have sinned much more than the stripes that I see upon Him. My anger is now redirected from the Pharisees and their foolish pride, to me and mine. The thought is sobering and does not remain long in my head, before immediately moving to the deepest regions of my heart. The thought, like a dagger, has pierced me to my very core, and I feel that I must now do something: I must ask for His forgiveness. But, the crowd is too many. The soldiers are too good at their jobs of keeping back the crowd. I push and strain, but there is no gap in the crowd where I can make my way to Him. I am completely cut off. For the first time in my life I know what it is to be: undone. It is my sin that brought this upon Him. Mine and mine alone.
People do not realize that. They blindly go through life as if it belongs to them, but it does not. They are completely oblivious of the Love that the Lord paid for their redemption to Him. Somehow, we are under the impression that it is the Jews who killed their King, but it is not. It is our sin that has brought this sad state of affairs upon the very King of Glory. We ought to ponder this from time to time and never live outside of its sober parameters. Forgive me Lord.
(Men Are From Sears, Women Are From Nordstrom)
I believe that, in general, women are saner than men. For example, If you see people who have paid good money to stand in an outdoor stadium on a freezing December day wearing nothing on the upper halves of their bodies except paint, those people will be male.
Without males, there would be no such sport as professional lawn mower racing. Also, there would be a 100 decline in the annual number of deaths related to efforts to shoot beer cans off of heads. Also, if women were in charge of all the world’s nations, there would be, I sincerely believe this, virtually no military conflicts, and if there were a military conflict, everybody involved would feel just awful and there would soon be a high- level exchange of thoughtful notes written on greeting cards with flowers on the front, followed by a Peace Luncheon (which would be salads, with the dressing on the side).
So I sincerely believe that women are wiser than men, with the exception of one key area, and that area is: clothing sizes. In this particular area, women are insane.
When a man shops for clothes, his primary objective is to purchase clothes that fit on his particular body. A man will try on a pair of pants, and if those pants are too small, he’ll try on a larger pair, and when he finds a pair that fits, he buys them. Most men do not spend a lot of time fretting about the size of their pants. Many men wear jeans with the size printed right on the back label, so that if you’re standing behind a man in a supermarket line, you can read his waist and inseam size. A man could have, say, a 52-inch waist and a 30-inch inseam, and his label will proudly display this information, which is basically the same thing as having a sign that says: “Howdy! My butt is the size of a Federal Express truck!” The situation is very different with women.
When a woman shops for clothes, her primary objective is NOT to find clothes that fit her particular body. She would like for that to be the case, but her primary objective is to purchase clothes that are the size she wore when she was 19 years old. This will be some arbitrary number such as “5” or “7.” Don’t ask me “5” or “7” of what; that question has baffled scientists for centuries. All I know is that if a woman was a size 5 at age 19, she wants to be a size 5 now, and if a size 5 outfit does not fit her, she will not move on to a larger size: She can’t! Her size is 5! So she will keep trying on size 5 items, and unless they start fitting her, she will become extremely unhappy.
She may take this unhappiness out on her husband, who is waiting patiently in the mall, perhaps browsing in the Sharper Image store, trying to think of how he could justify purchasing a pair of night-vision binoculars. “Hi!” he’ll say, when his wife finds him. “You know how sometimes the electricity goes out at night and…” “Am I fat?” she’ll ask, cutting him off. This is a very bad situation for the man, because if he answers “yes,” she’ll be angry because he’s saying that she’s fat, and if he answers “no,” she’ll be angry because HE’S OBVIOUSLY LYING BECAUSE NONE OF THE SIZE 5’s FIT HER.
There is no escape for the husband. I think a lot of unexplained disappearances occur because guys in malls see their wives unsuccessfully trying on outfits, and they realize their lives will be easier if, before their wives come out and demand to know whether they’re fat, the guys just run off and join a UFO cult.
The other day my wife, Michelle, was in a terrific mood, and you know why? Because she had successfully put on a size 6 outfit. She said this made her feel wonderful. She said, and this is a direct quote: “I wouldn’t care if these pants were this big (here she held her arms far apart) as long as they have a ‘6’ on them.”
Here’s how you could get rich: Start a women’s clothing store called “SIZE 2,” in which all garments, including those that were originally intended to be restaurant awnings, had labels with the words “SIZE 2.” I bet you’d sell clothes like crazy. You’d probably get rich, and you could retire, maybe take up some philanthropic activity to benefit humanity. I’m thinking here of professional lawn mower racing.
SPANKING IS A PART OF PARENTING
Researchers say there is never a good reason for spanking your child. This is because social scientists decided many years ago to stamp out the evil of spanking. Unfortunately, their zealousness to remove God from society and the family will continue until spanking is outlawed or until it completely goes out of style. For them, truth does not matter when you have an agenda.
Man has been convinced of things that simply are not true. He has serious misconceptions about spanking children for disobedience. Unfortunately, most Christian parents today do not get their understanding of discipline from the Bible. They get it from the world. Here, we will show the scriptures that correct these parenting misconceptions.
Nothing God says in His Word and nothing said in this article makes allowance for true child abuse. Jesus was a protector of little children and we should be as well. Anyone who truly abuses a child deserves everything the law can throw at them. To permanently injure a child for any reason is a wicked act and it deserves swift and exact punishment.
Spanking can be misused in many ways. Love must still be the primary factor in parenting any child. Spanking can be too harsh, too inconsistent, too late, too hasty and too much. The fact that you spank your children does not make you a godly or righteous parent. You must use God’s wisdom and always deal with the child for his own good. There will be no lawsuits where the pastor or GBC will be used as an excuse for abusing or mistreating your children.
The only absolute authority for how to raise children is to be found in God’s word—the Bible. Preachers and teachers may make mistakes and teach things incorrectly. They are not the final authority. However, God’s word is always true. Raise your children according to the Bible and God will honor His word.
What are the misconceptions people have about spanking. You may be surprised to see them, one by one, dealt with in the book of Proverbs. We must all be ready to obey the Lord in these matters of parenting.
Spanking is an Act of Hatred:
There are parents who would not spank their children until they were so mad that they felt like spanking them. This is wrong and dangerous. You do not spank your children because you are mad at them. Spanking is not an act of hatred. God says that it is an act of love.
Proverbs 3:11 – “My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.”
Notice that God corrects (spanks) those He loves. His chastening hand is proof that He loves us. If he hated us, He would let us go our own way and head for destruction.
In fact, the Bible teaches that you show hatred toward your children by not correcting them. Proverbs 13:24 – “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” To withhold the rod of correction is to demonstrate hatred for your child. In a sense, if you do not correct your children, you are saying, “Go on; head for ruin and destruction; I don’t care.”
Of course you really love your children. That is why you must show it by correcting them when they disobey. Correct them by spanking them. Show them how much you love them.
In love, there will probably be times when you actually cry with your children before you spank them. This is where it is said, “this will hurt me more than it will hurt you.” Then you explain that statement by telling them that you must punish them because you love them too much to let them go the way they were going.
When you spank your children for the right reasons, it is an act of love. Do you see it as an act of love? Do you express your love in your time of correction?
Christian rights group China Aid says the faithful are worried that the church demolition could be a sign that the government is tightening its grip over the spread of Christianity in China
One of the reason that we have so many pansy Christians is because people neglect the terror of the Lord. Pansy Christians are those who are too afraid to witness for Him. They are the cowards who give up at the first sign of difficulty and run for cover. In a practical sense, they can always be identified as “church shoppers.” They look for what they want instead of what God wants. God wants us to remember sin. He wants us to always have it on our mind because it is the thought of sin that brings us to God in humility; ready to accept His way, and give up the reigns of our life to Him.
2 Corinthians 5:11 says, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.” It is interesting that Paul said, “knowing.” What is it that Paul knew. Well, many things I am sure, but here he is focusing on the TERROR OF THE LORD! The knowledge of that is what drove Paul to witness for God. It is that unabated terrifying side of God that caused Paul to get out of his “comfort shell” and be made “manifest” to the world as a real Christian (one who would die for the Lord Jesus Christ). He was afraid of what God could do, (and would do), when He was addressing man’s sin. Where are the Christians like that today? Are they waving their hands back and forth in a “gathering” of tee-totaling” academics? Are they standing firm? NO! They are too busy “feeling” God instead of “knowing” God. They have conveniently forgot that they will one day have to give account of their Christian life to God (Rom. 14:12). They are too busy having a “great life” while all the time they are surrounded by people who are dying and going to hell. That is no laughing matter my friend. Not at all!
Acts of compassion should be motivated by the terror of the Lord. Knowing what He can and will do if we are not obedient to Him.
Twas the night before Jesus came and all through the house, not a creature was praying, no one in the house. Their Bibles were lain on the shelf without care, in hopes that Jesus would not come there. The children were dressing to crawl into bed, not once ever kneeling or bowing a head. And Mom in her rocker with baby on her lap was watching the Late Show while I took a nap. When out the East there arose such a clatter, I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters and threw up the sash! When what to my wandering eyes should appear but angels proclaiming that Jesus was here. With a light like the sun sending forth a bright ray I knew in a moment this must be The Day! The light of His face made me cover my head; it was Jesus returning just like He had said. And though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth, I cried when I saw Him in spite of myself. In the Book of Life which He held in His hand was written the name of every saved man. He spoke not a word as He searched for my name; when He said “It’s not here” my head hung in shame. The people whose names had been written with love he gathered to take to His Father above. With those who were ready he rose without a sound while all the rest were left standing around. I fell to my knees, but it was too late; I had waited too long and thus sealed my fate. I stood and I cried as they rose out of sight Oh, if only I had been ready for tonight. In the words of this poem the meaning is clear; The coming of Jesus is drawing near. There’s only one life and when comes the last call, we’ll find that the Bible was true after all.
I believe there is great Biblical justification for Thursday being the day of the crucifixion. It is the fifth day of the week (a number often associated with death in the Bible). It would satisfy Sunday being called “the third day since these things were done” (as in Luke 24:21). It would also allow for three days and three nights, although not necessarily 72 hours (something not necessarily is required by the statement in Matthew 12:40). The nights would be a partial day on Thursday, then all day Friday and Saturday. The nights would be Thursday night, Friday night, and Saturday night. I think Thursday would satisfy the statements of all the scriptures involved.
There are those who argue that Jesus was crucified on Friday by citing that the Jews were determined that Jesus be buried before the Sabbath that followed the day of preparation (Luke 23:53-54; Matthew 27:62; Mark 15:42; John 19:31). Since the Sabbath is on Saturday, then He must have been crucified on Friday. However, two things need to be carefully noted. First, this Sabbath was after the day of preparation. This linked it to the annual feast of the Passover. The fourteenth day of the first month at even was the Lord’s Passover (Leviticus 23:5) and was a day of preparation. The next day, the fifteenth day, was the first day of the feast of unleavened bread. It was an annual Sabbath. It was called an high day–“for that Sabbath day was an high day” (John 19:31). It was not a normal Sabbath; it was one of the annual Sabbaths.
Most Bible teachers make this annual Sabbath also the weekly Sabbath, but this is not necessary. A weekly Sabbath was always on Saturday. However, an annual Sabbath could be on any day of the week. This was because an annual Sabbath was connected to a date of the year. And, just as anyone’s birthday is not always on the same day of the week, so these annual Sabbaths occurred on different days.
Where do we get the concept of annual Sabbaths? We get it from Leviticus 23, the chapter that gives the original feast days for Israel, we see some special days being called Sabbaths. “In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a Sabbath” (Leviticus 23:24). Leviticus 23:39 says of the first and last days of the feast of tabernacles: “Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a Sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a Sabbath.” Therefore, the feast of trumpets and the first and last days of the eight-day feast of tabernacles are all called Sabbaths. However, these days are connected to calendar days of the year. Therefore, they will vary as to what day of the week they occur. So, they are annual and not necessarily weekly Sabbaths.
The requirement for an annual Sabbath seems to be that it is called an holy convocation and no work (“servile work”) is to be done on this days (just like the weekly Sabbath). This brings us back to the day of Passover (the 14th) and the first day of firstfruits (the 15th). The fourteenth day of the first month is not called a holy convocation. Therefore, work can be done on that day (we suppose work like crucifixion). However, though the fifteenth day of the first month is not specifically called a Sabbath, it meets the qualifications and therefore is an annual Sabbath. Of this first day of the feast of unleavened bread, the law says, “In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein” (Leviticus 23:7). No doubt, this is the Sabbath that so troubled the Jews concerning the burial of Jesus. This leaves the door open for the weekly Sabbath and the annual Sabbath to be on different days. And, since there is no possible way to get Jesus in the grave for three days and three nights between Friday and Sunday, that is clearly the correct answer.
Luke 14:25-33 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 26If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
The Christian life is pictured in the Bible as a race to run; a course to finish. The Apostle Paul was determined not only finish his course, but to do it with joy (Acts 20:24). This is exactly what he did. Shortly before his death, he gave this testimony: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2Timothy 4:7). He finished his course. Each of us needs to be aware that God has a course for us, and He wants us to carry it out to the end; He wants us to finish our course.
Gods plan for each of us is specific to us. No one else can carry it out for us. It is ours. However, He will help us find and complete that plan. Still, many Christians never even find their plan, let alone finish it. In fact, they hardly even try.
The passage above speaks of one who intends to build a tower. Building this tower is like running a race and finishing a course. Yet, because of many pitfalls, the tower may never get built. By looking at the necessary ingredients for building this tower, we can see how to succeed as well as learn why so many people fail.
God wants us to finish our course
The first requirement of those who would build a tower is that they must be “intending to build” (vs. 28). If they do not at least intend to build, then nothing else can be accomplished. To “intend” means to “have in mind as a purpose.” When we intend to finish our course our vision of the race goes well beyond the starting line. It also allows a view of the finish line, or in this case, the placing of the final brick. Granted, the way to the end may not be understood but a vision of accomplishment is formed. You cannot go someplace if you don’t know where it it.
This intention or vision is also spoken of as our “purpose.” In 2 Timothy 3:10, Paul told Timothy, “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience.” Probably the greatest number of Christians fail to finish their course because they have no purpose in their lives. Or, their purpose has been skewed by the Devil or self. So, we must have the right purpose.
It Must Be For God: We cannot finish our course by living our life for self. We must lose the life we want to live for the sake of Jesus Christ. Luke 9:24 says, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” Jeremiah told the scribe Baruch, “And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not…” (Jer. 45:5). We must seek great things for the Lord. Jesus told His disciples, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.” (Luke 22:25-26)
It Must Be From God: Many Christians try to serve God on their own terms. They choose what they want to do for the Lord and then expect Him to support them in their labors. But this will not work. It is not enough to be doing something for the Lord. The mission has to be the one He has given us. When Saul got saved, he began his Christian life by asking, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6). As with Paul, we too must seriously asked the Lord what He would have us to do. Paul, when praying for the Colossians, asked the Lord that they “might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Colossians 1:9). In other words, to know and understand the course He had planned for them. Caleb claimed the promise of God when he said, “Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day” (Joshua 14:12). But note that he claimed only what God had already promised him.
To finish our course we must find God’s purpose for us and follow after that purpose. God may not tell us everything at once. He will at least give us a starting direction and will always show we the next step to take. But we need more than a purpose.
We need a plan: Good intentions are cheap. In fact, without some action behind them, they are worthless. But before we can act, we must know where we are going. Our passage in Luke tells about the builder who sits down before he begins to build and “counteth the cost” (vs. 28). That is what we do when we establish a plan and determine if we are willing to give the necessary effort to accomplish our purpose.
Why Do we Need a Plan? We need a plan to discover God’s way of accomplishing the purpose. He must be the source of the purpose and the plan as well. We seek His face through prayer and meditation and wait for Him to give us a plan. Proverbs 3:5-6 teaches us to, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
We need a plan to discover God’s timing. God’s timing is beautiful (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and He will make all things work together for good (Romans 8:28). But our timing may destroy the entire purpose and will certainly cause unnecessary delays and detours. We need God’s timing in order to determine several things:
- When to begin action.
- What steps to take.
- What our priorities are.
- What can be left for later.
How Do We Get This Plan? We seek God’s direction through prayer. Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” If we seek God’s answer and wait for it, He will let us know what He wants us to do.
We develop the plan through meditation. The virtuous woman “considereth a field, and buyeth it” (Proverbs 31:16). God can and will work through our thought processes if we are submitted to Him. This is why Bible reading coupled with meditation upon His word is so important.
We gain wisdom through counsel. Others may counsel us personally or we may find help through published materials that can help us. God uses all of these ways. Proverbs 11:14 – “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.”
Planning is crucial to finishing our course. But there are people who have spent their life making one plan after another and yet have accomplished very little. Planning must be coupled with action.
In Luke, the builder of the tower must get to the point where he has “laid the foundation” (14:29). For Christians to accomplish their purpose for the Lord, they must lay a solid foundation. Jesus told a story about two men who built houses (Matthew 7:24-27). He does not mention any difference in floor plan, or size, or exterior covering. He only mentions one difference: the foundation on which the houses were built. One was built on the sand and the other on the rock and when the storms came, only the house with the firm foundation stood. The type of foundations also told us something about the men who built the houses. The man who built on the rock was called a wise man. The one who built on sand was called a fool. What kind of builder are we?
The Baptist preacher and teacher, B. H. Carroll (1843-1914), said, “Only prepared men accomplish great things. And the greater the preparation, the less need for long time to do great things.”
Prepare For the Work: Proverbs 24:27 states, “Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.” Picture someone in early America who is homesteading in a new land. What is most important? Should they build a nice house first? Of course not! To make our work fit in the field would be to prepare for defense against any hostile Indians and to make sure that the crops get planted in time for harvest. A house is no good if we are killed or if we have no food to eat.
Many people want to put the cart before the horse in Christian service. Paul spoke of those who were, “desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm” (Titus 1:7). There are people who want to teach but do not want to do the study or get the training necessary to be a good teacher.
Any significant work for the Lord requires some form of preparation. More and more people want to skip this step. For us, it may mean BibleCollege or some special form of training. It may mean working under someone for several years and learning from them. It may mean getting our financial house in order. But, if we are ever to finish, our course, we must prepare.
Prepare for the Winter: Proverbs tells us that the ants are wise because “they prepare their meat in the summer” (Proverbs 30:25). They use summer as a window of opportunity to gather food so that when the winter comes and there is not food to gather, they can live off that which is in store. Preparation means that we use opportunities and do things at the best time to do them. If our purpose requires some form of learning that is easier to obtain before marriage, then we need to make a choice between the two. Attending school later may be necessary, but timing is important. We often want to skip the dull stuff but the dull stuff is often the key to success.
Okay, so we have discovered God’s purpose for our life. We have made plans and have laid the foundation through preparation. Now what? Now…it is time to push!
We Must Push with All our Might: The main thrust of our passage is that someone wants “to build a tower” (Luke 14:28). To build a tower we must do the work of a builder. We must put forth the effort. We must push. A worthy purpose requires a working servant. Many Christians fail to finish their course because they are lazy; they have no push. Solomon admonishes us, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Paul tells the Colossian servants, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (3:23). Doing a work for the Lord takes all we have…and then some. Are we working as if for the Lord?
We must be Persistant (vs. 29, 30): Yet, to finish the tower, one thing yet is needed. The builder must be “able to finish.” Some men start many things but finish none. Paul finished his course. Will we finish ours? Is so, we must refuse to faint (Proverbs 24:10; Galatians 6:9). We must finish by faith (Hebrews 12:1-3; 1Corinthians 15:58).
We have been looking at the Christian life as one in which we build a tower or finish a course. Another picture used in the Bible is that of sowing and reaping (Psalm 126:5-6). In order to reap, we must work the land, sow the seed, care for the plants and refuse to quit. God promises that those who refuse to faint will eventually, in due season, reap the harvest (Galatians 6:9). What would it take for us to fail? Why not just keep on going on for the sake of the Lord?
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
The preaching of the word of God certainly does have and effect on people. Sometimes it is a happy and joyous effect, while at other times it makes one sad. There are times when a person becomes severely angry by the preaching of the word of God. Still, there are times when a person cannot move under the awesome conviction of it.
As a preacher, over the last 18 years, I have seen all of these effects take place in the lives of the hearers of God’s word. As a Christian, I have experienced them myself. Still, I, and many others, keep coming back for more. Why is that? I can understand why people keep coming back to feel good about their relationship with Christ, but to hear that they are a sinner, failing on every front, baffles me. When feeling the sharp effects of God’s word, piercing and dividing my life all the way down to my bones, I am amazed as to how much it knows about me. I have come to the point where I am convinced that it knows more about me than I do about myself. It is not fun to be pierced, cut and divided, yet people keep coming back for more and I think it is because of the wonder and amazement that they have for that one book.
Yes, there are those who cannot bear it. They are only interested in feeling good, and if the word of God cuts, pierces or divides in the slightest, they get angry and leave. To me this is the equivalent of putting one’s head in the sand and not learning something about yourself that you need to know. You see, the Bible is not only the way to God, but it is the truth and life as well. It does no good to accept the way and the life without accepting the truth. But there are many people like this. They feel the Bible is true as long as it agrees with them and where it does not, it is not the truth. The devil has been instrumental in getting people to think this. This is why there are so many “truths” in the world today. But I don’t want to talk about that in this article. I want to focus on the way people receive the word of God.
It is funny how one sermon may upset some while at the same time charging up others spiritual batteries. The same sermon may cause some to be compelled to come to the altar, while others stand rigid biting their bottom lip. It has a strange way of having different effects on different people. Now I know that all people are different, but that is not the reason for this strange phenomena. I know that God is dealing differently with different people on His own terms. This is one reason that this book is so wonderful. It knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts. Since we don’t even know our own hearts, it is good for us to hear about ourselves from the word of God.
The Word of God will shape you or the world will shape you. It is your choice as to what will do it. The world is constantly being forced upon you, but God politely does not. While commercials, junk mail, facebook and many other things are intruding upon your life, God sits silently on the shelf awaiting His turn to relate with you. The world is ruthlessly pushing itself into your life, brainwashing you to cater to self and its “truth.” It never lets up. It is violent and hungry to completely consume every part of your life, giving you no choice over the matter, while all the same time deceiving you into thinking you have a choice or vote. God’s Word sits silently and patiently on the side waiting for you to come to your senses and when you finally do, in order to remove the worldliness from your life, the operation it must perform sometimes requires cutting, stabbing or dividing. The only reason that hurts is because you allowed the world to take up residence there in the first place.
Still we can praise God for His glorious mercy in that His holy operation is quick and powerful. It does not take long for it to begin to have its holy effect. So, if the preaching of God’s word seems to anger you; it seems to “step on your toes,” then remember it is because some cancer of the world is being cut out of your life. Joy comes in the morning.
- Point People to Jesus. (The God of heaven, he will prosper us. Neh 2:20)
- Don’t Quit (We his servants will arise and build Neh 2:20)
- Realize Ridicule Never Stops (…they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king? Neh 2:19)
- Pray (Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them. Neh. 4:9)
- Don’t be Afraid (Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses. Neh. 4:14)
- Remember the Importance of the Work. (I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down Neh. 6:3)
What is a friend? The world has its idea of what a friend is. They usually count a friend as being a resource; someone who can help you or give you things when you have needs. This kind of approach usually goes like this: “Oh good, they have a tractor. That will be good for me when I need one.” Some people, like the Chinese, take this one step farther with their principle called Guang Xi. This means that you keep trying to expand your “friend” base so you have access to as much resources as possible. Even though you may not like the person at all, if they have something you might need in the future, you call them friend so you can get access to it. In the world of politics, we call this corruption.
Even though Christians are in the world but not of the world, they still make friends; it is just that their basis for friendship has changed. For the Christian, a friend is a trusted confidant to whom you are drawn, or who is drawn to you. They are a companion and an ally, whose love for you is not dependent on your performance or what you can provide for them. Finally, and most importantly, a friend to the Christian is someone whose influence draws you closer to God.
Philippians 3:18-19 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
Paul experienced people who called him a friend but they were not. His sorrow over this was they were the enemies of Jesus Christ. This left no or little basis upon which to build a friendship. These “friends” were those who served fleshly appetites. They found humor in their shame and they had no concern for eternity. They were interested in the three greatest foes to the Christian: the World, the Flesh and the Devil.
Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
If you develop friendships where you don’t have the fundamental basic foundation in common, you are doing a disservice to that person and to yourself. That friendship is doomed to failure. If you find yourself in this situation, you should ask yourself, “Why am I even interest in this friendship? Is my motive so that it will benefit me? Or, is God putting us together?”
Developing the right kind of friendships can be difficult. It takes understanding of how friendships are established. The Child of God should approach making friends with the determination of “if you reject Christ then you must also reject me, for He is my greatest friend.” When asked to compromise or violate the Scriptures: smile and say, “No thank you. I’ve committed my life to Jesus and I don’t want to displease Him by doing that.” It is important to let God choose your friends, based on their needs and desire for God’s help and not worldly ambitions or desires.
1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
Everyone has a limited capacity for friendship; you can’t be friends with everyone. Still, some people have more friends than others. This does not mean that some people don’t have any friends at all; each person has a different capacity for numbers of friendships and everyone has the capacity to develop intimate friends.
There are four levels of friendships:
- Acquaintances: With acquaintances, there is occasional contact and general conversation. Information is shared, but it is that which would be public anyway. For acquaintances, you are determining the spiritual basis for a friendship. People might have from 100-1500 acquaintances in their life. They are not friends—they are acquaintances.
- Casual Friends: Unsaved friends can only be casual friends. Some specific information is shared usually regarding goals, plans, etc., For casual friends you are usually trying to identify any positive qualities for the basis of a closer friendship (i.e. Is there a basis for fellowship?). People might have from 25-100 casual friends in their life.
- Close Friends: Close friends are those whom there is a basis for fellowship. This means they share with you common beliefs, standards and goals. Close friends can become mentors or mentored. They are those whom you become involved with projects together. People might have from 7-25 close friends in their life.
- Intimate Friends: These are those who are commonly called: “Best friends.” They are always available. Not only do they provide encouragement, but they are close enough to be able to tell you of blind spots in your life. It is the sharing of Godly standards and common goals that allows this deep level of friendship. People might have from 4-6 intimate friends in their life.
There is the Biblical basis for making friends. Now that there is a little more understanding of how friendships are established, lets make friends the right way: God’s way.
Matthew 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
The Lord Jesus clearly warns that doing good works is not enough to allow a person to go to heaven. Yes they are good things to do, but they will not “earn” passage through heaven’s gates. The first and utmost requirement is to do the will of the Father which is in heaven. If that is not accomplished, everything else has no meaning at all.
What is the will of the Father? It is that we come to him based on the merit of Jesus Christ. That means to understand we are sinners who cannot pay for our sin; to understand that the Father accepted the Lord Jesus Christ’s payment for our sin; and that if we accept that payment for us, then based on Jesus’ faith, God will forgive us and allow us in.
Too many people put emphasis on doing good works to go to heaven. They like to keep control of their destiny. But, my friend, you must put your destiny into the hands of Jesus Christ. He is the Saviour.
Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana.
As soon as he touches the stairs, a mechanism sprays all the other monkeys with cold water.
After a while another monkey makes the attempt with same result, all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon when another Monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it. Now, put the cold water away. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his shock, all of the other monkeys beat the snot out of him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs he will be assaulted. Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm.
Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs he is attacked.
Most of the monkeys that are beating him up have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs OR even why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey. Finally, after replacing all of the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana.
Because as far as they know, that is the way it has always been done around here. And that, my fellow monkeys, is how Congress operates – And precisely why we need to REPLACE all the original monkeys.
What is an “apostle?” What are the qualifications for “apostleship?” Who are called “apostles” in Scripture? Who are the “twelve apostles” who will sit on twelve thrones and have their names on the twelve foundations of the New Jerusalem? Are there “apostles” today?
The first reference of the word “apostle” gives us a clue to the meaning—Matthew 10:1-5. The key idea here is that an apostle is a “sent one;’ an ambassador delegated to carry a message (“messenger”). Every man who is called an apostle fits this description. Even Jesus Christ is called the Apostle in Hebrews 3:1. That is because He is The Sent One.
The name apostle is different than“disciple” which means “learner; pupil; follower.”
The TWELVE men ordained by the Lord Jesus Christ “to be with Him” (Mark 3:14) differed from others who were called apostles in Scripture. They were UNIQUE, in that Jesus gave them special power and authority for the performance of their office (Matt. 10:1, 8; Luke 10:19).
When Judas Iscariot fell from apostleship a replacement was chosen to fill the “twelfth” spot. The number twelve is significant.
1. Twelve is the number of the earth (4) times the number of the Trinity (3). This shows God’s intervention within the human family.
2. Twelve is Israel’s number. There are TWELVE-TWELVES in Scripture: (1) 12 tribes—Gen. 49:28; (2) 12 stones on the breastplate—Ex. 28:21; (3) 12 gates into the New Jerusalem; (4) 12 foundations of the city—Rev. 21:14 cf. Eph. 2:19-22; (5) 12 manner of fruits on the tree of life; (6) 12 months to a year with twelve constellations (zodiac) which match the twelve months—Job 38:32; (7) twelve apostles; (8) 12 thrones in the Kingdom—Luke 22:30; (9) 12 hours in a day—John 11:9; (10) 12 musical notes (7 white keys + 5 half notes); (11) 12 colors; (12) 12 national boundries (cf. Deut. 32:7-8—North America; Central America; South America; Antarctica; Asia; Africa; Australia; Middle East; Europe; Artic; the Indies; Greenland).
The question arises, who will sit on the twelfth throne and whose name will appear on the twelfth foundation? Several other men are called “apostles” in Scripture: Matthias (Acts 1:26); Barnabas (Acts 14:4, 14); Paul (Rom. 1:1; 11:13); James, the Lord’s brother (Gal. 1:19; 2:9). Which of these would be the twelfth man?
Acts 1:21-22 give four qualifications for Judas’ replacement: He would have to be one who—(1) Companied with the original twelve during the earthly ministry of Christ (Luke 8:1); (2) was a witness of the resurrected Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 9:1); (3) baptized by John; (4) ordained by the Lord (Acts 13:2 cf. 14:4, 14). That eliminates all but Matthias. You will notice in 1 Corinthians 15:5, that J
esus was seen “of the twelve.” Judas had already hung himself, so who were “the twelve” that saw the risen Christ prior to Paul? It had to be the eleven with Matthias.
Jesus with the “Twelve” had a special comission to Israel (Matthew 10:5-6; 15:24; cf. Rom. 15:8). That is why the replacement must be one who was with Christ while He offered the Kingdom to Israel (Matt. 10:7). Th
e apostle Paul’s ministry was primarily to Gentiles (Rom. 11:13 cf. 1 Tim. 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:11).
The Scripture is clear that Matthias was numbered with the eleven, which would
What about today? Some churches claim “apostolic succession,” i.e. each generation has it’s own elite group of “apostles” to replace those of the previous generation (Mormons; Catholism; etc.) The Apostolic ministry was certified by signs and miracles (2 Cor. 12:12). These “signs” confirmed that the man was really an apostle (“sent one”). If a man didn’t have the signs of an apostle (Mark 16:17-18), he was found to be a liar (Rev. 2:2) and a false apostle (2 Cor. 11:13). make twelve. This is evidenced in Acts 6:2 where “the TWELVE” are mentioned. This is before Paul, Barnabas, or James are called apostles.
With the death of the last Apostle, John the beloved, the Apostolic Age came to an end. Apostles exist today only in the sense of a missionary being one “sent” by the Lord and delegated by the local church to carry the message of the Gospel (Rom. 1:5-6).
An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.
At the end of the long walks from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water.
Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream.
“I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.”
The old woman smiled, “Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.”
Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it’s the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You’ve just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them.
So, to all of my crack pot friends, have a great day and remember to smell the flowers on your side of the path!
Calvary covers it all
In today’s world, when a person turns to God’s word, it is important that they find it. The Devil is a master deceiver. He can make you feel as though you are absolutely at peace being wrong. He can’t change dirt into ice cream, but he can make you think you are eating the most delicious ice cream when all the time you are eating dirt. Likewise, he can do the same with the Bible. He can make you think, beyond a shadow of doubt, that you have the right words of God when all the time you have a counterfeit. Martin Luther discovered this a long time ago and he was eventually killed for speaking out about it.
Psalm 12:6-7 says, “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.”
I trust as you look on the Bible Comparison charts included, that you will get some semblance of the deception that Satan has put in place as a policy to cause God’s people to become weak and anemic. I hope these will open your eyes.