“CHURCH LIKE IT USED TO BE”
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25
Some think that this is a verse that preachers use to tell people that they should be in church and to make them feel guilty when they do not attend. The reality is this is a verse God has written to tell you that you should be in church with other believers. Your guilt is conviction and your lack of it is your complacency. People say they can go to the mountains, the lake, or the ball game and feel just as close to God as if they are in church, but that is not what God intended for His children. Maybe the correct way of stating their argument is they can be as far away from God in the mountains, at the lake, or at the ball game as when they are in church. I have stated this before, going to church does not make you spiritual, but if you are spiritual you will go to church. How do I know this? Because you will be living in obedience to God’s Word and His command to attend. There is no substitute; not the mountain top, not the lake, not the ball game, not the television church service. God wants you to be in church, your church, where you can grow, serve, give, and encourage others to do the same.
“The Storm’s Product”
“The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked; the Lord hath His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet.” Nahum 1:3
Storms are as much a part of the strengthening and growth of the mighty tree as the morning dew, gentle rain, or warmth of the sunlight. Those trees that endure the strongest elements grow to be strong and tall and straight and will provide the greatest use when harvested. You might say the storms they endured are in them and are part of them. None of us are exempt from the storms of life; whether the gentle breeze or gale force winds, the storms become a part of each of us as they pass over us. Like the mighty tree those who are rooted and grounded will endure the storm and enjoy the calm; but the way of the untested or ungodly will not stand alone. I have learned more from the tears that have stained my Bible and my altar and from a broken heart than I have from all the days of calm, peace, and quiet. His storms are in me and part of me.
“Jesus And The Word Of God”
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.” John 1:1-3
Those who deny the Word of God, deny God, and deny Jesus Christ. Those who would search the Scriptures for truth will find the truth and will learn that the truth will set them free. This is illustrated in Acts by the Ethiopian who was searching for truth as he read in Isaiah; he was all by himself, in the middle of nowhere and God sent one of His servants named Philip to go to him and teach him about the words he was reading and the Word he was seeking. When Jesus walked with the Emmaus travelers from Jerusalem, He taught them that the Scripture pointed to Him as Savior and Redeemer. He expounded the Word to them and let them know that He and His Word are inseparable and eternally bound. The Word was made flesh and dwelt among men and they did not receive Him, one day He will return and receive those who do receive Him.
“Fear Or Fear Not – Our Choice”
“What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee. In God I will praise His Word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” Psalms 56:3-4
We put on a brave face, but we are really a fearful people. We are not alone in our fear; the Bible records many of the fears of characters in His Word. It began with Adam; he was the first to show fear. Genesis 3:10 tells us that he hid from God when he heard His voice because he was afraid. Genesis 12:11-13 tells us that Abram was afraid that the Pharaoh of Egypt would kill him to take Sarai to be his wife so he lied and said she was his sister. Before David could pen these words in our text he ran away in fear that King Saul would kill him. The remedy for our fear is found in the fear of the Lord; David wrote, “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” How is this possible? David answered that for us, in God have I put my trust. Trust Him today.
“Praise The Lord”
“For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12
Praise to God is recorded throughout the Bible. Job records praise for creation, the Prophets record praise for Christ’s coming, and the Apostles record praise for redemption. Each, however, also took the time to give praise for God’s promise of Christ’s Second Coming to rule and reign as Kings of Kings, and Lord of Lords. There is great excitement to anticipate His coming to fulfill His promise of His glorious Kingdom. Everything was affected by the fall of man in the garden and everything will be restored to God’s purpose before the foundation of the world. For a brief moment of time, man enjoyed and experienced the fullness of God’s fellowship as he walked with His creator each day in unobstructed innocency and purity. There was nothing to stand in the way of his worship to his Creator. We will know and praise God in that same innocency.
“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made know unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” II Peter 1:16
Someone once asked, “How do I know the Bible is really true? Could it be that it is just a book of myths and nice stories?” There are many sources in modern society that teach the Bible could not possibly be true. Even many so called theological experts debate and doubt the inerrancy of the Scriptures. Who is right? It is very important to keep things simple. Take the word of the witnesses to the events, they are credible, they are honest, and most importantly in most cases they were there. In our text, Peter says exactly that about Jesus Christ, “we were witnesses to His majesty.” The Bible is filled with eye witnesses to the majesty of God. We also have Scripture that has been transcribed by another witness that has always been present. Later in II Peter 1:21, Peter testifies that holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Another credible, honest, and personal witness to these things. Now this witness becomes the Word of God. Who can argue with such an eye witness? Remember that faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Romans 10:17
“What Kind Of Peace Do You Have”
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27
Whenever you obey God, His seal is always that of peace, the witness of an inexhaustible peace, the peace of Jesus. Whenever peace does not come, tarry until it does or find out the reason why it does not. Ask yourself if you are acting on an impulse or from a sense of a momentary burst of emotion? Are you living in obedience to the Lord or following your own pathway? His way is not free from obstacles and storms, but our way is always free from peace. We find His peace in the midst of our storms, it is HIS peace and so He says do not let your heart be troubled. Our questions come whenever we cease to obey. Any problem that comes between God and myself springs out of disobedience; any problem, and there are many, that is alongside me while I obey God, increases my ecstatic delight, because I know that my Father knows, and I am going to watch and see how He unravels this thing. What wonderful words were penned by C. Austin Miles as he stated: “And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own; and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.” Yes, it is a great life!
“Therefore, I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:25-33
Someone came onto private property and stole a bicycle and baseball glove that belonged to a young boy. It was a difficult task, I’m sure, to explain to the seven year old boy why someone would steal something from him that did not belong to them. I am not sure anyone could really understand it. Worry is a thief and shows up in a place that it does not belong to steal your life away from you. Actually, more often than we might care to admit, we invite this thief into our life and let it rob us of all that we have in the Lord. Jesus instructed, take no thought for your life, or do not have anxious concern for your life, for He has given us the Holy Spirit to guide our steps, strengthen our hearts, and comfort our soul. The best remedy for anxiety is to meditate on the Word of God and remember His goodness, power, and sufficiency. When we realize with great confidence, The Lord is my Shepherd, we will draw the conclusion, I shall not want. Anything less is worry, is fretting, and brings dishonor to the Lord.
“I Have Decided To Follow Jesus”
“From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered Him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.” John 6:66-68
This is one of the most interesting and puzzling portions regarding the life of our Savior and those who followed Him. There were many disciples and followers of Christ, but one day they made a decision to stop following Him. Someone once said, they did not walk away into sin, they just went back from following Him. But the reason they left Him and went in another direction is because they did not believe Him, and if they did not believe Him they did not have faith, and if they did not have faith they were in sin. (Romans 14:23). Our independence was born by our founders in part to follow God. Were they perfect? Certainly not. Did they make errors? Without question, but they had a desire to follow God and obey His word. There are many in our nation today who have made a conscious decision to stop following God and His Word. How tragic that as a nation we are going backward and have stopped following Him.
“Sheltered, Safe and Secure”
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalms 46:10
Several years ago a family took a vacation to a very large lake in the Midwest. His story: “During the week, we took our sons on a tour of the reservoir and they took us inside the very large dam that we drove across on the surface of this massive body of water. There we were in the depths of this dam with millions of gallons of water on the other side of concrete walls that separated us from drowning. Before us were a number of very large turbines that were turning with the power of the water as millions of gallons of water rushed through each of them to generate electricity. We could hear the hum of these turbines and we could sense the presence of the water on the other side of the concrete barrier, but we knew we were safe inside though there was certain destruction all around us. Inside the great structure, in the hollow of its protection, was a quiet and secure feeling of comfort in knowing we were safe. The power generated by those great turbines were supplying a great need for millions of people and my family was included in that supply. Our God has given safety in the midst of the raging turbulence of life as He holds us in the hollow of His hand.”
“Is Jesus LORD or lord?”
“Which in His times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.” I Timothy 6:15
The title ‘Lord’ is found 376 times in the first five books of the New Testament. At least one hundred of these are found in the book of Acts alone, and of those over 80 are in direct reference to our Lord and Savior. When John the Baptist prophesied of Christ, he stated that he was not worthy to unloosen His shoe latchet. He testified that Christ was preferred before him, and plainly told them that he was not the Christ. When they pressed upon him for an answer about himself and who he was, he simply said, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord.” (John 1:23) John learned early in his ministry and preaching that his message was completely and exclusively about the Lord Jesus Christ. It was a message of Christ’s preeminence as he proclaimed that He is preferred before me; it was a message of Christ’s provision as he said that grace and truth came by Jesus Christ; and it was a message of Christ’s protection as he gazed upon the Holy One and gladly exhorted, “Behold, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) John learned what each child of God must learn if we are to grow: it is all about The Lord!
“And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, he heareth us.” I John 5:14
Someone once argued in grief, “I have heard all my life that prayer changes things, but lately my life seems to be falling apart all around me and I am not convinced that prayer changes anything.” Does it really change anything? Perhaps what is at issue is really directed at the Lord and we are saying, “Do you ever hear what it is that I am saying to you?” Or maybe even, “Do you care what I am going through?” Well, for the record, God does care and He does answer prayer. The answer is not always yes, which means that He sometimes will say no. Does that mean that He does not care? Not at all. Does it mean that He is withholding something from us? Again, not at all. As one preacher expressed: “Does prayer change things? Yes, it does, when we truly seek God’s will. Sometimes He changes the situation, and it isn’t wrong to pray that He will. But sometimes He changes us, strengthening us from within and increasing our faith so we’ll get through life’s hard times. Put Christ and His will first in your life, and then trust God to go before you and show you His will.” Maybe we need to ask Him if it is the circumstances or us that need to change.
“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” II Peter 1:16
Someone once asked, “How do I know the Bible is really true? Could it be that it is just a book of myths and nice stories?” There are many sources in modern society that teach the Bible could not possibly be true. Even many so called theological experts debate and doubt the inerrancy of the Scriptures. Who is right? It is important to keep things simple, first of all. Take the word of the witnesses to the events: they are credible, they are honest, and most importantly in most cases they were there. In our text, Peter says exactly that about Jesus Christ, “We were witnesses to His majesty.” The Bible is filled with eye witnesses to the majesty of God. We also have Scripture that has been transcribed by another witness that has always been present. Later in II Peter 1:21, Peter testifies that holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Another credible, honest, and personal witness to these things. Who can argue with such an eye witness? Remember that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Romans 10:17
“The BOOK Of Books”
“Oh, how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.” Psalms 119:97
Many years ago there was a book selling company that used to visit our offices and for an afternoon set up a room somewhere in our office complex with hundreds of books on a wide variety of subjects. They had posters set up around the area announcing their books and invited people to come buy these books at a discounted price. I watched people leave with armfuls of books and sometimes make several return trips to the visiting merchant. Their sign said: “Reading is fun!” Do you remember the first time you enjoyed the Word of God? Or do I need to ask if it has ever been fun for you? I recently read an article from a woman who testified of her first Bible study experience. She said the instructor asked, “Who came here to have a great time tonight?” She was the only one who raised her hand in the entire room. She looked at her and said, “We are not here to have fun, we are here to study the Bible.” What a tragedy! Fortunately, it did not stop her from studying the Word of God, for her it was fun. Since when did the most exciting Book in the world become a drudgery to learn life’s lessons? Oh, that we could learn with the Psalmist, O how I love Thy Word!
“Peace or Not”
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27
Whenever you obey God, His seal is always that of peace, the witness of an inexhaustible peace, the peace of Jesus. Whenever peace does not come, tarry till it does or find out the reason why it does not. Ask yourself if you are acting on an impulse or from a sense of a momentary burst of emotion? Are you living in obedience to the Lord or following your own pathway? His way is not free from obstacles and storms, but our way is always free from peace. We find His peace in the midst of our storms, it is HIS peace and so He says do not let your heart be troubled. Our questions come whenever we cease to obey. Any problem that comes between God and myself springs out of disobedience; any problem, and there are many, that is alongside me while I obey God, increases my ecstatic delight, because I know that my Father knows, and I am going to watch and see how He unravels this thing. What wonderful words were penned by C. Austin Miles as he stated: “And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own; and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.” Yes, it is a great life!