“CHURCH LIKE IT USED TO BE”
“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!
“Whom Do You Choose”
“Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine. Thine is the Kingdom, O Lord, and Thou art exalted as head above all.” I Chronicles 29:11
Why does God allow the bad things in my life? I mean why do I have to fight the things in my life. Let me be more specific, God, why is there so much evil and why does it have to have such a hold on me? Have you ever felt that way? Do you wonder why the Omnipotent God of Creation does not take evil from our presence? It comes down to choices. God has always given us a choice to give ourselves to Him. He could have created us to love Him, serve Him, and worship Him automatically and without desire, but He put within each us the desire to submit to Him. David knew something of the diversities of life and had made his share of decisions that affected him and others around him. He knew he had a choice to follow his Lord or follow evil. Adam only knew righteousness before the fall. He did not know evil, but God desired the same choice from him as He does for you and me. When he was faced with a choice to follow God or follow evil, he consciously chose evil. God desires a personal choice to choose Him.
“God’s Way – Man’s Way
“That being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:7
A few years ago the news stations reported about a man who had been released from prison that had been wrongfully accused and convicted of a brutal and heinous crime. He had spent 22 years in prison when DNA evidence proved that the crime was committed by someone else. He was released and given a clean criminal record and put back into society. His children had all been raised and did not know him, his friends had forsaken him long before and did not come back around to greet him, and even though he had not committed a crime he could not get employment when they found out he had spent time in prison. It did not matter that he was innocent of the charges against him, his association with guilt was more than people were willing to overlook. The redeeming work of Christ took us when we were guilty of sin and gave us a new and righteous life. On Christ’s sinless life and perfect sacrifice, we are not only declared righteous by God, but we are fully restored to God’s favor. He treats us as if we had never broken His law. Christ not only redeemed our sin-laden soul, but reconciled us to His Father through His own blood. (Romans 5:1)
“This Way Up”
“Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty with which Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1
An old time preacher decided one day to pay a visit to some miners. He told them of the grace of God and how He loved them and gave Jesus for their sin. After the message he made his way back to the surface of the elevator. He was joined by the foreman and the preacher asked what he thought of God’s way of salvation. It’s too cheap; I cannot believe in such a religion as that. The preacher replied, how do you get out of this mine? By getting into that cage over there, the miner answered. And does it take long? No only a few minutes. Well, that seems pretty simple, but don’t you need to do something to help you get to the top? Of course not, as I told you, just get in the elevator and it takes you to the top. But what about the work it took to make this shaft, was it hard? Oh yes it was very difficult and very expensive, if it was not for men before us we could never make it to the top. Well, God’s work to bring salvation to you was also very costly, it was paid for by the blood of His Son Jesus Christ. He died so you might have an easy way out. It was not cheap.
“The Perks Of His People”
“Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…But God commendeth his love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:1-8
The first eleven chapters of the book of Romans testify of the mercies of God toward us. In Romans 8:1 we read: “There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” In Chapter three immediately after we read that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God we read: “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-34. What a wonderful promise from God; first, Christ paid for our sins with His own blood and that provided salvation for us. Second, He provided access to His Father by His own blood and that proves justification for us as we stand before Him righteous. And third, He promised the Holy Spirit by His own blood and that provided sanctification and satisfaction as we walk with Him and for Him as His children. You see, He has provided all we need for every step of every day. The miracle of Calvary is that we were guilty of sin, but Jesus redeemed us and made us righteous through His blood.