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Adventures in Faith

RIGHTEOUS, BLESSED, AND WASHED

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Solomon stated, “Righteousness exaulteth a nation.” (Prov.14:34). If the nation I am a citizen in does righteous things, does that guarantee my salvation? No. When citizens of a nation do what is morally right, the individuals and nation as a whole enjoy the results. However, salvation is granted by God to individuals, not nations. Salvation takes place in the mind of God. Therefore, man cannot create his own way to be saved. A prophet stated, “The way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). Jesus is THE way, THE truth, and THE life (John 14:6). God gave us the way through His Son. Jesus died in our place for the sins you and I committed. When we place our trust in and follow Him, he takes away all our sins.

In Romans 4:7,8 we read, “Blessed and to be envied, are those whose sins are forgiven and put out of sight. Yes, what joy there is for anyone whose sins are no longer counted against him by the Lord.” When a Christian stands before Jesus in the judgment, guess how many sins he will have to answer for? None. That’s right. None. Why? Because all his sins have not only been forgiven but forgotten. That person will stand before God as though he had never sinned. He will be perfect because he is covered with the blood of Jesus Christ. That’s why we must put our trust in Jesus rather than in our accomplishments. Not our works, but his blood puts us in right standing with God.

We often ask in song, “What can wash away my sins?” The answer is also given, “Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” That song is correct. We sing God’s truth which is called gospel or “Good News.” How can I bath myself in the blood of Jesus? He died 2,000 years ago. By faith I can die to sin and be buried with Christ into his death. Inspiration tells me that I get into this burial by immersion. What a beautiful picture Paul paints in Romans 6 of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. I can be blessed by what he did by being involved in his sacrifice through that immersion. As a sinner, I must die to the body of sin. I bury that body through a burial with Jesus in water and I am raised from that watery grave as a new or saved person because I became a partner with Jesus in his death. Free at last from the old creature and now revealed as the new man (2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 6:3-4).

Regardless of which path my country takes, I can be right with God. When I am right with God, He removes all my sins. All of them. My trust is in Jesus whose blood keeps me in good standing with the Father. God has provided the way, the truth, and the life for us if we will accept it. God saves. Since He does, we can be saved by following his guide lines rather than ours.

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I FEAR!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

fearWhen I look at my righteous achievements, I fear. When I look at my perfection, I fear.  When I look at the quality of my prayers, I fear.  When I look at my life each day, I fear.  When I think about dying, I fear.  When I think about the judgment, I fear.  Am I paranoid?  Some might think so, but “No!”  Do I have panic attacks? No. How can I possess fear and not have negative results?  How can I own those fears and be a Christian?  I am one, but my shoulders are too small to bear fear’s burden alone!

My righteous achievements?  Laughable.  My perfection?  Nonexistent.  The quality of my prayers? Dismal. My daily life? Inadequate. My death? Frightening. The judgment? Questionable.

Yet, I don’t have panic attacks nor negative results.  I haven’t been defrocked.  My shoulders remain small.  I fall so short, if measured in inches, powerful microscopes would not see me. Paul may have been “chief” but I’m second.  My cry is the same as his, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”  (Romans 7:24 (NKJV).  His and my answer?  Jesus!  Jesus!  Jesus!!  What’s yours?

Without Jesus, fear would be my driver.  What can I do to pay for my sins or assist Jesus’ blood in my cleansing?  If perfection is required, failure is my companion.  Perfection was Jesus’ mission, not mine.  Belief in what He did for me is required, not “Look how much I have done for you, Jesus.”  I sin, but it drives me to the one who remits it.  If I thought my prayers paid for my forgiveness, I would be a fool.  My gospel would not be good news but one rewarded with damnation.  I don’t fear dying because I know who walks with me through that valley.  I am not afraid of judgment because I will not stand there to remind Jesus about how faithful I’ve been, but rather praise Him for how gracious He is.  I will not look at my achievements, but glory in His.  He takes away fears and gives peace! He is my focus, not me!

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  (2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV).

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A COMPLETE BIBLE; A BLESSING!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

In Luke 14: 15-24 Jesus tells about a man who had a banquet but the invited guest had excuses and could not attend.  The master sent hbible-scrollis servant out to invite people off the street.  The hall was still not filled, so the master told the servant to “Go out to the highways and country roads.  Make them come.  I want my house to be full!  I tell you, none of those men whom I invited first will get a taste of my banquet!

We are introduced to the same story in Matthew 22:1-10.  However, a lot of things are added and the purpose is different from the one in Luke.  In Matthew, the secondary invited folks, if not properly dressed, are bound and thrown out.  The story ends with, “Many are invited, but few are chosen” rather than “none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

In Luke’s account the “excuses” are more detailed than in Matthew.  Luke doesn’t mention that this is a wedding party.  Matthew does.  Luke is more descriptive about who the servant invites.  In Luke the guest are compelled to come, but not so in Matthew.  In Luke the host is “a certain man” whereas in Matthew he is “a king.”  In Matthew, how one is dressed is important, but Luke says nothing about it.

The Holy Spirit inspired both Matthew and Luke.  So, why are their stories different?  Both are stories or “parables.”  Matthew is writing to a different audience than Luke.  Matthew fills in some details of Jesus’ story not covered by Luke.  Luke is writing to a Gentile readership.  Luke picks out a lesson that fits the audience he is writing to whereas Matthew uses what will best fit his readers.

Preachers are often approached after a service and told what the individual got from the sermon.  Most preachers are surprised because the point they were making is different from the point that person heard.  Sometimes an audience with different needs receives help to deal with that need from a sermon that wasn’t designed by the speaker to address it.  Sometimes a person is feeling guilty about a secret sin and imagines the preacher is exposing it, whereas the minister is totally innocent of the charges.  It is the power of God’s word (Hebrews 4:12)!

Matthew is not contradicting Luke.  Both are giving the essence of Jesus’ story, but dealing with different points from the story which fits their respective readers.  In the first century, most people would not have both Matthew’s account and Luke’s.  We have the advantage of possessing both so we may gain the lessons delivered to both audiences.

In studying Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, one needs to research the parallels of each to gain all that is being said.  Our studies are enriched by this advantageous blessing.

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WHAT’S YOUR ASSURANCE?

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A few Sundays ago one of our songs was, “Lord, I Need You,” written by Matt Maher in 2013.  Some of the words are:

assuranceLord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart.

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You.

As the congregation sang that song I wondered how well those words were sinking into our consciousness?  How many believe God will save them because of their righteousness, performed to co-host His?  One faith teaches that we must have more “good” works than bad ones if we are going to heaven.  In other words, you are on a “point system” and must work to produce “x” number in order to save yourself!  If that is our religious foundation, we have no business singing Matt’s song!

In discussing the righteousness of Jesus as compared to ours, an individual asked if his obedience didn’t amount to something in procuring his salvation.  Is “obedience” necessary?  Yes (2 John 1:9 NIV).  If one loves the Lord, he will willingly obey Him (John 14:15, 23; 15:10).  However, that is altogether different than saying, “My righteousness is worth __% in paying for my salvation.”  Actually, “our righteousness” is like a dirty rag, that if you touched it, you would want to immediately wash your hands (Isaiah 64:6)!

At the judgment, one will not remind Jesus about how well his works measured up to Jesus’ actions upon the cross and expectantly state, “You owe me something for what I’ve done!”  Those who do such have missed the Good News completely.  In fact, it could be another gospel (Galatians 1:6-9).

If my trust in going to heaven is based upon how obedient I am, my failure to “do enough” will leave me frustrated, ridden with guilt, depressed, and with a fear that will consume me.  Why?  Because our obedience will never be sufficient to make a down payment on our sin debt.  However, I can with assurance say that Jesus is my Savior and I trust that He paid it all for me!

“Lord, I need You, oh, I need You, Every hour I need You, My one defense, my righteousness, Oh God, how I need you.”

Jesus paid it all!!  I am not capable of adding even 1%.  Jesus is not a 99% Savior.  He is my 100% Lord and Savior!  He is the one who saves, not me (Hebrews 5:1)!  I obey Him, not to make points, but because He made the points for me.  I can never repay Him.  My obedience does not supplement the full price he paid for me (1 Corinthians 6:20)!  Why do men demote what Jesus did in order to glorify what we think we’ve done?

What is your assurance built on?  You??

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Monday, December 26, 2016

This family got up together.  The boy dressed and went to milk the cow.  The father cut and retrieved wood for the cook stove and started the fire.  The mother prepared breakfast for going-to-church-2everyone after she got the youngest child dressed.

The father fed the livestock.  The mother gathered the eggs and fed the chickens.  The boy strained the milk, separating the cream, and put the milk where it would stay cool.  Everyone finished breakfast, got the Bible, and finished getting ready to go to church.  The mule was harnessed and each member mounted it.  Snow was still on the ground, but the weather had warmed causing the yard and road to be soft and muddy.  They rode five miles to the church building in town, arriving fifteen minutes early.  The year was 1895.

The alarm goes off.  An arm manages to swings out from under the covers and hit the snooze button.  Fifteen minutes later, the scene repeats itself.  He and his wife finally drag out of bed.  He retrieves the Sunday paper and sits to read the funnies.  The wife yells at the two boys to get up, “IT’S SUNDAY”!  There is no response.  A second, third, and fourth warning is called out, each getting louder.  Grumbling is heard.  Arguments begin.  It signals that both are up!

Mom heats up some Pop-Tarts for breakfast.  Three times “Breakfast is ready” bounces off the walls before anyone appears.  There is bantering between the boys but breakfast is soon consumed.  Instructions again about it being Sunday and the boys are admonished to “quit messing around and get dressed.”  Dad is included in the instruction!  He shaves and combs his hair.  He and she get dressed.  A few more admonitions and the boys look half way decent.  It takes a few more warnings to get everyone in the family vehicle.  Off they go.  They live four block from the church building.  The speed limit is 40, but dad fudges 5 miles more.  This morning they hit all the green lights.  They arrive but parking near the entrance is taken.  Four part grumbling fills the car.  They are in the seventh row of parked cars and down about 300 feet.  All four doors open and the family exits, heading for the church entrance.  The wind is brisk and cold.  More grumbling. They are ten minutes late rather than the usual fifteen.  They congratulate themselves on being five minutes earlier!  The father is the great grandson of the youngest brother pictured on the mule.  The year is 2016.

The wife sees that picture every Sunday and wonders if their ride was on a mule rather than in a Ford Bronco, would they arrive at church fifteen minutes early?

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WHEN THOUSANDS OF YEARS ARE BUT A SECOND

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 11-25-2021

When Jesus returns, the dead will be resurrected.  Where have the dead, both righteous and wicked, been?  My parents died in the same year.  Where have they been since their demise?  Some would answer that they have been in Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:19-23).  Yet that passage does not mention a resurrection nor a future judgment to separate.  Paul states that we will appear before the judgment seat of Jesus but does not inform us where the dead are who await that judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10).  Some believe the righteous go to Abraham’s bosom until the judgment takes place.  If so, the judgment is not necessary because those with Abraham are the faithful.  They are not waiting to be identified as such.  Those in torment were not waiting to find out where they would go.  Some believe the faithful will go straight to heaven and be “with the Lord” (v. 8).  So, if one is “with the Lord,” why is he waiting for the judgment since his position already shows he is saved?  Will the Lord change his mind and weed out some of the faithful?  If one is “with the Lord,” will he be wondering if at the judgment he will be sent to hell?  Perhaps Jesus will congratulate those with “Well done” who already know their condition because of where they are?  If one knows where he will be throughout eternity by where he is before the judgment, is the “Well done” or “Depart from me” not redundant?  Will the judgment see some who were being tormented have a reversal and be pardoned, apologized to, and released to go to heaven?  Will some in heaven be dragged from the celestial presence of God and cast into hell because they were mistakenly allowed into the wrong realm?

So, where do the dead go from death until the judgment?  Are the dead, both saint and sinner, not raised until the trumpet sounds and all stand before Jesus?  Death is referred to as “sleep.”  When I had surgery, time meant nothing to me.  I was out several hours.  However, it seemed that I closed my eyes and immediately opened them and was still waiting for surgery.  If that happens when we die, then the passing of an hour or several thousand years will mean nothing.  What is important is what state we were in when we closed our eyes!  Will I awaken to hear “Well done” or “Depart from me”?  Whether your faith was in Jesus or not will answer that question.      

NO SILVER SPOONS

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 11-22-2021

In Jeremiah, when Jerusalem fell, captives were taken to Babylon.  When Jews were given the choice of returning home, the trip took an estimated 40 to 45 days of walking.  Ezra 2:64 gives the number of the returnees as 49,897.  Can you imagine the logistics of moving that many people 618 miles from one location to the other?  Today people have campers with refrigerators and stoves.  Where do you find plenty of wood to make enough fires for that number to prepare meals?  Today, we stop at a State Rest area for bathroom breaks.  While stopping at one of those areas, or to fill the gas tank, we usually buy a cold drink.  The path the Jews took did not have service stations nor Rest Stops with bathrooms and water fountains. 

The distance to travel was about 618 miles.  In today’s transportation that would take about 12 hours of steady driving.  If you were capable of walking, how far can 50,000 people cover in a day?  If a person walked the distance without stopping or slowing down, it would take him several days.  Almost 50,000 people would probably cover 10 to 15 miles each day.  At that rate, it would take about 41-42 days to make the trip.

If the group includes their livestock, setting up camp, and taking things down each day, preparing meals, and eating at least once each day, pacing themselves with children and elderly, the distance covered daily might be less.  If hunting was necessary, killing the animals needed as well as dressing them out would add to more downtime.  We often read passages like these as if they did things the way we do them.  Even if a trip took 12 hours, we have air-conditioned cars.  Unless water was crossed, I’m sure body odor among that group was noticeable.  Daily clothing changes would be a modern happening, but not back then.

When they arrived in Judah, neither furnished houses nor empty dwellings were waiting to be occupied.  Jerusalem had been burned down and the protective walls demolished.  If they were going to eat, fields had to be prepared, seeds planted, and harvesting performed.  Houses needed to be built or repaired.  City walls required restoration and gates needed to be constructed and installed.  The people who occupied the land did not form welcoming committees to greet those returnees.  Self-defense was an important topic to learn and be proficient in.  Spears and swords needed to always be at hand. 

God was with them, but silver spoons were not available and rebuilding and protection came through hard work and vigilance. 

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us,  on whom the culmination of the ages has come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11-13).

The lesson is ours for our benefit and growth in faith.      

THE CONTRADICTIONS OF “FAITH”

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 11-18-2021

Sometimes a person believes contradictory things.  He may not be aware of that condition.  Someone may introduce a thought which that individual has not considered.  He recognizes the possibility of being wrong.  He now has two choices.  He may correct that error or make excuses for it.  The church and eldership in Jerusalem, as well as Paul, had decisions to make that were not easy.  Though they were inspired by the Spirit, they copied Adam and Eve’s walk rather than that of Jesus.

If a person realizes he is wrong, he has a choice to make.  Truth needs to be embraced.  How far must he go in denouncing that contradictory position?  How embarrassing will that confession be?  Since he knows that his “faith” contradicts the truth, is he willing to live with that lie or embrace the truth?

A lifetime of belief is not easy to discard.  The loss of friendship, reputation, success, and livelihood can affect the decision one makes.  His decision can draw his family into a situation that may be very disastrous to all of them.  The apostle Paul had to deal with that kind of condition.  The Jerusalem elders informed him, “They (the church) have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs” (Acts 21:21).  That was a lie and Paul knew it.  Yet Paul did not defend himself nor correct those elders.  He accepted the compromise they suggested.  Why did he do that when truth was on his side?  Luke does not supply that information. 

Peter fellowshipped with Gentile believers until he heard members from Jerusalem were coming for a visit.  Then he separated himself from that fellowship.  Perhaps Peter was fearful of what those visitors might complain about with him being so cozy with uncircumcised brethren.  Perhaps he remembered how negative the church had been when they heard he had gone to the home of an uncircumcised Gentile who was also a Roman soldier.  Paul corrected him for his hypocrisy and the influence it was having on other Jewish brethren.  That action was not easy.  Peter’s fear led him from what had been right to doing what was wrong and influencing others to follow.  Paul’s correction was not enjoyable either and such action has the potential of causing hard feelings rather than solving problems (Galatians 2:11-16).

Paul and Barnabas were close in their work and friendship until a relative of Barnabas left their mission group and went home early.  Barnabas wanted to give the young man another chance, but Paul disagreed.  Scripture states that there was a “sharp disagreement/sharp contention/tempers flared between them, so they parted company (Acts 15:36-40).  Can you picture two brethren, with red faces, getting in one another’s face and raising their voices?  When someone feels he is right and the other is wrong, watch out!  Paul later confessed his judgment was wrong about Mark.  However, we don’t notice Barnabas apologizing for his “sharp disagreement or temper” with Paul.  Luke informs his readers about each man traveling with different people and going in a different direction.

Did John Mark disappoint Paul and Barnabas by leaving early?  Yes.  Were both Paul and Barnabas right in their convictions?  Yes.  Were they right in allowing their belief to develop as it did, with the results being a sharpness that divided them?  No.  Were those elders wrong for accepting the lying gossip about Paul?  Yes.  Did they repent?  Luke does not mention it.  They were under a lot of pressure from the membership even though the information they had was wrong.  Was Paul wrong in not standing up to the elders and those who gave the wrong information?  Yes.  He stood up to Peter, why not those elders?  These examples point out to us that no one is perfect.  We all have our short-comings or sins.  We make mistakes.  We make bad choices.  Some are life changing.  Yet, despite our stumbling, God’s grace does not abandon us.  Thank God for His grace and the provision of Jesus’ blood then and now!  

THE INVISIBLE SECRETARY

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 11-15-2021

Jeremiah was a prophet that had God’s promise that He would not allow others to kill him.  God kept His promise, but it did not excuse him from suffering.  He spent time in jail.  He was imprisoned several times.  His captors did not treat him kindly.  Plots were made by different groups, even family, to murder him, but God did not allow it.  Jeremiah was well known, but not popular with most Jews.  He was negative when others wanted him to be positive.  Most prophets in his day did not care to preach his message nor hear it.  Jeremiah was better treated by Babylon’s king than he was by his own.  Jeremiah would have directed his lifetime work in a different direction if God had not called him.  But call him He did!  Jeremiah did God’s bidding, but he did not wake up each morning with a smile on his face.

Jeremiah was not a preacher with crowds filling several campuses.  Actually, few were friendly with him.  Most did not like his preaching.  He wrote his prophecies down and they were delivered to the king.  That ruler had Jeremiah’s book read to him.  Baruch was his faithful scribe or secretary, but his job did not make him popular with the people.  I cannot imagine the verbal abuse he suffered as he made his way home each evening.  Perhaps his parents and siblings attempted to influence him to find better employment.  Siblings may have told Baruch that Jeremiah was a street that led nowhere. 

Did Baruch stay with Jeremiah because of the salary, prestige, or positive notoriety he would gain from that employment?  Did his family encourage him to work for Jeremiah or attempt to talk “some sense” into him?  On his way to work or return to home, did folks on his route slap him on the back and tell him what a wonderful thing he was doing by working for Jeremiah?  Did Baruch learn a “dark” vocabulary from people he passed by that recognized who his employer was?

If people thought Jeremiah was crazy due to his lessons of doom and gloom, would they not allow their hate for Baruch’s employer to also spill over on him?  Sadly, neither the king nor his subjects excused Baruch employer nor him.  The King did not think much of Jeremiah’s composition and showed his hatred with a knife.  An official told Baruch “to hide” and he and Jeremiah did (Jeremiah 36:19, 26).   

Bible students may admire someone like Jeremiah for his faithfulness in the face of hatred, threats, imprisonment, hunger, and such.  However, how many consider or admire Baruch’s position?  Think about what he and his family had to endure?  Would you have wanted to work for Jeremiah under those conditions? 

WHY DO IT?

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 11-11-2021

Jesus went to the Jordan to be baptized by John.  John tried to refuse by saying,

“Why do you need to be baptized?  My baptism is for the remission of sins (Mark 1:4).  You don’t have any.” 

Jesus answered John with,

“You are correct.  I’ll just put if off until a more convenient time because I’m already righteous.” 

If that had been what happened with John agreeing, then the following would have been the results.  1). Heaven did not open.  2). The Spirit of God did not descend like a dove upon Jesus.  3). There was no voice which spoke from heaven saying, “This is my Son,  whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 

A future apostles stated, “I told you baptism wasn’t important to being righteous.  Jesus is our example of how insignificant it is.”  Another observed, “Yes, one can wait and do it later at a time more convenient to him.”  A third one observed that Jesus’ refusal to be immersed would keep 1) heaven from opening up, 2) God’s Spirit making contact with him, or 3) Yahweh expressing His love or pleasure for him.”

So, John’s baptism would prove that one was already okay with God before submitting to it?  If that was the case, why does Matthew inform us that John attempted to stop Jesus from being immersed, but Jesus’ reply was, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15)?  Jesus was sinless, yet he submitted to a baptism “to fulfill all righteousness.”  We are not sinless, so we need to be filled with God’s righteousness.  Despite that need, would it not be okay if we want to put it off until it is convenient with our schedule?  Perhaps I’m wrong, but is that not admitting that “fulfilling all righteousness” is left up to how convenient it is with us?  If it is not convenient, we are still okay because we intend to do that unnecessary act to fulfill all righteousness sometime in the future?

On the day of Pentecost several thousand were told to “repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins.”  About three thousand did (Acts 2:37-38).  Did any in that group of “about three thousand” argue with Peter, claiming they were already righteous, but would submit to baptism to show they were already beneficiaries?  Did the thousands who refused to be immersed, claim that their sins were already remitted because they intended to be baptized in a few more weeks?

Some claim they are immersed, not to be saved, but to obey Jesus.  Yet, those individuals will admit that if one refuses to obey Jesus, they will not be saved.  Some claim they are baptized, not to be saved, but to follow Jesus’ example.  Yet, the followers are not sinless as Jesus was.  If one puts baptism off, then they are not following Jesus’ example.  Jesus was immersed to “fulfill all righteousness.”  Yet, he was already righteous.  If we do not follow him, then we do not fulfill what he did, nor are we righteous as he is.  Did Jesus tell John, “Not today, maybe next week”?  Did he inform John, “I am already righteous, so I don’t need to be immersed”?  If Jesus wanted to “fulfill all righteousness” by being immersed, why do we feel “fulfilled” without it?  Just my thoughts.  What are yours?

THE SAGA OF EUTYCHUS

My Thoughts. . .
Monday, 11-08-2021

“And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead” (Acts 20:9).

We don’t know much about Eutychus since inspiration reveals him primarily as a sleepy listener who dies in church. Perhaps where he sat was not a wise choice. Without air conditioning in the first century, a breeze may have lured him into that window “pew” as a comfortable place to listen to Paul. Although Paul was an apostle of Jesus, he admits that when he spoke, it was “in weakness and in fear” and “my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom” (1 Corinthians 2:3). Perhaps Eutychus was a slave who had labored for his master all day long. Fatigue overcame him and sleep was the results? Sometimes even talented preachers have the uncanny ability to put listeners to sleep. I have been successful in having that talent multiple times in my sixty-two years of preaching!

When Eutychus fell from his third story pew, death was the results. Was Paul winding up his sermon when that incident took place? No. After restoring life to the young man Paul returned to where he had stopped and “talked a long while, even till break of day” (v. 11).

Have you ever been in a group and had an accident? Sometimes the results produces laughter from the group. If the accident is worse than expected, the laughter digresses to concern. Did Eutychus’ sudden departure produce a short burst of laughter as the assembly’s attention was diverted from Paul to Eutychus disappearing? Was surprise written on Paul’s face as he saw that young man disappear out that window followed by a short burst of screaming, then a noticeable “thud”? When the congregation arrived that evening to break bread and saw Paul and his traveling group, did they know his sermon was going to last hours rather than thirty to forty-five minutes? If some members were slaves who had slipped out of their master’s house to attend, were they concerned when light began to recapture the sky?

Was it because of persecution that the church began its meeting after dark (v. 8)? Paul’s entourage had arrived seven days earlier (v. 6). Luke reveals no other assembly than this night time one. If this Sunday evening assembly was not the results of persecution, then why were they not engaged in a mid-week meeting as well as a Sunday morning period for Bible classes and worship? Would such an example be used as a pattern for twenty-first century congregations? Was Paul’s instruction so long because he was exhorting them to be faithful?

When Eutychus disappeared out that window, the assembly was not dismissed. Luke records no dismissal prayer. They went where the young man had fallen. Imagine that crowd attempting to descend those narrow stairs to arrive at ground level. Was Paul first or last to arrive? There are no details from Luke. Paul did restore Eutychus’ life. This happened around midnight (v. 7). Did the assembly evaporate? No, Paul was not finished so the church went back to the third floor and Paul continued his talk. What about Eutychus? Did he return upstairs with them? Did he decide to sit in that window again, or did he choose a safer seat? Did he later tell his friends what happened to him and how he was raised from the dead? If so, did they believe him or think he was enhancing what had actually happened? Did he later tell his grandchildren about his death and resurrection? When he passed away did family, friends, and neighbors refer to him as the individual who was raised from death by the apostle Paul?

Who was Eutychus? Inspiration momentarily puts its spotlight on him as a sleepy listener who fell out the window to his death. Paul’s presence and preaching were enhanced by miraculously restoring life to the window seater. Inspiration does not give us the rest of his history. When heaven is a reality for the believer, perhaps we will have the privilege of hearing the rest of the story from Eutychus himself?

“QUICKLY, SHORTLY,” AND “AT HAND” MEANT 2000 YEARS LATER?

My Thoughts. . .

11-05-2021

Riots happen.  Covid-19 is imported.  People are infected.  Deaths end life.  Inflation soars.  Workers are absent.  Costs increases.  Shelves are empty.  Crime is rampant.  Businesses are closed.  Tempers flare.  Inconsistency is worn by Politicians.  Preachers write and sell books on The Last Days.  Believers’ empty bookshelves.  Fear explodes.  Expectations renew.  The end is near.  Revelation is being fulfilled!  THE day is at hand!

It is an old, old story.  Some believe the current events prove that this time, Jesus is finally going to come!  It took 2,000 years but after being disappointed time and time again, mankind believes the last days, the Rapture, Jesus’ appearance, and his 1,000-year reign is ready to bless the faithful.  Am I poking fun?  No, too many others have already filled that position.  They have given their empty, failed prophecies which disappointed their followers and revealed to the world what God said false teachers would do.  

It is sad when people believe they are being led by God to inform the world of the exact time Jesus is going to return.  Those who follow such soothsayers end up being disappointed.  Some shed tears because they allowed their prophet to make fools of them.  Some quit and renew their friendship with the devil.  Some renew their search, building a stronger faith which will lead them to the right prophet.  Some decide to never listen to anyone who claims God speaks to him.  Some see it as a way to make money while building people’s hope, even if it is false.

I do not know the number of book written about the return of Jesus to establish his kingdom.  I’ve lived long enough to see several failures.  Some apologized, then re-figured and sell more books to gullible disciples.  Some get comfortable on their house tops and patiently wait.  They are sincere, honest people who think they are blessed with the special knowledge of “when” it will happen.   There are at least two positions taken concerning the return of Jesus and the fulfillment of the events in the book of Revelation.

1). The book was fulfilled in the first century with the destruction of the city of Jerusalem by the Roman army.  Jesus’ return is tied up in the old Jerusalem being destroyed and the new Jerusalem, which is spiritual, being established by God’s Son.  Salvation will be given to those who place their trust in Jesus. 

2). The book is a progressive one with events being fulfilled over a period of 2,000 plus years.   The first five chapters were fulfilled in the first century.  The prophecies continue to be fulfilled during the span of that 2,000 years.  The final fulfillment is close for Jesus to appear and establish an earthly kingdom which will endure for 1,000 years.

3. The number 2 explanation has multiple facets on when each event will take place.  The Rapture is moved around.  The battle of Armageddon is also placed at different end times.

What if the progressive fulfillment is completely wrong?  Those reasons are manipulated to fit in each authors view and timetable.  When the return of Jesus is given a date, failure always follows.  Some readers may not be aware, but the time of Jesus return has been set at 1914, 1917, 1942, 1985, 1992, and 1995.  That does not include prophecies made prior to 1914.  Despite the number, all daters have been disappointed.   All authors that have given us dates for the return of Jesus were disappointed that the Lord did not return.  Their disappointment should have been spent on themselves.  Each century produces those who are new at guessing.  Is it not strange that even Jesus does not know the specific date?  Yet, some feel they have special knowledge of that “when.”

Although most will ignore what I write, I continue to invite the reader to examine the first several verses in the beginning and end of Revelation.  Who is writing the book?  Who is he writing to?  Is an individual named as the receiver or is it to several churches?  Do those churches have a location?  Are they real places which existed in John’s day when he wrote the book of Revelation?  Does the writer at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of the book indicate his audience is living prior to 2021 or existing after the twentieth century?  If he was addressing someone in 1821, he would readily be referred to as a false prophet.  Why?  Because nothing described in the book took place in that time period.  Does he say he is writing to folks who will live 20 centuries later?  Does he use descriptions which show the book will have a very late fulfillment or one that is to be fulfilled “soon” or “at hand”?  If we allow the writer to use words that referred to his day and time, what words would he have used so those people would think its fulfillment was in their time period?  If I said to the reader, “I’ll call you tomorrow,” would you think I was saying I’ll call you in 2,000 plus years?  What would that phrase mean to you?

The book begins with John writing, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:   Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.   Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” (Revelation 1:1-3 KJV).

The books ends with the following.

“. . .the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be doneBehold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. . . .And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. . .And, behold, I come quickly;. . .He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:6-7, 10, 12, 20).” 

If you received these words from Jesus in the first century, would you think he was talking about a time period in 2021 rather than something that would happen in your lifetime?  Would words used by the Holy Spirit such as “time is at hand,” “quickly,” and “shortly” not be better understood by first century recipients than false teachers who lived twenty centuries later setting dates that were lies?

IS GRACE A CONTINUING NEED?

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 11-01-2021

Was the woman who was brought before Jesus and charged, guilty of that sin?  She was caught in the act.  She did not deny the charge.  She was expecting to be stoned for her sin.  The ones who caught her made a correct condemnation of her act.  They also knew what the scriptures said about her sin and what punishment she must receive.  Jesus knew what she did.  He also knew the scriptures.  Yet, he told her, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:3-11 KJV). Some today might condemn Jesus for ignoring scripture and being “too soft on sin.”  Since her accusers left, she did not have any eyewitnesses to her act.  Jesus did not ask them to spare her life.  He made a simple statement, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”  What sins had they committed that quickly disbanded those accusers?  Maybe several of them had been that woman’s customer and that was how they knew where she was and what she was doing?  Notice how the woman’s partner is not mentioned.  Was he one of the accusers?  Scripture does not say.  Jesus did not condemn her, but his last words were, “Go and sin no more.”

Perhaps that woman learned from that episode and stopped committing adultery?  Did she stop “sinning”?  If Jesus could forgive a person of adultery, could he not forgive her of any other sin?  John 8 stirs up a number of questions.  Did she ask Jesus to pray for her?  John does not tell us.  Did she ask him to forgive her?  If so, John does not record it.  Did Jesus command her to “Repent”?  Again, John is silent.  We assume things which the passage does not reveal.  If she did not repent, does God forgive without repentance?  Later, if she stumbled, fell, and cursed, would God overlook that explicative without repentance or confession of sin?  Some believe this part of John 8 has been added by a later writer and John did not pen it.  Perhaps they thought it seemed to put Jesus in a compromising situation and to keep that from happening, it should be removed?

When an individual submits to that burial in water that Paul wrote about, and was raised to walk in newness of life, he was completely cleansed (Romans 6:1-11).  Although he is no longer “a slave to sin” and he has been “set free from sin” (vv.6-7), he does not remain sinless.  For some, that is a contradiction.  Paul informed Christians that all have sinned.  We are not perfect.  We continue to trust in Jesus because we have “died to sin” so it is no longer our “master,” and we are no longer its slave (v. 14).  Thankfully, we are now “under grace.”

Paul saw how some might think this gave them the freedom to sin.  He told the Roman saints, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?   God forbid” (Romans 6:1-2).  There are two extremes.  First, one may keep on living in sin thinking God’s grace will cover him despite that digression.  The second extreme is that one must remain sinless after becoming a Christian or he is lost again.  Both are extremes and each is false.  Since grace is in the picture, so is the cleansing blood of Jesus.  Notice Paul’s stated, “continue in sin.”  Should we once more become slaves to sin?  No.  Yet, Christians do sin from time to time.  Yet, that sinner does not lose fellowship with God because he continues to trust in the price Jesus paid.   

1 Corinthians shows how an entire congregation, despite their error in doctrine and practice, continued to have God to dwell in them.  Yes, God had Paul to write two letters of correction, but these were not written, sent, nor read in a few weeks period.  Despite their error Paul instructed them to discipline only one member and withdraw fellowship from him.  They did.  The guilty one later repented, and they accepted him back.  In the second letter he continued by warning them as he closed it.  Warnings, yes.  However, neither Paul nor God withdrew fellowship from them.   

Some believe an individual loses fellowship with God if he commits one sin.  That disobedience causes him to be lost until he repents and confesses it.  Having fellowship with the 1 Corinthian church today would be an impossibility for some to consider, much less practice.  Yet, God still indwelt them.  What would that do to any congregation that might contemplate withdrawing fellowship from Corinth?  Would they not be withdrawing from God since He continued to indwell the membership?  Was the Laodicean church not guilty before they received their warning letter?  Had God already vomited them out of His fellowship before they received and read it (Revelation 3:14-22)?

Extremes.  There are different assumptions by Christians on the topic of whether a believer is lost or saved.  Where is that illusive middle?  How far from the middle may one wander before he is no longer in fellowship with God?  One thing is clear.  It makes grace a wonderful gift from God for those who are members of the body of Christ.  Due to our imperfections, God knows that we continue to need His grace!

CLOSER THAN A THIRD COUSIN!

My Thoughts. . .
Monday, 10-25-2021

When I was a lot younger than I am now, a boyhood friend, who was a third cousin (that meant we were almost related to one another but weren’t) and I were together every day. Most of the time we stayed out of trouble. Sometimes we got close to it and at other times we ran to get away from it. In the summer we left our shoes at home and went barefooted and traveled to whatever swimming hole was closest, went hunting when we had ammunition, fished for and caught multiple crawdads, and played “mumlipeg” to see who could throw and stick the knife closer to the other one’s foot. Henry and I did not always agree. Sometimes a disagreement might produce “a cold shoulder” for a few days. During those times together he and I talked to one another on hundreds of boyhood topics. Silence was mandatory only when hunting.

When I was twenty, I decided to be buried with Jesus into his death, so I submitted to immersion for that burial and the following resurrection into the new life offered by Jesus (Romans 6:1-11). Jesus paid off my sin debt and God took up residence (indwelt) in me. This indwelling was not a temporary occupation. It was a 24/7 hour/day one. God was closer to me than Henry. He had a greater love for me than a third cousin could ever hope to exhibit. Although disagreement with Henry may have required a cooling off period when we did not speak to one another, my failure in being perfect did not cause God to kick me out of His fellowship. God and I had a relationship that we humans fail to appreciate.

Henry and I shared our experiences together which created our vocal exchanged. Although we might disagree, seldom did we allow it to continue disrupting our togetherness nor sharing communication with one another. Silence, when it did happen, meant our disagreement ended our talking to one another for a while. Did you know God is with you closer and more personal than any third-cousin, cousin, parent, child, or even your spouse? With Him being so close, why are we so silent? Why are our conversations with Him so sparse? If He were visible would that cause us to acknowledge Him more? For example, would we turn to Him and ask if He wanted to accompany us when we decided to go to our neighbor to give him a piece of our mind? Would we also remind Him that He needed to stick His divine fingers into His heavenly ears so He would not hear what we wanted to say to that neighbor? No, we usually forget He is there. In fact, He is more loving with us than we are with the spouse and all the others that have been mentioned. You and I may forget, but God continues to personally dwell in and love us.

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So, glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

So, how well are we doing with God’s occupancy?

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