THE SPIRIT’S SWORD
"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)
Mt. Baker church of Christ
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In this issue:
BY FAITH JOSEPH MADE MENTION A Series on
Hebrews 11 (Part 10)
Joseph provides one of the best examples of faith for young people to follow. He was sold into Egyptian slavery by his own brothers at the age of seventeen years old. This took Joseph approximately 200 miles away from home and placed him in the middle of an idolatrous culture in the worst of personal circumstances. Put yourself in Joseph's shoes at Joseph's age! He was, nevertheless, an exemplary servant and soon took charge of Potiphar's household. When Potiphar's wife wanted Joseph to have an affair with her, there were probably no faithful men around to look over his shoulder in disapproval. It was up to Joseph alone to say no.
From all appearances, the fruit of Joseph's faithful refusal of his master's wife was imprisonment. Yet God was with him (Gn. 39:21). Joseph's experiences would have driven many to bitterness, but Joseph glorified God when he finally stood before Pharaoh (Gn. 41:16). Pharaoh then made Joseph Governor of Egypt and we finally see his faith rewarded. Several years later Joseph had a golden opportunity to avenge himself on his brothers, but instead he provides us with one of the greatest examples of forgiving those who have wronged us.
In all of these things we see the great faith of Joseph. The Hebrew writer notes none of these, but turns his attention to the end of Joseph's life. "By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones" (Heb. 11:22).
We don't know how many of Joseph's brothers were ever comfortable with him as Governor of Egypt. In Genesis 50, they feared Joseph would punish them following their father's death. By comparison to Joseph, most of them appear to have been weak in their faith. Nevertheless, Joseph felt a responsibility towards them. They needed his care for their physical needs (Gn. 50:21) and his spiritual leadership also was important.
At the end of his life, he admonished them, "'I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.' Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, 'God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here'" (Gn. 50:24-25)."
Joseph was embalmed and probably could have commanded his burial in a lavish Egyptian tomb; instead, he made them swear to bury him in the promised land. Unlike his father, he did not request to be buried there immediately, but instructed the people to take his bones when God delivered them out of Egyptian bondage. Moses took the bones and Joshua finally saw them buried. Prior to the exodus, they had Joseph's bones as a memorial of the promise of deliverance to come.
What did Joseph have in Canaan? He could look back and remember his brother's envy and betrayal. His greatest earthly successes were in Egypt where he was governor, married a high priest's daughter, and had two sons (both with Hebrew names). But God didn't have any promises for Egypt. By faith Joseph made mention of a departure to a place which God had prepared for his people. It was a great confession. We too have a foretold departure to a place of promise. Let's be like Joseph and make mention of that departure to encourage others to receive the promises of God.
PERFORMER OR PREACHER?
Joe R. Price
The October 11, 1999 issue of Newsweek discusses the political clout of celebrities and how they use it ("Stagecraft and Statecraft," p. 43). It contains a statement about what defines candidates and what draws the public's attention to them. Though discussing politics, its ring is far too familiar as it reminds us of existing attitudes toward gospel preaching:
"Experience has become almost a negative - as if it connotes stale thinking. In politics or business, the pitch trumps the résumé almost every time."
Preaching the gospel was never intended to be a performance. It is the communication of God's powerful word of salvation to a world lost in sin (Rom. 1:15-16). Unfortunately, the appeal of approval can seduce a preacher away from godly motives to self-centered satisfaction (Acts 8:9-11; 12:20-23). The temptation to flatter people for personal profit and the talent of public speaking can be a powerful and deadly combination (1 Ths. 2:4-6). Thus, the apostle Paul repeatedly emphasized that the message and not the messenger is the point of focus of genuine gospel preaching (1 Cor. 1:18-24; 2:1-5; 2 Cor. 2:17; 4:1-5; Gal. 1:10; 2 Tim. 4:2-5).
The purpose of gospel preaching is not to entertain an audience. It is not to please men (Gal. 1:10). It is not to "scratch itching ears" (2 Tim. 4:3-4). It is not to promote personal agendas (Phil. 1:16). It is to proclaim a saving message to a dying world (Mk. 16:15; Matt. 28:19-20; Col. 1:28-29).
A gospel preacher is not a celebrity and the pulpit is not a stage. He is not and should not try to be a showman. It is his job to display Jesus Christ to the world, not himself (Gal. 3:1). When the focus of preaching is upon the preacher, his stories, humor and personal experiences, gospel preaching suffers - and so do souls.
The purpose of gospel preaching is to "preach the word...convince, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and teaching" (2 Tim. 4:2). Inspired scripture is our message (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Our means of fulfilling our task is not comic relief or personal promotion, but the sincere proclamation of truth (Phil. 1:15-18).
The aforementioned Newsweek article summarizes,
"Celebrities, with the help of the media, tend to trivialize politics by turning it into entertainment. Their presence further subordinates substance to performance, and encourages the media to review how something 'plays' rather than to analyze what's being said."
We can see this point when it comes to politics. Why can't we also see it when it comes to gospel preaching? Whenever preaching becomes entertainment it trivializes the gospel and erodes an audience's desire to investigate the credibility of what is preached (Acts 17:11).
Fellow-preacher, be careful to display Christ when you preach, not yourself (1 Cor. 2:2). Fellow-Christian, accept no less than preaching which proclaims "the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27). We need gospel preaching, not celebrity performances!
For the complete text of the following sermon, visit
BIBLE ANSWERS at:
(Scripture Reading: John 7:24)
1. Greatest religious question every man must answer is "Who Is Jesus?"
2. Jno. 7:24 - Jesus invites righteous judgment of Himself (use His words and works - 7:50-51).
I. HIS IDENTITY: WHO WAS HE?
A. He Claimed To Be God - Jno. 5:17-18; 8:58; 10:30-36.
B. What People Said (Say) About Him - Jno. 7:12ff (Matt. 16:13-16).
1. v. 12 - Good man (cf. Good moral teacher - Moral man doesn't lie!).
2. v. 12 - Leads astray.
3. v. 20 - Have a demon (Deluded, deranged, visions of grandeur).
4. v. 31 - Believed (Untested - Matt. 27:20-22) - "the prophet", Christ (7:40, 26-27, 41-42).
II. HOW WILL WE JUDGE WHO HE WAS (IS)? - 7:24.
A. His Teachings - Jno. 7:14-18.
-His claims: To speak from God (7:15-18), from above (Jno. 8:23-24), sinless (Jno. 8:46), rise from dead (Matt. 16:21; Jno. 11:25), the way, truth life, light (Jno. 14:6; 8:12), all should love/obey Him (Matt. 10:37; Lk. 6:46; Jno. 14:15).
B. His Works - Jno. 7:19-23.
1. What do His works say about Him?
-That He is the Christ, the Son of the living God! - Jno. 11:47; 10:37-38 (20:30-31).
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
UT'S $3,500 MASCOT COSTUME STOLEN
Copyright © 1999 Nando Media
Copyright © 1999 Associated Press
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (October 7, 1999 9:50 a.m. EDT http://www.nandotimes.com) - Smokey, the University of Tennessee's 6 1/2-foot-tall bluetick hound mascot costume, is missing.
Adam DeVault, who for four years has pranced, danced and flipped along the sidelines in the $3,500 outfit, discovered the costume stolen from his apartment just hours after the Tennessee-Auburn football game Saturday. "It's really made me sick," said DeVault, a 23-year-old graduate student.
The costume was the only thing missing, he said. The thief apparently entered through an unlocked balcony door sometime between midnight and 1 a.m.
Susie Gorman-Aierstok, who oversees the cheerleaders, dance team and Tennessee Hostess program, said she didn't want to say anything about the disappearance of the 12-year-old outfit until now.
"We were afraid that if it got out, they would just throw it away," she said. Now she's publicly pleading for the costume's return, and promising not to bring charges against whoever brings Smokey home.
Joe R. Price
Every football team should be so lucky as to have bluetick hound dog for a mascot! By all means, bring Smokey home (no offense intended to University of Tennessee students or fans)!
Could be it be that you, although a Christian, are walking through life wearing a costume? Are you pretending to be something or somebody you are not? If so, you need to repent of the sin of hypocrisy and live a genuine life, not a deceptive one (1 Pet. 2:1-2; Col. 3:5-11).
It has been said that character is who we are when nobody is watching. But we should never forget: God is always watching! (Heb. 4:13) Let us live holy lives which are genuine, not feigned.
The Spirit's Sword is a free, weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA
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