THE SPIRITS SWORD
The Mt. Baker church of Christ
June 18, 2000 -- Volume IV Number 15
Editor: Joe R. Price
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In this issue:
--The Dead Sea: Alive or Dead?
--Awesome (Jeff S. Smith, The Wonsley Worker)
----Jesus Stills The Storm (Matt. 8:23-27)
----The Gospel Of Christ
--Noteworthy News: "Extreme" Prayer Energizes Youth
The Dead Sea: Alive Or Dead?
Joe R. Price
The Dead Sea stands as a stunning and sobering metaphor of the lifeless, hopeless spiritual condition of all who turn away from God, the Giver and Protector of both physical and spiritual life (Acts 14:15-17; 17:26-28; Jno. 8:12).
"The Dead Sea is so called because of the high salt content of its waters. That spells instant death for fish that happen to wander in, as they occasionally do from the Jordan River. In fact it kills most animal and plant life--with the exception of tourists, who love the property of the salt water that makes it so easy to float on." (MailBits.com Trivia Question, June 9, 2000)
At almost 1300 feet below sea level, all the streams and rivers of the area flow into the Dead Sea, most notably, the Jordan River. Although filled by living streams, the life of the Sea is soon extinguished by its high salt content.
The area around the Dead Sea was not always dead. It was once choice grazing area (Gen. 13:10-12). But now its lifelessness graphically figures the spiritual death of its ancient inhabitants.
Does the Dead Sea have anything to teach us about our spiritual life? When you became a Christian you were "on fire" for the Lord. You were diligent unto every good work and zealous for the sake of righteousness. (Rom. 12:11; Eph. 2:10; 1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:22) What happened? Where did the strength and vigor of your spiritual life go?
Like the salt that chokes off life from the Dead Sea, the cares, pleasures and temptations of the world can (and do) choke out our spiritual vitality, producing spiritual sluggishness and even death (Mk. 4:18-19). We must resist these temptations! (1 Cor. 10:13) "And we desire that each one of you may show the same diligence unto the fullness of hope even to the end: that ye be not sluggish, but imitators of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises." (Heb. 6:11-12)
If this describes you, then wake up out of your spiritual complacency! "And this, knowing the season, that already it is time for you to awake out of sleep: for now is salvation nearer to us than when we first believed. The night is far spent, and the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light." (Rom. 13:11-12; cf. Eph. 5:14) If you do not, the death you experience will last forever!
Jeff S. Smith
I forwarded an electronic mail to my wife this week and she instantly knew that I had not written the text, for the word "awesome" appeared there.
As an exclamatory, "awesome" underwent a revival a few years ago among young people. Suddenly, everything was awesome, except grown ups who judged things a little more conservatively and reserved "awesome" for things like promotions and vacations. As a testimony to my unhipness, "awesome" never really became a part of my vocabulary. Perhaps it should have a limited role, however.
"Awesome" does appear in the New King James Version of Christ's new testament. Quoting from the prophet Joel, Peter predicts events surrounding "the great and awesome day of the Lord" (Acts 2:20). The phrase "day of the Lord" is used throughout the Bible to describe a variety of great moments in history. Generally, we are focused in this era upon the second coming of Jesus Christ as the ultimate "day of the Lord." The awesomeness of that day is its eternal implication. While we struggle in this life over where to go to college or where to eat dinner tonight, that awesome day will determine our abode for the rest of ever. And the options are more strikingly diverse than the Outback Steakhouse or Red Lobster. The prospect of heaven carries with it an eternity of joy, worship and the divine presence, while hell is consumed with fiery torment, voracious worms and rotten neighbors.
In the Old Testament, the word "awesome" was most often applied to God himself. Moses tried to increase Israel's courage by reminding her that "the great and awesome God is among you" (Deut. 7:21). Nehemiah called him "the great, the mighty, and awesome God, who keeps covenant and mercy" (9:32). The certainty involved in serving Jehovah lends itself to awesomeness. In him, we have hope to anchor the soul, for it is impossible for God to lie (Heb. 6:17-20).
There is an awesomeness about God and perhaps no other word describes him as well. Perhaps also the term is used a little flippantly in our age, applied to things that are not really so awesome after all. Finally, it is reassuring to examine the awesomeness of God against the backdrop of his approachability. The avenue of prayer makes him accessible 24 hours a day. How awesome is that?
-(From, The Wonsley Worker)
For the complete text of this sermon, visit BIBLE ANSWERS at:
Jesus Stills The Storm
Scripture Reading: Matthew 8:23-27
I. CHRISTIANS MUST FACE MANY STORMS (Trials) AS THEY FOLLOW JESUS - 8:24; cf. Mk. 4:37.
A. Storm Of Allegiance - Matt. 10:34-39.
1. Family (v. 35-37); Duty & its sacrifice (v. 38); Life itself (v. 39).
2. If our allegiance is divided, we will drown in this storm! - Matt. 6:24
B. The Storm Of Worldliness - 1 Pet. 2:11-12; 1 Jno. 2:15-17; 2 Tim. 2:22; Eph. 5:3ff; 1 Ths. 5:22.
C. The Storm Of Religious Compromise - 2 Cor. 11:3-4; Gal. 2:4-5, 11-12; Jude 3.
II. JESUS IS OUR CONSTANT SOURCE OF SALVATION - 8:25. (From sins, Matt. 11:28-30; From trials of faith, Heb. 12:1-2)
A. When We Face Troubles, We May Begin To Question His Care For Us - Mk. 4:38.
1. Trials must prompt prayers of faith, not doubts of His care - Heb. 4:14-16; 13:5-6.
2. Jesus must not be our escape hatch for emergency use only! - cf. Lk. 8:23.
B. Never Doubt Christ's Concern!
III. WE MUST REPLACE FEAR WITH FAITH - 8:26.
A. Faith In The Power & Presence Of Christ - Rom. 8:31-39.
B. Faith To Rejoice In Our Tribulations - Rom. 5:3-5 (2 Cor. 12:9-10).
C. Faith To Keep On Obeying Jesus! - Jas. 2:17ff.
IV. WHY WE CAN TRUST JESUS IN THE STORMS OF LIFE - 8:26-27.
A. Because Of Who He Is.
B. Because Of What He Has Done.
C. Because He Alone Can Save Us.
For the complete text of this sermon visit BIBLE ANSWERS at:
The Gospel of Christ
Scripture Reading: Romans 16:25-27
Gospel includes doctrine & doctrine includes gospel (1 Tim. 1:8-11; 2 Tim. 3:16).
I. THE GOSPEL IS THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS CHRIST - 1 Cor. 15:1-5.
A. It Is The Preaching Of Jesus Christ - Rom. 16:25; 1 Cor. 15:3-5; Jno. 16:12-13; Lk. 10:16
B. The Gospel Is For All The World - Mk. 16:15-16; Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 10:34-35.
C. The Gospel Is Nothing To Be Ashamed Of - Rom. 1:16; Jno. 3:16; Eph. 2:14-18; 1 Tim. 2:3-4; Heb. 5:8-9.
II. THE GOSPEL IS GOD'S MESSAGE TO MAN - Heb. 1:1-2.
A. Revelation Of God's Mind - Gal. 1:11-12; Rom. 16:25-26; 1 Cor. 2:7 (Rom. 16:25).
B. Any Other Gospel Condemns Both Teacher & Recipient - Gal. 1:6-9; 2 Jno. 9-10
C. By It God Calls Sinners To Salvation - 2 Ths. 2:13-14 (Rom. 2:11).
D. Therefore, We Must Boldly Proclaim It - Eph. 6:19; 1 Pet. 4:11 (Jno. 15:18-20).
III. THE GOSPEL PROFITS US WHEN MIXED WITH FAITH - Heb. 4:2; Rom. 10:17. Cf. Jas. 1:21-27; 2:14-26.
IV. THE GOSPEL ENDURES FOREVER - 1 Pet. 1:22-25.
A. The Word Of Christ Will Not Pass Away - Matt. 24:35.
B. The Gospel Of Christ Is The Word Of Eternal Life - Jno. 6:63, 68 (14:6).
C. The Word Of Christ Will Judge Us In The Last Day - Jno. 12:48-50.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
"Extreme" Prayer Energizes Youth
"A nonstop, worldwide prayer movement patterned after the Moravian revival in Germany in the 1700s is energizing young people.
"...Generation X-ers are "getting excited about Jesus" through a movement called "24-7" which encourages groups of people to pray for extended periods of time, coordinator Pete Greig told Religion Today. They meet in designated rooms where they pray in shifts for a week or a month, asking God to bless their families, friends, heroes, and peers.
"...Groups pick a time, say the first week of June, then agree to pray around the clock, registering with the 24-7 web site, Greig said. The site features testimonies of past events, inspirational stories, and prayer needs from around the world. Dozens of groups have participated since the initiative started in February. "Since we began, we've never had less than four groups at a time praying," he said.
"...Young people in many nations, mostly in Europe, are joining the movement. There have been 24-7 prayer rooms in Australia, Ecuador, England, France, Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, the United States and Wales, Greig said. Participants numbered from fewer than 10 to dozens, he said."
-(Religion Today, June 16, 2000, http://www.religiontoday.com/CurrentFeatureStory/)
COMMENTARY ON THE NEWS
Joe R. Price
Christians are to "pray without ceasing" (1 Ths. 5:17). The Lord said that "men ought always to pray, and not to faint" (Lk. 18:1). "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (Jas. 5:16). We have absolutely no desire to object to God-approved prayer. We are not opposed to public prayer, for such regularly occurs in our worship assemblies (Acts 4:24-30; 1 Cor. 14:15).
But where in the NT are we taught to organize, promote, manage and participate in a prayer "movement"? What Bible authority exists to turn prayer into a "movement," to name that movement "24-7" (or any other name), and to target young people to join the movement? (Col. 3:17) There is none.
Prayer is a spiritual blessing enjoyed by God's people (Eph. 1:3). It is not designed to energize emotions and generate "inspirational stories." Neither does the length of one's prayers define their acceptability by God. "And in praying use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him." (Matt. 6:7-8). Such could merely reveal a poor motive for praying (Mk. 12:40; Lk. 20:47).
We are happy to hear of young people seeing the need to turn to God. We must help them turn to Him so as to be heard. "And this is the boldness which we have toward him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he heareth us whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions which we have asked of him." (1 Jno. 5:13-14) They must need to become Christians so their prayers will be heard and answered by our Father in heaven.
The Spirit's Sword is a weekly publication of the
Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA
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