Times of services:
"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)
In this issue:
When the Disciples Came Together
Joe R. Price
God seeks true worshipers who worship Him in spirit and truth (Jno. 4:23-24). Christians in the New Testament set an example of worship that pleases God. Their habit was to assemble together on the first day of each week, not to forsake the assembling of themselves together (Heb. 10:24-25). It was a part of their faith that they exercised every first day of the week (Acts 2:42; 20:7).
Each first day of the week the disciples of Jesus came together “in one place” to honor God in worship and be edified as they ate the Lord’s supper to remember the death of Jesus, to pray and sing together, to give as the Lord had prospered them and to hear the word of God (1 Cor. 11:20; Acts 2:42; 20:7; 1 Cor. 14:12-16, 26; Eph. 5:19). It is notable that when these early Christians came together “as a church” (1 Cor. 11:18) to worship God, their assemblies were…
Simple. The worship meetings of Christians in the New Testament were not accentuated by frills and flourishes. No elaborate ceremonies are mentioned or described; none were needed. God did not expect such of Christians then, nor does Christ command such of us today. True worship is not defined by pomp and circumstance devised by men.
Sincere. Hearts are turned toward God in worship. It is not a time to try to impress people. Worship is not entertainment. Humble reverence is a clear trait of the one who worships God in “spirit and truth.” “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be held in reverence by all those around Him” (Psa. 89:7). Every part of our worship assembly is to be done “decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40).
Sufficient. The worship assemblies of Christians in the New Testament satisfied the purposes of God, and that was enough. That is the aim of our assemblies, too. Some may think they must use gimmicks to entice folks to come and stay interested. But for disciples of Christ, the interest in worship is already present. Their faith is real, their service is genuine and their worship honors God (Heb. 2:12).
Life Is ...
J. S. Smith
Life is not making millions of dollars, drifting on a golden parachute or crashing into a glass ceiling. It is not bowling trophies, road construction or whiter, brighter teeth while you sleep.
Life is not who makes the dean’s list, an enemies list or a blacklist. It is not Congressional District 24, nor is it trash collectors, metal detectors or meat inspectors.
Life is not Macs or Windows, Longhorns or Aggies, Eagles or Cowboys. Neither is it Toyota or Lexus, Lincoln or Ford, Corvette or Chevette. Life is not ring around the collar, having it your way or grabbing gusto.
Life is not pork ribs, baby bibs or stock tips. It is not the Marshall Plan, a southern man or Neil Young. Life is not Mountain Dew, skies of blue or the number two.
Life is not DSL or dial-up, dine-in or carry-out, picnic or pitch-in. Life is not wrinkles around the eyes, gray around the temples or a spare tire around the waist. Life is not 59 ½, 62 or 65.
Life is not Timex, Memorex, or Malcolm X. It is not cashews, padded pews or a blown fuse. Life is not desperate housewives, x-men or dixie chicks.
Life is not dating the most boys or dying with the most toys. It is not blue state/red state or another morning and the paper’s late.
Life is not peace in the Middle East or tornadoes in the Midwest. It is not dot-coms, o-rings or the grassy knoll. Life is not red or yellow, black or white because they are all precious in His sight.
Life is not beatles or wings, dominoes or cream. It is not occluded fronts, cherry runts or helium punts. Life is not a whole grain oat cereal, a board game from Milton Bradley or a magazine ignored by 12 million people every Friday.
Life is walking by faith (2 Cor. 5:7), fearing God and keeping his commandments (Eccles. 12:13). It is letting your light shine (Matt. 5:16), finding salvation by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8) and doing unto others as you would have done unto you, regardless of how others actually do unto you (Matt. 7:12) Life is abiding in Christ (Gal. 3:27) and being found well pleasing to him when the final trumpet sounds (2 Cor. 5:9).
This life is not about this life. This life is about the next (2 Peter 3:11-13).
Edition 295, July 2, 2006
Life Is ... My Point
J. S. Smith
Forrest Gump says, “Life is like a box of chocolates” but I see tee-shirts all the time that say life is something else and the rest is just details.
I see an ever-present challenge to keep this life in proper perspective. I think of Curly in City Slickers, holding up one finger and implying that it was the purpose of life. “One thing.” To borrow a phrase, it’s a matter of keeping the main thing, the main thing.
Everything in my earlier stream-of-consciousness rant takes its place among all the little things that compete for our attention. The biggest word my three-year-old son knows is “concentration.” Pleasing God and finding our way to heaven depends upon our ability to concentrate upon his will and keep everything else in perspective. From mundane daily distractions to life-altering tragedies and triumphs, nothing should prove sufficient to divert us from the eternal purpose of life. “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:38-39).
There are so many occasions in life, however, in which we find ourselves majoring in minors. Wednesday, the Diet Mountain Dew soda fountain was out of order. My daughter wants uniform number nine and has to settle for 54. The guy in the F-150 swerved in front of me on the freeway. Some would answer, “That’s life” and I understand their point, but no, that’s not life. If that’s all life is, life is not very much.
When we were children, we would spin around in circles until we were dizzy almost to the point of nausea. We would stumble about, looking at the world in a blur and have great fun. Grown-up life provides its own dizziness, really from the onset of the teen years until someone tosses a handful of dirt on your very own pine box. School, work, sports, hobbies, relationships and rivalries get factored into the mundane, tragic and triumphant and it is not hard to imagine that we become slaves to the distractions, incapable of remembering what life is really about.
Consider the apostle Paul who seems to be single-minded in his service to the Lord, counting loss the things that were gain to him, reaching forward to the upward call and learning to be content in every state (Phil. 3-4). Demas, though, forsook him, having loved this present world a little too much (2 Tim. 4:10) -- things that perish with use or fall prey to time, rust, moth or thief (Col. 2:22, Matt. 6:19). How much of our anger, worry, discontentment and distress are truly rooted in things that won’t matter in a week or a year or certainly in eternity? Life has to be more than that, right?
Edition 295, July 2, 2006
The Speed of Life
Last Monday 41 people were killed in a subway train derailment in Valencia, Spain. Officials said Tuesday that excessive speed may have been the cause of the tragedy. (“Speeding may have caused Spanish derailment,” Ciaran Giles, AP, Toronto Star, thestar.com, July 4, 2006)
Too often we speed through life. It’s hard for many to “stop and smell the roses.” Speeding through life leaves us exhausted and regretful. And what’s more, it can lead to eternal consequences we never intended.
Some say they don’t have time for God. They are too busy with work – and with play – to obey Him. To these folks, Sunday is a “day off” for themselves. They have not learned that every day belongs to God and that life itself is a gift He gives us all (Gen. 2:7; Eccl. 12:7; Matt. 5:45). Time is the measurement of life “under the sun” – it is not an inexhaustible resource (Eccl. 3:1-13).
The things God does should cause us to “fear before Him” (Eccl. 3:14). But, some say they “don’t have time” to do that. They live their life in denial, believing that by not thinking about God, somehow, they are not responsible to God. This sort of thinking is tragically wrong (Heb. 9:27; 2 Cor. 5:10). God calls all men everywhere to repent. We had better slow down and take time to obey God – judgment day is coming (Acts 17:30-31).
If your life is perpetually filled with rushing about neglecting God, you must slow down (Lk. 10:38-42). Consider your priorities and set God firmly in place at the top of the list (Matt. 6:33). Take a breath – find a quiet place – rest a bit (Mk. 6:31). Pray often, love your family, be kind to your neighbor and try to save some. And, work for the Master every day (Jno. 9:4).
Created by Chuck Sibbing -
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA