And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 17, Number
In this issue:
September 21-26, 2014
lessons nightly, Mon-Fri at 7:00 PM
“The Truth that Shall Make You Free”
Sunday Class: Truth Misunderstood in Bible Times
I-5 take Exit # 255 and go East 4.2 miles)
Joe. R. Price
We are not discussing Christians going on vacations. We are discussing Christians taking vacations from putting the Lord first in their lives. Christians should never take a vacation from “seek(ing) first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33).
We recently learned about the Allen Creek Community Church (AC3) in Marysville, WA, where regular worship services are suspended for one month annually. They call it “PAUSE” and explain, “we suspend our regular weekend services from August through Labor Day to give our volunteers a well-deserved rest & PAUSE” (Calendar of Events, August 2014). We are not surprised that a man-made denomination would PAUSE from worshiping the Lord in spirit and truth. But, we cannot be so blind as to think that New Testament Christians may do the same sort of things and escape God’s judgment (Rom. 2:1-3, 21-24).
Apparently, some Christians think they deserve to PAUSE from worship. They choose to take off on a weekend and do not worship God. (Some only come to worship once when the church meets twice each Sunday.) Do they reason, "I go to worship services 51 weeks a year...what’s wrong with taking one or two Sundays off?" I would venture to say the same thing that is wrong with being faithful to your wife 50 weeks out of the year, but being unfaithful to her two weeks each year! Is that too harsh? You tell me. Or, better yet, tell the Lord Jesus.
This really gets down to a matter of the heart. If we can PAUSE from worshiping God, then what prevents a PAUSE from anything else the Lord commands of us? Why not PAUSE from moral purity and living “soberly, righteously and godly" (1 Pet. 1:13-16; Tit. 2:12; Col. 3:17)?
“I deserve a break today”! This sort of excuse-making for doing other things than worshiping God and putting Him first in all things boils down to some clear troubles: a weak faith, selfishness and self-justification. Do we really believe we are so righteous that we “deserve a break” from serving the Lord? Wasn’t this at the heart of the Pharisee’s problem in Luke 18:9-14? He was not like other men...he was so active in God’s work, fasting twice a week and paying his tithes! In his own mind he was faithful and righteous -- yet, he was the center of his attention. God did not justify him, nor will God justify us if we have the same self-righteous mindset (v. 14). We cannot successfully PAUSE from faithfulness by appealing to our record of obedience.
“It’s a burden to be at every worship service.” This excuse reflects a heart unwilling to sacrificially love God. It takes sacrifice to love God! “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 Jno. 5:3). The Lord commands us to worship and not forsake the assembling of ourselves together (Jno. 4:24; Heb. 10:25). Shall we PAUSE from loving God? If worship is burdensome to you, a change of heart (repentance) is in order.
“I just need to get away.” This Christian sees worship as a job. Only so much work, and then he gets weary. Being a Christian is not a job, it is our life, our calling (Eph. 4:1). So, “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Gal. 6:9).
Vacations from employment are good and helpful. But, there is no acceptable, Scriptural PAUSE from following God. Put Him first in all things, without making excuses (Lk. 14:15-27).
Scripture Reading: John 1:14-181. Jesus is “full of grace and truth”, Jno. 1:14-17.
2. To be “strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” we must know it, trust it and be thankful for it, 2 Tim. 2:1; 2 Pet. 3:18.
I. DEFINING GRACE: WHAT IT IS.
Favor, Unmerited by Man, yet Freely Offered by God, Eph. 1:4-7; Tit. 2:11.
II. THE GRACE OF GOD...
Sinners, Eph. 2:4-9.
III. WHAT GRACE OF GOD DOES NOT DO.
does not make it Impossible for Christians to Sin and Fall Away (to be
lost), Gal. 5:3-7 (1:6-9); Jas. 5:19-20; 1 Co. 10:11-13.
Scripture Reading: Romans 2:3-111. Christians are to be "filled with the Spirit", Eph. 5:18.
a. Walk in, be led by and live in the Spirit-given word, Col. 3:16; Gal. 5:16-18, 25.
b. Bear the fruit of the Spirit, Gal. 5:22-23.
2. The worldly "fulfill the lust of the flesh", Gal. 5: 16-21.
3. The degeneration of individuals and whole societies is explained in Romans 1.
4. Filled with all unrighteousness, Rom. 1:29-31:
a. First Group: General designations of sin.
b. Second Group: Envy and consequences.
c. Third Group: Variety of sins...dangerous to social fabric as well as souls.
5. God's judgment, Rom. 1:32.
6. Warning: We must not learn what they teach, think as they think or live as they live.
I. FIRST GROUP: GENERAL SINS OF DEFILEMENT, Rom. 1:29.
With: Full of, Consumed by (filled to the brim), State of Completion, Eph.
4:17-19. Given over to all manner of evil.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Humor and Heaven
Two famous comics died in America this past month, Robin Williams (suicide) and Joan Rivers (complications during out-patient surgery). Williams was 63, Rivers was 81. Like the rest of us, comics say what is in their heart. And like us, their words will justify and condemn them (Matt. 12:34-37).
Rivers is being eulogized as "groundbreaking", a "no-holds-barred", "envelope-pushing" and "edgy" comic. While listening to the radio news about her death, some of the clips of her routine were bleeped out due to vulgarity (very common these days).
There is a "time to laugh" in life (Eccl. 3:4). Humor is good for us. But, we must take care that the humor in which we participate (both giving and receiving) is moral and pure instead of vulgar, profane and hurtful to others. "Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth...neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks" (Eph. 4:29; 5:4). The humor Christians engage in is not to be "edgy" and "no-holds-barred", but restrained by holiness, purity and kindness (Eph. 4:31-5:3).
Furthermore, if one prefers to take up permanent residency in the "house of mirth" he will likely overvalue humor and devalue its counterweight. There is also a time to weep and mourn (Eccl. 3:4). "The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of the fool is in the house of mirth" (Eccl. 7:4). Some of the world's saddest people are comedians. Why is that? Ultimately, humor cannot satisfy the purpose and longings of the soul (Eccl. 12:13).
Rivers recently summed up her attitude: "Think it's been easy?" she said. "I have gone up, I've gone down; I've been bankrupt, I've been broke. But you do it. And you do it because ... because we love it more than anything else." ("Joan Rivers, An Enduring Comic Who Turned Tragedy Into Showbiz Success, Dies", Eric Deggans, npr.org) Too bad. We must not love anything more than the Lord our God (Matt. 22:37). Do you?
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 09/08/2014
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA