And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 19, Number
In this issue:
Scripture says, “Therefore, encourage one another, and build up one another…” (1 Thess. 5:11, NASV). Acts 11:23 records Barnabas as coming to Antioch “and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man…”
Whenever I think about these things my mind always goes back to the Old Testament, to the children of Israel while they were in the wilderness. Their murmuring and complaining was almost constant. And, it is important to observe, God was sorely displeased with them. You can read about it, with much profit, in Numbers.
But this is not just an Old Testament wilderness problem. Jesus was on the receiving end of much complaining. John 6:41 says, “The Jews then complained about Him…” His response was immediate, instructive, easily understandable and practical to do. “Do not murmur…” (John 6:43). The New King James footnotes this with a simple, straight forward, alternative translation, “Stop grumbling.”
The Holy Spirit moved Jude to write about it with blistering, sharp, rebuking words. “Behold, the Lord comes… to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him. These are grumblers, complainers…” (Jude 14-16).
Of all people, God’s people ought to be the least ready to complain and murmur, yet it is evident we are not. We possess the greatest blessings and hope and yet we often go through life fussing, complaining, griping, finding fault with so many things. James 3:10 is appropriate. “My brethren, these things ought not to be so.” Note the context of this verse is discussing the misuse of the tongue!
Why are we this way? Carelessness and thoughtlessness are easy answers. It is easy to find fault, to pick at things, events, people, and yes, brothers and sisters in Christ. A negative, critical attitude can develop within us before we know it. It becomes habitual, addictive and unrecognized by the complainer because it seems so natural. But, it is inexcusable and unacceptable. It is sinful!!
How can we
stop? Jesus told us. Just stop it! “Stop grumbling.” A practical suggestion.
Make it your rule to speak two commending things BEFORE speaking one
complaint. If you cannot, then don’t complain!!
It is possible for marriages to exist that do not have God’s approval. For example, “For Herod himself had sent and laid hold of John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife; for he had married her. Because John had said to Herod, ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife’” (Mark 6:17–18). Herod had “married” Herodias, but she was “Philip’s wife.” Their marriage was unlawful (sinful) before God. Romans 7:2-3 explains why: “For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man.”
God, who gave us marriage, defines it and regulates it according to His will (Gen. 2:21-24; Matt. 19:3-6; Heb. 13:4). While men mock and marginalize marriage through immorality and their false definitions of marriage, the Bible continues to affirm God’s will on approved marriage: one man and one woman for life, with one exception (Matt. 19:3-6). All others constitute human distortions and defiance (such as polygamy, polyandry, same-sex marriage, marriage to animals, buildings, etc.).
What do the Scriptures say about who has a God-given right to marry?
1) The person who has never been married has a God-given right to marry. As it was with Adam and Eve, so it is for the person who has never been married. In marriage, God joins the man and woman together for life (Gen. 2:24; 1 Cor. 7:2).
2) The person who puts away his or her spouse for the cause of fornication has a God-given right to marry again. Jesus explained this exception for divorce and remarriage in Matthew 19:9. Only one person in a divorce may remarry with God’s blessing; the person who puts away his or her spouse because of their fornication. If this exception did not exist, one commits adultery by marrying another person (Matt. 5:32).
3) The person whose spouse dies has a God-given right to marry. Death ends the obligation of marriage, freeing the living to marry again (Rom. 7:2-3). “A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord” (1 Cor. 7:39).
Every other sort of marriage, although often recognized and legalized by men’s customs and laws, does not have God’s approval, and is “unlawful” before Him (Mk. 6:18). Some of these sinful marriages include:
1) Same-sex marriage. The Bible never approves the sin of homosexuality, much less marriage between the same gender (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Jude 7; Rom. 1:24-29). God joins man and woman in marriage, not man and man or woman and woman (Gen. 2:23-24).
2) Plural marriage. Multiple wives (or husbands) is prima facie (on its face) adultery, and is sin before God (Rom. 7:2; Heb. 13:4). It was man, not God, who introduced polygamy into the world (Gen. 4:19). From creation, God approved marriage between a man and a woman; not between a man and women.
3) Remarriage after a divorce that was not for the cause of fornication. Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 teach that remarriage after such a divorce produces adultery. (See Mark 6:17-18.)
We must not separate “what God has joined together” (Matt. 19:6). Neither must we try to join together those whom God keeps apart.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon
plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files
Scripture Reading: John 5:24-30
There are four calls in life; three of which everyone will answer. If we do not answer the other call, each of the remaining calls will bring us untold sorrow, pain and despair.
I. THE DEATH CALL.
A. Man has
No Choice but to Answer this Call, Heb. 9:27 (Eccl. 3:2; 2:14; 7:2).
II. THE RESURRECTION CALL.
Call Affirms that Christ was Raised, and Our Life in Christ is not in Vain,
1 Cor. 15:16-20.
III. THE JUDGMENT CALL (the final call).
Our Appointment with Death, Judgment Comes, Heb. 9:27; Rom. 14:10-12; 2 Cor.
IV. THE GOSPEL CALL (Acts 2:39).
A. Call to
Salvation by the Gospel, Rom. 1: 16-17; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 2:9; 1 Cor.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon
plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files
Scripture Reading: Acts 6:1-7
1. Like any family, problems will arise in
churches. When they do, we can do one of four things:
I. CHALLENGE OF COMPATIBILITY, Acts 6:1.
Challenge before Us: Many Different People Becoming One In Christ,
Rom.12:15-16; 1 Cor. 12:25-26; Jno. 17:20-23.
II. CHALLENGE OF COMMUNICATION, Ac 6:1.
Failure to Communicate, 6:1.
III. CHALLENGE OF CONVERTEDNESS, Acts 6:3.
this Exists, Satan Still Controls One’s Life, Acts 5:1-5, 7-9; Acts 3:19;
When Comedy isn't Funny
The photo of comedienne Kathy Griffin holding a representation of the bloody, severed head of President Donald Trump is more than disgusting; it is vile, reprehensible and despicable. There is nothing humorous about it. Backlash from the public and across the political spectrum was swift, and Griffin apologized for the image (although she did not directly apologize to the President and his family). It has been reported that the Secret Service has launched an investigation “into the circumstances surrounding the photo shoot” (“Secret Service Investigating Gory Trump Photo,” tmz.com). Griffin was terminated from her New Year’s Eve hosting job with CNN.
This profane display of violent intent in the name of humor serves to illustrate the filthiness that is improper for Christians. That which passes for modern comedy often violates God’s clear prohibitions: “...let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks” (Eph. 5:3-4). Obscene behavior (“filthiness”), silly buffoonery (“foolish talking”) and vulgar repartee (“coarse jesting”) characterize the worldly-minded who do not have “any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Eph. 5:5). It must not be what we find funny.
Christians must not be lured into the sinful banter of the double entendre (“a word or expression capable of two interpretations with one usually risqué,” Merriam-Webster). Coarse, vulgar jokes are not funny; they are destructive to the soul. We ought not find anything funny in profanity-laced, provocative, indecent humor. In fact, we are taught “do not be partakers with them” (Eph. 5:7).
Solomon observed there is a “time to laugh” as we live “under heaven” (Eccl. 3:1, 4). But, not when that laughter excuses sin and invites us to compromise holiness for that which is not holy. “Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 06/05/2017
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA