And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 20, Number
In this issue:
Invites you to
April 1st at 9:30 and 10:30 AM; 6:00 PM
Hear these gospel lessons:
Bring your Bible and join us in learning God’s word and will for our lives!
I-5 take Exit # 255 and go East 4.2 miles)
Christians are not saved to sit. We are not to put our spiritual lives on “autopilot” and expect any favorable results. The Bible contains repeated admonitions for us to be diligent in our efforts to grow spiritually and to serve the Lord.
We often learn best with the reinforcement of a good example. If we need an example of diligence, we need look no further than our Lord.
Jesus showed diligence in His youth. The Lord’s family traveled to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover when He was twelve years old. The family began to travel back home, but Jesus stayed behind. When He was found in the Temple, Jesus told Joseph and Mary, “I must be about My Father’s business” (Luke 2:49).
Jesus showed diligence in His ministry. He was motivated with a defined purpose. “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth” (Mark 1:38).
Jesus accomplished the greatest work the world will ever know in three short years. He was able to do this because He showed devotion in His work ethic. “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work” (John 4:34). “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4).
Not only was Jesus motivated by a devotion to His Father’s will, He was also motivated by His love for the souls of men. Jesus spoke of the diligence of a shepherd who would leave the ninety-nine sheep in safety “and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying” (Matt. 18:11-14). He also spoke of the diligence of a woman who “if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it” (Luke 15:8). Jesus is the Good Shepherd who gives His life for His sheep (John 10:11). He is the One who has “come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
We can see the diligence Jesus put into His effort to save our souls. If we benefit from His efforts, it is only fitting that we strive to match His efforts by showing the same diligence. We are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12). We are to labor for the food that endures to everlasting life (John 6:27). We are to cleanse ourselves and perfect holiness (2 Cor. 7:1). We are to exercise ourselves toward godliness (1 Tim. 4:7-8). We are to show diligence in inheriting God’s promises (Heb. 6:11-12).
Diligence is an admirable and necessary trait in many walks of life. The student must be diligent in his studies, the athlete must be diligent in his training, and the businessman must be diligent in his enterprises. So also, the Christian must be diligent in his growth and service to the Lord. Let us give all diligence in adding the necessary characteristics to our faith, and let us be even more diligent to make our call and election sure (2 Peter 1:5, 10).
The dictionary defines an excuse as “a release from obligation, duty, etc.; a plea in defense of or explanation for some action or behavior, apology; to serve as an explanation or justification for.” Excuses are often given when someone refuses to become a Christian, or when a Christian fails to live up to the Lord’s standard of righteousness.
According to the above definition, an excuse is an apology. People don’t apologize unless they feel they have done something wrong. When we make excuses for missing services, failing to do personal work, or even obeying the gospel, we are actually telling others that we have done something wrong. The appropriate thing to do is to just admit that we’ve done wrong and do what is right. What an excuse does is make it easier for us to do the wrong again. Giving excuses is an easy habit to get into, and if we give enough excuses we may actually start to believe them ourselves.
People will make time and sacrifices to do the things they want to do. If a person wants to go fishing, hunting, or shopping, they will do what is necessary to go. They will set their alarm, pack their coats, take some aspirin to get rid of their headache, and go. Some of these same people will miss worship services because they didn’t get enough sleep, because of bad weather, or because they don’t feel good. Why? Because they don’t really want to go. Excuses are only made when we fail to do what is right.
What does the Lord think of our excuses? In Luke 14:16-24, Jesus gave a parable about excuses. In the parable, a certain man gave a supper and sent his servants to bring the people who were invited. Instead of attending the supper they all began to make excuses. One had to go and see a piece of land he had purchased. Another had to test some oxen he had bought. The third man said he could not come because he had gotten married. What did the host think of these excuses? ”So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind... For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper’“ (Luke 14:21, 24).
The Supper has been made available to us as a great expense. God sent His Only Begotten Son to die on a cross. Jesus built the church and purchased it with His own blood. How should the Lord react when we refuse to accept His gift of salvation, when we refuse to assemble and worship, when we refuse to give as we have prospered, when we refuse to serve Him with faithfulness and zeal - and then try to justify these failures with lousy excuses? The Lord has every right to be angry.
There is a difference between an excuse and a reason. If something legitimate is keeping us from doing what we should do, we have a reason for not doing it. But if not, then all we have is an excuse.
The next time we feel the need to offer an excuse for something, let’s remember what an excuse really is - an apology. We need to ask ourselves why we are in a situation where we feel the need to apologize, and then make sure we are never in the same situation again.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Investigating the Investigators
On Wednesday the U.S. Justice Department Office of the Inspector General announced plans to review potential abuses by the DOJ and the FBI of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (the FISA court) (“DOJ Inspector General reviews alleged FISA abuses by DOJ, FBI,” Brooke Singman, foxnews.com). And so, the investigators will be investigated.
Investigating the investigators is not necessarily a bad thing, especially when conducted properly and with integrity. No one is above examination, especially those who are charged with the goods and welfare of others.
Scripture states the truism, “The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him” (Prov. 18:17). Godly examination from God’s word helps establish God’s truth on every matter. Surely, God’s truth is that to which we must commit ourselves for His approval (“buy the truth, and do not sell it,” Prov. 23:23).
God investigates us. Our ways are seen by Him, and He tests our hearts (Psa. 26:2; Prov. 5:21; 1 Thess. 2:4).
We must investigate all things to discern good from evil and make right choices (1 Thess. 5:21-22).
We must investigate ourselves using God’s word to see if we are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5; Gal. 6:4).
When warranted, we should accept investigation to establish the truth and to obey the truth (Matthew 18:16; 1 Tim. 5:19-22).
We will be examined by the standard we apply to others. “For with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Lk. 6:38). Jesus applauds righteous judgment, while teaching us that investigations based on appearances is not righteous (Jno. 7:24).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 03/30/2018
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA