The Cost of Discipleship Luke 14:25-33

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What does it cost to become a child of God, and to meet His approval in our onward journey? Great multitudes gathered around Christ for various reasons – for the loaves and fishes. Doubtless out of curiosity. Wanting to see the great miracles, signs, and wonders.

It really costs a lot to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. – “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” – Luke 9:23.

Jesus gives a short message with heavy ramifications in the text of Luke 14:25-33. Let’s take a look at what our Savior has to tell us…

THE CALL – verse 26:

Hate father? Hate mother? Twenty-two years I have walked with Rachel by my side.  We have two wonderful girls. My own life is precious to me. “Hate” is not used in the sense in which we use it today. Today, it means to “despise, dislike, detest, abhor, abominate.” It does not mean that in the Bible (see Matthew 10:37 where it means “love less;” see also Genesis 29:30-31).

THE CHALLENGE – vs 27:

A similar challenge is issued in 1 John 2:15. Do not love the world. That is another hard saying. I do love this world, the world in which I was created. I like sight-seeing. I like camping. There are monuments I want to see.  There are canyons I want to see. There are coastlines I want to see. There are memorials I want to see. There are waterfalls I want to see.

The passage is not forbidding us to have regard for these things. “World” in that sense does not refer to things material. It is used in distinction to that of the “spiritual.” It refers to being worldly-minded, yielding to the desires of the flesh, whatever is without the written approval of Jehovah God.

ILLUSTRATION #1 – vss 28-30:

We’ve got to count the cost.  Will it pay for me to make this investment? If I spend so much, do I have the assurance of a return? If we are wise when we buy a house, we ask ourselves, is this going to be a good investment? Will I likely be able to get my money back (at a minimum), plus more when I decide to sell? We also have to ask that same question when it comes to spiritual matters – Is my present behavior going to help me spiritually or hurt me?

The disciples asked Jesus Himself – “Behold, we have left everything and followed you; what then will there be for us?” And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children of farms for my name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:27-29).

Does it pay to become a disciple?

ILLUSTRATION #2 – vss 31-32:

The second illustration comes to us from the battlefield. A king has to meet another king in battle. But before engaging in war, he sits down and considers “whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand.” If he does not have the men, the supplies, the support lines, etc., he would be wise to send a delegation and ask for terms of peace.

David writes beautifully in Psalm 37:25 – “I have been young and now I am old, Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging bread.” The time has never been when the really righteous souls of earth were forsaken or their seed begging bread.

CONCLUSION – vss 33-35:

A disciple of Christ who does not live a whole-hearted commitment to Christ is not worth useless salt. If we who have invested in Christianity can but be faithful to the end of life, we are certain to receive the fullest reward for our labor and hope and desires.

Take home message: It is worth your while to invest in the service of Jesus Christ

–Paul Holland

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Freedom

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  • Freedom is a Biblical message.
  • In centuries past, a large number of people were slaves.
    1. For our Scripture reading we heard some verses from Gen. 15.
    2. About 400 years of slavery would befall Abraham’s relatives.
  • Abraham would have some descendants who never enjoyed freedom as we do.
  • God said this slavery would not be permanent; a time would come when “freedom” would be granted.
  • A proper understanding of freedom is found in the Bible and this understanding begins in the OT.
  • 19:4-5 – READ
    1. God freed the Hebrew slaves and then He said this freedom implied some responsibility.
    2. Because God made freedom possible, the Hebrews should have honored God.
  • True freedom can only exist when it has a certain set of boundaries.
  • 20:8-11 – READ
  • Being “freed from work” did not mean the people could do whatever they wanted.

IN THE OLD TESTAMENT, “FREEDOM” WAS OFTEN THOUGHT OF IN PHYSICAL TERMS.

  • In Eph. 6:5 Paul specifically addressed “slaves.” Some Christians were literally owned by other people.
  • In Eph. 6:9 Paul we learn the church at Ephesus had some Christians were slave owners.
    1. When Paul wrote to the Colossians (3:22) he again said some Christians were “slaves.”
    2. 4:1 refers to “masters” (those who owned slaves).
  • Paul told Titus how to teach about slavery in Tit. 2:9.
  1. Peter knew some Christians were “slaves” (1 Pet. 2:18).
  • Even at Corinth (1 Cor. 7:21) it seems some were “slaves.”
    1. Christianity didn’t invent slavery; Christianity entered into a world which was filled with slaves.
    2. Initially the gospel of Jesus Christ helped regulate slavery.
  • As time passed God’s Word and more people became Christians, the gospel helped eliminate slavery.
  • In all the NT verses about slavery, securing physical freedom is not the point of emphasis.
  • In the New Testament, “FREEDOM” is mainly concerned with the spiritual part of life.
  • In Jn. 8:32 Jesus said, “and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
  • 119:45 says, “I will walk at liberty” (FREEDOM) by seeking God’s precepts.
    If the “Son makes us free” (Jn. 8:36), we are “free indeed.”
  • By obeying the truth “sin has no more dominion over us” (Rom. 6:14).
  • Obeying the gospel “frees us from sin” and allows us to be “servants of God” (Rom. 6:22).
  • God’s law is the only path to real “liberty” (Jas. 1:25).

 

MANY FIND FREEDOM IN CHRIST APPEALING AND REASON, “I WILL ACCESS THE FREEDOM IN CHRIST AND THEN ALL WILL BE GREAT.

 

  • 1 Pet. 2:16 – READ
  • Some brethren may have been owned by other people, but Peter said they were “free.”
  • True freedom involves the spiritual part of man.

***********************

libertad 2

1) La libertad es un mensaje bíblico.
2) En los siglos pasados, un gran número de personas que eran esclavos.
i) Para nuestra lectura de la Escritura que oímos algunos versos del Génesis 15.
ii) Alrededor de 400 años de esclavitud caerían los parientes de Abraham.
iii) Abraham tendría algunos descendientes que nunca disfrutó de la libertad como nosotros.
3) Dios dijo que esta esclavitud no sería permanente; vendría un tiempo cuando la “libertad” sería concedido.
4) Una comprensión adecuada de la libertad se encuentra en la Biblia y esta comprensión se inicia en el AT.
5) Ej. 19: 4-5 – LEA
i) Dios liberó a los esclavos hebreos y luego Dijo que esta libertad implica cierta responsabilidad.
ii) Debido a que Dios hizo posible la libertad, los hebreos debería haber honrado a Dios.
6) La verdadera libertad sólo puede existir cuando se tiene un cierto conjunto de límites.
7) Ex. 20: 8-11 – LEA
8) Al ser “liberado de trabajo” no significan que la gente podía hacer lo que quisieran.

EN EL ANTIGUO TESTAMENTO, “libertad” se piensa a menudo en términos físicos.

1) En Ef. 6: 5 Pablo se dirige específicamente “esclavos”. Algunos cristianos fueron literalmente propiedad de otras personas.
2) En Ef. 6: 9, Pablo nos enseña la iglesia de Éfeso tenía algunos cristianos eran dueños de esclavos.
i) Cuando Pablo escribió a los Colosenses (3:22) que una vez más dijo que algunos cristianos eran “esclavos”.
ii) Col. 4: 1 se refiere a “maestros” (aquellos que poseían esclavos).
iii) Pablo le dijo a Tito cómo enseñar sobre la esclavitud en Tit. 2: 9.
iv) Pedro sabía que algunos cristianos eran “esclavos” (1 Ped. 2:18).
3) Incluso en Corinto (1 Cor. 7:21) parece que algunos eran “esclavos”.
i) El cristianismo no inventó la esclavitud; El cristianismo entró en un mundo que estaba lleno de esclavos.
ii) Al principio del Evangelio de Jesucristo ayudaba a regular la esclavitud.
iii) A medida que pasaba el tiempo la palabra de Dios y más personas se hicieron cristianos, el Evangelio ayudó a eliminar la esclavitud.
4) En todos los versículos del NT sobre la esclavitud, asegurar la libertad física no es el punto de énfasis.
5) En el Nuevo Testamento, la “libertad” se refiere principalmente a la parte espiritual de la vida.
6) En Jn. 08:32 Jesús dijo: “Y conoceréis la verdad, y la verdad os hará libres.”
7) Sal. 119: 45 dice: “Voy a caminar en libertad” (libertad) mediante la búsqueda de los preceptos de Dios.
Si el “Hijo nos hace libres.” (Juan 8:36), somos “verdaderamente libres.”
8) Al obedecer a la verdad “el pecado no tendrá dominio sobre nosotros” (Rom. 6:14).
9) El obedecer el Evangelio “nos libera del pecado” y nos permite ser “servidores de Dios” (Rom. 6:22).
10) La ley de Dios es el único camino hacia la “libertad” real (. Santiago 1:25).

Muchos encuentran la libertad en Cristo atractivo y la razón “, que accederá a la libertad en Cristo y luego, será grande.

1) 1 Ped. 02:16 – LEER
2) Algunos hermanos pueden haber sido propiedad de otras personas, pero Pedro le dijo que eran “libres”.
3) La verdadera libertad consiste en la parte espiritual del hombre.

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Revelation 2

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    The temptation to compromise has never gone away. It has always been present in the lives of God’s people. In our day, we face the challenge to compromise with our culture in order to keep peace but beyond that, some Christians have given in to the spirit of compromise and have brought that spirit into the church with them. Thus, we face temptations from without (persecution) and from within (compromise). It was the same situation with the churches of Christ in Asia Minor in the first century, Christians to whom John writes Revelation.

    Chapter two includes four letters, to the churches in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, and Thyatira. One lesson we should take from this chapter (and chapter three) is that these are real Christians, with families, who have to put food on their table and want some kind of peaceful life. 

    In those days, you largely made a living by using your hands – making pottery, metalworks, leather, carpentry. Trade guilds existed to provide opportunities to sell, trade, buy, or learn your craft better. The guilds were all associated with pagan gods and included at least yearly banquets in honor of those gods in which members would offer sacrifices. To refuse to participate in a guild was tantamount to economic suicide. To be a member of a guild would bring strong pressure to conform and compromise.

    There was a group identified in the letter of Ephesians as “Nicolaitans.” We do not know much about them. Perhaps they were doing the same thing as “Balak” in the letter to Pergamum: putting a “stumbling block before the sons of Israel to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality” (2:14). This is also the same doctrine, apparently, that “Jezebel” was teaching in the church at Thyatira (2:20). Under the guise of spiritual liberty, some Christians were arguing that you could be faithful to Christ and eat the meat sacrificed to idols and commit immorality (which affected the flesh but not the spirit; see also 1 Cor. 6:12-20). No. You cannot.

    The Ephesian Christians had done well in “hating” the deeds of the Nicolaitans. But in turning their minds away from this false teaching, they had also turned their hearts away from sharing the Gospel (2:4). The temptation for faithful Christians in a pagan society is to assume nobody wants to hear the Gospel and thus, we stop evangelizing. Christ warned the Ephesian Christians that if they didn’t repent of that cold-heartedness, as the High Priest who walked among the lamp stands (2:1), He would remove their lamp stand (2:5).

    The church in Pergamum had already suffered the martyrdom of one of their own (Antipas, 2:13). He was a “faithful witness” just as Jesus was (cf. 1:5). The whole church needed to emulate his example. Those who were compromising the faith (2:14-15) needed to repent. Jesus’ word is a sharp sword (2:12, 16) and He would execute judgment on the compromisers if they continued compromising the faith.

    Likewise, the Christians in Thyatira were tolerating the teachings of “Jezebel.” If they did not repent of their toleration, God would thrust Jezebel on her deathbed and kill her children (2:22-23). Not all the Christians were so influenced and Christ could distinguish in His judgment between those faithful and the compromisers (2:24). Why? Because He had “eyes like a flame of fire and feet like burnished bronze” (2:18).

    The church in Smyrna is the only one that was not being impacted in some way by false teaching. They were, however, being impacted by their spiritual cousins, the Jews, who were making their own compromises with the pagan society (2:9). It seems there were Christians in Smyrna who were being affected economically by their choices. They were being “tested” (2:10) but that testing would last only for a short time (“ten days”). If they could remain faithful ten days, they would reign with Christ for a long time (“a thousand years”; 20:4).

    The message of hope from these four letters is that if Christians “overcome” (used in 2:7, 11, 17, and 26), Christ has a trove of treasures ready to distribute: eating of the tree of life (2:7), freedom from the second death (2:11), spiritual manna, a white stone signifying innocence, and a new name (2:17) as well as authority to rule with Christ and a new, eternal, day (2:28). That is the message of Revelation 2 that gives us hope today.

–Paul Holland

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You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church …and Rethinking Faith

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Supporting the Millennials

    We turn again to David Kinnaman’s book, You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church …and Rethinking Faith. If we want to stem the loss of our youth into the world or Satan’s religions, we need to seriously consider why they leave and what we can do. One loss is one too many.

    In his book, the president of Barna Research Group presents the results of thousands of interviews with the millennials, asking them why they have turned their backs on “institutional” Christianity. He provides six reasons for their departure (pgs 92-93).

    1. The church seems overprotective. It seems like the church is a “creativity killer” and warns too strongly that intersecting with the world is “anathema.”

    If that is the case, this older generation needs to be reminded and to teach the younger generation that God intends for us to engage in our culture. The wise man wrote: “Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward. Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God. For he will not often consider the years of his life, because God keeps him occupied with the gladness of his heart” (Ecclesiastes 5:18-20).

    Daniel lived in and engaged his pagan culture as did Esther. Jesus did not pray that His followers would disengage the culture but rather influence the culture (John 17:11, 15, 17, 20-21). We are not to “love” the world to the degree that we turn our backs on God and His truth (1 John 2:17-19) but we cannot convert the world if we are not in the world.

    So, here at Swartz Creek, I have asked some of our members to prepare short devotional talks for our teenagers to discuss how their Christianity impacts and influences their secular careers. In what ways does Christ’s teachings make their jobs easier? How do they respond when their Christianity is challenged in the work force? In what ways is their Christianity challenged?

    We have all heard the expression “helicopter parenting” – basically being too protective of our children so that we do not allow them to make their own decisions and their own mistakes. The church cannot engage in “helicopter disciplining” either. Get our teenagers connected to Christ and show them how Christ makes them better people and, through them, a better world.

    2. Shallow. Its a universal perception that millennials believe their churches (across all stripes) are “boring. Easy platitudes, proof texting, and formulaic slogans have anesthetized many young adults, leaving them with no idea of the gravity and power of following Christ.” 

    If this is true, and apparently it is, we need to be careful how we expect “slogans” to carry the day. In the churches of Christ, we like to say: “We speak where the Bible speaks and are silent where the Bible is silent.” Another is: “We need to do Bible things in Bible ways.” And another, coming I believe originally from one of the Wesley brothers (maybe John): “In matters of faith, unity. In matters of opinion, freedom. In all things, love.”

    All of those slogans have strong biblical support. But we’ve got to show our teenagers where the biblical support is, how it is relevant, and how these slogans apply in today’s world. Christianity has strong philosophical, logical, historical, emotional, and biblical support. With the proper training and guidance, our young people can grow up to have a tightly compacted Christian faith that is impervious to the challenges of our modern society.

    More on these six reasons in the near future…

–Paul Holland

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Saving, Sharing, Spending: Stewardship Theology

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    What does God want from us? God, of course, owns everything, even the material things we have. He wants us to obey Him and walk with Him – even in the area of our finances.

    There is some truth in the idea that God wants us to prosper. There is also some truth in the idea that God wants us to be careful of physical things. We find the balance between the two when we examine God’s Word honestly.

    A balanced life is found in keeping God in the right place, our work, our family, recreational time, and church. Christ teaches us that we have a divine responsibility to provide: for ourselves, our children, the needy, and to support the work of the church.

    The point is stewardship.  Faithful stewardship involves not wasting our blessings. It means we walk the line between holding on so tightly and miserly to our money that we die with money in our bank accounts that should have already been contributed to the Lord’s work or used to provide for our families and spending so loosely that we end up needing help from others.

    So, what does biblical financial stewardship look like? First, we do not horde up our blessings (Luke 12:15-21). Nor do we spend until we need help from others (Proverbs 22:4; Ephesians 4:28). 

    We use the talents and abilities God has given us, to the greatest extent we can (Matthew 25:15ff). We understand that God is the One who gave us the power to get wealth (Deut. 8:18). If we work hard, God will provide those blessings (Prov. 14:23). Otherwise, we are to trust God to give us what we need (Hebrews 11:1). 

    God’s business ought to take priority in our financial decisions (Phil. 2:21). We should understand that our giving is an act of trust in God. We must provide for those who are needy (Psalm 112:9) but also give to the church (2 Corinthians 9:6-9). Through it all, we need to be “rich in good works” (1 Timothy 6:17-19).

    Christian financial stewardship is using what you have to do the most you can.

    If God has blessed you (we have no doubt He has), then you need to share those blessings with others.

–Paul Holland

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THE RESURRECTION BODY

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In the long, long ago—probably at least two thousand years before the birth of Christ—the grand old patriarch Job asked the question, “If a man dies, shall he live again” (Job 14:14a)?  Given the suffering he was going through at the time as a test of his faith in God, it is not easy to determine the attitude with which Job asked this question.  A look at the larger context indicates that it may have been asked in a moment of cynicism.  Earlier Job had said, “Man decays like a rotten thing, Like a garment that is moth-eaten” (13:28).  He went on to say, “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.  He comes forth like a flower and fades away; He flees like a shadow and does not continue” (14:1-2).  He lamented, “But man dies and is laid away; indeed he breathes his last and where is he” (14:10)?

But regardless of the frame of mind Job may have been in when he asked his question, Jesus provides the unequivocal answer to the question.  He declared, “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.  And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.  Do you believe this” (John 11:25-26)?  These words were spoken especially to encourage the followers of Christ to have confidence with reference to the future of their deceased loved ones, but earlier Jesus had spoken of the resurrection of all the dead—the good and the bad.  He said, “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29).

Mankind has an innate curiosity as to the kind of body one will have in the eternal state.  In response to this curiosity, the apostle John wrote: “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (I John 3:2, emphasis mine).  The question of what we will be the eternal state has not been revealed, and it is not for the theologians, the protestant reformers, the restorers of the ancient order of things, or those among us today with fanciful and speculative theories to advance to provide us with answers which God Himself has not provided!  It is more than sufficient for us to know that “we shall be like Him.”

Paul chided those who asked, “How are the dead raised up?  And with what body do they come” (I Corinthians 15:35)?  In the King James Version Paul responded to the one asking this question with a blunt “Thou fool” (verse 36)!  In a Bible class under the late and great H. A. Dixon over half century ago at Freed-Hardeman College, a student was concerned about this very question.  Brother Dixon asked the student, “Are you asking what kind of body we will have in the resurrection?”  The student said, “Yes, that’s what I want to know.”  In good-natured jest, brother Dixon replied, “Thou fool”!

First Corinthians 15 is the “resurrection chapter” and provides much insight into the resurrection body.  Comparing the burying of the fleshly body to the sowing of a seed, Paul affirms that “you do not sow that body that shall be” (verse 37, emphasis mine).  In other words, the resurrection body will be a different kind of body than the one in which we now live.  Paul continues: “So also is the resurrection of the dead.  The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.  It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory.  It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.  It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.  There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body” (showing that there is a distinction between the two, hf) (verses 42-44).  The “natural body” is the fleshly body that we inhabit in this life; the “spiritual body” is the one we will have in eternity.  “However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual” (again showing a difference between the two) (verse 46).  “And as we have borne the image of the man of dust (Adam, hf), we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man (Christ, hf)” (verse 49).

Jesus gave some insight into the nature of the eternal state when He said, “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like the angels of God in heaven” (Matthew 22:30).  In the resurrection we will be like the angels.  The writer of Hebrews, quoting the Psalms, says, “And of the angels He says: ‘Who makes His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire” (1:7).  A bit later, still referring to the angels, he says, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation” (1:14)?  The point to be noted is that angels are ministering spirits!   But elsewhere Christ emphatically declared, “. . . for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have (Luke 24:39, emphasis mine).  Now think: In the resurrection we will be like the angels.  Angels are spirits.  A spirit does not have flesh and bones.  Therefore, in the resurrection we will not have “flesh and bones” bodies!

In the eternal state, God will be “all in all” (I Corinthians 15:28), and “the tabernacle of God [will be] with men, and He shall dwell with them” (Revelation 21:3).  Yet, God is Spirit (John 4:24), a spirit does not have flesh and bones (Luke 24:39), and there is not the slightest indication anywhere in scripture that God, in the hereafter, will assume a “flesh and bones” body!  If the One who is “all in all” and who will dwell with His people can exist in the hereafter without a “flesh and bones” body, so can those among whom He will dwell!

Yet with all of this we still do not know the particulars of the kind of body we will have in the eternal state because “it has not yet been revealed what we shall be” (I John 3:2). Clearly, we will have bodies and we will be recognizable, otherwise it would not be a resurrection.  But, in the hereafter, our bodies will not be “flesh and bones” bodies!

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly (earthly, hf) body that it may be conformed to His glorious (heavenly, hf) body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).

Hugh Fulford

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Becoming a Man God can Use 2 Chronicles 14-16

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    Do you want to be used? Do you want to be in God’s service? Since mankind has not changed and God has not changed, we can take a look back in history and see what it takes to be someone whom God can use. Let’s take a look at King Asa and draw some principles from him that will help us abound in the work of the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58) as New Testament Christians.

DO WHAT IS RIGHT – 2 Chron. 14:2-8:

    In the beginning, Asa did what was right. He knew what the Old Testament said about idol worship and so he expunged idolatry from his nation. The ashram were symbols of the Canaanite goddess Asherah and apparently her worship was conducted in forested areas. Thus, cutting down trees was a practice of removing such worship.

    King Asa also commanded the nation to “seek the Lord God of their fathers and to observe the law and the commandment” (vs 4).

    We need to do what is right if we want to be of service to God (James 4:17). We need to give glory to God by making our actions and our behavior consistent with what is right in His word (1 Cor. 10:31).

SEEK GOD’S WILL – 2 Chron. 14:9-15:

    Asa had a fairly large army, at least for his small nation, nearly 600,000. That’s about half the size of our military for a country considerably smaller. The Ethiopians had a 1 million man army, including chariots.

    But verse 11 tells us that Asa had a weapon the Ethiopians did not have – prayer. He called on God, recognizing his dependence on God and God heard and answered his prayer. Verse 13 says that the Ethiopians were “shattered before the Lord and before His army.”

    If we want to abound in the work of the Lord, we need to study God’s will and learn how to practice it in our lives (Matt. 7:7-8). God’s will can be known so that we can fulfill it (Eph. 5:17).

DO NOT FOLLOW THE (WICKED) EXAMPLE OF YOUR PARENTS – 2 Chron. 15:16-19:

    King Asa’s mom was in a false religion and she was trying to bring that religion into the nation of Israel. So, Asa had to put a stop to it. He removed his mother from being queen and destroyed the unique idol that his own mom had set up. “Asa’s heart was blameless all his days,” we read in verse 17. Asa did not allow his mom’s evil influence to lead him away from God. Because of his heart and attitude, out of a 41-year reign, the first 35 years were peaceful and prosperous.

    If you want to be a man/woman of God, you should not follow your parents’ example if they are not following God in their own lives (Luke 14:26; Eph. 6:1).

    That’s not all that can be said about King Asa. In chapter 16, we learn how he allowed his heart to be led away from God. He formed alliances with non-believers and failed to trust God as he had earlier. Do not make alliances with the wrong people (Eph. 5:11).

    Yes, you want to be of use to God. You want to be of service to Him. You want to abound in His work. Asa was used by God to implement a religious and spiritual reform in Israel. He was not perfect but God used him. He can use us too, if we’ll let Him.

–Paul Holland

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A sermon about life

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Life – One of the earliest subjects mentioned in the Bible is “life.”

  • Most will remember the Bible has some things to say about a “tree of life.”
  • In Gen. 2:7 we read about the “breath of life.”
  • The Bible says a supreme being (God) “breathed into man” the “breath of life.”
  • We also find the word “life” in Gen. 1 (Gen. 1:30).
  • There is human “life” (Gen. 2:7) and non-human life (Gen. 1:30) and both came from God.
    God is the giver of life, and He also has the ability to “take life.”
  • 6:17 – READ
  • 104:27 – here the writer said “everything waits for God.”
  • If God were to “hide His face” (verse 29), what gets LIFE and help from God would “panic.”
  • The end of verse 29 says, “take away their breath, and they die. They return to ‘dust.’”
  • The sending forth of God’s “Spirit” brings “life” (verse 30).
  • 150:6 says, “Let everything that hath breath praise Jehovah.”
  • LIFE comes from God, and those who have LIFE should praise God.

SINCE WE HAVE THIS GREAT GIFT, WE MIGHT ASK SOME QUESTIONS.

  1. First, does our “LIFE” come with choices?
  2. Second, if we have choices, how can we make full use of the “gift of life”?
  • hat choices are best?
  • In the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 6) the Lord spoke about “LIFE.”
  • 6:27– READ
  • Worry will not extend our LIFE. If anything, worry can shorten our lives.
  • 6:25, 28 – READ
  • 90:10 says the “days of our years” are “threescore and ten” (70).
  • LIFE is really a very brief experience; don’t spend it chasing clothes, worry, revenge.
  • One of Jesus’ popular sayings asks what a man might “exchange” for his LIFE (Mt. 16:26).
    1. For Judas LIFE was little more than a handful of silver.
    2. Some have exchanged their “LIFE” for a partner or partners not authorized by God.
  • Jesus believed LIFE is so important He said this – Mt. 16:26 – READ
  • Jacob told Pharaoh (Gen. 47:9) I have lived 130 years; “few and evil days.”
  • LIFE can be messy, complicated, and vexing.
  • The creator of LIFE has given us a manual about LIFE.
  • 10:39 – READ
  • LIFE is to be lived. LIFE is to be spent.
  • Jesus Christ is “LIFE” (Jn. 14:6).
  • 10:10 – Jesus said, “I came to give LIFE.”
  • Have we decided our LIFE will give God just a bit while we try to hold on to most of it?

    *************************************
    Vida

    1) Uno de los primeros temas mencionados en la Biblia es “vida”.
    2) La mayoría recordará que la Biblia tiene algunas cosas que decir acerca de un “árbol de la vida.”
    3) En Génesis 2: 7 leemos acerca del “aliento de vida”.
    4) La Biblia dice que un ser supremo (Dios) “sopló en el hombre”, el “soplo de vida”.
    5) También encontramos la palabra “vida” en Génesis 1 (Génesis 1:30).
    6) No es humano “vida” (Génesis 2: 7) y la vida no humana (Génesis 1:30) y ambos vinieron de Dios.
    Dios es el dador de la vida, y también tiene la capacidad de “tomar la vida.”
    7) Gen. 06:17 – LEA

    8) Ps. 104: 27 – aquí el escritor dijo “todo lo espera a Dios.”
    9) Si Dios fuera a “ocultar su rostro” (verso 29), lo que llega LIFE y la ayuda de Dios “pánico”.
    10) El final del versículo 29 dice, “le quita el aliento, y mueren. Vuelven a ‘polvo’ “.
    11) El envío de vuelta del “Espíritu” de Dios trae la “vida” (verso 30).
    12) Ps. 150: 6 dice: “Que todo lo que respira alabe a Jehová.”
    13) La vida viene de Dios, y los que tienen LIFE debe alabar a Dios.

    Ya que tenemos este gran regalo, podríamos hacer algunas preguntas.

    i) En primer lugar, no nuestra “vida” vienen con opciones?
    ii) En segundo lugar, si tenemos opciones, ¿cómo podemos hacer un uso completo de la “regalo de la vida”?
    iii) opciones sombrero son las mejores?
    2) En el Sermón del Monte (Mateo 6), el Señor habló de “vida”.
    3) Monte 6: 27- LEER
    4) La preocupación no se extenderá nuestra vida. En todo caso, la preocupación puede acortar nuestras vidas.
    5) Monte 06:25, 28 – LEA
    6) Ps. 90:10 dice “los días de nuestra vida” son “setenta” (70).
    7) LIFE es realmente una experiencia muy breve; no lo gaste persiguiendo la ropa, la preocupación, la venganza.
    8) Uno de los dichos populares ‘Jesús pregunta lo que un hombre puede “cambio” de su vida (Mt. 16:26).
    a) Para Judas vida era poco más que un puñado de plata.
    b) Algunos han intercambiado su “vida” de un socio o socios no autorizada por Dios.
    9) Jesús creía vida es tan importante Dijo que esto – Mt. 16:26 – LEER
    10) Jacob dijo a Faraón (Génesis 47: 9) He vivido 130 años; “Pocos y malos días.”
    11) La vida puede ser un poco incómodo, complicado y engorroso.
    12) El creador de la vida nos ha dado un manual sobre la vida.
    13) Monte 10:39 – LEER
    14) la vida es ser vivido. La vida es ser gastado.
    15) Jesucristo es la “vida” (Jn. 14: 6).
    16) Jn. 10:10 – Jesús dijo: “He venido a dar la vida.”
    17) ¿Nos hemos decidido nuestra vida va a dar a Dios un poco mientras tratamos de mantener a la mayor parte de ella?

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John’s Vision of the Heavenly Christ

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Rich Realities from Revelation
Studies in the Apocalypse that Give us Hope:
“John’s Vision of the Heavenly Christ”  – Revelation 1

    Rubel Shelly, in his commentary on Revelation (The Lamb and His Enemies), provides, in my opinion, an appropriate description of the challenges facing the Christians in the first century who received the Revelation of John: “Imagine… You are a Christian, and for that fact alone you are shunned, your business is boycotted, and your children are not welcome to associate with people their age in the city; the walls of your house are used frequently for vulgar graffiti, and you are liable to arrest” (Shelly, 19).

    To give Christians the courage they need to face those challenges from within (false teachers) and from without (persecution by pagans), John begins with Jesus Christ.

    In verse 1, John identifies this message as being a “revelation” (an “uncovering”) from Jesus Christ. This is as true as Paul said about his own writings: “I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:12; “revelation” is the same word as here).

    The book of Revelation is identified in verse 2 as “testimony of Jesus Christ,” a term found also in verse 9. John was being persecuted on the island of Patmos for the same reason the Christians were being persecuted – bearing witness to the Gospel about Jesus.

    To these Christians for whom persecution was on the horizon if not in reality, Jesus is identified as the “faithful witness, the first born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth” (1:5). “Faithful” is found 12 times; “witness” is found 5 times. “Dead” and “death” are used a total of 29 times in Revelation. Jesus is simply calling on Christians to imitate His faithful witness in the face of death. If Christians will stay faithful, just as Jesus was “born of the dead,” so will Christians.

    Jesus “loves” us and “released us from our sins by His blood” (vs 5). Citing Exodus 19:6 but applying it to Christians, John writes that Jesus has also made us a “kingdom of priests.” Rome is a kingdom but so are Christians with Jesus being the King. Yet Christians are also to mediate the sacrifice of Christ in the world, serving as priests (see also Romans 15:16; NASV).

    Jesus will come again and all eyes will see Him, including the Jews who crucified Him (vs 7). Building on Isaiah’s terms “first and last” which referred to God, Jesus says He is the “alpha” and “omega,” the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Jesus is all that Christians ever need to be prepared for death and judgment. He is also the “Almighty,” the Greek equivalent of El Shaddai. The term is used nine times in Revelation.

    So important and influential is Jesus of Nazareth that He has His own day (1:10) – the Lord’s Day. It is that day on which Christians assemble and remember the life, death, resurrection and second coming of Jesus through the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:20). Fifty-two times a year, then, Christians are reminded of what is truly important.

    Beginning in verse 12, we have a composite picture of Jesus Christ. He is portrayed here in terms denoting a king, a priest, and a judge. He holds the “messengers/angels” of the churches in His hands, so that He knows everything that happens among His people. He also walks among the menorahs which symbolize the spiritual temple which are His people, the church. He is there to protect, defend, and snuff out the lamp should the church prove unfaithful in its witness (2:5).

     Baptist scholar Ray Summers, in his commentary, Worthy is the Lamb, writes: “Here is the meaning of the vision: A living, holy, majestic, omniscient, authoritative, powerful Christ stands in the midst of the churches, holds their destiny in his hand and says: ‘Stop fearing. I was dead. I am alive forever. More than that, I hold in my hand the keys to death and the grave. You should not fear to go to any place to which I hold the key. You may be persecuted to death but I am still your king.’” (105).

    What is the message of chapter 1 that gives us hope? Jesus is still king. He still manages and oversees His temple, the church. He still serves as judge of all that is right and wrong.

–Paul Holland

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Jesus Raised the Widow’s Son Luke 7:11-17

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Jesus has completed his sermon on the mountain, come down, and healed a leper (Matt. 8:2-4). He entered the city of Capernaum where he then healed the servant of the centurion. The next day, Jesus went into the city called Nain and observed a dead man being carried out of the city for burial.

This dead man was the only son of a widow. The widow, naturally, was in deep sorrow. When Jesus saw the widow, he had compassion on her and told her, “Weep not” (Luke 7:13). Then Jesus touched the bier (an open coffin, more or less flat) and the pall-bearers stood still. “Arise,” he spoke to the dead body, whose spirit then returned and he sat up and began to speak (verses 14-15).

Jesus then sent the young man back to his mom who had been grieving. The miracle brought fear and reverence over the crowd. They could only marvel: “A great prophet has risen among us. God has visited his people” (vs 16).

This miracle was not done in a corner but in the gate of the town (vss 11-12). Jesus performed this miracle in the presence of two groups: His disciples who followed Him and the mourners in attendance at the burial. The two crowds were more than sufficient to attest the validity of the miracle and, thus, to the power and authority of Jesus Christ.

THE MIRACLE WAS ESPECIALLY SIGNIFICANT:

The widow’s son was the first person that Jesus raised from the dead, as far as the record is concerned. Jesus raised two other persons from the dead during His personal ministry. One was Jairus’ daughter. Jesus raised her from the dead while she was still in her father’s house (Mark 5:35-43).

The other was Lazarus who had been dead for four days (John 11).

 THE MIRACLE REFLECTED TWO GREAT CHARACTERISTICS OF THE MASTER:

For one thing, the miracle demonstrates the compassion of Jesus. Jesus demonstrated His deep mercy by raising the widow’s son. Jesus has great compassion for all men. He had compassion for the lost world and came to redeem it (Luke 19:10; Matt. 20:28; 1 Timothy 2:5-6). He has given a plan whereby all men can be saved (Mark 16:15-16; Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 2:36-41).

This miracle also reflected the power of Jesus. Jesus, by means of this miracle, demonstrated His power over death. At His command, ears that had been deaf to the cry of the mourners, heard His voice, and the dead man arose (Luke 7:14-15). At the command of Jesus, our dead bodies will arise at His second coming (1 Thess. 4:13-18; 1 Cor. 15).

Jesus is our hope, our link between life and death (John 14:6; 11:25). At the consummation of all things, Jesus will demonstrate His power to wipe away all the tears of all the righteous people (Revelation 21:4).

Let’s consider the influence of the miracle:

  1. The miracle brought fear upon all those who saw it (Luke 7:16).
  2. The miracle caused the people to glorify God, and the rumors of Jesus spread throughout all Judea and the regions round about (Luke 7:16, 17).

Let us also remember that God’s goodness and greatness is to be feared.

  1. God must be obeyed with reverence and godly fear (Hebrews 12:28).
  2. Men must love God will all their being (Matthew 22:37-40).
  • the late Wayne Holland -a sermon preached in Hiawassee, GA 12/11/83 and South Boston, VA 2/23/92
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