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From the desk of our preachers.

Ran across this studying this morning...

Proverbs 19:2 says, "Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way."

Whether we are acting without thinking or acting without all the information, when we launch out without real knowledge we get ourselves in a world of trouble. Impulsiveness is a train that does not look good on the Christian.

This is especially true in our walk with God. After expressing heartbreak over the lost state of many people around him, Paul wrote, "For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness." See the problem? They were eager to be right with God but failed to seek it according to God's plan. Their issue was not a heart problem, but a head problem.

It is good to praise Jesus, it is good to openly confess our love for God, and it is good to go to church. Yet if we do not act based on real knowledge, it is empty. Zeal without knowledge does not save. This knowledge can only come from the word of God. "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).

Jesus said it this way: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’" (Matthew 7:21-23).

Practically what does this mean? It means that we cannot replace our knowledge of the Bible with anything… whether traditions, feelings, desires, reasoning, or anything else. We must be people of the book and take our study seriously. It means we must stand firm on the authority of the scriptures. My faith and the practice of it is not of my own invention. Finally, it means always reexamining my own life to make sure I am living within God’s will and pursuing His ways. No one is immune from being wrong.

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is that gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14, NKJV)

The world thinks that salvation’s road is broad. The world believes that heaven’s path is easy. The world argues that many will find heaven.

God’s word disagrees. It is a narrow road. It is a difficult way. Few will find it.

Until those who love this world accept what God’s word teaches about salvation, though the gates seem wide open, the only gate that matters will remain closed and locked to them. Choose that narrow gate and difficult way which is found in God’s word!

Thus says the Lord God of Israel: “Concerning the words which you have heard— because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they would become a desolation and a curse, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,” says the Lord. Surely, therefore, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place.” (2 Kings 22:18-20, NKJV)

Despite awful circumstances and despite what was likely an unfortunate upbringing at the hands of a godless man, the young king Josiah had one intangible that God clearly cited as the reason for His favor toward him. That intangible was a tender heart, particularly toward His word. That heart spurred Josiah to humble himself when he heard the word of God. That heart provoked Josiah to tear his clothes and weep before the Lord. That heart was the reason God heard Josiah. God favors a tender heart. Is your heart as tender as Josiah’s heart in the presence of the Lord?

"Nevertheless, at Your word, I will let down the net..." This is the quintisential definition of faith in the face of an adversarial evangelistic landscape. As fishers of men, disciples everywhere must continue to "let down the net." This is the Lord's word. This is part of our calling. One cast at a time, one soul at a time. Let us continue to lead souls to Jesus in 2020. 

"Then Jesus said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.'" (Mark 1:17 - NKJV)

"When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, 'Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.'  But Simon answered and said to Him, 'Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.' . . .  For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, 'Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.'  So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him." (Luke 5:4–5 - NKJV)

If you feed your flesh the way you feed your soul, how strong and healthy would you be spiritually?

"And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ ”” (Luke 4:3–4, NKJV)

"In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” (John 4:31–34, NKJV)

"Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”” (John 6:26–27, NKJV)

What you believe matters as much, if not more, than the idea of faith itself. If not, truth has no relevancy in faith. To believe a lie and act on it, no matter how genuine the belief, might be thought of as being done "in faith," but it is not a faith that leads to salvation.

"Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.” (2 Corinthians 13:5, NKJV)

I RESOLVE WITH FIRMNESS TO...

  • Like Paul, forget those things which are behind and press forward.
  • Like David, lift up my eyes to the hills from which my help comes.
  • Like Abraham, trust my God implicitly.
  • Like Enoch, walk in daily fellowship with my heavenly Father.
  • Like Moses, suffer rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a time.
  • Like Job, be patient and faithful in all circumstances.
  • Like Joseph, turn my back on all evil advances.
  • Like Gideon, advance even when my friends are few.
  • Like Andrew, strive to lead my brother to Christ.

"Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14, NKJV)

 

Jesus had some blunt words for the church at Thyatira.

“But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality” (Revelation 2:20).

I imagine life at this church for those who were faithful and committed to the truth was very hard and discouraging. Sometimes it would have been easier to give up, to throw in the towel. They likely felt like they could not make much of a difference. But to Jesus “the faithful few” meant everything. He said:

“But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come” (Revelation 2:24).

What if the “rest of you” quit trying? What if their pew sat empty? This church would be hopeless. Never forget you matter. Your example and devotion to what is right matters. Most importantly, the Lord is watching and He appreciates you. Those around you are also watching and you may be the very thing that wakes them up. Keep your head up and your feet moving forward!

la-sp-oly-roundup-20120730-001For those who love sports, the Olympics can be an exciting time. The greatest athletes in the world are put to the test and we watch in amazement as they perform feats that blow our minds. In some cases, however, it is not just their athletic abilities that are put on display, but also their bodies. From beach volleyball to water polo, some athletes choose to wear uniforms that cover up little more (if any more) than underwear. This is often accepted as normal because it is the uniform of a sport. Others will argue that it is necessary to wear these uniforms because the athletes need to be able to move freely in order to compete well in their sport.

Hello, my name is Josiah Truthstickler and I am a Pharisee and a Legalist. You will not find these titles on my driver’s license or on a plate hung on my office door. In fact, I didn’t know I was a Pharisee or a Legalist until recently. Here’s what happened: A friend of mine and I were discussing a Bible issue over which we had some differences.   I tried to show him why I believed the way I did from the scriptures. I explained the need for authority in everything we believe and practice. My friend talked about different people and popular books who agreed with him. I kept going back to the scriptures and refused to move. I suppose he felt I was being a bit stubborn.

Last night I was hanging out with some friends and we were playing a game called "Telestrations." The concept is a mixture between the old "Telephone" game and Pictionary. Each person is given their own word that no one knows but them. They write that word down and then draw a picture of it on the next page. They turn the page and pass the drawing booklet to the next person. That person can only look at the drawing and they have to write down what they think the drawing is. The next person receives the drawing booklet and they have to draw a picture of what the person before them guessed. This goes around for eight turns... one person draws and the next person guesses. By the end, what started out as a horse could come back as a hot dog.

tornado3Sunday was a very normal day for most of us. We heard warnings of severe weather coming into our area, but little did we know it would hit this close to home. Then around 3am a strong tornado ripped its way through Center Point, Pinson, Clay, and Trussville. Watching so many people have to pick up the pieces and put their lives back together is heart breaking. With a storm like this, there is so much that is out of our control; however, we can control our response to it. May we use this event to focus our hearts and minds on spiritual things and on God. Here are some thoughts I have had…

serveThink about it.....Last week I was driving home after work and stopped at the gas station/convenience store just outside my neighborhood.  I was pumping the gas thinking about the nice dinner waiting for me me at home (Kim is a really good cook).  I was tired and complaining internally about the cost of fuel when I noticed the commotion going on at the gas pump next to me.  Two middle age, loud ladies were obviously  having trouble with their car.  The car would not start and they were trying to figure out how to "pop the hood".

gravesideDeath. The separation of our spirit from our body. Such a finality to our physical bodies. To lose our loved ones is so surreal. Here today, gone tomorrow. Just a shell left behind to mourn over, then bury. After recently going through the process of fighting disease and the weakening of the body and eventual death of a loved one, there are some things that I can take away from the experience.

nfl-crazy-football-fansIt’s just a game. This phrase is considered sacrilege, blasphemous words, in the culture in which I live. You see, I live in the heart of Alabama where college football reigns. Over the past three years the fans in our state have had much to cheer about: Three national championships, two SEC championships, and two Heisman trophy winners. It should be a time of incredible excitement, but that has been somewhat squashed by the horrible decisions, attitudes, and words of some fans. Hundred year old landmark trees have been poisoned, fights broken out, vandalism taken place, and people have even been assaulted over this “game.” This past week, a video surfaced of fans abusing physically and sexually a fan from an opposing team who had passed out drunk. It ceased being “just a game” a long time ago for some people. Many of us are appalled at the extreme way some people take this game, but there is a subtle danger in this game for all of us to guard against.

I remember as a child sitting in front of our old black and white television watching “The Amazing Adventures of Superman.” This was a show about a crime fighter who came from another world with “…powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal man.” One of those abilities was x-ray vision. This allowed him to spot the bad guys even when they were hiding in a building. This was amazing, but we can do something better than superman.