- Zedekiah was king, but his reign was only a short matter of time. He resisted Babylon and Babylon made him pay a dear price. Zedekiah lost his city, captives were taken, Zedekiah was captured, his sons killed before his eyes, then he lost his eyes, and into captivity he went. Jerusalem was sacked and ravaged. What people remained were only the poor; with no money, no food, no stature, they were also no threat. However, some radicals were very much a threat and the governor Babylon set up was murdered. No doubt, those who murdered thought they did the Lord a service!
- Application: Many people, after determining their own steps, think they are serving the Lord. Illustration: there might be a person in the congregation where you serve who thinks that he (she) is doing the Lord’s work. Unfortunately, that opinion is an opinion that is contrary to the opinion of the elders of the congregation. Now, there is a “battle” over which opinion holds sway; the one serving opines that his (her) opinion is just as valid as the elders (and it might very well be), but has failed to see that the elders of the congregation are the men whom the Lord put in position to lead. While this is not even as remotely as grievous as what we read in this chapter, it does illustrates a problem – even at its lowest level – when men begin to think more of themselves than the Lord’s church. Is this not all-to-common in the Lord’s church? These same people will one day have to answer for their own determination.
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I pray that every day and every week you are “planning to obey God.” In our JG month on “purposeful planning,” we cannot overlook Solomon’s building of the temple. The record of this event is found in 1 Kings 5-7. Let’s notice a few points about this process from the wise man, Solomon.
·First, there was a goal, a vision. Leaders need a vision, an idea in their mind of future things that are important to accomplish for the Lord. Parents need a vision, a picture in their mind of the spirituality and workers that their children will become for the Lord. Individuals need a vision of what they want to become in knowledge, in personality, in character, in work for the Lord. Without a vision, most of us just drift along and deal with what life brings us instead of bringing to life what we believe the Lord would want.
·Second, there was a commitment. In 1 Kings 5:5, Solomon said, “I have purposed to build a house unto the name of the Lord…” A vision becomes just a ‘pipe dream,’ a whim, if there is no purpose to accomplish it. Many times we might wish we were something more or wish we would do something more, but do not form the commitment to follow through. Let’s make commitments to ourselves and to God to make our dreams visions we will accomplish.
·Third, there was a plan. We can set a goal and make a plan to reach it. Solomon’s plan was specific. It included the dimensions (1 Kings 6:3-17), the materials (1 Kgs. 5:6-7, 17-18), the workers (5:7-16) and more. Brothers and sisters, if our plan is too vague to put on paper with the details, it is too vague to carry out.
·Fourth, there was a beginning and an ending. They knew when the project was finished. That means there was a specific goal that was reachable and progress was measurable. If the goal is clear in our mind, we can measure our progress along the way. Our ultimate goal is heaven. Yet, with the Bible in hand, we can measure our progress in things like the fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5), the Christian graces (2 Pet. 1), our knowledge growth (1 Pet. 2:2), even our self-control (1 Cor. 9:24-27).
Folks, let’s plan to obey God.
Recently, I heard of a fellow who was flying into Dallas. He couldn’t help but notice that the fellow seated next to him was wearing his wedding band on the wrong finger, his index finger. He thought that was just a bit unusual, so he remarked, “Friend, I notice you’re wearing your wedding band on the wrong finger.” The fellow replied, “Yeah, it’s to remind me I married the wrong woman!” A lot of people feel that way. Chances are if you asked his wife she’d say that she had married the wrong man. A long time ago, a wise man said, “More important than finding the right mate is being the right mate!” That is a truth many have yet to learn. You marry Cinderella, but she ends up the wicked witch of the West. Prince Charming and Snow White are fine for fairy tales, but marriage is no fairy-tale. Real marriages are made with real people. If you would “live happily ever after”, you’ve got to be willing to work at it. This is “Just-a-Minute” with Ed Boggess
- Three kings are mentioned in this chapter: Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Mattaniah (Zedekiah). Assyria, at this time, was no longer the mighty power, but now Babylon was. As Judah looked upon Egypt to be of assistance, Babylon took away their ability to be of any assistance. All three Kings were subservient to Babylon.
- Application: 24:3 rings out loud when I give thought to our own nation. We slaughter the innocent (abortion) and call it choice. We authorize civil union and homosexual marriages and call it tolerance and a civil right. We have lost our moral compass and call it progressive. While we forget from where we came, the Lord remembers.
[SRB here: If you have any suggestions for improvement, please share them. I'll submit this Monday. Thanks.]
Dr. Harold Weinberg addressed three alleged Biblical myths pertaining to the global flood in his article from May 18, 2012. I’m confident that Weinberg is an intelligent man, but he has not shown himself to be much of a Bible scholar to date. His introduction offered one definition of “myth,” but I’d like to provide another from dictionary.com: A myth is “an imaginary or fictitious thing or person.” His recent article contains a strong imaginary or fictitious component; namely, that the Bible contradicts itself! Allow me to explain.
First, Weinberg attacks what he claims to be a contradiction about the number of animals brought on the ark. A careful reading of Genesis 6:19 says “bring two”; it does not say “bring only two,” which is what Weinberg would need to prove a contradiction with Genesis 7:2,3. Noah did bring two of each sort of animal into the ark, and of the clean animals he brought even more so that some could be sacrificed later without causing extinction. The only “myth” here is the careless Biblical interpretation grounded in the fictitious Documentary Hypothesis to which Weinberg evidently subscribes. The Bible has not been edited, let alone by imaginary redactors like J, E, P, D, or any other letter of the alphabet! Jesus taught that Moses wrote the Pentateuch; that’s good enough for me.
Weinberg questions why the animals even needed to be saved from the deluge since God could simply have created more. I’m not in a position to question why God did or did not do certain things—and neither is Weinberg. I’m content to take God at His word, however, knowing that His ways and thoughts are far above my own (Isa. 55:8,9) and that there are some things He has not chosen to reveal to humanity (Deut. 29:29).
Second, Weinberg is confused about how long it rained during the global flood. Initially, it rained continuously for 40 days (Gen. 7:4,12). But, the rain that fell from above was not the only source of the rising flood waters. Water also came from below (i.e., the fountains of the deep were broken up). I don’t find anything contradictory about stating that it rained for 40 days straight but the water levels may have increased for 150 days total; that is, until the fountains of the deep were stopped and any further intermittent rain ceased temporarily (Gen. 8:2). Certainly more detailed information is desired, but there is no contradiction or myth here. The interested reader is encouraged to read my other comments pertaining to the flood at: http://www.Flood.AudioEvangelism.com.
Third, Weinberg is mistaken about the depth of the flood waters. Genesis 7:20 does not state that the flood waters had a total depth of 15 cubits but that “the waters prevailed fifteen cubits upward” (in other words, the water covered or “prevailed” over everything by at least 15 cubits of water). Some balk at this view because of the amount of water that would be required to cover Mt. Everest, for example. This problem is easily dismissed, however, when one realizes that the global flood itself radically changed Earth from what was likely a single continent tropical paradise into what remains today—seven continents and a much harsher environment. The tectonic activity related to the flood could have produced our modern mountain ranges. There is no proof that there were tall mountains prior to the global flood.
On a closing note, it is interesting to observe that every ancient culture has a flood story of some sort (e.g., Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Hittites, Chinese, etc.). Surely this lends credibility to the factualness of the global flood. As always, I would enjoy discussing these matters in more detail with any interested party.
- Stephen R. Bradd, Clinton Church of Christ
Here’s a link to an article by Brett Pertillo from the Bear Valley congregation in Colorado with an excellent sermon illustration about our heart’s focus called, “A Cricket in New York City.“
In my little ole’ opinion it’s the best illustration I’ve heard in quite a while. Easy to remember with an excellent and easy to understand point too. I used it this past Wednesday night for the invitation along with the song “Who at the Door is Standing” with an emphasis of listening for the knock at our heart. Thought some of you could use it too.
Have a blessed day.
- Josiah’s restoration of Jerusalem and the temple. He rid all Jerusalem of its evil influence. This effort on his part was very pleasing to the Lord (23:1-25). Unfortunately, Judah had passed the point of no return as a nation (23:26-27). The Lord was determined to erase them off the map, if you will. It had begun some years previous, but by the death of Josiah, who tried to intercept Egypt’s effort to thwart Babylon (23:28-30), it moved along rapidly. Josiah’s son was seated on the throne, but he did not have his father faith. Soon he was deposed and the king of Egypt set a new king on the throne, also a son of Josiah. Unfortunately for the Judeans Egypt taxed the people heavily (23:31-37).
- Application: Josiah was the last great king of Judah, but even though he sought a restoration of the spiritual standing of his nation, the Lord was determined to remove their “candlestick.” There is a need for restoration. There is a need for restoration with regard to the individual; there is a need of restoration with regard to the family; and there is a need for restoration with regard to the religious community. This restoration, however, must be in accordance with the Lord’s way not our own. It is only the Lord who can restore properly, the rest of us have too much rust connected with our own individual efforts.
Please keep my Aunt, Laverne Collins in prayers–have to go to bed early-have to get up at 5am as I have to take my aunt to the Hospital for an outpatient procedure . (declot fistula) We have to be there at 630am– this was not planned but was a result of her visit yesterday in Dialysis of the shunt in her left arm not working properly– it clotted up–they had to use the catheter in right shoulder which they are removing on June 6th Please keep us in prayers.They say we should be home by 1015amLarry
Have you ever made a plan for your daily conduct? Have you considered ahead of time how you would react to the various temptations that will come to you?
For example, have you already planned that you would be in services on Sunday evening whether or not company comes by, the couch feels comfortable, or the Super Bowl is on?
Have you already planned that even though you are late to work, you are going to obey the speed limit?
Have you planned, that even as the hot summer approaches, you will not wear immodest clothing, but that you will dress as you believe Jesus would if he were in your place?
Have you already decided that today, if you meet someone, do you immediately start thinking of a way to bring up a study of the gospel with him or her?
These are just some of the myriad of questions that could be considered as implying situations that are part of our daily life.
Our text today has an outstanding lesson in this regard. Men understand the temptation to lust. Our society with all of its advertising in print and electronics can put that temptation before us everywhere. Brothers and sisters, there is nothing new under the sun. The form may be different, but the same temptations existed for the ancient world.
Job, knowing this made a plan to remain godly (Job 31:1). He determined not to let his eyes dwell on the temptation, but to look away. He determined not to tempt himself by considering what he ought not to think about. It was his plan to avoid mental or physical fornication.
Brothers and sisters, what plans have you made to flee from the devil? God has provided a way of escape from every temptation. Let’s make a plan to know the escape and take it. Paul determined to die for the cause of Christ rather than recant or remain silent. It was a good plan that would take him to heaven. Make a plan to grow, to study, to pray, to resist temptation.
Plan to obey God.
If you have ever visited the ocean then you know about the raw power it contains. Other than its shere size, the other thing that sticks out in my memories about the ocean is the sound. The strength and sound of the waves are truly something to behold! There’s no confusing it with the traffic noise from across the street. Can you hear it?
In Psalm 65 David describes the power of God by saying, “Who established the mountains by His strength, Being clothed with power; You who still the noise of the seas, The noise of their waves,…“ (Psalm 65:6,7). David says the power and noise of the ocean waves become silent at the command of its Creator.
When I read those verses I couldn’t help but wonder if the apostles would have thought about them after Jesus stilled the raging wind storm on the sea that’s recorded in Mark 4:35-41. In the midst of fearing for their life Jesus told the storm, “Peace, be still!” and it listened. What a sight, or rather, what a sound that would have been to have witnessed that voice still the noise of the stormy sea and its waves.
The same God who stilled the noise in the Psalms is the one who stilled the noise of that stormy sea from that little boat. That’s the confidence and faith Jesus wants us to have in him. The next time you visit the ocean, let that thought bring you peace and make you be still for a moment, for this God whom we read about in the Bible can still bring peace to our lives in the midst of terrible storms.
“Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” (Mark 4:41 – NKJV)
- Hezekiah’s son, Manasseh, became king and was a vile king. He also had a son and his name was Amon. He was also wicked; because of his wickedness he was disposed with his young son, Josiah, becoming king. Josiah was clearly of a different disposition. While he was king, God’s law lost for a rather long period of time was found and notice of this find was given to the king. The law was read in his presence and hearing and fearing what the Lord was going to do to the nation, he inquired of the Holy One of Israel. The Lord gave word and reassurance to him that two things would happen: first, what had been read will come to past and, second, it will not be in his life time.
- Application: Has the word of God been lost? Is it no longer in its place of residence that it ought to be? The bound Scriptures looks real nice sitting in the bookshelf; people know, when they come in to the room where the Bible has a prominent place on that shelf that there is an interest in spiritual things. This is what some might think, anyhow. Resting nicely on the book shelf just might correspond to that which occurred in Josiah’s day. The word of God was lost! For some today, though the book sits nicely, it is lost from within the heart (cf. Colossians 3:16). The “lostness” in this case, is not its location physically, but spiritually (in application). Does the word of God have a home in the heart, or does it have one foot in and one foot out? Is the door of the heart open where the cold wind can come in and freeze whatever warmth there is? The interesting (and unfortunate) thing about the book of the law being lost was that it was in the house of the Lord!
This from Dale Jenkins:
I am doing a little 10 question survey of youth workers. Trying to figure out ways to encourage them. If it is appropriate could you post the link inviting ONLY youth workers/ministers to complete it?
A lot of people practice what I call “Google Christianity”. They browse the Bible like they browse the internet, picking and choosing what sites they like and rejecting those they don’t like. I was once talking to one fellow about his soul. I asked him how he expected to get to heaven if he refused to obey the gospel. He replied, “I’m going through the same door as the thief on the cross.” I’ve heard it often before. Let me tell you something folks, you are going to be sadly disappointed if you think you’re going to be saved as the thief was. It is a cop-out for disobedience. If you don’t want to do what Jesus commands, then be honest enough to say so. The thief would have done whatever Jesus commanded, had he been able. But he was nailed to a cross. He confessed. He did what he could. The only resemb¬lance between the thief and the one wanting to be saved like him is: both are thieves. The one on the cross gave up his stealing; the other is tries to steal salvation. This is Just-a-Minute with Ed Boggess
I thought I would pass this article along for any one to have who can appreciate it. A wise sister in Christ gave me a copy of it several years ago. She made a copy of it from an article that appeared a long time ago in the Bulletin Digest. I could tell why she would have kept it near by when I first read it. I would give full credit to the original author but unfortunately the only part of his name that got copied was Virgil F. I can see that the article came from Abilene, Texas, but that’s all I can say about it.
Instead of: “I don’t want to bother you with my phone calls and visits.”
Try: “Is this a good time to visit?”
Instead of: “You’ve got a long, hard road ahead of you.”
Try: ”No matter what happens, I want you to know you’re not alone.”
Instead of: “My uncle had the same thing, and he died.”
Try: “What’s going on with you today?”
Instead of: “God knows you can handle this illness or He wouldn’t have let you get it.”
Try: In times like this, do you find your faith makes a difference?”
Instead of: “Don’t take it personally, but I just don’t like being around sick people.”
Try: “Being with you is more important than my fear of hospitals.”
Instead of: “Wouldn’t it be better if your (husband/wife) stayed at work rather than spend time with you?”
Try: “Serious illness affects the family too, doesn’t it?”
Instead of: “Don’t worry about your job or the house. Everybody’s covering for you.”
Try: ”The work is getting done, but you know no one can take your place.”
Instead of: “Don’t talk about dying. You’re going to outlive all of us.”
Try: “Even though it’s difficult, I’m willing to talk when you are.”
Instead of: “God has a reason for this.”
Try: “There’s a lot in life we don’t understand, isn’t there?”
Instead of: “If there’s anything I can do, let me know.”
Try: “I’m praying for you, I would also like to _______ (name specific appropriate act). What time is best for you?”
- After Judah’s great king, Hezekiah, died his young son became king over the small nation. At such a young age he had to have counselors. What direction might they have guided him? It’s not long before we know. So evil did Manasseh become that he replaced Jeroboam as a standard of evil – only he did it in Jerusalem. He reigned a long time, and by the Lord’s mercy only was he a saved man (21:1-18). Since the apple does not fall far from the tree, the route traveled by Manasseh, his son followed also (21:19-26).
- Application: How could such a righteous king as Hezekiah have come from his loins a son so evil like Manasseh? Perhaps many things could be said about how this might have happened. At the very least, I think, we can say this: Manasseh arrived at a point in in life where he willfully chose to go one direction and not another. Whatever influence might have corrupted him at a young age, he still had his father’s example and to that he could have turned – but he did not (until late in life).
While the Jews wondered if there was any value to being chosen by God, Paul not only said there was, but that the value was from God’s perspective, and not mans. God chose Abraham for His purposes and, significantly enough, Abraham antedates Israel. Abraham was (is) the father of the faithful, but his recognition as being the father of the faithful was a long time before even Moses existed. What set Abraham apart was his response to the Lord – even before he received the physical sign of circumcision (God’s seal). The importance of this is with regard to salvation under the new covenant. Jesus came to save all those who call upon His name; it won’t be only Jews who call upon His name, but non-Jews as well. Thus, the standard of righteousness (faith) put forth for consideration is Abraham. In fact, if one would be justified before God, then Abraham is a great example (4:18-21) to emulate.
It is important to keep in mind the context of the word “works” in this chapter (as well as in every/and all chapters). When the author makes use of the word, it is imperative that one get a proper sense of what is in view. Three times Paul makes use of this word in the chapter (4:2, 4, and 6). In 4:2, he uses the word in relation to 3:28 (works of the law, i.e. Law of Moses). In 4:4, he uses it in a more general sense, but its relation to 4:2 can’t be missed. And in 4:6, he uses it to contrast what is important in one’s spiritual walk between the works of the law or God counting one righteous. So, when the Scripture says that Abraham was not justified by works, those works pertain to the Law of Moses.
Patrick Murphy of Sussex, Wisconsin, had a problem – his wife, Sharon, & his dog, Maddy, couldn’t get along. He decided one of them had to go. He put an ad in the local paper which read: “Wife or dog must go! Wife is good-looking, blonde, but impatient. Dog is German shorthair, 2 ½ year old, spayed female. Your choice, free.” Murphy said his ad produced more than 20 calls from people interested in the dog or eager to trade a little humor: however, Murphy insisted he was serious. This is just another sad commentary on our times: according to NationMaster, the US had the highest divorce rate per household in the world in 2011, 4.95 per 1000 couples. The destruction of home and marriage has become disas¬trously easy and common. With the trend, it shouldn’t be long until our local radio stations offer a “Swap & Shop” for marriage partners. Maybe preachers should change the marriage vow from “till death do us part” to “till I have a better offer.” This is Just-a-Minute with Ed Boggess
“Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.” (Romans 16:17-19 - NKJV)
The plain gospel doesn’t have enough flavor for those who are sensually minded, so they believe they must spice it up to be enjoyable. Paul says the gospel hasn’t been served to please the palate! It’s been served to nourish and give holy wisdom to the soul, and we’re to mark those who change the recipe for they have no interest in the well-being of others. They are interested in satisfying their own appetites and in finding those whose “spiritual taste buds” are weak and susceptible to being deceived.
Paul’s admonition to the brothers and sisters at Rome was to avoid being simple-minded (harmless, pure, unskillful) in evil actions and intents, while remaining wise (skillful, cultivated, educated) in the good things of God’s will so they could avoid being of the mindset that opened the door of their heart to deception…think the Garden of Eden for a moment.
There is a difference in being simple-minded (uneducated) toward the evil that allows us to be destroyed from a lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6), and in being simple-minded (deeds done with holy motivations) in our actions and works. We must strive to be one without becoming prey to the other (Hebrews 5:14; Matthew 7:15; 2 Timothy 4:2-4).
- Hezekiah was a great king, but even great kings must meet their end. On this occasion the Lord’s prophet, Isaiah, told the king to prepare himself. Humbled and overwhelmed by the words of the prophet, the king asked the Lord to remember him (20:3). The Lord responds to this by telling Isaiah to turn around and let the king know the Lord heard the prayer and 15 years was added to his life (20:1-11). Hezekiah, however, struggled with something that cost him with an upbraiding remark from the Lord. In a matter of time all the wealth of Hezekiah’s and Judah would be plundered by the very people Hezekiah escorted around Jerusalem (20:12-21).
- Application: The Lord’s prophet, I would imagine, was disappointed in having to tell Hezekiah of the Lord’s disapproval with his latest actions. Yet, in this, there is a lesson. Godly people who are clearly faithful to the Lord struggles with their own various issues in life. It does not matter if it is greed, anger, lust, gossip, or anything else. For some it is there and the burden can be over-powering. Did Hezekiah struggle with pride? Whether he did or not, his response, it seems to me, should have been one of humility rather than what it was. Can’t we learn something here?
Jesus replied to his disciples, “For you always have the poor with you” Mt 26:11. That certainly seems to be the case in America today. Although it could be argued that even the poorest in America is wealthy compared to others elsewhere, I choose to keep it within the confines of the USA. I just read that one out of five families owes more on credit cards, medical bills, student loans and unsecured debt than they have in savings coming out of the recent economic downturn. Nearly one in four families has no savings at all! This says to me that there are a lot of our fellow-citizens hurting financially. When Jesus made the statement referenced, he was not encouraging a baize attitude to those who are struggling. Compassion demands empathy and love calls for a helping hand. Jesus was shutting the mouths of those who murmured. Please don’t get the wrong idea. I am not arguing for supporting those who refuse to work. But I am encouraging that we have a sense of understanding for others who struggle, whether through no fault of their own or the result of poor choices (who hasn’t made many of whose?). Love demands no less.
- The situation was dire at best, but because of Hezekiah’s devotion to the Lord, it was to the Lord he went for guidance. First, there are the king’s visitors (ambassadors) to the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah gives the king a good word of comfort (19:1-7). The word of Isaiah was given to the Assyrian representative, who returned to his own king, with the king then sending an official letter to Hezekiah (19:8-13). Hezekiah receives this letter and goes straight to the Lord in prayer. The Lord hears, answer, and with reassurance lets Hezekiah know that Assyria will cause Judah no problem (19:14-28, 32-37). So reassuring to Hezekiah was the Lord that the Lord gave Judah’s king comfort with regard to their ability to live off the land and even plant for future harvest (19:29-31).
- Application: What happened on that night is fantastic beyond measure! Of course, with the Lord, it is not any greater than Jesus walking on water, but the fact that so large a number of men died in one evening is beyond human description. Succinctly, the Lord states the number of men who died; it’s almost as if it was an insignificant occurrence. The greater point was that Hezekiah and Judah were saved. With 45 words (NKJV) the Lord states the fact of their demise. Outside the Bible there is also a recording of this tragic history by Herodotus, though with much myth. So great was this that some had to assign something natural because – and this is the point – who is that God that is all-so-powerful that something this great can occur so effortlessly? His name is YAH (Yahweh).
If I could speak with the tongues of men and of angels, I could not still express the influence of a mother. There is no goodness like the goodness of a good mother and there is no badness like the badness of a bad mother! Thomas Carlyle, historian and writer, and his wife Jane Welsh Carlyle had one of the rockiest and turbulent marriages ever. But when she died in 1866, Carlyle was haunted by memory of neglecting his wife. On Jane’s tombstone in Haddington, England Carlyle had these words inscribed: “40 years she was a true and loving helpmeet to her husband and worthily forwarded him as none else in all worthy he attempted. She died April 21, 1866, suddenly snatched from him and the light of his life is gone out.” In his Reminiscences of Jane Welsh Carlyle, he wrote: “Oh, that I had you yet for five minutes by my side that I might tell you all.” He had 40 years with the right woman, yet he did not use it wisely. Paul Rogers, over forty years the Centerville Church of Christ preacher, used this theme to introduce a lesson called “Forty Years With The Wrong Woman”. The text is 1 Kings 21:25 – “There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the LORD like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited.” Jezebel was married to Ahab 40 years!
Below you will find a lesson that I will be giving to the adult class during VBS at Cherry Street Church of Christ on Thursday, June 7, 2012. I want to thank John T Polk II, Ron Thomas and Wayne Polk for some of the thoughts in the lesson and for their constant encouragement to me over the last few years.
Text: Philippians 1:9-11
Intro: “Discernment is the Hallmark of Spiritual Maturity!” Spiritual discernment does not automatically come to the Christian but we must have it in our lives. It will enable us to make the right choices spiritually.
Christians must make a decision to focus our minds on the things good from God. Romans 12:1-2 tells us that we must seek a spiritual-minded renewal in the midst of a mindless society. Colossians 3:1ff urges us to “seek the things that are above rather than the things on earth.” I John 2:15-17 shows us the importance of always striving to make the things of God our priority.
We must escape from “earthbound thinking” (1 Corinthians 1:18). We live in the physical real so we interpret everything through a physical prism.
God helps with discernment, but man must pray, seek and train for it. Discernment can be developed, but it requires the heart of a seeker and a commitment to study. The greatest obstacle to a person‘s developing discernment is one’s own heart. An unbiased search for the will of God requires that we put our own will aside. We must desire above all else to know the mind of God, the subject of our study, and be willing to surrender to it when we find it.
Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to always put our trust in God’s Word. 1 Peter 2:21-25, especially verse 22, tells that Jesus is to be our Example.
What is spiritual discernment?
- The act or process of exhibiting keen insight and good judgment. (Dictionary)
- The quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure.
- Spiritual Discernment is: A term used by Christians to derive the process of deciding God’s will for one’s life.
Illustration: “A man asked a farmer why the cow he was leading had no horns. The farmer explained, some kinds of cows are born with no horns, others have them removed while they are still calves, and a few have them broken while butting other cows. On the other hand, this cow has no horns because it is a pony.”
Discernment is having the ability to tell the difference between a cow and a pony. It requires a certain amount of knowledge and the sense to apply it.
Spiritual discernment is essential because there are many false teachers today (1 John 4:1). Let’s deal now with Philippians 1:9-11 in a little more detail.
I. Why pray for discernment?
Verse 9 “And this I pray, that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and all discernment” Verse 10 “that you may approve the things that are excellent” (noun form of this Greek word in NT).
- To approve that which is excellent (v. 10a). It takes discernment to know what the will of God is and how He wants us to live spiritually, which is the “excellent way,” We are on the “royal route to heaven,” being children of the King. We are to praise Him for “translating (conveying)” us out of a kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of the Son of His love (Colossians 1:12-14). Once we know the more excellent way, we have the command, yea, privilege, to tell others (1 Peter 2:9) how to be rescued from the domain of darkness. As we grow more in the grace and knowledge of Jesus (2 Peter 3:18) we will grow in discernment also.
- To be sincere and without offense (v 10b “that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ.” We don’t know when Jesus is coming again, but growing in discernment will help us to draw nearer to Him as we continue our spiritual pilgrimage. We will desire to keep His commandments more faithfully because we love Him who first loved us.
- To be filled with fruits of righteousness. V. 11 “being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” By growing in discernment, we will, more often, make right spiritual decisions. As we said earlier, “Discernment Is The Hallmark of Spiritually Maturity.”
II. What a lack of discernment produces: fear of Jesus Luke 9:45 (only verb form in New Testament).
This is the account of what transpired after Jesus came down from the Mount of Transfiguration. The disciples did not understand what He was telling them and were afraid to ask. The application to us is that if we are not willing to do what it takes to grow spiritually, we are in reality, not trusting God to keep His Word. In that He has promised, we could know His will in our lives. By our lack of growth, it shows that we do not completely believe that He will equip us completely with the Whole Armor of God. (Ephesians 6:10-18) If we are willing to grow as a Christian (2 Peter 3:18) and be more discerning spiritually, God will not let us down.
III. How to increase discernment: Hebrews 5:14 (exercised). ”But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”
What Are some ways to develop spiritual maturity?
- Set it as your goal to become spiritually discerning and pray. Discernment does not come automatically; it must be cultivated. It takes time and effort.
- Learn what the Word of God says. Learn the truth and you will recognize anything different
- Be disciplined in your reading and your study (2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
- Based on your Biblical knowledge, establish a set of unshakable core values.
- Practice, practice, practice. Refer back to Hebrews 5:14.
- God, the Sovereign ruler of the universe has a will and a standard for all of us.
- We must not let the world convince us that we live amid shades of gray.
- The truth of God’s Word and discernment are eternally linked.
Professor Hans Jurgens asked 5,000 German husbands and wives how often they talked to each other. After two years of marriage, most of them managed 2 or 3 minutes of chat over breakfast, about 20 minutes at supper and a few more minutes before retiring. By the sixth year, it was down to 10 minutes a day. By the 8th year of marriage, a state of almost speechlessness was reached. Surely, this sad lack of communication contributes to the skyrocketing divorce rate. Marriage experts tell us that there are “three C’s” that are the keys to successful marriages: commitment, communication, and cohesion. When couples stop communicating, the marriage already has one strike against it. The other two usually come in short order. If you want to have a successful marriage, start by talking to each other; not shouting, not insulting, not nagging, sut simple communication. “What God hath joined together let not man put asunder.” This is Just-a-Minute with Ed Boggess
What is academic freedom? This morning I received a regular blog entry email from NT scholar Mark Goodacre disgust over the firing of another NT scholar from Lincoln Christian University. LCU is in our part of the state (about 75 miles west of my home). I have never heard of the professor, and it is most certainly the case that I have not read his book that brought about the firing/discussion.
Is academic freedom an umbrella that allows one to live under a banner and go where ever he/she wants to go with the claim? I do not know. I do think, however, that academic freedom has some warrant, but with that freedom must come limitation. We are free in this country to do as we will, but with that freedom there is the responsibility to adhere to the laws of the land. Is our freedom taken away in this regard? I suppose some might argue such, but the limitation associated with the freedom, if removed, moves into chaos.
An institution of higher learning has a basis for existence. If that basis (charter) for existence is compromised what is to be said about their mission? Whatever is to be said, it seem to me, an institution has warrant to set forth the principles that it believes in, and enforce them. If a student compromises that foundational basis the school has an obligation to deal appropriately with the offender. Additionally, if an institution agrees with a potential employee that certain things must be subscribed to, then the candidate for employment must subscribe to them or lose his employment. On the other hand, if an institution of higher learning promotes academic freedom “wherever the ‘truth’ takes them,” then the institution has willingly aligned themselves with much variety of thought – however hairbrained it (or they) might be.
What holds sway then? Is it the freedom of the employee or the basis for existence of the institution? Academic freedom and a school’s charter are not at odds, but they can be.
 Is there even such a word? If not, and I found nothing in the dictionary I have to suggest there is, then perhaps I coined it – all in the name of academic freedom!
- Hezekiah, king over Judah, watched in horror as Assyria swept into Samaria and took captive a people to whom he had much in the way of association. Hezekiah, however, was not like any of the kings of Israel; he was a king highly devoted the Lord’s way (18:5). Sometime in his fourteenth year (or shortly thereafter) on the throne of the small kingdom of Judah, Assyria’s army comes to Judah with a monumental threat of siege and captivity, but it is not until the next chapter that we learn of the monumental catastrophe that befalls Assyria (18:17-37).
- Application: This chapter is set up as a great contrast to the events of the previous chapter. Hoshea was king over Israel, and though he was not as evil as the kings before him, still Israel had gone past the point of no return when they continued in their idolatry. Hezekiah, on the other hand, was considered a king as good as the great standard-bearer David. With Hezekiah’s kingdom being close to nothing more than a city-state, it was the Lord’s “kingdom” that protected him. No matter how large or how small, no matter who is for or who is against, when the Lord is on your side who can stand against you and be victorious?
Paul did not let the Jewish man (person) think that their national standing made them right in the eyes of God, but neither did he want them to think there was no positive blessing to that relationship. While some were making false accusations, Paul wanted them to understand two things: first, consistency demonstrates the accusation to be false; second, the law under which they lived made clear that they, too, were guilty before God (3:1-20). In order to be right (justified) in the eyes of God, one must come to Him in faith. Faith is that human response that calls upon God to save (cf. Acts 2:21). This is not something new (and exclusive) to the New Testament, but it is also a doctrine of the Old Testament (cf. Deuteronomy 10:12-16; Habakkuk 2:4). Those who come to God by faith actually fulfill a purpose of the old covenant (cf. John 6:44-45; Galatians 3:23-27).
Earlier in the chapter Paul anticipated an objection that would be given him concerning the value of being a Jew; the Jews, Paul said, had entrusted to them the word of God. There is great value to that. In Exodus 19 the Lord called upon Israel to be a kingdom of priests (19:6). In the New Testament there is a similar exhortation to godliness (1 Peter 2:5, 9). It would be a shame of great proportion if even one New Testament Christian adopted the attitude that many Jews adopted: “Since I am a member of the Israelite community (or, the Lord’s church), my standing before the Lord is secure.” There is great security in being a member of the Lord’s body; that security is weakened, however, when we begin to lose sight of who Jesus is and that we depend on Him. If you live in a house and do nothing to tend to the needs of the house the house will eventually crumble.
In a Gallop Youth Survey, American teenagers, by a 2-to 1 ratio, believe that divorces in this country are too easy to obtain. By about the same margin, teens feel that most couples who get di¬vorced have not tried hard enough to save their marriages. Bernard Wiese, marriage specialist and therapist, has shown that every marriage goes through 5 stages: the honeymoon stage, a time of disillusionment, a misery stage, a time of awakening and finally the time of mature love. The trouble is, too often, the towel is thrown in before mature love is reached. Often, couples are never able to advance past the misery stage. Some will say they simply weren’t compatible. But compatibility is not something you begin with, it is something you work towards. It can only be achieved when each seeks to please their partner before they please themselves. By doing this, they awake from their misery and advance to mature love. This is Just-a-Minute with Ed Boggess
Check this picture out. Other than the fact that it’s a little dirty and some of the color for the words has chipped away there is something else about this “monument” that doesn’t add up. Can you see it? Start with number one and see how long it takes for things to change what God’s word says. If you need a hint then read Exodus 20 and then come back and look again. Do you see it now? The picture and the scriptures just don’t add up do they? I wonder why someone would have to leave out that particular commandment from the 10??? What do you think?
If you don’t like what God’s word says, then change it! It’s nothing new, but that doesn’t mean it’s something good.
- To Bible students this chapter is known as the chapter that outlines Israel’s captivity to Assyria. The first twenty-three verses of the chapter tell us exactly why the Lord sent them in to captivity. It had everything to do with their willingness to no longer follow the Lord’s way. It started with Israel’s first king (17:21), and continued with the people (17:22). Assyria came and besieged the city of Samaria and, in the end, carted off a large number of people into captivity. Sargon, Assyria’s king, gloated of his victory stating, “At the beginning of my royal rule I conquered the town of the Samarians … I led away prisoners 27,290 inhabitant of it and equipped from among them soldiers to man 50 chariots for my royal corps…” (Davis and Whitcomb, p. 431).
- With the land now bereft of people, the wild beasts (lions in particular) roamed the land. Even though the Assyrians repopulated the land, the beasts were entrenched and not easily removed. What’s interesting, however, is how the people interpreted the presence of the lions in the land. They merely considered Israel’s God as a local god, and nothing else (17:26-28). In any event, with the repopulation of the land, the religious ideologies brought for much confusion, and this religious confusion continued until the Lord walked the earth.
- Application: The obvious lesson of this chapter is in the Lord’s warnings going unheeded. It is evident that the people of the land did not regard the Lord’s prophets and their respective warnings. Thus, the Lord had had enough and He swept away the inhabitants of the land that He placed there to begin with; He placed them in a land that would encourage them to do one of two things (I suppose). In their new land they could refuse to learn from their experience and perpetuate the religious idolatry. Or, they could reflect on the words of the prophets and how the Lord actually did sweep them away from their homeland; on this reflection it could change them back into the people there were supposed to be at the start. That some did this because when the gospel was first preached, it was to Jewish assemblies that the Lord’s preacher went.
“For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21).
God chose a message of love, hope, forgiveness, and grace to save mankind. God chose the gospel to teach people of the cross and the saving blood of Christ. The gospel is not merely good news; it is the best news of all time. Nothing is more urgent or more needed.
The gospel is God’s power for salvation (Romans 1:16). It is the imperishable seed by which we are born again into the family of God (1 Peter 1:23-25). In humility we must “receive the word implanted, which is able to save” our souls (James 1:21). The gospel is unalterably connected to our salvation. “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1Timothy 2:3-4). God gave us the gospel out of an overwhelming love as part of His eternal plan for saving mankind from sin.
The Lord’s marching orders are, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16). These marching orders are our orders.
Our hearts beat with a consciousness of a lost and dying world needing the gospel message to rescue them from sin. We realize the power is not in us but in the gospel message. It is the treasure (2 Corinthians 4:7). The gospel is God’s message of eternal life (John 6:63).
We are committed at SEARCH to preaching the true and pure gospel of Christ, because we love the Lord and love the lost souls of men. The Lord has entrusted us with this great task, and we must do our best to glorify God’s Word.
Your support and prayers for us help us to fulfill the great commission, the most urgent task in the world. We need your help month in and month out to reach into millions of homes with the gospel message. Please, please help us. We need your support.
The Lord be with you, Phil Sanders (May 2012)
It’s flawed, like most analogies, if pressed too far, but I found this to be worth 3 minutes of my time–
As a huge reader, I have one wish that probably won’t come true. However, what’s the harm in sharing that with you, my friends. If I could get brotherhood books free at the library I would probably read almost all of them. :)
A little boy who lived far out in the country in the late 1800s had reached the age of twelve and had never in all his life seen a circus. You can imagine his excitement, when one day a poster went up at school announcing that on the next Saturday a traveling circus was coming to the nearby town. He ran home with the glad news and the question, “Daddy, can I go?” Although the family was poor, the father sensed how important this was to the lad. “If you do your Saturday chores ahead of time,” he said, “I’ll see to it that you have the money to
Come Saturday morning, the chores were done and the little boy stood by the breakfast table, dressed in his Sunday best. His father reached down into the pocket of his overalls and pulled out a dollar bill—the most money the little boy had possessed at one time in all his life. The father cautioned him to be careful and then sent him on his way to town.
The boy was so excited; his feet hardly seemed to touch the ground all the way. As he neared the outskirts of the village, he noticed people lining the streets, and he worked his way through the crowd until he could see what was happening. Lo and behold, it was the approaching spectacle of a circus parade!
The parade was the grandest thing this lad had ever seen. Caged animals snarled as they passed, bands beat their rhythms and sounded shining horns, midgets performed acrobatics while flags and ribbons swirled overhead. Finally, after everything had passed where he was standing, the traditional circus clown, with floppy shoes, baggy pants, and a brightly painted lace, brought up the rear. As the clown passed by, the little boy reached into his pocket and took out that precious dollar bill. Handing the money to the clown, the boy turned around and went home.
What had happened? The boy thought he had seen the circus when he had only seen the parade!
How many of us can relate to this young man? Are you experiencing all that God has for you? The Christian life is a marvelous adventure, an exciting journey. Don’t be content to float in a sea of mediocrity, settling for second best. Do you want the abundant life that Jesus promised? Do you want to live life to its fullest? Then aim higher than the parade. Our Father provided the payment (I Cor. 6:19-20) and the main event is Heavenly. Believe the Scriptures – you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!
–Adopted from Wayne Rice: “Hot Illustrations”
via “Thoughts For Today to Brighten Your Day” by Glenn, Mercedes & Lauren Hitchcock, 5/7/2012
Yesterday, as I contemplated my sermon on First Peter 1.22–25, verse 22 about love struck me,
“Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart…”
I see Peter as saying four things about love, and it is the third point that makes me question myself, and perhaps the church as to whether we are practicing it:
1. Love the brethren
2. Love the brethren sincerely
3. Love the brethren fervently
4. Love the brethren with a pure heart
I do not mean that I or the church has perfected items 1, 2, and 4, but that they are perhaps easier to detect than number 3. How can I know whether I am loving the brethren fervently?
What does it mean to love fervently? My wife, Kerri brought up the idea of sacrifice, that we know we are loving fervently when we sacrifice for one another.
What do you all think?
It was some time back when I read the headline, “Assemblies of God revamp rules on sexual con¬duct.” I was reading the Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, MS (Aug 12, 1989). I wondered, “Why is a denomination revising and revamping it rules? The Bible hasn’t changed.” Indeed, scripture reads the same. What the Holy Spirit inspired never needs rewriting. But when men make rules and form a church based on those rules, then they are faced with the embarrassing prospect of making something right that was before wrong. Of course, nothing right ever becomes wrong or wrong right, but when man gets into the rule making business, he is bound to make mistakes. This is my chief com¬plaint about creeds, statements or articles of faith and such like; all in addition to the Bible, that regulate members. Why can’t we just use the Bible – it never needs revamping or rewriting. This is Just-a-Minute with Ed Boggess
- Ahaz was king over Judah, and he did not follow the path of his father. For 16 years he thought he could reign over the nation without the Lord, but he failed to remember that it was the Lord who sustained his father (16:1-9). Ahaz had great failures, but it is one notable failure that is highlighted in this chapter. The king took upon himself the authority to change what the Lord decreed many generations before him. Having been overcome by Syria, the king of Judah thought it must have been Syria idol gods that brought them victory. Thus, he replicates the altar of burnt offering and demands to use it in Jerusalem. This destroyed the king (16:10-20).
- Application: As egregious as the king’s errors were, what stands out to me in this chapter is the High Priest. If he was a political man, then it would be easy to see what and why he did what he did. On the other hand, if he had any semblance of devotion to the Lord, how in the world could he have done what he did? It gets to a great question that each of us has to answer: when our backs are pushed up against the wall, to whom shall we render service?
5. Moser argues about baptism similarly as he does about repentance: “If baptism is a condition of salvation which is given on the condition of faith in Christ, it too must be related to faith, and so related that its meaning will not oppose the meaning of faith. Now as confession is faith expressed by words, baptism is faith expressed by deed….This view of baptism sanctioned by scripture lifts baptism from a meaningless act of legalism to the high plane of salvation by faith in Christ.” (See Moser.) What do you think?
RT – I will not take exception to these words, but to say that “faith” is also a deed (John 6:29).
6. Regarding Acts 10:44-48, were Cornelius and the other Gentiles (who had heard the gospel, had received the empowering Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and had spoken in tongues and praised God) children of the devil before they were baptized? Or were they children of God filled with the Holy Spirit and later got baptized? Doesn’t the fact that they spoke in tongues prior to baptism prove that they were children of God and thus saved before they were baptized? Doesn’t Peter in Acts 10:43 make it clear that it was the faith that produced remission of sins, and that water baptism came later as a symbol of their new life in Christ?
RT – Does the fact that a donkey spoke by the power of God say anything about the spiritual standing of that donkey? Does the fact that Balaam was a prophet speak anything to his favorable standing before the Lord? The case of Cornelius is clearly an exception to the pattern (a word you hate) that God set forth. That which Peter said in Acts 2:38 – is it true? If it is, how does it relate to 10:44-48? Which one is the norm? Cornelius was told that he would be given words to hear in order to be saved (10:4-5, 22; 11:14). What words did Peter speak in order that he might learn of Jesus? Did he hear those words? Why did Peter command him to be baptized?
7. Doesn’t Peter make it clear in Acts 10:48 that this experience was the same way the apostles received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost? Is there any record in the Bible that the apostles received water baptism?
RT – No, there is no explicit recording of such, unless we make an inference from Acts 1:22. Let me turn to question in your direction and ask you: Were they baptized? If so, why?
8. Doesn’t 1 Corinthians 12:13 show that baptism by the Holy Spirit is what places us in the body of Christ?
RT – That verse can be understood in one of two ways; neither way is troublesome.
9. Your motto is, “Where the Bible speaks we speak; where the Bible is silent we are silent.” But don’t you break that rule all the time? For example, you say, “He that is baptized not shall be damned.” But that phrase does not appear in the Bible, does it? What does appear in the Bible is, “He that believeth not shall be damned.” So haven’t you twisted Scripture?
RT – I laughed when I read this. In fact, you twisted the words of what you think some say about the verse in order to perpetuate your straw man.
10, What do you think about Carl Ketcherside’s charge (please read chapter 9, Christians in Babylon) that, “To demand that one of God’s children be forced to submit to re-baptism at the hands of one of ‘our preachers’ in order to be in ‘our fellowship’ is sectarianism pure and simple…Such Church-of-Christ-isms like all other ‘isms’ are an insult to the persons and dignity of the Holy Spirit by whom we ‘are all baptized into one body.’”
RT – What Carl had to say is simply an opinion – nothing more.
Doing the right thing – sometimes I have a hard time doing the right thing! Temptation finds its way into my heart and there you have it. I’d rather not have to face temptation at all! I like to pray “lead me not into temptation.” Nevertheless, it helps me to realize that even Jesus, at least once, did not want to do the right thing. In the Garden Jesus prayed “let this cup pass from me.” He didn’t want to deal with it, endure it, go through it. Yet He backed up that petition with a “may Your will be done.” So I guess that is where I am, trying to do the right thing even when I don’t want to.