Browsing: Inspiration

THE NATION OF ISRAEL TODAY

September 26th, 2014 | By admin

by Paul Holland 

    Many people believe the Jews will one day convert in mass to Jesus Christ and such will be a sign of the second coming of Christ. So, let’s take a look at what the Scriptures teach about Israel, especially on this side of the cross.

     Matthew wrote his gospel for a Jewish audience. Consider these passages: 3:7-10; 8:5-13; 21:18-22; and 21:33-44. What each of these passages show is that since Israel would not repent in their behavior toward God and believe in Jesus Christ, Whom He sent, they would be cast out of the vineyard of God’s people and that vineyard would be given to a nation producing fruit. There is no hope held out in Matthew – short of repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ – for the nation of Israel to be saved.

     The letter of Romans shows clearly that Israel, in mass, refused to accept Jesus and His righteousness as the goal of the Law. Yet, in writing to Christians who were (partly) Jewish, Paul uses their own Scriptures (the Old Testament) to show them that Christ/the Gospel/Christianity/ the Church were the fulfillment of the Old Testament Law of Moses.

     In 2:28-29, Paul writes that it is not physical circumcision (anymore) that matters to God. It is spiritualcircumcision (which happens when we are baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of sins – Colossians 2:11-12) that matters to God, now.

     In 4:10-12, 16 (really, all of chapter 4), Paul shows that Abraham was justified (forgiven of his sins) based on his faithful response to God (recorded in Genesis 15) before (and without) circumcision (which happened in Genesis 17). Thus, we will be saved as Abraham was saved, if we respond to God faithfully (and without physical circumcision).

     So what does this mean for JewsIsraelites?Descendants of Abraham? Romans 9-11 is a trilogy on the relationship of Israel (on this side of the cross) with the God of heaven. Chapter 9 is focused on how God worked through Israel, through His sovereignty, to bring Jesus into the world.

    Chapter 10 is focused on the historical fact that Israel rejected God.  The stubbornness and unrepentant heart of Israel was predicted in the OT. All Israel heard God’s message (10:18, quoting Psa. 19:4). All Israel knewGod’s message (10:19, quoting Deut. 32:21 and 10:20, quoting Isa. 65:1). But what was lacking in Israel but prevalent among the Gentiles was a response of faithful obedience (10:16-17).

    So, chapter 11 is about the fact that everyone must submit to God. God has not universally saved the Israelite nation nor has He universally condemned the Israelite nation. Just because one is an Israelite or Jew does not mean he is automatically condemned. It also means that the Gentiles ought not to be proud and boastful over against the Jew because the Gentile Christian can be cut off just like the Jewish nation was cut off.

    Finally, there are a number of passages which teach that the church of Jesus Christ is the “Israel of God” today: Romans 2:28-29; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 3; Galatians 3:28-29; 6:16; Ephesians 2:14; Philippians 3:3; Colossians 2:9-12; James 1:1, 2:2, 5:14; 1 Peter 2:9.

    The nation of Israel living in Palestine today is notGod’s chosen people anymore. Israel served its purpose when it brought Jesus into the world. I seriously question if any “Jew” today can even prove that he/she is a descendant of Abraham!

    As God’s elect in Christ, let us continue in our faith and share His news with the lost.

FRIENDS WHO DECEIVE

September 24th, 2014 | By admin

by Katt Anderson

How many times have you thought you had a good friend and then find out the friend deceived you? Maybe they stabbed you in the back. You may have told them a secret and they told everyone what you said. This happens all the time and on every social level. It still hurts both the deceived and the deceiver.

In the book of Esther, you read how Haman wanted to hurt the Jews. In order to do that, he had to deceive the king. It wasn’t hard for him because the king trusted him. He trusted him and took his advice without question.

Haman was angry because one Jew, Mordecai, Queen Esther’s uncle, would not bow down to him. Of course, Haman didn’t know Queen Esther was a Jew. In order to hurt Mordecai, he had the king command all Jews to be killed. The king believed the Jews needed to be annihilated. He gave the command to do what Haman wanted. He trusted Haman. In the end, Haman was the one killed and not the Jews, but that’s another story.

Deceit has been going along since the world was formed. In Genesis 3: 13, Eve was deceived by Satan to eat the forbidden fruit. In Joshua 9, we read about the kings of Gibeon deceiving Joshua. You may think that was hard to do, but these men took old sacks, old wineskins, old clothes and old sandals to make it look like they had come a long way. Their bread was even hard and moldy. It worked. Joshua believed them, but he did find out they had deceived him.

Deceiving is lying. It’s making something look like it isn’t. We see this today in every walk of life. It’s happened to all of us. We really trust someone only to find out they are hurting us behind our backs. In truth they are hurting themselves. In Romans 16:17, we are told to avoid people who cause this kind of thing. In other words, stay away from them. Isn’t it encouraging to know it happened even during Bible times. Sometimes it’s hard to avoid these people. It’s hard to not come in contact with people who say hurtful things about us, but it’s best if we try to keep our distance from them.

We have all had these things done to us and it will continue to happen. Be very careful who you call a friend. Make sure that person loves you and cares about you. Avoid those who are hateful and spiteful. Be careful who you trust.

LEFT BEHIND: THE RAPTURE

September 22nd, 2014 | By admin

by Paul Holland In the fall of 1991, after being inducted into the Alpha Chi National Honor Society while at Faulkner, I had the opportunity to attend the Alpha Chi regional conference in Atlanta, GA. At that conference, the attendees would present a paper they had prepared in their respective disciplines. After you presented your paper, you would open the floor to questions and discussion. I chose to write a paper on the book of Revelation and its use and abuse by those who believe in a literal thousand-year reign of Christ on earth. I specifically dealt with the Battle of Armageddon as it is presented in Revelation 16. After presenting that paper, I opened the floor for questions. One professor from another college asked me if I thought premillennialism was still an issue today (which was 23 years ago!). I told him that although it did not seem to be as widely spread as perhaps it once was, I did think it was still an issue. Twenty-three years later, a movie is coming to the box office, starring Nicholas Cage. The movie is titled, Left Behind. The movie is based on the book by the same title written by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye. It is about the rapture and ensuing events as it is taught in the doctrine called premillennialism. The following comes from The Concise Evangelical Dictionary of Theology edited by Walter A. Elwell (page 313). The “millennial” part comes from the Latin word for 1,000, based on the 1,000 year reign found in Revelation 20:1-10. “Premillennialists” believe that the return of Christ will be preceded first by the rapture and then by certain signs – wars, famines, earthquakes, a great apostasy of Christians led by the AntiChrist, and the “great tribulation.” These events will culminate in the second coming of Christ which will result in a period of peace and righteousness when Christ and his saints control the world. THE RAPTURE: The Concise Evangelical Dictionary of Theology defines the rapture this way: “[A] phrase used by premillennialists to refer to the church being united with Christ at his second coming (from the Lat. rapio, “caught up”). The main biblical passage upon which the teaching is based is 1 Thess. 4:15-17.” Now, here are all the Bible passages that mention the “Rapture” in the NIV: (none); NKJV (none); RSV (none); ASV (none); NASV (none); KJV (none). You know what? That causes a very serious issue with the idea that the “rapture” is a biblical doctrine! As the dictionary points out, the primary text for the rapture is 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17. Take a look at this passage… The word “rapture” comes from the Latin (rapio) of the verb translated “caught up” in verse 17. As you can see from the context, the idea of the “rapture” is not found in the context. There is no suggestion of what is going on with the people outside of Christ at this time. All Paul is concerned about at this point is what happens to Christians – both living and dead. There are some passages that do picture the resurrection of those outside of Christ but these passages portray this as happening at the same time as the resurrection of the Christians: John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15. The Bible teaches there is only one resurrection and it will involve both the righteous and the wicked and will include both the living and the dead. What we do need to emphasize here is that the second coming of Christ is going to happen and it will be unexpected (2 Peter 3:10). While the second coming will catch all of us unexpectedly, it will only catch some of us unprepared. You do not have to be unprepared!

BASIC BELIEFS

September 19th, 2014 | By admin

by Paul Holland 

    Leroy Brownlow (1914-2002) did not grow up in the churches of Christ. He lived in Texas where his mother was a Presbyterian and his father taught Bible class at the Methodist church. His grandfather had been a Baptist preacher for 65 years. But during one summer, Leroy’s parents went to a gospel meeting at a local church of Christ. Each evening, they would go home and study their Bibles in light of what the preacher had taught.

     Eventually, they concluded that Christianity, as it was taught in the New Testament, was not denominational. Leroy obeyed Christ at 17 and became a Christian. He attended Abilene Christian College. His first sermon at his “home” congregation was from Romans 1:16 – “I am Ready to Preach the Gospel.”

     In the years 1941-1942, Leroy wrote a book titled Why I am a Member of the church of Christ. That book has influenced many, many people to leave their denominational churches and become a member of the church of Jesus Christ. They did this, based not on a made-up “sinner’s prayer” or the vote of other people, but rather based on his/her obedience to the Gospel.

     That book has also grounded many people, including many teenagers, in fundamental truths of Christianity. So popular a tool has it been that some friends of mine and I, while in college, used to joke that it was our “creed” book. Brother Brownlow would probably not think that was funny as he wrote a chapter in the book, “[I am a member of the church of Christ] Because It has the Bible as its Only Creed, Confession of Faith or Church Manual.”

     Brother Brownlow has written many books which are worthy to be in any Christian’s library. His son, Paul, gave our mission team permission to translate brother Brownlow’s books into Romanian. We started with Making the Most of Life from A to Z. There are others I hope we can translate one day.

     Brother Jack Lewis, also from Texas, has recently written a book that would be a fine compliment to brother Brownlow’s book. Lewis’s book is titled simply Basic Beliefs, published by 21st Century Christian. This book begins with “Belief in God” and ends with “Heaven,” in 34 chapters.

     Lewis covers topics such as revelation and biblical interpretation, grace, the plan of salvation, biblical authority, acts of worship, as well as some major doctrinal errors of the sects. As with all of Lewis’s writings, this book is characterized by liberal use and quotations of God’s word. There are also useful citations of early Christian writers, hymns, and some anecdotes. The material could be used in a Bible class, although there are not discussion questions at the end of each chapter as one would expect from a Bible class book.

     The book is good for non-Christians as it presents basic Bible doctrine in a simple, straight-forward manner. It is good for Christians who need to be reminded of such doctrines. In a time when so many preachers are guided by “felt-needs” homiletic practices, the book is a good reminder that we do need to preach lessons on facts thatneed to be known. Young preachers would make wise use of the book to guide their own sermon planning.

     The apostle Peter wrote, in 2 Peter 3:1, “This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder…” That’s why Lewis wrote his book. It would be worth your money and your time to read it (and reread Brownlow’s book).

WORDS

September 10th, 2014 | By admin

by Aunt Mary My husband is working on a devotional for church tonight, and the title is “Words.” My mind immediately pictured a commercial that is pretty popular on TV right now. A cowboy is getting on his horse and he tells a woman, “Words can’t hurt you.” He then rides towards the sunset and hits a sign that says “The End.” He immediately falls off his horse presumably unconscious. Of course it’s a commercial for an insurance company, but the point is still made. Words are very important to us. When we were children, someone would always say, “Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words will never hurt you.” Words do hurt. Not only what we say, but how we say it. We can say the same thing in different ways and either make someone feel good or ruin their day. If you work with words daily, as I do, you have a deeper respect for them. Writing is so different from speaking. My tone tells you what I mean by how I articulate the words. In writing, I have to tell you what the tone is. I could write, “The sun sat in the eastern sky.” You’d know the sun was setting, but if I said, “The sun sat in the eastern skywitha beautiful streaks of orange and red.” you’d know I was enjoying the sunset. If I wrote, “The sun sat in the eastern sky and my mouth was so dry I could eat the sun, the horrible despicable hot sun,” then you’d know I was mad and tired and hot. In the Bible we have to know something about the character of the person. I love Psalm and especially chapter 119. Yes, it’s the longest chapter in the Bible, but it is also one with the most wisdom. David tells us in Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” We see how David feels about God’s word. It guides him every day. He shows how much he cares for God’s loving kindness. God gave us words to live by. He showed us how much he loved us and wanted us to do what was right. There are so many times in the Old Testament where God warned the children of Israel, the Jews, what would happen if they disobeyed His Laws. They would go off in sin and He would bring tragedy upon them. They’d come back to Him and He’d deliver them. Just like today when our children do something bad, we don’t say, “Forget it, I don’t want to have anything to do with you.” Instead we say, “Forget it, I want to forgive you.” That’s what God wants with us also. As our Father, He’s willing to forgive us and welcome us back. Use the good words in the way God want us to. Use kind words, like King David. Make the Bible a Lamp unto your feet.

PERSERVERE

September 8th, 2014 | By admin

by Paul Holland

Perseverance. “Steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.” It seems that the normal course of things in life is for enjoyable events to go fast and bad events to go slowly. How can we get through the bad events in life? You have to persevere. You have to stick with it.

The book of Hebrews focuses on the idea of perseverance. Hebrews 10:16-25 encourages us to persevere in our faith.

THE MOTIVATION OF OUR PERSEVERANCE – FORGIVENESS (10:16-18):
The Hebrew writer quotes from the prophet Jeremiah (31:31-34) to the effect that God planned to establish a covenant with His people that would provide forgiveness of sins. Since we are living under that covenant today, the covenant of Jesus Christ, we do not need other, perpetual, sacrifices for sin.
When our sins are forgiven in Christ, we know that we can stand before God and that we are avoiding the horrors of hell.

THE SPHERE OF OUR PERSEVERANCE – CHRIST JESUS (10:19-22):
The “and so” at the beginning of verse 19 points back to what he has said before. We have forgiveness of our sins in Jesus Christ. Then, he sets out two items that are important to remember in order for us to persevere.

Item #1 – (vs 19) “Since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus…”

Item #2 – (vs 21) “and since we have a great priest over the house of God.” Turn to 7:26-28 to see what type of high priest we have.

So, our “sphere” of perseverance is Jesus Christ. We can enter the presence of God through the blood of Jesus Christ who is our great high priest. To do that, we need:

1. A sincere heart
2. Full assurance of faith
3. Our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience
4. Our hearts are sprinkled with the blood of Christ when our bodies are washed with pure water, which is a reference to baptism (Romans 6:1-7; Eph. 5:26).

THE CALL TO PERSEVERANCE – HOLD FAST (10:23):
The call here is to hold tightly to the confession of your hope in Christ, without wavering, just as Abraham kept his confidence in God, without wavering. How can we do that? Because, He who called us is faithful (cf. 2 Timothy 2:13).

THE ATMOSPHERE OF PERSEVERANCE – THE CHURCH (10:24-25):
God does not call us to be “Lone Rangers.” Not even “Batman and Robin.” There is not just one of us. There’s not just two of us. It’s really a family, a spiritual family. That’s what the church is and Christ calls on us to be in the middle of the family, involved with each other, in each other’s lives.

So, the key verb here in this sentence is “Let us consider” one another. Then, there are reasons for this “considering:” for the stimulating of love and stimulating of good works. While we are considering one another we should not be neglecting the gathering-together of ourselves.

Rather than neglecting the gathering-together of ourselves, we should be comforting, exhorting, and encouraging one another. That’s the atmosphere of perseverance. It is much easier to keep the faith, to remain faithful, when we are in the middle of other people who have the same goal and the same desires.

Persevere faithfully in Christ, remaining active in the church. Ultimate salvation will be yours.

THE HAPPINESS OF PURSUIT

September 3rd, 2014 | By admin

by Paul Holland

The more I learn, the more I am amazed how God has adapted Christianity to the needs of mankind. Let’s begin by citing Paul’s words from Philippians 3:10-14, wherein he writes that he wants to know Christ “the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

God has designed man in such a way that we cannot attain perfection here on earth but He challenges us to grow and strive for perfection with it being ultimately available on the other side of death. Learn. Grow. Mature. Strive. Reach forward. Don’t be content with who you are right now. Jesus is the standard of perfection.

Author and psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky writes in The Myths of Happiness, that we are happier in our pursuit. She writes, “if we enjoy the struggle along the way, we will derive pleasure and satisfaction by simply pursuing or working on our goal. We will ideally stretch our skills, discover novel opportunities, grow, strive, learn, and become more capable and expert. …Furthermore, goal pursuit in and of itself imparts structure and meaning to our daily lives, creating obligations, deadlines, and timetables, as well as opportunities for mastering new skills and for interacting with others” (137).

Now, think about how God has designed this world. Think about the challenges you have in your own life – the challenges to grow and mature.

Before he wrote those words in Philippians 3, Paul wrote these words in chapter 2: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (vss 3-4). Had Paul reached perfection in just these few virtues? No. He tells us himself that he had not reached spiritual perfection.

But the joy is in the striving, the pursuit. In Lyubomirsky’s words, it is the “deadlines and timetables, as well as opportunities for mastering new skills and for interacting with others.” If we obtained moral perfection the moment we were baptized into Christ, what else would there be to do, spiritually speaking?

God designed the human mind and the human heart to desire growth and maturity. Contests, sports, games, other challenges show that the human spirit was designed to seek after victory, to challenge ourselves even as we challenge others. We want to win. We want to stretch ourselves, to see how far we can go.

Ultimately, God set that urge in our hearts in spiritual matters. To conquer our own egos, our desire for revenge, our desire for self. He challenges us to control our tongues, our attitudes, our behavior. That all implies growth. And it all involves pursuit – the happy pursuit of holiness (cf. Heb. 12:14).

Christianity, as it is, is adapted to man, as he is.

ESTHER TEACHES US TO RELY ON GOD

August 27th, 2014 | By admin

by Paul Holland 

    How do you live upright in an upside down world? You trust in the providence of God. I want you to have an unshakeable conviction in the God of heaven that He will, lovingly, always do the right thing by you if you are one of His children.

     As you move through the text of Esther, keep this thought in the back of your mind – Mordecai is going to refuse to bow down to Haman, staying truthful to God’s word. Haman, motivated out of anti-semitic racism, is going to influence King Ahasuerus to kill Mordecai and all his people – the Jews. The question is: How is God going to work behind the scenes, without violating man’s free will, to not only save His people, the Jews, but also to influence Persians to accept the Jews’ God as the one true God, even becoming Jews themselves? That’s the story of Esther. That’s God’s silent sovereignty at work, to use brother Cecil May’s subtitle to his book,Providence.

     Chapter 2:21-23 are important to the overall context of the book as it explains to us how King Ahasuerus is saved by Mordecai which leads to the king wanting to honor Mordecai. Why was Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate that day? How did the plot become known to Mordecai? These are questions – even as we have questions in our own lives about how God works – that we cannot answer, except to say it is the “silent sovereignty of God.”

     Esther was the only person who could save the Jewish people. She had to do something! Look at 4:13-14 and see an expression of Mordecai’s faith in the silent sovereignty of God. We also see Esther’s conviction expressed in verses 15-17.

     The first sentence in chapter 6 saves the life of the Jews. The king could not sleep. Why could King Ahasuerus not sleep? Only God knows but He is working behind the scenes. That insomnia led King Ahasuerus to call for the history books to be read to him and then, he learned that Mordecai saved his life but had never been honored for that act of loyalty.

     Isn’t it ironic that in the middle of this government-sponsored pogrom against God’s people, that Persiansactually want to be members of this minority religious sect (8:17)? These Persians had been inspired and encouraged by the religious and spiritual lives of the Jews. It is always true that if/when Christians act like Christians, that is, when they serve Christ and follow His word, non-Christians will be inspired to become Christians (cf. Acts 5:11, 14). When you do things God’s way, God will bless you for it.

     At the end of his discussion of Esther in his book on providence, brother May comments: “God is still keeping watch above His own. Any one of us at any time could be in a situation that would call for faithful, effective action on our parts to bring about God’s will for His church. Who knows whether we may have come to the kingdom for just such a time as that? Let us be perceptive and ready” (pg. 87).

     How do you live upright in an upside down world? You trust the “silent sovereignty of God.”

TRAVEL ON MY KNEES

August 25th, 2014 | By admin

by Paul Holland 

    Sitting in my mom’s dining room, going through old papers, I found a poem I sent to them while we were in Romania. It was written by Raymond Jackson: “Last night I took a journey, To a land across the seas. I didn’t go by boat or plane, I traveled on my knees. I saw so many people there, In the darkest depths of sin. The Lord Jesus told me I should go, Those many souls to win.

     “But I said, ‘Lord Jesus, I can’t go And work with such as these.’ He answered quickly, ‘Yes, you can, By traveling on your knees.’ Said He, ‘You pray, I’ll meet the need; You call, and I will hear. Be anxious over all lost souls, Of those both far and near.’ And I tried it; knelt in prayer, And gave some some hours of ease.

     “I felt the Lord right by my side While traveling on my knees. As I prayed on and saw men saved, And blighted spirits healed, I saw God’s workers’ strength renewed While laboring in the field. Said I, ‘Yes, Lord I have a job, ’Tis Thee I’ll ever please. I’ll gladly go and heed Thy call By traveling on my knees.”

     I sent that to my parents and the rest of our supporters in February, 2001. We had been on the mission field eight months. Jackson reminds us through that poem the power of prayer. We are familiar with the words of James: “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (5:16). Translating the statement literally, he says, “Much is competent prayer of the righteous, working.” The one who is righteous, through the blood of Christ, can competently accomplish much good, appealing to the heart of the Father.

     Jackson’s poem reminds me of the song titled Ready to Suffer. One verse reads, “Ready to go or ready to stay; Ready my place to fill. Ready for service, lowly or great. Ready to do His will.” We participate in evangelism when we pray as well as when we go.

     Pray for those lost in sin and pray for those trying to reach them. Your prayers can accomplish much.

HOW TO HANDLE RELATIONSHIPS WITH NON-CHRISTIANS

August 22nd, 2014 | By admin

by Paul Holland 

    In Acts 17:6-7, Paul and Silas are in Thessalonica and have stirred up opposition. The Jews have dragged some Christians before the secular authorities, complaining that “These men who have upset the world have come here also; and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”

    The context of Matthew 10 follows on the heels of Matthew 9:36-38. Not only did Jesus pray to send out workers into the harvest but He also fulfilled that need – Matthew 10 is Jesus sending out His apostles on what we call the “limited commission.”

     How do we handle our relationships with non-Christians…?

 DO GOOD (10:1-4):

    To these twelve, Jesus gave power to perform miracles, establishing the veracity of their message (Mark 16:17-20). Today, we, too, help our cause bydoing good (Gal. 6:10). These apostles were – from the occupations we recognize – middle-income Palestinians. They were not part of the religious elite. It is noteworthy one worked for the government (Matthew) and one worked against the government (Simon the Zealot, Canaanite).

TEACH JESUS’ MESSAGE (10:5-15):

    The “sent out” in verse 5 carries the idea of delegated authority. The authority was not in themselves. It was in Jesus; in their message. It is with us today as we are ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:18-20). The authority is in the message (Titus 2:15).

     The message (for them – vs 7) was that the kingdom was near at hand. Our message is that Jesus is coming again to separate the sheep from the goats (Matt. 25:31-46), to put an end to sin and to death (Rev. 20:12-15).

 YET, SOME WILL (VIOLENTLY) REJECT THE MESSAGE(10:16-23):

    We are to be wise in our presentation of the Gospel (10:16). Compare Colossians 4:5. We do not have tounnecessarily provoke non-Christians! See 2 Timothy 2:24-26 and how we should teach non-Christians. “Innocent” means “unmixed” with the world’s values (cf. 2 Cor. 6:14-18).

     But, the message they should preach would come from God (10:18-20). To us, the Holy Spirit has revealed His message, through those same messengers (Eph. 3:3-5).

    Jesus does not call us to pointless martyrdom (10:23).

 JESUS ENCOURAGES THE PERSECUTED (10:24-33):

    Just because we are living as “good” Christians, we should not expect people to love us all the time (10:24-25). It may be because we are “good” Christians that people hate us!

     Yet, we are still to preach boldly (10:26-27). The early Christians did not pray that God would take away the persecution; they prayed for courage (Acts 4:23-30). So should we (Eph. 6:18-20).

IN THE MIDDLE OF PERSECUTION – JESUS MATTERS THE MOST (10:34-39):

    It may be our own family who persecutes us (10:34-37). The peace Jesus came to bring (cf. Isa. 9:6-7; Luke 2:14) is fundamentally peace between God and man. Jesus separates us from the values / worldview of society.

 BLESSINGS AWAIT THOSE WHO RECEIVE CHRIST’S MESSENGERS (10:40-42):

    “Little children” does not refer to physical children. It refers to Christ’s disciples metaphorically, picturing them as dependent and helpless.

     In living upright in an upside down world, we must choose Christ first, even in the face of persecution from our family and friends. “I am resolved to enter the kingdom, leaving the paths of sin. Friends may oppose me, foes may beset me. Still will I enter in.”

Paul Holland is the minister of the Swartz Creek church of Christ, Swartz Creek, MI


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