The Spirit has warned, and is warning, about the fruitlessness of following a contrived system of faith based upon tales, signs and a man-made legal-system in place of the plainly spoken godliness of the gospel:
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.” (1 Timothy 4:4-7 NKJV)
Case in point, “A 627-year-old ‘blood miracle’ failed to occur, heralding disaster for 2017“.
Perhaps, as is the case with all of the “doomsday prophets”, there was a miscalculation on the calendar. I say stay focused on the blood of the cross and don’t worry about blood in containers.
The message of the Spirit in the past is the same message needed for today: Follow the faith revealed in the first century and you won’t be misled by a third century marriage-forbidding, lent-commanding faith that places its trust in rumors, miracles and tales.
I had not been a Christian very long when I heard a lesson on the inspiration of the scriptures (in direction connection to 2 Timothy 3:16) that used an example from Acts 20:35. The example left such an impression that I have repeated it a few times throughout the last decade. Perhaps you are familiar with the example.
During the lesson the speaker used Paul’s quotation of Jesus (it is more blessed to give than to receive) and then “challenged” someone to show him where Jesus could be quoted in the gospel saying such. Although none doubted the truthfulness of Acts 20:35, an answer could not be provided.
While the general point of the lesson on inspiration is still true (think Jannes and Jambres in 2 Timothy 3:8), I have found where Acts 20:35 can be “quoted” in the gospels. I realized it last December during a lesson about “the attitude of giving”.
Perhaps you already know where to find Acts 20:35 in the gospels, but in case you do not …
“Then He also said to him who invited Him, “When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”” (Luke 14:12-14 NKJV)
Lesson 13 of the Gospel Advocate’s Foundations study (Elijah the Tishbite, p. 159) asks, “What qualities did Elijah exhibit that Christians should seek to imitate? How do we develop these qualities?”
While John was the ultimate embodiment of Elijah-like characteristics (Matthew 11:12-14, Luke 1:13-17) it is never a bad thing to display the good characteristics of godly people from the past. Such being true, here are a few qualities I believe are worth displaying:
- Don’t bow to pop-culture (especially the religious variety). Elijah’s willingness to seek God via the avenue of God’s choice instead of the people’s choice took faithfulness. The truthfulness of Matthew 7:13-14 was revealed long before Jesus used it as a warning when it comes to choices made en masse.
- Help others despite differences. Remember the widow who garnered God’s grace through Elijah? Different country, different culture and a different religious history, but still the same grace of God! Remember to look at the inward common soul and not outward barriers created by humanity (Luke 19:10).
- Pass along the knowledge and faith gained from a life lived with God. People need to be taught in order that they may build upon the example that can save years of personal struggle. Elijah did such with the sons of the prophets … especially Elisha! The encouragement of personal example will keep many on the path toward God (Hebrews 12:1; 2 Timothy 2:1-2).
Feel free to share other qualities of Elijah you believe to be of value.
Inherent within the idea of the Sabbath rest was the expectation of God’s people to work (Exodus 20:8-9).
Work is good for humanity. It is good for the soul.
I’m not talking about slavery, abusive employment, or unhealthy work conditions. I’m talking about the satisfaction that comes from accomplishing something with the effort of manual labor.
Knowing “you did that” by the sweat of your brow is good knowledge. This is knowledge that we should become acquainted with early in life.
Workers create, invent, enhance, beautify, set goals and gain strength. Work gives avenue to the part of our brain that needs to do more than think.
The lazy may be “intelligent”, but they lack the drive it takes to get where we need to be in our work ethic! No work ethic often leads to the lack of any good ethics (Proverbs 6:6-11, 24:30-34, 26:13-16). Not “having” is not wrong in-of-itself. Not “having” due to laziness, which often leads to taking from others, is wrong (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12).
Work is good for us because work is good, and if we fail to work at something then we are missing something.
“I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 3:10-13 NKJV)
“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,” (Ephesians 2:1 NKJV)
We all have a past.
If we are saved then we were saved from something.
If we are a member of God’s church then at one time we were a member of the world.
Don’t have a past you say? Then you don’t have a future with God!
The thought that Paul shares in Ephesians 2:1 keeps arrogance and haughtiness out of our lives. It reminds us about the importance of humility. It tells us that we were on track for Hell, but God’s grace changed our destination (Ephesians 2:4-9).
Forget this and we become like the Pharisee named Simon (Luke 7:36-50).
Our present is not meant to be our past; our past is not meant to control us. But that does not mean we should forget it to the extent that we lose the benefit of remembering it and allowing it guide our new life in Christ.
“in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” (Ephesians 2:2-3 NKJV)
Believe homosexuality (trans-gender behavior) is wrong and a perversion of the family and you’re labeled an extremist.
Believe it is wrong to have a father and daughter dance because those “gender definitions” are too narrow-minded but somehow you’re not an extremist?
I guess it’s hard to be an extremist if your rationality includes morality without boundaries.
“But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:13 NKJV)
When it comes to preaching, some people cannot be pleased.
With Matthew 11:16-19 in mind, a question in Lesson 11 (Week of February 11, 2018, p. 135) of the Gospel Advocate’s Foundations Study (Elijah the Tishbite) asked, “Why did Jesus contrast the approach of John with His own approach?”
With his statement, Jesus was not implying that John erred with his “delivery” method of preaching to the people. Jesus’ point revolved around the fact that the two “delivery” systems of John and himself were completely opposite each other in style but some people still could not be pleased!
I’ve heard people say one preacher preaches too soft. I’ve heard people say one preacher preaches too hard. I’ve heard people say one preacher tells too many stories. I’ve heard people say one preacher never uses enough stories. I’ve heard people say one preacher uses too much humor. I’ve heard people say one preacher never uses enough humor. I’ve heard people say one preacher uses too many scripture references. I’ve heard people say one preacher never uses enough scripture references. And sometimes it’s the same people who say both of these things!
Often times, if the truth is being delivered, the delivery method of the preacher isn’t the problem when it comes to the message and a person’s reaction. The problem is that people do not want to hear what is being said because they do not like it.
“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”” (Matthew 3:1-2 NKJV)
“From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”” (Matthew 4:17 NKJV)