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Archive for July, 2016

It is the responsibility of every Christian is to be Christ’s ambassador (II Corinthians 5:20). No one ever had a more important task. If that be true – and I believe it is – then it is necessary that we know who Christ is.

Caiaphas, the high priest demonstrated what he thought of Jesus by becoming the cheerleader for a lawless mob that cried out, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” The unscrupulous moneychangers who were using the Temple courts for the purpose of selling merchandise said, “This man is going to hurt our business. Obviously He has to go.” The enemies of Jesus knew that if His influence continued to increase, their influence would diminish.

The friends of Jesus had a far different view of who He was. John the Baptist looked up one day while preaching to see Jesus coming in the distance and said, “Look, it is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). John the disciple, having been closely associated with Him for three years or more, described Him as “The Word made flesh, who has made His dwelling among us” (John 1:14). Andrew, having met Jesus, ran to tell his brother, Simon, “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41). Philip, having walked a short distance with Christ, ran to Nathaniel and said, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets spoke” (John 1:45).

When Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Who do men say that I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:16). When the woman at the well in Samaria met Jesus, she ran back into the village and said, “Come, for I want you to see a man who told me all the things that I ever did: could this be the Christ?” (John 4:29). The soldiers who were sent to arrest Jesus returned empty-handed, saying, “No one ever spoke the way this man does” (John 7:46). Pilate, the Roman prefect, said, “I find no fault with this man” (Luke 23:4). The Roman soldier who supervised the crucifixion said, “Truly this man was the Son of God” (Mark 15:39).

The deep spiritual needs of your life will not be fully met until you ask and satisfactorily answer this question, “What do I believe about Jesus Christ?” The following is what I believe:

  • Christ lived in the context of history. He is not the fruit of human imagination, or a creature of fiction, or the projection of human desires. Jewish and Roman historians mentioned Him, and those records are still extant. On no other ground can we account for the division of history into B.C. and A.D., for the existence of the New Testament, or for the existence of the early church.
  • Christ lived as a human. He was born. He grew. He ate and drank and slept. He lived in the context of a human family. He experienced hunger and thirst. He knew what it was to be lonely, become exhausted, and experience pain. He walked with people, talked with them, touched them, and they talked with Him and touched Him. He wept as others weep. He worked as others work.
  • Christ was more than human. He was God incarnate. I need a Savior, not just a good teacher or a worthy example. I need someone who has the power to cleanse me of sin and provide the assurance of life beyond death. If Christ is only a philosopher like Aristotle, Plato, or Socrates, then I can afford to be indifferent toward Him. But if Christ is God incarnate, God come to save us, it is only logical that I take Him seriously.

If Jesus were only a man, then we can turn our churches into lodge halls, civic clubs, or classrooms. If He were only a man we would be idolaters. We could throw away our hymnbooks that speak of His deity, and delete from our libraries all of the books that proclaim Him to be the divine Redeemer.

Because He was both God and man, the God-man, I can join the Apostle Paul in saying, “I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

 

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Every now and then I have what I believe to be a brilliant idea! I am not trying to impress anybody with my brilliance, or even take credit for the idea I would like to share. I believe God gave me the idea.

The idea is this: Why not challenge your church to organize an adoption agency? “An adoption agency in a church?” you ask. “I have never heard of such a thing! Surely you can’t be serious.”

But I am! And if you will stay with me until you have heard how to implement the idea, I believe you will share my enthusiasm. The individuals I would like to challenge your church to adopt are not infants or young children. The majority of them are well beyond sixty-five years of age, and they reside in nursing homes.

In many nursing homes – sometimes called retirement facilities – there are men and women whose family lives too far away to visit them on a regular basis. The family members of other residents live nearby but do not visit them regularly. Loneliness dominates their lives. Each twenty-four hour day seems interminable in length. Nothing new happens. They just sit there . . . or lie in bed day after day after day.

The physical and health needs of most nursing home residents are well cared for by nurses and other staff members. Those who are regularly visited are blessed and generally are happy. But those who are seldom or never visited – by members of their family or by members of their church – are deprived of meaningful conversation and spiritual care. Why not organize an adoption agency in your church and adopt them? If you will do that, you will be meeting genuine spiritual and emotional need.

Here is how your church’s adoption agency could work: (1) Visit the nursing homes near your church, ask the management personnel for the names of those who receive few or no visits from family; (2) Ask as many Sunday School classes as you have residents who would benefit from being visited to adopt one of them; (3) Visit them on a regular basis – especially on their birthdays, at Easter, and during Christmas holidays.

If each class will share friendly conversation periodically with their adoptee, find out if there are specific needs that can be met, encourage them in any way possible, and especially share the love of Christ with them, what a blessing it would be to the adoptee – and to your Sunday School Class members as well.

The joy you can create, the smiles you will generate, the friendships you can initiate, the needs you can meet – all these are at the heart of what it means to minister in Christ’s name and for His glory. If your church has a church staff member or a committee whose responsibility is to meet the needs of senior adults, they could spearhead this ministry. Each Sunday School class could add its adoptee to its class roll.

Go regularly to visit and to share. Listen to his or her needs. On Sunday morning or in the class meetings (if your class has class meetings) a brief report could be given by the person or persons who have visited your adoptee. I promise you that the time you give and the money you invest will be worth more to you than all the gold in Fort. Knox. You can’t take the gold in Ft. Knox to heaven with you, but you can take what you have done in Christ’s name to minister to lonely individuals in a nearby nursing home.

Remember this: Jesus said that visiting someone in prison (and we can add nursing homes) is the same thing as visiting Him (Matthew 25:40). Why not organize the “(your church’s name) Adoption Agency?”

 

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He had everything! At least that is what his friends thought.

He wore his rubber boots when it rained. In extreme cold weather he put on plenty of clothes to protect himself from unnecessary exposure. He knew that if he were not adequately dressed it would be easy to catch a cold, and this could turn into pneumonia.

His family doctor examined him twice a year, and every kind of specialist was readily available in the event anything showed up in a test that his family doctor thought could cause a problem. He brushed his teeth regularly with a nationally recognized brand of toothpaste that contained a secret ingredient – don’t they all? He even took time to use dental floss daily. He had relinquished his tonsils when he was thirteen, and his appendix was removed when he was a sophomore in college.

He slept with the window of his bedroom slightly ajar every night so there would be plenty of fresh air available to breathe. He watched his diet carefully, always eating plenty of fresh vegetables and citrus fruits. He avoided foods that could cause his cholesterol level to rise like a rocket. He avoided eating junk food, and the few fried foods he ate were cooked in oil that was poly-unsaturated (whatever that means).

He golfed once a week – but never more than eighteen holes on a given day. In addition, he belonged to two health clubs where regular exercise strengthened his cardio-vascular system and his muscles were kept in tone. He was careful to get at least eight hours of sleep every night.

He never smoked tobacco, never used alcohol in any form, and never lost his temper. He was determined to avoid the problems that are caused by living a life of dissipation, for he had seen this happen to some of his friends. His blood pressure, unlike many men his age, constantly stayed at a healthy level, and he never lacked the energy to live an active life.

He had a fine wife and three lovely children. He had a very responsible job, and was recognized as a man of stature and influence in his community. Every summer he and his family spent a week, and sometimes two weeks, at the beach or in the mountains on vacation. His neighbors envied him in many ways, for he seemed to have everything. He was all set to live until his hundredth birthday.

His funeral will be next Monday! He is survived by his wife and three lovely children, one brother, two sisters, several nieces and nephews, his family doctor, several specialists, two health clubs, four golf courses, one fishing boat, and numerous manufacturers of health foods and antiseptics.

His one mistake? He forgot to include God in his life. He was involved in so many things that he did not have any time left for God. He had a family that loved him and numerous friends who would have done anything he asked them to do. He did a lot of things right in his life. He had a lot going for him. But he is now with those who say, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved” (Jeremiah 8:20).

You don’t have to leave God out of your life. You can make time for Him – but you must consciously choose to do that. And you must follow through. Otherwise, the time will come when it will be too late.

Give it some serious thought! You don’t have to make life’s biggest mistake!

 

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By: D.E. Parkerson

The most unique and interesting cemetery in the world is located in West Texas inside the grounds of a Bible camp. This Bible camp would have never come into existence without this cemetery.

Inside a rustic iron fence are four pink marble gravestones. Their erection was the occasion of one of the most unusual burials in the history not just in the United States but in the entire world. The world could use a lot more funerals like the one that took place here. We have all heard the expression concerning the problems that develop in a church, “Our church will never make any progress until three or four funerals take place.”

So, what is the story behind this unique cemetery in West Texas? In the early days when the Bible camp was just a dream, those who could have made it possible were saying, “IF we only had the money we could make the camp a reality”, or “We CAN’T go through with such a difficult plan because the time is not right,” or “It is IMPOSSIBLE to build a Bible camp in this particular location.” They were stymied until they came up with a dramatic idea for getting rid of their stumbling blocks. They buried them!

On the largest of the four gravestones a simple message is engraved: ‘HERE LIE WORDS THAT HINDER.” On each of the other three gravestones is a single word: ‘IF” . . .”CAN’T” . . . and “IMPOSSIBLE.”

What a fantastic idea! Why should Texas be the only state in the union where “IF” and “CAN’T” and “IMPOSSIBLE” are buried? Progress in every area of life is blocked by these three hindering words. It is especially true that they obstruct progress needlessly in many churches. There is no way of knowing how many more dreams might have been realized, achievements made, and obstacles pushed aside.

Is your church satisfied with the status quo? Or does it have a vision to do greater things for the glory of God than it has ever done before? If it dares to dream, do you have individuals, even in positions of leadership, who say things like, “IF only we had the money”, or “We CAN’T do that”, or “That would be IMPOSSIBLE for our church.” If so, why not schedule a funeral and bury those three negative words? Why is it important to do that? A church needs workers, not a wrecking crew.

Churches are divided or stagnated on a regular basis – all because of an unwillingness to have a cemetery in which words that hinder are buried. If you want your church to be known as one where God is worshipped, and where sinners are regularly born into the kingdom of God, it will not happen accidentally. You must both believe in what God has called it to accomplish and be willing to help make it happen. The tragedy is that the only time many church members attend church is when they are hatched, matched, and dispatched.

Daniel Defoe, in The True-Born Englishman, tells us why this is such a tragedy:

“Whenever God erects a house of prayer,

The Devil always builds a chapel there;

And ‘twill be found, upon examination,

The latter has the largest congregation.”

 

 

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