Audio: Ecclesiastes Chapter Seven

Vintage Railroad TracksIn the first 14 verses of Ecclesiastes chapter seven King Solomon lists 12 different comparisons.

Some of the comparisons are rather surprising, such as “the day of death [is better] than the day of one’s birth” Ecclesiastes 7:1 NKJV. Other comparisons are downright shocking… “Better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting” Ecclesiastes 7:2 NKJV.

How can this be?

What is King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, saying? In this message we take a look at the life lessons that Solomon has for us in the first 14 verses of Ecclesiastes 7.

 



 

Recorded: Sunday November 25, 2012 at the Central Bible Chapel, Millbrook, AL.

 

[photo credit]

 

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NT Tuesday: Superstorm Sandy

Superstorm Sandy Fifth Avenue Chapel 01

Fifth Avenue Chapel, 5th Avenue & B Street, Belmar, NJ

 

As the northeastern US is recovering from Hurricane Sandy (or Superstorm Sandy), I can’t help but think about the reality of the “one another” verses. Over the last few months, we’ve looked at a number of verses from the New Testament where the Christian is instructed to behave in a certain way towards other Christians.

I have suggested since the beginning, that these “one another” verses are, in fact, New Testament principles. And, as New Testament principles, they should govern how we relate to one another and react to certain circumstances.

So, with that being said – how did we, as believers, do in response to Sandy? Sadly, I am not sure how to respond to it because, to my shame, I really haven’t been able to participate in a significant way in helping others. It’s been frustrating, but it’s also been enlightening.

Superstorm Sandy Belmar NJ Fifth Avenue Chapel 02

5th & B St., Belmar, NJ Looking West

Just a little bit of background. My wife and I live north of Allentown. Our house suffered very minor damage during the storm (just to the exterior of the home) and we never (yes, never) lost power. Before we could phone some folks from the chapel, my family moved in. By the end of Tuesday, we had 12 people and three dogs living in our home. (We did have a young man from our assembly who moved in on Sunday). Needless to say, we were “occupied” with that. But, doesn’t an extreme situation require extreme measures? Yes!

There were numerous folks from the meeting in Allentown, PA and a multitude of dear brothers and sisters in NJ and NY who needed basic things – heat, power, food, gas, etc. What could have or should have we done and why didn’t we do it? It’s easy to blame something outside of ourselves – the assembly, the situation, etc. But, part of looking at these “one another” verses is to emphasize that we have an obligation as individual Christians to behave in a certain way.

Superstorm Sandy 8th and Main  Belmar NJ Looking East

8th & Main, Belmar, NJ Looking East

So, what could have or should have we done? My wife and I spoke about this recently and came up with a few things that we should have done. (Just for further clarification – we are currently on a trip to Man O Way, Bahamas where we have the privilege of teaching the Word of God for three weeks to the saints there so we can’t do much about it now). So, from that stand point, perhaps we are more in tune and better mentally prepared the next time this happens.

But the question of “why” didn’t we do more is an interesting one. I think it goes to the heart of what has happened to many of us – certainly to me. We have become complacent as it pertains to our obligations to each other – we don’t think about it, because we expect that the government will help out when someone needs help or the “assembly” will do it.

Superstorm Sandy Belmar NJ 4th and Cst Looking East

4th & C St., Belmar, NJ Looking East

When will we realize that the assembly is a body of individual believers and if we keep saying things like “the assembly should have done this or that” what we really are saying is that “the believers other than me should have done something about it.”

What I have learned is that I am not a very good “brother’s keeper”. Hopefully Sandy has taught us all what it means to be brothers and sisters in Christ and what it means to “love one another” (John 13:34-35) in a biblical and tangible sense.

Until next week, fulfill YOUR ministry!

 

 

 

 

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Titus 3:8b – Christians Should Do Good Works

 

 

This is the 35th video in a series of teaching videos on the book of Titus. You can find the first video here.

It is amazing to see that the Lord expects salvation to move out from our hearts to our hands. Paul wrote to the Philippians “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”. So whether individuals are being addressed or an assembly salvation has to be seen and felt by others. It has to ‘come out’.

Titus is told to place great emphasis on this truth and so should we.

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Audio: Be Strong and Courageous

Red White Microphone

“Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7-9

Three times in the opening verses of the Book of Joshua God tells His servant Joshua to be strong and of good courage (Joshua 1:6,7,9). Many Christians have come to love this phrase. Many have memorized these words and will recite them during difficult times.

Yet, it is important NOT to overlook the context of the verses. When we study the context of Joshua chapter one the significance of these verses only increase.

Recorded: Friday May 25, 2012 at the Memorial Day Weekend Conference convened at the Bethany Gospel Chapel in Worcester, MA.

 

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Disciple Makers

Are you a disciple maker? Now don’t misunderstand my question. I did not ask, are you an evangelist?  The Lord Jesus in His last requests to His disciples gives a very simple command.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20.

What does it take to make a disciple? Well it takes a team. It takes some to plant the seed, some to water and some to harvest. And that’s just to the point of conversion. Then the real hard work begins. As new babies are nurtured, new believers need much care and nurturing. They need feeding, held and yes quite often their diapers changed.

So let me ask my original question in a slightly different way. Who are you discipling? Every one of us are to be a part of the team when it comes to discipling others. It’s not a job just for the elders or “older” believers. It’s something all of us should be doing all the time. So if you are not currently discipling someone then pray about it. Ask the Lord to show you who you could take on and mentor. Maybe it’s a new christian. Maybe it’s a young mother. Maybe it’s a teenager who needs a little help to make it through the tough high school years.

One of the fears that people have (and why they often don’t disciple) is that being a discipler will hold them accountable. It means they have to be an example. One myth about discipleship is that you have to be perfect. It’s just not true.  As you disciple you are constantly growing yourself. You will need to be vulnerable and open and real. That’s not easy for our natural pride to cope with. We like to always look good as if we have it all together.

My challenge (aimed at me first) is for us to be disciple makers. Let’s take up the torch to lead, train, teach and impact others. The church will be stronger for it. And so will you.

 

 

 

 

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NT Tuesday: Build Up One Another

Open Bible MarkLast week we looked at exhort one another. This week we will look at “building up of one another” or “edifying one another.” Romans 14:19 NASB reads “So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.” (I had to “resort” to using the NASB because the ESV does not use the terms “one another” in its translation of this verse.)

The verse follows an exhortation by Paul to mature Christians to not allow their freedom to participate in certain liberties to be a stumbling block or a hindrance to other Christians as they walk with Jesus on the path that He leads them. Rather than causing “differences” to become an issue, Paul argues, we should spend time strengthening each other.

A similar thought is also found in 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 – For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

God, in His manifold and infinite wisdom, has designed the body of Christ to be knit together. Believers are not individuals running around on their own individual crusade or left alone to deal with their own issues, problems, challenges, or successes. Rather, our Father has designed a body where each member is joined together with each other and with Jesus Christ as our Head. He has designed this body so that each member is needed and vital. He has designed the body so that each member is necessary for the mutual upbuilding of the other members. In other words, we need each other. We need each other in our walk with the Lord, we need in other to be better equipped to use the gifts given to us, we need each other for encouragement, exhortation, prayer, confession, etc.

Because we need each other – and let’s think selfishly for the moment – the more we can positively impact one another, the better off we will be because the body, as a whole, will be in better shape. It’s sort of like the exhortation to husbands to love their wives like their own bodies. We can extrapolate that verse from marriage and apply it to body life – “believers edify the other members of the body as you want to be built up yourself.”

I want to make one more observation about Romans 14. Notice what Paul says. He says we are to “pursue the things which… edify one another”. That, to me, sounds like it needs to be purposeful, not random. In other words, we need to proactively and decidedly behave in such a way that it builds up the other members of the body. We need to structure our day, our week, our month around being edifying to other members of our body. That takes time, investment, sacrifice. But it would seem that it would be a wise investment and it seems that it would be pleasing to Jesus.

Until next week – fulfill your ministry and build one another up! Hey, why not invite them to the Shepherding Conference at Greenwood Hills later this week (shameful plug!!)

 

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Photo credit: CreationSwap/Krist Adams

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NT Tuesday: Exhort [encourage] One Another

Large crowd of peopleLast week I explained why I thought that the “one another” verses in the New Testament ought to be considered a New Testament principle. Simply put, principles should change our practice – it’s that simple. If we are going to adhere to New Testament principles, than our lives (not just our meetings, but our individual lives) ought to look much, much different than the world.

Last week we looked at “pray for one another” and “confess our sins to one another”. This week we will look at “exhort one another.” The verses are found in Hebrews 3:12-13 “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

A couple things are really interesting as you meditate on this verse. First, if we are going to exhort one another (or encourage, if you feel more comfortable with that word) every day (EVERY DAY!), that presupposes a close state of fellowship. How often do you go from Sunday to Wednesday and then Wednesday to Sunday never seeing or hearing from a member of the local Body? I hope the answer is NOT often. (Thankfully, and mostly because of my amazingly hospitable wife and the blessing of owning a business where I employ members of the local body, I NEVER go through a week without some form of fellowship with a member of the local body on a daily basis!) Now, one might ask “How does that happen?” And the answer is “Not by accident.” You have to plan on investing in the lives of the Lord’s people – through visitation, phone calls, text messages, emails, etc.

Secondly, we also see the necessity of this. Exhortation or encouragement from another believer is a spiritual vitamin! There is so much emphasis on taking care of our physical bodies that it seems that people are so busy juicing, training for races, dieting, fasting, etc. that they have no time for the Lord’s people! The Lord Jesus said to Peter “feed my sheep” and He wasn’t talking about organic grass, He was talking about feeding their spirit.

Ask yourself – today, have you spent more time ministering to your own physical body than you have to the Lord Jesus’s Body?

A person cannot encourage or exhort his fellow brothers and sisters without entering into close fellowship and without faithfully attending the meetings of the local assembly. Hebrews 10:24-25 provides a similar command as the one we are looking at in Hebrews 3.

We cannot live our lives in a bubble – we ought not to be isolated from a lost and dying world that needs to hear about God’s Gospel according to His Son, nor can we live separated from our brothers and sisters in Christ. If we are going to be obedient to the Word of God and truly encourage and exhort one another every day, then we must live purposefully, fixed on that goal, we must allow other Christians to exhort us, and stop blaming the elders for not doing the job – this proves that the New Testament principle of relating to one another is not an “elder” thing – it’s a believer thing.

Until next week – fulfill your ministry!

 

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Photo credit: Public Domain

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Titus 3:1 – Good Citizenship

 

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work,
Titus 3:1 ESV

This is the 25th video in a series of teaching videos on the book of Titus. You can find the first video here.

What should a Christian’s attitude be to the authorities? Are we to be anarchists rising up in rebellion to the authorities? Discover from Titus 3:1 the way a Christian should behave as a good citizen.

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Titus 2:15b – Do Not Despise Those Who Serve God

 

Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you. Titus 2:15 ESV

This is the 24th video in a series of teaching videos on the book of Titus. You can find the first video here.

It takes courage to serve God and it takes maturity to respect those who do. Sometimes it’s hard to accept that someone is more gifted than I am or has been directed by the Lord to correct me. I need to accept that at times I need the Lord to use his servants to do this.

Titus was being told to take some tough action, now Paul says ‘don’t let anyone despise you”. It’s God’s work not ours – we must respect those he calls to serve.

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Titus 2:15a – Authoritative Teaching

 

Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you. Titus 2:15 ESV

This is the 23rd video in a series of teaching videos on the book of Titus. You can find the first video here.

There are times when a Bible teacher needs to declare God’s truth, then encourage people to obey it and where an individual refuses to submit to the word of God, rebuke them. Paul explains why this is so in this video.

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