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Finish Strong

Saturday, December 03, 2022

Finish Strong

Wade Webster

 Many people will finish this year in a weak way. They will end on a low note. They will coast to the close. Sadly, they will likely begin the New Year, if it comes, in the same way. They will begin the New Year in a hole.

Finish Strong Physically

It is estimated that the average American gains about seven pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Seven pounds in just over a month. Wow! Why? There are many reasons. First, there are two large meals and lots of leftovers. There are holiday extras - candy and baked goods. There are office parties and get-togethers. We determine that we will shed the pounds and count the calories when the calendar changes. After all, we tell ourselves, “Just enjoy the holidays.” In addition to the food, there are the time constraints connected with the holidays. Many individuals greatly reduce or stop exercising. Why? Shopping for the holidays replaces sets at the gym. The colder days and time change likely also contribute to the stoppage. Again, we tell ourselves to just get through the holidays. After all, gyms usually offer membership specials in January. We can get started back then. Rather than doing what others do, let’s finish strong physically. Let’s push back from the table and make time for exercise. Every little bit matters. Let’s not start the New Year off in a hole. Let’s start the New Year off with some speed. Although bodily exercise doesn’t profit as much as godliness, there are benefits to it (1 Tim. 4:7-8). Let’s remember that our body is a temple and take care of it. Paul wrote, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

Finish Strong Mentally

In addition to the physical challenges that go with the holidays (food and time), there are the mental challenges (stress and worry) that go with it. There are gifts to buy, trees and houses to decorate, extra groceries to get, meals to prepare, family and friends to host, tickets to purchase, parties to attend, presents to wrap, and a million other things. There is the stress of charging and paying off charges. There is the fear that it all isn’t going to get done or that something important has been forgotten. Many people will end the year mentally exhausted and emotionally empty. Let’s not join them. Let’s finish the year mentally strong. Let’s not be anxious. Instead of worrying about things, let’s pray about them. Paul wrote, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7). In like manner, Peter wrote, “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7).

Finish Strong Spiritually

Just as people get busy and quit exercising physically during the holidays, they often also do the same spiritually. They miss Bible classes and worship services (Heb. 10:25). They neglect personal Bible study (2 Tim. 2:15; Acts 17:11; 1 Pet. 2:2). They stop praying (1 Thess. 5:17). They stop giving their time, money, and energy. They stop visiting those in need (Jam. 1:27; Mt. 25:31-40). Sadly, many people will end the year spiritually weak. They will likely begin the New Year the same way. Let’s resolve not to do either one. Let’s not be weary in well doing (Gal. 6:9-10). Let’s press toward the mark and run through the tape. Paul wrote, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:12-14).

How are you going to finish this year physically, mentally, and spiritually? Are you going to finish strongly or weakly? Are you going to end on a low note or a high note? Are you going to coast across the finish line or cross in full stride? Remember that the way that you finish this year will determine how you begin the New Year.

Unsung Servants

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Unsung Servants

Wade Webster

There are those in the local congregation that do vital things that often go unmentioned.  In this lesson, I want to sing the praises of some of them.  “Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor” (Rom. 13:7).

Doorkeepers

Many of us come and go from church services with little or no thought that someone has to arrive early to open the doors and cut on the lights and stay late to lock the doors and cut off the lights.  This is quite a commitment; especially, when some of us stay around and talk.  We read several times of doorkeepers in the Bible (2 Kings 22:4; 23:4; 25:18; 1 Chron. 15:23-24; Mk. 13:34; John 10:3).  There is no shame in being a doorkeeper.  The psalmist declares, “For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God. Than dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Psalms 84:10). To be a doorkeeper or a servant in the house of God is a good thing.

Sign Keepers

Isaiah predicted that the early would invite those of every nation to worship. He wrote, “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the LORD’s house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law,And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:2-3). In the fast-paced world in which we live, it is often hard to invite people in person.  This is where a colorful, eye-catching sign is extremely beneficial. Mason Road, the road that runs in front of the church building, is a very busy road.  Thousands of invitations to our services go out each week through our sign.

Record Keepers

We are blessed to have visitors at many of our services.  We are thankful for those who meet them and collect their contact information.  This information allows us to thank them for coming and to invite them again.  The Bible commands us to be “given to hospitality” (Rom. 12:13). Taking In strangers is serving Christ. Jesus said, “for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in” (Mt. 25:35).

As we give thanks for other things, let’s make sure that we give thanks for these unsung servants. They serve an important function.

Our Gospel Meeting In Review

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Our Gospel Meeting In Review

Wade Webster

We prayed diligently for God to bless our Gospel meeting (Mt. 7:7-8). I believe that all will agree that He did so abundantly (Eph. 3:20). Now, it is fitting that we name some of these blessings and thank Him for them (Eph. 5:20). The sweet psalmist of Israel declared, “Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits” (Psa. 103:1-2).

Thank God For Visitors

We were blessed with a couple of visitors from the community. We had one visitor as a result of the Saturday morning that we spent hanging meeting invitations on neighborhood doors. We had another visitor as a result of a personal invitation from one of our members (John 4:28-30). It was so encouraging to see the fruit of our efforts and prayers. I believe that you will agree that these visitors make us want to do more work in our neighborhood (Isa. 2:3). We also had a number of visitors from area congregations. I noted visitors from at least eight different congregations. Several of these visitors drove over an hour to be with us. As these area congregations host events, we need to return the favor and support them.

Thank God For Fellowship

The Gospel meeting gave us a number of opportunities for fellowship (Acts 2:42). First, we enjoyed fellowship on the Saturday morning that we went out in teams to invite families from our community to our Gospel meeting. We had breakfast together, prepared door-hangers together, and went from door to door and from house to house together (Lk. 10:1). Second, we enjoyed a fellowship meal and a period of fellowship following the first two services of our Gospel meeting. We challenged our ladies before the meeting to prepare extra food to accommodate any visitors that we might have. Our ladies rose to the challenge. We had several visitors and still had plenty of food remaining when everyone was full (Mt. 14:20). Thank you ladies for preparing such a wonderful meal for us. Third, we enjoyed fellowship before and after each service. It was especially wonderful to see brethren hanging around after the services to talk and to visit with each other (Psa. 133:1). Fourth, it was great to see some spend time together during the week hosting the visiting preacher. I know that B. J. appreciated these meals and that it was a blessing for these individuals to get to know him better.

Thank God For Preaching

B.J. Clarke did an excellent job presenting lessons. I think all were impressed with the creativity and clarity of the lessons (2 Cor. 1:12; John 10:24). No one left any service wondering what was preached or what God wanted them to do in response to it. We could not have asked for B. J. to have done any better than he did. If you missed any of the lessons, want to hear them again, or would like to share them with someone else, they can be accessed through the congregation’s website. Please continue to pray for B. J., Tish, and the work that they are doing for the Lord.

For sure, there were many other blessings connected with our Gospel meeting. I simply mentioned three of the blessings that stood out the most to me.

The Christian and Civil Government (Part 2)

Saturday, November 12, 2022

The Christian and Civil Government (Part 2)

B. J. Clarke

The Christian is a member of the church of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:47; Rom. 16:16). It is not a democracy. It is a monarchy, with Christ as its sole legislator. He is King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Tim. 6:15). Consequently, His subjects must always acquiesce to His will. What does the Bible teach about the relationship of a Christian to civil government? Consider the teaching of Jesus, Paul, and Peter.

The Apostle Paul And Civil Government

The Jews were especially reluctant to subject themselves to the Roman government, and those Jews who became Christians might be prone to fight against Rome and thereby rebel against her authority to govern their lives. However, Paul leaves no doubt as to the proper relationship between the Christian and civil government. Romans 13:1-7 reveals:

  • Every soul is to be subject to the higher powers (v.1).
  • The powers that be are ordained of God, i.e., God is the author of civil government (v.1).
  • Therefore, to rebel against the authority of human government is to rebel against the authority of God, Who gave the government its powers in the first place (v. 2).
  • To oppose the authority of human government is to invite damnation (v. 2).
  • We can be free from the fear of those in authority if we do what is right (v. 3).
  • God intended for government to be a servant to the people for the good of the people (v. 4). Try to imagine what it would be like to live in a lawless society.
  • God has given the government authority to execute wrath upon evildoers (v. 4). The word “sword” in verse 4 refers to the state’s right to punish evildoers even unto death (Gen. 9:6; John 19:10-11; Acts 25:11).
  • Two reasons are given for our submission to government: (1) to avoid penalty or punishment; (2) to have a clear conscience with God (v. 5).
  • These are the same reasons we should pay our taxes (vv. 6-7). After all, government officials are, in reality, God’s servants. Some refuse to pay income taxes on the grounds that the government uses the revenue improperly. We have seen already that Jesus instructed His followers to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s (Mat. 22:15-22). Do you suppose that Jesus agreed with everything that Caesar (Rome) did with the revenue they received from taxes? Also, remember that the Holy Spirit led Paul to write, “Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor” (Rom. 13:7). Did Paul not know how corrupt the Roman government was at the time he penned these words? In fact, it was as bad as, or worse, than many governments of today. Yet, Paul still commanded the Roman Christians to pay their taxes.

Paul’s teaching about the Christian’s relationship to government can be summarized in two other passages:

‘I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty’ (1 Tim. 2:1-2).

‘Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work’ (Tit. 3:1).

The Christian and Civil Government (Part 1)

Sunday, November 06, 2022

The Christian and Civil Government (Part 1)

B. J. Clarke

The Christian is a member of the church of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:47; Rom. 16:16). It is not a democracy. It is a monarchy, with Christ as its sole legislator. He is King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Tim. 6:15). Consequently, His subjects must always acquiesce to His will. What does the Bible teach about the relationship of a Christian to civil government? Consider the teaching of Jesus, Paul, and Peter.

Jesus And Civil Government

“And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a king” (Luke 23:1-2). This was a false accusation. What Jesus actually said is recorded in Matthew 22:15-22. Jesus did not forbid people to give tribute to Caesar. Rather, He acknowledged that man had certain responsibilities to government and certain responsibilities to God. Even the Old Testament, under which Jesus lived, declared: “My son, fear thou the Lord and the king” (Pro. 24:21).

Jesus respected human government although He was superior to it. When Jesus and the disciples came to Capernaum, certain tax-collectors came to Peter and said,

Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee (Matt. 17:24-27).

From this passage we observe: (1) As King of the earth, Jesus had the authority to excuse Himself and His children from paying tribute. (2) Jesus did not argue with the authority of rulers to demand payment for taxes. (3) To set the right example, Jesus did obey the laws of human government. He did pay His taxes.

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