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Count Your Blessings – Name Them One By One – Part 2

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Count Your Blessings – Name Them One By One – Part 2

Wade Webster

No doubt, you are familiar with the song, Count Your Blessings.  Among other things, the song encourages us to name them one by one.  For sure, naming our blessings helps them to seem more real to us. In this article, we want to name some of the spiritual blessings that we have in Christ (Eph. 1:3).

Reconciliation - “That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:12-13).

Peace - “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace” (Eph. 2:14-15).

Boldness/Access - “According to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him” (Eph. 3:11-12).

Strength - “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”  (Ephesians 6:10-13).

Salvation - “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10).

Joy - “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).

Completion - “and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power” (Colossians 2:10).

Rest/Reward - “Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” (Revelation 14:13)

Count Your Blessings – Name Them One By One

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Count Your Blessings – Name Them One By One

Wade Webster

No doubt, you are familiar with the song, Count Your Blessings.  Among other things, the song encourages us to name them one by one.  For sure, naming our blessings helps them to seem more real to us. In this article, we want to name some of the spiritual blessings that we have in Christ (Eph. 1:3).

Life - “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:11).

Eternal Life - “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).

Escape from Condemnation - “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1). 

Sanctification- “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours” (1 Cor. 1:2).

Hope - “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (1 Cor. 15:19).

Victory - “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place” (2 Cor. 2:14).

Newness of Life - “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).

Justification - “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified” (Gal. 2:16).

Redemption/The Forgiveness of Sins - “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7).

Inheritance - “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will”(Eph. 1:11).

Sealed with the Holy Spirit- “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph. 1:13).

Grace/Kindness - “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7).

If I Could Start Again As A Teenager

Saturday, February 10, 2024

If I Could Start Again As A Teenager

Wade Webster

I grew up in a small, rural town in Alabama.  There were woods to hunt, lakes to fish, and plowed fields to search for arrowheads.  There were no cell phones. There was no internet.  Pornography was not just a click away as it is for teens today.

I grew up in what is known as the Bible Belt - a belt-like swath across the State of Alabama and the South where religion was especially strong. It could have been called the Bible Belt for other reasons also.  After all, the Bible and the belt were the strongest deterrents to sin and stupidity in the region (Prov. 22:15; 23:13-14).  Almost every home had both and used them regularly.  I know that mine did.  I was blessed to grow up in a strong Christian home.  My dad was an elder.  My mom was a stay at home mom.  I wasn’t homeschooled, so I did experience the bus and other dens of depravity, but my exposure to evil was pretty limited.  I was wise to what was good and simple concerning evil (Rom. 16:19). We had a wonderful preacher who presented clear, Bible-filled sermons each week.   We had great men come to hold gospel meetings.  We had Bible classes that really were Bible classes.  We had a good youth group with a good man who worked with us.  The congregation was active and loving.  We had regular fellowships and outings.  I couldn’t have had a much better environment in which to grow up.

There aren’t even many things about my choices growing up that I would change.  Don’t get me wrong.  I wasn’t perfect; but, all in all, through the guidance of my parents, I avoided many of the youthful lusts that tripped up others (2 Tim. 2:22).  I didn’t drink alcohol (Prov. 20:1).  I didn’t smoke, unless candy cigarettes count.  What were my parents thinking letting us purchase them and pretend to smoke?  Though, I never smoked a real cigarette, I did light one.  Before I could try it, I heard my mom coming, and I tossed it out the window.  Thanks mom.  You knew I was being too quiet. I did pester my uncle for some RED MAN one time.  He gave me a huge chaw and told me to swallow it.  Thankfully, I didn’t swallow it, but I did turn ten shades of green before I could spit it out.  I will tell you this, I never asked again.  RED MAN, SICK MAN, NO MAN! I did watch things that I shouldn’t have watched on television and in movies.  I know this because on occasion I have gone back as an adult to watch something that I remembered from my youth and have been shocked and ashamed (Phil. 4:8).  I didn’t go to the prom or other dances (Gal. 5:19-21).  I kept myself pure (1 Tim. 5:22; Heb. 13:4; 1 Cor. 6:18). By the grace of God, I didn’t do a lot of the things that I could have done.

Though I wouldn’t change much about my surroundings or my choices growing up, there are things that I would do differently.  Mainly, there are some things that I would do more of if I could start again as a teenager.

First, if I could start again as a teenager, I would Slow Down More.  Young people are generally in a hurry to grow up.  They are in a hurry to drive and to date, to leave home and to go to college, and to meet someone and to get married.  I understand.  I was the same way.  If I could start again, I would slow down more.  I would enjoy being young more.  Youth really is a wonderful time of life.  It is gone too soon.  The Bible compares youth to dew (Psa. 110:3). Like dew, it appears quietly and disappears quickly.  We must remember our Creator when we are young because we will soon be at the end of our lives looking back (Eccl. 12:1).

Second, if I could start again as a teenager, I would Soak Up More. As I already noted, I was blessed with many wonderful teachers - parents, preachers, youth leaders, etc.  I was blessed with countless Christian camps and youth events.  However, I know that I didn’t soak up as much as I should have.  I wish I could go back and listen more attentively (Neh. 8:3). The seed didn’t always fall into good soil.  Sometimes, it remained on the top of the ground, developed no roots, or got choked out.  I didn’t always have ears to hear (Mat. 13:1-23).

Third, if I could start again as a teenager, I would Seek Out More. I don’t think that most young people realize the evangelistic opportunities they have.  I would suggest that at no time in life will they have more opportunities than they have in youth.  If I could do it again, I would evangelize more.  Like Phillip, I would invite my friends to come and to see (John 1:43-46).  I would be wiser and win more souls (Prov. 11:30). 

Of course, I can’t start again as a teenager.  I can only do as Solomon did and encourage you to listen to one who was once where you are.

Blessed are the Dead - Part 2

Saturday, February 03, 2024

Blessed are the Dead - Part 2

Wade Webster

“Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them” (Revelation 14:13).  As we examine this beatitude, we will see four things. In the first installment of this study, we noticed the paradox and the place.  In this part of our study, we will notice the period and the promise.

The Period - From now on

When man sin, death entered the world and began to reign.  Paul wrote, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come” (Romans 5:12-14).  Men lived in fear.  In Hebrews we read, “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14-15).  When Jesus was raised from the dead, He broke the hold of death. From that day forward, we can have the victory.   In the resurrection chapter of the Bible (1 Cor. 15), Paul wrote, “So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”  O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:54-56).

The Promise - That they might rest from their labors, and their works follow them.

God has given to us exceeding great and precious promises.  Peter wrote, “by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4).  Two promises are made in this passage.  The first promise is rest from our labors.  As you know, this life is filled with burdens.  Paul wrote, “For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life” (2 Corinthians 5:4).  Some of the burdens are very heavy.  Jesus declared, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).  In heaven, we will have a new body and the former things that troubled us and tired us here will be no more.  John wrote, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).  In addition to resting from our labors, our works follow us.  Through John, Jesus declared, “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work” (Rev. 22:12). We can be assured that God will not forget the smallest things that we have done.  The Hebrew writer wrote, “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister” (Heb. 6:10).

What a comforting study this has been.  As Christians, we do not have to sorrow as others who have no hope (1 Thess. 4:13-18). We have great hope because of what Jesus did.

Blessed are the Dead - Part 1

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Blessed are the Dead - Part 1

Wade Webster

The book of Revelation contains several beatitudes. One of the most well-known beatitudes is found in the fourteenth chapter.  We read,  “Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them” (Revelation 14:13).  As we examine this beatitude, we will see four things.

The Paradox - Blessed are the Dead

Beatitudes are sometimes puzzling or paradoxical.  For example, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Mat. 5:10-12). We don’t generally associate being blessed with being persecuted.  In like manner, we don’t usually associate being blessed with being dead.  Yet, the Spirit did and guided John to write, “Blessed are the dead.” That seems paradoxical to us.  We likely think, Blessed are the living. For sure, the living are blessed.  However, the dead are also blessed.  In fact, the greater blessing, seems to belong to them.  You may recall the words of Paul to the Philippians: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you” (Philippians 1:21-24).  Paul said that departing (dying) and being with Christ was far better.  Of course, we are not speaking generically of all of  the dead.  Certainly, the wicked dead are not blessed.  Only the righteous dead are blessed.  God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked.  To Ezekiel, God said, “Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’” (Ezekiel 33:11).  In contrast, God has great pleasure in the death of the righteous.  The psalmist declared, “Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His saints” (Psalms 116:15).

The Place - Who Die in the Lord

Blessed are those who die in the Lord.  As you know, all spiritual blessings are in the Lord.  To the saints at Ephesus, Paul wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).  A few verses later, Paul would identify some of these blessings - acceptance, redemption, and forgiveness.  He wrote, “To the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:6-7).  In his letter to the saints at Rome, he would declare that there is no condemnation to those in Christ.  We read, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1).  Those in Christ will be invited to enter into the joys of their Lord.  Jesus declared, “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’” (Matthew 25:21).

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