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Go Fish

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Go Fish

Wade Webster

Do you remember playing the game Go Fish when you were a child?  Although it may have been a while since you played, you can probably still remember the basics of it.  In this study, we want to use the game Go Fish to teach some essential lessons about evangelism.  As you recall, when Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James, and John to be His disciples, He promised to make them fishers of men (John 4:18-19; Lk. 5:10-11).  In the Great Commission, He was commanding them to go fish (Mt. 28:18-20). 

You Have To Ask For What You Want

In Go Fish, you have to ask for what you want.  The other player is not likely to volunteer much.  In like manner, in evangelism, you have to ask for what you want.  If you want someone to come to church with you, or to have a Bible study with you, you have to ask them.  James wrote, “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not” (Jam. 4:2).  James’ brethren were missing out on blessings because they failed to ask for them.  In like manner, in evangelism, we miss out on many opportunities because we do not ask for them.  We need to be the church that Isaiah pictured in prophecy.  We read, “And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem” (Isa. 2:3; cf. John 1:43-46; 4:28-29). Today, we seem to be waiting for others to approach us.   

 You Can Only Ask For What You Have

In Go Fish, you can only ask for a match to a card that you already have.  In like manner, in evangelism, we must hold that for which we are asking.  Peter wrote, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15).  We can’t ask others to embrace a hope that we don’t have (cf. Col. 1:27). 

You Must Ask Before Others Do

In Go Fish, other players are also looking for cards.  In fact, they may be looking for some of the same cards that you are.  In like manner, in evangelism, we must realize that others are also looking for converts.  They are likely seeking some of the same people that we are. We must not let them ask first.  On one occasion, Jesus declared, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves” (Mt. 23:15).  At the same time that saints are seeking to open men’s eyes, Satan is seeking to blind their eyes (2 Cor. 4:3-4; cf. 1 Pet. 5:8).

You Must Ask Different People

In Go Fish, there are generally 3-6 players. If you ask one person for a card and they don’t have it, you don’t give up the search.  When it is your turn again, you ask someone else.  In like manner, in evangelism, we must ask different people.  What we may not find in one place, we may find in another.  Luke records, “Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:46; Mt. 22:2-3, 8-10).  Today, I am convinced that we give up far too easily.

You May Have To Ask More Than Once

In Go Fish, you may have to ask a player for a certain card more than once. The fact that they don’t have a card at one point in the game doesn’t mean that they will not have it at another point.  The cards in each player’s hand change throughout the game.  In like manner, in evangelism, we may have to ask more than once to obtain what we are after.  Jesus declared, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Mt. 7:7-8). Please note the “eth” suffix on the word “asketh.”  This suffix suggests repeated action.  Those who hope to receive must ask again and again.  Over time, circumstances can change and those who once were not receptive can become receptive. 

Today, the Master is calling us to Go Fish. Will we heed His call and launch out into the deep? Perhaps, a draught of fishes is awaiting us.   

 

Changing the Truth of God into a Lie

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Changing the Truth of God into a Lie

Wade Webster

In describing the Gentiles that God gave up, Paul said that they "changed the truth of God into a lie" (Rom. 1:25).  It seems that the major truth that the Gentiles changed into a lie was the truth that there was but one God.   However, they did not stop with just that one change.  As you know, once you make that change, the floodgates of change are opened.  In this study, we want to consider some other ways in which they changed the truth of God into a lie.

They changed the truth of God concerning sexuality into a lie.  Paul described them as being given over to “vile affections” (Rom. 1:26).  Included among the “vile affections” was homosexuality.  Women changed the "natural use" into that which was against nature (Rom. 1:26).  In like manner, men left the "natural use" of the woman and burned in their lust toward one another (Rom. 1:27).             

They changed the truth of God concerning speech into a lie.  Their words and their deeds were characterized by "maliciousness," "debate," "deceit," and "malignity" (Rom. 1:29).  They became "whisperers," "backbiters," "boasters," “covenant-breakers,” and “haters of God” (Rom. 1:29-31).  “Haters of God” likely refers to the fact that they spoke against or blasphemed the name of God (Rom. 1:30).  They bought into the lie of free speech.  They bought into the lie that men are free to say whatever they want to say.  However, corrupt communication is forbidden by God (Eph. 4:29).  Our speech is to always be seasoned with salt and with grace (Col. 4:6). 

They changed the truth of God concerning the sanctity of life into a lie.  Rather than respecting the lives of others, they bought into the lie of shedding innocent blood.  Paul described them as “unmerciful” and said that they were guilty of "murder" (Rom. 1:29, 31).  They thought little of others or of life. 

They changed the truth of God concerning satisfaction into a lie.  Rather than being content with the blessings that they had, they bought into the lie of covetousness (Rom. 1:29).  They were "full of envy" (Rom. 1:29).  They accepted the lie that a man's life consisteth of the things that he possesses (Lk. 12:15).  As you know, there are many in affluent America who have bought into the same lie.

They changed the truth of God concerning self into a lie.  Rather than thinking of themselves humbly (Rom. 12:3), they bought into the lie of self-promotion.  Notice that Paul describes them as "proud" (Rom. 1:30).  Furthermore, they were without "natural affection" (Rom. 1:31).  In other words, they didn't love or provide for their families as they should have.  No doubt, they held to the idea that a man or a woman has to do what is best for them as individuals rather than what is best for their families.  In the humanistic word in which we live, many have trade traded the truth of God concerning self for a lie.  God expects for men parents to provide for the physical and spiritual needs of their            children (1 Tim. 5:8, 14; Eph. 6:1-4; Prov. 22:16; Tit. 2:4-5).

They changed the truth of God concerning submission.  Notice that Paul describes them as "disobedient to parents" (Rom. 1:30).    The children bought into the lie that they knew better than their parents.  Perhaps, the parents even bought into the lie that disciplining your children might warp them and cause them to have low self-esteem.  Whatever the case, they traded the truth for a lie.  After all, God says that it is right for children to obey their parents (Eph. 6:1; Col. 3:20). 

As you know, men continue to change the truth of God concerning sexuality, speech, satisfaction, self, submission, and the sanctity of life into a lie. Let’s make sure that we don’t buy into these lies.

Never Give Up

Saturday, December 05, 2020

Never Give Up

Wade Webster

When Nazi Germany was knocking on the door of Great Britain in the Second World War, Winston Churchill gave several powerful speeches to rally the British people. In one of these speeches, he declared, 

"We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, We shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight on the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender."

In another speech he said that if the British Empire continued for another thousand years, men might very well look back on them and say, "This was their finest hour."

It would have been easy for Britain to have surrendered. Hitler seemed unstoppable. They were enduring daily bombings. Their city was being leveled building by building. However, they refused to quit. 

In 2005, Seal Team 10, consisting of nineteen Navy Seals, showed similar resolve.  The mission, known as Operation Redwing, went horribly wrong. Marcus Luttrell was the lone survivor of that mission. 

No one could have blamed Luttrell for giving up. His buddies were dead, his back was broken, and he had been shot. He was deep within enemy territory. However, Luttrell refused to quit.  Lying on the ground, he grabbed a rock, reached out as far as he could, and drew a line in the sand. He then proceeded to drag himself until his feet crossed that line. Again and again, he repeated this grueling process. It is estimated that Luttrell crawled for about seven miles before he was finally rescued. 

No doubt, as Bible students, we are reminded of another soldier - the Apostle Paul. He was also in a great fight against a very powerful enemy. His words motivated many to stay in the fight. He endured so much. He faced daily problems. To the saints at Corinth, he detailed some of these things he suffered: stripes, prisons, stoning, perils, fastings, shipwreck, cold, and nakedness (2 Cor 11:22-29). There was no quit in Paul. He too had a mark to which he was pressing. To the saints at Philippi, he wrote, "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:14). It would have been easy for Paul to have given up, but he didn’t.

We often sing a song in connection with baptism entitled, "I Have Decided To Follow Jesus." The first line ends with the words, "No turning back. No turning back." The last line ends with the words, "No turning back, I'll follow him." We are reminding those who are being baptized to never give up. We are encouraging them to fight on no matter what. We are encouraging them to draw a line in the sand and to drag themselves across that line if necessary. A million years from now, we may look back from heaven at the times in our lives when we didn't give up and say that this was our finest hour.

Go Tell Jeroboam

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Go Tell Jeroboam

Wade Webster

When Jeroboam’s son was sick, he sent to inquire of Ahijah the prophet what would become of the lad (1 Kings 14:1-3).  Like so many people today, the wicked king had no use for God or His servants until he needed something.  Fearing that a faithful seer might not want to help an unfaithful sovereign, Jeroboam sent his wife in a disguise to the prophet (1 Kings 14:2).  Although the prophet was old and couldn’t see, the disguise didn’t work.  After all, nothing was hidden from the eyes of the God that Ahijah served (Heb 4:13).  When the prophet heard Jeroboam’s wife’s footsteps, he said, “Come in, thou wife of Jeroboam” (1 Kings 14:6).  Can you imagine how surprised she must have been at this salutation?  The same prophet who had years earlier predicted Jeroboam’s rise to power (1 Kings 14:2), now predicted his fall. Jeroboam had done evil in the sight of God and he was now going to suffer at the hands of God.  He had provoked God to anger and was now going to feel the heat of God’s wrath.  He had cast God behind his back and was now going to be cut off (1 Kings 14:9-10; cf. Neh. 9:26; Psa. 50:17; Ezek. 23:35; Rom. 1:28; 3:18).  Although Jeroboam did many things contrary to the will of God, the most grievous transgressions involved the changes that he made to the worship of God (1 Kings 14:9; 1 Kings 12:25-33). 

Jeroboam Changed The Aim Of Worship

Jeroboam changed the aim of worship from God to golden calves (1 Kings 12:26-28).  In his pride, he even went so far as to suggest that the golden calves had brought the people out of Egyptian bondage.  As you may recall, Aaron had earlier provoked God to anger in the same way (Ex. 32:1-6, 25-29). Today, many are making the same mistake.  They are changing the aim of worship from God to something else (John 4:23-24).  More and more today, worship is directed at pleasing men rather than at pleasing God (John 12:43).

Jeroboam Changed The Address Of Worship

Jeroboam changed the address of worship from Jerusalem to Dan & Bethel (1 Kings 12:26-29). As you recall, Jeroboam was afraid for the people to go to Jerusalem to worship, lest their hearts turn again to Rehoboam.  In like manner today, many are changing the address of worship.  They are trying to glorify God outside of the one place that He has designated (Eph. 3:21).  As you know, the address is no longer the city of Jerusalem (John 4:19-21), but rather, the church founded in Jerusalem (Isa. 2:2-3; 1 Tim. 3:15). 

Jeroboam Changed The Attendants Of Worship

Jeroboam changed the attendants of worship from the sons of Levi to the lowest of the people (1 Kings 12:31). “Whosoever would,” he consecrated to be a priest (1 Kings 13:33-34). Today, many are still changing the attendants of worship.  For example, they are using women in positions that God had designated for men (1 Tim. 2:8, 11-15).

Jeroboam Changed The Anniversary Of Worship

Jeroboam changed the anniversary of worship from the seventh month and the fifteenth day to the eighth month and the fifteenth day (1 Kings 12:32-33; cf. Lev. 23:33-44). As you know, there are many today who are doing the same.  Some have changed the anniversary of worship from the first day of the week to the last day of the week, while others have changed the commemoration of the Lord’s death from a weekly observance to a monthly, quarterly, or yearly observance (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1-2).

The message that Jeroboam’s wife was to deliver to her husband needs to be delivered to many today.  Those who provoke God to anger and cast Him behind their backs will one day be cast into a far worse place (Mt. 25:30; Mk. 9:45, 47).

 

The Gardener

Saturday, November 21, 2020

 

The Gardener

Wade Webster

James Allen declared, “Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bear bad fruit – and man is his own gardener.”[i] 

Since the creation, one of the fundamental laws of nature has been that everything produces after its kind (Gen. 1:11).   It was to this law that Jesus, the Creator, referred in the Sermon on the Mount.  He declared, “Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.  Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire” (Mt. 7:17-19).  Later, He would again refer to this law and declare:  “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things:  and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things” (Mt. 12:35).

The Apostle Paul would also appeal to the seed principle in the letter that he penned to the saints at Galatia.  He wrote, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked:  for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Gal. 6:7-8).

Realizing that thoughts, like trees, produce after their kind, we must carefully guard our thoughts.  We must “keep” our hearts “with all diligence” (Prov. 4:23), realizing that as we think in our hearts, we will be (Prov. 23:7; cf. Mt. 12:34; 15:19).   

Paul’s words to the saints at Philippi seem especially appropriate in this study.  He wrote, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Phil. 4:8). 

As the gardener of our own hearts, each of us must give great care to what is sown in them.  If somehow bad seed is sown, we must weed it out as quickly as possible. 


[i] Covey, Stephen R.  Everyday Greatness.  Nashville, TN:  Rutledge Hill Press, 2006, p. 79.

 

 

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