That Good Part–Priorities are Important

“That good part,” are words spoken by Jesus to Mary. Throughout the Bible we read about the choices that men and women, boys and girls make. Sometimes these choices are clearly held up to us as examples to follow and at other times it is obvious that we ought not make that given choice in our own lives. Consider an incident recorded in Luke 10:38-42—please read these verses.

Jesus said that Mary had chosen that good part.  So then, Jesus is pointing out a choice that is worthy of our consideration to follow in our own lives.

Significance of Mary’s Choice—That Good Part

What joy must Mary have felt! Her action brought about the words of her Lord that indicated His approval of a choice she had made!  For a faithful follower of Jesus could there be any greater delight than to know I have made a choice which is well pleasing to my Lord?  Can we not see that here is a very significant incident that Luke has recorded for our instruction?

The choice that Mary had made was to sit at Jesus’ feet and hear His word.  Now we would think that such a choice would be reckoned by all of Jesus’ disciples as a wise and good choice.  However, Mary’s sister, Martha had not so reckoned.  Martha, in fact, thought in her own mind that her sister had made a foolish choice.  Martha thought that Mary was being neglectful and was in need of rebuke from the Lord.

Instead, Jesus spoke a mild rebuke to Martha for her own misplaced priorities.  This brings to the mind of a careful Bible student that there could be many occasions on which Jesus might either question or commend choices we have made with regard to how we use our time.  I wonder how often we even consider this matter in our daily lives.

It is not as if Martha had chosen some ungodly pursuit with which to occupy her time.  Rather that which she was doing in showing hospitality is a good thing and quite often commended in Scripture (Romans 12:13; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8; 1 Peter 4:9).  No, Martha had made a GOOD choice, what is troubling about her choice is that she might have made an even wiser choice–the choice made by her sister, Mary.  Mary had made a choice which recognized that the mundane things of this life become utterly insignificant when placed beside an opportunity for spiritual growth and understanding.  The Messiah was present!  Jesus, the Lord of glory (1 Corinthians 2:8), was in the building!  Is there not time to sit and listen to His teaching.

Application of Choosing That Good Part

What is the solution for the problems we face in our world today?  How do we cope with all of the unsettling and even upsetting news of the day?  Is there a lesson to learn from the visit Jesus made to that Bethany home?

Surely we need to examine our own priorities of life.  Surely we need to appreciate that we may be dwelling entirely too much upon those “Martha-things.” These things are good, in and of themselves. However, they may be hampering, even preventing,  our spiritual maturity and development into powerful servants of the Lord. After all, we surely want the Lord to use us in a mighty way.

How much time do I spend examining my priorities?  Do I ever even consider that there just might be a better use of my time?  Have I ever even considered that my Lord might have a commendation for me on Judgment day similar to the one He gave to Mary?

What about the Bible classes?  Is there a more direct comparison we could make than to consider this choice we make weekly?  What activity could my feeble mind conceive of that would take priority to listening to Jesus at Bible Class time?  If I want to choose THAT GOOD PART, where will I find myself at 10:00 on Sunday morning and 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday night? What about the worship assemblies?  Gospel meetings?  Vacation Bible School? It is shameful that we have differing numbers from the Sunday morning worship assembly count on these other occasions of study.  To those of you who do not come but are truly able to be here–are you being like Martha or are you being like Mary?  Think ahead for just a moment.  On that Judgment day of John 12:48, which person would you have to be your model?

The One Thing Needful: That Good Part

Jesus said to Martha, concerning her sister, Luke 10:42  “But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”  We do not appreciate the one thing that is needful to the degree that it ought to be in our day.  That one thing that is needful seems to be “pushed off to the back burner” of our lives.  That one thing that is needful will make us a great church when we go and do likewise! Mary guides us in the right and good direction as she made the selection of THAT GOOD PART.

Elders’ Work is VITAL Work!

Elders’ work is vital work, vital to the local congregation. There is no question that this is true. I just viewed an OUTSTANDING video on that particular subject. The speaker was my friend, Victor Eskew. He used a PowerPoint to aid in the delivery of that powerful presentation. I think it is the most helpful sermon on the topic I have ever seen or heard.

elders' work

I would encourage everyone, not just elders, to view this important video. All Christians need to know what the Bible teaches regarding the organization of the church. Why? Well, it was in the area of organization that the first apostasy from the true pattern for the church took place. Christians must study what the Bible reveals regarding the elders’ work! If we do not study this important matter, we will be unable to conform to the New Testament pattern.

If it is our desire to fit the pattern for the New Testament church, we must search for and pay attention to the various distinctive identity marks. Leadership in the church is one of those marks. How did God intend for the local church to be governed?

You should be convinced that elders’ work is VITAL to the well being of the local church. If you are not, you surely need to view this video.

In the video Victor makes several references to 1 Peter 5. We have a study guide for 1 Peter 5 on this site.

 

Faithfulness versus “Ashamed of My Words”

faithfulnessFaithfulness to abide in the doctrine of Christ will be rewarded by fellowship with God and Christ (2 John 1.9). Not to be faithful to the doctrine of Christ will cause us to be lost. In Luke 9.26 our Lord presents a strong warning which ought to be powerful enough to unsettle or humble even the most strident and pride-filled sinner! Christians likely need to consider the warning as well, because it is possible for you and me, in one way or another, to exhibit the shame our Lord condemns. The very idea of doing that for which Jesus gives this warning is entirely repulsive to any lover of truth, yet Satan presses us continually to do it. Listen to Jesus’ words—For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.

DO NOT Be the Person Who Does not Value Faithfulness…

Who is the person Jesus will reject when He comes again? The person who is ashamed of Jesus and His words is that person. When Jesus comes in His glory is the time that He will be ashamed of such a person. This is a clear reference to His second coming. Elsewhere we are told that there is coming a future day in the which ALL men will be humbled to acknowledge that Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords—1 Timothy 6.15… Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.

That day is coming, but, sadly, it will be too late for the vast majority of those who have lived their lives on earth. All men do not make that acknowledgment at the present time. The fact of the matter is that MOST do not and will not make that acknowledgment. Jesus lets us know that such will always be the case—Matthew 7.13… Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.

If someone rejects the words of Jesus now, and continues to do so unrepentantly, this same one faces JUDGMENT by those very words (John 12.48).

We think about the many examples the Old Testament provides of those who were not ashamed to be identified with God and His Word (cf., Romans 15.4). Those great examples–many of them mentioned in Hebrews 11–encourage us to “Stand Up for Jesus.” To learn from them and increase our courage is a great blessing.

David Serves Well as an Example of the Courage and Faithfulness WE Need…

Consider the incident in 1 Samuel 17 with young David [Dr. Floyd Jones in Chronology of the Old Testament, p. 94 suggests David’s age was 18-20]. Evidently he was the only Israelite sufficiently proud of God’s name and His people to risk battling Goliath. Goliath presented his challenge morning and evening for 40 days. (v. 16). The Bible tells us that The Philistine said… I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together (v. 10). David recognized that the unanswered challenge of this uncircumcised Philistine was a reproach to Israel and was an act of defiance against the armies of the living God (v. 26). David told King Saul—let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine (v. 32). David was not ashamed of his God and was confident that God would bless him with a great victory (v. 37), which He did (vv., 46-51). What a mighty victory David’s great courage produced!

Can we determine to allow David’s complete lack of shame for His God to be our stance? This will keep us away from following the example of his brethren who cowered in shame before Goliath. In our time, people disrespect the words of our Lord and castigate them to an alarming degree. It will likely be increasingly difficult to stand strong in the words of Christ without ridicule and opposition. Let us distinguish ourselves with the courage of David in giving our defense (1 Peter 3.15). Let us find ourselves NOT fitting the description Jesus warns about in Luke 9.30.

Faithfulness Will be Rewarded on Judgment Day!

We should consider Paul’s exhortation to Timothy—2 Timothy 2.10-12… Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us. There is coming a day when the most important matter our hearts will consider is our own faithfulness to our Lord.

The reward for faithfulness will be GREAT. But, Satan would have you and me to be ashamed of Jesus. He smiles when we refuse to take a stand for truth. Satan wants us lost with him in hell forever and ever. That is our end if we are ashamed of the words of Jesus. Never should Jesus say of us:  that we have been ashamed of my words.

Consider studying also: Cain’s Complaint.

Eskew Meeting–2017

Eskew Meeting speakerThe Victor Eskew meeting of 2017 was an excellent one. We enjoyed the messages from the Bible. Victor did an outstanding job with relevant topics. The audio files from that Eskew meeting are on this website. Certainly, we hope you enjoy them and learn from them, and please tell others they can listen to them here, also.

For more audio sermons, please visit our sermons preached page.

Sunday, AM Bible Class: The Inward Man…

Sunday, AM Worship: 6 Keys to Victorious Church Growth…

Sunday, PM Worship: Resolved: to Evangelize…

Monday PM: Christ Crucified…

Tuesday PM: Resolved: To Be a Great Example…

IS THIS YOU?

is this youWould you look into the mirror for a moment? May I please ask you a simple question? IS THIS YOU?

EARS are open to the cries for help from a lost and dying world.

EYES are ever searching for a receptive heart in which to plant the Word.

LIPS are always ready to proclaim the glory of God.

HANDS are turning the pages of God’s Word, seeking to learn His will.

FEET are on the move to carry the gospel to every creature.

HEART is breaking because some will never hear the gospel.

HEAD bows in prayer for wisdom and for workers in the harvest.

FACE glows with the hope that is within.

LIFE is like a light set upon a hill that cannot be hid.

THIS IS A SOULWINNER… but more importantly, IS THIS YOU?

MY SOURCE: Bulletin of the Stuttgart (AR) Church of Christ, Joe Spangler, Editor.

Check this article regarding “Adversity Evangelism.” For a poetic look at Scripture see: Self-Condemned.

Book of John–A Study Guide

Book of John Study Guide

The New Testament Book of John is such an important and helpful book for our understanding of Jesus Christ. We are so thankful to have it in our Bibles. It is different from the other three accounts of the life of Christ (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). Those three Bible books are referred to by the scholars as “synoptic,” which means SEEING TOGETHER. It seems that Matthew was writing primarily with a Jewish audience in mind; Mark wrote to those of a Roman heritage; Luke to people with a Gentile background. We have created a 155-page study guide to aid in the study of this great book. You can reach it by clicking here: 4300sg.Combo

The Book of John seems fitting to all people. In the 1999 Annual Denton Lectures, Darrell Conley very capably summarizes the Book of John by describing briefly the nine miracles John records…

It is possible to outline and summarize the Book of John by his record of Jesus’ miracles. He does not record nearly all of the miracles that Christ did, and not as many as did Matthew, Mark, or Luke. But those that he does record are diverse and are sufficient for their purpose — to instill in us faith that Jesus is the Son of God and that so believing we might be saved eternally (John 20:30-31).

First Miracle

He writes of nine miracles Christ did as proof that He was Lord and God. The first miracle was that in Cana of Galilee — turning the water into wine (John 2:1-11). By this miracle Christ proved that He had authority over nature. And why should He not? He created all.

Second Miracle

His second miracle was the healing of the son of the nobleman or king’s officer (John 4:46-54). Even though the nobleman begged Him to come with him to Capernaum and heal his son, He would not go, but healed him at such a distance that it took the nobleman more than a day to reach home. He found his son recovered. Christ showed by this miracle that His power and authority extend everywhere.

Third miracle

The third miracle that the Book of John records is the healing of the infirm man (John 5:2-9). Even though it was the Sabbath day, and He was criticized for it, (John 5:16-18) he healed this man. He accomplished two things by this: He showed that He had authority over the Sabbath. “For the Son of man is lord of the sabbath” (Matt. 12:8). He showed that He was equal with God: “But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh even until now, and I work. For this cause therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only brake the sabbath, but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:17-18).

Fourth Miracle

John next tells about the miraculous feeding of the five thousand (John 6:1-14). Multitudes had followed Jesus to the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, and they had nowhere to buy food. Jesus, showing his feeling for their human needs, had them sit on the grass and, taking five loaves and two fishes, He fed 5,000 men. Afterward they gathered up of the leftover pieces twelve baskets. By this miracle Jesus shows His sympathy for the human condition and needs of mankind.

Fifth Miracle

In the next miracle in John (John 6:16-21), when the evening comes, Jesus walked on the sea in the midst of a storm to the place where the disciples were in a boat. By this miracle Jesus shows His authority and control over nature and the elements of this world.

Sixth Miracle

The whole of John 9 is taken up with the sixth miracle of Jesus, chosen by the Holy Spirit to be included in John’s account. By the public healing of this man born blind, who was known to all, he showed that He, as Lord of Heaven and earth, had authority and power over all sickness and affliction. What a contrast between this genuine miracle of Christ and fraudulent “miracles” of modern so-called healers, who “heal” things that no one can see, in their own places, and usually people that no one knows or hears from again, from places that are far away!

Seventh Miracle

The seventh miracle recorded in the Book of John is the most dramatic to this point: the raising of Lazarus from the dead (John 11:39-44), which should not surprise us. He who gave us life to begin with, Who came to this world in order that we might have eternal life, should certainly be able to raise one from the dead. Although Lazarus had to face death again, one day the righteous shall arise from the dead to eternal life. “Marvel not at this: for the hour cometh, in which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28-29). By this miracle He showed that He had authority over life and death.

Eighth Miracle

Surely the climactic miracle of all in the Book of John is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the eighth miracle discussed by John (John 20:1-9). By this miracle Jesus proves to all unprejudiced, open-minded people, for all time, that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

Ninth Miracle

The ninth miracle John records is the great catch of fish upon the command of Jesus (John 21:1-12). Although this may seem like an anti-climax considering the other miracles that John has written in his book, this miracle accomplishes a very important purpose — it identifies the risen Jesus with the One that had been with the apostles the previous three and one-half years. John recognized Him after the miracle. “That disciple therefore whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord” (John 21:7). He is the same always: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yea and for ever” (Heb. 13:8).

Most Pleasing Potentiality

pleasing God
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Pleasing God is a most pleasing potentiality! It is definitely possible! In searching with my daily companion, Logos Bible software, I have found eight Bible texts which present what surely I would label as “A Most Pleasing Potentiality.” What is that? I refer to that most pleasant “state of being” when THE LORD delights in me! How do we attain it? How is it described? Just HOW can I go about pleasing God?

First, let’s consider two of the descriptive passages: Numbers 14:8 and Deuteronomy 10:15. What is it like when God delights in you? Joshua and Caleb inform us in the Numbers passage that He provides a rich reward to those in whom He delights. It will be a land flowing with milk and honey, to describe this state in a Hebrew figure. Those are the very words of Joshua and Caleb as they sought to still the people. That which would DELIGHT His people was the reward which God would provide to those in whom He delighted. This ought to be a point for you and me to ponder as we contemplate the heavenly home we are promised. A second simple, but awe-inspiring result of God’s delight in man, is that He will love them (Deuteronomy 10:15).

Now let’s consider the HOW TO. Truly, one of the most interesting and inspiring passages I came across in this search is this one—But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD (Jeremiah 9:24). Perhaps this verse is telling us that the Lord delights in His own lovingkindness, judgment, and right-eousness, but that is not what it seems to me He is saying. Rather, I think God delights in the PERSON who understands and knows that God has those qualities. I want to be among that number and I hope that you do as well.

In my interpretation of Jeremiah 9.24, I am saying that THESE THINGS, in which God delights, refers back to the understanding and knowing and glorying of the person who does know Him accurately. This causes me to want to study more carefully what God has revealed to me about Himself in the written word. God has revealed Himself to us because He actually delights in us KNOWING who He is!!! This passage reveals to us a way to accomplish pleasing God.

Next, consider this text–The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight (Proverbs 15:8 KJV). Is it really true that Almighty God delights when He hears upright folks pray to Him? That is exactly what this text is telling us. Do you want to make God smile, do you want to bring delight to the God of Heaven? Just go to your prayer closet and that splendid task you are accomplishing. Does that not cause you to want to spend more time in prayer? Yes, if I have the right relationship with God and I spend time praying to Him, I am pleasing God!

Proverbs 11:1 reads: “A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.” I remember a time when we shopped for groceries and one small item had been hidden from our view and the view of the cashier by the five-gallon water jug we had just refilled. When we got the cart to the car, Diane noticed it and went back into the store to pay for it. Guess what. God delighted in that small transaction!

We can make a choice between being an abomination to the Lord or to be His delight (Proverbs 11:20). Having lying lips versus dealing truly provide the very same alternative (Proverbs 12:22). How wonderful it is to choose the right way and bring about this most pleasing potentiality.

For the last passage, we must enter the United Kingdom Period of Bible History. The first king of the United Kingdom was Saul. 1 Samuel 15 is likely one of the most familiar chapters of the entire book to most of us. Here we have the great judge and prophet Samuel heavily into discipline mode with Israel’s first king. If anyone ever needed that discipline, it was Saul!

Samuel received the most clear-cut and unambiguous instructions regarding the actions God demanded His people to take toward the Amalekites. Also, God told Saul the reason for the actions He demanded. Yet, Saul comes up short of following the commands of God, though he did indeed claim to have performed the commandment (v. 13). Further, when Samuel questions the claim Saul makes about his obedience, Saul tries to use the “End Justifies the Means” approach (v. 15). In addition, he shifted the blame to the people (vv. 15, 21).

Then the prophet thunders out the verdict of God Almighty: And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king (1 Samuel 15:22-23).

King Saul teaches us a valuable lesson about pleasing God. Do you wish to bring delight to the Creator? There is nothing complex about it— SIMPLY OBEY HIS VOICE! Let us be challenged by the beautiful response of the Apostle Peter and say to the Lord, regarding whatever command might be given: AT THY WORD.

Prayers Hindered

prayers As Christians we sometimes become discouraged and do not have the kind of appreciation and expectancy that ought to characterize the prayers we pray.  Surely we recognize such a state as this to be a problem.  Recognizing a problem is one of the first steps toward solving a problem.  For the faithful Christian, the source for answers to our problems is God’s word, the Bible.

Satan is very aware of the power of prayer. There is nothing that he fears more than a Christian who finds much time for prayer.  He will lay before us many roadblocks to hinder our approach to God in prayer.  Satan does have  his devices. He will use them to create doubt in our hearts regarding the power of prayer.  We must be like Paul and be aware of Satan’s devices (2 Cor 2:11).

Consider the roadblock of PRIDE.  Pride manifests in self-trusting; self-sufficiency; self-glorying; self-service; self-will; and self-righteousness.  One of the best examples of this hindrance in action is the Pharisee of Luke 18:9-14.  He spent his entire prayer talking about how good he was. He spoke of how much better he was than anyone else.  These kinds of attitudes and these kinds of prayers are not received well by our Lord.  Jesus noted the contrast between the Pharisee and the publican and gave commendation to the publican, who recognized himself to be a sinner (Lk 18:14).

We need to spend a little time looking into the history of God’s dealing with His people in the Old Testament.  Here we will find that there were times when the people became lifted up with pride. They thought they could do it all on their own. Those were the times when the judgment of God came upon them.  They had the same need as we have today and that is to see that our sufficiency is OF GOD (2 Cor 3:5).  Pride will keep us trying to solve our problems on our own. Pride will hinder us from turning to God in prayer.

Another huge roadblock in the way of having our prayers answered is simple DISOBEDIENCE.  What was it Solomon wrote in Proverbs 28:9?  “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.”  If we are not obedient to our God how can we expect Him to hear our prayers?  Without obedience there can be no communion with God.  Sins of disobedience place distance between us and our God (Isa 59:1-2).  It will be necessary to do those things which are pleasing in His sight (1 Jn 3:22) to be blessed with the privilege of praying to our God in heaven.  Seriously, can we think of any activity that is considered such a great privilege and pleasure here that we deem it worthy to deprive ourselves of this privilege of prayer to God?

In addition, the Bible teaches us that our prayers are hindered by IDOLATRY.  In Ezekiel 14:1-11, there is a fine discussion of the folly and fruitlessness of having idols in the heart and seeking to petition God.  The fact is that our God is a JEALOUS God (Ex 20:5). He demands our complete loyalty (Mt 6:24).  We are to keep ourselves from idols (1 Jn 5:21).  When we allow our loyalty to become divided and we begin to love the world or the things it contains we are loving things that are not of God (1 Jn 2:15-17).  When we love things that are not of God, most likely we won’t even try to communicate with Him. Even if we do, He won’t be listening.

Please consider the hindrance which Satan loves to create and has such success with: DOUBT.  If we study the first chapter of 1 Samuel we will see that God answered the prayers of Hannah.  She prayed for a son and was granted a son.  God will answer our prayers as well.  But how does God answer prayer?  Generally speaking, the Scriptures show us that God answers prayer in five ways…

  1. YES (James 5:17).
  2. NO (Mt 26:39; Heb 5:7).
  3. WAIT A WHILE (Jer 42:4, 7).
  4. SOMETHING DIFFERENT (2 Cor 12:7-9).
  5. BY GIVING MORE (1 Kgs 3:11, 13; Eph 3:20).

To create doubt regarding the power of prayer is one of Satan’s most effective tools to weaken us.  We must know better and then elevate our practice to our knowledge.

We find a seldom considered hindrance to prayer in 1 Peter 3:7.  “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”  It is important to the Lord how we treat our companions in marriage.  Is it the case that my prayer life seems to be suffering? Perhaps I need to look into how I am treating my  wife/husband.  If we do not consider the will of the Lord in our homes, our homes are not going to be the kinds of places we will want them to be.

In addition, the Lord warns us that a spirit of UNFORGIVENESS will hurt our efforts in prayer.  If we pray to God for forgiveness and we have demonstrated an unforgiving spirit, we will have no forgiveness (Mt 6:12-14).

Other matters such as not hearing the cries of the poor (Prov 21:13) and not being persistent in prayer (Luke 18:1-8) also hinder our prayers.  These are obstacles over which we can soar, if we have the will so to do!

Consider Wade Webster’s powerful lesson regarding POWERLESS PRAYERS.