From the desk of Taylor Pickup
It’s always been difficult for people to interact with those who are different from themselves. We probably find that our closest friends are people with whom we have a lot in common. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Jesus’ closest friends were Jewish men like Himself. But it can become a problem when we start to avoid those who are different from us, or if we start to look down on those who are different. When we look at the earthly life of Jesus, we can see that He challenged people to change their attitude on this subject. In that time period there were several groups of people that the Jews thought were less important. They thought people with diseases were so sinful that God was punishing them with these ailments. The Jews thought Gentiles were worthless people because they weren’t the “chosen” people of Abraham. And Jewish men thought women were lesser citizens who didn’t matter except as wives and mothers.
Matthew 8 shows us that Jesus didn’t think this way. He took the time to heal, commend, and talk to these people. Unlike the Jewish culture around Him, the son of God cared about people with diseases, He cared about Gentiles, and He cared about women. Look around at your school, your job, and your community. Are there people that you may have accidentally labeled in your mind as “unimportant” because they are different from you? These are people Jesus purposely went and helped. Therefore we also need to see them as people we can help, people we can encourage, and people we can teach the gospel. We need to pray for God to give us courage and conviction to spread the good news to everyone, even those who are different from us.
Outline for Revelation 19-20
The outline for the sermon covering Revelation 19-20 can be downloaded here.
From the desk of Steve Patton
“I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.” (Jeremiah 25:7)
Punishment can produce two results. It may drive someone farther away from correction or it may cause one to consider the reason for the punishment and make the needed correction. In Jeremiah’s day God warned Israel of their impending judgment and its effect. He said some would be utterly destroyed by it. But for some their heart would be changed by it and would seek Him again. In fact, they would return to Him “with their whole heart.” It is the kind of heart God has always wanted.
God has never been pleased with lukewarm, half-hearted service (Rev. 3:15,16). He has always wanted a heart that has experienced the sorrow of genuine repentance (2 Cor. 7:9,10). He wants a heart that rejoices at the forgiveness of his sins (Acts. 8:39). And he wants a heart that will be wholly committed to serving Him (Rom. 12:1).
Just remember God’s intention when we are chastised for our sins. He is hoping we will see His love in the correction of our sin and we will repent and turn back to Him with our “whole heart.” God wants our heart - our whole heart. Our greatest hope, joy and contentment will be found only if we are willing to give our all to Him.
From the desk of Joshua Creel
One morning in May 1856, a congressman by the name of Preston Brooks approached the seat of Senator Charles Sumner on the floor of the US Senate. These were turbulent years as the country was sharply divided over the issue of slavery. Sumner, an abolitionist, had recently given a speech in which he denounced all slaveholders, mentioning by name a relative of Preston Brooks. So, as Brooks approached Sumner's seat it was not with the purpose of demanding an apology or even loudly upbraiding him, but of inflicting bodily injury. Brooks smashed his cane onto Sumner's head, sending the senator to the floor. Brooks continued striking Sumner until his cane was nothing but splinters and Sumner lay bleeding on the floor.
I guess I find some comfort in knowing that as acrimonious as our political climate has become, as uncivil our political leaders are toward others with differing views, at least they haven't started physically assaulting each other. But that's setting the bar pretty low. We should expect true leadership, not only the formulation of godly policies but the example of righteous and virtuous living. Alas, those days are long gone, if in fact they ever truly existed.
I'm reminded of God's commission to elders in 1 Peter 5.3 that they prove "to be examples to the flock." It's not enough for Godly leaders to teach and say the right things, they must live those same teachings, showing others how they too can be more like Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 11.1). Even those younger in faith are to prove themselves as examples of Godly living (1 Timothy 4.12). Let's take this call seriously, to portray all that is good about Christ and His ways to a world that is starving for lack of true leadership.