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.
Revelation 17-18 Outline
The outline for Sunday evening's lesson covering Revelation 17-18 has been posted online. Click here to download a copy. Sorry for the delay. (JC)
From the desk of Taylor Pickup
"During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot... to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He...poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him." (John 13:3-5)
Washing the disciples' feet was an incredible act of humility and service. This well-known story is very simple, yet it teaches us powerful lessons. The verses say that Judas was already planning on betraying Jesus. This means that Jesus knowingly served someone who was going to deceive, betray, and deliver Him over to His enemies.
Jesus knew that the Father had given Him "all things," yet He still knelt down and acted like a servant. Jesus knew that "He had come from God," yet He still knelt down and acted like a servant. Jesus knew "He was going back to God," yet He still knelt down and acted like a servant.
With all that He knew, why did He serve others? A few verses later Jesus explained, "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you" (13:14-15). Jesus told His disciples that He was teaching them how to act.
Can we find any good reason not to humble ourselves and serve the people in our lives, even people who have mistreated us? Jesus is our teacher, and as disciples we must follow Him.
From the desk of Steve Patton
“...according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” - Eph. 3:11
“There are no goals and no purpose in life.” (Osho, renowned and controversial spiritual Hindi guru.) Osho expresses the reality of a world that has no personal Creator God and who has no relationship with this world. It is the only conclusion to reach if you are an agnostic, atheist, or even a deist who believes God no longer involves Himself with our universe. Osho suggests that life itself is the only motivation for existence. But such an idea gives no direction for the moral choices in your life - or even if there is such a thing as morality! Life without purpose truly leads to a meaningless, dark existence.
But there is a purpose to life. The Biblical record is meant to show the purpose and direction of our existence. God’s hand has been involved in this universe since its inception. He has an “eternal purpose” as our text indicates. Not only can we see where history has been, but we can see where it is heading “according to His eternal purpose.”
You play a part in that eternal plan. But the nature of the part you play is up to you. His eternal purpose says that He does not wish “that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter. 3:9). That is God’s desire for you - the part He wants you to play. But you will have to decide because, although God is great in mercy, He cannot and will not acquit the wicked (Nahum 1:3). God has been and is even now at work accomplishing His eternal purpose. At the end of time he will bring it to a conclusion. Are you prepared for that day? Fulfill your spiritual destiny and choose to serve God so that you will benefit from His intended purpose for us all.