Below is our archive of public news and announcements.
From the desk of Taylor Pickup
Job had lost his flocks and herds, his servants, and worst of all, his children. His wife gave him no comfort, his skin was covered with painful sores, and his high reputation in society had vanished. On top of that, his own friends had become a painful burden to him, insisting that he must be guilty of flagrant sin.
Some of Job’s deepest pain came from the fact that he just didn’t understand why. He didn’t know why all of this had happened to him. He didn’t know why God was treating him that way. He asked God, “Why have you made me your mark? Why have I become a burden to you?” (Job 7:20).
But in spite of everything, Job’s heart was committed to the Lord. In utter despair he cried out, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another” (19:25-27). As miserable and utterly confused as Job was, he still proclaimed his belief that one day he would see God and be redeemed by Him. What an incredible example of commitment to God.
Like Job, we also feel pain and despair. Death, disease, and heartache are all around. Like Job, we don’t always understand God’s actions. Sometimes all we can do is cry out, "Why?" But Like Job, we must also be able to see past our present circumstances and be committed to our God, the one who will bring redemption.
If there is anyone who understood suffering, especially undeserved suffering, it is the Lord Himself. Death and pain were experienced by Jesus, something that should connect us to Him. Our God personally knows what pain is, and He will redeem us from it. “I know that my Redeemer lives."
Truth Isn't Reactionary by Joshua Creel
Newton's third law states, "for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." While that law holds true in physics, it has less application in matters of truth. Martin Luther famously sought to reform various abuses he saw in the Catholic church by restoring the truths he found in Scripture. However, there were other reformers who were much more reactionary. For instance, some reformers sought to abolish all music in worship because the Catholic church had abused the Scriptures with the use of instruments, choirs, chants, etc. Luther was interested in truth, which is why he became a champion of congregational singing. I find many ways in which I differ from Luther's understanding of truth, but I do agree with his determination to let truth stand on its own.
The new testament church also had to guard against reactionary thinking and practices. There were those in the church who were wrong in their insistence that the Gentiles must be circumcised (Acts 15). And there were Christians who were equally wrong in mocking the convictions of their Jewish brethren (Romans 14-15). Being reactionary to false teaching didn't bring them back to the truth!
We must also guard against reactionary thinking. Over the centuries various teachers have perverted the Bible's teaching regarding faith. We mustn't counter those false teachings by ignoring faith (i.e. being reactionary), but by upholding what the Scriptures teach about true, saving faith. Truth isn't reactionary. Truth stands on its own.
Knowledge Gives Comfort by Steve Patton
Our reading this week (John 13-16) includes Jesus' discourse to the twelve the night of His betrayal. They no doubt found His words confusing and disconcerting. He tells them one of them will betray Him and that He must go away; that whoever kills them will think they are offering a service to God. Obviously they will not understand all He is saying until Pentecost and after (Jn 16:25). But Jesus does not leave them without words of comfort and encouragement: “...even as I have loved you” (13:34); “I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you (14:18); “Let not your heart be troubled; neither let it be fearful” (14:27), and many more words of comfort.
Jesus is not only instructing the twelve, He is encouraging them, giving them hope. His words were meant to strengthen their resolve and let them know He would never leave them alone. What comfort His words must have given to them.
When we are tried, discouraged and downcast, we must turn to God’s Word for comfort and encouragement. Paul was encouraged in such times by the Lord’s words to Him in Corinth (1 Cor. 18:9,10). We must do the same. God’s Word is an instruction book. Jesus confirmed to His apostles that night the Spirit would guide them into all truth (16:13). But it will also lift us up, encourage us, and give us hope. Seek comfort in God’s Word. Let it be an important part of your daily life. Then, and only then, will you understand Paul’s statement: “Therefore encourage one another with these words (1 Thess. 4:18).
From the desk of Taylor Pickup
Proverbs 1:20 says, “Wisdom cries aloud in the street. In the markets she raises her voice.”
Here Solomon has depicted wisdom as a lady who is yelling to the people in the streets. Why would Wisdom be yelling? The answer is simple: No one is listening. People are going through their lives, taking care of all the daily activities, sometimes engaging in foolish or sinful behavior, but no one cares about Wisdom. She is screaming, but no one pays attention or thinks Wisdom is important enough.
Sadly, this illustration is often true of us. We are so busy with the activities in our lives that we don’t take the time to actively listen to wisdom, specifically God’s wisdom. We must be seeking to grow in knowledge, wisdom, and fear of the Lord. Lady Wisdom says, “…whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster” (Prov. 1:33). There are many hardships in life that we can't prevent, but there are also some that we can. God has given us Proverbs and other wisdom in the Bible to guide us through our earthly lives. All of us want lives that are joyful and without strife. If we turn our attention to the shouts from Wisdom, we can “dwell secure” and have times in life when we are “at ease, without dread of disaster."
From the desk of Steve Patton
Passover - A Testimony to the Deity of Christ
"And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where you are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you." - Exodus 12:15
The Israelites prepare to leave Egypt by the mighty hand of God. But first, God instructs them to kill a lamb, take the blood and smear it on the doorposts of their home. God's promise: "...and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt." Although all Egypt suffers the loss of their firstborn that night, God spares the Israelites through the blood of a Lamb.
John the Baptizer announced Jesus to the world with the words, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" Paul makes clear that, just as the Passover lamb spared the physical lives of the Israelites in Egypt, we are eternally saved by the blood of The Lamb: "God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood." -Romans 3:25.
Twelve hundred years before Jesus walked this earth, God showed in a figure how He would save mankind in His Son. Jesus' fulfillment of this figurative prediction corroborates this truth: The Bible is truly God's Word. These is no other explanation for such foreshadowing, not only in this one event, but in hundreds of other Old Testament prophecies that are fulfilled in Christ. Fulfilled prophecy is one of the most powerful testimonies to the divine inspiration of scripture. Only an all powerful, all knowing God could accomplish the fulfillment of essentially all the Old Testament in one man, the God/man, Jesus of Nazareth - the Christ. This is the weekend on which many Jews still celebrate the Passover although they do not recognize its fulfillment in Jesus. Let us always remember that Jesus is our Passover, the one who died for the sins of the world. And it was so signified over 3000 years ago in Egypt by our God.
2017 Bible Reading Plan
Commit to spending some time each week in 2017 paying attention to the message of the prophets! Download the Bible reading schedule here. This week's reading is Lamentations 1-5.
From the desk of Joshua Creel
It's Not A Sin If You Don't Act?
Being tempted isn't a sin. I've said that many times to many people. I've said it to people who were struggling with sin, seeking to encourage them that not acting on the temptation is itself a victory. And this is true... in part. After all, we know our Savior was "tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4.15). Being tempted isn't a sin.
However, we might have mistakenly lumped temptation in with desire. Temptation arises from an external stimulus and seeks to arouse our desire. And when our desire is sufficiently enticed, we sin (James 1.14-15). So, it's not just the actions that are wrong, but the condition of our heart which make those actions possible. This was Jesus' point in the sermon on the mount when He emphasized that true righteousness warns against more than the actions of murder and adultery, but must govern the hatred and lust within (Matthew 5.21-28). It is why He said our sinful actions proceed from the heart (Matthew 15.19).
We cannot prevent temptation from coming our way; the world is filled with them. But our aim is to condition our hearts so that not only do we refrain from acting on temptation, our hearts don't even desire to act! Then we will truly be "pure in heart" and have the hope of seeing God (Matthew 5.8).