Below is our archive of public news and announcements.
From the desk of Steve Patton
“…I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think” (Romans 12:3)
Looking out for number one has long been the world’s first rule of self-preservation. In the parable of the rich fool he uses “I” six times in two verses to describe his future. He was numero uno in all his plans. He gave no consideration to his God or to the needs of his fellow man.
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves…” (Phil 2:3). It can be so hard to show the kind of humility that regards someone better than yourself - especially if you see their faults and know their shortcomings. Sometimes we may want to change the words of the familiar hymn from “More like you, Jesus” to “more like me, brother, more like me.” The attitude arises unconsciously when we become frustrated or disappointed by another. We will start to believe they are not worthy of my association, my consideration, my time. We think of him as being beneath me - because I see his shortcomings (and not my own). This feeds our “selfish ambitions and conceit.” We think less of our brother, regard him as a second class citizen of the kingdom, and “think of myself more highly than I ought to think.” We are rather “to think with sober judgment" (to put a moderate estimate upon one's self, think of one's self soberly; Strongs Dict.).
Until we can remember our own lowly estate, we will have problems in our relationships with our brethren. We will not work out differences because I cannot admit I may have been wrong and he was right. “He is, after all, not as mature a Christian as me.” Let’s not deceive ourselves. Willingness to lower my opinion of myself or my actions will solve so many problems we have with others. Count the other brother better than yourself. See yourself as far from perfect and admit your judgment is often flawed. Humbly work out differences and encourage one another daily. Then, we can walk together in peace, harmony, and love.
From the desk of Steve Patton
“The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; for you will be a witness for him…”
Ananias to Saul of Tarsus - Acts 22:14
The last thing Paul saw before going blind was the brightness of the glory of the Son of God. The result was, in the blink of an eye, the Lord’s most bitter and virulent opponent became a convicted believer in Jesus as Lord. The result? “Therefore… I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.” He was immediately baptized and began to proclaim Jesus as the risen Lord, whom he had seen - with his own eyes - alive from the dead.
Paul never flinched at opposition to his preaching. He stood before kings and rulers, rabbis and pagans, rich and poor, and proclaimed the mighty works of God. He was willing to die rather than deny what happened on the Damascus highway. As an eyewitness he convinced countless people to turn to the Lord and be saved from sin.
I wish I had been with Paul that day. Maybe I would be a more convicted proclaimer of the gospel. Maybe I would have more courage to speak against sin and unrighteousness. But the truth is there is no excuse for not having the conviction and courage of the apostle Paul. I can read Paul’s personal account of his conversion, the words of an eyewitness. I can be as convinced as Paul. I should know I have the same support from my Lord that Paul had, to preach and proclaim His Word.
Actually none of us has an excuse. The eyewitness accounts in the New Testament are all anyone should need to be convicted to proclaim our Lord. No, I was not there when they crucified my Lord. But I can still see Him hanging there through the descriptions of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Eyewitness testimony. Surely it is enough. We can know He died for us so we might live for Him. Let us live courageously, preaching the word of God with all boldness. Then we, too, can one day see the Righteous One.
To Whom Will We Take The Good News? by Steve Patton
"And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.' And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:17-19)
Jesus begins his ministry in his hometown of Nazareth. Respect for Jesus is shown by the Rabbi asking him to speak in the synagogue. The passage from Isaiah is applied to His planned work. He is going to those the Jews would never consider worthy of their interest - the disenfranchised of society - the poor, the prisoner, the chronically sick and handicapped - believed to be sinners judged by God by their station or disease. They deserved their fate. Jesus uses this prophetic passage to show these would be the center of His work. He would take God’s good news to them, showing they, too, could be acceptable to God. He would continue his sermon, pointing out their hypocrisy in refusing to go to these needy ones. Jesus' words enraged the Jews and they sought to kill Him.
Jesus is teaching us a lesson that is emphasized in Luke - the Gospel is truly for everyone. Christianity was never meant to be a religion of the middle class. He made no distinction. Whether a Samaritan leper, a hated Roman soldier's servant, or the ruler of the synagogue’s daughter, Jesus reached out to everyone to affirm God’s love for all.
We are not to judge who is acceptable to God. We must not judge who is suitable for the gospel and who is not. See every person as possessing a soul worthy of salvation. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every living creature.” Let’s open our eyes to all souls and take to heaven with us as many as we can. God expects no less.
“Wretched Man That I Am!” by Steve Patton
People no longer think sin is a big deal - unless it is a biggie like murder or child abuse. Otherwise, it is just “a bad choice” - which everyone makes. And who are we to judge anyway?
We Christians may allow our mindset to be influenced by such thinking. As our culture lowers its moral standards we slowly lower our own. It is not hard to rationalize sins when all the world is practicing them.
Paul certainly did not think that way. He spends three chapters in Romans explaining all are sinners (3:9,10,23). He makes clear the consequences: “…for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury” (2:8). No one will “escape the judgment of God” (2:8).
However, Paul understood the struggle with sin. He knew what it was to be “sold under sin.” He knew Satan’s temptations could lead him to do what he knew was wrong. He struggled with it mightily. “For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (7:15). In fact he wrote, “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand” (7:21).
But one thing is clear. Paul understand how terrible sin is for anyone. He saw himself as “captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.” He knew sin damned any soul to a devil’s hell for eternity, including his own.
Sin was serious business to Paul. He never took any sin lightly. That is why he cried out, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” He saw no way out - except one. “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (7:25)
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).