Don’t Devalue What You Purchased

Posted: January 18th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

“But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings… Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward” (Heb 10:32-35).

The Hebrew writer said that after his readers had become Christians they “endured a great struggle with sufferings.” But he encouraged them not to give up the “great reward” they were pursuing. “Do not cast away your confidence,” he said. The Hebrews needed to remember something we all need to remember: good things come at a price—and when the price begins to hurt, we have to recall the value of what we have gained.

Life is full of what we call “tradeoffs.” A tradeoff is the giving up of one advantage for another advantage of greater benefit. It is hard to imagine any significant gain in the real world where this kind of exchange does not have to be made. We do it all the time, understanding that there are very few blessings that don’t have a downside, very few pluses that don’t have some minuses.

The problem comes when the present moment begins to exert a powerful pull on us. I may have moved further outside the city for the benefit of my family, but when I’m caught in traffic during that two-hour commute, the frustration of that moment is all I can think of. It is easy to forget the plus for which I accepted that minus. “So I’ll just get a job in a small town,” I say. But that too will have its disadvantages. The fact is, everything has its price. The only question is: which advantages do you want the most, and what disadvantages are you willing to accept in order to obtain them?

As people who are reaching forward to heaven, let’s not “cast away [our] confidence, which has great reward.” When we’re in the midst of “a great struggle with sufferings,” we need to remember that there was a time when we counted the cost of discipleship and decided that the advantages were worth the disadvantages. Now that the disadvantages are pressing upon us heavily, the thing to do is back up and remember the goodness of the advantage that we gained. May we never devalue what we have purchased. Being found in Christ at the resurrection is worth whatever tradeoff has to be made, In fact, it is worth a good deal more than that.

“Let us not be shocked by the suggestion that there are disadvantages to the life in Christ. There most certainly are” (A. W. Tozer).

-Gary Henry

 


Faith Without Answers

Posted: January 11th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

The Bible is clear from beginning to end that God’s faithful servants “walk by faith” (see Heb 11). That faith for man today is based on clear, indisputable, historical evidence that God is, that Jesus is His Son, and that Bible is the word of God. But once man’s faith is established on the foundation of truth, does that faith ask questions? Certainly! But does it have to have answers? Absolutely not! Faith rests on God’s word and its maintenance is not dependent on explanations of all that God has said or commanded.

Noah. Noah, for example, was moved by faith and godly fear to build an ark in which to save his family from a universal flood that destroyed the evil world of his time (see Heb 11:7). Did this righteous man have questions? Undoubtedly. Think about it. Will an ark of the dimensions called for by God’s pattern float? Is there really enough water available to cover mountains three, four, or five miles high? Will a loving and merciful God really destroy all mankind, except for my family and me? By faith Noah knew the answers to all of these questions and many others that may have crossed his mind. He knew without a scientific, rational explanation from God that the answers were “Yes.” This was a man moved by “godly fear,” by a genuine reverence for God. Human reason with its explanations was unnecessary to motivate this man to obey.

Abraham. Abraham was another man of old who walked and lived by faith. By faith in God this father of the faithful pulled up his tent stakes, assembled his family around him, gathered his herds and flocks, and journeyed to a land that he had never seen (Heb 11:8). Does anyone doubt that, though a man of faith, that this ancient patriarch had questions? Surely, he did! Where is this land? Is it as fertile as this Mesopotamia valley? Is it flat or hilly? How large is it? No successful, rational herdsman could avoid such thoughts and questions. But was he hindered from going until someone fully answered all the problems that such a move stirred up in his mind? Not for a man who had listened to the voice of God and trusted the words he had heard. Abraham by faith, the Hebrews writer says, “went out, not knowing whither he went.”

Israel. By the time of Joshua, after the doubts and murmuring of Israel during the wilderness wandering, Israel got its act together and put its faith in God. So when God gave them what might seem to be an “irrational” order, they by faith obeyed. God instructed them to march around the walls of Jericho once a day for six days and seven times the seventh day. At the end after certain other orders were followed, God said the walls of the city would fall (Heb 11:30; Josh 6). How could any man’s mind not wonder: What does marching around a city, blowing ram’s horns, and shouting have to do with causing the walls of a city to collapse? But when God is at work, there need be no logical explanation or understanding by man; only, as with Israel, the “faith” to obey.

This is not to say that God’s will and God’s word are irrational, but that at times they are super-rational. When God’s thoughts are not man’s thoughts, man will logically ask questions (see Isa 55:8-9). But only unbelievers or men weak in faith will insist on answers before they obey. Why must sinners be immersed in water to be saved (Mark 16:16; Rom 6:4)? Why is it wrong for two men or two women to marry one another if they are in love (Rom 1:26-27)? Why is adultery the only grounds for divorce and remarriage (Matt 19:9)? Why did God not authorize mechanical instruments of music when singing praises to Him (Eph 5:19)? Faith needs no answers!! Faith obeys because God said it (see Rom 10:17).

-L. A.

 


Where Is The Will of God

Posted: January 11th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter” (Matt 7:21).

This passage makes it clear that God’s will should be paramount to us. We want to be among those who do the will of the Father in heaven. We want to be in that heavenly kingdom. The only way that we can know if we are pleasing Him is if He has somehow told us what pleases Him. We cannot just read His mind. We cannot presume to know what He wants. He has to tell us if we are to know what He thinks.

Nature is a witness to God. Yet nature alone does not answer the question, “Where is the will of God?” The will of God is in the mind of God. Through creation, God demonstrated His power and divine nature. We can gather from this that He is powerful, benevolent, and awesome, but we cannot know His will unless He communicates His mind to us. This is the purpose of His special revelation. This is the reason for Scripture.

Paul made this very point. Faith must rest not upon the wisdom of men, but upon the power of God (1 Cor 2:1-5). God’s wisdom has the power to save, not man’s. Yet the only way to know God’s wisdom is through His special revelation: “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him” (v 9). What God has prepared for those who love Him must be told, not assumed. For all the power displayed through creation, God’s will did not enter the heart of man until God revealed it through His Spirit (vv 10-14). No one knows the thoughts of God except His Spirit, and the Spirit revealed God’s will “so that we may know the things freely given to us by God” (v 12). Paul’s point through this is that “we have the mind of Christ” because He has revealed His mind to us through the inspired Scriptures.

God’s will for us, then, is found in the Scriptures, the revealed word of God. We encourage everyone to enjoy the creation of God. Smell the roses, marvel at the stars, and stand in awe of the mountains. However, to know God’s will for your life, study the Scriptures and devote yourself to practicing what He desires. The Scriptures are profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. They are completely able to adequately equip us to do everything God wants (2 Tim 3:16-17). The Scriptures can build us up and prepare us for the inheritance that God will give to His faithful saints (Acts 20:32). Let the word be implanted in your heart, for it has the power to save (James 1:21; Rom 1:16). “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you” (Col 3:16). This is God’s will for us all.

-Doy Moyer

 


Giving The Lord That Which Costs Us

Posted: January 3rd, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

“Then the king said to Araunah, ‘No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing.’ So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver” (2 Sam 24:24)

Any love that will not make a sacrifice for the beloved is not true love. By its very nature, love is giving, and the higher the quality of the love, the more costly a sacrifice the lover is willing to make as a gift. In the direst need, love would give all that one had to give, even to the extent of life itself (John 15:13)

When King David found himself needing to make a burnt offering to the Lord, beseeching His favor on behalf of the people of Jerusalem, Araunah offered to donate the offering necessary for the sacrifice. “No,” said David, “But I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which cost me nothing.” David apparently understood that a sacrifice is not a sacrifice unless it is a… sacrifice!

Today, we are often tempted to do what David refused to do: give the Lord that which cost us nothing (or very little). Many of us live in lands of abundance. When it comes to money, we can give sums of money to the Lord’s work that seem large, but which represent no real sacrifice on our part. We can give and still have plenty left over. But the giving of money is only the tip of this subject’s iceberg. Whether it is time, energy, allegiance, or whatever, we often seem willing to give only that which is easy to give.

We need to learn the principle of sacrifice and acquaint ourselves with the value of giving things to the Lord even when we can hardly see any way to survive without them. And when the magnitude of what we’ve given begins to weigh heavily upon us, we need to remember the love that motivated our sacrifice, knowing that it is “a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7) whom the Lord loves.

So if the value of what we’ve given up for the Lord is any indication, how much can we say we love Him? We’re not talking about works righteousness here; we’re talking about love. And even among those whom we love in this world, how much love is indicated by the costliness of what we’ve given up for them?

-Gary Henry

 


Resolutions: Let’s Be Serious

Posted: January 3rd, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

We have read, preached, and written a lot over the years about “New Year’s Resolutions.” But more often than not the tradition to “resolve” and the failure to follow through is the subject of a good laugh and a few jokes. People talk about “diets,” getting “organized,” use of “time,” developing “talents,” better “hygiene,” etc. And then after all these plans and before the first week is out, or at most the month, they are poking fun at themselves and others about how they failed.

This, of course, in some sense, is no big deal when we are talking about matters of this world and improvements we plan to make in temporal matters related to this life. Whether we lose 10 pounds or gain 15, whether we drink fewer cokes and eat fewer sweets, whether we floss our teeth or put our dirty clothes in the hamper, etc. have little eternal consequences.

But when we make spiritual resolutions before God and promise to serve Him more diligently or faithfully—we speak of matters that matter. And we are not saying here that a “resolution” is a “vow,” although it could be. But we are looking at resolutions to do things that God has taught and authorized us to do. If God, for example, has taught us to pray, to encourage weak brethren, visit the sick, study His word, train our children in the ways of righteousness, love our wives as Christ loved the church, honor and esteem our parents, show hospitality to brethren and strangers—then we not only need to purpose these things but to in fact do them. They are certainly not matters that can be treated casually.

Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, rebuked Pharisees severely for speaking oaths and then failing to keep them. This we know is a grave matter that is to be taken seriously. Yes, they were being insincere and hypocritical about the basis of their oaths and, as a result, the obligation to keep them. They swore by some things that obligated them and by others that were inconsequential. So they said (see Matt 23:16-22). Jesus, however, had earlier moved the discussion beyond oaths and taught the disciples: “But let your speech be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay” (Matt 5:33-37). This was the Lord’s way of saying rather simply to the disciples: You must keep your word. His point is that an oath or vow has nothing to do with the essence of a disciple’s speech. When a Christian gives his word, whether by oath or not, he is responsible to keep it.

I am trying here to make a broader point. This principle applies to us as God’s people whether we have resolved secretly within the counsels of our hearts or openly before our spouses or brethren in Christ. When we commit ourselves to think, say, or do the will of God, we are to keep our commitments. How, in other words, can we resolve to pray daily, weekly, or whatever and then joke about how soon we failed in this important aspect of our lives in Christ. How can we plan in 2016 to call discouraged brethren or visit shut-ins more often and then smile a month later when we have done neither.

These and many other obligations brethren have before the Lord are truly objects of resolutions—which should both be made and kept. The point is, brethren: let us not look lightly upon “making” them and let us not joke about not “keeping” them. Resolutions of this kind to do the will of God are important and we need to make them. But keeping resolutions is likewise important and we must be faithful to our word. But it is especially significant that we not take lightly our failures. Let’s resolve, brethren, as we enter a new year, but let’s also take these resolutions seriously.

-L. A.

 


A Tribute To Roy Allen

Posted: December 28th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

Roy Allen was born March 6, 1927 and died December 17 this year after a long battle with bone marrow cancer. He was 88 years old. He was born in Arkansas, but spent many years of his life in the St. Louis area. He lived here for a time in the early 1950s, moved away, and then returned in the 1970s. Soon after he returned, he began worshipping with the saints at Kirkwood. He was a good Bible student, disciple of reputable character, and a man with leadership qualities. He had served as an elder in the Wendell Avenue church in Louisville, KY before moving here. When asked to serve in that capacity at Kirkwood, he accepted, was appointed, and served as an elder among us for more than 40 years. Earlier this year, for health reasons, Roy decided he could no longer adequately fulfill this role and chose to resign. With regret the church accepted his resignation.

I first met Roy Allen 37 years ago when in 1978 I visited Kirkwood as an evangelist and met with him and the other elders to discuss moving here to work with this congregation. After agreement was reached with the elders, I moved to Kirkwood April 1, 1979. I have worked here as an evangelist since that day. In 1997 I was selected and appointed to serve as an elder alongside Roy and Ezra Thetford. During this time, I came to know and appreciate both the character and talent of Roy Allen.

He was a devoted and protective husband who had deep concern for the well-being of his wife Eunice. He was decisive about his role as a husband and alert beyond normal to any harm or hurt that might come to her. He and Eunice had three daughters and Roy as their father loved them and was particularly concerned about their spiritual upbringing and development in the Lord. They in time all became Christians and continue to this day to serve God.

Roy was a serious and capable student of the scriptures and until his later years committed himself especially to teaching adult classes. He was fond of the epistle to the Romans and the gospel of John and displayed an overall knowledge of God’s scheme of redemption in his classes on Romans. There were times he presented more detail in his classes than average students might prefer, but serious Bible students appreciated the value of the material he presented.

Roy understood the nature and character of the first century church and was always strong and adamant in his defense of these truths. His responses in business meetings and in elders meetings were always clear and on occasions succinct and sharp. Brethren have been offended by his remarks, but there was not a “mean” bone in his body. Yes, he was decisive and a man of conviction who was frank and unalterable when he felt a point of truth must be clarified. But he, as with me on one particular occasion, recognized when he had crossed the line and was quick to apologize. And never at any time was there a grievance between him and me that threatened our relationship or the good of this church.

There were unresolved matters of truth and error when I moved to Kirkwood and Roy Allen as much as any of the elders supported me in the kind of preaching that was necessary to stabilize the work. No evangelist wants to stand alone when serious issues face God’s people. They always welcome the encouragement of devoted servants of God in troubled times and I in all my years here received that from Roy Allen. Alongside these words of tribute I offer my thanks to God for my years of association and work with Roy Allen in the kingdom of God. He was a blessing to both me and this body of saints.

-L. A.

 


Evangelism Pep Talk – December 2015

Posted: December 28th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

Motivation

“My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness And of Your salvation all the day long; For I do not know the sum of them” (Ps 71:15).

We tend to talk about things that we are excited or passionate about. Our conversations steer towards these topics with ease. Maybe its Cardinals baseball, golf, cooking and decorating, politics, or the newest movie in theaters. Since these topics are often on our minds, they frequently show up on our lips as well.

This principle should be no different when it comes to spiritual matters. If our relationship with the Lord, the furtherance of His work, and the well-being of His people is of primary importance in our hearts, it will be something that we want to talk about. We should constantly want to share this central part of our lives in all our interactions.

Sometimes we feel like all spiritual aspects of our life must be compartmentalized and kept separate from those whom it may offend. I can talk all day about my political opinions and sports allegiances, but bring up religion and I’ve crossed the line.

The scriptures do not advocate such a line. While we must not present our faith to others in an offensive manner, we must not shrink back from wearing our religion on our sleeve. The Psalmist told others of God’s salvation all the day long, not just when he was inside the temple among believers. The apostles could not stop speaking of the things they had witnessed regarding Jesus (Acts 4:20).

If our relationship and service to God is truly the first priority in our life, it should be evident to all those we interact with on a daily basis. We cannot shine our light if we keep it tucked away in the “religion compartment” of our lives. Let us strive more and more to include the Lord in our conversation each day and to share His salvation with all those we meet.

Information

This past month has been very encouraging from an evangelistic perspective. We had visitors at all of our meetup studies, some for the first time. We have been able to set up one new personal study from these contacts. And we continue to pursue multiple evangelistic studies that have been set up over the last few months. Our meetup studies scheduled for the next month are already getting RSVPs from both return visitors and new visitors. Our opportunities to sow the seed of the gospel continue to multiply from this effort.

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported these studies in your prayers, encouragement, and participation. I especially want to thank Scott Bale and L. A. for leading in these studies. And I want to give an extra special thanks to Scott for supporting and encouraging our meetup efforts from the very beginning. He has faithfully attended these studies through disappointing, fruitful, and challenging times. And now as a co-administrator of our meetup site, he has been very active in promoting these studies.

Yet, as appreciated as the contribution of all the saints here is, we recognize that we are just sowing and watering. God will give the increase (1 Cor 3:6). God has blessed us with this growth in our evangelistic efforts and if any fruit comes from these studies, He deserves all the credit. Continue to pray for His blessing in evangelism and do not neglect to give Him thanks for the doors He is opening.

In addition to our meetup studies, I am continuing to correspond with a few different evangelistic contacts through emails and texts. Some have expressed interest in visiting our assembly or getting together for further studies. Please continue to keep these efforts in your prayers as well.

Stay salty, stay bright, and keep sowing the seed!

-Grady

 


“This Is Good”

Posted: December 28th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

An African king had a close friend with whom he grew up. The friend had a habit of looking at every situation that ever occurred in his life (positive or negative) and remarking, “This is good!”

One day the king and his friend were out on a hunting expedition. The friend would load and prepare the guns for the king. The friend had apparently done something wrong in preparing one of the guns, for after taking the gun from his friend, the king fired it and his thumb was blown off.

Examining the situation the friend remarked as usual, “This is good!” To which the king replied, “No, this is not good!” and proceeded to send his friend to jail.

About a year later, the king was hunting in an area that he should have known to stay clear of. Cannibals captured him and took them to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake, and bound him to the stake.

As they came near to set fire to the wood, they noticed that the king was missing a thumb. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone that was less than whole. So untying the king, they sent him on his way.

As he returned home, he was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his treatment of his friend. He went immediately to the jail to speak with his friend. “You were right” he said, “It was good that my thumb was blown off.” And he proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened. “And so I am very sorry for sending you to jail for so long. It was bad for me to do this.”

“No,” his friend replied, “this is good!”

“What do you mean, ‘this is good’! How could it be good that I sent my friend to jail for a year?”

“If I had not been in jail, I would have been with you.”

-Author Unknown

“We know that all things work together for good to them that
love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose”
(Rom 8:28)

“It is good for me that I was afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes”
(Ps 119:71)

 


What Do You Believe?

Posted: December 21st, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

One man said to his friend,

“What do you believe about God?”

“I believe what my church believes.”

“What does your church believe?”

“My church believes what I believe.”

“What do you and your church believe?”

“We both believe the same thing.”

It is sad to say, but this is about all some people know about God and His written word. Many, it seems, are counting on someone else to do their own study of the Bible. Paul warns us, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor 5:10). We must all, as individuals, stand before the judgment seat of Christ. We cannot rely on anyone else at that time, but we will all receive what we individually deserve from the Lord. Paul continued, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Cor 5:11). If I can persuade you of only one thing today, it is this: please study your Bible for yourself.

Do you have the same love for the Bible that the writer of Psalm 119 had? Each of its twenty-eight sections is devoted to praise for God’s revelation. Each section extols the power of the Bible. Verses 113-120 are typical of the beautiful thoughts about the Word:

“I hate vain thoughts: but Thy law do I love. Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in Thy word. Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God. Uphold me according unto Thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope. Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto Thy statutes continually. Thou hast trodden down all them that err from Thy statutes: for their deceit is falsehood. Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross: therefore I love Thy testimonies. My flesh trembleth for fear of Thee; and I am afraid of Thy judgments.”

Can you truly say with the psalmist, “I hate vain thoughts: but Thy law do I love”?

-Bob Prichard

 


Riding Out The Storms

Posted: December 21st, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

Paul told the Romans that his desire was to go to Rome. He would make it to Rome, but probably not in the way he imagined. He would go as a prisoner. Even so, his journey to Rome would be filled with peril, for in the middle of the Mediterranean the ship he was on encountered a storm that threatened the lives of all on board (Acts 27). When we consider that the bulk of the passengers were also prisoners, one would have to wonder how these people would deal with an impending tragedy.

The storm was going to hit, but God was still in control even when the fear had gripped those on the ship. Imagine the scene: violent winds driving the ship, no control over the direction, and they begin to jettison cargo. Neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and with the violence of the storm, all hope of being saved was gradually abandoned. Add to this that they were now without food. Hunger. Fear. Impending death. How could they deal with this?

Paul had warned them not to sail at that time, but the captain refused to listen (perhaps even mirroring the attitude of those who refused to listen to the Gospel for salvation). Yet Paul, not bitter, offers more encouraging words: “Yet now I urge you to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood before me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you. Therefore, keep up your courage, men, for I believe God that it will turn out exactly as I have been told” (vv. 22-25).

The question that then remained was whether or not they could trust God. This has ever been the question. Can we trust God? When the storms hit the hardest, can we trust that God is still in charge? Can we take comfort in His guiding hand? Can we trust that He does know what is best? Paul’s attitude is stellar. “I believe God.” Period. No second-guessing. No demanding why. Just, “I believe God.” With this in mind, we offer the following lessons:

1. When the storms hit, God is still in control. We live in a world that is storm-tossed, and we cannot escape that fact. Accepting that God is in control should never depend on our lives being storm-free. God might just be in that whirlwind, telling us to trust Him (see Job 38).

2. Trusting God is a matter of accepting His promises. “I believe God” is not just a statement of believing God exists; it is a statement of believing that He rewards those who diligently seek Him (Heb 11:6). God keeps His word.

It is important to recognize that God never promised that our lives would be easy or pain-free. Some use the problem of suffering as a way to deny God, but God’s promises are not based upon a pain-free life. Rather, the ultimate promises we look to go beyond the here and now. We look not at the things that are seen but at the things unseen (2 Cor 4:17-18). We must keep this perspective in place.

3. Storms provide us with opportunities:

  • to trust God and grow closer to Him
  • to trust others (could those on the ship trust what Paul was saying?)
  • to be more like God Himself in compassion, love, and generosity
  • to pray
  • to glorify God
  • to serve God’s greater purposes

It is difficult for us to know exactly what God may have in mind when we go through those storms. It may well be that He intends for us to be a blessing to others in helping them come to a greater realization of why they are here. If our pain can help unite, strengthen, and give proper spiritual perspective to more people, then let God be glorified in the storms.

-Doy Moyer