The church at Thessalonica got off to a rocky start. The two missionaries, Paul and Silas, who first preached in their city, had to flee by night because of persecution. Later Paul wrote to them and mentioned their “having received the word in much affliction.” (1 Thessalonians 1:6) And again, “Ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen.” (1 Thessalonians 2:14)
But even though the Thessalonians suffered persecution for their faith, they still sounded forth the word of the Lord. Paul wrote, “For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to Godward is spread abroad, so that we need not to speak any thing.” (1 Thessalonians 1:8)
We enjoy much greater religious freedom in our country so that we need not fear persecution. That being the case it should be much easier for us to sound out the word of the Lord in our community. Let’s imitate the church at Thessalonica in spreading the gospel message.
By Neal Pollard
—Whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another commits adultery (Mat. 19:9)
—Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38)
—For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error (Rom. 1:26-27)
—And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord (Eph. 5:18-19)
—A woman is not allowed to teach or exercise authority over a man (1 Tim. 2:11-14)
These passages go against the grain of popular opinion, cultural mores, and religious orthodoxy. Religious leaders with academic degrees, numerous followers, or oratorical skills will not change the truth of Scripture. It is what it is. Our role is to humbly submit.
Do you remember those words from your childhood? I do. There were those times for many of us when our parents told us either to do or not to do something and the reason given was “because I say so.” And I suppose most of us have at times said the same to our children. It simply means “I’m the parent you are the child, so do as you are told.” Similarly, God sometimes reinforces His commands by saying, “I am the Lord.”
In the Book of Leviticus chapter 19 there is a long series of diverse commands given. It’s this chapter that contains the statements “Ye shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy” which the apostle Peter quotes for us. (Leviticus 19:2; 1 Peter 1:16) Also it’s in this chapter that we have, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” which Jesus said was the second greatest commandment. (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39)
How did God reinforce these commands? He said, “I am the Lord your God.” This statement or a variation of it is found according to my count 15 times in that one chapter. The point is that we need to do what God says just because He is God. He is the Lord, therefore, obey Him.
The Bible has a lot to say about decisions. The great men of the Bible were great because of the choices they made. There was Joshua. He called on Israel to “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.” Then added emphatically, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) There was also Moses. He chose “rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” (Hebrews 11:25)
There are many decisions we must make in life. We must choose a mate. This very important decision can determine the whole course of our lives. We must choose an occupation. Remember to make it an honorable one. We must choose our friends. Be very careful here. Remember: “Evil companionships corrupt good morals.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)
We must never forget that decisions determine destiny. This is true not only of the big decisions but of the little ones also. Our eternal destiny will be determined by the total of all our decisions.
“The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is their grey hair.” (Proverbs 20:29)
God makes his children beautiful at any age, but especially in advanced age. There is something magnificent about a life that has matured in the service of the Lord. Surely, “youth holds but half.”
It is tragic indeed that today while there is an unprecedented surge of interest in old material objects many people fail to see the beauty of age in human beings. Older Christians, whose lives are rich and enriching, have a beauty that far outweighs the beauty of material objects. A radiant Christian life is enhanced by age and has a greater depth and richness to it. “The grey head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.” (Proverbs 16:31) God himself is the best operator. He can put a sparkle in the eye, loveliness in the face and beauty in your character. “He hath made everything beautiful in his time.” (Eccl. 3:11)
Adapted from Virgil Bentley
Paul wrote in his epistle to the church at Philippi, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4) Men find many things about which to rejoice – some good, some not so good. For the Christian, however, our highest joy should always be in the Lord.
This joy begins at conversion. Remember the Ethiopian Eunuch. After his confession of faith and baptism – “He went on his way rejoicing.” (Acts 8:39) And then there was the Philippian Jailor. After his baptism – “He…rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.” (Acts 16:34) Maybe you remember your own joy when you came up from the waters of baptism.
But this is only the beginning. The entire Christian life is meant to be one of joy. Not that we do not experience sorrow as do all men. But for the Christian there is always that underlying joy. As Jesus said to his disciples, “Your joy no man taketh from you.” (John 16:22)
So as Paul put it: “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say rejoice.”
The apostle Paul near the close of his earthly life wrote these words to Timothy who had labored with him in the gospel for many years: “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2) Note that in this exhortation there are four generations – first Paul who taught Timothy, second Timothy who in turn is to teach faithful men, third these faithful men will then teach others thus making the fourth. This is the program that keeps God’s truth alive in the world.
The North Main Street Church of Christ has tried to faithfully follow this program for the past sixty years. Young people have grown up here having the gospel message instilled in their hearts. Older folks have benefited by having the truth reinforced in their lives by faithful teachers. There is really no way to estimate the number of lives that have been touched for good over the past sixty year period.
Now as we look to the future we must keep the same commitment to faithfully proclaim the truth from God’s word. In this way the church will continue to be “the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:15)
God through the prophet Amos reminded Israel of the great privilege they enjoyed as God’s chosen people. He said, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth.” (Amos 3:2) It all started with their forefather Abraham and was later confirmed at Mount Sinai when God said to them, “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people.” (Exodus 19:5) What a privilege to be God’s special people.
But with privilege goes responsibility. It was expected of Israel that they obey the voice of God and keep his covenant. But they did not. And so the rest of the statement from Amos was a pronouncement of punishment: “Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” (Amos 3:2).
Today we Christians are God’s special people. “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people.” (1 Peter 2:9) But let’s not forget that with privilege goes responsibility – responsibility to love and obey God.
In Earl Crow’s comments on the Old Testament account of the sun standing still for almost a day (“Should the Bible be taken literally?” Winston-Salem Journal December 17, 2016) we have an example of how many of our religious leaders, in an effort to adapt the Bible to modern culture, totally misread a passage.
First, the Old Testament statement that the sun stood still is no different than our saying we saw the sunrise. Both are statements of observed phenomena of the sun in relationship to the earth as it appears to man as he looks into the sky. Nothing is said in either case of how it happened.
Second, Crow’s saying that “a passage must be understood in the light of the cosmology of the day” seems to suggest that the Old Testament writer did not know that such a thing as the sun standing still was outside the realm of the laws of nature. But the text says clearly: “And there was no day like that before it or after it.” (Joshua 10:14)
The Old Testament writer knew as well as we that the sun standing still is against the laws of nature. That’s the very definition of a miracle – it’s supernatural. One either believes that God did it or not.