“Older people can remember with nostalgia their childhood homes in which there was often a special room of mystery. It may have been the parlor or possibly the bedroom of a deceased one. In the parlor, there would be special chairs and a sofa of horsehair covering, a phonograph to be played on particular occasions, pictures of an older generation looking down sternly upon the new generation, a family Bible seldom used except to record births, weddings, and deaths, and a stereoscope which could bring before the viewer’s eyes scenes of faraway places.
It is regrettable that in this age of scientific research man desires to uncover all the secrets of the material universe and has largely lost his sense of awe in the presence of the mysterious. No longer do we look at the clouds and, in fancy, see images in their contours, or see ourselves playing upon them and exploring the canyons between. No longer can we close our eyes and, in imagination, visit the great ice lands of the arctic, imagining ourselves there; or visit the deep woods of the North, chatting with the strong, mysterious inhabitants. Largely, we have lost our love and appreciation for mystery and the mysterious.
In the Bible, God’s great temple of spiritual truth, there is one special room filled with mysteries and wonders that fire the imagination to celestial heights and leave us amazed at the grandeur of its portrayal of the spiritual. That room is designated as The Revelation. Man may fathom many of the mysteries of the physical world, coming to an almost complete understanding of them, at least to the point that he loses his sense of awe in their presence. But in contrast, although we can grasp something of Revelation’s meaning and use for us, we never cease to stand in amazement and wonder at its mysteries which continue to challenge us.”
(Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary)
Procrastination is a terrible habit that can invade your life very easily. Like any habit, once it takes hold it is very difficult to change or overcome. Years ago I was sitting in my office at the bank, and a customer entered and tossed a wooden coin onto my desk. I picked it up and found inscribed on one side “A Round Tuit.” The point being made was: don’t get into the habit of procrastination by telling yourself “I will get around to it eventually.” I’m afraid we all use this excuse from time to time to justify doing what we want to do instead of doing what we ought to do!
The Bible has much to say about taking advantage of the opportunities we have today. We have been given no promise of tomorrow. James wrote “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’-yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (4:13,14). Joshua understood this same concept as he prepared the Israelites to live in the land of Canaan without his leadership. He charged them to “choose this day whom you will serve...But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Josh 24:15).
These are but two examples from Scripture which should teach us that today is the day to prepare ourselves for eternity. Paul told the brethren in Corinth, “He says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2). It is true that God has continued to this very day to be patient in giving us time to repent (Rom 2:4). However, His patience will someday come to an end. We must not allow the prospect of tomorrow distract us from where our focus needs to be today. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Mat 6:33,34). My priority for today must be to do what is necessary to please the LORD and to serve Him faithfully in His kingdom.
While the prospects of tomorrow can be distracting, our past can also hinder us. Paul looked forward with anticipation to a future resurrection when he wrote, “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phi 3:13,14). Because he had a reward in the future, Paul determined not to let anything distract him or prevent him from reaching it—including his past. Although he was formerly “a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent” and was “foremost” of sinners, he also “received mercy” and became an example to others who would be saved and come to serve the LORD (1 Tim 1:12-15). Equally important for us is to continue to serve God today despite how faithfully we might have served in the past. While encouraging the Corinthians to run the race before them, Paul acknowledged his own potential to be “disqualified” if he did not continue to serve faithfully (1 Cor 9:24-27).
We have already mentioned the challenge issued by Joshua: “Choose this day whom you will serve.” No one can make that choice for you; each person will make his or her own decision. But beware, because putting the decision off until tomorrow is a decision in itself! God’s eternal purpose is to save mankind from the sins that separate him from the Father. He has done everything necessary to make salvation possible for everyone, but He will force no one to accept it. It is up to us to accept it by being obedient to His instructions. There is no other time to do that but now. Now is the favorable time and now is the day of salvation. Today is the day to make yourself right with God!
We had a very successful Vacation Bible School this year and I want to say “Thank you!” to our teachers and their helpers who we constantly saw in the workroom or in their classrooms preparing for this special series of lessons. Many weekends and evenings were spent working to get things ready. And this can be said for all of our Bible class teachers who instruct throughout the year.
“Thank you!” for sacrificing your time preparing these lessons that contributed to developing the spiritual foundation for young minds. We know that your schedules and “to do” lists are just as full as everyone else’s. The fruit of your labors will be seen in a coming generation of young boys and girls who will know their Bibles -- not just the names of the books, but the content and theme of the Book.
“Thank you!” to our Junior High and High School students who were willing to help out. You may not realize how valuable your example is to the young eyes that watch you. You showed the younger kids how important this effort was. “Thank you” for helping our kids to see the awesome, creative power of God.
I think I speak for all of us as we say “Thank you!” for not just being teachers but, more importantly, for practicing the message you teach. “Thank you!” for caring, for trying to do it better, for succeeding, and for helping our young people to hunger and thirst for righteousness.
And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. (1 Sam 30:6)
One of the most fascinating and admirable characters in the Old Testament was King David. David was far from perfect and yet he was beloved of God and dear to the hearts of his people.
David was anointed king while still a boy, but it was a long time before he actually became king. First, he distinguished himself as a valiant warrior. This brought him favor with the people and with the king initially. But King Saul’s admiration for David quickly turned to envy when the people praised David more than himself.
Soon David found himself an outlaw, being persecuted by the king and often betrayed by his own people. Saul would have killed him if he’d had the chance.
That was bad enough, but one day while David and his men were away from the town where he lived (Philistine territory), the Amalekites came, raided the town and captured their wives and children together with all the valuable goods of the city. David’s two wives were taken, and the 600 men with David threatened to kill him because of the tragedy. This was very distressing to David. It seemed his troubles were insurmountable. However, David had a way of dealing with such reverses that you and I can also use.
The record says “David strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (1 Sam 30:6). David communicated with God. He carried his burdens to the Lord and asked for help. This is the very best thing to do in such a situation, but it is sometimes very hard to do. David might have become resentful and blamed the Lord for not taking better care of him. He might have reasoned that, if God were even looking, He didn’t care. However, David’s attitude toward God was right and his means of dealing with a crisis worked very well. He strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
There is another source of strength when troubles come. Earlier in David’s career, he had saved the city of Keilah from the Philistines. David thought, surely the people of Keilah would have enough gratitude to protect him from his enemy. King Saul had sent out soldiers to capture him. Inquiring of the Lord, David learned that the citizens of Keilah would not protect him and his men but would hand him over to the king. So, David had to flee into the wilderness (see 1 Samuel 23).
It must have been like a cool drink of water on a hot, dry day when David’s friend Jonathan caught up with him at Horesh! Jonathan “strengthened his hand in God” (1 Sam 23:16). He shared David’s faith in God. He troubled himself to go through that hot, barren desert to encourage and support his friend. What a privilege to have such a friend as Jonathan!
Most of us have received such encouragement from some thoughtful brother or sister in Christ. How very much we appreciate that! Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing for all of us to go and do likewise?
Northpark church of Christ bulletin
September 12, 1984
These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens. (Genesis 2:4)
This year we have chosen to focus our vacation Bible school lessons on the day of creation as well as the destruction of the world by flood. We know it is important to begin discussing these events at an early age in our children’s lives. Men consistently and relentlessly attempt to discredit God and deny He exists. Commonly this is done by offering differing theories as to the origins of our world which contradict the Bible account. Our children must be able to see the truth of the matter as presented in the Scriptures. Their faith depends on it!
As we prepare to teach our children and their friends about the creation and flood, it is good for us to refresh our minds concerning what occurred and why. Please consider the following information as it pertains to the significance of the day of creation:
Background- Keep in mind the “day of creation” refers to the entire week of creation. On day one God established day and night, a twenty-four hour period. We have no evidence to prove otherwise. An important fact also to note is God’s eternal nature. Moses said, “From everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Psa 90:2). Jesus acknowledged this when He said to the Father, “Glorify me in Your own presence with the glory that I had with You before the world existed” (Jn 17:5). Additionally, we must remember Jesus is God and was involved in the work of creation (Jn 1:1-3; Col 1:16,17). Finally, part of God’s plan, even before He began to create, was to have a people He could love and who would love Him in return (Eph 1:3-6; Rev 13:8).
Significant details– God spoke and this world came into existence at His command (Gen 1:1ff). There was an orderly method to God’s creation as well. In Genesis 1 we find not only God creating something different during each 24-hour period, but there was a definite pattern to the six days of creation (light, sea and sky, land and vegetation; then lights, sea life and birds, land animals and man). Furthermore, God finished His creation. At the end of day six God looked at His creation and deemed it “very good.” Genesis 2:1 says, “thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.”
Important lessons– As we consider the facts and details of the day of creation, God’s nature becomes evident. Creation serves as a witness to the limitless power of God. David proclaimed, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork” (Psa 19:1). Paul stated in similar fashion, “His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Rom 1:20). None of creation happened spontaneously or by accident! We also understand God’s providence when we consider the day of creation. The very fact His work in creation could be finished highlights His providence. It is because of His providence all things hold together (Col 1:17). Finally, the fact God created us in His image (Gen 1:26,27) makes us unique from all other created things. We have a spirit which no other created being has been given (Eccl 3:19-21; 12:7). We are God’s stewards concerning His creation and have been given dominion over it (Psa 8:4-8).
We hope our families will take advantage of this teaching effort and we encourage you to invite your friends to join us as we discover what God’s creation is all about.
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep (Ps 127:1-2, ESV).
This author asserts true success depends upon God’s blessings. He uses examples taken from the family as well as the state to prove lasting protection, stability, peace and comfort depend upon God’s blessings and are independent of man’s attempts to ensure them, guarantee them or attain them using his own abilities. In spite of what this Holy Spirit-inspired writer states, man tends to leave God behind and try to build a happy and successful life using his own feeble knowledge and skills. The result is certain failure!
This is particularly true when we consider what makes for a happy and stable home. Man has wrongly convinced himself happiness consists of doing what satisfies the desires of the moment. Instant gratification is what we desire, and at whatever cost! The outcome is a society plagued with the problems associated with substance abuse, crime, divorce, children being born out of wedlock, sexual perversion, etc. How can the Lord’s people avoid such issues?
Today during the 11a.m. service we will begin a series of sermons designed to help us build a Christ-centered home. I firmly contend our responsibility of being lights to the world involves building strong, God-fearing and obedient families. I also believe we labor in vain if we attempt to build a family without God’s will as our guide. The series will likely span eight lessons and touch upon subjects such as Christ-centered marriages, duties of spouses, children, and the unmarried, and resolving conflict. The lesson topics will be announced two weeks in advance. I hope you will invite everyone you think will benefit from hearing these sermons.
“The Times They Are A-Changin’” is a song written by Bob Dylan and released as the title track of his 1964 album of the same name. reported-ly, Dylan intended for the song to be an anthem of change for the mo-ment. These are the final words of the song: Come mothers and fathers throughout the land, and don’t criticize what you can’t understand. Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command. Your old road is rapidly agin’. Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand, for the times they are a-changin’. Depending on your point of view, the changes alluded to in the song represented either a period of human decline or one of social “maturity.”
Unfortunately, this song could be the anthem for many who are at-tempting to bring the Lord’s church into “maturity”. The body of Christ is being influenced by denominational and humanistic approach-es to worship, inclusion and even techniques for church growth. The Israelites embraced a similar attitude at the end of Samuel’s tenure as their judge (1 Samuel 8). As Samuel became old, he named his sons judges. However, they did not walk in his ways, took bribes and per-verted justice. So, the people asked Samuel to appoint a king to judge them like all the nations around them. After all, they were progressing toward “maturity”. This request displeased Samuel and he prayed to the LORD. God told him to obey the people. God said, “They have rejected me from being King over them” (1 Sam. 8:7). The Israelites’ push for change was viewed as rejection by Jehovah. It led to their demise.
Yes, even today “the times they are a-changin’.” Those who call for changes in the Lord’s church which are contrary to His will are quite likely those spoken of in 1 Tim. 4:1ff and 2 Pet. 2:1ff. We must strive to adhere to the teachings of the Scriptures and steer clear of vain spec-ulations and philosophies of men. We must not be so anxious to hear something new and pleasing that we are willing to change what God wants to remain unchanged!
My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, My Guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, Turned back, diluted or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, Hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, Ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in a maze of mediocrity. I won’t give up, shut up, let up or slow up.
This past week I was looking through my daily planner and I ran across a bookmark which had the previous words of profound prose written on it. The title is simply “Heaven Bound.” I wish I could give credit to the author, but it was written anonymously. These words ought to describe the life-goal of every Christian.
I have thought often about heaven lately, perhaps partly because I have attended the funerals of several faithful saints during the last couple of months. The scripture which says, “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart” (Eccl. 7:2) is making more sense to me than ever. You see, God uses these cir-cumstances to focus our attention on our lives, the fleeting nature of them, and what lies beyond this earthly existence. For a Christian, they point our focus toward heaven.
John wrote, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev 21:3-4). What a wonderful and unimaginable place God has prepared for us! As you begin this new year, make a point of thinking of, and preparing more for heaven.
“As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving” (Col. 2:6-7).
It is evident in Colossians chapter 2 that Paul has a deep abiding feeling for these brethren. He wants them to know how much he worries about them. In their struggles with the Judaizers, he wants them to be knit together and drawn closer to Christ. They are in danger of being lead astray. So, to encourage them, he tells them he is with them in spirit and that he desires they continue to be rooted and built up in Christ.
Apart from Christ and His revealed will, there is a danger for all men that we will be open conduits through which all manner of vain philoso-phy and deceit flows. We may not have Judaizers today but religion is ripe with doctrines that condemn man instead of saving man. Given the opportunity to believe anything or nothing, man will believe anything. And seemingly, man will believe in anyone except Jesus Christ. Only in Christ can man be saved. Only in Christ can man be close to God. Only in Christ can men be brothers and be knit close together.
Real life, real love, real relationships are found in Christ. When we be-come one with Him, we have real meaning and purpose. Why then would we believe any other? Why would we allow ourselves to be de-ceived by another? We can have the real thing: Jesus Christ. Anything else and anyone else has just an appearance of wisdom and humility. Christ is the only one that gives meaning and value to life. Therefore, be rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as we have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. He gave His life that we might have life. If we live with Him, we will die with Him. All that is of the world and its philosophies lead to a bondage resulting in destruc-tion. Freedom is in Christ and freedom leads to life.
In the Bible, we find references to mysterious beings known as cherubim and seraphim, but what exactly are they? The answer is, for the most part, unknown.
Many in the religious world explain cherubim (and also sera-phim) as a high ranking, special class of angels. However, this claim is never made in the Bible. Blocher states that there is no scripture which identifies cherubim (or seraphim for that mat-ter) with angels (Henri Blocher, In The Beginning). There isn’t even a scripture that links them together. The Bible usually de-scribes them in the plural (cherubim as opposed to the singular cherub), which means there must be more than one. Instead of cute and chubby as they are often depicted in modern art, the Bible describes them as beings of power that are rather terrify-ing. Ezekiel describes them as living beings that go forth as burning coals, as flashes of lightning (Ezek. 1:13-14), whose purpose is to carry out the divine will in the execution of judgement (Homer Hailey, Revelation). Ezekiel also describes them as having four wings, hands, feet, and four faces each. The faces reflect what appear to be glorious aspects of God’s earthly creation: Man, lion, ox, and eagle. Robert Harkrider states that the man represents intelligence and reason; the lion reflects strength; the ox reflects patient service and endurance; and the eagle reflects penetrating vision and swiftness. They are also revealed as fierce guardians of things that are holy and sacred (Gen. 3:24; Exo. 25:18). Ezekiel describes the throne of God as being above them, where there is an expanse between them (Ezek. 1:22-28, 10:1).