Have you ever seen two Christians fighting with each other? Its a sad scene for the lost to behold. The Book of Galatians records such an encounter between the Apostles Paul and Peter, two of the founders of the faith.
“When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray” (Galatians 2:11-13).
Peter was shown by God that he was not to call anyone unclean when God had made them clean (Acts 11:9). And yet here he was showing favoritism to Jewish converts and shunning Gentile converts. That made Paul angry and he confronted Peter because of his hypocrisy. And the saddest part of the story is that Barnabus, an idealistic new believer, was led astray by Peter’s prejudiced behavior.
And that whole dispute is recorded to teach us a valuable lesson for today: Don’t favor any one group of Christian converts over another. We’re all saved by grace.
Bill Massey passed away Thursday morning. Bill was a faithful head usher on Saturday nights and we will miss him.
Bill first started attending New Hope several years ago and was surely rough around the edges. He was a truck driver through and through. But about three years ago he had a change come into his life. I remember him coming to the altar one Saturday night. The Holy Spirit had gotten a hold of him and he wept like a baby. He understood forgiveness and completely surrendered his life to Him. It was a dramatic turn around.
He openly began to talk about what the Lord had done for him and eagerly began to look for ways to serve the Lord. God soon connected him to Janett (Brunger), a recent widow, and they were subsequently married.
Bill is an example of a changed life and I will miss his encouraging words.
What do you remember about Bill Massey?
Pioneers are those who go ahead of others. They blaze the trail. They fight the enemies. They discover the shortcuts. Pioneers go slow, but others follow much more quickly.
John the Baptist was such a forerunner. Jesus spent His 3-year ministry preparing the 12 disciples to be spiritual pioneers; to blaze the trail for others to follow. He sent them ahead to prepare the way.
“Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ They replied, ‘The Lord needs it’.” (Luke 19:32-34).
These disciples who were sent ahead were expected to smooth the way for He who came after, Jesus. When they encountered difficulty (Why are you untying the colt?), they had an answer: “The Lord needs it“.
I listen for those words every day. “The Lord needs it” has precedent over my needs any day. Listen carefully and you’ll hear that reply come from many sources. Jesus cannot do what He’s come to do without disciples who will go ahead. Be a Pioneer.
What is the work of God? Is the church the work of God? Is what we do on the weekend the work of God? Is it preaching or teaching the Bible? Is it soul-winning or feeding the poor? What, exactly, is the work of God?
Jesus pretty clearly defined it in John 6:29. A group of people had pursued Jesus into a remote area. They asked him point blank: “What must we do to do the works of God?” Jesus replied, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent“. The greatest work anyone can do for God is to believe in Jesus. Believing means trusting him. The word ‘believe‘ means ‘faith’.
All the stuff we do is meaningless if it doesn’t spring from faith in Jesus, whom the Father sent. Can it be that we’ve missed God because we’ve been so busy doing things for Him, we forgot what it is to believe? Let’s stir our minds and souls to believe what we say we believe. Let’s wake up.
There is a lot of fear out there regarding Ebola in America. Ebola is a rather new thing in our country. I can remember my grandmother dying of Tuberculosis in 1955. She spent her last days in an Iron Lung at a Butler Nursing Home. I can also remember signs on houses declaring ‘Quarantine’. The resident was to stay inside and everyone else stay away.
Some of my classmates in school, as well as an uncle, had contracted Polio. This disease paralyzed parts of your body. On a Sunday afternoon in 1962, my entire family went to the Butler Elementary School to drink the new Salk Polio Vaccine. It was a massive community project that ended the fear of Polio in our town.
Its been awhile since we’ve had a health care scare in our country. AIDS was scarey, but people didn’t fear because they knew how it spread. Ebola has caught us by surprise.
The only worse thing I can imagine is to be infected with sin and not take the handy antidote that is in plenteous supply: Jesus. Sin is 100% deadly. And it slowly kills those it infects. Their dreams die, their hopes die, their relationships die, and finally they die with no hope. Come to the Community Center this weekend and take your vaccine. Its the only way to live.
The Bible is big into family history. How a man connected with his ancestors affected his role in society and often, his trade in life.
I have spent many years studying the unknowns of my ancestors, long before Ancestry.com made it so easy (and sometimes, deceptive). I had to research each family so I could reconstruct the family links in the correct order. If you have misinformation, you go on a wild goose chase for generations. So, for a genealogist, accuracy is everything. We cannot guess, but must prove every source.
Genealogy is much easier when you’ve been adopted into the family of God. Everyone has the same father, and everyone knows we are brothers and sisters in the same family. We have much in common, generation after generation. And the lessons learned about previous faith generations can be appropriated for my generation, as well.
Whether your ancestors were wonderful or weird, you now have a new spiritual family. Join the Reunion this weekend.
There are two action steps the church must be actively doing if we are to survive: Resuscitation and Resurrection.
Resuscitation is that CPR we give to dying people while its not too late. We help those who are suffocating from overwhelming defeat to breathe in new life. We give hope to the hopeless and sight to the blind. This is a major call God has given the church. Since Jesus has promised us abundant life, we work hard to give that quality of spiritual life to everyone around. That’s Resuscitation.
The second church activity is Resurrection. These are action steps we take when someone is already dead spiritually. They have NO hope. They have NOTHING to believe in anymore. They are dead dead dead. I used to be there. I had some head knowledge of Christ and the Bible, but no faith knowledge. My hope was in myself, and that was dashed. I considered suicide but was too afraid of death to do that. There was nothing to Resuscitate; I needed Resurrected. That’s when I opened my heart to Jesus and my life was changed.
Let’s all find our place in ministry to Resuscitate and Resurrect.