"All material is written by
Joe R. Price, unless otherwise
"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)
In this issue:
The Declaration of Independence declares it to be among the “unalienable Rights” endowed to us by our Creator. “The pursuit of Happiness” has been dreamed of, written about and chased after for centuries. Men go to war over it and measure success or failure by it. It is not a bad thing to have a happy life (Eccl. 9:7-9). The trick comes in knowing what true happiness is. From a “this world” perspective, happiness is ever-fleeting, never completely realized. But from a spiritual perspective, joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit we produce as we live in truth (Gal. 5:22). Joy as God defines it gives context to the pursuit of happiness here on earth (Matt. 5:10-12).
The Christian has every reason to live a happy life. God’s great redemptive work, fulfilled in Christ Jesus, causes the reverent of heaven and earth to rejoice (Lk. 2:8-11; Rom. 5:10-11). Our souls lift up a joyful voice to the God of our salvation for all His mighty works that save us from our sins (Psa. 35:9; Isa. 61:10). His promise of abiding care relieves our worries about “this life” concerns (Matt. 6:19-34). Truly, there are many reasons to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4).
From what do you take joy and happiness: Recreation? Work? Family? A good book? A good meal? All of these and more provide elements of happiness in life (Eccl. 2:24-26; 5:18-20). But the most lasting joy we can ever know is that of living for Christ. The reason? Because this is a joy that can never be taken from us. Like the apostles’ joy upon seeing the resurrected Christ, the Christian’s joy cannot be taken away by anyone (Jno. 16:22).
Not that it is always easy to be happy in this sin-cursed world! Satan continually attacks the Christian’s joy with constant assaults against truth, morality and faith. The penetration of trials into our lives, though intended by Satan to produce sorrow and doubt, can produce joy in the life of the Christian who puts his trust in the living God (Jas. 1:2-4; Rom. 5:1-5). Furthermore, by imitating the character of Christ we show ourselves to be worthy citizens of His kingdom – something that brings us lasting joy (Matt. 5:3-12; 1 Pet. 1:3-7).
The joy of Christ is in us when we abide in Him by keeping His commandments (Jno. 15:10-11). We do not have the joy of Christ in our lives when we do not obey the word of truth that the Spirit of God revealed (Gal. 5:16, 18, 25). Just as we sing, so may it be: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”
Their Teacher and Lord was going away. Although He had told them of His departure, one of them professed they did not know where He was going (Jno. 14:4-5). Jesus assured Thomas and the other apostles that “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jno. 14:6).
Jesus gave assurance to their faith in Him by affirming and encouraging them. He said,
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (Jno. 14:1-3).
When your faith begins to falter, remember these comforting words of Jesus and renew your confidence in Him and reliance upon Him. Jesus always keeps His word (“if it were not so, I would have told you”)! By trusting Him we are able to press on to the heavenly goal. Notice what Jesus said on this occasion that gives comfort to all disciples:
1. Belief in God compels belief in Jesus (Jno. 14:1). Jesus is the “Word” who was with God in the beginning, who is God and the Creator of all things, who became flesh and dwelt among men, who brought grace and truth to earth from heaven’s throne and who revealed the Father to mankind (Jno. 1:1-3, 14-18).
The respect and trust one puts in God to give eternal life is rightly given to Jesus (see Jno. 5:21-23). All who truly rely on God will rely on Jesus. The burdens of a heart that is troubled by sin and sorrow are lifted at Calvary (1 Pet. 2:24-25).
2. God’s house has many dwelling places (Jno. 14:2). This is not an endorsement of choosing one’s own way to heaven, for Jesus said He is “the Way” to the Father; the strait way to eternal life (Jno. 14:6; Matt. 7:13-14). No, here Jesus is assuring His disciples there is limitless capacity, abundant care and keeping, in His Father’s house. Soon, the disciples of Christ would be added to the church, the house of God (Acts 2:38, 41, 47; 1 Tim. 3:15). There is room in the kingdom for all who will believe, repent, be baptized and live for Christ (Rom. 1:15-16; Gal. 3:26-29). And, the eternal environs of the heavenly kingdom are boundless. The heavenly abode is spacious and secure. By faith we live for heaven as we journey life’s pathway (Heb. 11:13-16; 2 Pet. 3:11-13).
3. Jesus has prepared a place for us (Jno. 14:2). By His death, resurrection, ascension and exaltation, Jesus opened for sinner’s our access to heaven’s mercy and its eternal mansions (Heb. 2:9-10; 4:14-16; 10:20). He gives sinners rest (Matt. 11:28-30).
4. Jesus will come again and take us home to glory (Jno. 14:3). This world is black with sin, but do not fear: Jesus has overcome the world (Jno. 16:33). With faith in Christ as the Son of God, His victory is yours (1 Jno. 5:4-5).
And isn’t that where Jesus began His
words of assurance in John 14:1? “You believe in God, believe also in
Me.” Oh yes, “where I go you know, and the way you know” (Jno.
14:4). The way to heaven is Jesus. His way is an obedient faith (Mk.
16:16; Jas. 2:21-24). Living by faith confirms and conforms to Christ’s
comforting words: “Let not your heart be troubled.”
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 4:7-16
1. Our speech tells much about
us (Lk. 6:45; Matt. 5:37; 26:73).
I. IT REQUIRES SPEAKING.
A. Our Speech must be Brought
& kept Under Control, Jas. 3:2-5, 8; 1:19; 1 Tim. 4:12; Tit. 2:7-8.
II. SPEAKING THE TRUTH – Eph. 4:25.
A. “What is Truth?” (Jno.
18:38) Matt. 15:7-9; Acts 5:3-4; cf. Prov. 12:17.
III. SPEAKING IN LOVE (1 Cor. 13:6, 3).
A. Requires Addressing the
Need of the Audience, Eph. 4:29; Acts 20:20 (17:16-17); Prov. 27:6 (2 Cor.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Colossians 1:3-12
#1 – “If Adam and Eve were the first two on earth, how did we end up with so many different races?”
1. Adam &
Eve were first humans – 1 Tim. 2:13; Gen. 2:7, 21-22; 3:20; 1 Cor. 15:45.
#2 – Would you explain gossip: What is it? What causes it? What can be done to prevent it?
On Trial for
Preaching God's Word
According to a report from Agape Press, four people have been bound over for trial for preaching against homosexuality at the pro-homosexual “Outfest” event in early October (“Report Says DOJ Lawyers Complicit in Arrest of Christians”, Jim & Jody Brown, Agape Press, crosswalk.com, 06Jan05). A source within the U. S. Department of Justice told WorldNetDaily that homosexual attorneys from the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division were involved in urging their arrest and charge of “ethic intimidation” under Pennsylvania’s new “hate crimes” law (Ibid.)
The apostle Paul was imprisoned for preaching the gospel: “in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned” (2 Cor. 11:23-25). Many others paid similar prices for faith, both before and after the cross of Christ (Heb. 11:36-38; Rev. 2:10).
We should not think that such things cannot happen to us. Although those mentioned in the above incident are not members of the Lord’s church, their trial shows that now, as in the days of the New Testament, when we are willing to speak the truth of God “with all boldness” we will face opposition (Acts 4:29; Phil. 1:20; 2 Tim. 3:12).
Sometimes, even Christians resist the word of God and harm those who speak it (2 Tim. 1:15; 3 Jno. 9-10). The itching ears of men will always bring with them a corresponding amount of affliction for those who preach the word and will not scratch the itch (2 Tim. 4:2-5). Do not say, “It cannot happen today”. It can happen, and continues to happen today throughout the world.
Created by Chuck Sibbing -
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA