"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:
Brother Tom Russell taught a good lesson last Wednesday night based on 1 Chronicles 12:32: “…of the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, their chiefs were two hundred…” Noting the evil of this present age and our need to recognize it and reject it, brother Tom turned our attention to God’s word of truth and the salvation from sin found only in Jesus.
Please continue to think with me for a moment about “understanding the times” in which we live. Some things God wants us to understand about the times include knowing…
1) The days are evil, Eph. 5:16. Life is filled with calamities, perils, hardships and sin. People who “understand what the will of the Lord is” will “walk circumspectly” (Eph. 5:15-17). One must carefully watch to identify the dangers to our souls, diligently avoiding sin and redeeming the opportunities we have to do God’s will. If you do not know God’s will for your life, you can learn. God’s inspired word, the Bible, will equip you to face the evil of the world without being overcome by it (2 Tim. 3:16-17). It teaches about sin and how to be saved from it. It speaks of God, who blesses and saves His people through His Son, Jesus Christ. The prayer of Jesus for His apostles was not that the Father “should take them out of the world; but that You should keep them from the evil one.” Since they were “not of the world,” Jesus prayed the Father would “sanctify them by your truth. Your word in truth” (Jno. 17:15-17). We must understand the will of the Lord and not live carelessly, or the evil of sin will destroy us.
2) Our days on this earth are short, Psa. 90:10. Even if one lives eighty years and beyond, life “is soon cut off, and we fly away.” Because life is short, some unwisely choose to “go for the gusto” and live for the moment – which really means they selfishly live for themselves. In Psalm 90, Moses knows God’s wrath against sin is certain. He concludes that in view of God’s wrath as well as the brevity of life, we should “number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psa. 90:12). Understanding the times prompts one to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall both live, and do this or that” (Jas. 4:15).
3) There is nothing new under the sun, Eccl. 1:9-10. Life brings its share of monotony: “one generation passes away, and another generation comes” (Eccl. 1:4). In this world, things wear out, break, decay and lose their luster over time. Finally, we die (Eccl. 7:2; 12:1-7).
In view of life’s transitory nature, how utterly vain and foolish it is to lay up treasures on this earth (Matt. 6:19; Lk. 12:17-21). The “desire to be rich” is “the love of money” that snares many souls (1 Tim. 6:9-10). We should lay up treasures in heaven Instead of living for things that “perish with the using” (Matt. 6:19-20). If you are driven more by “how much money I can make” and “how much money I can spend” and “what I can buy next,” etc., it is time to reevaluate your priorities. One who has amassing material things as his goal is making this world his home. He has failed to “understand the times” in which he lives. What about you?
4) Evil will not be victorious, Rom. 8:37. From the first sin in the garden, God began to reveal that He would conquer the old serpent, Satan. The seed of woman, who would also be the Son of God, would strike the death blow (Gen. 3:15; Gal. 4:4-5). “God gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 5:57). Christians are assured “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37).
Faith is tested as we live in a world full of evil. Some wonder, “How could God allow all the evil in the world? If there is a God, why is there so much pain and suffering on earth?” Such sentiments question the integrity of God and undermine faith in Him. It is sin that brought death into this world, not God (Gen. 2:17; 3:4-13; Rom. 5:12). Consequently, human beings live with the toil, trials and testing of the flesh before returning to dust (Gen. 3:17-19). We experience physical decline and death because of Adam, not God (1 Cor. 15:22).
“Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet. 3:18); Jesus conquered sin. “But now Christ is risen from the dead” (1 Cor. 15:20); Jesus conquered death. Even though there is so much evil in this world, Christians do not despair because they overcome the devil “by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony” (Rev. 12:9-11). The Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, overcomes every enemy of His people, “for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen and faithful” (Rev. 17:14).
An understanding of the times helps one know what he ought to do. In 1 Chronicles 12:32, the men of Issachar knew what Israel ought to do. If understanding does not lead to action, then what good is it? (If you understand the effect of gravity but jump off a cliff anyway, what good has your knowledge been to you?) We can know there is sin all around, but unless our knowledge leads us to hate the evil and love the good, what good is it? We sin when we know God’s will and do not do it (Jas. 4:17).
Not everyone has an understanding of the times in which we live. Some are willfully ignorant of truth. These scoffers live according to their own lusts and purposely forget the word of God (2 Pet. 3:3-5). They refuse to keep God in their knowledge and plunge deeper and deeper into depravity and eternal death (Rom. 1:18-32).
Then there are those who twist the Scriptures through ignorance and instability (2 Pet. 3:16). God has given us His word to light our path and give us spiritual life. But, many prefer the darkness of sin and error rather than the light and life of truth. Why? “Because their deeds (are) evil” (Jno. 3:19, 20-21).
We can have an understanding of the times and know what we ought to do. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13-14).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Romans 5:6-11
1. The question
“why?” gets to one’s motive, reason and purpose, Lk. 2:49; Matt. 11:7-8.
I. WHY ARE YOU A CHRISTIAN?
A. Because you
Believe Jesus is the Son of God? Jno. 20:30-31
II. WHY ARE YOU HERE TODAY?
A. Out of
Curiosity? Matt. 11:7-8; Jno. 18:34; Acts 17:18-21 (32-34); Jno. 1:45-49.
III. WHY DOES IT MATTER?
A. Because God
is Real (Exo. 5:2; Jno. 1:18).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Revelation 19:11-16
1. David had a
great army, 1 Chrn. 12:22.
I. BE A GOOD SOLDIER OF JESUS CHRIST (2 Tim. 2:3).
A. Armed &
Trained for Battle, 1 Chrn. 12:23-24, 33, 8 (Eph. 6:10-17; 1 Chrn. 12:33; 2
1. Christ with
His army of faithful saints is victorious, Rev. 19:11-16, 19 (Rom. 8:35-39).
Snatched from Death
A woman was pulled to safety Friday morning seconds before her car was hit by a freight train. Fullerton, California Fire Department engineer Pete Gray said 20-year-old Amanda Pratt was rescued 10 to 15 seconds before the crash. Her car had careened onto the tracks when another car broadsided her. Unable to get her door open, she did not know a train was coming until she saw the crossing gate lower and heard the ringing bells. She panicked. A man ran onto the tracks and opened her passenger door while another man was trying to open the driver’s door. Both of them dragged her to safety. Pratt did not know the names of her rescuers, but wished to thank them. Gray praised the men as heroes. (Yahoo! News, 1/20/2006)
Jude wrote: “…but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh” (Jude 23). Consider these noteworthy points from Scripture:
1. The urgency of teaching the lost. Do we care enough to risk our life and limb to try to save a stranger? What about trying to save their soul by teaching them the gospel? If you don’t try to rescue the lost, who will? (Matt. 9:36-38)
2. Where there’s life, there’s hope. It’s never too late to obey the gospel. If you need to get right with God, do now! (2 Cor. 6:2)
3. Sober mindedness, not panic helps solve problems. Sin and error thrive on chaos. Step back, be calm in your soul, trust the Lord and His word; Satan will be defeated (1 Pet. 5:8-9).
4. It is amazing how much can be accomplished when we are not concerned about who gets the credit. Some Christians can’t wait to tell you how important they are to the cause of Christ and all they’ve done for the Lord. But, it is God who gives the increase; we are content being dutiful servants (Lk. 17:10). “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips” (Prov. 27:2).
Created by Chuck Sibbing -
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA