And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume XI, Number 29 June 15, 2008
In this issue:
I am reminded on this Father’s Day that children resemble their fathers. (There are times when I pass a mirror that I know my father is looking back at me!) In the Bible the expression “son of” conveys the meaning of bearing similar traits (cf. Lk. 10:6; Mk. 3:17). Christians should resemble their heavenly Father.
Children inherit some traits from their fathers without any say in the matter. Children bear the physical marks of their father. Maybe it’s a receding hairline, a muscular build, big feet or red hair (you may not have wanted it, but you got it!). But the resemblance Christians should have of their Father is the result of our deliberate choice.
Sometimes children resemble their father because they have been trained to do so. This is where being a godly father is so vitally important. It is generally true that the father’s values, attitudes and character are passed on to his children through his words and deeds. Every father should examine his heart and his life to make sure what he is passing on to his children is approved by God (Prov. 3:1-6).
Jesus taught the gospel of the kingdom so that kingdom citizens (Christians) will resemble our heavenly Father. For example, Jesus said, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you…that you may be sons of your Father in heaven…therefore you shall be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:44-48). God the Father teaches us how to love as he loves. It is our duty to learn the lesson and be children of our heavenly Father.
Some traits of the father are passed on because his children imitate him. Whether it is kindness and anger, resentment and love or a host of other things, children imitate what they see in the life of their father. Similarly, Christians are commanded to “be imitators of God as dear children” (Eph. 5:1). In his word our heavenly Father shows us his love, his patience, his longsuffering, his holiness and his punishment of sin (to name only a few of his traits). As children imitate their fathers, we are to carefully mimic our Father in heaven.
We do not become children of God by accident. It is a deliberate choice made through faith in Christ Jesus (Jno. 1:12-13; Gal. 3:26-27). We do not acquire the characteristics of our heavenly Father by accident. We choose to be like our Father by obeying the gospel of his Son.
Our heavenly Father wants us to always be like Him. Fathers, are you comfortable with your children being like you – in everything? If not, then be more like your heavenly Father so that your children can follow your example and be like him, too.
“Then he said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’” (Matt. 9:37-38)
The need for laborers in the work of harvesting souls is real and undeniable. Every Christian, according to his or her abilities and opportunities is to be a laborer reaping souls in God’s harvest (Acts 8:4).
We must rededicate our hearts and refocus our attention on reaching the lost with the gospel of Christ. When we sing “To the work, to the work!” are our lives saying “Let somebody else do the work!”?
Consider these encouragements from God’s word to help us go into the fields and be laborers in the Lord’s harvest.
1) We must believe that good will be accomplished. If the sower had not believed that a crop would grow he would not have gone “forth to sow his seed” (Lk. 8:5). (If Jesus had not been convinced that good would result from coming to earth and dying on the cross we would forever be lost.) This boils down to a matter of faith in the power of the gospel to save the lost (Rom. 1:16). We must trust that the Lord will bless the sending forth of His word: “It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isa. 55:11).
2) We must give our resources to the work. I am not just talking about money. I am talking about the resources of our time, our energy and our prayers. We must make time to visit prospects, to arrange Bible classes and to study the Bible in order to equip ourselves to teach them. The demands upon your time will increase when you are committed to teaching the gospel to others. It takes energy to achieve this goal. After a full day’s work most of us are tired and ready for rest. But, consider the energy of the apostle Paul as he worked night and day to meet his physical needs while also being diligent to fully teach the word of God (1 Ths. 2:9; Acts 20:19-21, 26-27). Talk about tired! The laborer in the Lord’s harvest willingly sacrifices personal comfort in order to accomplish the Lord’s work.
3) We must be content to let God give the increase of souls (1 Cor. 3:6). It can be discouraging when you are repeatedly told “No, I am not interested” when you try to study God’s word with others. Do not take it personal when people refuse to discuss God’s word with you or when they turn away in disobedience after you have shown them the truth. Sadly, they are rejecting God and His Son – not you (1 Sam. 8:7; Jno. 6:60, 66). We are the messengers. Our job is to plant the seed. Do not be discouraged when someone is not interested, when progress seems too slow, or when it seems like nothing is being accomplished. Something is being accomplished; you are working in the Lord’s harvest! Satan wants to discourage you from those who do the Lord’s work! So, “let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Gal. 6:9). Remember, it is the Lord’s harvest; he will give the increase (Matt. 9:38).
Jesus saw the straying multitudes and was moved with compassion for them (Matt. 9:35-38). Their spiritual need compelled him to fully accomplish his work (Jno. 4:34). Christ now calls on us to be conscious of the condition of the people around us (they are lost in sin); to have compassion for them (distressed to the point of action); and to be committed laborers in His harvest (praying and working). “Lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest” (Jno. 4:35). The call to work is clear; the work is set before us. Let us join with Isaiah and say, “Here am I, send me!” Now, let’s get to work!
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: 2 Timothy 2:20-23
1. 2 Tim. 2:20-23:
Timothy made daily decisions that determined what type of vessel he proved
to be in God’s house, and so are we.
I.THE ONE WHO PURGES HIMSELF FROM SIN, 2:21.
A. We Must:
II. THE ONE WHO IS SANCTIFIED, 2:21.
A. Separated, Set Apart or Aside for Special Uses. (OT priests and NT priests); 1 Cor. 1:2; Rom. 6:19-22; 1 Ths. 4:1-8.
III. THE ONE WHO IS USEFUL FOR THE MASTER, 2:21; Matt. 25:15.
A. A Matter of Priorities, Matt. 6:33; 2 Cor. 8:12; Mk. 12:41-44; 14:8-9 (Jn.12:1-8)
IV. THE ONE WHO IS PREPARED FOR EVERY GOOD WORK, 2:21.
A. We Must Be
Ready and Available for use when Work Needs Doing
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Matthew 11:7-15
1. John the Baptist
is a hero of faith, Lk. 1: 15-16, 76-79; 3:18-20.
I. JOHN’S MESSAGE AND LIFE, Matt. 3:1-10.
A. John Fulfilled
Prophecy, Matt. 3:3 (Isa. 40:3-5); Lk. 3:4-6; Mal. 3:1; 4:5-6 (Matt. 11:14);
Lk. 1:16-17 (1 Kgs. 18:37).
II. SOME CONTRASTS WITH JOHN, Matt. 3:11-12.
A. With Jesus:
Jesus was Mightier than John, 3:11; cf. Jno. 3:28-30.
III. JOHN’S SERVICE, Matt. 3:13-17.
A. He Helped to
Fulfill All Righteousness when He Baptized Jesus, Matt. 3:13-15.
Conclusion. John knew and fulfilled his work; Will we?
"Imagine No Religion"
A sentiment popularized by the Beatles’ John Lennon, this secular, godless attitude continues to get play from those who hold the Almighty in contempt. They call for freedom “from” religion – not freedom “of” religion.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation recently posted “Imagine No Religion” on a billboard that looks like a stained glass window near the state capitol in Denver, Colorado. Their spokesperson said,
“More than 2,000 religions have fueled division and rancor among peoples and hindered scientific and social progress, said Michael Lee Smith, local spokesman for the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The world would be better off without organized religion, he said.” (“Religion foes’ billboard sparks discussion, shrugs,” Electa Draper, The Denver Post).
So, because there is abuse in religion we should do away with it altogether. Using that “wisdom” we must also do away with government, marriage and every other institution where corruption is found.
Man’s imagination does not make it so. God is in heaven and he rules over the kingdoms of men (Dan. 4:32, 34-37). He sustains us; we do not sustain him by our religion (Acts 17:24-25).
God defines “pure religion” and expects it of us: “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” Jas. 1:27). God’s religion promotes unity of faith, not division and oppression (Jno. 17:20-21; Eph. 4:4-6).
Those who want “freedom from religion” want freedom from God’s rule over them (Matt. 28:18). Oh, may we have freedom from such sinful thinking!
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 06/16/2008
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA