And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume XII, Number 24 June 21, 2009
In this issue:
“It has been said that every baseball team could use a man who plays every position perfectly but there is no way to get him to lay down his hot dog and come out of the grandstand. It probably wouldn’t be too difficult to find a man in the bleachers who would have knocked that last pitch out of the park if he had been at bat. But it is easier to talk a perfect game than to play one.
“Every congregation could use men who do everything perfectly who preach without stumbling, who direct singing without a slip, who make announcements without a bobble, and who always teach their Bible classes superbly. But it is impossible to get them to leave the comforts of their homes on a cold day. Every church could use a man who knows how everything should be done, but it may be very difficult to get him to put down his paper on Lord’s day morning or leave television on Wednesday evening so that he can be present to tell us what we ought to do and how to do it. Yes, it is much easier to talk than to demonstrate. The Christian life is a race, and we are to run it, not just sit in the grandstand looking on (Heb. 12:1). Being critical of others who do run does not entitle us to the prize. Don’t waste your life doing nothing but being critical. We need your help, and you need to be in the race. So come on out of the grandstand!!!”
Jesus summarizes a lengthy passage on laying up treasure in heaven in Matthew 6:33-34. In this passage Jesus had assured His disciples that 1) our heart will be where our treasure is (6:19-21); 2) no one can serve two masters without there being compromise (6:22-24); and 3) A servant of God will refuse to be anxious for the cares of this life, knowing that such expresses a lack of faith in God’s ability to know our needs and provide accordingly (6:25-32). Jesus’ summary (6:33-34) includes a promise disciples can lay upon their hearts: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Christ persuades us that when we set as our fundamental priority of life that of pursuing the rule and reign of God, and behave uprightly in His sight, our material needs will be provided by our Father.
Seeking first the kingdom of God implies our conversion to Christ. Initially, it consists of becoming a Christian. We must submit our will to the will of God, and that begins with obeying His gospel to be saved from the sin in one’s life. Seeking first the righteousness of God means living by faith and ordering our life in a way that is consist with the gospel of Christ. God’s grace teaches us to deny worldly lusts and to live “soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12). The word of His grace is contained in inspired Scriptures (Acts 20:32; 2 Tim 3:16-17). Disciples of Jesus live in harmony with truth; it is the priority of our lives.
No one said this would be easy. In fact, Jesus said it requires self-denial, sacrifice and commitment. A proper understanding of what it means to be “anxious” will help us here (Matt 6:25-32). The Bible say we are to provide for our families and labor with our hands (1 Tim 5:8; 1 Ths 4:11). Yet, Jesus said “take no thought for” what you will eat, drink or wear (Matt 6:25, KJV). How do these two things harmonize?
Well, Jesus did not contradict what the Holy Spirit later revealed. To be “anxious” is to “have a distracting care” (Vine, I:168). Jesus warned against being distracted from our task of laying up treasures in heaven – of being servants of God – by placing excessive and unwarranted stress upon the cares of this life. We lack faith in God to sustain us when we become distracted from obeying God by a greater desire and interest to pursue earthly goods and goals (Matt 6:30-32).
How do we overcome the temptation to put other things ahead of obeying Christ?
1. Develop a singleness of heart toward Christ (Matt 6:22-24). That is, make up our minds to obey Christ regardless of what comes our way.
2. Trust Christ to keep His promise (Matt 6:33). He promises to sustain us; not make us rich or live in all the comforts of this life. We must learn the difference.
3. Do not let the uncertainties of tomorrow distract you from fully obeying Christ with all your heart and soul today (Matt 6:34).
What are some ways we can apply Matthew 6:33 today? Here are a few; try adding to this list:
1. Regularly attend the worship services of the local church (Jno 4:23-24; Heb 10:24-25).
2. Give purposely and liberally from the heart (2 Cor 9:6-7; 1 Cor 16:2).
3. Study God’s word often (2 Pet 3:18; 2 Tim 2:15).
4. Be a zealous worker for Christ (1 Cor 15:58).
5. Take time to be holy (Eph 5:16; 1 Pet 1:15-16).
Let us all increase our faith in Christ by seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Use your Bible to look up and answer the following questions from Matthew 17:1-9:
1. Who went up into the mountain with Jesus?
2. What happened to Jesus' face and clothing?
3. Who appeared with Jesus on the mountain? What were they doing?
4. What was a “tabernacle?” How many of them did Peter want to build?
5. What covered them while Peter was talking?
6. Whose voice spoke out of the cloud? What did He say?
7. What did the disciples do when they heard the voice?
8. How did Jesus comfort His disciples?
9. When were the disciples to tell others about what happened on the mountain?
10. What do you suppose Jesus talked about with Moses and Elijah? (cf. Luke 9:31)
What You Can Expect when You Visit Us:
1. A WARM WELCOME. We consider you as our honored guest and we shall treat you as such. We want you to feel comfortable among us.
2. PLAIN BIBLE PREACHING. We believe it would be a waste of your time (and ours) for you to go away wondering what the preacher meant. Paul said he used, “great plainness of speech”; we will try to do the same as we preach the Bible (2 Cor 3:12). Our sermons are taken directly from the Bible, with each point supported from the Scriptures.
3. A WILLINGNESS TO BE QUESTIONED. Many are offended when someone questions their religious beliefs and practices. You will find us happy to receive and answer any question you have about our beliefs, teaching and practice. We believe the cause of Christ is wonderfully served by investigation (Acts 17:11-12).
4. CONGREGATIONAL SINGING. Our singing is congregational; that is, everyone is urged to participate who can sing the sentiments of the songs with the spirit and with understanding (I Cor 14:15). We do not have choirs or choruses to entertain – our singing is worship in which each person participates.
What Not To Expect when You Visit Us:
1. PRESSURE TO RESPOND. We do not attempt to force you to obey the gospel. We do extend a gospel invitation to which all may respond. We believe you came to hear the gospel and that you are intelligent enough to thoughtfully consider whether you should obey what you hear from God’s word. We will invite you to come to Jesus, just as He did (Matt 11:28-30).
2. SOLICITATION OF MONEY. We do not conduct our assemblies to ask you to solicit money from raise money. The work of this Church is supported financially by the free will offerings of its members as we give on the first day of the week (1 Cor 16:1-2). You can leave your purse at home when you visit; but please bring your Bible!
3. ENTERTAINMENT. We make no effort to entertain; that is out of harmony with the serious purpose of worshiping God for which we are gathered (Jno 4:24).
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 06/19/2009
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA