And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 16, Number
In this issue:
Joe R. Price
The angel Gabriel announced to Mary the great honor God gave her of giving life to the Christ, the Son of God: “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women” (Lk. 1:28)! As the “maidservant of the Lord”, this virgin conceived and gave birth to the Savior of the world (Lk. 1:39-56; 2:11).
Today is Mother’s Day, and we are reminded that…
1) The mother of Jesus did not abort her child. Mary was a virgin, though betrothed to Joseph (Lk. 1:34; Matt. 1:18). Upon learning that she was with child, Joseph was prepared to avoid a public scandal and “put her away secretly” until God’s angel appeared to him with divine instructions (Matt. 1:19-25). There was a time in America when pregnancy before marriage was scandalous. (Many opted for a “shotgun wedding” or a trip away from home to give birth away from the scrutiny of family and acquaintances.)
Now, more and more choose abortion as the answer to an unwanted, inconvenient pregnancy. Do not be deceived: abortion is murder. It is the deliberate destruction of unique human life. Well over 3,000 babies are aborted every day in America – about 1.2 million per year – and, over 54.5 million since Roe v. Wade in 1973 (“Abortion Statistics”, National Right to Life website).
The horrors of abortion are well documented as the current murder trial of Kermit Gosnell, M.D. in Philadelphia graphically attests. God hears the cries of the innocent ones and He will judge their cause (Psa. 106:38-40).
If you still have your mother, tell her thank you for the gift of life she gave you. Millions of children, who could have lived but who were aborted, did not receive the gift of life from their mother.
2) The mother of Jesus reared her child in the way of God. Under the parentage of Mary and Joseph, Jesus grew up learning and living in the wisdom and favor of God (Lk. 2:40). Oh, how such is needed today! On mother’s knee the child learns about God and faith, kindness, goodness and love. Mother’s stern hand corrects and comforts. The wise mother’s tongue gives righteous counsel to her children. In an age when motherhood is too often cast aside (as we are told it “takes a village” to raise a child), we know “it takes a mother”!
Honor your mother with respectful obedience each day, not just on Mother’s Day (Eph. 6:1-3). Bring her joy and gladness by being wise and by living righteously (Prov. 23:24-25). Do not forsake the law of your mother, for your foolishness brings her grief (Prov. 1:8; 10:1).
Mothers, follow the example of Mary and love your children (Lk. 2:51; Tit. 2:4). The most important thing you do for your children is to set them on a course of life that respects and obeys God. While giving your children good things, remember to give them what they most need. Follow the good example of Mary and teach your children well.
Joe R. Price
Any effort to candidly and forthrightly examine the word of truth and to apply its principles to real life situations, eventually elicits the ironic judgment that one is being “too judgmental”. It is notable that Jesus never condemned as sinful the application of truth. His oft repeated statement, “Judge not, that you be not judged”, warns against hypocrisy – one-sided judgments that condemn others without applying the same standard of judgment to oneself (Matt. 7:1-5; Lk. 6:38).
Jesus commanded us to make honest, earnest and urgent judgments about Him: “Yes, and why, even of yourselves, do you not judge what is right?” (Lk. 12:57) In John 5:30, Jesus said righteous judgments are marked by two defining elements: 1) The proper standard (the word of God: “what I hear, I judge”, and 2) The proper motive (the will of God: “I do not seek my own will, but the will of Him who sent me”). Armed with these criteria we can avoid judging by appearance and instead render “righteous judgment” (Jno. 7:24).
So then, when we use God’s word to “reprove, rebuke, exhort” we are applying God’s judgments (2 Tim. 4:2). The charge that by doing so one is “too judgmental” reveals either an incomplete understanding of judgment, or an unwillingness to accept the judgments of God. The first can be corrected by additional teaching, but the second reveals a heart that is becoming hard and impenetrable (2 Pet. 3:18; Heb. 5:13-14; Matt. 13:4, 19).
The word of God reveals the judgments of God. “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether” (Psa. 19:9). It is God’s judgment that is shares when one teaches a sinner what the Bible says of his spiritual condition (Rom. 3:10-19, 23). The sinner who had rather condemn you for identifying his sin so he can be saved fails to see that he is actually rejecting God’s judgment. You are not being too judgmental when you point out God’s word about sin to the sinner. (For an example, see 2 Samuel 12:1-15 and Psalm 51:1-4, where King David humbly accepted God’s judgment of his sins.)
The judgments of God convict us of sin. This work of the Holy Spirit is accomplished by the Scriptures He inspired (Jno. 16:8; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). For instance, Paul knew his sin by learning the law of God (Rom. 7:7). When someone teaches us about our sin from God’s word we should appreciate that it is God who has revealed His judgment against our practice (1 Jno. 3:4). You are not being too judgmental when you point out God’s will about sin. (For an example, see Acts 7:51-52, where Stephen identified sin and its effect upon his audience. And, his judgment was righteous, as his stoning demonstrated.)
The judgments of God correct our sins. So says 2 Timothy 3:16 – if we will believe and obey His word. Some object when we teach the gospel plan of salvation to hear, believe, confess faith, repent of sins and be baptized. They are convinced they were already saved at the point of faith before and without water baptism (Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; 22:16). You are not being too judgmental when you point out to this person he or she is still lost in sin. You are teaching him the way of truth more accurately so his sins may indeed be washed away (Acts 18:24-26; 19:1-5). (For an example, see Acts 2:36-41, where Peter charged his audience with killing the Messiah. This led to the faith, obedience and forgiveness of about 3,000 souls. If Peter had chosen not to tell them God’s judgment they would have remained lost in their sins. )
Finally, let us not confuse boldness with harshness when we teach God’s judgments (His word, 2 Tim. 2:24-26). But, neither count as “too judgmental” the one who earnestly teaches you the righteous judgments of God in an effort to save your soul.
Scripture Reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5
1. Every Christian
needs daily encouragement, Heb. 3:12-13; 10:24.
I. WAYS TO ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER.
A. Out of Singular Devotion to
Christ, Matt. 6:21-23; Exo. 14:13; 2 Cor. 5:7
II. BARNABAS WAS A SON OF ENCOURAGEMENT, Ac 4:36-37; 11:21-24.
A. In Barnabas we find the
Qualities We Need in Order to Encourage Each Other.
Preparing to Spread the Gospel (Acts 1)
Scripture Reading: Acts 1:4-8
1. The Acts of the
Apostles is the grand and glorious expression of the Great Commission –
God’s commentary of it.
I. MANY INFALLIBLE PROOFS, Acts
II. THE PROMISE OF HOLY SPIRIT
BAPTISM, Acts 1:4-8.
III. ASCENSION OF JESUS, Acts
IV. THE SELECTION OF MATTHIAS, Acts
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Crime and Punishment
Joe R. Price
This week has seen its share of high profile courtroom drama in our country: The Kermit Gosnell murder trial in Philadelphia, the Jodi Arias first-degree murder conviction in Phoenix, and in Cleveland, the three young women and child who were freed after being held as hostages for more than 10 years (the suspect now faces many charges). Then, there were the ongoing Congressional investigations into the Benghazi, Libya terrorist attack and the Boston bombings.
We have heard many calls for justice in these cases. By definition, justice is the concept of moral rightness based on prevailing and/or recognized standards. In a legal sense, justice is administered by the court system to defend the innocent and punish criminals (Rom. 13:1-5). Societies define justice and determine its scope on the basis of its established laws and its accepted moral standards. Since men’s standards of morality, ethics and religion are not equivalent to God’s, men’s standards of justice often do not harmonize with divine justice (Isa. 55:8-9). God’s word is the basis of true justice (Psa. 19:9).
When men pervert justice they fall under the just punishment of God: “Moreover I saw under the sun: in the place of judgment, wickedness was there; and in the place of righteousness, iniquity was there. I said in my heart, ‘God shall judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work’” (Eccl. 3:16-17).
Though criminals may escape justice on earth, there is no escape from God’s justice: “Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to the flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Gal. 6:7-8). Divine justice will be satisfied (Rom. 2:1-11). God has revealed His will as the basis for justice. And, God holds us to His standard of right and wrong.
God commands us to be just in our treatment of others, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8) “Let justice run down like water” (Amos 5:24)!
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 05/12/2013
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA