And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 16, Number
In this issue:
One of America’s great needs is to recognize sin for what it is. We are too prone to explain it away, or to soften its horrors.
Wilbur Chapman tells of a distinguished minister who preached on sin, and one of the leading members came to talk to him in his study. He said to the preacher, “We don’t want you to talk so plainly about sin, because the more our boys and girls hear you talking about sin the more easily they will become sinners. Call sin a mistake if you will, but do not speak so plainly about it being just plain outright sin.”
The preacher took down a small bottle from the shelf marked “POISON” and showed it to the visitor. It was a bottle of strychnine. He said, “I see what you want me to do. You want me to change the label. Now, suppose I took off this label marked “Poison” on this bottle, and put on some mild label, such as “Oil of Anise,” don’t you see what happens? The milder you make the label, the more dangerous you make the poison!”
That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children who will not hear the law of the LORD; who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us right things; speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits” (Isaiah 30:9-10).
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20).
God is not sustained by what we put in the collection plate. God wants our time, energy and effort given to Him and the cause of righteousness, but His purposes will succeed even if we are not faithful (2 Tim. 2:11-13). God does not need anything from us; we need everything from Him (Acts 17:24-25).
Someone asks, “Why then should I give anything to the Lord?” The answer: Giving to the Lord is about us – our attitude of heart and our faith in God. The giving of the poor widow set in contrast to the rich-givers at the temple explains it well:
41 Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. 42 Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. 43 So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; 44 for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.” (Mark 12:41-44)
The rich people put much money into the treasury, but their giving was “out of their abundance” (v. 44). Jesus contrasts their giving with the widow and her two coins. She gave “all that she had, her whole livelihood”, and to God, her giving exceeded them all (v. 44). How can that be? Her giving reflected a heart of faith that totally depended on the Lord. In contrast, the rich were seemingly untouched by their giving. They met all their financial obligations and funded their leisure events. They put into the temple treasury what they had leftover.
Do we give like the rich people or the widow when we give on the first day of the week? Perhaps a helpful way of determining this is to take a look at where we put our giving on our financial priority list: Food, shelter, clothing, transportation, taxes, health care, entertainment, recreation, savings, giving to the Lord... Like the widow, our giving should reflect our total dependency upon the Lord. Our giving should express a devoted heart that sacrifices in honor of God and thankfulness to Him? Does it?
When David was instructed by God to build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah, the man offered to freely give it to David. But David refused, saying, “No, but I will surely but it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing” (2 Sam. 24:24). It is right to know that everything we have comes from God. But, if our giving does not cost us something, how does it honor God and show faith in Him?
Impoverished Macedonian Christians gave “beyond their ability” in order to help needy brethren in Jerusalem. They did this because “they first gave themselves to the Lord” (2 Cor. 8:1-5). What a tremendous example for us.
God does not count the dollars we give; He considers the heart of the giver. God has ordained that we give so that gospel work is supported. Let us determine our giving based on personal faith and dedication to God and His purposes. Then, when we give as we have been prospered, our giving will be abundant and acceptable to God.
Live for Heaven
Joe R. Price
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
What you focus on in your life says a lot about who you are and where you are going. The Christian walks by faith in this world of sin. With the eyes of faith we see the eternal glory of things that transcend this world. We do not despair when we watch our bodies age until finally we die. We are not discouraged when we are opposed because we follow Christ. Our faith is invigorated daily because we anticipate eternal glory. We live for heaven while walking this earth. That is something those who do not know God cannot grasp. For what do the faithless have to live? Nothing more than this life, and after that comes an eternity of despair. How sad that they do not come to Christ for salvation and the hope of heaven.
My brother and sister in Christ, do not let the world turn your focus away from your heavenly home. Your hope is laid up in heaven, so live for heaven every day.
Sword Tips (#108)
Scripture Reading: Psalm 139:7-12
knows us perfectly, Psa. 139:1-6.
I. MANY RUN FROM GOD.
Running from the Responsibility of God’s Work, Jonah 1:2-3; 3:2; 4:1-2.
Running from God’s Judgment, but Finding No Escape, Isa. 2:19; Hos. 10:8;
Jer. 25:35; Lk. 23:30; Rev. 6:12-17; 1 Ths. 5:3.
II. THE FAITHFUL RUN WITH GOD.
David Ran with God to Battle, 1 Sam. 17: 47-50 (29); Heb. 11:34.
III. PRESUMPTUOUS RUN AHEAD OF GOD.
Examples, Deut. 18:18-20 (Jer. 14:14); Lev. 10:1-3; 1 Sam. 13:8-14.
IV. ALL SHOULD RUN TO GOD.
Lost: To Obtain Mercy and be Saved, Luke 15:17-24; Acts 16:33-34; 1 Tim.
are you running? 1 Cor. 9:24-27
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
There never seems to be a time when there is not some scandal or alleged scandal getting national attention. America is learning of scandals and potential scandals right now (Benghazi, the IRS and the VA Hospitals).
Webster-Merriam defines scandal as “a circumstance or action that offends propriety or established moral conceptions or disgraces those associated with it”, and again, “indignation, chagrin, or bewilderment brought about by a flagrant violation of morality, propriety, or religious opinion”. The word scandal derives from “Late Latin scandalum stumbling block, offense, from Greek skandalon trap, stumbling block, offense”. The Greek word literally describes “the movable stick or trigger of a trap, a trap stick”, hence, “a trap, snare” (Thayer). Translated “offense” or “stumbling block” in the New Testament, it is “any impediment placed in the way and causing one to stumble or fall, (a stumbling block, occasion of stumbling)” (Ibid). “In NT skandalon is always used metaphorically, and ordinarily of anything that arouses prejudice, or becomes a hindrance to others, or causes them to fall by the way. Sometimes the hindrance is in itself good, and those stumbled by it are the wicked” (From Notes on Galatians, by Hogg and Vine, p. 262; cited in Vine’s Expository Dictionary of NT Words).
Jesus is scandalous to unbelievers. Although He is precious to those who believe, to the disobedient He is “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” (1 Pet. 2:7-8). Jesus violates customary norms (set by men and women) and calls on us all to full repentance and faith in Him as the Son of God. Many stumble over Him and His gospel, choosing instead to be disobedient and sin against Him (1 Pet. 2:8).
Sin is scandalous. It is a trap or snare, not only to the person who sins, but also to those who see it and are affected by it. “Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!” (Matt. 18:7) When one chooses sin over Christ he or she is ensnared by the devil and becomes a harmful influence. The snare can be escaped through repentance (2 Tim. 2:25-26).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 05/25/2014
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA