And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 17, Number
In this issue:
Do Not Harden Your Heart
Joe R. Price
The church is God’s house or family (Heb. 3:6; 1 Tim. 3:15). What a blessing that is! As God’s house we bear the responsibility of service. Hebrews 3:6 says we are God’s house “if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.” Christians must continue in steadfast faithfulness to God in order to be finally blessed. The inspired writer used Israel in the wilderness to teach us about maintaining a diligent faith (Heb. 3:7-19). He taught us how to avoid hardening our hearts against God. We are in danger of falling away from God if we fail to do so. Here are four things that harden the heart:
Delay (Heb. 3:7-8). “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion....” Israel was slow to trust and obey God. Israel repeatedly made trial of God by failing to trust in His power to save and sustain them. They said, “is the Lord among us or not?” (Exo. 17:7). Shall you also harden yourself against God by failing to see the power and presence of God on behalf of His house, the church (Eph. 3:14-21)? Seize the moment to yield your stubborn will to His. Otherwise, your heart will surely grow tired of calls to faithfulness, and you will be lost in your sinful delay. God is always ready to save; be ready to obey.
Doubt (Heb. 3:8-9). Israel doubted God’s power in the wilderness (Heb. 3:8-9). They had seen His might in Egypt and in their flight from the Egyptians. Yet, they hesitated to fully trust Him. Their hearts became unresponsive to God’s call of obedience and faith. You should not doubt God - neither His love, His power, His truth, nor anything else that comes from Him. Build your faith on the knowledge of God’s unfailing faithfulness (Rom. 10:17; Heb. 11:1).
Deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:13). Sin promises so much, but delivers pain in the end. Israel thought the golden calf would help them. They thought going back to Egypt would be a blessing. You and I can be deceived into thinking the world holds much better things than Christ has to offer. It is a lie. Do not believe it. Sin will never lead you to the promised land.
Disobedience (Heb. 3:15-19). Hearing and knowing God’s word does you no good unless you believe and obey it. In fact, when you hear and know the truth, yet persistently refuse to obey it, you are guilty of provoking God. And, you make it harder on yourself to obey Him in the future. That is the danger of hardening your heart. You reach a point where you are no longer touched by God and His word (Heb. 6:4-6). God promises rest to the faithful. Do not harden your heart.
-The Spirit’s Sword (V:49), March 3, 2002, Revised
Give Thanks in Everything
Joe R. Price
Question: What did Paul mean when he instructed us to “thank God...for everything” in Eph. 5:20? Does “everything” actually mean “everything” including tragedies and evil?
It is hard for us to see or comprehend the good that can come from tragedies or calamities around us. Nevertheless, the apostle of Christ in Ephesians 5:20 teaches us to always give thanks for all things. Paul is not teaching us to be thankful for the presence of evil, for evil is not from God. But, even where evil exists there are occasions of good which can spring from it. A similar verse is 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” It is God’s will that Christians be thankful people, regardless of their surroundings. Christ is both our example and our reason for giving thanks in everything.
For instance, when Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians he was in a Roman prison for crimes he did not commit (Acts 22-28 discusses this period of his life in detail). Although he was experiencing trials and trouble, he told the Ephesians “do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory” (Eph. 3:13). As a “prisoner of the Lord” Paul was able to be thankful for the confidence through faith he had in Christ (Eph. 4:1; 3:12).
Paul was still in prison when he wrote the epistle to the Philippians, saying this of his imprisonment:
12 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, 13 so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; 14 and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 15 Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: 16 The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; 17 but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice. 19 For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ… (Phil. 1:12-19)
Look especially at verses 12, 18-19: Paul was thankful that, although he did not enjoy being imprisoned, he was thankful for the blessings which sprang from it. Consider Paul’s attitude toward his “thorn in the flesh” as another illustration of this principle of truth in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
Like Paul, we can learn to see with eyes of faith and recognize the blessings that come from moments of tragedy, sorrow and pain. By doing so we appreciate and apply the exhortation of James: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (Jas. 1:2-4).
-The Spirit's Sword (V:48) 24Feb2002, Revised
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 10:26-31
1. Sin is real and dangerous, 1 Jno. 3:4 (5:17); Jas. 4:17.
I. WHAT SIN DOES.
A. Sin is
an Act of the Will, Heb. 10:26-27; Gen. 3:6; Ezek. 18: 20; Gen. 4:6-7; Rom.
1:18-20; 1 Tim. 1:13, 15.
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 9:11-15
I. BLOOD IN GOD’S PLAN FOR HUMAN REDEMPTION.
Represents Life, Gen. 9:4; Deut. 12:23; Lev. 17:10-12.
II. WHAT CHRIST’S BLOOD (DEATH) ACCOMPLISHES.
Dedicated New Covenant, Matt. 26:28.
III. HOW DO WE OBTAIN THE BLESSINGS OF CHRIST’S BLOOD?
Blood Must be Applied to Our Sins, Rom. 3:2; 6:3; Acts 22:16.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Learn from Ebola Emergency
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a “global public health emergency” with the outbreak of Ebola in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone (“How to Stop Ebola -- and the Next Outbreak”, Jim Yong Kim, The World Post). Kim says the emergency response must focus on four areas: “First, we must support health workers who are the front line in fighting this epidemic… Second, the three countries need more of everything… Third, countries and their international partners need to communicate about the Ebola outbreak much more effectively to communities… And fourth, we need to build stronger health systems in these three countries so that when another outbreak of an infectious disease occurs, these countries will be able to respond more effectively.” (Ibid)
The globe faces a pandemic of sin that is far worse than Ebola. It destroys billions of souls, infecting souls, causing eternal death and leaving pain, sorrow and despair in its wake. Unlike Ebola, the cure for sin is known; the blood of Jesus Christ (Matt. 26:28; Eph. 1:7; Rev. 1:5). Sin's cure is applied when the believer repents and is baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:3; Acts 22:16; 2:38).
We can learn from the shrewdness of the “sons of this world” as we observe their Ebola response (cf. Lk. 16:8).
Support those who are fighting against sin. Acknowledge the problem
of sin and refuse to have fellowship with sin (Eph. 5:8-11; 2 Jno.
10-11). Take a stand against sin and join the battle against it.
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 08/18/2014
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA