And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 20, Number
In this issue:
Paul remembered the Philippian church with prayerful thanksgiving for their “fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now” (Phil. 1:3-5; 4:14-17). Like Paul, I thank my God for your fellowship in the gospel work just completed in India (January 18-February 16, 2018). During the trip, nine souls were baptized into Christ, 2oo preachers attended Bible classes, 200 lesson booklets and 600 Bibles were distributed, and numerous sermons were preached at churches of Christ. Plus, a gospel lesson was taught at the wedding of a young preacher and his bride. Here is a summary of the work in which we shared.
January 21-25: Preacher classes were held in the village of Gonegandla, Telangana, with fifty men in attendance. The classes were on gospel preaching, Bible authority, the church and the errors of liberalism in churches of Christ. (This was the curriculum for all the classes.) Village churches were visited and preached at nightly.
January 25-26: The 25th was a travel day to attend the wedding of Sudhakar Mekala and Karuna Sudha in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. Many brethren were there whom I have known for years. I also met G.D.V.K. Prasad, a preacher I became acquainted with via email, and with whom I hope to have more contact in the future.
January 27-February 2: Traveled south to Nellore in Andhra Pradesh, for a week of classes with another group of more than 50 preachers. There was more night preaching in this area, too.
February 3-9: Traveled west to Bangalore in the state of Karnataka. Sunday, I made a 3-hour trip (each way) to preach in Mysore. The Bangalore classes averaged 45 in attendance.
February 10-14: Flew north to Hyderabad, then took a 5-hour car ride to Palwancha in eastern Telangana for Sunday worship and three days of classes with another 50+ preachers. There was more night preaching here.
February 15-16: Thursday the 15th was a travel day back to Hyderabad, followed by my flight back home the next day.
Thank you for your prayers, support and encouragement in this work. I pray the Lord will bless us with more such opportunities in the future.
A troubled heart debilitates the soul. An anxious heart, weighed down by distress, diverts one’s attention from eternal treasures (read Matt. 6:19-24, 25-34).
God renews the heart of the penitent soul who acknowledges sin against the Lord. By cleansing the sinner’s heart, God restores its life and spiritual vitality: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psa. 51:10, 3-4). The heart that is freed from sin is liberated from deadly enslavement (Jno. 8:31-36). Now, it bears a burden that is “light” in comparison to the weight of sin (Matt. 11:28-30; Lk. 9:23).
Disciples of Jesus live by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). This distinguishes us from “others who have no hope,” who only have a “this life” perspective (1 Thess. 4:13; Eccl. 12:13-14). Our values, motives, purposes and objectives are different from those who seek solace in humanistic psychiatry and self-awareness introspection. Our peace comes from God as we patiently pray, pondering things that make for peace, and practicing His revealed truth (Phil. 4:4-9).
Divine solutions that calm life’s troubled waters come from the words of Jesus and the pens of His inspired communicators. Consider John 14:1-6, as Jesus urged His apostles to focus their hearts on Him. Jesus gave them calming assurance through comforting promises and a confident knowledge of the future. His word continues to relieve us when our hearts are troubled and tormented with uncertainty, doubt and the turmoil of this evil world.
The calming assurance of faith. “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you” (John 14:1-2). In the moment of uncertainty, Jesus assured the troubled souls of His apostles by turning their attention to Him and His words. Faith in God commands faith in Jesus, and that faith comes from the truth He told them.
The word of God produces faith in the good and honest heart (Lk. 8:15; Rom. 10:17). Still, upon hearing it, it is up to us to decide whether to believe it or not. Faith is not forced upon us. Nor is faith a magic wand waved over us when we became Christians. It is the determined decision of one’s heart to believe the word of Christ, to trust it (Him) so completely that it shapes and defines our every thought, motive, choice, word and deed (Jno. 8:24; Heb. 11:6). The wisdom of the world is deceptive, offering freedom from guilt and remorse over wrongs committed. Promising liberty from rules and regulations, worldly wisdom promotes self, not self-sacrifice. This wisdom is futile, never providing rest for the soul (2 Pet. 2:18-19; 1 Cor. 1:18-25; 2:1-5). Take heart in moments of seeming despair by anchoring y0ur faith to the word of God. God’s house has dwelling places for those who live by faith.
The comforting promises of Christ. “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3). Christ tells troubled hearts to set their affections on eternal things that are above (Col. 3:1-4). We can always rely on what God says; He does not lie. His promise to “never leave you nor forsake you” brings genuine comfort to the heart that finds contentment in the Lord instead of in the fleeting allurements of this age (Heb. 13:5). Christ will return, bringing vindication and eternal rest to the faithful (2 Thess. 1:5-10). Be still in your heart and be comforted by His promises (2 Thess. 2:11-12).
The confident knowledge we have in Christ. “And where I go you know, and the way you know. Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:4–6). We do not know the future, but we do not despair, for we follow the One who is timeless. Jesus is the way to the Father, He is the truth that teaches us of the Father, and He is the life that comes from the Father (Jno. 1:1-5, 14-18; 17:2-3). He is the Savior who frees the heart and life from sin; No one else does that (Acts 4:12).
Doubt strips the heart of its energy to live and thrive. Our faith looks up to the One who gives eternal life, who shows us the way the Father, and who always speaks truth. Jesus continues to say, “Let not your heart be troubled…”
You can find the complete outline of this sermon
plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 5:6-11
I. FALSE TEACHING, 2 John 9-11.
A. Misguided /
Self-deceived / False Humility,
1 Tim. 4:1-3;
II. CONFUSION, James 3:13-16.
A. The Instability of Jealousy and Self-Seeking Produces Every Vile Deed.
B. Leads to Much Sin and Hindrances, cf. 1 Cor. 11:19-21; 14:33; 1 Cor. 1:10.
III. DISCORD AMONG BRETHREN, Gen. 13:8
A. Popular Opinion, Parties, Positioning, Posturing, Sophistry, Emotional Appeals, Envy and Strife, Gal. 5:19-21; Rom. 16:18.
B. Destroys Unity and Destroys Churches, Amos 3:3; Eph. 4:3.
IV. FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY, 2 Cor. 10:12.
A. Self-Deceived, Untaught, Unstable, Emotionalism…, Rev. 3:1, 17; Matt. 7:21-23.
B. False Security about Sin, 1 Jno. 1:8-10.
Submit to God; Resist the devil (James 4:7).
The Sin of Murder
The recent murder of seventeen students and teachers at a school in Parkland, FL is only the most recent mass murder in America. We condemn all murder as a clear violation of the most basic right – the right to live. This article is not a political statement about gun control. It is a call to investigate the root causes of murder (regardless of the instrument of murder), instead of being driven by emotional reactions that fail to address its primary causes. Some will continue to seek legislative solutions at the local, state and federal levels of government. The Scriptures offer a more fundamental solution.
Jesus said murder begins in the heart (Mk. 7:21). That’s the place to start. To control murder, each person must control his or her heart. The Scriptures teach that heart control is needed to prevent murder.
1) Hate control, 1 John 3:10-15. The murderer is a hater before he becomes a murderer. Cain was a murderer because “his works were evil and his brother’s righteous” (v. 12). For that, he hated Abel and murdered him (v. 15). Hate must be removed from the heart for murder to end. Love does not harm its neighbor (Rom. 13:10, 8-9).
2) Violence control, Romans 12:17-19. You must decide how to react when others treat you in a way that could potentially evoke violence in return (Matt. 5:38-42). Our society is filled with violent entertainment (video games, movies, music, the internet) that desensitizes young and old to the nature of violence. This attraction to violence must stop, or hearts will remain infected with visions of superiority over others, even to the point of murder.
3) Self-control, Galatians 5:22-23. If murder is the quintessential loss of self-control, then “longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” are its antidotes. Until personal impulses to sin are controlled, the taking of innocent life will continue.
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 02/25/2018
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA