Jackson Drive Church Of Christ
Preacher: Scott Richardson
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"But exhort one another daily, while it is called To-day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." Hebrews 3:13
“LOVEST THOU ME MORE THAN THESE?”
“But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him” (John 4:23). Most Christians know this teaching of Jesus. But it seems that many, whether consciously or subconsciously, add an amendment to what Jesus said - “...the Father seeketh such to worship Him,” ...and I will as long as it doesn't inconvenience me. Please consider the following and make personal application where necessary.
1. Do you complain or have you heard others complain about sitting in one place for two hours to watch a movie? Instead, many times people are on the “edge of their seat,” wanting the plot to continue.
2. Do you complain or do you hear others complain about sitting at a ball game for three hours in the hot sun, in cold and rain, or in perfect conditions?
3. Do you have a problem sitting at a restaurant, in a chair or booth that is at least as hard and uncomfortable as a church pew, to enjoy a meal for an hour or more with family and friends?
4. Do hunters complain about sitting in a tree stand for two or three hours in thirty degree weather? Most can't wait to do it again.
5. Does a fisherman have trouble sitting in a boat for three hours, on a seat equivalent to a stool?
6. Do you have trouble sitting at a table in a straight chair for two hours playing board games or dominoes or the like?
7. Do you complain about sitting in a pew for one hour to worship the Almighty God and to edify your brethren? Many do not hesitate to voice their displeasure if worship assemblies go “overtime.” Are you okay as long as things don't go over an hour?
8. Do you find it difficult to spend an hour in home Bible study and prayer, but have no trouble watching television or surfing the internet for one or more hours each day?
9. How much time do you spend in a month trying to teach another person the truth?
10. Do you make excuses?
Is it any wonder Christians are declining numerically? Is it any wonder we are not converting people to Christ? Is it any wonder many Christians are compromising their faith and blending with the world?
Are the things of God a priority to you? Is God your main priority, and, if you say “yes,” does He know it? Or is He just an inconvenience to be dealt with as little as possible, past filling a pew for three hours a week or less?
The disciples in the early days of the church did not seem to have a problem with regular worship or with long periods of worship or with being together regularly. In Acts 2:46 we see that they continued daily with one accord in the temple (their place of worship). When Paul was at Troas he preached to them “and continued his speech until midnight” (Acts 20:7). I would suggest that all of this zeal for the gospel of Christ was taking place in much less comfortable surroundings than those we enjoy. It is not my intent to suggest that we must assemble daily and until midnight on a regular basis, but we should have the same zeal for spiritual things as those disciples did. And if we have so many “fun” things to do that it interferes with our purpose in life and our purpose on the first day of the week, we need to reassess our life.
God has set aside one day per week for His people to worship Him. That should be what we plan to do on the first day of the week. If we do other things on that day, they should not interfere with or be to the exclusion of worshipping God. We should also follow the example of our brethren recorded in scripture and assemble together as often as possible.
If God is your main priority, you are to be commended and encouraged to continue faithful until the end! If He is not, may we receive the reproof and correction of God, repent of our sins and proceed to make Him our all. Jesus said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matt. 22:37). -- D.S.
PREPARATION OF THE HEART
It has been said that Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. Jesus said, “When the Son of man shall come in His glory...And before Him shall be gathered all nations...Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:31-34). He also said, “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in Heaven” (Matt. 7:21).
For the Christian, Heaven is the goal; it is the prize that we have hope of receiving when “the race” is finished. The apostle Paul admonishes us to run the race of life in a way that we may obtain or receive the prize (I Cor. 9:24). We can run in such a way that we fail to obtain the prize. But he continues by giving us instruction whereby we can make certain our salvation. He says, “But I buffet my body, and bring it into subjection...” (I Cor. 9:27).
Success takes preparation. This is true with any endeavour we pursue; whether of a physical nature such as sports or a career, or of a spiritual nature. One does not wake up one day and find himself instantly successful. A world class athlete must prepare himself to be one, and it takes a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication. For those who will be with God and He with them, diligent effort and preparation must be applied. Paul told Timothy, “...exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (I Tim. 4:7-8).
In scripture we find examples of those who prepared their hearts to seek the Lord and also of those who failed to seek God. There are lessons for us to learn in both cases.
Rehoboam. King Rehoboam was a man who had every opportunity to serve God. He was the grandson of David and is listed in Matthew 1 in the genealogy of Christ. However, he began his reign by making bad decisions. He forsook the counsel of older men and listened to the young men that were brought up with him. As a result Israel rebelled and the kingdom divided, but even during this period of time there were people of all the tribes of Israel who set their hearts to seek the Lord (II Chron. 11:16). The text says, “So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong, three years: for three years they walked in the way of David and Solomon” (II Chron. 11:17). However, (1) “when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him. (14) And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord” (II Chron. 12:1,14). He could have avoided this condition by seeking the law of God
All Israel. Not only did Rehoboam fail to seek the law of God and thereby forsook God, but the implication is that his influence played a part in all Israel forsaking God with him (II Chron. 12:1). Under the reign of Rehoboam “Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked Him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all that their fathers had done” (I Kings 14:22).
The children of Israel had been given clear instruction in what was required of them to be holy. It took preparation and effort. Before Israel entered the land of Canaan, Moses exhorted them to obedience. Notice some of the instruction. “Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them...Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it...Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them...Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy son's sons” (Deut. 4:1-6,9). “...Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them” (Deut. 5:1). “Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: That thou mightest fear the Lord thy God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son's son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged. Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee... (5) And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates” (Deut. 6:1-3, 5-9). We could go on and on with the instruction given to the children of Israel, but do you see the point? They were told to hear the law of God, to know the law of God, to do it, and to teach it to their children and to their grandchildren. They were told how to accomplish these things, and they were to be diligent in their efforts. In doing so, their hearts would certainly be prepared to seek the law of God and to do His will.
It would do us little good to read all of these scriptures without making personal application. Do you put this much effort into preparing your heart to seek the Lord? Are you diligently seeking to know His will, to do it, and to teach it? I would suggest that a failure to apply these same principles to ourselves will have the same result that it did in Israel. If we fail in this generation, history tells us that future generations will digress to even more ungodliness. By the time of Amos the prophet, Israel had rebelled against God to the point that they were on the brink of destruction. They had completely rejected God and rejected anyone who tried to teach them. Amos says, “prepare to meet thy God, O Israel” (Amos 4:12).
Ezra. In Ezra 7:6 we see that Ezra was “a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given...” Judah had been in Babylonian captivity because of their sins, but God was with Ezra, “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments” (Ezra 7:10). What a contrast Ezra provides in his manner of life, as opposed to Rehoboam.
Daniel. When Judah was taken into Babylonian captivity, king Nebuchadnezzar gave instruction that some of the well-favored, skillful and knowledgeable of the children of Israel be brought into the king's palace seemingly to be indoctrinated in the language and the ways of the Chaldeans.(Daniel 1:4). Part of this process involved being fed with a daily provision of the kings meat and wine. “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself” (Daniel 1:8). Daniel was not in a comfortable circumstance. Even though he possessed the attributes that the king was looking for, he was still in captivity in the palace of an idolatrous and powerful king. It was not likely a popular thing to refuse the kings wishes, but Daniel had purposed that he would not defile himself.
When Nebuchadnezzar issued the decree that all must fall down and worship the golden image that he had set up, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused
to do so. When the king found out about their refusal, the text says, “in his rage and fury” he commanded that they be brought before him (Daniel 3:13). As the king questioned Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and gave them an ultimatum, notice their boldness and their response. “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Daniel 3:16-18).
Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had prepared themselves to serve the only true God, and that preparation helped them to make the right decisions even in the most dire of circumstances.
These examples are given for our learning (Rom. 15:4; I Cor. 10:1-12). May we all make application of the scriptures to ourselves and diligently prepare our hearts to seek the law of God, to do it, and to teach it. In doing so we can be sure that God is with us and that we will be with Him eternally. Heaven is prepared for those who do the will of the Father which is in Heaven (Matt. 7:21). -- D.S.
THERE HE STANDS
He stands for all that’s good,
and for everything that’s right.
When life seems dark and dreary,
he stands as a beacon of light.
He’s respected by all who know him.
Loved by his family.
His honor is beyond question.
He’s a man of integrity.
He stands as a great example.
The best anyone ever had.
He stands tall, above them all.
There he stands…My Dad.
by Ron Tranmer, via Exhortations & Stuff from Whit Sasser