“It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes. The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver” (Ps. 119:72-72).

These passages emphasize a great appreciation for the word of God.  There are times in life when the word of God comes to mean more and more.  Appreciation is a developed trait.  It is a quality of the human spirit that learns the worth of truly valuable things.  Consider times in life when appreciation for the Bible grows.

  1. Times of Confusion. Certain situations in life can cause the mind to be confused.  It is written in the psalms, “Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well-nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Ps. 73:1-3).  Jeremiah said, “Righteous art thou, O Lord, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously?” (Jer. 12:1).  The principle of sowing and reaping has always been a valid concept for living (cf. Gal. 6:7-8).  The problem is that the wicked do not always reap in this life what they have sown and the righteous do not always in this life reap what they have sown.  The full reaping of what one has sown is after the day of judgment (cf. 1 Tim. 5:24-25).  Wickedness does seem to gain and righteousness does seem to continually suffer.  The psalmist of Psalm 73 finally saw the truth of the whole matter when he went into the place of the reading of the scriptures.  It is stated, “Until I went into the sanctuary of God: then understood I their end” (Ps. 73:17).  He appreciated the Bible for revealing what man struggles to understand in his own wisdom.  Real wisdom is from the scriptures (cf. 2 Tim. 3:15-17).
  2. Times of Crisis. Life is as Job stated, “Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1).  Jesus said of time, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matt. 6:34).  Paul wrote, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16).  What does one do when major problems arise?  There are conflicts with people, unforeseen health issues and the list goes on.  Going to the Bible first and foremost is both prudent and productive.  When Jesus faced the devil, he leaned on “it is written” (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10).  The exhortation by Peter to those suffering Christians (cf. 1 Peter 4:16) still holds true value for today, where he wrote, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2).
  3. Times of Crying. Sorrow is a present reality in this world.  Disappointments, discouragement and even death bring their own forms of crying.  The Bible states, “And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal. 6:9).  Again, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7).  When death comes, Paul wrote at the end of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, “Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:18).  The Bible truly is as stated, “This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me” (Ps. 119:50).                                                                      

Jimmy Clark

At the morning service, Jim Clark used Genesis 4:7 to speak on Sin's Dynamic.  160925-SA-JimClark

 

At the evening service Jim continued our study of Zechariah with Spiritual Happiness from chapters 7 & 8.  160925-SP-JimClark

And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation” (Luke 1:50).

Generations are often stereotyped into different identities. Terms as “the greatest generation”, “the baby-boomers”, “the generation-xers”, “the millenials” and so on continue to categorize populations. Sociologists study differences between one type of generation to another type and draw conclusions about how to deal with each one. Regardless of what man may think or communicate, the Bible is clear as to the needs of any and every generation. There are some clear passages that show the real the needs of all generations. Consider three of several found in the Bible that magnify this.

  1. Care of God. Every generation is helpless without God. Those who have sought to fill life’s basic needs without regarding God find a meaningless, mundane existence. However, a life that recognizes God finds true purpose. Moses wrote in a psalm, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations” (Ps. 90:1). It is written in another of the psalms, “Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth. They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants” (Ps. 119:90-91). The care of God is over all creation. James wrote, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). Paul and Barnabas proclaimed concerning God to certain pagans, “Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:16-17). Every generation needs God’s caring hand.
  2. Counsel of God. Every generation is ignorant without God. Man is more than just a consumer of physical things. He is also an intelligent being with an inquisitive mind. Jeremiah was more than accurate when he said, “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23). It is written in a psalm, “The counsel of the Lord standeth forever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations” (Ps. 33:11). Again, “For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations” (Ps. 100:5). Take the Bible out of the hearts of people and destruction exists (cf. Hosea 4:6). Find the Bible in the hearts of people and true intelligence exists (cf. 2 Tim. 3:15).
  3. Controlled by God. Every generation is enslaved and lost without God. Isaiah comforted the hearts of God’s reviled people by saying, “For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be forever, and my salvation from generation to generation” (Isa. 51:8). It is written in the psalms, “Thy name, O Lord, endureth forever; and thy memorial, O Lord, throughout all generations. For the Lord will judge his people, and he will repent himself concerning his servants” (Ps. 135:13-14). Again, “Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations” (Ps. 145:13). David knew this (cf. Ps. 146:10) as well as Nebuchadnezzar (cf. Dan. 4:3, 34). Sin enslaves (cf. John 8:34). Submission to the reign of God in one’s own life brings freedom from such (cf. Rom. 6:6-18).

Jimmy Clark

At the morning service, Jim Clark brought us a lesson on Serving with Joy from Hebrews 12:2.  160918-SA-JimClark

 

Jim  continued working our way through Zechariah with Four Chariots and Two Crowns from chapter 6.  160918-SP-JimClark

“But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:” (Acts 2:14).

While the Holy Spirit was giving the exact words for Peter to speak, this great apostle along with the other eleven still had to muster the courage to stand before those who had but a short time before brought about the death of Jesus.  Courage to stand for the truth in an environment like that is a trademark of what Jesus was looking for from his people (cf. John 14:27).  There are times when one is to “speak” (Eccl. 3:7).  Consider three aspects of workers in the church where courage is required.

  1. Every Member. When those devout Jews obeyed the gospel after hearing Peter’s sermon, the text states specifically, “and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41).  Paul wrote of the church, “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, . . .” (1 Cor. 12:27-28a).  Here are two passages that reveal that the apostles were themselves members of the body of Christ.  Their courage would be further mirrored by those who were converted to Christ by their teaching (cf. Acts 4:29-31; 7:1-8:4).  All of the membership of the body of Christ is to add to their faith virtue (i.e. moral courage) (cf. 2 Peter 1:5).  Fearfulness tends to paralyze and make the Lord’s cause appear insignificant.  Peter with the eleven (and then the converts being added daily to the church) were great examples of courage that stands.  Here is a factor to how the gospel went worldwide in their generation (cf. Col. 1:23).
  2. Evangelists. Peter is also an example to all evangelists of the inner strength needed to preach the truth to those who need it.  Peter along with John would stand boldly before the Sanhedrin and preach (cf. Acts 4:8-13).  One is to preach the truth concerning the Christ and His word regardless of the attitude of the audience.  There are times when preachers must address the problem of sin in certain specifics that would make those caught up in it uncomfortable.  Speaking the truth in love does not mean to compromise the truth so that people might love you for it.  It is as Peter said, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).  No evangelist enjoys dealing with problems, but sin is the taproot of mankind’s problems with Christ and His word the solution.
  3. Elders.  Peter is also an example of an elder in the Lord’s church (cf. 1 Peter 5:1).  Elders are to be men of great courage to see that the flock is properly fed (cf. 1 Peter 5:2) and to “exhort and to convince the gainsayers” (Titus 1:9).  Elderships often make decisions that are not well received by every member of the congregation.  They face criticisms that would cause some not to even think of desiring the work of a bishop or elder (cf. 1 Tim. 3:1).  Judgment matters have always been subjects where some believe their judgment to be better than the leadership.  When a request is denied by an eldership, reactions can be unpleasant.  When error is taught or the whole counsel of God is not provided, elderships must have the courage to make sure that the will of God is expressed.  Courage to stand is a background to many of the qualifications.

Jimmy Clark

Jim Clark  was our speaker at both services.  The morning sermon was The Lord Be With You from Ruth 2:4.  160911-SA-JimClark

 

The afternoon sermon was Strange But Significant from Zechariah 5.  160911-SP-JimClark

“But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:” (Acts 2:14). 

These are the beginning words of Peter in the great sermon given on that day of Pentecost, which brought about the beginning (cf. Acts 11:16) of the fullness of the gospel.  By the end of the day about 3,000 souls were saved and added by the Lord to the saved (cf. Acts 2:41).  In the day when people cry out for results, it would be hard to plead against such numbers.  However, consider the approach that Peter by the Holy Spirit used in preaching the gospel on that morning and see how it conflicts with the religious philosophy of today.

  1. Absolute Religious Authority Contrasted to Relativism. Relativism is the philosophy that holds to there being no absolute truth.  According to relativism, everything depends on situations and points of view.  All viewpoints are considered valuable with no one viewpoint esteemed above another according to the popular religious philosophy of today.  Peter spoke definitively and absolutely.  “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:16).  “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:” (Acts 2:22).  “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly . . .” (Acts 2:36).  The Holy Spirit did not leave any room for opinions or points of view to arise in the discourse.  It was not a matter of “How do you see it?” but a matter of “This is the case; therefore, know and know assuredly.”
  2. Ascribing Bible Citations for Proof Contrasted to Human-Interest Stories. Some hold to the belief that book, chapter and verse type of preaching is ineffective and archaic.  Human-interest stories warm the hearts of hearers and readers, it is said.  Don’t use too many Bible verses as that tends to be too preachy and people won’t listen to that, it is asserted.  Stories, especially success stories, that show how one went from depravity to being the dedicated disciple of the cause help people to believe that they too can do it, man is told.  Peter used the Bible to convince these devout Jews (cf. Acts 2:5) the truths before them.  He cites what the prophet Joel said in Joel 2:28-32.  Again, he cites what David, himself also a prophet (cf. Acts 2:30), wrote by inspiration in Psalms 16:8-11 as well as Psalms 110:1.  Faith does not come by stories, but by the word of God (cf. Rom. 10:17).
  3. Affixing Personal Responsibility for Wrongdoing Contrasted to Tolerance and Feeling Good About Oneself. Tolerance and the age of immediate gratification call for religious experiences of feeling good about oneself and how to help others feel the same.  It is averred that preaching to call for major lifestyle changes turns people off.  Peter called for their personal responsibility with their “wicked hands” (Acts 2:23) and how that they “have crucified” (Acts 2:36) the very one God made Lord and Christ.  They were pricked in their hearts (cf. Acts 2:37) and asked the right question.  They were authoritatively told what to do (cf. Acts 2:38-40) and did it (cf. Acts 2:41).  Hence, God’s way is the way.

Jimmy Clark

Jim Clark spoke at the morning service.  160904-SA-JimClark

 

Our speaker at the evening service was Joey Treat, who spoke to us about his mission work in the Pacific.  160904-SP-JoeyTreat

“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (Prov. 29:18).  This passage gives insights concerning divine revelation.  On the one hand is the burden where God’s message is absent while the other hand shows the blessing of its presence in a person’s life.  The Bible is filled with passages that address the need for all to have divine instructions and the application of it.  Consider three points from this passage.

  1. The Prophetic Word and the Law. The Hebrew word that is translated “vision” in this passage is the word meaning “divine communication in a vision, oracle, prophesy” (Brown, Driver, Briggs: Hebrew and English Lexicon, p. 303).  The Hebrew word that is translated “law” in this passage is the word meaning “direction, instruction, law” (BDB, p. 435).  Both terms refer to the revelation that comes from God whether spoken through the prophet (cf. Heb. 1:1) or the written revelation from former prophets, like Moses.  While today all scripture is inspired of God (cf. 2 Tim. 3:16) and God’s entire revelation for man’s needs has been given (cf. Jude 3), when Solomon gave this proverb, the Holy Spirit communicated the will of God through visions, dreams, etc. as well as the written word that was then in existence.  The silence of God as well as the speaking of God is seen in this passage through the words “where there is no vision” and “he that keepeth the law.”  Therefore, there is a marked difference between the value of the existence of divine revelation and the absence of it.  Having revelation is good.  Having no revelation is bad.  Therefore, here is another case for the spreading of the gospel to the world.
  2. The Perishing of Some and Happiness of Others. The Hebrew word translated “perish” in this passage is from the word meaning “to let go, let alone” (BDB, p. 828) hence the clause “the people is let loose, lacks restraint” (BDB, p. 829).  This same word is found in Eliphaz’ words to Job, “Yea, thou castest off fear, and restrainest prayer before God” (Job 15:4).  This is the same problem that Aaron created for the first generation out of Egypt when he permitted them to follow idolatry while Moses was on the mount (cf. Ex. 32:25, ESV).  The thought of a people perishing where there is no divine revelation is seen in that there is no restraint for controlling a people who do not have God’s word.  On the other hand, the one who has the revelation of God and keeps it finds a pleasant life.  This is seen in Psalms 1:1-3 as well as in Luke 8:15.
  3. The Power of the Absence and Presence of the Word. People are destroyed for a lack of knowledge (cf. Hosea 4:6).  Man is blind without guidance from divine revelation (cf. 2 Cor. 4:4).  Where the presence of the word is among people, they have access to all the blessings from it (cf. Acts 10:33).  Consider the nations of the world where the Bible is not present or a lack of study of the Bible is not found and one can easily see the destructive power of the absence of the word of God.  Look at the lives of people where the Bible is valued the most and studied supremely with daily applications and see the benefits that come from such.  Paul told Timothy, “Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all” (1 Tim. 4:15).  The value of divine revelation is clearly seen in the product.

Jimmy Clark

 

Jim Clark was back with us this morning, after being away last week for a Gospel Meeting.  The morning lesson was The Summer is Ended, and We are Not Saved from Jeremiah 8:20.  160828-SA-JimClark

 

Jim also spoke at the evening service.  160828-SP-JimClark

 

Jim Jim