In Trouble? Join the crowd…


Every person who is mentally functional will imagine a future filled with good things. The vision of what is hoped for is more clear to some and very blurred and obscure others. Some people have a better start it seems than others.

As we mature toward becoming adults much of the fantasy of childhood dreams eventually fades away and the starkness of reality becomes a constant companion. Futures that seemed so “story book” seem impossible to attain, and bit by bit, day upon day, trouble starts to creep in. Before the story of our lives is completely written trouble is there, loud and brash, like an uninvited guest who comes to crash the party that is your life.

God knows…

Near the end of Jesus’ final days on earth there is the story of Him talking to the disciples about his departure. He is encouraging them, comforting them, and equipping them for the days ahead without his physical presence. Near the end of the discourse Jesus made an astonishing statement. He promised there would be trouble ahead.

“…in the world you will have tribulation…” John 16:33b (ESV)

If any people should escape tribulation, trouble, shouldn’t it be Jesus closest associates? They had not done it well at times, (..like you and me) but they had been with him all the way. For 3.5 years they had been mostly faithful. And yet, as he is preparing them for his departure he drops this truth bomb on them. Trouble Ahead!

I love the way God does things. Jesus statement about sure trouble in the future is sandwiched between two wonderful truths.

 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace 

Take heart, I have overcome the world

In the darkest storm of your life. When your hopes have been dashed and broken on the rocks of reality you too can have peace in Him. When it seems hope is about to totally slip away remember that Jesus has overcome the world.

Yes, there will be trouble at the door. You can count on it. Just as there is sun in the day and darkness at night, tribulation will be just as faithful. The good news is that right in the middle of your trouble you can have peace in Him. Remind yourself and tell whoever can hear, Jesus has overcome the world!

Perhaps we should learn to speak of our trouble and trials as the Apostle Paul spoke of his. If you have been a student of Paul you are well aware of his beatings, stonings, ship wrecks, imprisonment, and on and on. Yet, in the face of all sorts of big time trouble Paul summed it up this way.

 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (ESV)

Light and momentary? Are you kidding Paul? You see your life of constant troubles as light and momentary?  He did and we should.

The bottom line is it’s a matter of perspective. You can focus on things and situations that are troublesome, or you can focus as Paul and Jesus did. Focus on things that are unseen, things that are eternal. You know, like God’s promises and power. God has promised trouble. He has also promised to never leave us alone. He will not forsake us, ever. He is always there, always loving us, always bringing us to himself.

Trouble is coming to you. Look for God when it gets there. He is present.

Royce Ogle

Advertisements

How we do what we do on Sunday morning. Danger Ahead!


Largely because we humans are creatures of habit, we really value what we regularly do. And, that is even more evident regarding what we do on Sunday morning at church and how we do it. It is a curious thing to me that many people will vigorously defend a particular way of doing something on Sunday morning in church with much greater energy than they will defend the resurrection of Jesus. I remember well when the largest church of Christ in America, The Hills Church, in North Richland Hills, Texas, announced their intention to add a second service on Sunday morning where musical instruments would be employed. The level of condemnation by other churches and “brothers” was at a high pitch.

Here are some of my observations.

First, the Bible says very little about our gatherings. We meet on the first day of the week, Sunday, because that is when certain groups of believers met in the first century. The Bible doesn’t say we must meet then, or Sunday night, or Wednesday night. It just does not address meeting times for Christian assemblies. It is clear in the Bible that we are to meet together but there are few details. There is nothing that clearly addresses precisely what we must do when we meet together. So, we try to do what we think the early church did. And, we can soon learn from observation that opinions about what the early church did is very subjective. There is no “pattern” for a “worship service”. No such thing exists in your Bible.

Should we have a morning prayer? How many songs should we sing? Should we use instruments or not? Should we have a song leader or more than one song leader. Should we have soloists? Should we have a choir? Should we have communion every week? Should we have it first or near the end of our time together? Who can pass out the trays of bread and juice? Should the preacher wear a tie or dress more casual? All of these questions are really up to individual congregations. The Bible doesn’t mandate any of these things or how we do them.

Here is the danger. If we get so caught up in doing things a certain way so that “method” has as much weight in our church as Biblical truth we can get in very serious trouble.

A church that over values “method” will evolve into a church who’s message becomes “method” rather than the gospel. It has happened to many churches, many church of Christ churches. We must never allow “method” to become our “message”.

Our Christ given “mission” demands an unfettered “message” about the saving life and work of Jesus Christ for sinners. Our “message” should never be about us or what we do as assembled believers. We must keep the main thing the main thing!

Times change and time changes us. This is not 1957. Think of all the technology that is now being used to further the gospel than in the 50’s. Most of it was not even a dream then. We dress differently, our buildings are different, we worship differently, and that’s OK. But, our biblical message to ourselves and to the world has not changed one tiny bit. Jesus saves, Jesus saves. We tell the story of Jesus near and far, we hold Him alone as our only hope for this life and after.

I suppose we are far more concerned about our methodology in our Sunday gatherings than God is. We have said far more about it than He has. Take a deep breath and relax. Love God, love one another, and be nice. “Different” is not a dirty word.

So, You Want To Be Happy?


It is becoming more and more common to hear from a self-declared Christian, “I deserve to be happy”, or “I believe God wants me to be happy”. At first glance, either proposition sounds plausible. Why wouldn’t you want to be happy and why wouldn’t God want you to be happy?

A simple test for anyone who is serious about his or her relationship with God should be this one. For me to be “happy” must I engage in activities God forbids? An honest answer to that question should be the end of the story. A serious disciple of Jesus would immediately realize the foolishness of pleasing self instead of the Savior.

Christian counselors regularly are confronted with situations like this. A person will come in for counsel, a supposed Christian, and say something like this.

I believe it is God’s will for me to divorce my wife and marry another woman I have met because I’m not happy. I believe God wants me to be happy and she will make me happy.

Isn’t it incredible that a grown man would become so twisted in his reasoning that he comes to the place that he believes it’s OK to break any of God’s laws necessary so that he can be “happy”? Over and over deceived men and women fall into the trap of living to please themselves instead of living to please God. The Bible calls this living to please the “flesh”. The human body has built into it appetites for food and drink, sexual fulfillment, wanting things someone else has, and the approval of others. All of these natural desires must be restrained to some degree or the creature will self destruct.

People who give in completely to their desire for food and drink often fill early graves because over eating and drinking can kill you. People who do not control their desire for other people’s stuff go to jail for stealing, and those who don’t control their sexual appetite become sexual deviants who allow their unrealistic sexual desires which leads them to ruin.

God wants you to be Holy, not Happy

It is those who actively and on purpose deny self who find peace, joy, and maybe even happiness. Over and over the Scriptures warn people of faith to live to please God and not ourselves. God’s unique design for humans includes the best way to live our lives under his Lordship. In the Bible there are rules and principals about eating, drinking alcohol, how we treat our neighbors, about sexual expression, and other disciplines, that if followed, will lead to a life full of peace, joy, and hope.

Jesus came into the world  and lived a perfect life, died for our sins, and was raised from the dead, precisely because if left to our own devices, everyone of us will self destruct by living full throttle to please our base desires. Jesus came to save us, to make us righteous, to make us a holy people, a people for his name. A bonus of living a Christ centered life is His people are usually the happiest, most fulfilled people anywhere.

Pay day someday

Please, don’t be deceived. God’s law of sowing and reaping is just as sure as the law of gravity. If you jump off a tall building you will pay the consequences. And, if you live for your base desires you will reap a whirlwind. Don’t be stuck on stupid. Submit your life to God and try to do things his way. It’s the only way to live in peace.

 

Nuggets of Fudge – Should I be baptized again?


Jesus Christ personally commissioned his apostles to make disciples of all the nations, to baptize believers and teach them to do everything Jesus commanded (Matt 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-47). The baptism in this commission is gospel baptism in water. John the Baptist contrasted his own baptism in water with the far greater baptism in Holy Spirit that Jesus would administer to believers–whether before their baptism in water (Acts 10), after it (Acts 19), or simultaneous with it (Acts 2). But Jesus also ordained baptism in water as the rite of initiation in Christian conversion. It symbolizes incorporation into Christ’s spiritual body and introduces new believers into the tangible fellowship of that body now on earth.

Actual rebaptism is found only once in the New Testament, in a story of some disciples whom Paul encounters at Ephesus (Acts 19:1-7). These disciples have received “John’s baptism,” an outward sign of repentance in preparation for Christ’s coming, but they are behind on the news of God’s saving activity after that (Mk. 1:4-5, 8; Acts 13:23-25). Paul brings them up to date in that regard, baptizes them in the name of “the Lord Jesus,” and lays his hands on them. They immediately receive the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues and prophesy (Acts 19:4-6). Gospel baptism is a major response to the news of Jesus’ atonement and a sign of the new believer’s commitment to follow him.

Christian baptism has nothing to do with joining any denomination, or trusting in baptism for salvation, or fulfilling some local church’s membership requirement. As a bare minimum, any person who trusts Christ for salvation and accepts him as Lord is a proper candidate for gospel baptism (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 8:36-38; Rom 10:9-10). Anyone regarded as having been baptized on this basis should be welcome in any Christian congregation as a disciple in full standing. Any time that does not happen, baptism–which God intended to be a sign of our unity in Christ–becomes a symbol of our division instead, for which we must sincerely grieve.

Edward Fudge.

( I encourage you to visit Edward’s website, http://edwardfudge.com for a wealth of wisdom and biblical teaching.)

Thanks for visiting and reading,

Royce Ogle