In Mark 9:35, Jesus taught His disciples an important lesson: “And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.’” The path to primacy in the spiritual realm is humble service.
This is, of course, counterintuitive. Most people think that the way to be first is to dominate, lead, impose, and curry favor. This is the way of the Gentiles (cf. Matthew 20:25), “Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant” (26).
Consider how this truth should impact our attitude toward this congregation and our brethren. Elders, deacons, preachers, teachers, all are to be servants of the church. But, each individual member should consider themselves to be the same. You are not a member at West Side because of what the congregation has to offer. Rather, you are here to offer yourself to God and to His people!
What are you doing for the Lord and His people? Evaluate your responsibilities and the effort you put in from week to week as a member here. Can you be doing more? Can you increase your contribution to the growth and love of this family? Do you have an attitude of “What can others do for me?”, or is it “What can I do for others?” It is a blessed thing to be a servant of all, and it carries with it the most wonderful promise!
The phrase “blotted out” occurs on several occasions in scripture. Interesting lessons can be learned by examining its use. What God blots out remains obliterated for as long as He wills it.
When Jesus taught his disciples how to pray in Matthew 6, what did He mean by the words, “Thy kingdom come?” Obviously, he meant for them to pray for the arrival of His kingdom. The Old Testament had prophesied that coming in numerous places, including Daniel 2:44, “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”
This prophecy was fulfilled in the first century. Remember, Jesus promised the establishment of His kingdom during the lifespan of his contemporaries (cf. Mark 9:1). Those prophecies were fulfilled at His resurrection—this attested to by Peter who wrote in Acts 2:36, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. His kingdom is present with power. In fact, Paul wrote that those who became Christians were conveyed into the then existent Kingdom in Colossians 1:13.
Religious people today who continue to pray “Thy kingdom come” are either ignorant of, or refuse to grant that it already HAS! So, while a beautiful sentiment, the request should not be prayed today. Instead, we should praise God for having fulfilled His promise. Glory to God that He has exalted His Son. Today, Jesus is King in His kingdom!
Invitation delivered by: Josh Jackson
In Jesus’ discourse to the Samaritan woman (John 4) he teaches us the importance of coming to Him, the source of Living water!
The sermon is an exegetical treatment of Galatians 5 & 6, noting that the liberty we obtain in Christ is liberty from sin, not responsibility.
Some argue that Christ’s declaration to the thief while on the cross argues that we can be saved by faith, apart from water baptism. This sermon answers that argument.
As James indicated in the previous verses, we deceive ourselves if we blame God for the evil that exists among us. Because of who He is, God is capable only of good. He is eminently righteous. He gives us every good and perfect gift. The designation James uses here, the “Father of lights”, is found only here. Light is often contrasted with darkness in scripture, as an illustration of good versus evil. God authors only that which is luminescent — only good. “…God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).
An example of His goodness is His determination in man’s redemption. It was God’s will to bring about reconciliation with man. This is accomplished through the “word of truth.” As Paul wrote, the gospel is the “…power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
The benefits of His grace make Christians “a kind of firstfruits.” As Paul wrote, “that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:12). God is worthy of praise alone!
Everyone is aware of the burgeoning crisis that is playing out on the southern borders of the United States. A rapid and large number of illegal immigrant children are entering the U.S. every day.
This large number of Central and South American children (many of them unaccompanied by adults) is overwhelming the resources of border authorities, leading to health concerns both for the children and the communities where they are housed, and fueling a great political debate regarding how to manage the situation.
Continue reading » In the News: Compassion and the Rule of Law
Debbie and I are in the process of shopping for a new mattress. Our old one is wearing out, and making it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. A few hours in the bed leads to aches and pains.
Of course, I see little children sleeping in such contorted poses, and wonder how they could possibly move when they wake up — positions I can’t even get into, and that if I tried would probably necessitate a month of traction. So, it may be that it is less the mattress wearing out, and more an indication that my body has seen better days!
The scriptures use both realities — that possessions and bodies wear out — to teach a lesson about eternity.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
“For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven” (2 Corinthians 5:1-2)
Put simply, this life is all temporary. Possessions and bodies are not designed to last. Eternity is reserved for the transformed spiritual bodies promised to the faithful, (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:50-58). Praise be to God for the promise of eternal life!
Sermon by Josh Cox:
There is great danger of Christians in our culture and generation becoming tolerant of sin. This lesson discusses the danger, and the importance of Christians embracing the fact that we are pilgrims on this earth.
We all must make choices in our lives. Ultimately, our eternal destiny depends upon taking the narrow and difficult path that leads to life. The lesson discusses several questions all must ask themselves at one time or another, including:
- Will you obey the gospel?
- Will you live above sin?
- Will you pay the price of discipleship?
- Will you remember God while you are young?
- Will you endure to the end?
The writer here sounds a warning concerning a possibility that many religious people today deny. It is possible for a Christian to sufficiently lose his faith in God as to be described as departing from Him. This warning (and the very need for it) denies the Calvinists view that a child of God cannot sin as to be lost. The Hebrew writer says he can, and the warning indicates that some do!
So, how do we avoid losing our faith? “Beware!” The first step is to acknowledge the possibility. “Exhort one another daily.” This phrase points out the important responsibility each Christian has to edify and encourage his brothers and sisters in Christ. (See also Hebrews 10:24-25 to note the importance of our assemblies in delivering such exhortations). “While it is called ‘Today’” indicates an urgency the writer wishes to impart to his exhortation.
Steadfastness is necessary to enjoy the fruits of being “partakers of Christ.” Only those who continue their faithful service to God “to the end” will enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Invitation delivered by: Stan Cox
In Colossians 3:1, Paul introduces an “if/then” statement which establishes two things. If you were raised with Christ, you have an obligation to serve Him, and you have the hope of reward for such service.
Sacrifice, either metaphorical or literal, is a common component of most of the world’s religions. While some may believe the practice of sacrifice, (especially blood sacrifice), to be of human origin, the Bible reveals otherwise.
The first example of blood sacrifice was offered by Abel, as recorded in Genesis 4. Cain offered a grain sacrifice to God, but Abel offered the firstborn of his flock (vs. 4). God was pleased with Abel’s sacrifice, as the Hebrew writer stated, because it was offered by faith (cf. Hebrews 11:4). This means that Abel was following the directions of God, Who had commanded the animal sacrifice he offered.
Continue reading » The Necessity of Sacrifice
Would it be considered controversial to state that the purpose of our worship assemblies is not to evangelize? Perhaps it would be less so if I explained what I mean by the statement.
First, I am not saying that evangelism can’t take place in the assembly. In fact, first principle preaching in the worship assembly is one way that the children of Christians reach the point of being convicted, and thus converted. Also, it is conceivable that the conversion of an occasional visitor may be the salutary consequence of such lessons. More probably, first principle lessons will serve to “stir up your pure minds by way of reminder” (cf. 2 Peter 3:1), equipping the saints to share with others what they have learned, and had reinforced by the preacher’s words.
Continue reading » The Purpose of Our Assemblies