The Christian religion can be seen as a historical entity. As such its existence can be traced from its beginning to the present. The story of the first century of Christianity is most reliably told by the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. After that the account moves out from under inspiration (2 Timothy 3:16-17). There is a wealth of information about the things that happen to the church from the end of the first century forward; obviously, the historical accounts are more numerous as time moves toward the present.
OUR 2016 GUYANA CAMPAIGN
For some time now (since 1999) we have been involved in the work for Christ in Guyana. We have sent teams down once or twice a year and this year is no exception. Fourteen of our folks will leave on Friday, July 15 to help the church there at Bartica with a Vacation Bible School and a Gospel Meeting. We always look forward to seeing the people of that good church, particularly Michael Osborne and his good wife Jennifer.
Paul wrote to the churches of Galatia because he was extremely concerned about their future. Indeed he said “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel” (Galatians 1:6). When we read the letter it becomes clear that the specific challenge before these people was the temptation to leave the Christian faith and return to the Law of Moses. This would be spiritually disastrous, so much so that Paul said that whoever promulgates such a thing should be accursed (Galatians 1:6-9).
In Matthew 14 we have the account of Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee. Matthew tells us of two things occurring just prior to this event. First there is the account of the death of John the Baptist. When Jesus heard of John’s death He went to a quiet and deserted place. Though Matthew does not tell us we can reasonably assume that the Lord wanted to be by Himself to think about what had happened to John (Matthew 14:13). We remember that He was “tested in all points like as we are” (Hebrews 4:15).
Hell is certainly an unpopular subject, these or any days. Now, people use the word all the time, most frequently as an expression of emphasis or what my grandmother Sparks called “cussin.” If you used that word or any of a number of others around her, you would soon wish you hadn’t. I know some grandmothers (and grandfathers) that are the same way today. But the world would be much better off if we had a more grandmothers like Granny Sparks.
There is an account in Matthew 21:17-22 of Jesus withering a fig tree that bore no fruit. The context indicates He did this as an example of His power as an encouragement to His disciples as they faced difficult days ahead. As to Mark’s account (Mark 11) and the matter of figs not being in season and thus Jesus withering an innocent tree (nonsense I know but in print somewhere) let us rely on the botanical knowledge of the Lord Who made all things.
Back in May Ginger and I took a little road trip. We went up to see son Tom and his wife Anne in Cleveland, Ohio and then down to Richmond, Virginia for my 50th high school reunion. As we all know it is always good to see your kids. I did notice that there were a lot of old people at that reunion! Ha!
Love is a multifaceted concept. In the English language we use adjectives to make clear what kind of love we are speaking of. The Greeks had four different words to accomplish this differentiation. For physical love they used “eros” which Plato said included the appreciation of beauty. For friendship they used “phileo” and we see that root word in “Philadelphia,” the city of brotherly love (see also Hebrews 13:1).
The old preachers would always remind us that Biblical hope is not just desire but desire plus expectation. The old song says “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” Paul wrote of things that would last forever in 1 Corinthians 13:13: “And now abide faith, hope and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Without doubt we know the greatness of love but none of us want to live without hope.
We believe that David wrote these words as he contemplated the challenges of his life: “Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Have mercy on me and hear my prayer.” Within the word translated “mercy” is the idea of God inclining His ear to David as the troubled king prayed. Also in the word is the concept of graciousness. David knew that God would not only hear him but be open to granting his request.
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