We remember that Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23 NKJV). Just before saying these words Jesus had predicted His death (Luke 9:21-22). So it is just after mentioning death, which we know was on the Cross, that He states that each person endeavoring to follow Him must take up his cross and follow Him.
This weekend we will be having a Gospel Meeting with Joe Williams from the Mountain Island Church of Christ in Charlotte, North Carolina. We have published his lesson topics in this bulletin. We call our events like this “gospel” meetings because that is precisely what is preached during them: the gospel. It makes me happy and full of joy down deep inside to know this for these reasons:
Our Gospel Meeting is just around the corner, February 20-22, which is a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. As has been our practice lately, on Sunday we will meet at the regular times in the morning, have lunch together and have our “evening” service at 1:30. Our speaker this year is Joe Williams. Brother Williams was with the Pulaski Street congregation in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee when he was last with us. He has now relocated to the Charlotte, North Carolina area where he preaches for the Mountain Island Church of Christ.
“Whom say the people that I am?” This is the question that Jesus posed to his disciples in Luke 9:18. He had recently sent them out “…to preach the kingdom of God and heal the sick” (Luke 9:2). They had done so, following His instructions to not be overburdened (“do not have two tunics apiece”) and to cover as much ground as possible (“whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them”).
There is no more fascinating book in the Bible than Ezekiel. The prophet was among the captives by the River Chebar in Babylon. While Jeremiah was preaching back down in Judah, Ezekiel was given the task to speak to God’s people while they were in the midst of their captivity. Ezekiel’s preaching made use of the magnificent visions God had given him as well as object lessons designed to communicate the unwelcome message the prophet had for the people.
There was a brief period back in the sixties that James Taylor calls the “great folk music scare” when that sort of thing enjoyed some popularity. Folks in my age group will remember those songs and times. One of the artists that came though and had a lasting career is Joni Mitchell; I still enjoy her work and think her songs are an effective and rather beautiful picturing of those times and sensibilities.
The history of man can be seen as a series of cycles. History does not repeat itself but patterns of human behavior do. Mankind’s relationship with God is also cyclical: faithfulness followed by unfaithfulness and back again. The children of Israel are a prime example of this: consider Hebrews 3:8-19. Later cycles include the apostasies that required captivity and dispersal of Israel by Assyria and the captivity of Judah in Babylon. The captivity of Judah was forestalled by two periods of reform, one under Hezekiah and the last under Josiah.
This is the last of my little essays for our bulletin this year and so I thought it appropriate to think with you about some things as we draw near to the close 2014. We cannot know how God keeps up with time in His infinite mind. He may not even need to think of time like we do; indeed, He may have created the idea of time just for us, so we could keep track of things. But the end of a year is a good time to think about what has passed and what may be yet to come.
We are familiar with Revelation 2:10: “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days, Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” This is from the second of seven letters to seven churches that comprise the 2nd and 3rd chapters of the book of Revelation.
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