Through Many Tribulations (Part 3): Sacrifices

Through Many Tribulations

When we first read of Paul in the New Testament – then referred to as Saul – he was looking on with approval as Stephen was stoned to death (Acts 7:58-8:1). Following that event, he began a zealous campaign against the church that took him to Damascus in order to find “any belonging to the Way” and “bring them bound to Jerusalem” (Acts 9:2). While on the road to Damascus, the Lord appeared to him and told him to go to the city where he would be told “what [he] must do” (Acts 9:6). The Lord then instructed Ananias to go to Saul to deliver His message to him (Acts 9:10-12; 22:12-16).

Paul was “a chosen instrument” of the Lord’s (Acts 9:15). Specifically, this meant that he was “called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God” (1 Corinthians 1:1). However, this did not mean that the Lord was going to see to it that Paul had an easy and comfortable life as he served Him. Instead, He told Ananias, “For I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:16). When we think of the sufferings of Paul, we typically think of the persecutions he endured [we will discuss these in the next lesson]. Yet there were other sacrifices that Paul made that would be included in the things he was going to “suffer.Continue Reading

Through Many Tribulations (Part 2): Hardships

Through Many Tribulations

When Paul explained God’s choice of Jacob over his brother, he quoted from the prophet Malachi: “Just as it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated’” (Romans 9:13; cf. Malachi 1:2-3). Jacob was chosen for prominence over his brother and for the blessings that came from being part of God’s promise (Romans 9:6-12). The Lord appeared to Jacob and said to him, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants. Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (Genesis 28:13-15).

However, despite the fact that God chose Jacob and promised to bless him, he faced great hardships throughout his life. When he stood before Pharaoh, he said, “The years of my sojourning are one hundred and thirty; few and unpleasant have been the years of my life” (Genesis 47:9). Notice some of the hardships that Jacob experienced:Continue Reading

The Real Pharisees (Part 11): The Pharisees Were Lovers of Money

The Real Pharisees

Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him” (Luke 16:14).

Luke identified the Pharisees as ones who were “lovers of money” as he described them “scoffing” at the things Jesus was teaching. These were not two unrelated facts about the Pharisees. Being lovers of money and scoffing at Jesus’ message were intrinsically connected to one another.
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A Good Name

Proverbs 22:1

A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold” (Proverbs 22:1).

When Solomon talked about “a good name,” he was referring to one’s reputation. This word means “a mark or memorial of individuality; by implication…character” (Strong’s). It is that for which a person is known.

What are we known for? How important is it to have “a good name”? Let us consider these questions.
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The Entitlement Mentality

Minimum Wage

Our society has developed what is often called an “entitlement mentality” – particularly among the young, but it is still widespread through all ages. Those with this attitude believe that because they exist, they are entitled to certain things (standard of living, happiness, interpretation of truth, etc.).

The Israelites adopted this mindset while they were in Egypt. Despite their sufferings, they became accustomed to what they enjoyed there. While they were enslaved, they “cried out” to God “for help because of their bondage” (Exodus 2:23). After a series of plagues, God delivered them from bondage (Exodus 13:3). However, even with their newly acquired freedom, they complained about what they lacked:
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Elders in Every Church (Part 2): Character Qualifications for Elders #1

Elders in Every Church (Part 2): Character Qualifications for Elders #1

First, a word about the qualifications in general. Some have attempted to say that the qualifications for elders are not really qualifications, but are only meant to present a general description of those who can serve as elders. This argument is made to defend the appointment of a man who does not fit all of the qualifications. Those who argue this will often say that since the list of qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 does not match the list in Titus 1, then we cannot combine the passages and strictly follow them because Timothy and Titus were able to appoint elders without having the other list.

There are two problems with this argument. First, it assumes that Paul was writing to Timothy and Titus about something he had not discussed with them previously. This cannot be the case. Paul told Titus he was to appoint elders “as I directed you” (Titus 1:5). The things that Paul taught, he taught “everywhere in every church” (1 Corinthians 4:17). Therefore, he had given uniform instructions to both Timothy and Titus about the qualifications for elders. Second, it is difficult to imagine anyone who would qualify using one list but not the other. We must see these qualifications as exactly that – qualifications that must be met for one to serve as an elder.
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Our Entertainment Culture

Darth Vader

Our society is saturated with entertainment in various forms – movies, television, music, internet videos, professional and collegiate sports, etc. Even during a time of economic hardship and uncertainty, Americans are paying billions of dollars a year in movie ticket sales alone. While occasional entertainment may be fine, we need to let our consumption of entertainment be regulated by the Scriptures.

In evaluating our entertainment consumption, we should ask ourselves some basic questions:
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