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

What Should Characterize Our Giving?

Collection plate

Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).

Periodically, it is good for us to evaluate what we do in our service to God in order to make sure we are doing what we should do with the right attitude to the best of our abilities. In this article, we are going to look at one aspect of our service to God – our giving on the first day of the week. This is not about examining the total amount that is contributed by everyone assembled in a congregation; rather, it is about individually examining ourselves by the standard of God’s word.

With this in mind, let us use the New Testament to help us consider the following question: What should characterize our giving?Continue Reading

The Death of Jesus

Crucifixion of Christ

In the previous article, we considered the life of Jesus. He perfectly fulfilled the Father’s will – even in His death. This article will focus on the death of Jesus and what we should understand about it.
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Marriage, Jesus, and the Church

Wedding

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does for the church, because we are members of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.

This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:22-33).

The passage above is often used to discuss the roles of husbands and wives. This is certainly taught in the passage. However, there is much more to being husbands and wives than just what is discussed in those verses. But what is there is for the purpose of illustrating the main point – the relationship between Christ and the church. Notice again what Paul said, “This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32).

In this article, we are going to consider what the passage says about the roles of husbands and wives. From there, we will see how this explains the relationship between Christ and the church. After we understand that, we will circle back around and make some applications for our lives – particularly as it relates to marriage.
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Joshua Circumcised the People

Crossing the Jordan River

At that time the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Make for yourself flint knives and circumcise again the sons of Israel the second time.’ So Joshua made himself flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth.

This is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, died in the wilderness along the way after they came out of Egypt. For all the people who came out were circumcised, but all the people who were born in the wilderness along the way as they came out of Egypt had not been circumcised. For the sons of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, that is, the men of war who came out of Egypt, perished because they did not listen to the voice of the Lord, to whom the Lord had sworn that He would not let them see the land which the Lord had sworn to their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. Their children whom He raised up in their place, Joshua circumcised; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them along the way.

Now when they had finished circumcising all the nation, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed. Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.’ So the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day” (Joshua 5:2-9).

After crossing the Jordan river into the land of Canaan (Joshua 3), but before conquering the first city (Joshua 6), the Lord commanded Joshua to circumcise the sons of Israel. It is important that we understand the reasons why this was done because their physical circumcision is parallel to our spiritual circumcision. Let us consider some lessons that we can learn from this account.
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Samuel Robert Cassius: “I Had Rather Preach the Gospel for What I Can Eat”

Samuel Robert Cassius (1853-1931) was an African-American preacher and part of what is known as the Restoration Movement. He spent most of his years preaching in Oklahoma. During this time, he often struggled to support his family and, of necessity, engaged in other work than just preaching to provide for them. The following excerpt from the book, To Save My Race from Abuse, contains an appeal he made for others to support his work.

Samuel Robert CassiusIn 1907, Cassius disclosed a plan to wipe out his monetary debts so that he could ‘devote all my time to the ministry’ the following year. ‘This is my earnest desire. Not that I am not willing to work, but because I love to preach.’ Giving his most articulate expression about his passion for preaching, he continued, ‘I had rather preach the gospel for what I can eat, than to live in plenty at anything else. God has raised me up for this very work, and I am not happy or contented at anything else’” (To Save My Race From Abuse, p. 86).

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What Would Jesus Do?

Jesus and the moneychangers

What would Jesus do? This is a question that many religious people ask themselves when they attempt to decide if a particular decision or activity is right. Their intentions might be good – trying to focus on Jesus and please Him. However, this question is the wrong question!

Why is this the wrong question? It is too subjective. It turns our responsibility into nothing more than what we think Jesus would do in a given situation. Instead of asking a subjective question like this (What would Jesus do?), let us consider some other questions to ask – questions for which we can find objective and definitive answers from the Scriptures.
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