By Don Case
Most of us probably have friends and family members that attend various denominations. Perhaps they go to the church of their choice because of a friendship, social activities, or because of its neighborhood location. What measures should be taken to convert these already religious people? The numerous examples of teaching and conversions in the New Testament should be examples for us.
The 3,000 converted described in Acts 2 were devout men who had come to Jerusalem for the day of Pentecost, a religious observance.
The Ethiopian nobleman traveled to Jerusalem to worship when Philip preached Jesus to him.
Saul was zealously religious yet he was converted to Christ.
Lydia found a place of prayer and engaged in religious activity on the Sabbath when Paul presented Christ to her.
Cornelius was a deeply religious man when Peter made a special trip to his home to convert him.
The Ephesians were devoted to the goddess Diana when Paul preached Christ to them.
Many members of denominations are already familiar with basic biblical principles. They are good, moral friends and neighbors that we should not hesitate to convert. Many who have religious beliefs do not conform to the New Testament pattern set by Jesus Christ but can be aligned and converted to His way.
- CHOOSE TO LOVE... RATHER THAN HATE
- CHOOSE TO SMILE... RATHER THAT FROWN
- CHOOSE TO BUILD... RATHER THAN DESTROY
- CHOOSE TO FORGIVE... RATHER THAN CURSE
- CHOOSE TO PERSEVERE... RATHER THAN QUIT
- CHOOSE TO PRAISE... RATHER THAN GOSSIP
- CHOOSE TO HEAL... RATHER THAN WOUND
- CHOOSE TO GIVE... RATHER THAN GRASP
- CHOOSE TO ACT... RATHER THAN CURSE
(don't skip reading this!)
One week from tomorrow, our annual Summer Bible Series will kick off. While in many ways similar to a Vacation Bible School, our five day series has two important features that set it apart from what some traditionally think of when they hear about a "Vacation Bible School." First, while attending children will certainly "have fun," engage in interactive activities, and be able to say they enjoyed their experiences, they will also be learning. The real focus of the week is to educate and inspire, while working to plant seeds that will grow in the hearts of future Christians. Second, our Summer Bible Series isn't just for children. While the children engage in their studies, adults will be gathered for a 45 minute study of the same topics the children are addressing. The Santee Summer Bible Series is truly an opportunity for the entire family to learn. And, the great thing about our series is that even if you don't have children, you will still benefit from being present all five nights.
Allow me to present three reasons why every person reading this should attend. First, no single person knows everything about the Bible. EVERYONE that comes to SBS will learn about God, His people, their struggles, and their successes. In doing so, we learn how to live more faithfully in service to God. Paul commanded Timothy to study (II Timothy 2:15). Consequently, we should study too and one of the best ways to do so is through a mutual study like that at SBS.
Additionally, by attending SBS, you'll encourage the teachers, the elders, and all those who have worked to prepare for this important week. Throughout his letters, Paul speaks of the importance of encouraging each other. One of the most discouraging things for teachers, elders, and even preachers is to put forth effort in the preparation of some good thing only to see others not fully take advantage of the opportunities. Please know that your simple presence at SBS will encourage a great number of people.
Third, by being present at SBS, you'll set an incredible example for young and impressionable children. I remember as a young boy seeing "old people" at Vacation Bible School every night even though they weren't children and didn't have any children there. But those men and women were always there because they saw the importance of studying God's word and doing their best to support the local church. Now, almost 30 years later, I remember those people's examples. Why not do the same for young children today?
By Don Case
Sometimes we hear about presidents that are concerned about their legacy or how he will be evaluated by historians. In the Bible we see hundreds of characters that are now remembered thousands of years after their death. We see good and bad kings, wicked rulers, Godly people, and many faithful. Unlike obituaries and eulogies that come at the end of life, they usually mention only the good that a person has done. They do not provide a full view of the character. It is unfortunate that many people are only remembered for how much money they earned, not what they contributed spiritually.
Christians are always looking for ways to serve, help and support others. Unlike many politicians, Christians do not strive after recognition for their deeds, often unrecognized they perform countless works to benefit others. They are inspiring not always for the things they say but what they do. They believe that goodness will be pasted on in ways they do not always expect, but they open their hearts often to benefit others. All of us appreciate recognition for our achievements but Christians patiently anticipate their heavenly reward. Each of us will leave a legacy that may not always show a major impact. Historians may not recognize Christians that live by godly principles but the world will be a better place because of what they have produced in their lives.
The Heritage of God
David wrote, "For You, O God, have heard my vows; You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name" (Psalm 61:5). This simple statement made by the man after God's own heart proves one key, encouraging thing about how God views us. The fact is, God sees his servants, whether in ancient times or in modern times, as those who are participants in the heritage of the eternal and powerful Creator. What a wonderful thought! As our brother Don nicely wrote, the legacy that matters is whether or not we are a part of the family of God and known by Him throughout eternity. Let each of us live such that we can be firm participants in the heritage of the only God. We are so fortunate to serve Him!
If one sets out to study love from a Biblical point of view, there are a number of good ways to go about it. Many would quickly suggest 1st Corinthians 13, the classic "Love Chapter" that so often is quoted in marriage ceremonies and certainly has incredible statements that describe the lasting character of true, devoted love. Another great passage is found in John 15:9 wherein Jesus uses the word "love" three different times. Jesus says, "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love." With these simple statements, the Son of God teaches us three very valuable lessons.
First, God the Father loved His Son. This is not only taught here but it's a constant theme throughout the scriptures. And not only was this love a spoken love, but Jesus Christ never doubted whether or not His Father cared about Him. Of course, the irony of all of this is that God the Father loved Jesus and yet gave Him up to die so that we could live. This proves even more the incredible character of our God and how much love is the central part of who He is and always will be.
Second, Jesus reminds His early followers (and each of us) that He loves us. Given everything we know about Jesus Christ, it's impossible NOT to believe this! Jesus Christ lived His life for others, never once putting His own desires before the needs of His fellow man. Jesus taught that there was no way to better way to illustrate one's love than to lay down his life for someone else (John 15:13). And the great thing about Jesus is that He not only spoke such powerful and beautiful words but that He lived them out. Throughout history, there have been occasions where one person sacrifices his life so that others can live. In times of war, we hear of great heroism where such things occur. But Jesus' sacrifice was and will always be far superior to any other made. The reason is that His love is superior to all others.
Finally, Jesus commands us to abide in His love. There are a number of ways to appreciate this statement. For example, Jesus wants us to learn from the way He loved. Additionally, Jesus wants us to maintain a relationship with Him that requires us loving Him and in doing so, being obedient to His commands. And, Jesus wants us to know how He loves us so that we can in turn know how we are to love each other. The relationship that we have with our brethren is tied to the relationship that we have our Savior. We cannot say that we love Him and then turn around and treat each other in ways that don't illustrate the love that saints have for fellow saints.
Jesus tells us a lot about love in this one verse. Let's work to put love into action and live in service to Him and each other.
By Don Case
Today, success is often measured by a materialistic standard, where the quantity of one's bank account or stock portfolio is more important than the quality of one's spiritual life. Often, modern men have a clear vision of their secular goals, but a dim vision for spiritual goals. Fame and fortune are common goals, but inwardly it imprisons the spirit. It may be a bitter disappointment to learn that life does not consist in the abundance of things that a man possesses. Many have learned too late that the love of money will not satisfy. Some are so preoccupied with the trivial things that they have forgotten the weightier matter of eternity. The road of materialism is a dead end road because it can cause sleepless anxiety, does not bring happiness, it can easily be lost, it cannot be taken into eternity, and it will not satisfy the soul.
"There is a way that seems right to men..." Materialism seems to fit this, but in the end it is uselessness and brings about utter frustration. There is an illusion that our possessions will completely satisfy us. Jesus told us to watch out and guard ourselves from all kinds of greed because our true life is not made up of the things we own no matter how rich we may be. Paul also warned that we should be satisfied without money if we have enough food and clothing. He also said to stay away from the love of money, and be satisfied with what we have. The secret of contentment in every situation is that we can do everything God asks us to do, with the help of Christ, who gives us the strength and power. Earthly resources are to be used, not selfishly, but unselfishly to help others. Tell those who are rich not to be proud and not to trust in their money which will soon be gone. Their pride and trust should be in the living God who always richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Sin binds us to value material things and it causes us to forget that we are stewards of our possessions and that God alone is the Creator and owner of all things.
MAY WE USE MATERIAL WEALTH SPIRITUALLY
Jesus' Warning: Beware!
Jesus told all of His followers to beware of covetousness and to not think that life is all about the things a person possesses (Luke 12:15). Let each of us be willing to examine ourselves to see whether or not we're living our lives with an attitude of worldliness and greed. If so, we must "reorient" ourselves and keep our focus on Christ. Given the serious consequences of living life without the proper perspective and appropriate respect for what is right, no wonder why our Savior warns us to beware!