Taking the Word to the World

Archive for July, 2012

Time To Stop, Drop, and Obey God’s Word

A story is told from Japan of a man who inherited a sacred stone from his father. His father had received the stone from his father and his father before him. The sacred stone had been in the family for many years. It was kept in a place of honor and highly valued. Even though the man did not really understand the reason for the stone, he believed in the tradition.

One day the man was taking a trip across the ocean in a boat. A storm arose. The boat began to toss and then sink. The man had several belongings with him and had to choose which he would try to save. He chose the sacred stone. However, as soon as he entered the water, he began to sink. He could not swim hard enough to get his head above the water. He sank deeper and deeper and knew he was about to drown. A decision had to be made. He thought, “Do I hold onto the stone and die, or do I let go and live?” He quickly concluded that living was more important than the sacred stone. The man dropped the stone into the deep and quickly swam to the surface. As he broke through the surface, he breathed in deeply and knew that he had made the right choice. Life is more important than a tradition that will only weigh you down and finally bring death. We must be careful that we never hold traditions more sacred than the Word of God.

“Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1)

Is there anything in my life that I hold as sacred that the Bible tells me to drop and walk away from?

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The Tragedy of Misdirecting Souls

A story is told of a terrible storm that was raging across the eastern part of the United States, making the progress of the train difficult. Among the passengers was a woman with a child, who was concerned lest she get off at the wrong station. A gentleman, seeing her anxiety, said: “Do not worry, I know the road well, and I will tell you when you come to your station.”

In due course the train stopped at the station before the one at which the woman wanted to get off.

“The next station will be yours,” said the gentleman.

As they went on, in a few minutes the train stopped.

“Now is your turn, Madam. Get out quickly!”

The woman took up the child and thanking the man, she left the train.  At the next stop, the brakeman called out the name of the station where the woman had wished to get off.

“You have already stopped at this station,” called the man to the brakeman.

“No sir,” he replied, “something was wrong with the engine, and we stopped for a few moments to repair it!”

“Oh, no” cried the other man, “I put that woman off in the storm when the train stopped between stations.

As they went back they found the lady dead (frozen to death in the storm) with the child lifeless in her arms.  It was the mistake of wrong directions being given.

Still more terrible is the result of misdirecting souls.  We must preach the original salvation message given to Peter in Acts 2:38:

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

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The Tragedy of Ignoring the Alarm

Howard Hendricks in Color Outside the Lines gives an excellent illustration of what can happen to those who refuse to heed advice. A boat made its way toward its destination. On board were 1,358 people enjoying an afternoon outing. Thirty minutes after leaving the shore, a fire broke out. People started shouting, fearing their lives would be lost. Although the ship was close to shore, the captain steadily kept his course. No one knows why he did not return to land for help. Some say he did not understand the severity of what was taking place. Others say he thought the crew could take care of the situation. He refused to pay attention to the fire alarms, the screaming people, or the smoke and flames. The tragedy resulted in the loss of over a thousand lives. Investigations revealed the crew was unskillful and inspectors had been bribed. Fire buckets had been filled with garbage, and life vests had rotted.

“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him” (Hebrews 2:3).

  • God sees sin.
  • God sees the sinner.
  • God judges sin and sinners.
  • He provides only one way of escape (salvation).

The Bible is very clear that there are only two kinds of people (both in life and in death). (See Romans 3:9-31; 6.) They are

  • Saved
  • Lost

“Instead of worrying about how limited it sounds to have only one way, we should be saying, “Thank you, God, for providing a sure way to get to you!”
(Acts Commentary)

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The Question Hasn’t Changed Why Should The Answer?

The Question Asked:

“Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).

The Answer Given:

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38).

If someone in your church were to ask this same question, would he receive the same answer?

If the question hasn’t changed why should the answer?

Rescued Never to Drown Again

We need to be like the man who was drowning in the ocean.  A ship passing by threw out the lifeline to him; he grabbed it and was pulled into the ship (the place of safety).  Once on the vessel the ship’s crew encouraged him to let go of the lifeline.  He continued to grasp tightly the rope and refused to let it go.

The captain pleaded, “You are now safe.  Let go of the rope.”  The man persistently refused.

Again he pleaded, this time trying to loosen the man’s grip on the rope.  The man fought back adamantly and said, “I will not let it go.  When I grabbed onto this rope I grabbed it for life.”

You and I were also sinking in sin (Psalm 40:2) and were brought by the Great Rescuer, Jesus Christ, into the ship.  How can we let go of the lifeline now?  We must remain in the ship in order to be saved. (Acts 27:31)

In Hebrews 2:1-3 we are warned against drifting away from the faith.  As believers allowing the gospel to slip away from us we find ourselves drifting downstream and having no anchor (Hebrews 6:19) to hold us secure.  We have, through neglect, let go of the lifeline.

“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation…” (Hebrews 2:1,3)

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O Taste and See that the Lord is Good

Perhaps, you have not been taught any type of Christian tradition. Maybe you have not been searching for answers to, “What must I do to be saved?” You may have even had bad experiences with churches and so-called Christians. This story is for you.

A farmer had an orchard of orange trees. His friend came to visit one day, and the farmer offered him one of his oranges to refresh him. The farmer was surprised when his friend refused to eat one of his oranges. This had happened on one other occasion, and it provoked the farmer to ask, “Why don’t you ever want to eat one of my oranges?”

His friend hesitantly responded, “I really don’t like your oranges.”

The farmer asked, “What is wrong with my oranges?”

The friend answered, “They are very bitter!”

The farmer looked at him with a puzzled look and asked, “When have you eaten one?”

He responded, “One day I picked one of your oranges, at the edge of the orchard, close to the road. I found it to be very unpleasant.”

The farmer roared in laughter. He explained, “The trees that I planted at the edge of the orchard are indeed bitter. I did this on purpose to discourage the children from stealing the oranges. However, the trees in the middle of the orchard are very good and produce a very sweet fruit. You just needed to come into the orchard, pick an orange, eat and enjoy.”

Many times a person on the edge of accepting the truth of Christianity and God’s Word experiences bitter things like guilt, conviction, and condemnation (blame). But, when he moves on into the midst of the church, he finds that the closer he gets to God, the more pleasant and sweet the Christian life becomes.

“O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him” (Psalms 34:8).

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I Love the Book of Acts

As you glance through this blog post, you may be surprised to know that I do not enjoy history! Arnold Cook probably had me in mind when he advised, “Those who live in the past are blind in one eye. Those who never consult the past are blind in both eyes.” I am an enjoy-the-present, don’t-mess-me-up-with-reality, let-me-help-make-a-better-future kind of guy. I find it ironic that the Book of Acts, the history of the first century church, is my favorite New Testament book. I am fascinated with its twenty-eight chapters that provide thirty-three years of history. I find myself striving to walk as the early church walked—in the power of the Spirit. I struggle to preach with boldness and desire to see God at work in my ministry.

The Book of Acts compels me to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. I cannot get away from its message. It calls me to be an effective Christian witness, to walk in holiness, looking for the Lord’s soon return, and desiring to turn the world upside down with truth that changes lives.

I want to be victorious, to overcome obstacles, and run the race that is set before me. Like the men and women in the early church, I will not retreat into compromise or be lulled to sleep by a world calling me into tolerance. I will not conform to this world but seek to be transformed into the image of God.

I must admit, I come short of my expectations and occasionally fall flat on my face. Acts encourages me to get up, brush myself off, and try again. The ninety-five people introduced in Acts encourage me to press on. They provide role models of what I ought to, and can, be. Sixty-two of my friends are never mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament. Collectively, they teach me that God has a team consumed with a passion for reaching the world. Individually, they caution me not to be afraid of standing alone and that I can make a difference. Acts has spoken hundreds of lessons to my soul, and I have felt the tug of the Spirit to write so that others may learn.

I will consult the past, but will skip living in it, choosing to face the challenges and opportunities God has given us today. As much as I love Acts, I really would not want to exchange places with Stephen, or be let down in a basket like Paul, or even knocked down on the road to Damascus. I prefer to write lessons from my corner at home, instead of a prison cell, or nestled in the belly of a ship destined for shipwreck. I will skip walking miles delivering a letter to the new Christians, and stick with the convenience of sending e-mail. I will pass when it comes to messy, time-consuming inkwells and stick with the modern convenience of my trusty laptop.

I will learn from history (even if I do not like the subject), but I am thrilled to live in the finest hour ever. We cannot live in yesteryear and have no promise of tomorrow. God continues to move all over our world, and miracles are happening that cast a shadow on the events of Acts.

Nona Freeman once said, “The Word of God is a time-proven irrefutable fact. Whatever God has done through the ages, He can do it again, and more, much more, than our finite minds can comprehend.”

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