What Does Loving Others Look Like?

Like two fish walking along the beach beside the water, my daughter and I walked through the floral and plant aisles in the Lawn & Garden section of our local hardware store. We could not have been more out of our element if we had been getting ready to skydive. I have a very active DNA with cells that contain negative effects on growing flowers, and she states she has inherited the same genetic make up. The plants we were seeing were gorgeous! Bright reds, yellows, and oranges in celosias, climbing roses, daisies, and everything in between. The colors took your breath away. We also knew that we were looking for tags that said “Perennials–no maintenance required,” because otherwise they would be dead in a week.

I had finally, by experience, realized my grandmother and mother’s “green thumb” had passed me by. I switched to silk plants. Ouch. Several months down the calendar they had to be thrown away. Over the years I could have outfitted a cemetery, and then one day–a red letter day–I discovered Silk Plant Cleaner. It really doesn’t clean them–it simply puts a layer of shiny stuff on the leaves and flowers and dries. Presto! You have a new silk plant.

We actually did buy some plants. It will be interesting to see how well they do, as we read the instructions for light, water, and plant food. These are outside, so perhaps they will do well. If so, perhaps my daughter just has had a yet untested green thumb, or one that’s been dormant!

Many of the plants we saw had been reduced to ridiculous prices because they looked as if they were barely hanging on to life. I have to admit, we were tempted to buy some of the drying up bushes that might turn into beautiful roses. Tempted, but not an action carried through. She was afraid of wasting money, and not being able to bring life back into the half-dead plants. We left those and settled for some with lovely color that looked as though they might make it through the summer.

As we left, I couldn’t help but think of the similarity between the plants and our responsibility to people with whom we come into contact. Have you ever looked at eyes as you walked through the mall? So many seem as though half their life is being snuffed out. One lady this morning was on the phone, saying “But you hurt me so badly!” By other sentences she said as we passed, I could tell she was talking to a daughter, and I wanted to give her a hug, but knew it would scare her to death. Others have a look of sorrow, some show anger, some seem happy–but there is so much possibility of taking the “half-dead” spirit that is inside them, and putting a little “water,” “plant food” or “sun” in their lives by a simple smile, or even a simple sentence telling them something they are wearing is very lovely. Few women will not accept that gift of a compliment. It is such a small thing for us to do, but may be the kind word they have been needing. Men as well. I seldom hold back from adding a small sentence to a “hello,” just to remind someone they are part of a community.

Yesterday’s sermon from Thomas Road asked the question, “What Does Service Look Like?” We’re told in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 that no matter what we say or do, give away or speak, if love is not motivating us, our efforts amount to nothing. We are to love those whom we pass by as much as we love ourselves. Love is the action word that goes before all service. By it, we show that we are His disciples. There are so many ways you can show love to those around you: what about a child whose parents have little time for him/her? Or the elderly one who lives alone and would love to have someone to listen to old memories? Always remember, you will take nothing with you to heaven except for souls you have brought to the cross!

Get out your notebook, a cool drink, friends if they will join you, and go to the message preached yesterday (June 11, 2017), and listen as Pastor Jonathan tells how the world looks at us, and judges all Christians by your walk. A powerful sermon, but no good unless you put it into your heart, and apply it to your life! Click on http://www.trbc.org/service-archive, and select “What Does Service Look Like?” Then go below and study the message, writing your answers as God brings ideas and other Scriptures to mind. And if you enjoy it, share it with those you love, so that eventually we can reach our community, our county, state and nation.

What Does Service Look Like?                                                                                               Jonathan Falwell

Open:

What do you fear the most when you think of being called to help in any given task outside of your home? Do you consider yourself a follower or a leader?

When you asked Jesus Christ to save you from your sins, you believed He is God and that He paid your sin debt. You confessed your sins, and turned from them, as we are told in Romans 10:10. You may have wondered “what next?” Christ said in Luke 10:27 the two things He desires is for us to “Love the Lord your God,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself”— both beginning with the action of “love.” This week we will look at verses from the Sermon on the Mount to get a further grasp of what our service should look like.

Focal Passage: Matthew 5:13-16

Think About or Discuss:

We Are to Speak the Truth

  1. Read Matthew 5:13-16. In the simplest terms, share what being “salt to the world” means for a believer. Does that describe you? Why or why not?
  2. What are the two main uses for salt? Did Jesus mean one, or both? Explain how we do each.
  3. Read Ephesians 4:15; what is necessary when we speak truth to the world?

We Are to Show Love

  1. In verse 14a, what is the responsibility of the believer? Read John 3:20, 21. Now answer the question from this perspective.
  2. What is the condition of much of the world in this age we are living? Based on these verses, will most people actively seek out a church to try to change their sinful behavior? Does that make verse 14a hold a deeper meaning?

We Are Not to Be Ashamed

  1. Read verse 14b. Can you briefly share something you are passionate about, when fear of how others will react doesn’t dim your enthusiasm? How does this demonstrate our verse? Why are we not this outspoken about Jesus?
  2. Do you have a story of sharing the gospel, and what you learned from it? If it was negative, did that cause you to quit? Why was that the wrong decision? 

We Are to Share the Gospel

  1. Read verse 15. Have you ever wondered if, when you stand before God, hundreds—perhaps thousands—of souls could be standing nearby, all of whom you had the opportunity to witness to, but didn’t? Will anyone be in heaven because of you? Those are sobering thoughts! If you don’t share Jesus, who will? Think about or discuss your thoughts for a moment, or jot them in your notebook.

We Are to Set the Pace

  1. Read verse 16. When we share the light of the gospel of peace, what is the result supposed to be

Close:

When the moment came that you chose to accept Jesus as God’s Son, recognizing that He paid your debt of sin, that was your first step of obedience—you spoke the truth (the confession that you needed saving, and forgiveness from your sins). Prior to that time, you were in darkness.

Have you ever envisioned a pitch-black room, and realized what a small amount of light it takes to make those who are inside feel some comfort? Even something so tiny as a match from a “matchbook” is enough to bring light into the room. If you could imagine yourself being even a tiny light in a world of darkness, would it give you a jump start to witnessing? He asks that you love Him enough to share just what you know with those around you—just to speak the truth that you recognized the day you got saved. You’re not asked to have a degree in Theology—just tell what He did for you. Failure to share Jesus is based in the fear that you will be asked something you don’t know.  And yet in other areas—teams, movies, politics, etc.—we usually don’t let ourselves be beaten down by fright, and stating “I don’t know” doesn’t bother you. Have you asked yourself why? If telling others your story of salvation is fearsome for you, pray daily about it until you feel God starting to answer. This is something that He cares passionately about, which should make it a priority for you! Pray that He would give you the courage to “let your light shine.”

Memory Verse: Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

How Do We Let Our Light Shine?

  1. Consecration: Live your life in your own area of influence so well that others can think of nothing bad to say about you (Titus 2:7,8).
  2. Dedication: Work hard so that you don’t have to be ashamed before God (2 Timothy 2:15, 24).
  3. Motivation: Keep moving forward, even in the face of adversity (Philippians 3:13-15)

Personal Commitments

  1. Daily Bible Reading and study
  2. Committed to prayer
  3. Connected to a local church
  4. Telling others of Christ
  5. A constant pursuit of holiness
  6. Giving of one’s talents, time and treasures to others.

   Need to write? sdayfarm@aol.com

 

© Teodor Ostojic | Dreamstime Stock Photos

What Does Your Appearance Say About You?

Mother loved the big luxury cars. I guess she felt safer with that much metal around her, with good reason. A tiny car would have left her vulnerable to all the people who couldn’t drive well. We won’t say where she ranked in that column. By the way, she totaled the green car when she plowed head on into the side of a fuel tractor-trailer. I saw it first hand. From the inside front passenger seat.

The rain was pouring down, and–for whatever reason at the time–she took the umbrella, over-riding my “Let me do it” remarks, and hurried to get the car while I waited under the hospital portico. The rain had my attention, my dad’s near-death condition had my attention, and the truth is, I had no awareness left to give thought to Mother driving up under the roof of the entrance so we could go home.

Her large top-of-the-line Ford pulled up, and I scurried around to the passenger side, and hopped in. And started talking. No comment. That’s not like Mother, I thought. I raised my eyes to see the huge oval whites of an older male behind the wheel, looking in shock at the woman who had jumped into the car with him. At that time, I didn’t know whether to laugh out loud or cry, but definitely I was as shocked as he! I apologized profusely and made a quick escape with what little dignity I had left. (And let his wife get into the car, by the way). Mother pulled under the portico behind him, same car, same make, model, year and color. It was an honest mistake. From the news this past week, I would say as an aside that now, in order to be politically correct, I would blame the man for pulling up and impersonating my mother. Ah, the world has changed in a few short years.

When’s the last time you’ve gone up behind someone, put your arms around them, only to find that blue shirt that your husband wore sold more than one in the community? Or–heaven forbid, but it happens–your husband popped you on the behind only to have a stranger turn with a ferocious attitude, ready to bite his head off? Only this week I sent a picture to my daughter, who quickly texted a question, “is that [her nephew] or [her son]??” Since my husband and I had both been confused a few minutes before, we were ready for the question: the point is, you can’t always go by the appearance! You have to train your eyes to look deeper.

Last week, in a long line at the post office, a gentleman (and he really was) turned around and spoke to me. “Hearing your voice, and now even seeing you, if I didn’t know better I would have thought Joyce M. was behind me!” Well, my sympathy to the high profile women’s conference leader, but no, it was just me.

So–if we don’t look at the exterior, what do we look for? Well, obviously it would be the actions, the gestures, the conversation, attitude and environment of the person you are looking at. All those factors should be different for one to come to a conclusion as to whether that is the person you think. For instance, by now you’ve heard the tale of the town gossip who spread the rumor that the head deacon was an alcoholic. When he asked her why she had spread such slander, she remarked, “Well, your truck was parked outside the bar all evening!” He thought on the situation, finally coming up with a solution. That night, after dark, he parked his car outside her house, leaving it there ’til morning. Don’t go by appearances!

This week, the sermon at Thomas Road (for Sunday, June 4th) was “Christ in Me.” When other people see you, do they stereotype you for where you are, or for what you’re doing or saying, at any given time? Probably. We judge without meaning to, constantly categorizing people without knowing all the facts. Get your notebook, a cold drink, comfortable chair, and click on http://www.trbc.org/service-archive and choose the sermon for this past Sunday. If you have time, watch the entire worship hour, joining the singing as Charles Billingsley leads the congregation in praise. Winding down his time with the congregation at Thomas Road, Charles will soon be calling California “home,” and will be terribly missed! Watch the sermon, and come back to the study below, digging into other Scriptures as they reinforce the other verses that tell us what being a Christian should look like! Enjoy the service, and the study! By the way, sharing on social media is a great way to get more people studying God’s word. Would you be so kind as to send this out onto your page, so others can have a guide?ni

Not My Jesus: Christ In Me                                                                                                                                                                                                               Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Open:

Have you ever identified someone because they resembled another of your acquaintances so closely? Occasionally we will even speak to a stranger, thinking it is someone we know!

During the past several weeks, we have looked at the life of Jesus Christ from historical evidence, both from secular writers and the Bible. You should have formed a solid foundation on which to build a relationship with Him, especially when we examined passages that emphasize how much He loves you. This week we want to see if becoming His child will reflect in your appearance or lifestyle so that others will be able to identify you as a child of God. As Acts 4:13 states, “they [the religious leaders] marveled…and realized they [the disciples] had been with Jesus.”

Focal Passages: Galatians 3:20-21; Romans 8:9-14

Think About or Discuss:

The World Does Not Control Us

  1. Read the verses from Galatians, and Romans 8:9a. When you ask Jesus to forgive your sins and save you, what do you receive? How would you describe the power the Holy Spirit gives you? Write your answers in your notebook if you are not in a group.
  2. Perhaps an area in your life has been a trigger for a response that was not godly; can you think of any? What are some scriptures or “ways of escape” that will help you control your reactions and overcome this stronghold by the power of the Holy Spirit? (1 Corinthians 10:13)

(BUT) God Controls Us

  1. In Rom. 8:9b, what is the spiritual condition of those who do not choose to obey the leading of the Holy Spirit?
  2. Read Romans 13:11,12. this passage, whose responsibility is it to choose to obey God, rather than resume a past sinful lifestyle? Will God force you to obey? What are some results that you should consider as you choose your actions?

(BECAUSE) He Dwells Within Us

  1. Have you ever been afraid, perhaps being alone as a child, and suddenly someone you loved came into the room? How did your feelings change? How should this illustrate the Holy Spirit dwelling within you?
  2. We have life, resurrection power, and the ability to flee sin when the Holy Spirit comes to live inside us. Do you consciously think of your body as the temple of the Holy Spirit and care for it in that manner? Why or why not?

(AND) The Holy Spirit Leads Us

  1. Read Rom. 8:11. We sing “The same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us!” Are you actively aware of that as you go about your day? What causes you to think of it?
  2. Where does the Holy Spirit lead us? (Psalm 23 may help you think of some joyful places!)

(TO) A Life That Is Different

  1. Read verse 12-14. Give examples of living a life set apart from the world.
  2. Has anyone ever asked you what makes you different? If not, have you asked yourself ‘why’?

Close:

Do you ever meet someone who seems to have a joy and zest for life that amazes you? Even their countenance exudes peace and they seem content, even in uncomfortable circumstances! That is the evidence that they have the sweet Spirit of God residing in their life. When we give the control of our lives over to let the Holy Spirit rule and reign, we should experience a relief and gladness that we no longer must carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. As we wake in the morning, we should be full of gratitude and delight for another day in His presence! Our “temple” (that is, our body) should be kept clean of filthiness and worldliness (James 1:21), our mouths should always speak what is truthful (Proverbs 8:7), and nothing wicked should be set before our eyes (Psalm 101:3). If we could actively be conscious, as we go through our daily routine in the world, that we have the God of the universe within us, would we clean up our lives and change what we see, speak, how we act, or where we g? Is that a description of your life, or do you fall short, letting the small irritating conflicts that Satan throws at you constantly steal you joy?

Take time this week to study the passages of a life filled with the Spirit, and then strive for the godliness that will set you apart from the world. Praise be to God if, when someone meets us, they immediately recognize us as someone who “has been with Jesus!” Pray for the strength, the sensitivity, and the obedience to give Christ our all.

Memory Verse: Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Questions or nice comments? sdayfarm@aol.com; don’t ruin your day or mine if you don’t agree–pray about it and let God give you the answer….

© Paul Brennan | Dreamstime Stock Photos

The Strength of Love

The 611 was coming Memorial Day weekend.

“What’s that?” you ask. Well, it’s a very old train.

Sure enough, Memorial Day weekend came and people paid hundreds of dollars to ride this historical train, while many more lined up at every possible sighting along the tracks to take pictures of the restored and polished engine and cars. It chugged along and blew its whistle in pride, the picture of strength and beauty. One car had “St. Augustine” on it. Around the curve it came, while cameras rolled; tv crews from stations were on hand to give the background of this amazing piece of America’s past. After it had passed, the crowds slowly dwindled and eventually left. But something was left behind–unnoticed.

Your husband comes home and announces a newly-received promotion. You attend the dinner in his honor and he politely gives a few seconds of thanks to his family and team for their support. The proud team watches and cheers as he talks about where he’ll take the company now. But you know something is left behind. The family group; the children’s time—but it’s not thought about.

The train made the tracks pound as it powerfully went down the line, into view of those watching, around the curve and on out of sight. The tracks were strong and level, and the safety of the passengers depended on them. They held the weight of it all. Not a crack or problem could be permitted or the train could possibly crash.

The wife at home watches the children, cleans, tries to have dinner ready when it’s time for her husband. She now answers the phone to hear another “I’ll be late because of work” call. There are arguments and tears and no recognition for all the hard work she does. An occasional “thank you,” would be appreciated. But she must be strong and level headed for the children, pulling the weight of two parents. The crack starts to widen and she needs strength.

We admire and give honor to some things, often forgetting what upholds it. The tracks are old but strong. The train could not safely go down the track without them being tested often. But no one gives recognition to them or takes pictures of them: after all, they’re not seen as anything special, and no one recognizes that it is their sturdiness and reliability that keeps the train going.

The husband works hard, but doesn’t give a thought to his clean clothes, his clean bed, towels, meals, obedient children. He thinks it’s because he works. He doesn’t notice the strong woman who is raising his children, keeping his house

We treat God the same way as the train tracks or the wife many times. He’s there and we give a quick prayer as needed (“thanks for the food,” “thanks for my new bride,” “help me get more money,” etc.,) but as we ride along constantly on Him, we take Him for granted, always expecting to have Him under our feet.

The tracks get driven often during the week by those whose job it is to look for any hint of a problem. If they weren’t extremely conscientious of the importance of what they do, repairs would not get done as needed. In the same manner, if we don’t check for ‘deficiencies’ or ‘cracks’ in our relationship with Jesus, then they will get bigger and eventually break—and we will fall.

Galatians 5:19-21 lists some of our sinful natures: 19) When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20) idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21) envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.

Galatians 5:22 starts listing our fruits from the Holy Spirit, and our strength: 22) But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23) gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Which track do we follow? Which one do we strengthen? Which one do we recognize? Do we idolize the person who is receiving man’s honor or do we look for the real source of strength and build on that?

In this week’s sermon at Thomas Road, we continue to look at the Son of God, Jesus Christ. This week we’re focusing on the strength and love that comes from Him directly to us. We’ll look at many things He says and promises to those who love Him, and as we do so, we’ll find that any “cracks” in our relationship with Him will be filled if we let Him; He will undergird us with all the necessary strength to live a holy, fruitful life! Click on http://www.trbc.org/service-archive and select “Not My Jesus: What Did Jesus Say About YOU?” Get your notebook for notes, watch how you grow as you lean on Him, study His will for your life, and spread the good news that He has come to seek and save those who are lost!

Not My Jesus: What Does Jesus Say About YOU?                                                                                               

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

 

Open:

Love has become a common word used for everything from our feelings for a chocolate cake, pizza, certain cars to people we know. Can you share or think of an example from your life when you’ve been challenged by the word “love”?

Having carefully examined evidence by secular historians showing that Jesus lived, reading records of the witnesses who saw Him during His ministry and after the resurrection, studying His own words about Himself, and the witness of God as to who He is, we should now know we can trust the truth of what He says about you in our relationship with Him. Let’s look at how He values those who choose to obey Him.

Focal Passage: John 15:1-27

Think About or Discuss:

You are Ready

  1. Read verse 2. What does Jesus say happens to you at salvation? What does this make you ready for?
  2. Perhaps you have a “green thumb”; what occurs when you take care of your flowers or plants? How does God take care of you?

You are Protected

  1. In verse 5a, what did Jesus say your relationship to Him is like?
  2. If you break a branch off a tree, what happens to it? Can you exist as a believer, without Christ? Why?

You are Powerful

  1. Read 5b. How do you “remain” in Jesus? What is the evidence in the life of a person who is abiding in Christ?
  2. What is promised to believers in this verse? What is the warning?

You are Loved

  1. Read verses 9-10. What are some terms you could use to describe God’s love for His Son (who was worthy)? Can you comprehend that Jesus loves you (who are unworthy) with that same love? How?
  2. How do you remain in His love? What is the greatest example that you know that Jesus obeyed God’s will, remaining in His (God’s) love?

You are promised Joy

  1. Read verse 11. What “things” was Jesus referring to?
  2. How much joy does He promise you if you love and obey Him?

You are His friend

  1. Read verses 14-15. What do you call those with whom you have just a “waving” relationship? What about those with whom you share time, food, fun?
  2. In Amos 3:3, God asks, “Do two people walk hand in hand if they are not going to the same place?” This implies an answer of No! In verse 15, how does that confirm what Jesus is saying about your being called His friend?

You are Chosen

  1. What does Jesus say in verse 16? How should that impact your life? When you “choose” anything, why does it become special to you just by the fact that you are making the choice to embrace it (a spouse, a car, a house, etc.)?

You are given great help

  1. Read verse 16. Do you remember the old hymn, “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” and if so, can you recall the first verse? If not, look at Matt. 6:30, 33, and John 14:16. Who is this Comforter? How will He help you?

You are Forgiven

  1. Have you ever seen a dead person or animal sit up? What can they do? How does this illustrate what God has done for you when you believe? Read Romans 10:9, 10 if you need to clarify this.

Close:

Did you grow up in a dysfunctional family, where love was not a priority as much as discipline? Or possibly yours was just an undemonstrative family, and you never learned to show your love. Both are common, and make it harder for us to understand God’s love for us, as we are full of sin! Yet as we read the scriptures, Jesus not only speaks of His love for us, but also has shown it by dying for us, and we see that His is an active love, full of grace and longsuffering, with “mercies that are new every morning” (Lam. 3:22, 23). We should take heart! Phil. 4:13 assures us that through Christ, we can accomplish anything—showing love to the unlovely, grace to those who don’t deserve it, even prayer for our enemies to know Christ. A life full of joy is promised to us if we are steadfast in our walk with Him, not worrying about tomorrow. As the song says, we should not be discouraged because—if His eye is on the little sparrow—how much more does He love us, who are “but dust”! Carry that thought with you this week!

Memory Verse: John 15:11: “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”

sdayfarm@aol.com

Rachel Coleman, contributor

 

After the hurt, then what?

 

The church sat right on the street, beckoning any who walked by to come inside, sit in the cool air, relax and get calm. Not her! There was no way she was going to enter a church again in her life. All that it stood for was a lie, she was certain of that. For a second, as she walked past the glass windows, she saw her reflection; it took her breath for just an instant. Not that she didn’t know what she looked like, but goodness, that was a sour-faced middle-aged woman looking back at her. How can you feel fifteen or twenty inside looking out, and yet the evidence shows you’re getting past the blush of youth? She hurried on.

The memories, oh, do they never end? How many decades does it take for them to stop overwhelming you? The church had re-opened a cavern where blackness in her soul was usually kept locked. The old questions came flooding back. What must it be like to have been raised by a mom and dad, with happy siblings, with love in the home? To come inside and know that everything bad was being held outside because the door had shut? She had had that for a little while, but the loss of that life still affected everything she did.

She had to sit on a bench for a moment, because she could feel the heaviness of those old memories begin to suffocate her–as they did every once in a while. Breathe. It was like a movie you’ve seen too many times, and it won’t quit. Her mother and father had tucked her in, but they hadn’t gone to bed; there was no yelling, nothing to indicate everything wasn’t good within her family. But when she woke in the morning, Dad was gone, his clothes were gone, his car, and Mom was crying as if she’d never stop. An aunt came by to take her to school, but she could hardly concentrate, wondering what had happened. They were a great family! She was her daddy’s Princess–he always said so. He bragged on her, held her, took her for walks, bought her presents, took her to church–he loved her. He had taught her about God! Now he was gone, and without saying goodbye. The pain was too great to understand.

She worked through the problem: Mom was still there, and Grandma and Gramps, but she could see they were hurting just like she was. Eventually Mom told her the truth: Dad had found another family, another woman to be his wife, and he had left. The woman had children: that meant he would have a new princess, and the tears from the pain of that worked their way out until she was sobbing as if she could never stop. Everyone was still the same, but Dad wasn’t there anymore. And the conclusion she finally came to gave a target for her anger and hate: God was the one at fault, for He could have stopped him. If there really was a God, especially one who loved children, He would not have let Dad go. So, either there wasn’t a God at all, or He didn’t love, because He didn’t stop bad things from happening. She was so young, but she shut her heart that day, and it had never been opened again.

Now, as she sat on the bench, the memories slowly began to ebb, just as they always did. She had reached the same conclusion as decades before. The idea of a loving heavenly Father was a myth for weak people, and she hated Him. She didn’t think about the paradox of hating someone who didn’t exist–she just knew she hated Him. She is one of millions who can’t get past the hurt to understand that God has chosen to give people the free will to make bad choices, and the innocent suffer. Would that she had turned to a Bible, and started writing down all that is said about God, His patience, His love, and how much He hurts when sin and Satan triumph over good. How much Satan has gloated at the hate in the heart of the child who has become a woman. And how ready God is to take her in His arms, and sooth away the pain, and heal the heart.

Sunday, May 21, the congregation at Thomas Road Baptist Church heard from the Scriptures as Jesus stated who He is. To believe that He is, you have to hear about Him, either through someone telling you, or reading about Him. To reject Him without checking any of the evidence is not even giving Him a chance. How about clicking on the sermon link, http://www.trbc.org/sermon-archive, and hitting play on “Not My Jesus: Who Did Jesus Say That He Is?” Join Charles and the choir from LCA as they lead in worship, then listen to the message as Jesus emphasized His deity–to men who hated Him with a hatred so violent they were going to take His life. Grab your notebook, a cup of coffee or tea, and sit back, join the worship service, and then do the study below. Without a doubt, you know someone who is intimately hating Jesus Christ because they have been hurt. They badly need Him back in their life. You may be the one God has chosen to help them!

Not My Jesus: Who Did Jesus Say That He Is?                                                                                                                                                                                                 Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Open:

Many people are skeptical of facts presented to them unless they can see for themselves they are hearing the truth. Can you give an example from your own life?

This week we continue to look at what the Scriptures say about Jesus Christ: that He is, indeed, God, who left His glory in heaven to come in the flesh to the earth. We have looked at the doubts surrounding His being the only begotten Son of God, even when He Himself declared that He was the Messiah. Let’s study what Jesus said about His deity to determine if He was a fraud, a prophet or whether “truly, this Man was (is) the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39).

Focal Passage: John 8:12-58

Think About or Discuss:

The Light of the World

  1. Read verse 12. What did Jesus claim in this verse? Where does this light lead?
  2. Read Isaiah 9:2. How did Jesus fulfill this prophecy of Isaiah? How does He dispel the darkness that is in one’s soul prior to salvation?

God Incarnate

  1. In verse 23, where was Jesus saying He was from?
  2. John 1:14 gives what fact?
  3. Read John 14:9-11. How much plainer could Jesus have spoken?

The Messiah

  1. Read verses 25-28. Jesus knew He was going to be killed because of His claims. Would He have made such statements if He were not the Christ? Why?
  2. Read John 4: 25, 26, and Matt. 8:28,29. Are these two accounts valid? Why?
  3. Why did the religious leaders want to kill Him?

The Word

  1. Read John 1:1-4. Who is being referred to in this verse, and how do we know?
  2. Read Col. 1:15-17: How do these verses about Jesus Christ back up His claims to have been the Creator God?

The Sent One

  1. Verse 42: What does Jesus state to the religious leaders here? Again, did He know His life was on the line with these statements?

Close:

One of the greatest debates in all of history is one simple question: is Jesus Christ who He claimed to be: the Son of the living God? If a person will read the Bible, making notes of the facts it presents, they will find that it states He left heaven to be born of a virgin as a baby, who was fully God and fully man, who grew to adulthood to take on a ministry, healed every kind of disease, raised the dead, taught, lived a sinless life in order to pay the penalty for sin for any who would accept the free gift of grace, was crucified, buried and rose again; was seen by many witnesses after the resurrection, and returned to heaven to wait until it is time for Him to return for believers. That is a lot of facts to reject! Especially so, considering there were witnesses to almost all of it. And yet, people want proof. The Pharisees and Sadducees had followed Him as He did miracles, but they still asked for a “sign”! (Matt. 16:1). As we learned early in this series, no true historian rejects the evidence that Jesus lived. But was He the Son of God, a good man, a prophet, or a fraud? The biggest reason unbelievers reject Him is because they cannot reconcile that He is love, and yet allows evil to exist—or at least to touch them! But proof—which is something that is seen—is not faith, and “without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Heb. 11:6). In the final analysis of a study of Jesus, it comes down to a decision: will the reader believe that Jesus knows who He says He is—the great I AM—or will they reject Him because life has dealt some hard blows? The biggest proof there will ever be is a wretched soul who turns their life over to Jesus, and sees a new life emerge. What more proof could anyone ask than the complete healing of a soul? Do His bidding: seek those who are lost and introduce them to the Savior!

Memory Verses: John 8:12: “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.’” through whom also He made the worlds.”

Study: Take some time at home to look up passages on “Light,” and find out how many times Jesus is spoken of as the light. Go to www.biblegateway.com or www.blueletterbible.org and find passages that will make the study on Jesus come alive for you! The deeper you go, the more you will want to learn!

Email: sdayfarm@aol.com

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LOVE LIFE AND SEE GOOD DAYS…

Math. Either there was just a collective groan, a sigh, or something in between–like okay, what now? Well, there isn’t much I remember from those “good ol’ days,” but as far as I know, I’ve never used the multitude of stress placed upon me to pass Trig class, or even Algebra; I’ve never dissected a frog or used a Bunsen burner. But one thing I remember well: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Or maybe it wasn’t math, maybe it was Science–but no matter, the lesson  is the same. 

I say this because I have had a crisis too big too handle, and something had to go from my time allotment: sleeping and eating were rather necessary, so that left writing, cleaning house, and “life.” For that, I feel I owe (the opposite reaction to letting it go), an apology. I think I hoped that some would actually click on the latest service at Thomas Road and listen.

Yesterday, which you’ll hear if you haven’t already, it was made plain to the congregation that a change is coming. Not something we (the members) would have chosen, but one lesson was made plain, and it fits here. When God speaks to your heart, only a very foolish person would ignore the King of the universe. That is not happening within our staff, because the person desires a holy and obedient life, and truly, the sorrow over losing one whom we love is outweighed by the fact that God has chosen to send him elsewhere. And in tying that together with my own life, I had decided, based on internal situations that seem out of my control, to stop this blog. I felt a failure for not being able to do it twice in over a year. Fifty two (plus) weeks, and I was going to let it quit because I let Satan tell me I was a failure for not being able to do it last week. Shame on me.

 If you’re familiar with Thomas Road now, you know we feature a “My Road” video, where someone tells his/her story. Yesterday, answering my feeling of inadequacy, the person interviewed said that the person who was using social media to try to spread the gospel should NOT quit. That was a paraphrase, but it hit home. Was it God who had orchestrated that person to speak on a Sunday when I was going to throw in the towel? Without a doubt. Do I reach even one person who wants to know God better? I have no clue. But like our staff person, I would be a fool to quit when I have nothing more to claim than a lack of strength to continue. “To him who knows to do (something that is) good, and does not do it, to him this is sin.” End of story.  I was convicted, chastised, and will continue to strive to set out the sermon studies for Thomas Road, not knowing if anyone is encouraged by them. My email is at the bottom anytime anyone wants to write. And to add a final thrust, God chose the sermon to be on doing those things that bring happiness–not external through “things,” but internal through molding us into the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Are you ready to settle back, get your notebook, and listen as the service is broadcast, with singing, with tears, with heartache, and with joy. Obeying God is always going to bring joy, no matter the tears. Remember the reaction? The tears of pain and separation will still result in joy by doing God’s will. We would not know joy if we did not know pain. My daughter pointed that out earlier: that only by knowing sadness can we recognize happiness. Let’s click on the service from Sunday, May 15 (Happy Mother’s Day to any mom reading this!), and see what God has in store for us this week. Joy, God promises, comes in the morning. That’s a promise! Let’s look for the morning.

Click on http://www.trbc.org/service-archive and select the main sermon from the series “Not My Jesus.” We continue to search our hearts to see that our lives are being transformed daily into who Christ wants us to be. If you have a Strong’s Concordance, it will be a special help for some of the words used in the focal passage. Get you a drink, a friend if possible, and let’s dig in, having a special treat of the children being part of the song service. May you be “blessed” as you watch and listen!

Not My Jesus: What Jesus Really Said                                                                                                                                  Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Open:

If you’ve heard of the Autobahn in Germany, you know it’s an open speed limit highway; that seems like a driver’s dream, doesn’t it? Especially days when you’re trapped behind cars going less than a stated speed limit and you can’t pass. Why would no speed limit seem so great, and do you think that’s the way it is in reality?

This week we want to carefully grasp some of the instructions for Christians to have a life blessed by God, from Jesus Himself. In this series, “Not My Jesus,” we’ve looked at the myths surrounding Jesus, the views the world has, Jesus’ own witness of who He is, and the witness of God the Father. Now we will look at several of His guidelines for happiness, apply those truths to our daily living and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal areas where we need to become more like Him!

Focal Passage: Matthew 5:1-12.                                                                               Video: Dr. Jerry Falwell, Sr., 1975

Think About or Discuss:

The Humble in Heart

  1. Read verses 1-3. Why does the Bible specifically say, “He opened His mouth and taught them”—does anyone remember?[i]
  2. What characterizes someone who is “poor in spirit”? Why would they attain happiness?

The Mourners

  1. In verse 4, what type of mourners did Jesus mean?
  2. Read Luke 18:13, and 1 Tim. 1:15, 16. How do these two passages illustrate the need for people to mourn their sinful state, and what does God do to comfort them?

The Inheritors

  1. What do you think of when you hear the term “meek”? What are some of the Biblical meanings of meek? After discussion, or writing, did you have the meaning correct?[ii]
  2. When you think of something being “inherited,” what comes to mind? How or why would these meek people inherit the earth? Someone read Phil. 4:11-13. How does being content within your circumstances give you blessings?

Those Who Hunger and Thirst

  1. Verse 6: When is the last time you were truly hungry, or extremely thirsty? How can you develop your spiritual appetite so that you desire God’s word daily, meditating on it even “in the night watches” (Psa. 63:6,7)?
  2. Read Job 23:12b. How does this passage illustrate verse 6 of Matthew 5? What will change in your life if you desire God’s word with the same craving you exercise in your food life?

Close:

You’re probably wondering, how does the Autobahn illustrate our spiritual life? Many live their lives as if there are no rules or consequences, which isn’t the true reality. Yet the world assumes following Jesus is a life of do’s and don’t’s, and perceive it as taking away everything they think they enjoy—their “speed limits” if you will. The truth is, Jesus says following Him results in a life of being blessed (happy). In today’s sermon, we were so privileged to hear a forty-two-year-old message by Dr. Jerry Falwell, Sr., as he reiterated that blessings come on the lives of those who live in a manner that pleases God. Just as we are pleased to give our approval to our children when they obey with a great attitude, so God chooses to bless us when we strive to live holy, sanctified lives. Is that something you desire, as Job did? After hearing the message, did you weigh your lifestyle against the message Jesus taught on living a life of peace with God? It’s never about rules: it’s about the heart attitude, and the desire to please the God who bought us with His own blood! This week, as you go about your daily routine, take your spiritual pulse often to make certain your heart is beating in sync with His. Share His love when the opportunity presents itself. What if God has placed you here for such a time as this?

Memory Verse: Matthew 5:1,2: “And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them saying.”

[i] It means “listen up!” “Pay attention!”

[ii] Meekness is “strength under control.”

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He Didn’t Intend to Die That Day..

Two caskets. One, a close friend, the other a brother-in-law. Their stories were so different, their lives both lived in opposite directions.  The deaths  hit us hard. Not because we’re immune to the real life situations that pass us by, but because the deaths were too soon–both of these men still had time to live. (From a human perspective). One had surgery, didn’t heal properly, got pneumonia, and one catastrophe after another occurred, and he closed his eyes in death. The other had surgery, went to a rehab facility, caught a respiratory infection which didn’t heal, and eventually was sustained by life-support. He chose to be taken off, and two minutes later was in the presence of the Lord whom he loved.

We juggled schedules in order to pay our last respects to both of these men whom we had loved. And at each casket the only question we cared about was their relationship to the One who had died in order that they could live eternally with Him. Because, in the end, that’s all that really matters. The one didn’t go to heaven because he was a good citizen, had raised children who are an asset to their communities, and had served faithfully those who needed him. He went because years ago he had heard the message of salvation, knew he was a sinner who had a debt of sin that nothing could remove except the blood of Jesus–and accepted that as Truth. The other had led a life of sin for many, many years, and would have faced an eternity in hell, but he saw in the lives of those with whom he lived a peace, and he wanted that same peace for himself. He went to church, heard the gospel message preached, and gave his life to Christ. They both got it.

Whether you believe in heaven or hell, Jesus as the Son of God, Jesus as the only way to heaven, doesn’t change the truth one bit. All that matters is that it is Truth, and your believing or not believing it doesn’t change the fact that it is. What it will change is where you spend your time when you close your eyes in death. If you’re reading this, you still have time to know that you know–or choose not to. Jesus won’t force you to accept His free gift, but it’s yours for the taking if you do.

How about a great sermon on who is YOUR Jesus? Get your notebook, a good chair, some cool or hot drink, and sit back, ready to listen to the sermon for yesterday, April 30, 2017, preached by Jonathan Falwell at Thomas Road Baptist Church. Click on http://www.trbc.org/sermon-archive and select the current sermon. Join in the singing as it lifts up the name of the Lord! After the service is over, scroll down to the study notes and see how much you absorbed, and check the sermon against your own belief in Jesus! Do you have a Biblical view of His Deity, or have you let unsound doctrine get you confused? Don’t let an unplanned death keep you out of heaven–Jesus has rooms prepared just for you!

Not My Jesus: The World’s View of Jesus                                                                                                                      Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Open:

Can you think of a time you became involved in something because you didn’t have all the true facts about the situation? Write your experience in your notebook, or if you’re with a group of friends, would you share?

Today the world has a very confused idea of who Jesus Christ really is, and why He lived. We must be careful in conversation that we are not agreeing with a statement someone is making about Him until we know that their idea of Jesus is in line with the word of God. As we saw last week, no serious historian denies that Jesus actually lived, but few believe Him to be the Son of God. This week we continue the new series in which we determine that our view of Jesus not only must be true, we must know why it’s true.

Focal Passages: Matthew 16:1-17.

Think About or Discuss:

The World is always looking for a sign

  1. Read Matt. 16:1-4. Had these scribes and Pharisees been following Jesus as He had been performing miracles? If so, what was the real reason for their statement in verse 1?
  2. What did Jesus say would be the evidence of His claim that He was the Messiah? If they had really wanted to believe, what would they have done?
  3. How is that like people today who beg God for a miracle (for the life, health, etc. of someone perhaps), saying they will then “believe”? Can you discuss what comes to mind?

There are signs from above and signs from below

  1. In verses 5-12, what were the disciples missing? What had they seen—probably nearly every day—while they had been with Jesus?
  2. Jesus still needed to warn them to be careful not to believe false doctrine. Why was it necessary for Him to counsel them to not to be swayed by error?
  3. Taking the world religions individually, why did the Jews not accept Jesus as the Messiah the prophets had written of? Islam denies Jesus’ deity; whose word are they ignoring? They deny the crucifixion: last week, how many witnesses saw Jesus alive after the crucifixion? Hinduism embraces thousands of gods; can you think of Jesus’ own words that would refute this doctrine? Buddhism also denies He is the Son of God. Atheists For Christ, like Islam, deny the crucifixion. How then, do they think they can be saved? (If you need to, look at the end!)
  4. Why do we need to be so diligent to teach the next generation there is only One Way? Do you know what the public school system is teaching the children?

The greatest revelation of who Jesus Is? Himself!

  1. In verses 13-17, what had Jesus asked His disciples? Who revealed this to Peter?
  2. If you were asked by anyone who He is, what would you say? What evidence do you have? (Hopefully, a changed life!)

Close:

Because the world does not have a correct view of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Scripture, it has gone crazy making up its own rules concerning sinful lifestyles. It has become vital that we know without error the Biblical guidelines God has set. Jesus knew the disciples were going to face “wolves” among the believers, and warned them in our focal passage to guard against accepting people or beliefs at face value. Now, two thousand years later, we are in an even more dangerous position, as we see our values taken away. We are not allowed to have an opinion that goes against society, and are  in danger of “hate crimes” if we label Biblical sin as sin. Paul warned believers in Eph. 4:14 to not be carried away by every “wind of doctrine,” and in both letters to Timothy, as well as Titus, he warns us to hold fast to sound doctrine—that men, in fact, will come to hate it. We see this today all around the world. Doctrine—a scary word to many—is simply the set of principles God has established as guidelines so that His people may strive to live holy, sanctified lives. Paul writes in 1 Thess.  4:3, “For this is the will of God for you, your sanctification!”  Let us go forward toward that goal, reaching out in love to the many who have an inaccurate view of Him!

Jews: They expected someone who would rise as a military leader. Islam: Jesus Himself stated He and the Father are One (John 10:30); also, John 1:1-5; and denying the resurrection, they ignore the 515+ people who saw Jesus alive. Hinduism: Jesus stated, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no man comes to the Father except by Me” (John 14:6).  Atheists for Christ also ignore the witnesses who saw Jesus after the resurrection; they believe their good works will get them to heaven.

 

 

HAPPILY EVER AFTER…

 

 

 

 

 

It was a book I could hardly put down. Each chapter ended with such a sense of standing on the edge of a cliff that you just HAD to keep going! When something caused me to be disciplined enough to actually lay it down, the plot would be going through my head as I did the duties that were required of me while being on auto-pilot. Oh, man! I just wanted to see what the next page had… but, of course, that didn’t work, because I kept turning the page after that one. Even at bedtime, during my ritual reading for maybe twenty minutes, I found my eyes shutting, yet still trying to see what lay ahead. Finally, when my brain realized I wasn’t comprehending the last sentence, I would lay it down, go to sleep, and know I had to wait for tomorrow.

Finally I was getting through it. I had no idea how it was going to turn out–of course there were “good guys” and “bad guys” and intrigue, but how was it going to end? I didn’t know. All I knew was that every other book by this author had been fantastic.

I was nearly done. As I turned the last page, I read the last couple of sentences. WHAT?????? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? I felt like I was falling off that cliff and there were no nets below! If I hadn’t had the self-control to realize I would break something (probably only something expensive, as my aim is lousy), I would have thrown the book across the room–or across the state if I could have! (No, I’m not telling you what it was–you’ll have to find me, then I will). There just has to be a serial, I reasoned, so I headed for the computer to (of course) Google. “Is there a sequel to…..”? Nothing. “List of books by….” Nothing that I could see different, or that looked like the 2nd of a trilogy or set. There was one I didn’t recognize; it had another title and didn’t look like what I wanted but I still ordered it. Frustration was rampant. Have you been there, done that? You want to know the end, but it’s not out yet. You want to know if they live happily ever after, but it’s expected to come out at Christmas. Shucks, if you’re like me, you’d have to read the first one again, just to remember why you were waiting.

I will say, on behalf of the author who has remained nameless, that when the other book came, it was the same “can’t put it down” situation, and when I finished (and this is very rare), I turned back to page one and read it again. Stupendous. But this time I knew how it was going to end. I still haven’t found a sequel to the other one…

How often have you cheated and gone to the end, just so the stress level is alleviated as you read? The older I get, the more I do that. Eliminating stress has become my mantra as I age. But there are times when reading the ending is something that brings joy!

You think that would ruin it for you? Look at it this way: as Moses penned the books that begin the Bible, he didn’t have the benefit of the prophets. As the prophets wrote their lengthy prophecies, they did not know the fulfillment. As Jesus said in Matthew 13:17, they longed to be able to see what the people around Him were hearing and seeing, but couldn’t. And think of the New Testament, those who were writing it did not have the benefit of reading the end of the book to know how it was going to turn out. And although Jesus told them what to expect, it took the crucifixion to bring it all into focus.

Now is a great time to get your Bible, a notebook to make notes so you can see your progress as you study the sermons, and a comfortable chair. If you want some coffee or Coke, or if you have a friend, get ready to click on the sermon preached at Thomas Road Baptist Church Easter Sunday, April 16, and prepare to worship the Lord with the congregation at TRBC. Click on http://www.trbc.org/service-archive, and click on the Easter service. Take your time to work through the questions below, and enjoy the fact that you know how everything ends! Glorify God as you worship!

Outsiders: Truly He Is The Son of God                                                                                                                                                                           Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Open:

Sometimes it takes more than one circumstance to finally “connect the dots.” Can you think of an instance when this has been the case for you? Write it in your notebook unless you have a chance to discuss it with a friend.

This week we finish looking at four people who were personally affected by the events surrounding the crucifixion, and their reaction to Jesus Christ. The centurion, who—no doubt–had been involved from the night of the arrest to the last breath taken by Jesus, had the light of understanding hit him as he watched Jesus die. As all the dots began to be connected, this man, intimately involved in the crucifixion, made a profound statement that has gone into the very Word of God: “Truly this was (is) the Son of God!”

Focal Passages: Mark 15:20-39; Mark 16:1-7.

Think About or Discuss:

The Prologue

  1. Looking back at the events that led to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, one’s mind finds it hard to cope with the series of situations that ended in such an inhumane way. What seems to have been the beginning of this ending (from a human view point)?
  2. As the jealousy among the Jewish religious leaders escalated, what did they do next?
  3. They plotted how best to get Jesus alone to kill him; who played into their hands? What do you think the other disciples would have done if they had realized Judas was about to betray Jesus (speculation)?
  4. What happened when Judas told the Jews where they could find Jesus? Who all came to the garden the night Jesus was praying? About how many came, and what was their intention?

The Terrible Hours

  1. The Roman military came to arrest Jesus. Who was probably one of the main authorities, one who would give orders, and be on hand throughout the following day? What events did he see occur in the Garden of Gethsemane?
  2. When Jesus’ “case” went from the religious leaders to the governing authorities, how did they react? How did they keep “passing the buck”?
  3. What happened next?
  4. As Pilate ordered the crucifixion, who probably had to carry it out?
  5. What did Scripture predict the Messiah would do (Isaiah 53:7)?

The Death

  1. Who, more than likely, was in charge of the order to nail Jesus to the tree?
  2. As he watched the events now out of his hands, what did he see happen before his eyes?
  3. How did all those events affect him? What were his words?

The Victory!

Close:

As believers, we know the victory that was just around the corner! The hurt, pain, sense of loss, despair—and so much more—that the disciples and followers of Jesus went through during those three days can only be speculated about. We, on the other hand, have read “the end of the story,” and know that Sunday morning the tomb Joseph gave to the family of Jesus was empty! Tradition has it that the stone was guarded by the same centurion who had doubtless overseen the soldiers in the garden the night of His arrest, then in charge of those who carried out the crucifixion on Friday, and was afterward given charge to guard the tomb. If so, he could have seen the sight of the angel rolling the stone away, giving the guards on duty a shock so great they fainted. All we know for sure is that He came out of the tomb and appeared to the women, to the disciples, and before ascending into heaven, more than five hundred or more people. Seeing Him caused them to believe, and change the world. And He is still changing it today!

Which group do you belong in? Those who are familiar with the events of the crucifixion and have had your life changed because of it, or the group of those who know about it, but have no interest in a changed life? It’s a choice that must be made this side of eternity. One rich man in hell begged Abraham—across a chasm—to send someone to tell his family that hell is real, only to be told it was too late (Luke 16:19-31). Don’t wait—if God is speaking to your heart, answer Him today!

Photo Copyright by Sandra Day

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