Sunday Family Report Articles
"For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, `Do not be afraid'" (Acts 27:23-24a)
Paul was a prisoner on his way to Rome for trial. The ship he was traveling on had been tossed by a hurricane force wind for several days. God sent comfort to Paul so that he would not despair. As He passes the good news on to the others that they would not die, Paul mentions God - "to whom I belong and whom I serve."
To Whom I Belong
Christians belong to God. We have been purchased by the blood of Christ. "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
Some are unwilling to belong to the Lord. They belong to their jobs, their spouse, their children, their hobbies, etc. Most simply belong to themselves. They do what they want, not what GOD wants. Many are controlled by sin. " ...do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts" (Romans 6:12).
And Whom I Serve
Never forget that, because children of God belong to God, we have a duty to do all that He asks us to do. Paul served God because he belonged to Him. "Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey? Whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness.” (Rom. 6:16) When we understand that we have given control of our lives to God, we will obey and serve Him in ALL things.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." (Romans 12:1).
To whom do YOU belong?
- Roger Hillis, evangelist
There is a pervasive belief in Western society that life should be lived on two levels: the personal arena and the public arena. It is as though we live in a two-story house where we can go from floor to floor, but we can’t be in both places at the same time. And so the belief is that some things are—and should remain—only in the private sector of our lives. Chief among them: religion and all of its accompanying convictions.
Of course, Biblically-minded Christians have a problem with this world-view. Because the life teachings of the Bible are not just meant to be a matter of private conviction. They are meant to be sum total of our existence, including the way that our friends—and even the enemies of our faith—know us.
When the Holy Spirit speaks of religion, we don’t get the sense that he wants it to be a private affair. He warns us not to make a show of ourselves (Mt. 23:5), but we must also be impressed by the number of times that Christians are just noticed for living differently. Paul, Peter, and others suffered persecution simply because they were living good Christian lives and others saw that. The “two levels” of their lives both belonged to Jesus Christ.
Now, there may be times when Christian’s faith is justifiably kept secret (see John 19:38), but they are extreme circumstances. Until such a time as that comes in your life, be a Christian all the time. Let Christ be king in your private life and public interactions, “so that others may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.” (Matt. 5:16)
- Dan Lankford, minister
I recently read in an article where a Tennessee minister concluded: “The Bible is the best-selling, least-read, and least-understood book in the world.” In his view and experience, “Biblical illiteracy is rampant.” I am not a pollster on religious matters, but I would have to agree with this preacher. “We revere the Bible,” he says, “but we don’t read it.”
In a recent survey, 64 percent of those questioned said they were “too busy” to read the Bible. The average household has three Bibles, but less than half the people in the United States can name the first book in the Old Testament. One survey found that 12 percent of Christians identified Noah’s wife as Joan of Arc!
So, what is the solution to biblical illiteracy? The simple answer is to read the Bible! We all have busy lives but failing to include God in our business can ultimately lead to sin. The Noble Bereans studied daily. “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11) All of us could take 15 to 30 minutes to follow a daily reading regimen of God’s Word. The same amount of exercise time that many doctors say could extend your life span. Well what about our eternal life span?
We all need to be growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). If we have not been studying God’s word, let us make a commitment today to put Him first so that we can grow in the truth and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Kristopher Sanders, minister
There’s a new show premiering on February 12, called Miracle Workers. The cable channel on which it will run offers this description: “A comedy set in the offices of Heaven, Inc. When God plans to destroy the Earth, two low-level angels must convince their boss to save humanity. They bet him they can pull off their most impossible miracle yet: help two humans fall in love.”
It is fascinating (and usually disheartening) to see how the secular world thinks about YHWH God. As evidenced by the quote above, we are tempted to think of Him much like the ancient Greeks thought of their gods: flighty, untrustworthy, and sometimes dangerous. Gods like that play with human lives like a child plays with dolls. We think of them simply as more powerful, more aloof versions of ourselves.
But that’s not at all what the God of the Bible is like.
He does not toy with humanity. He does not throw us into chaos or suffering on a whim. Even at times when he responds suddenly or harshly to humanity, he is never at the mercy of his temper. No, the God of the Bible is solid, steady, and unchanging (Psa. 102:26-27). He does not sleep or slumber (Psa. 121:4), so he is always able to help when we need him. He gives us difficulties, but that is because, like any good father, “he disciplines us for our good.” (Heb. 12:7-10) And most importantly, he loves us (John 3:16).
YHWH God is not petty, flighty, or puny as unbelievers might think of him. He is good, he is loving, and he is holy. And we praise him.
- Dan Lankford, minister
Have you ever wondered why God put so much emphasis on the church assembling together? It’s because He knew we needed one another. When we stay in closer relationship with one another, we are sharpened and stirred by one another in our walk with Christ. The scriptures place a lot emphasis on “one another” statements: “exhort or encourage, love and bear with, admonish and greet, accept, and serve one another.”
Worship is a privilege reserved only for the children of God and there are many benefits and blessings received from faithfully attending worship. God has commanded us to assemble weekly to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Hebrews 10:23-27 records, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching. For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation.”
When we forsake the assembly of the church except for circumstances beyond our control, we not only disobey God, but we rob ourselves of the benefits that worship affords us. For the Christian, assembling together is a sacred duty, an act of obedience and a blessed privilege. I saw a quote that asked this question: “If the church were your job would you still be employed”?
- Kristopher Sanders, minister
“Virtue signaling” is a term which comes from the psychological sciences, but has worked its way into mainstream thought where it describes those among us who loudly decry an injustice in society because everyone else seems to be doing that right now. It’s what happens when a person who has little conviction on a particular subject suddenly jumps on a bandwagon of outrage to be seen as a good person. And it is easy to see this kind of behavior if one looks for it. Whenever there is a call for public outrage, there will be those who have previously shown no concern but who suddenly want to appear that they are part of the virtuous crowd.
Christians may find this especially tempting because we are right to be appalled (though not surprised) by sin and its filthiness. But while we are right to denounce sin, we do not decry its presence because we want to be seen as good people. In fact, “virtue signaling” may be the modern word for this practice, but our Bibles use a much older word for it: hypocrisy. Jesus said, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:1) The desire to be seen and praised by others cannot be our motivation for spirituality. Our goal is to do the will of God just for His own sake.
Let’s do our best to just be good people. All the time. In every way. “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see... and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16)
- Dan Lankford, minister
In Ephesians 5:15-17 the Bible reads, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” The King James Version reads in verse 16: “Redeeming the time, because the day are evil.” Paul here is cautioning Christians to use their time wisely because God expects the time He has given us not to be wasted.
The word for ‘redeeming’ in the Greek can mean to buy up, ransom, or rescue from loss. I heard it put this way: we need to rescue from loss the time that remains in our lives.
James tells us in James 4:14, “Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” Once time has slipped away we no longer have it and yet many are foolishly making plans without God in their future. What happened yesterday is gone and cannot be redeemed, and tomorrow is not promised. The time given to us should be spent glorifying God in every area of our lives. It should be manifested in our worship to God, our treatment of one another, our speech and in everything we do. When we rescue or redeem the time that God has given us, we are saying to Him, “Father your grace has not been wasted.” I personally know there are areas in my life where I could do a better job as it relates to my time. What about you? How are you redeeming the time God has given to you?
- Kristopher Sanders, minister
Several weeks ago, this space was used to remind us that it’s important for us to remember basic Bible stories, even (and maybe especially) as adults. Now, let’s add another brick in that same wall: it’s important for us to look for God in those same stories. As children, we usually learn moral lessons from the human characters, and that’s very healthy. As adults, we would also do well to focus on the theological lessons—what YHWH is doing and what that can teach us.
Consider the story of David & Goliath. David’s bravery and faith are encouraging examples to us. But look deeper at what God does to his enemy: he turns things inside-out. Goliath’s head is removed with his own sword, so that the very thing he depended on to rebel against YHWH was turned against him by YHWH’s servant.
Or consider the story of Moses’ striking the rock when he should have spoken to it. Moses’ arrogance is a great reminder for us to be humble. But we can also look in the same story and see what God is doing: using imperfect servants to accomplish his perfect plan. Moses is disobedient to God, and yet the water still flows for the people, because YHWH, who is our God and theirs, is merciful.
This simple transition in our thinking can open doors to things we’ve never considered in God’s great book. One Bible teacher commonly reminds his students: “The Bible is one unified story that points to Jesus.” Looking for God’s activities in classic Bible stories can help us to see the unity of that story and God’s great plan through all of it.
- Dan Lankford, minister
The New Testament has several reminders about the work of those who devote their lives to teaching the gospel.
We are to be evangelists. “As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Tim. 4:5) The work of evangelism is the work of teaching the lost about Jesus Christ, and it is a crucial part of the preacher’s efforts.
We are to be preachers. “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus... preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (2 Tim. 4:1-2) Our task is to proclaim the words of God to those who know him, to those who don’t know, and to those who have once known him and walked away from him.
And we are to be ministers. “Tychicus... is a beloved brother and faith-ful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.” (Col. 4:7) This third aspect of our work reminds us of our need for humility. We are not to think of the terms “evangelist” and “preacher” as positions of exaltation, but rather as roles of service. We are called to proclaim the truth in all of its power, and we are called to do so out of a motivation of care and concern for people that mirrors God’s own compassion for us.
All three of these words refer to the same role. And all three are far-reaching reminders about how we should approach our work. To knowingly neglect any of these is a choice to serve God incompletely.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34)
“Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (John 14:21)
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” (John 15:9)
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:12-13)
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:7-11)
“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.” (1 John 4:16)
What a truly wonderful message.