We use this page to promote Bible studies and other events at White Rock Church of Christ. We hope to encourage others and bring them to a better relationship with God.
Operating as usual
Sons and daughters of the Most High
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love you neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love you enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:43-44). Honestly, which one of us actually want to do that? Sure, there is the odd person who is inclined to forgive those who have persecuted them or even brought great tragedy on them, but for everyone else this is not an easy scripture to come to terms with. The young man in Dallas who forgave the policewoman who shot and killed his brother is the perfect example of the kind of person every Christian should strive to be like. The world is also replete with Christians who pray for those who persecute the Lord’s Church, but are we like them, or are we like the world who repays evil for evil? Jesus later asks what reward we would have if we only love those who love us. He further says that we are no better than Gentiles (unbelievers) if we only greet those who greet us. We need to strive to be better, to be like God, to be perfect to the extent that we humanly can be. To have the kind of love in our hearts for mankind that drives us to pray for those who persecute us goes a long way to prove we are truly sons and daughters of the Most High.
In order to reach a better place
“It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons…for the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later yields the peaceful fruits of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Why did or do you discipline your children? Unless it was for an egotistical power trip, it was almost certainly to mold them into a better person so they can succeed in life. A child that is not disciplined will have a much greater chance of not being able to succeed as an adult because they will have grown up to be egocentric and self-absorbed. “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” (Pro. 29:15). God will discipline us, not to make our lives miserable, but instead to prod us to change direction in order to reach a better place later on. He is not a God who punishes for selfish reasons in order to make Himself more powerful. His only reason for disciplining us is to make sure that we will keep on the narrow path that leads to eternal life. Even as adults we have tendency to stray and sin from time to time. Without correction from a loving Father, that could spell doom for us. “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of His reproof, for the Lord reproves whom He loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” (Prov. 3:11-12)
The school bully
“For God gave us spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Tim. 1:7). The spirit spoken of here is not the Holy Spirit, but a person’s attitude or disposition. There are too many people in this world who live in fear. Either they fear the power of someone or an organization, or they fear other things like diseases and dying. Either way, that is not the way the Lord wants us to live, and indeed, it is not the intended spirit of the believer. What people fear are consequences, essentially. They are afraid not so much of the threat, but what the result of the threat will be, so they cower and become non-confrontational in order to “survive”. Nothing annoys me more than when an individual uses their self-perceived power to threaten another person. To me, at least, it is like the school bully who pushes around those weaker or more vulnerable in order or to satisfy their ego or get their way. That is the ultimate expression of weakness – to threaten another person. I cannot tell you to stand up to them because each person will react differently to any given situation, but I will tell you to know your options and exercise them – that is your power. God does not want you to live in fear. He does not want you to cower down every time a bully appears around the corner. God wants you to live a life free of fear, to have your own power. He also wants you to have three things the bully is devoid of – love for yourself, love for others, and self-control. Do not allow another person on earth to threaten you. God has your back, so take control.
Faith like that is power
Sometimes we pray and we don’t receive the answers we are looking for. We may have to wait a while, or we may receive a hard “no” for our efforts. Most of the time the latter is a result of our motivation for the prayer (Jam. 4:3). But there are also times when our prayers have nothing to do with us and everything to do with someone else. The individual may be gravely ill, and our prayer is for them to overcome their illness, but then they become even more ill, possibly even passing away. Our prayers for that person did not come from a place of selfish motivation but from a genuine concern for them, so why did God not answer our prayers – why did we get a hard “no”? The harsh reality is that for 99.999% of the time no one on earth will be able to give you a satisfactory answer that will remove your grief and or disappointment at the outcome, but there is truth you need to understand. One that removes the need to have the question answered by a human because it is answered by the Almighty in the Scriptures. I am, of course, speaking of Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Will this magically take your pain away? No, but it will, with faith, help you understand that some things are beyond our understanding. At times like that we have to rely on our steadfast faith, knowing that God has a reason and there will come a time when that reason will be made available to us. Faith like that is power – power to understand and overcome any difficulty we encounter.
Your request has been denied
“You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (Jam. 4:3). There are many people who become angry because they ask for something in prayer and then do not receive it. They will quickly quote scriptures like Mark 11:24 “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours” and bemoan the “fact” that they believed but did not receive. They seethe with anger because God supposedly ignored their request and then start to deny His ability to answer prayers or even His existence. What they fail to realize is that God has an intimate knowledge of their motivations and will decide based on that whether to answer a specific prayer or not. For example, praying to win the lottery so that they can “bless others” may sound noble enough, but history have shown that most people do not do so after winning. Some will give a tiny portion to a local church or charity, but the vast majority of people either hoard it or spend it on themselves and loved ones. Now, ignoring the debate on whether playing the lottery is even Christian to begin with, you can plainly see the foreknowledge God would have in those cases and why those prayers remain unanswered. While it may not the best example, I trust you understand the idea behind the example I have chosen to use today. If we pray for selfish reasons, even when they are cleverly disguised as having charitable motivations, our prayers will be heard but not answered. But what if we genuinely pray for someone else – why are those prayers rejected. The next message will look at those prayers.
Why we put Christ on in baptism
“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him, if indeed you continue in faith.” (Col. 1:21-23). I wonder if we actually understand the impact of statements like this. Not only was He willing to give His life for us, but He did so without first receiving any kind of commitment or payment. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly…But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:6,8). How willing would you be to sell your house and allow the new tenants to move in without payment or even a commitment to pay for the house? Or would you enter into a marriage with someone you do not have any guarantee would ever honor or love you? Sounds ludicrous that one would even think of doing something like that, doesn’t it? Now imagine having foreknowledge of everything in the future and then deciding freely to give your life for a bunch of sinners who may or may not accept your invitation of the hope of eternal life. Imagine knowing that the vast majority of the world would reject your message of salvation, that they would never even begin to entertain the thought of obeying Your Father’s word. Then imagine having such a great love, such a dedication to those who would do so that you willingly suffer one of the most cruel deaths ever invented to secure them that hope. And people wonder why we put Christ on baptism.
Love them into the church
“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with is passions and desires” (Gal. 5:22-24). The true Christian will live a life that glorifies the Father. He or she will exemplify the characteristics that sets them apart from the world and acts like a magnet to the seeking soul. Not that people in the world do not have the ability to act in the ways Christians are supposed to, but what good is acting in like that if the motivation is not in the right place. A person could be loving, kind, gentle and gracious, but without God the act is without an end goal. In other words, acting that way is still considered good but is not for the purpose of gaining entrance to life everlasting with God. We Christians, on the other hand, display the above characteristics because we want to live a life that is in obedience with the scriptures and thus ends with an entry into the heavenly abode, so to speak. We live that way because it mirrors our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and by doing so we become ambassadors of Him who created all things in the universe. Always remember this, “You cannot hate someone into the church”. Acting in ways contrary to Gal. 5:22-24 will not inspire people to come to church and put Christ on in baptism - not if we act the same way the world generally does…love them into the church.
If only they knew
“A fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds” (Psa. 14:1). Most of us know the first part of the verse, but it is the second that is the enlightening part. There are many reasons for a person not to believe in God, but for many people it is not so much that they do not believe in their heart that He does not exist, but that they choose not to. What I mean by that is simply that for them to admit there is a God, they would have to confront their own sinful nature and that burden is too heavy for them to bear. It is easier to convince themselves there is not God because that absolves them from the any previous or current wrongdoing. Their corrupt nature, the abominable deeds they do are hidden in the safety of the darkness because they believe no one could ever expose them from that place of sinful safety. So, instead of falling to their knees in contrite repentance and accepting forgiveness from the Almighty they convince themselves he does not exist – to their own eternal doom. The willful rejection of God and the darkness they think they are hiding in now will result in a torturous prison of fire for all of eternity. If only they knew how impossible it is to hide sin from God and how easy is to be forgiven. Maybe they would make a better choice.
If you know someone like that, pray for them. Pray that they will come to their senses and depart from their evil ways before it is too late…pray fervently that they will reach out and embrace the light that is their salvation.
Christ or a loved one?
Read Matthew 10:34-39 before reading this. Are you willing to stand on your faith even if it means losing someone you love? Do you love Christ enough that you are willing to let a best friend or even a family member go? Our relationships on earth are important to us because they shape who we are, but what if one is shaping you the wrong way. What do you do when a loved one is so against you, so against your religion that the relationship becomes toxic? What if that relationship causes you to stumble in your Christian faith? There are decisions that are so tough that it gives us sleepless nights, but the scriptures are clear about the course of action to take – cut the anchor that is holding your faith back from reaching the heights it should and move one. By saying that if we love a parent more, we are not worthy of Him, Christ is emphasizing the point that there should be nothing hindering our relationship with Him. Go to the person or write to them and explain your concerns, but if they are still unable to accept who you are in Christ it may be time to make an incredibly difficult decision. Either you decide to have an uncomfortable peace in which you have to subdue your Christian enthusiasm and always walk on eggshells so as not to offend the sensitivities of the person or choose the alternative. The alternative is missing a relationship but also having the freedom to be truly in Christ, truly a son of daughter of God, truly free to express you Christianity in your everyday living. “Choose this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Josh. 24:15.
Actions speak louder than words
In Matthew 26:69-75 the story of Peter denying Jesus 3 times is recounted. Those of us who have read that passage are probably appalled that someone would deny Christ. How could he, we think? Surely, we would never do something like that to our Savior, the only Son of God. It would never cross our minds. We would gladly die for Him, wouldn’t we? But the reality is often very different. There are times in the life of many Christians when they deny Christ. Now, you may be saying, “I have never denied Him” and you probably have not – in words. But words are not the only way to accomplish that. There is an old saying, “actions speak louder than words” and nothing is truer when it comes to denying Christ. We profess Christianity, but when we are in the world, we do nothing when we hear blasphemous language. We remain silent when we hear the 3-letter acronym used so prolifically these days and when someone uses filthy language or tells crude jokes (Eph. 5:4) we either join in or pretend we did not hear it. Is that not a form of denying Him? Aren’t we denying Him when we act the way the world does when we are not in church or around other Christians? What about when we watch shows that contain scenes that are anti-Christian, or where the devil is depicted as a hero or a victim? Do we defend our Christianity when it is snubbed for a more “inclusive” point of view, or does our deafening silence deny Him who gave His blood for our hope of eternal life? “So, everyone who acknowledges Me before men, I will also acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 10:32-33). Be careful!
Faith to overcome the assaults
“For everyone who has been borne of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4). The God-loving will always be in contest with the God-hating – that is a reality of spirituality. Every day Christians will face opposition from the world and its obsession with self-promotion, evil desire for money and fame, and hatred for anyone who does not hold the same positions in life as they do. God is an obstacle to their egocentric thinking, so they reject and abhor the scriptures and anyone who values the doctrines of the Bible, attacking them with all-consuming hatred. So-called Christians find these attacks devastating and could over time acquiesce to the pressures of world in order to escape the constant denigration. But committed, obedient Christians have enough faith to overcome the assaults of the enemy. Our faith that Christ is the only Son of God gives us the strength and courage to withstand the constant onslaught of a hateful world who are lost to the powers of darkness because we believe that victory was assured at Calvary. We will not only stand firm in our faith but will also stand in glorious victory over the spiritual forces of evil every day of our lives. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7).
|Monday||08:30 - 16:30|
|Tuesday||08:30 - 16:30|
|Wednesday||19:15 - 20:30|
|Wednesday||08:30 - 16:30|
|Thursday||08:30 - 16:30|
|Sunday||17:30 - 18:30|
|Sunday||09:00 - 11:30|
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