Saturday, August 9, 2008

A Lost Art Amongst Baptist

Acts 17:11 reads “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Here we read of the people of Berea that Paul and Silas spoke to after being forced to leave Thessalonica. The people of Berea are given a great compliment in that they “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” There is much to be gleaned from this verse of Scripture. First of all, can you believe that the people of Thessalonica and Berea were compared and one was found “more noble?” In our modern church age we love to claim “Grace” as an excuse for our pride in wanting to do things our way. The modern “church” loves claiming liberty to worship as they interpret worship. This is simply not so. There are some churches and some people “more noble” than others. Who is to judge? Scriptures! It was the Scriptures that were being searched and received by the Bereans, and that is what made them “more noble.” I want to be a part of a ‘more noble’ church!Secondly, the people received the Scriptures with all readiness of mind. They came into church expecting to hear from the Lord! Can you imagine if everyone came into church expecting to hear from the Lord? We are so ‘busy’ that we never hear His voice. We have to get to church on time, go to choir practice, take the kids to the bathroom, check our outfit, talk to Brother and Sister so-in-so, get to our Sunday School class, get the quiet seat out of the car, think of what bus game to play, read the bulletin, write out the offering check, find ‘our pew,’ and sign up on the food list for drink before anyone else (because that is the easiest you know), that we miss the entire purpose of church…to hear His voice. God wants to speak to you and I every time the Word of God is opened. Did you hear Him this weekend? While I am not saying that any of those ‘to do’s’ are wrong, we better never forget to stop and listen for His voice; and not just listen, but receive it. And not just receive it, but receive it with readiness of mind. I’m going to live it! Every pastor in the world would love a congregation like that, and God would love every pastor to be that way too!
But thirdly, the lost art I believe is in the final portion of that Scripture: “they searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” I believe in personal devotions. I believe every child of God should spend time every day in reading, meditating, and memorizing of Scripture. But that is not what this speaks of. The people of Berea received the preaching, was willing to live the preaching, but also sought out in Scripture the preaching…thus the lost art. We all love the ‘evangelists’ sermon. Preaching of the Gospel and everything we all agree upon. We all leave happy and excited about Jesus. But what when our pastor preaches a message that we aren’t sure about? For example, the Lord has led me to preach on the proper way of finding life’s mate for our young people. I have preached from Scripture how ‘dating’ is wrong. There are those who are willing to try it out, for which I am grateful. There are those who want to see it before they’ll believe it…and they can. There are those who don’t like it and think it’s foolish…proof’s in the pudding as they say. But, where are those who went home and came back having searched the Scriptures for themselves on the issue? I love when brothers in Christ come to me a week or two after a sermon and ‘add on’ to my sermon I preached. Amen! They searched the Scriptures.
We unfortunately live in a ‘church world’ of dictatorial preachers whose every word must be followed- or else, or of passive ‘keep them all happy’ preachers who will preach the easiest and most unoffending messages. If you have a pastor that is willing to study Scriptures and share the Scriptures in love, you ought to praise God for him, but still search the Scriptures for yourself!
How much stronger would your faith be? How much deeper would your conviction be? How much more perseverance in standing for the Truth would you have if it all was based upon what you have found to be true in Scriptures. When we base our convictions and standards on what the church believes or on what our pastor preaches…they will never last, or the first time there is opposition or what seems to be a failure in them, we will quit. Let us find the truths in God’s Word for ourselves! By not doing so, we have created a ‘belief buffet’ amongst us Baptists. We will take what our liking is and pass on what doesn’t agree with us. We can not continue this! We must search the Scriptures!
I know recently I have preached on the error of dating, our children being in church with our parents and not in jr. church or clubs, God still works miracles, assurance of salvation, bride of Christ, separation, finances, etc. How much did we search the Scriptures for ourselves on our own time on these matters? For it was that which made ‘the people of Berea ‘more noble.’ I definitely don’t want to be like the world, and I really don’t want to be like the typical Christian, but how wonderful for God to look at our families and our churches and be able to say, “they receive the Scripture every time with all readiness of mind, and they search the Scriptures daily, whether those things that pastor says are so; they are not like everybody else…they are more noble.” It’s a lost art, but it can be done!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

I Hate Dishwashers

While growing up, my mother had the greatest dishwasher I have ever seen. This dishwasher always cleaned the pots, always shined the dish, and left glasses without spots or debris. This great dishwasher used no electricity and very rarely broke down. Of course, you know by now the brand…Momma’s Hands! She, and eventually my sisters, washed the dishes every night and ever dish was placed back in its place that night, dry and clean. Years later, I married the most wonderful lady on the face of the earth (better have that written due to content of this devotion). My wife though, had us purchase a dishwasher. I had no idea the frustration, smells, and grime that were to come. Soon, I began to notice “crusties” as I call them, spots everywhere, and worst of all…”floaties” in my drink. I began to investigate. At other times, there would be no bowls in the cabinet, no spoons in the drawer, and I continued to investigate. THEN, one day I came home on a late Sunday night to a horrendous smell. I finished my investigation and found the culprit to be-the DISHWASHER. What I have found is this. It can clean up dishes, but not clean them. It needs to get “full” before you use it to save water and electric, so we may run out of certain dishes at certain times. Some of those “waiting periods” are marked by distinct moments of odor emanating from the machine that when finally used does not have the power to clean the hardened left over particles of food. I say all that to simply say this. God expects us as Christians to do the work of the ministry. Our faith, demands our work! Don’t rely on everybody else to do a work that you and I can do. When that happens, things don’t get done, don’t get done right, wastes resources and power, and truly stinks in the eyes of God. Lets do the work!!