One blood


It is often said, “Everybody’s different.” Yes, on the outside, we may look different, but on the inside, there is

something we all have: blood. The apostle Paul said, “And he has made from one blood every nation of men…” (Acts 17:26 NKJV). All humanity descended from one set of parents: Adam and Eve.

Early in the 20th Century, an Austrian scientist discovered there are four basic blood types: A, B, AB, and O. Later, scientists found humans have either a positive or negative Rh factor. In the middle of that century, scientists believed people with O-negative blood were “universal donors,” meaning that type and Rh factor could be transfused into a person with another blood type. Currently, it is possible to remove the antigens from blood that can cause reactions and thereby make every type of blood transfusable. We are, indeed, one blood.

We must not act as though others are inferior or less important that we are. Those who think they are superior and mistreat others because they “look” different miss the point. In the eyes of God, we are all the same. We are all human beings. Yes, there are different physical types, but inside, we are all very much alike. God has made us all of one blood.

Advertisements

Beyond his own capabilities


“…he must preach, teach and exhort with the kind of love and concern that comes only through a genuine gift of the Holy Spirit—something beyond his own capabilities.”

I read the above quote on a website recently. It is attributed to A.W. Tozer. No doubt he was a very wise man (he died in 1963), but he was wrong in this statement.

Either one preaches from the word of God in the Bible, or one is directly inspired by the miraculous gift of the Holy Spirit. This is called a “strong disjunction.” Either one or the other is the case. Both cannot be true.

The Bible teaches there were those who spoke from a miraculous gift of the Holy Spirit. In the First Century, the apostles were given such gifts, and there were others who were granted the same. There is no concrete evidence, however, that after the written word of God was delivered to man in its entirety that such is still the case.

While I realize there are people who are sincere when they say they have the gift of the Holy Spirit, they are a little weak on proving it. That’s because there is no objective proof that can be offered. When these sincere people preach, they must still study and prepare as everyone does. That goes against what Jesus said: “Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say,” (Luke 12:11-12 NKJV).

Let’s go back to our strong disjunction. Either it is the case that one preaches from the word of God in the Bible, or one is directly inspired by the miraculous gift of the Holy Spirit. We have been given the complete, inspired word of God (2 Timothy 3:16). The apostle Paul, in describing the gifts of the Holy Spirit wrote, “When that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall vanish away,” (1 Corinthians 13:10). That which is perfect is the Bible we have been given. It is the complete, perfectly expressed will of God. There is no other revelation.

Another matter to consider is that if God enables some by the Holy Spirit to preach and teach and does not enable me, then God would be considered a respecter of persons. But God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). Therefore there can be no special revelation from God apart from the written word. If there was, God would violate his own character, and that is impossible.

Believe me, it would be wonderful for a preacher to have the ability to achieve “something beyond his own capabilities,” but to do so would be inconsistent with God’s own character. Very simply, there is no way the Lord God would do that.

Self-Control


 

Our devotion today by Bro. Ed Matthews is about self-control.

When I think of this trait, I am reminded of the word in the King James Version: “sober.”  The  apostle Paul, in the books of 1 Timothy and Titus encouraged everybody to “be sober.”

We usually think of sobriety in connection with the cessation or avoidance of alcohol or mood-altering drugs. In the New Testament, it really has to do with the responsibility one has to oneself to maintain self-control. It has to do with the responsibility we owe ourselves to maintain control and focus in our lives.

When I think of some of the incidents in scripture when good people lost self-control, I’m reminded of King David. The sight of Bathsheba bathing on a roof-top was all it took for the king to lose his self-control and abandon all reason.

Passion is a good thing used for proper purposes, but too much passion can be dangerous. When Peter took his sword and cut off Malchus’ ear, he had lost his self-control. We owe it to our God, ourselves and our friends and family to lead a disciplined, controlled life as an example of Christ. We do not honor ourselves, others, or the Lord when we lose control of behavior. That’s never a condition fit for a child of God.

Comfort


Sovereign God, Your Son had nowhere to lay His head. It is not enough
for me to offer Him a pillow. I must abandon my comforts for His sake. Help
me to do what You want me to do. Through Him, who leads the way, Amen.

Bro. Ed Matthews added the above prayer to his devotional for today, Jan. 18. I thought it was appropriate for what he discussed about Jesus and “comfort.”

Comfort is a necessary American item. People can’t get enough of it. Most people in the United States would not go without their homes, beds, pillows, couches, food, and warmth for a day.

Jesus lived a life with few comforts. He had no home (Matthew 8:20), he had no furniture. If he were alive today, would people think Jesus was a homeless man? Probably. Yet, this homeless man was not what he appeared, was he?

Bro. Ed makes the point that Jesus’ work was “merely devoid of earthly encumbrances.” True. But, the Lord wasn’t trying to put on a show for the benefit of others. His work was about teaching as many people as he could in the time he had been given.

Are we willing to do forgo comfort for the work Jesus did? Many are not. But, for those who are, they will find more comfort in sharing Christ with others than they could ever realize from a fluffy pillow.

Here’s a link to Ed’s devotional each day. Why not join us? https://plownewground.wordpress.com/

Means


Bro. Ed Matthews’ devotional today reminds me of 2 Kings chapter six. Elisha’s servant was unnerved when he saw the Syrian army. He turned to his master and said, “Oh, no, my master. What will we do?”

Many people are impressed by what Bro. Ed Matthews today labeled, “means.” We place too much emphasis on what we think we see!

We don’t have enough money, time, ability so we worry and ask, “what will I do?” Even those who wear the name of Christ look at the state of the world today and worry about it to almost the exclusion of all else because humans can become preoccupied with “means.”

Elisha’s answer to his servant was, “Don’t be afraid, for our side outnumbers them.” The servant could not understand this until God allowed him to see for himself.

Often, we Christians are afraid because we don’t remember “our side outnumbers them.” We should remember that the Lord God has not left us without help or counsel. We have our heavenly Father who provides for us, and the eternal presence of the King Eternal.

So, all we need do is open our eyes that we might see.

Faith, hope, love and fear


In the devotional today (“Plow New Ground”), Bro. Ed Matthews wrote about the three Israelites King Nebuchadnezzar decided to incinerate in the fiery furnace (Daniel chapter 3). Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to allow fear of the king to make them worship a golden image. Ed’s thought was this: “The driving force behind the command of the king was fear—fear of punishment.” 

Love destroys fear (1 John 4:18). If we love God and believe his word enough to obey it and store in our hearts the hope of eternity there is nothing to fear from the king or anyone else. Whenever we recoil from doing what is right because of some fear, it is because those three godly qualities are weakened by some unreasonable concern.

Faith, produced by the reading and studying of God’s word helps us to understand what is right and how to do it. Hope helps us to want to do what God wants because eternity matters more than this old world. Love throws fear away by placing God and Christ on the throne of our hearts. With strong faith, hope and love, there is no fear of anything in this world that can disturb our relationship with God. Without those three things, anything can.

Am I like Christ if I won’t forgive?


 

 

Two words that Bro. Ed used in today’s devotional are some of the most challenging words for those who profess faith in Christ. “Forgive Onesimus,” is a clarion call. Onesimus had been Philemon’s possession. Now, Paul says, “he is much more than that to you: he is your beloved brother!”

 

Perhaps Philemon would have forgiven Onesimus even without Paul’s letter, but with the letter, Philemon is being reminded of something all those in Christ must remember: Christ forgave us when we were slaves to sin. If we were to have learned anything it is others need forgiveness just as we did. If I can’t forgive a brother who turns from sin to serve God, how can I claim to be Christlike?

I was part of a conversation once in which I heard a brother wish condemnation and imprisonment on a group of people who had been accused of a crime. No one likes to think he/she is “soft on crime,” but I wondered if his only son had been one of the accused would he be as quick to condemn and imprison him.

Here’s my point: for those who are willing to turn from sin in repentance and obedience to Christ shouldn’t we remember how enslaved we were and offer them our support instead of wishing for their condemnation and continued imprisonment to sin? You tell me.