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Believing and Doing

Paul told Timothy, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” (1 Tim 4:16). Timothy’s manner of life, as well as his words, preached a message. What we believe and teach is important, but more important is what we practice.

For the Christian, two things must not be separated – sound teaching and a life consistent with that teaching. Paul told the Corinthians, “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.” (2 Cor 3:2-3). Andrew Harriston said, “The Christian’s life is the Lord’s audio-visual.” God does not need more preachers, but more practitioners; not more apostles, but more living epistles.

Is your faith based upon a proper understanding of God’s word? An affirmative answer to this question is still not enough. Thus, we add, Is your life’s practice consistent with your understanding of God’s word?” James said, “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (Jas 1:25). Let us not only be diligent in learning the Lord’s will, but in doing what He has taught us. Jesus said, “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock…” (Matt 7:24). – By Richard Thetford

A Day of First Things

We cannot overstate the importance of what happened of the Day of Pentecost, recorded in Acts 2. Many firsts occurred that day, which continue to impact the lives of Christians, as well as the whole world.

The first day of the week. It is notable that Pentecost (also called the Feast of Weeks) was on the first day of the week (Lev. 23:15-16). From that day forward, we worship on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).

The first gospel sermon preached by the apostles (Acts 2:4, 11, 22). The gospel had been preached in promise, and prophetically (Gal. 3:8; 1 Pet. 1:10-11). Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 4:23). Now, His apostles use the keys that opened the door to the kingdom, by preaching Jesus as Lord and Christ (Matt. 16:19; 18:18; 1 Pet. 1:12).

The first time the plan of salvation was preached to the lost. Jesus commissioned His apostles to preach salvation to the world (Mk. 16:15-16). On that day, sinners who believed Jesus is the Christ, were told to repent and to be baptized for the remission of sins, and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:37-38).

The first conversion of sinners resulted. About 3,000 souls believed, and obeyed the apostles, and they were saved that very day (Acts 2:41).

The first church came into existence. The body or church of Christ was composed of “about three thousand souls” on that day (Acts 2:41). The Jerusalem church became the first local congregation of Christians. There would be more (Acts 8:4; 9:31).
The first worship in the kingdom took place. After their conversion and salvation, the Christians continued to worship together (Acts 2:42). Theirs was not a flash-in-the-pan conversion; it was a life-changing, life-absorbing decision.

The first acts of church benevolence occurred. Shortly after Pentecost, the church began caring for its own, by giving and distributing as any among them had need (Acts 2:44-45). — By Joe R. Price

What Does God Want from Me?

Micah 6:6-8.  Micah’s plea was a passionate call for a return to godliness, to moral and ethical conduct. God’s people were religious, but they were not pleasing to Him (6:6-7; Prov 6:16-19). The answer to Micah’s question is as relevant today as ever. “What does the Lord require?”

I. “TO DO JUSTICE”

A. Israel’s injustice (Micah 3:2–4)

B. God’s justice (Psalm 89:13–16; 33:5; 72:2; 106:3; Deut 10:18)

C. Pharisees’ injustice (Matt 23:23)

II. “TO LOVE MERCY”

A. Kindness, Favor, Compassion

B. Mercy, Grace, Peace (2 John 3)

C. Mercy for Humility (Luke 18:13)

D. Mercy for Mercy (Heb 4:16; Matt 5:7)

III. “TO WALK HUMBLY WITH GOD”

A. Obedient (2 Cor 5:6–8)

B. Trustworthy (Matt 23:23)

C. Subservient (Phil 2:2-3; Rom 12:3)

Three attributes that will prepare us to follow our Lord.

Samuel: An Ebenezer In Israel

It was a nation at war, pursued by the dreaded and powerful Philistines.  As they approached, Israel cried in despair to their God-given vindicator and judge, Samuel:  “Do not cease to cry out to the Lord our God for us, that He may save us from the hand of the Philistines” (1 Sam. 7:8).  They knew Samuel’s faith in and favor with God.  At this request Samuel offered a sacrifice, appealing to God for refuge.  “And the Lord answered him….  The Lord thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day, and so confused them that they were overcome before Israel” (vs. 9, 10).  Israel won this battle so resoundingly that they received few problems from the Philistines for quite some time.

In memorial to God’s grace on this occasion, Samuel set up a stone — Ebenezer — saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us” (v. 12).  Ebenezer literally means, “stone of help,” and God certainly was their Rock of strength.  But because of his faithfulness toward God and trustworthiness among the people, we could say Samuel was also an Ebenezer in Israel — a rock of strength for the ancient people of God.  Let’s consider and learn from the following events of faith in Samuel’s life.

Faith Instilled

In most cases, faith begins early.  Samuel’s parents both reverenced God, but they had him only a short time — a few years at most.  Yet his service in God’s tabernacle surely built his faith.  “Samuel ministered to the Lord, even as a child, wearing a linen ephod” (1 Sam. 2:18).  It takes faith to work in God’s service, but it also strengthens faith.  Like physical exercise strengthens the outward body, laboring in spiritual activities strengthens the inward person.  Meaningful spiritual practices developed in childhood under the loving teaching of godly adults prepare children for time and eternity (Prov. 22:6).  Work with them in spiritual activities:  praying, studying, worshipping, and doing works of service for others.  These increase their faith — and ours — and help build a family heritage of faith.  Samuel’s upbringing equipped him to serve God in wonderful ways.

Rebuking A Nation And Her King

Samuel loved the Lord, His word, and his nation too much to allow sin free reign.  This sometimes brought him into conflict with his own people.  When the nation became idolatrous, he rebuked them (1 Sam. 7:3-6).  When King Saul strayed, he confronted him with the word of the Lord (1 Sam. 13 & 15).  Samuel refused to let fear of rejection hinder him.  He feared God rather than man.

Also, Samuel used no deceptive tactics, backbiting, or sayings too subtle for the people to understand.  In plain language he told them their sin and the changes they needed to make.  He possessed faith in God’s word — that speaking it plainly and forthrightly could change the hearts of honest men and women from sin back to God.  But his faith in God’s word also moved him to speak it whether people would accept or reject it.  Have the same fearless disposition of faith:  wanting to save everyone you can by speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15, 16), but realize that we must speak truth whether people receive it or not (2 Tim. 4:1-5).

“God Sees Not As Man Sees”

After Saul’s fall, God sent Samuel to anoint a new king from the sons of Jesse.  Samuel quickly decided which son he thought God would choose.  But God responded by saying, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him.  For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).  Seven of Jesse’s sons passed by, but God selected none of them, so Samuel asked if there were any others.  Then he met David, and God chose him as king.

Samuel learned an important lesson about faith that we also need to learn well:  faith is often contrary to human reason.  We might evaluate a person or situation one way and God another, but trust His judgment above your own.  God never errs; we often do.  Trust whatever God teaches, whether it seems reasonable to you or not.

By faith Samuel was an Ebenezer — a rock of help — in Israel.  These events in his life exemplify the kind of faith we need today.  Like Samuel, trust God and His word, stand up for right and against wrong, and strive to instill these values in your children.  Then, like Samuel, your character will be strong, your influence for good will be widespread, and your eternal reward in heaven will be assured.

– Shane Carrington