A Reliable Individual

In practically every ordered segment of the daily paper, we discover some business promoting for a “reliable individual” to involve some position of trust and duty. I have chatted with numerous entrepreneurs who express that discovering workers they can rely on is their main issue. No association can prevail without trustworthy staff. The sluggish, unreliable, hit-and-miss sort is a disgrace to his organization and obstructs its viability.

It is similarly genuine that the nearby gathering can’t be a compelling association unless it comprises of “tried and true” Christians; that is, individuals who will bear their duties alongside the rest and coordinate to satisfy the mission of the congregation. While the Bible does not utilize “trustworthy,” it uses comparable terms, for example, “undaunted” and “enthusiastic” (see 1 Corinthians 15:58; Titus 2:14, and so forth.). Each Christian ought to be portrayed by these terms. He ought to be one who can be “relied on” constantly.

The pitiful, yet genuine, truth is, in any case, that numerous gatherings have a rate of undependable individuals: individuals who couldn’t hold down an occupation for seven days in the event that they behaved toward their work as they do toward the congregation and its work. We should take a gander at a couple of cases:

Most assemblages receive a specific arrangement of concentrates for their Bible classes. This is to encourage the enlightenment program of the congregation. Individuals from the congregation should be told in the information of the Bible. Be that as it may, the adequacy of the Bible classes and any sermon arrangement is traded off due to those individuals who are available just once in a while, and along these lines neglect to get the general advantage from the arrangement of lessons. To have an altogether viable illumination program, we require individuals whose nearness we can rely on.

The Bible approved a pooling of assets of the individuals on the main day of the week to encourage the work of the congregation (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). Clearly, any sort of spending plan or arranged use of assets from the congregation treasury relies on the steady, liberal commitment of the individuals. The congregation needs individuals who are tried and true in their contribution­. We require the individuals who are liberal, as well as can be relied on to prepare and give consistently. As a result of some who give on an unpredictable, conflicting premise, important­ work of the congregation must be reduced, designs left unfulfilled, work not finished.

The whole of all that we are endeavoring to state is just this: the congregation of our Lord needs every part to be reliable in boring our duties; more devoted in our endeavors to put the kingdom of God chief in our lives.

 

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Funeral Sermon For A Non-Christian

There is not a solitary thing we can state or do here today that would have any impact upon the predetermination of this one who has passed away. We just leave every single such matter in the hand of a God who knoweth and doeth all things well.

After Stephen had been executed for the reason for our Lord, the brethren regretted his demise (Acts 8:2). Distress is not wrong, but rather we should not distress like the individuals who have no expectation (1 Thes. 4:13).

Our deeds will tail us, even in death (Rev. 14:13). Dorcus was recalled by the tunics she abandoned (Acts 9:36-40). Today, while in this place of grieving where our psyches are focused upon death, ask yourself, “What will I abandon at my passing?”

As a matter of first importance, you will abandon each common ownership. We don’t brought anything into this world, and it is sure we will complete nothing (1 Tim. 6:6-10). Since we can bring nothing with us, why should we get so wrapped up with “things.” Jesus stated, “On the off chance that anybody will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and tail me. For whoever cravings to spare his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my purpose will discover it. For what is a man benefitted in the event that he picks up the entire world, and loses his own spirit? Or, on the other hand what will a man give in return for his spirit?” (Matthew 16:24-26). In the event that you picked up the entire world for your own, what might you truly have? Nothing that would be of any an incentive in time everlasting.

In Luke 14:25-33, Jesus solicited us to consider the consequence from serving Him. While there are many expenses related with being a Christian, there is likewise a cost to be paid for insubordination. Christ utilized the case of two rulers going to war. He said the one with 10,000 fighters ought to consider whether he can war against the foe with 20,000. The individuals who decline to obey God are the ones with 10,000 going to make war against Jehovah – they can never win!

In the hour of death, you will likewise desert your mate. What will they have cleared out? Pictures and recollections. Try not to hold up till your mate is wiped out or biting the dust to express your affection. Many blooms have been sent here today as a declaration of sensitivity and to tell the family that our contemplations are with them even in death. Your better half would acknowledge blooms now more than at her demise. A couple expressions of graciousness now will mean much more than waterways of tears shed by a headstone. Solomon rebuked his child to “cheer in the spouse of his childhood” (Proverbs 5:18). We should not hold up till it’s past the point where it is possible to express our affection.

We will likewise abandon our youngsters. Our “youngsters are a legacy from the Lord” (Psa. 127:3). What are you going to leave your children? Cash? There are a great deal of things cash can’t purchase.

On January 28, 1986, Christa McAuliffe kicked the bucket on board the space carry Challenger. Her companions had acquired a $1 million disaster protection arrangement from Lloyd’s of London. However, one million dollars couldn’t dry a solitary tear from her youngsters’ eyes. Cash can not purchase your youngsters unexperienced parents who cherish them. The most significant thing you can give your kids is your time. Hymns 90 contains the supplication of Moses who offers us to “number our days that we may pick up a heart of knowledge.” We have to do that numbering when our kids are youthful. It will be past the point of no return when they leave home for good.

The greater part of your companions will likewise be abandoned. What will they think when they read your eulogy in the paper? Will they be amazed you were a Christian? Will the name of the congregation be hurt? Romans 14:7-8 discloses to us that none of us live to ourselves, and nobody kicks the bucket to himself. Our activities have a lot of bearing upon other individuals. A line from one of my most loved psalms advises us that, “We are the main Bible the indiscreet world will read, we are the delinquents gospel, we are the scoffers statement of faith; we are the Lord’s last message, given in deed and word, consider the possibility that the sort is screwy, imagine a scenario where the print is obscured.

What do you need the minister to state at your memorial service? What do you need him to state to your family? Will he have the capacity to solace them with the expectation of a future gathering in that radiant habitation the spirit? Like Joshua of old, I know not what course others may take, but rather with respect to me and my home, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:14-15).

As the astute ruler Solomon pondered his life, he stated, “Let us hear the finish of the entire mater: Fear God and keep his rules, for this is the entire obligation of man. For God will bring each work into judgment, including each mystery thing, regardless of whether it is great or whether it is underhanded.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

Does Man Have An Immortal Soul?

Does Man Have An Immortal Soul?

By Kevin Cauley 3/1/2017
The question of life after death is a common theme in many cultures today. It is a question that has been discussed by poets, artists, philosophers, and scientists. It is a question asked by each and every individual living upon the face of the earth. One of the first things that we are made aware of within life is the certainty of death. So what lies beyond death is naturally one of the most compelling questions a person can pose. Does the Bible teach that when a person dies that they are merely extinct? Lifeless? Soulless? Or does the Bible teach that after death our soul remains alive and exists independently of our bodies? Let’s examine these questions in light of Bible teaching.

Does man even have a soul? There are some who state that the soul of man is nothing more than the life of man. By this they mean to suggest that there is nothing different between a man and an animal insofar as the soul is concerned. One of their favorite passages is Proverbs 12:10 which uses the same word that is translated “soul” to describe the life of a beast. By this they mean to suggest that “soul” is merely one’s “life-force” and has nothing to do with anything other than the physical body. It is true that there are many passages within the Bible where “soul” means “life” and the two words can be used relatively interchangeably. However, the studious will do well to note that words often have more than one meaning and can be used in different senses. Such is the case for this word as well.

We find one such example in Leviticus 17:11. This passage says, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” In this passage, the blood makes atonement for the soul. Was it merely for a person’s life that atonement was made? Since when does blood need to be shed to safeguard a person’s life-force? It should be clear to the conscientious that “soul” in this passage means more than just a life-force because it is something that is in need of atonement. We find another example in Leviticus 26:11. God says in this passage, “And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you.” Here the word has reference to God himself. Does the word merely describe God’s “life-force?” To the contrary, the context is in regard to the presence of God among the children of Israel. We know that God is a Spirit (John 4:24), so “soul” in this context is not merely referring to some “life-force” as defined above since the word is attributed to God himself.

Perhaps the greatest demonstration that the soul is more than just man’s “life-force” begins in the prophetic passage Psalm 16:10. This passage states, “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” Peter quotes this passage in Acts 2:31 where he applies it to the soul of the resurrected Jesus. He says, “he (David) foreseeing this spake of the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he left unto Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.”ASV. Notice that Peter says that “he” was not left unto Hades and then he also says that his flesh did not see corruption. To Peter, the real Jesus was someone different from his flesh; Jesus had a soul. Now just exactly where was Jesus during this period of time that his body was in the tomb? Jesus’ own words to the thief on the cross tell us exactly where Jesus was, a place known as paradise (Luke 23:43). How do we know that Jesus was not really in heaven with the thief? Notice these two facts: First, Jesus said that he would be with the thief “today” in paradise. Second, when Mary saw Jesus after his resurrection, Jesus said that he had not yet ascended to the Father (John 20:17). Now if Jesus had seen the thief in the same day that he had died and if Jesus had gone to heaven to see him after his death, then Jesus would have already have ascended into heaven and would have had to come back down to ascend again. This is also confirmed for us in Ephesians 4:9 where it states, “Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?” This expression “lower parts of the earth” is a phrase that occurs in the Old Testament twice (Psalm 63:9; Isaiah 44:23) and refers to the place of the departed. Jesus descended to this place wherein is the realm of paradise and then Jesus ascended into heaven after having been resurrected from the dead. The inescapable conclusion is that the soul of Jesus was still alive and well while Jesus body was in the tomb.

Finally, we see that Jesus himself argued for the existence of the soul after death. He did so to the religious sect of the time known as the Sadducees. Acts 23:8 tells us what the Sadducees believed in this regard. “For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit

Satan

Satan 

What do you see when you picture Satan? Seems like old movies depicted him as a silly looking man in a red suit. There was an 80’s song that said, “I’ve heard about him, but I never dreamed he’d have blue eyes and blue jeans.” They don’t match the depiction in scripture. “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him.” (Zechariah 3:1 NIV) The word Satan means accuser. The Hebrew word for “to accuse” comes from the same root as Satan. So if you follow the word meaning, picture Satan as a prosecuting attorney who is bringing all these charges against you.

 

His charges are not made up. He doesn’t have to dig much before he finds where you break God’s law. There are multiple charges and the penalty is steep. Thankfully, we are not left alone. We are given an advocate, Jesus Christ. I have been in the jury for a trial twice in my adult life. I learned a lot of things. First, you can’t get more boring than a courtroom scene. Don’t believe any of the stuff you watch on tv. You’ve got to work to stay awake during a trial. It is as mundane as reading an owner’s manual. Second, if I am ever accused of a crime, I hope I have money for a good lawyer. In both of these cases, the defendant had a public defender. I’m sure the defender was overworked and understaffed, but the defender never seemed well prepared for the trial. If I were on trial, I’d want the best lawyer I could afford to get the jury to declare me innocent.

 

Picture a courtroom scene. You are on trial. The Heavenly Father is the judge. Satan is accusing you of offenses. The devil knows everything you have ever done. Thankfully, you are not alone. God has given us the greatest defense lawyer in Jesus. Like Perry Mason, he hasn’t lost a case yet. Is Satan accusing you of sin? Don’t let him drag you down to his level. You have a great defense. But Satan is persistent. He doesn’t give up easily. Satan isn’t wearing a red suit. He doesn’t have blue eyes and blue jeans. He is accusing you of sin. He is hoping you will fall into it again. He is hoping you will plead your own defense, a swift and certain loss. He doesn’t want you to call that successful advocate, Jesus. So what are you going to do?

 

Written by: Jimmy Hodges

Management Experience

In 1 Timothy 3, Paul is giving the description of the kind of elders God wants. One trait he mentions is managing his own family well. Then, almost as an aside he says, “If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:1 NIV) Reading this passage of scripture sparked several thoughts in my mind. Some I will share with you in this article.

First, I thought of my own children. I am very thankful for my children and love them dearly. All three have many good traits. As a dad, I enjoy hearing from you and others some of the good things they do. However, I know they are not perfect. Each has his or her own weaknesses and shortcomings. I treat each one in a loving and caring way and try to be as consistent as possible. Yet, I do not treat them in exactly the same way. One child may be more sensitive, and I have to take extra precautions not to overly criticize when correcting. Another child may be strong willed and I am firmer in what I say than with other siblings to get the point across. (I am staying very generic for those who can guess which one.) The examples could go on and on, but you get the idea. I thought of some of those examples that stretch me and challenge me as a parent. Paul is pointing to the same sort of practice in the church. As members, we are to love and care for all fellow members. However, this does not mean we treat everyone the same exact way. Some are more sensitive. Others are more strong-willed. All are to be loved. Hopefully, we all practice this verse in our dealings with each other. Naturally, since this is said in the context of elders; elders have the most experience with this. The main training ground for elders is in the home. This is why we are excited when we see dads who are heavily involved in their children’s lives, especially the spiritual side. We know he is an elder in the making whether he realizes it or not.

My thoughts also went to Sparky Anderson. He was the manager of the Cincinnati Reds in the 1970’s when they were regularly contending for the playoffs. (Later, he also managed the Detroit Tigers to a World Series win in 1984). Once, I was watching a documentary on the 1970’s Reds and their accomplishments. Near the end, the discussion was on how the Reds ultimately slid back to mediocrity. Sparky described a scene where the front office met with him. Several players were up for free agency. They were coming off a championship year and all those players would command a high salary. So the front office management came to Sparky and said, “Who must we re-sign, and who can we let go?” Well, he gave his opinion and that was what the money side of the management followed. In the interview, he said something like this in a very sad tone, “Obviously I was wrong. I let the player go who was the glue to our team. We never won the World Series again. Maybe that shows what type of manager I am.” (Personally, I think Sparky was a great manager!) However, the tone of his voice and the comments he made stand out in my mind. Even a good manager makes mistakes and learns from them. Sparky didn’t quit managing. As I mentioned above, he went on and managed another championship team.

Unfortunately, I have seen people at a family level or a church level make a mistake and then conclude, “I have made a mistake. I am done leading!” Thus ceasing to be a leader in the family or the church. If you find yourself in that situation, I would like to remind you; your children aren’t perfect. We as members aren’t perfect. We don’t expect perfect parents, or elders, or preachers. We do expect leaders who live and learn, seek forgiveness and grow. We expect leaders with management experience. Thankfully, God is giving us plenty of that in our house and his.

Written by: Jimmy Hodges

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Overwhelmed?

During the holiday season, I saw several posts on Facebook where friends basically said, “I am overwhelmed!” That’s easy to do around Christmastime. There are all the presents to buy and all the holiday gatherings for church and school and family. There are cookies to bake and cards to send out and plenty of places to go. When we get weighed down with all the stress, we become overwhelmed. It’s not just at the holiday season. We can be overwhelmed at any time. Would you believe that a prophet of God was overwhelmed? 

God told Ezekiel to deliver his message to the people of Judah. The message was that Babylon would destroy Jerusalem, the capital city. God was totally honest with Ezekiel. He said, “You will speak, but they will not listen and change their ways.” What a job description! “The Spirit then lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness and in the anger of my spirit, with the strong hand of the Lord upon me. I came to the exiles who lived at Tel Abib near the Kebar River. And there, where they were living, I sat among them for seven days – overwhelmed.” (Ezekiel 3:14,15 NIV).

Some of the Jews were already in exile in Babylon. Ezekiel was part of that group. Now, he had to deliver the message that Jerusalem would be destroyed. Who would want to hear that? He sat there 7 days overwhelmed. What do you do when you are overwhelmed? Our typical reaction is similar. We tend to sit and worry and fret and not get much done, which leads to being further behind. Well, Ezekiel did not sit there forever. Eventually, he shares the message with others. What should we do when we are overwhelmed? Talk to God. Pray to him about what is overwhelming you. He can and will help. Talk to a friend. Many times, just talking about it releases the tension and is a big help. Also, that friend can open us up to our flaws. “You are doing too much.” Then, you can decide what to keep on doing and what you can let go. Or maybe that friend will help you see what you can start doing that will keep you from continuing in this cycle of being overwhelmed. Possibly learning to say the word, “No!” So if you are sitting there overwhelmed, you are in good company. Ezekiel was overwhelmed. Just don’t stay there!

Written by: Jimmy Hodges

The Holidays

 “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Andy Williams sings these words to us every Christmas season. There are lots of great things about Christmastime. Life has reminded me, that it’s not the most wonderful time for some. They don’t have parents to go home to or children will not be coming home to them. Sometimes, this is because it’s impossible due to death. The loneliness sinks in deeper this time of year. Other times, it’s by choice. Somebody refuses to go home or invite them home, and the regret and missed opportunities are replayed in one’s mind. 

When you are busy with activities this time of year, it is easy to overlook a friend or family member for whom it’s not “the most wonderful time of the year”. But is this Christ-like? “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3,4 NIV). We need to step out of our comfort zone and invite that person we care about to share time together. Sometimes, this is just what the doctor ordered. Other times, that person will tell us, “It just brings back too many memories. I prefer to stay at home.” We respect that person and their privacy, but even when an offer is declined that individual appreciates you and I considering him or her.

Also, make the time to listen to someone when they are expressing their holiday blues. Sometimes, giving a person the time to vent and express their hurt and frustration is so helpful. Many times, people suppress their hurts because they feel like they have no one trustworthy to talk to. Hopefully, you and I can be that trustworthy person.

Are you down this time of year? I will share with you some words I call to mind when I am down. My Grandma often says something like this, “I could be down. But then I think about all the good times and memories we have. Then I’m not so down.” If I am missing someone in particular, I try to practice Grandma’s method. Relive that good memory and even though that person is gone, be thankful for that special time together. My mother has instilled in me the words of John Mellencamp, “Oh yeah, life goes on long after the thrill of living is gone.” We have our highs and we enjoy those. We have our lows, and frankly we don’t like those. But we keep going anyway. Too many people love and care about us to do otherwise. If you are in a valley, I encourage you to keep going. We love and care about you.

Written by: Jimmy Hodges

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Questioning God

Occasionally, I hear this statement, “We must not question God!” Have ever heard anyone say that? I have heard some very faithful Christians make that statement. Do you say that to yourself, “I must not question God?” I was reading through Jeremiah this week and was reminded of that statement.

In Jeremiah 32, God tells the prophet to buy a field from his uncle. Purchasing a field is a normal activity. What is uncommon is the timing. Jeremiah had been prophesying that the Babylonians would take away the Jews into exile. The Babylonians were right at the doorstep. So the prophet was buying land just before it was taken over by an invading army.

This transaction is full of symbolism. God wants the people to know, “Yes, you are going away for awhile. But you will return. One day, your descendants will live in the Promised Land again.” Jeremiah obeys God. He buys the field from his uncle. He is obedient, but he doesn’t like wasting money just as much as the next guy. It would be similar to buying a field you know is going to flood in 2017. Who would do that?

Jeremiah prays to God. He ends his prayer with, “And though the city will be handed over to the Babylonians, you, O Sovereign Lord, say to me, ‘Buy the field with silver and have the transaction witnessed.’” (Jeremiah 32:25 NIV). God does not throw a fit. He doesn’t say, “How dare you ask me any questions. I am God Almighty! No one questions me!” Here is his reply, “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27 NIV). Then, the Lord goes on to explain his actions for several verses. Then he summarizes by saying, “Once more fields will be bought in this land of which you say, ‘It is a desolate waste, without men or animals, for it has been handed over to the Babylonians.’”(Jeremiah 32:43 NIV).

God didn’t mind Jeremiah questioning him. He was glad to explain why he told Jeremiah to purchase land. God doesn’t care if you ask him questions. He is ready to explain himself. God doesn’t care if you question him. Questions lead to answers. My son Gabriel has always been full of questions about computers. That has led him to a lot of knowledge about the subject. I believe the same is true about God. Honest and sincere questions about God do not drive one from the faith, but further into a deeper relationship with God. So don’t be quiet. Raise your hand and ask God those questions. He has the answers. He will teach you his ways.

Written by: Jimmy Hodges

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You Know Me

“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.” (Psalm 139:1-4 NIV)

This passage of scripture shows us the all-knowing nature of God and how much he cares for us. Do you remember what you ate for supper last night? When did you go to bed? When did you get up? You may have gotten busy with the day’s activities and already forgotten, but God has not!

It’s good to know God remembers, even when we forget. But sometimes it is scary. That means he knows about that person who was really annoying me. I did my best to keep my mouth shut, but a lot of hateful thoughts were going through my mind. Thank God I did not voice those thoughts, but God even knows those thoughts! So if he knows my thoughts, then he also knows my actions. He is aware of all the sins I have ever committed. The ones I would definitely not like to name in a public forum like this article. This is true for me. And it’s also true for you. God knows what you were thinking the last time you had a rude waitress, whether you let her have it or not. God knows all the sins you have ever done. That’s frightening, isn’t it?

Here is the great news. He knows my impure thoughts. He knows your bad thoughts. He knows all my sins. He knows all your sins. But he still loves us. That’s amazing! Most people find out a small portion of our bad thoughts and deeds and they are ready to drop us like a hot potato. God is not like that. He knows me. He knows you. He knows us inside and out. He loves us. He longs to have a relationship with us. He wants to save us so we can spend eternity with him. He knows you. Do you know him? Be close to God. Don’t run and hide. He wants to lead you in the everlasting way. 

Written by: Jimmy Hodges

Stirring Up Dust

Have you ever stirred up a bunch of dust? Sometimes, in cleaning, you may think you are creating a bigger mess rather than making things better. You begin dusting, vacuuming, and rearranging; and halfway through you wonder if this is really worth it. Turning to God and the Bible can appear to be the same way. You probably thought you were a pretty good person until you started reading your Bible. Then, you read about all these sins and come to a better understanding of how sinful man really is. Satan throws in the temptation to give up. There is that tendency to give up in the middle of a major cleaning task. Satan wants you to quit this spiritual overhaul as well. You are a major threat to Satan. He cringes at the thought of God continuing his good restorative work on you. No wonder he tempts us to give up so easily.

Thankfully, God gives us something to settle the dust – his grace. Grace teaches us that God does not expect us to be perfect. He knows we are human and will sin. He sent Jesus to die on the cross to take away our sins. He continues to work with us so that we will be holy and sanctified in his sight.

Have you ever been by a building that was never completed? There was a large structure near the mall in my hometown like this. We rode by it many times as we headed west from the mall to the road home. As a child, I would daydream about the business that would be there if completed. Many people give up on God before his clean up job is complete. They are like that building and are only partially constructed. One of my mother’s refrigerator magnet reads, “Be patient! God isn’t finished with me yet.” You need to be patient because God is not finished with you yet.

In a religious article I read a while ago, a lady made this statement, “People quit too easily today.” Her comment was in reference to the younger generation and divorce. I am ashamed to say that many of us are quitters like she said. Be faithful in your marriage. Even more so, be faithful to God. He is fashioning a masterpiece. You may feel like a jumbled mess right now, but let God finish his work. When your life is done, then and only then is God’s construction complete.

Written by: Jimmy Hodges