Grow a Great Church!

The Great Commandment

Matthew 22.37-39: And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

The Great Commission

Matthew 28.19-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

A Great Commitment
to the Great Commandment
and the Great Commission
Grows a Great Church!

 

The Prophets of the LORD

There has never lived a greater group of men than those who were called by God to serve as prophets. They worked and lived in perilous times. Often their messages and warnings were rejected, they were scorned, mistreated, and several were killed. Yet time and again throughout Bible history, the prophets of the LORD stood firmly against apostasy, idolatry, and all forms of unfaithfulness. Their singular mission was to call their people back to God.

According to the common use of the term in the Bible, a prophet was a speaker on behalf of or for God. The Hebrew word for prophet comes from a root form (nb’) that means “to bubble forth; to boil up like a fountain.” The responsibility of the Old Testament prophets was not principally to predict the future in the modern sense of the word prophesy, but rather to tell forth the will of God which He communicated by revelation. He was one who spoke in God’s stead. The prophet of the LORD became the mouth of the LORD.

“They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy)…” Hebrews 11.37-38.

Biblical Terms Used for the Prophets

The word ro’eh, translated “seer,” is used 11 times in the Old Testament to describe the spiritual forerunners of the prophets. The word hozeh, also translated “seer,” is used 22 times in the Old Testament. These titles emphasize the method by which the prophet received his message – he was one who “saw” the message of God.

Another designation is ’îš ‘Elōhîm, translated “the man of God.” This title implied that the prophet must be a man who belonged first and foremost to God, was wholly devoted to His cause, and enjoyed His personal fellowship.

The word nabi‘, translated “prophet,” is used 300 times in the Old Testament. This term places emphasis upon the utterance or proclamation of the message and not on the vision.

A study of the prophets is a moving experience. They reveal a close view of God. They give true meaning to such terms as conviction, loyalty, and righteousness. They demonstrate for us what it means to serve God.

– Bill

Roll Call of the Prophets

The Early Prophets
Moses 1450 BC in Egypt and the Wilderness
Samuel 1100 BC in Israel
Ninth Century BC – Early Assyrian Period
Elijah 870 in Israel
Elisha 850 in Israel
Obadiah 845 against Edom
Joel 830 in Jerusalem
Jonah 800 in Nineveh
Eighth Century BC – Assyrian Period
Amos 775 in Israel
Hosea 750 in Israel
Isaiah 740 in Jerusalem
Micah 735 in Judah
Seventh Century BC – Chaldean Period
Zephaniah 630 in Jerusalem
Jeremiah 626 in Jerusalem
Nahum 625 in Jerusalem
Habakkuk 625 in Jerusalem
Sixth Century BC – The Exile
Daniel 605 in Babylon
Ezekiel 593 in Babylon
Sixth and Fifth Centuries BC – The Return
Haggai 520 in Jerusalem
Zechariah 520 in Jerusalem
Malachi 440 in Jerusalem
First Century AD
John the Baptist  26 in the wilderness of Judea

 

The Back Page 1-15-2017

In Our Prayers

Shut-ins: Mildred Meyers in the Manor, Sue Jackson in Sunrise Heights, and Harold Brunswick (Deb Bartlett’s dad) in Hester Memorial Home in Benkelman.

Medical Issues: Jacquie’s mom, Fern Smith, is doing remarkably well after her dental surgery on Monday…Lois Sylvester is undergoing chemotherapy treatments.

On the Calendar

Wednesday, January 18: Happy Birthday! To Amanda Jantz, and to Anabel Pump (1762 S. Robin Lane, Mesa, AZ 85204), who will be 97 years old.

Friday, January 20: Happy Anniversary! to Randy and Deb Bartlett.

Thursday, January 19: Women’s Bible study, 10:45 at Sunset Apartment, finishing Philippians 1 and beginning Philippians 2.

Sunday, January 29: Areawide Singing here at 2:30 MST with a light meal to follow.

Life Everlasting

The biblical doctrine of immortality must not be confused with humanity’s puny attempts to explain what it means to live forever.

For example, a sort of biological immortality has been suggested – that is, a person lives on through the lives of his or her children.

Another idea is a sociological immortality – a person’s influence lives on after he or she is dead. While that may be so, it doesn’t come close to biblical immortality.

Then there’s a third speculation – reincarnation, a concept that a person begins a new life in a different physical body or form after each biological death. It’s also known as the transmigration of souls – a central tenet of many eastern religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism.

Jesus on Immortality

All fall far short of the Bible’s explanation of endless life out of one’s physical body while remaining the same person. For instance, Jesus once observed,

“But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matthew 22.31-32).

The implication is clear. Though at the time of that statement Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were long dead, Jesus maintained they were very much alive in another sense.

At the tomb of His friend Lazarus, Jesus made this startling claim: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth on Me, though he die, yet shall he live; and whosoever lives and believes on Me shall never die” (John 11.25-26). The fact that Jesus (Hugo McCord gives the date of Sunday morning, April 9, AD 30) having been put to death three days prior, came out alive from His own tomb gives overwhelmingly strong evidence for immortality.

On another occasion a group of Greek proselytes visiting Jerusalem for the feast days approached the disciples asking to see Jesus. His response to their request is interesting –

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abides by itself alone; but if it die, it bears much fruit. He that loves his life loses it; and he that hates his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also My servant be: if any man serve Me, him will the Father honor” (John 12.24-26).

Whatever their reason for wanting to meet Him, Jesus gave them a brief lesson on the nature and purpose of life. Physical life is that which is necessary in order to acquire eternal life and the purpose of all life is to acknowledge and serve the God who gives life.

A Moral Consideration

All accounts are not equitably settled in this life. Justice is sometimes not realized during a person’s lifetime. The executed murderer and the one murdered share the exact same fate. If there is no life after death, countless people who have suffered unspeakable crimes committed against them will have no relief or justice. Abraham once posed the question, “Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18.25). If injustices are to be corrected, then the doctrine of immortality is required.

Aside from the justice aspect, life is simply incomplete and meaningless without continuing life beyond the grave. What really is the purpose of physical life without eternal life? Why are human beings alone conscious of a moral ethos?

Save for immortality, a person may live a life of grace and love, altruistically benefiting the lives of numerous others only to find their destiny to be that of a worm-eaten corpse. Something is wrong if the graces of Christian living – virtue, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love – are devoutly cultivated only to reap the exact same end as that of a godless reprobate. Life is meaningless without the reality of immortality.

“If a day can be awakened from night, if spring can be born from winter, if a tulip can arise from a bulb, if a butterfly can be the afterlife of a caterpillar, if a sprout can grow from a stump, if words and pictures can be reclaimed from the air, then it is reasonable that the Power who fearfully and wonderfully made human bodies will raise them from their tombs.”

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We all shall not sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

But when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? The sting of death is sin; and the power of sin is the law: but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15.50-58).

–Bill

From Heaven or From Men, ‘Shall Never Die,’
by Hugo McCord, 53-57

 

The Back Page 1-8-2017

In Our Prayers

Shut-ins: Mildred Meyers in the Manor, Sue Jackson in Sunrise Heights, and Harold Brunswick (Deb Bartlett’s dad) in Hester Memorial Home in Benkelman.

Traveling: Jacquie Grams has gone to St. Edward to be with her mother, Fern Smith, and her sister during her mother’s oral surgery tomorrow in Kearney….Neale Bryan and family flew out of Chicago Friday afternoon and arrived safely in Bangkok Saturday afternoon (midnight Bangkok time).

On the Calendar

Today, January 8: Potluck, with business meeting to follow. Ladies will also draw Secret Sister names.

Thursday, January 12: Women’s Bible study, 10:45 at Sunset Apartment, with a study of Philippians 1.

Sunday, January 29. Area-wide Singing here, 2:30 pm MST.

 

The Back Page 1-1-2017

In Our Prayers

Shut-ins: Mildred Meyers in the Manor and Sue Jackson in Sunrise Heights.

Medical Issues: Lois Sylvester is undergoing cancer treatments.

On the Calendar

Thursday, January 5: Women’s Bible study will resume, with a study of Philippians. Cheryl will introduce the letter and distribute study guides.

Sunday, January 8: Potluck, with business meeting to follow. Ladies will also draw Secret Sister names.

 

Practical Lessons of Permanent Value from the Prophecy of Zephaniah

  1. A man’s belief about God largely determines his conduct.
  2. It is universally true that one tends to become like the God he worships.
  3. Living a life is serious business and should call out the best and most serious endeavor.
  4. The wrath of God is a terrible thing when turned upon human sin.
  5. Earnest warning is sorely needed to draw us back to the presence of God.
  6. The Day of the LORD is inevitable for all men of every race.
  7. God gives assurance that the ones who seek Him will be safe in His presence in the day of destruction.
  8. God’s ministers should put strong emphasis upon the spiritual nature of God’s kingdom.
  9. The promise that joy will displace mourning and that tranquility will follow the storm should bring joy to sorrowing hearts.
  10. God’s purpose is not to wreak vengeance but to cleanse and refine and save those who will allow Him to save them.

 – Kyle M. Yates, Preaching from the Prophets, 168.

 

God and Hell

Have you ever heard this question, “How can a God of love send anybody to hell?” Now that may sound intelligent or problematic at first, but the question misses two critically important points.

A Holy God

First, God is not only a God of love but a God of utter holiness whose very nature ensures His unchanging anger at sin – and as “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3.23) all people are by nature exposed to it. The Bible says more about God’s anger than it does about His love, and we dare not ignore one and concentrate on the other; as an article in Punch put it, “You can’t just have the bits of God you like and leave out the stuff you’re not so happy with.”

God does not send people to hell, He sends sinners to hell and as Zechariah declares, “The LORDis righteous and does no injustice” (Zechariah 3.5). God condemning unrepentant sinners to hell leaves no stain on His character. As it is impossible for God to do anything that would violate who He is, the question to ask is, “How can a God of holiness allow anyone into heaven?”

A Matter of Choice

Second, those who despise God’s authority and reject His patience and love are designing their own appalling destiny. J. I. Packer says, “Nobody stands under the wrath of God save those who have chosen to do so. The essence of God’s action in wrath is to give people what they choose, in all its implications; nothing more, and equally nothing less.”

Jesus described Himself as “the light of the world” (John 8.12) and warned, “…the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil” (John 3.19).

C. S. Lewis got it right when he said, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in hell choose it.”

– John Blanchard, Major Points from the Minor Prophets, 208-09

 

Nero Claudius Caesar

Born in AD 37, Nero was the adopted son of Emperor Claudius. His mother, Agrippina the Younger, married Claudius, her uncle, and convinced him to make Nero his heir instead of his own son, Britannicus.

Nero was Rome’s fifth emperor (AD 54-68). His first five years of rule were comparatively peaceful, since his able teacher Seneca ran the government. But Nero chafed under the supervision of wiser minds. He murdered his mother and his wife. Thereupon Seneca retired. (Nero forced him to commit suicide in AD 65.) Now free to rule as he pleased, he ruined the Roman economy and thinned out the ranks of the senate by accusing many of treason.

Nero’s unique evil was demonstrated in condemning Christians as scapegoats for a fire that destroyed much of Rome in AD 64. Tacitus recounts the terror of the blaze that consumed ten of Rome’s fourteen districts – “Nero was seeking the glory of founding a new capital and endowing it with his own name” (Annals 15.40). But Nero needed a scapegoat to blame in order to deflect the suspicion that the fire was set by imperial order: Therefore, “Nero substituted as culprits, and punished with the utmost refinements of cruelty, a class of men, loathed for their vices, whom the crowd styled Christians” (15.44).

Tacitus then describes Nero’s cruelty: “First, then the confessed members of the sect were arrested; next, on their disclosures, vast numbers were convicted, not so much on the count of arson as for hatred of the human race…They were covered with wild beasts’ skins and torn to death by dogs; or they were fastened on crosses, and, when daylight failed were burned to serve as lamps by night. Hence there arose a sentiment of pity, due to the impression that they were being sacrificed not for the welfare of the state but to the ferocity of a single man” (15.44).

The New Testament in Antiquity, 364, 257

 

 

The Back Page 12-11-2016

In Our Prayers

Shut-ins: Mildred Meyers in the Manor and Sue Jackson in Sunrise Heights.

Facing Surgery: Steve Grams is to undergo foot surgery on December 14.

On the Calendar

Today: Potluck, followed by congregational budget discussion, men’s business meeting, and Secret Sisters’ party.

December 11, 12: Retooled & Refueled Seminar with Steve Diggs. Sunday 9:30 am and 6:30 p.m.; Monday, 6:30 p.m. Ogallala Church, 502 W. K Street.

December 15: Women’s Bible Study, 10:45 a.m., Sunset Apartments, finishing the study of Ephesians. Class will resume on January 5 with a study of Philippians.

December 16, 5:30 p.m. Meet at Gale and Londa McCormick’s for a van ride to view Imperial’s Christmas Lights. RSVP to Londa at 883-1779 or let Patty Vinson know. Soup supper at the McCormick’s after the van ride.

 

 

Westside Church of Christ Imperial, Nebraska

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