The Lord’s Supper

“For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.”

‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭11:23-31‬

Something Came Up…

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We have all gotten that message before. It happens sometimes in the moments before a plan to get together. “I am so, so sorry, but something came up. I will not be able to meet you.” My wife and I recently had one of those as we were picking up a purchase from Facebook Marketplace. We were at the meeting place at the time agreed, but five, then ten minutes had passed, and we got the message. “I’m sorry I can’t meet you. Something came up.” 

Whether it is a meeting like that, a dinner engagement or appointment to work on a project, this message brings up a variety of questions in our minds. Is everything alright? Was there an emergency? How can I help? What could have “come up” that was more important than what we had planned? Could what came up have been dealt with later? 

You are not the only one that gets that message. Did you know that God gets that message from His children all the time? In fact, He gets it weekly. “I am so, so sorry, but something came up, God. I will not be able to make it to church today.” I wonder what questions come up in God’s mind when He gets that message from us? Is everything alright? Was there an emergency? How can I help? What could have “come up” that was more important than what we had planned? Could what came up have been dealt with later? 

Hebrews 10:23–25 “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

Here in this verse, God commanded us to assemble together. However, He wants us to assemble out of love, not duty. Yet the growing trend among His children today is that assembling with their church once a week or even once a month is good enough. Many of God’s children have become all too comfortable messaging God, “I am so, so sorry God, but something came up.” Certainly there are emergencies, health issues and “ox in the ditch” scenarios, but many things could be, and ought be, put aside so that we, as children of God, can assemble together. 

Before you press send on that message to God this Sunday, Wednesday or other time when your church family is assembling together, ask yourself, “What is more important than obeying God?“ He told me to assemble with my fellow believers. He told me to do so all the more as we get closer to Christ’s return. If I choose to do something else when I my church family is assembling, can I expect the blessing of God on what I am doing? Am I pleasing my Heavenly Father by not assembling with my church family?

Galatians 6:7 “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

Let’s sow obedience and reap a blessing. Let’s be committed to assemble with our church family every time the doors are open.

Why? Why? Why?

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In the days following a weekend of horrible acts of murder in El Paso, Texas and my own city of Dayton, Ohio, the common question everywhere is “Why?” “What is the motive?” “Why did the two murderers do what they did?” “What are the specifics?”

While most of the specifics will eventually come out in the investigations as the fantastic men and women in our law enforcement communities wade through the evidence, likely there will be some questions that still remain. Questions like: “How could they let themselves do this?” “Why would someone kill his own sister?”

To get some answers, consider the very first murder that was ever recorded for us in human history. We find the story in Genesis chapter four. Remember, this is before there were fatherless homes, a culture of glorifying violence in video games and movies, guns or weapons of any kind. Before this murderous act, a murder had never been witnessed. We find two brothers named Cain and Abel. Abel had a heart to obey God and worship Him by obeying God’s instructions. Cain went through the motions of worshipping God but did not listen to God’s instructions.  Cain’s actions revealed a heart that had rejected the authority of God in his life. His actions were rebellious toward God because his heart was rebellions toward God.

Cain did not appreciate God’s blessing on Abel’s obedience, and so in jealousy, he murdered his brother. Genesis 4:8 tells us, “And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.”

Remember, Cain had never seen a murder before. Where did that idea come from? In order to understand, we must go back one chapter to read about how sin entered into the world. Adam and Eve were created by God and placed into the Garden of Eden. They lived in a world that we have never experienced, a completely perfect world. They enjoyed daily interaction and conversation with God, their Creator. God had created them for relationship. He did not force a relationship but gave them a free will to choose to fellowship with Him. God gave ONE instruction to them that they needed to obey. In Genesis 3, Eve and Adam chose to disobey, and by that single act of disobedience, sin entered into the world. Romans 5:12 comments on this, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” This meant that the relationship between the holy God and man would now be severed and separated.

There would be many consequences of this separation from God. Sin of every kind imaginable would now be thought of in the human heart and carried out in actions. Sin of any kind always has its root in the heart. Jesus talked about this in Mark 7:21–23,  “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness [unrestrained sinful behavior], an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” 

That is quite a list that Jesus gives us, and it is so true. So as we look at the murders that have taken place in these two cities and ask why, let us remember that it is the sinfulness of man’s heart that makes him capable of doing such wicked things. As long as man lives in rebellion against his Creator, sins like this and more will continue to be committed.

There is HOPE! Jesus Christ came into the world to reconcile us (mankind) to our Creator. John 3:16–17 tells us, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” Every man and woman alive needs to be saved from their sin and the consequences of it. The only hope of changing our actions is dealing with the problem of the heart. It is sinful and needs to be reconciled to God. Have you been reconciled to God? Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? You can today!

Yes! I want to know more!—Salvation Explained

 

Related message preached on Sunday, August 11, 2019

Guest Post: Five Big No No’s in Communication

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This post was written by Pastor Harley Snode and posted at his website. I appreciate him agreeing to allow me to guest post this thought provoking article. 


Would you agree that our communication skills are slipping at an alarming rate toward the grammatical gutter?  The trends of the “Communication Age” are not just concerning on an academic or social level but also on a moral and spiritual level.  I recently read, “Your thumbs are your new tongue. Guard them carefully. When they are used a lot, trouble is sure to follow.” 

Jesus, our Savior and Lord who still makes the verbal rules, admonishes us, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (Jn. 6:63)

May I provide you with five never-valid modes of profitless communication with your thumbs, lips, or even non-verbal communication:

Exaggeration-a statement that represents something as better or worse than it really is.

Pathology: Frequently employs one hundred percent statements (“always, never”); Distorts the positive/negative attributes without including the offsetting characteristics or clarifying context of other data points; Driven with one-upmanship toward peers at home, work, church, etc.; Comparison is king

Consequences: Loss of credibility; Doing ministry and spiritual activity for the wrong motivations; Breaking with reality; Deceived into doing the opposite with personal sin-diminishing/excusing it away; Not allowing Christ alone to be the source of identity, acceptance, success (Do you know that it is impossible to exaggerate when speaking exclusively of Christ?!?!)

This exploding expression in our post-modern culture has led to a proclivity to propagate and accept “fake news” that fits our predisposed bias.  (We not only widely accept grammatical errors in our texting; we also tolerate and embrace fudged figures and skewed facts more readily than ever before.)

Pessimism-a tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen; a lack of hope or confidence in the future.

Pathology: Savors and shares any juicy story that reveals the underbelly of a celebrity, politician, or organization; Remains aloof and “analytical” where one should be engaged and participatory; Deflects from own weaknesses by redirecting the spotlight to the shortcomings of others; Trolling for “gotcha” content online

Consequences: Constantly living in a reactionary mode; Consumed with fear; Constantly possessing a critical, cynical spirit; Inability to share meaningful, intimate connection with other people; Lost opportunities to edify others; A dim, despondent view of the future that leaves God out of the equation

This verbal trend leads to our default, valid position always being negative instead of the peace-giving bias toward a “good report” (Ph. 4:6-8).

Sarcasm-the use of irony to mock or convey contempt.

Pathology: Using so-called humor to communicate caustic truth; Indifference to the backstory of other’s mistakes/failures; Jumping to conclusions or assumptions in a reckless manner; A pervasive focus upon making others feel stupid; Thriving on “awkward”

Consequences: Inability to hold a serious conversation or consider serious subject matter; Squandering verbal ability with meaningless banter; Immaturity in tone and pace of conversation; Digressing into a person with zero influence (Reasonable people ultimately tune this tone out.)

The bottom line is, as my high school English teacher Mrs. Donough repeatedly put it, “Sarcasm is not an effective means of communication.” (This is especially true for those of us who possess a God-given “pulpit” of public influence.)

Passive Aggression-indirect resistance to the demands of others and an avoidance of direct confrontation, as in procrastinating, pouting, or misplacing important materials.

(Before we go on, I must clarify that I have NOBODY as the mental profile picture beside each or all of these on the list.  Therefore this is not a passive-aggressive post toward someone indirectly.)

Pathology: Speaks to everybody except the person with whom there is a problem; Posts vague references of criticism on online hoping for third-party sympathy and goaded retaliation from the person being indirectly attacked; Studies to be adept at “pushing the buttons” that evoke strong, negative emotions in others

Consequences: Squandering excessive amounts of time hoping to garner sympathy or drama that rarely materializes; Never addressing/resolving conflicts; A growing inability to have direct dialogue with other people; Shrinking numbers of people to whom you can still approach in real time and space and have sweet fellowship; Can only focus on the loud chinks in the armor of others

This is a blight upon the local church today…especially through the enabling of social media where everyone has a voice-a voice to attack issues and people for which they have no responsibility or influence.  (If you cannot be a part of the solution, you have no business speaking on the problem!)

Stream of Consciousness-a literary style in which a character’s thoughts, feelings, and reactions are depicted in a continuous flow uninterrupted by objective description or conventional dialogue.

Obviously social media has unleashed this verbal tendency into a constant temptation with instantaneous access to the world.  (This trend is especially embodied by many of our leaders today in politics, entertainment, sports, etc.)

Pathology: Unfiltered emotions spewing out; Immediate, reactionary thoughts online or in person (“thinking out loud”); Discussing in public forums what should be reserved for private reflection; Unwillingness to be still and quiet; Way to much volume (in amount and decibel levels) of talk,talk, talk

Consequences: Regret about words that can never be taken back; Unnecessary/unproductive drama with complete strangers or expired relationships from the past; Expression of underdeveloped, immature content that discourages or misleads others; Flippant interaction/sharing with crude or inappropriate content

The most sobering reality of “just speaking my mind” is that it eliminates any sacred space for the Word of Christ to dwell in us richly or the Spirit of God to saturate our soul-all that is left is carnal consciousness!

You can like or dislike this post, agree or disagree but…listen to what Jesus has to say:

Mt 12:32-33 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

And we honestly think they’re “only words” and “don’t matter?”  Nothing God-honoring was or ever will be built with exaggeration, pessimism, sarcasm, passive-aggression, or stream of consciousness!  Ever!  (They will always be faulty building materials no matter how normalized they become.)  I give you permission to confront me if you hear a single syllable online or in person where my communication wanders into one of these five no nos.  Will you grant that same permission to the Lord, your spouse, your pastor, your mentor, even your children/grandchildren?  It is time to elevate our God-given ability from the world’s pig pen of meaningless chatter to the propagation of the grace and truth that is found only in Jesus Christ!

What other verbal tendencies do you observe that we need to nix in our progressive sanctification?

A New Song

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The Christian life is a new life. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Everything is new. There is a positional and progressive sense to that. Before our God, we are made new. Where once the sin nature was firmly rooted, now a new nature is found. By faith in Jesus Christ alone, for the forgiveness of our sinfulness, we are now clothed in Christ’s righteousness. The progressive sense is that our daily lives are to be changing to match what is positionally true about us. We are clothed in Christ righteousness and we are to be becoming more Christ-like every single day.

Every area of our life should be changing from being world-like to Christ-like.

One of the many areas that the Bible indicates should change following salvation is the kind of song we sing. Psalm 40:1–3 says, “I waited patiently for the LORD; And he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. 2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. 3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: Many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.” Here in this passage of Scripture we discover the new song principle. This song is fresh and it is different from the old song. Whereas the old song used to revel in sin, rebellion, lawlessness and immorality, the new song clearly rejoices in truth, purity, love and Jesus Christ. In verse three, the new song is so distinctly different that the world hears it and fears God to the point they place their trust in Him. Do the songs you sing and listen to demonstrate the new song principle? Does your music cause the unsaved in your life to turn to God?

Let’s consider one further thought. When we are saved, the Holy Spirit of God comes to reside within us. He is an amazing gift of our Heavenly Father. He is the guarantee of our salvation. In Ephesians 5:18 we are told,  “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;” As believers, we are not to be allowing alcohol to control us at all because it is the highway to excess, that is every sin imaginable. We are to be filled or controlled by the Holy Spirit of God. According to the next verse, one of the indicators of that filling is the song we sing. Ephesians 5:19 “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;” This means if we are listening to and obeying the promptings of the Holy Spirit of God, our music is going to be made up of Scripture (Psalms), of truth and doctrine (Hymns) and of the Holy Spirit (Spiritual songs), not our flesh. We are going to sing praise (making melody) to God. Our song is to be from the regenerated heart to our Lord. It is important to realize that the one being praised is also the one who determines the acceptability of our praise. This is why it is so important to allow God to have a say in the music we listen to in our homes, our cars or on our earbuds.

Music is a massively important subject for the Christian. Satan uses music to drive his agenda deep into the heart of the lost world. When a Christian listens to fleshly, worldly secular music, their heart will be steeled against the life-changing truth of God’s Word. Have you checked your music with God? Is your music hindering your spiritual growth? Does your music cause you to meditate/imagine about God? Is your music clearly different from the music of the world both in words and actual music? I pray that God will give you discernment as you seek to please God in the area of music.

 

Listen to these Brief Thoughts on Music
Internet Conservative Christian Radio
(Most of these have an app available at their website for smart devices)

Abiding Radio

KNVBC

Faith Music Radio

Bible Truth Radio

Being the Best

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Our God is an excellent God! The Bible tells us that His work is perfect. When you pause to meditate on His excellence, it is not hard to conclude that the service that we give back to Him ought to be excellent as well.

Stop and think about the ministry that you have. Maybe you are a Sunday School teacher, a deacon, an usher, a janitor, a coach, a director, a choir member, a nursery helper or a sound tech. Regardless of your ministry for Christ, one thing is for certain is that He deserves our best. After all that Jesus has done for us, He deserves excellent service.

Best does not happen on accident. If you think of a co-worker that is the very best in their profession, you know they had to work very hard to get there. Sadly, some Christians will give 110% in service to their earthly employer and then give 65% in service to their heavenly Master—Jesus Christ. Every believer ought to desire to serve Jesus in the best way possible. Here are several thoughts that might encourage us in being our best as we work for Jesus.

  1. Our Attitude in the Work
    Romans 1:1 “PAUL, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,”  Before anything else, Paul remembered that He was a servant of Jesus Christ. If we give Jesus our best, we must remember we are His servants. We must remember to serve for His glory and not our own. The best servants are humble and willing to be instructed without taking offense. They are cooperative with other servants and avoid a critical spirit. They are willing to take initiative even when it is not their job. They are Christ-ward remembering they serve Jesus and by serving Him they serve others. They are eager to serve not waiting to be coaxed or prodded. They have a sort of wide-eyed intensity about their service to Jesus.
  2. Our Attention in the Work
    If we have the attitude of a servant, it will impact the attention we give to the work Jesus has given us to do. It will not be half-hearted but we will be fully engaged. One person said, “Mediocrity is the enemy of excellence.” This is so true! What sets Chick-Fil-A apart from so many other quickness’s service restaurants is their determination to “Be America’s best quick-service restaurant.” We love their product, but the process behind it where it all starts. It an excellent process. From how the employees talk and dress to how the food is prepared and served, the process is excellent! From the moment you walk in the door you have a sense that every employee exists to serve you and it shows in the attention they give to their work. 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us that, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”  We must give our attention to give Jesus excellent service.
  3. Our Awareness in the Work
    We must remember, if we plan to serve Jesus with all our focus and attention, the devil will plan to fight us. Ephesians 6:12–13 instructs us, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Satan does not fight the mediocre servants, they are no threat to him. He will fight against those that strive to be the very best servants for Jesus. Those that engage in the work of the LORD. One of the ways that satan fights us is by tempting us to get focused on the problems we will face as we serve rather than staying focused on the Problem Solver. If we focus on people and problems, we will become discouraged in the work. Sometimes people will say unkind things. They may do something or make decisions that are disappointing. However, if our eyes are on Jesus, we will be able to continue to serve with excellence.

Regardless of where you serve Jesus, recommit to giving Him the best service you can give. Don’t forget to yield yourself daily to His Spirit so that you will be empowered in your service.