Resolutions are not just for New Year's Day. What are some things that we should be resolved to regardless of the time of year.
As the Family of God, we need to know each other. We are told that we should weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice, Romans 12:15. We are also to bear one another’s burdens, Galatians 6:2. In addition to these, we are to think of others more highly than ourselves, pray for one another, treat others as we would want to be treated, and express brotherly love and kindness among other good things. In order to do these things we have to share our lives with each other.
In hopes of helping us to grow closer as a family we are going to get to know a different family each week through our bulletin article. I am hoping that each week as you read about other members you will know them a little better and feel a little closer as a result. I hope that each week I can provide you with some interesting facts that you didn’t know about your fellow brothers and sisters at Blue Ridge. Of course, I am looking forward to getting to know you all better as a result of these interviews and articles as well.
In both Ephesians 6:22 and Colossians 4:8 Paul tells these churches that he is sending some one to tell them how he and his companions are doing and that this person will encourage them. There is encouragement in sharing with others how we are and how they are and having something in common as we do in the church can certainly be encouraging as well. Knowing others care about us and that they are thinking of us and praying for us is not just helpful when catastrophe strikes, but all of the time.
Let’s get to know one another better so that we can better encourage one another, help one another, be closer to one another, and pray for one another. In 1 Corinthians 13:12, Paul says there is coming a time when we will know fully, but for now we only know in part. Let’s try to know as big a part as we can until we can know fully.
4 Ways to Serve Like Christ (Josh Cochran) and Things Needed for Church Growth Past and Present - part 1 (James Pasley)
We all know that we can’t live without our head. Our head controls the actions of our body. Even those actions that are involuntary are still controlled from the head. In spite of this knowledge we sometimes think that as Christ’s body, the church, we can do things without being controlled by our head, Christ.
The fact is that if a church body is acting without being controlled by Christ it is not his body, it has some other head that is controlling it. A church may be under the control of Christ as her head or she can remove herself from Christ and have some man/woman as a head, or some group of people as a head, but if she does that she is no longer the body of Christ.
As parts of the body of Christ we must respond appropriately to our head, Jesus. When a part of our physical body doesn’t respond to our brains we know there is something wrong and we seek medical attention. The same is true when a part of the spiritual body is not acting in accordance with the messages from the head – something is wrong and help is needed.
Jesus tells us how we are to live, think, speak, act, worship, teach, and believe if we are to be part of his body. Of course, any human can during their life do whatever he or she wishes, but if we are going to be part of Christ’s body with him as our head and be pleasing to him we must obey him in everything (Ephesians 5:23-24).
As we go into a new year let’s examine our lives and see what areas we have not fully put under the control of our head and work to be proper body parts that function in conjunction with the other parts of the body to fulfill the instructions of the head. What thoughts, words, and actions are there in your life that Christ our head doesn’t approve?
It is the time of year when many are exchanging gifts. Some will receive gifts they love and others will not be so pleased. Some will find a unique gift for each individual and others will give everyone the same thing. Some gifts will be expensive and some will be priceless. Some will be given out of love and friendship some out of guilt or duty. Some gifts will not be fully appreciated at first and some will become a disappointment with time. There are many highs and lows when it comes to the giving and receiving of gifts. What is the best gift you have ever received?
If you are a Christian I can answer that question even though I probably don’t know more than a few of the gifts you have been given in your life. How can I be so confident? Because it is Jesus. John 3:16 speaks of God giving the greatest gift that could be given and how he did it because of his great love for us. We looked a few weeks back at Christ as a giver of gifts, but let’s admire him as the most spectacular of all gifts ever given. In 2 Corinthians 9:15 Paul gives thanks to God for Christ and in various translations refers to Christ and the salvation that comes only through him as God’s inexpressible/unspeakable/too wonderful to describe gift. And truly what words could express God’s giving of his own Son.
Giving of some kind or another is so common a theme in the Bible that some form of the word is mentioned over 2000 times in some English translations. But of all the giving that is mentioned, and a good bit of it is mentioning the things God gave, nothing compares to this gift that we as humans can’t fully comprehend or explain. But Jesus was given for us. Unlike many of the things that we give which are limited, God gave Christ for all mankind and everyone can have this indescribable gift. Give thanks to God if you have received this gift which is precious beyond words. If you haven’t received Christ, Why are you waiting? By receiving him you are given the right to become children of God (John 1:12).
As sad as it is there are many who deny that Jesus is God. That is nothing new, many of the Jews of his own day who saw the multitude of miracles he performed did not believe in him. Sadder however is the fact that some who call themselves Christians don’t believe that he is God. They may believe that he was a righteous man or a prophet, or even that he is the Son of God, but still reject him being God in the flesh.
In the early days of Christianity there were some called Gnostics and Docetists who came up with elaborate theories to explain that Jesus was not really God or at least that the part that was God didn’t die on the cross. There are still many today who reject the idea of God dying for mankind, and I understand it may be impossible for us to understand, but we cannot reject reality just because we don’t understand it. There are many basic things that we deal with every day that we don’t understand. Just consider hundreds of tons of water hanging over our heads in clouds, how? Or that the Earth itself is simply hanging in space (and also moving), how? - Job 26:7-8.
Jesus made it clear in John 10:30-33 saying, “I and the Father are one” The Jews understood what he meant even if they rejected it. They were ready to stone him to death, “because you, being a man, make yourself God.” Jesus taught the disciples the same thing in John 14:7-9, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”. Even when Thomas fell at his feet proclaiming, “my Lord and my God” in John 20:28, Jesus could have corrected him if this was not accurate, but Jesus honored his statement instead. There should be no question in our minds that Jesus is God, if we believe the Bible.
In John 10 Jesus compares us to sheep and he speaks of the religious leaders of his day as hirelings who will run away at the first sign of trouble. The good shepherd is not like that at all, however. Instead of running away, the shepherd will die to protect the sheep. The hired hand doesn’t care about the sheep, only about himself, but the good shepherd is different. He knows the sheep by name and they recognize him and his voice.
Of course, Jesus is the Good Shepherd and we are his sheep. He knows us and cares for us. He was willing to and, in fact, did lay down his life for us. He didn’t throw himself between us and a bear, but in dying for our sins on the cross he did come between us and the roaring lion who is trying to devour us.
Jesus even says that this sacrifice of laying down his life is a reason his Father loves him. Of course, his life would not be laid down permanently because he would take his life back in the resurrection. He also explained that no one was taking it from him. If it had been taken from him by force it wouldn’t have been a sacrifice.
The final thing Jesus told his Jewish listeners was that they were not his only sheep. He explained that he had other sheep that were not part of the nation that had been God’s people. We can be grateful that through Jesus both Jews and Gentiles are able to be part of the same flock of sheep and that we don’t have to depend on hirelings. We must still watch for false shepherds and religious leaders who try to lead us away from our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Don’t let anyone lead you away from the shepherd who died for you.
Articles from our bulletin. Mostly written by James Pasley, our preacher and Sunday's Sermons.