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This Month's Features

October 2008

 

 

Weekly Bulletin

 

 

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Sojourner's Monthly

 

 

 

 

  

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   The time in which we live is alarming but not without hope... that hope is Jesus the Christ.  Call on him today to be both your Lord and Savior!

The Sojourner

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This Month
 
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Guest contributor:
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H. Troy Green is a licensed Councilor in Private practice and Pastor of Petersburg Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Tennessee as well as finishing even further education in Seminary.

He is married and the father of two.

 

   As we watch the daily news unfold do not forget to pray for those valiant souls who place themselves in harms way to bring liberty to the captives.
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Intending to Pass Them By

By  H. Troy Green

 

 

There are two verses that have long fascinated me because they say something about God that seems inconsistent with how I know God to be. The verses are Mark 6:48 and Luke 24:28. These are separate events, but they have a common thread: Jesus is traveling and intending to pass by His own disciples. In the next article we will search out Luke, but for now let us turn to Mark.

Take a moment to read Mark 6:30-56 to understand the setting.

 

Mark 6:48 (NASB) reads as follows:

"Seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them."

Why would Jesus intend to pass by them? The disciples are struggling to be obedient. Jesus has sent them across the sea, but a wind has come up to oppose them. The passage leaves no doubt that Jesus sees them straining at the oars.

I would think that God would help them especially since they are doing what He told them to do. Instead Jesus is going to pass them by! That is amazing to me. What? Doesn’t God care that we are struggling? Is God not motivated by our obedience? Is God going to abandon us to fight the storms alone? Does this verse seem inconsistent with your understanding of God? How do you understand it?

I will confess that for years I wanted to understand the pivotal phrase "He intended to pass by them" to mean that it just seemed like Jesus was going past them. Such a reading did away with the discomforting idea that God would fail to help His disciples. I even wanted to name this article "As If to Pass Them By," but it is clear from my study that "He intended to pass by them" is a better translation. Now let me suggest the struggle is not what it seems.

Jesus walking on the water, calming the wind and feeding the 5,000 are all related (see 6:51-52). These events are noteworthy because they demonstrate God’s power over the material world. There is no natural explanation for walking on water or for feeding 5,000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. This is key to understanding Jesus’ intention: He was operating by the Spirit, and the disciples were rowing in the flesh.

The disciples were about to get left in the dust (or ocean spray) because they were attempting to do God’s will in their own strength. It’s not that Jesus didn’t care, He just would not be hampered by their way of doing things. Perhaps the biggest obstacle to joining God in His work to save the world is our blindness to spiritual realities. What fills our vision are the things of this world: winds, waves of chaos and human limitations. You will never see what God is up to if you can’t see past what is material and temporary. The disciples in the boat were allowing circumstances to hinder them. Nothing on this earth was going to stop Jesus from reaching His intended destination. What is stopping you?

  

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Stumbling Over the Cross

By  H. Troy Green

Part I

In Galatians Chapter 5:11, the Apostle Paul talks about the "stumbling block of the Cross." This epistle was written to predominately Gentile churches in the area of Galatia. It seems that after Paul had shared the Gospel with them, a group of false teachers had come behind him and demanded that to really be saved they must also follow certain Jewish laws. In this letter Paul stresses that we live by faith not by following religious laws. Obviously, this group was offended by the Cross because it was the end of the Law as the means for righteousness (Romans 8:3-4, 10:4). I would like to share some ways that people are still stumbling over the Cross.

"The first type of "stumblers" are those who are so self-sufficient that they do not consider Christ’s work to be necessary for them. They reject their only hope of salvation when they resist the testimony of the Holy Spirit about their need for the Son. You have heard people declare their self-sufficiency with words like "I’m not a bad person" or "I do good things." They have their faith in themselves.

Sadly, many Christians who have recognized their need for Christ to save them fail to recognize their continuing need for Him. In Galatians 3:3 Paul asks, "Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" Colossians 2:6 tells us "As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord [by faith], so walk in Him [by faith]." Those who rely on themselves and not faith in Jesus for their salvation will never have it, and those who try to live the Christian life in their own power remain weak, defeated and undeveloped.

The Cross abolishes divisions and dividing lines to establish the Kingdom: "There is neither Jew nor Greek…slave nor free…male nor female" (Gal 3:28). Jesus did not segregate or isolate nor did He abide by discriminatory social, political, religious or cultural rules. Most early Christians were from the lowest social classes, and the upper classes were offended. People still stumble over this aspect of the Cross—we are all equal in Christ. I heard a song at a Willow Creek conference, and the chorus went "The ground is level at the foot of the Cross." If this offends you or you think God should be pickier about who is acceptable, you are stumbling.

We will explore this more in the next article. Your assignment is to read all of Galatians.

Stumbling Over the Cross

Part II

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By  H. Troy Green

 

If you recall from the last article, our text is Galatians 5:11. In this verse Paul is saying that he is persecuted because some people find the Cross offensive. In the first article we looked at those who are offended by 1) their need for God, 2) God’s requirement that we live by faith and 3) God’s acceptance of anyone who comes to the Cross.

Jesus warned His disciples that they must be willing to give up all they have including power, belongings, relationships and even life itself if they want to follow Him. There are many people who reject the Cross when they realize it is a threat to their position, prestige, wealth and power. Examine your own life to make sure that your possessions don’t own you. To accept the Cross means that we must die to self, take up our cross and follow Jesus.

Some people stumble because they do not want Jesus to be the ruler of their life. They want to be in control and to be free of any restraints. Do you accept Jesus’ authority over your language, relationships, sexuality, money, time, etc.? Is Jesus really Lord of every area of your life? If you are not seeking, accepting and living by the light God gives you, then you are stumbling.

Pride makes the last group stumble. Pride is marked by lust for recognition and self-reliance. Proud people see themselves as either superior or inferior to everyone else. If you bend over backward to please people, do things only to get people’s praise or get angry when you are not recognized properly then pride is making you stumble. Pride will position you against God but simple trust in God and humility position you to receive everything God offers through the Cross. God declares, “I oppose the proud but give grace to the humble.”

What God sends to soften a heart can offend and harden a heart. If you have recognized that something about the Cross is offensive to you be careful what you do with it. If you try to deny it or ignore it then your heart will grow harder toward God. If you agree with God about it then you will find God is very willing to help you overcome it. Jesus says in John 8:12b, “I am the Light of the world; he or she who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” If you take heed, you will not stumble.

 

 

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   The time in which we live is alarming but not without hope... that hope is Jesus the Christ.  Call on him today to be both your Lord and Savior!

The Sojourner

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NOT HOME YET

An old missionary couple had been working in Africa for years and were
returning to New York to retire. They had no pension; their health was
broken; they were defeated, discouraged, and afraid. They discovered
they were booked on the same ship as President Teddy Roosevelt, who was
returning from one of his big-game hunting expeditions.

No one paid any attention to them. They watched the fanfare that
accompanied the President's entourage, with passengers trying to catch a
glimpse of the great man. As the ship moved across the ocean, the old
missionary said to his wife, "Something is wrong."

Why should we have given our lives in faithful service for God in Africa
all these many years and have no one care a thing about us? Here this
man comes  back from a hunting trip and everybody makes much over him,
but nobody gives  two hoots about us."

"Dear, you shouldn't feel that way," his wife said. "I can't help it; it
doesn't seem right." When the ship docked in New York, a band was
waiting to greet the President. The mayor and other dignitaries were
there. The papers were full of the President's arrival.

No one noticed this missionary couple. They slipped off the ship and
found a cheap flat on the East Side, hoping the  next day to see what
they could do to make a living in the city.

That night the man's spirit broke. He said to his wife, "I can't take
this; God is not treating us fairly." His wife replied, "Why don't you
go in the bedroom and tell that to the Lord?"

A short time later he came out from the bedroom, but now his face was
completely different. His wife asked, "Dear, what happened?"

"The Lord settled it with me," he said. "I told him how bitter I was
that the President should receive this tremendous homecoming, when no
one met us as we returned home. And when I finished, it seemed as though
the Lord put his hand on my shoulder and simply said, 'But you're not
home yet!"

-- Author Unknown


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Dear Visitor or Sojourner,

We are currently developing this page as a repository for our new Monthly Insert to our "SDB Weekly Bulletin." 

We hope you will find it, when developed, a profitable use of your time to read.  There will be guest contributors with thought provoking and informative articles for all.

The blessings of our Lord on you and all that is yours by blood, adoption, or assignment,

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Links we like:

Kenneth Copeland Ministries

Trinity Broadcasting

"Hope For East Africa"

WALLBUILDERS

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Mercy Ministries of America

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The Ministry of Josh & Claudia Juetten

Paul Dietrich Music

Come & Dine Christian Book Store

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