In His Word – HIS-STORY

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History was always one of my favorite subjects in school.  So many stories, so many time periods, so many real characters who have lived through so many unique situations, and some who even grew through their experiences.  The things we can learn through a great history book are amazing.  And, just as amazing – the fact that through it ALL – there has been ONE God of this universe.  In every event everywhere and at every time – He has been there – and will be there.

 

And yet, there has been one special place, one special people that God has taken a very special interest in – and that is the land and people of Israel.  It is this history that was preserved for us and makes up the second division of the Old Testament – the 12 books of History – the history of God’s chosen people as a nation.

 

So much can still be learned today about God and mankind by reading these historical accounts.  Go ahead – pick a book and get a glimpse into His Story.

 

12 BOOKS OF OLD TESTAMENT HISTORY 

 

JOSHUA – The Lord Gives Victory in Canaan

Joshua leads Israel into the Promised Land – Rahab is saved, walls of Jericho, sun stands still

JUDGES – Israel Led by Judges

Cycles of sin and rebellion – enemies surround – Israel calls out to God – God sends a judge to save – people repent and serve God, until….cycle repeats.  Some of the judges were Samson, Gideon, Deborah, and Ehud.

RUTH – Faithful Daughter-in-Law – and Faithful God

Ruth, a Moabite, is loyal to Naomi her Jewish mother-in-law and God takes care of them

I & II SAMUEL – Samuel Anoints Israel’s 1st & 2nd King

Hannah’s son Samuel raised by the priest Eli – He anoints Saul, then David as kings – we also meet Goliath, Jonathan, Bathsheba and Nathan

I & II KINGS – Israel Splits and is Captured

King Solomon, kingdom divides (Northern Israel, Southern Judah), many bad kings (like Ahab),  some good kings (like Josiah), and God’s prophets (like Elijah)

I & II CHRONICLES – Judah’s Kings – Repeated

Retelling of Judah’s history – Adam to King David to Jerusalem’s destruction to King Cyrus permitting Jews to return to rebuild Jerusalem

EZRA – Exiles Rebuild Temple

Returning Jews rebuild Jerusalem’s temple and Ezra teaches them how to seek God

NEHEMIAH – Rebuilding City Walls

Nehemiah leads the Jews as they rebuild the walls of Jerusalem through much opposition

ESTHER – Jewish Girl Becomes Queen and Saves Jews

Brave, beautiful Esther, Cousin Mordecai, King Xerxes, evil Haman, 3 days of prayer and fasting, Jews are saved, new national holiday

 

 

Read some HIS-STORY today – the best is in God’s Word!

Marcia Railton

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Building Faith

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During my first year of college, I was not active in any church or function related to church. Thankfully, after returning home and receiving counseling, I started to return to the church. I was unfortunately working Sundays, but I was able to join the Baptist Collegiate Ministry as a member of the band with my brother. Being exposed to a different denomination, and rediscovering my faith made a drastic change in my life. I started to delve deeper into the Word to determine where I stand in my spirituality. During my studies, I came across Psalm 42, and fell in love with this song.

Psalm 42 NASB: “1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” 4 These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God, With the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival. 5 Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence. 6 O my God, my soul is in despair within me; Therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan And the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. 7 Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls; All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me. 8 The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; And His song will be with me in the night, A prayer to the God of my life. 9 I will say to God my rock, “Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” 10 As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me, While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” 11 Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.

This Psalm is written by the Sons of Korah. In order to get a better understanding of their lives, read into Numbers 16. Psalm 42: 1-2 has a strong mindset about what our desire should be in life. If we’re thirsting for God, we’re looking to better ourselves and the world around us. Matthew 22:39 and Leviticus 19:18 both remind us to love our neighbors as ourselves. If you are depressed or someone you care about is, remind them, or yourself, how beloved they are by our Heavenly Father. In order to love your neighbor you must first love yourself. Otherwise, the way you treat yourself is the way you shall treat other people. Don’t just accept the love you think you deserve. Accept the unconditional love of YHWH into your heart.

Psalm 42:5 starts out with a monologue that I found myself speaking inwardly when I was depressed. The solution to working through those problems is immediately given afterwards. Someone may never understand why their soul is in despair, but keeping hope and praising God will help keep yourself focused on the One who helps heal those wounds. This is an exercise of faith we should all keep in mind,even though it isn’t simple or easy. Psalm 42:8 NASB: ”The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; And His song will be with me in the night, A prayer to the God of my life.” This verse is such a wonderful reminder that God is present in our lives. As a musician, reading “His song will be with me in the night” is a breathtaking revelation. Music that man writes can be moving and stunning, but to think about the fact “His song will be with me in the night” gives me a sense of serenity. This verse is also a reminder that we should express our awe and adoration to God in our prayers for the many ways He provides for us.

Keeping your nose in Scripture and having a consistent prayer life is vital to nurturing one’s faith. Doing these things helped me tremendously to fight my depression. The challenge I bring forth to you today is to find a prayer partner. Help one another keep your hearts, minds, souls, and strength on your relationships with YHWH.

A song I suggest for today is:

“Your Love is Strong” by Jon Foreman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-g4uwQlXKw

I chose this song because it is a great adaptation of a prayer turned into a song. The words should sound familiar to you.

-Andrew Cheatwood

Church History

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“History is a set of lies agreed upon.”   -Napoleon Bonaparte

Well, there is some truth there for sure. . . and he’s been gone a long time. . .imagine how many more lies have been decided upon?!

One place where we can for sure see this idea coming into play is within church history. Church history isn’t taught much in schools for a variety of reasons. And, it isn’t taught much in churches for of a variety of reasons. History can be dry and not everyone needs to be a “history buff”, but it is also exciting in many ways. There is some super interesting and incredibly important information there. In it lies the foundations of our spiritual belief systems, Christian practices, and some fascinating facts demonstrating that human-driven beliefs overpowering God-driven instruction is not a “contemporary challenge”. There is nothing new under the sun.

Recently, we purchased a book called, The God of Jesus by Keagan Chandler. This book is clearly written by an individual who has sought to find the needle of truth in the haystack of history, and though we’re not done, it is a helpful resource so far. He challenges the reader that, “. . .the only thing more regrettable than a religious academia which doesn’t care that its most characteristic philosophies are found nowhere in the mouth of Jesus and routinely in the teachings of pagan mystics, is a devoted majority which does not know it at all” (p. 270).

That is so true. The majority of us don’t know the history of our religious philosophies, and for some who know. . .they choose not to care. One interesting piece of church/world history is seen when Chandler reminds us that “Incarnation. . .the assumption of human form by a god is an idea common in religion. . .India and Egypt were especially rich in forms of incarnation. . .Incarnation is found in various phases of Greek religion” (p. 359). Hence. . .a few years later, “Christians” fight amongst themselves, hold a few councils to decide that Jesus, God’s son, must actually be the incarnate God who came to earth as a baby in human form, and later deciding that everyone had better believe that or be willing to die as a blasphemer for saying Jesus is our Messiah but not God himself. It is very interesting to see the gradual assimilation of pagan cultural beliefs infiltrate in just this one area (and there are so many others), and we continue to see this cultural penetration every day in our own lives. If we as the church continue to absorb the traditions and beliefs of everyone around us and not root them solely in God’s word and obedience to Him, then we are certainly not learning much from the lessons of history. You see, history matters. We don’t want to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result or just be hamsters running in a wheel going nowhere.

We can’t cover church history in one day, but we can challenge ourselves to study it. Read. Investigate. Ask others. Grow. Seek to learn. In school and at museums, we learn about things like slavery and the Holocaust so we can understand how wrong that was and to “prevent it from happening again”.  But, do we ever look at the history of our own religion or our own spiritual beliefs with the same intentions. We are flawed. We can’t be in control of creating belief systems or everything will fall apart. We are subjects of His created system. And while He has allowed confusion and problems for a time now. . .a day of perfection is coming for those who He knows and calls where we will understand all things and will no longer be exposed to lies.

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” (Colossians, 2:8, NIV)

“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’” (1 Cor.3:19, NIV)

“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.” (Proverbs 3:7, NIV)

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.                   (1 Corinthians 2:4-5, NIV)

 

-Brian and Jennifer Hall

Teaching Others to Teach

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In 2nd Timothy the Apostle Paul was writing to Timothy and told him to teach Faithful Men who would also teach others. This instruction applies to us also.  One of the things that I was pleased to hear and see during my last trip to the Philippines was one of the young ministers thanking us for our persistent visits.  Regardless of how difficult the hiking or the travel by bus for endless days or how poor the food is,  we keep at it – teaching and leading expeditions all over the Philippines.
He thanked us for not only teaching them God’s Word, but for teaching them how to teach others also and at the same time teaching them how to teach others to teach others.  At the seminar recently we saw the result of this kind of teaching.  About 130 teenagers attended; they are the product of our teaching through several generations. This is why teaching the Bible stories is so important.  If you have a good foundation in the entire book of Genesis, then continue to add the other stories.  If you have a fairly clear understanding of the progress of the Old Testament stories you will have the faith and the desire to teach it to others.
-Larry Rankin
Larry Rankin, of Cashmere, Washington, spends about 6 months every year in the Philippines, seeking out any and all who will listen to God’s Word.  He conducts home Bible studies everywhere he goes – sometimes with people who have never heard the gospel message – sometimes with those he knows well who look forward to his visits every year.  

A Cliffhanger

Acts 21

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Acts 21 focuses on Paul’s travel to Jerusalem and then getting arrested. I don’t have a lot to say about this chapter, as I don’t have personal experiences, or extra knowledge on Paul’s experiences in this chapter. I’ll share a couple points I found interesting though.

We see multiple examples that show us how some people wanted to learn from Paul and his companions. We read that they were received warmly (v. 17). Also, verse 1 says that they had to tear themselves away from the people to continue traveling. I pray that God will work through me when I teach about Him and that people will see Him in me and want to learn more.

Some people were not as fond of Paul and even tried to kill him. The mad mob dragged Paul out of the temple and cause such an uproar the authorities are called in and Paul is arrested by the commander of the Roman troops.  At the end of the chapter, as Paul is being carried away he asks to speak to the crowd. Paul is granted permission and the last sentence of the chapter is, “When they were all silent, he said to them in Aramaic:”. I know that the chapter numbers and breaks were added later, but what a cliffhanger! Thankfully, we’re able to read on and see what he says. We don’t even have to wait a week, like we do for a TV show or longer for a movie sequel!

(Speaking of movies – there have been several movies made of Paul’s life.  I encourage you to try one out.  See how closely it follows with Scripture – the real story. )

We, like Paul, do not get to choose people’s reaction to hearing the good news.  Some will gladly and thankfully accept the message and appreciate the messenger.  Others, sadly will not.  But, we, like Paul, have very good news to share.  And even when it is not accepted as good news….and even when people mock us or persecute us….we have God’s Word to share.

-Moriah Railton

Of More Noble Character

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Acts 17

I want to be of more noble character.  I want my family to be of more noble character.  I want my church to be of more noble character.  We read in Acts how to do it.  Paul called the Bereans of more noble character because they, “received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).  Getting excited about God’s Word – opening it daily to find the truth for yourself – that’s what I want for myself, for my family and for my church.  What about you?  If you too want to be of more noble character –  keep digging into God’s Word!

 

What makes your blood start to boil a bit?  What causes you to feel distressed or grieved?  What do you find really provokes your spirit?  For Paul this happened when he saw the city of Athens full of idols (17:16).  Too often today I fear we have become desensitized to the city of idols and immorality we live in.  We’ve become so used to hearing and seeing and running into idols and evil that it doesn’t faze us anymore.  Do we really see and understand the lost state of the world around us?  Do we see danger for what it is?  And, are there any areas where we have allowed it to seep into our own lives as well?   When we don’t see it for what it is, it becomes impossible to guard against it.  Pray for God to help you see clearly the world around you.  Pray that you would be grieved by what grieves God and see danger for what it is.

 

In a world that is so full of idols, people are creating ‘gods’ out of anything and everything: sports, entertainment, high scores on …(fill in the blank), social media, A’s, fitness, selfishness, and the list goes on!   They think “God” can be whoever and whatever they want God to be.  If they want a teddy bear god (soft and comfy and great for giving hugs) – he is theirs.  If they want a god in nature (but never in church) – he is theirs.  If they want a three-headed god with purple polka-dots – he is theirs.  But gods that we fashion with our own human minds and desires are NOT gods – they are idols.  There is ONE true God and He cannot be, “formed by the art and thought of man.”  (Acts 17:29).  He is a jealous God and demands that we worship Him and Him only – and rightly so.  Creating your own “Build-a-‘god’” won’t cut it when your salvation and eternal life is on the line.

 

Thankfully, in a world of imitation gods – there is a way to find the REAL TRUE GOD!  He reveals himself when we dig into His Word – that’s why He wrote it for us.  Open God’s Word – get excited about it – and find the ONE TRUE GOD!   And while you seek Him in His Word, don’t be surprised to find yourself becoming of more noble character, too!

 

-Marcia Railton

One Mind

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Acts 15  –  Conflict is Inevitable

Life would be SO much easier (for me) if everyone always agreed with me.

BUT – I am not always right.

AND – conflict is inevitable.

 

Acts 15 is about a whole lot of conflict.

First, the Jewish Christians thought the new Gentile (non-Jewish) Christians needed to follow the whole law of Moses – and prove it with circumcision. However, the Gentile Christians felt their faith in Christ – proven by baptism, not circumcision – provided salvation rather than the old law.  And, the church in Antioch where Paul and Barnabas were teaching and preaching was being torn apart by the division.  Sometimes conflict does that.

 

But, here we get to see some great steps for conflict resolution.

 

  • Go to find wise counsel. Look for spiritually mature and trustworthy individuals.  In this case Paul and Barnabas were sent with a delegation to the Jerusalem church elders 300 miles away (a trip that may have taken them approximately 15 days if they were able to cover 20 miles per day – sometimes conflict resolution takes some time – but it is worth it).
  • Everybody gets to share their side of the argument. And even through “much debate” (vs. 7), we see order and respect – standing to speak and not speaking out of turn.   And, during the debate – lots of listening (rather than merely preparing your rebuttal).
  • After everyone has had their say – listen to the leadership (in this case, James the brother of Jesus – vs 13) and be prepared to peacefully abide by their decisions.
  • And don’t forget to go to God’s Word! James shares words of the Prophet which clearly say that it is God’s desire that all mankind will seek Him and that there will be Gentiles called by His name.  Using this and the evidence that had been shared of how God had been working amongst the uncircumcised but believing Gentiles, James gives his judgment – no circumcision is needed, but Gentiles must follow some basic rules to be set apart to God and holy.
  • Share the findings with those impacted by the decision – aiming for peacefully being of one mind. A letter is written and members of the Jewish church are sent back with the Antioch delegation to share the letter with the body of believers caught in this conflict.

 

The Antioch church received the letter and delegation and “rejoiced” and were “strengthened” and were at peace.  Conflict resolution at its best!  Unfortunately, we know this issue will come up again throughout the New Testament as other churches grapple with the change.  Old traditions die hard for the Jewish believers.  So too, we must be careful to be tuned into God’s will rather than traditions or merely what “I want” or “I think” or has always been done this way.  Search out what God thinks on the subject.  Aim for becoming of one mind – centered on God’s mind – not yours.

 

Just as peace is reigning once again in Antioch, a new conflict transpires!  But, this time it’s a very personal one – and between our two heroes – Paul and Barnabas!  Even great heroes of the faith don’t always see eye to eye.  Barnabas – always the encourager – wants to take Mark on the next missionary journey.  Paul – perhaps more “task oriented” – remembers that Mark left them in the middle of the last journey and doesn’t want to give him a second chance.  “And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another” (Acts 15:39).  It could have easily become an opportunity to grow sour and bitter toward one another, or even God’s work – allowing bad feelings to fester.  However, sometimes a decision to peacefully disagree and get on with God’s work – even if it results in parting ways at least temporarily – can actually deepen relationships and be a useful thing.  In this case, the missionary efforts were doubled since Barnabas went in one direction with Mark to teach and preach and Paul chose Silas and went in another direction to preach and teach.  Differences remained – but both were still actively spreading God’s Word.  And, what fun to later read (Colossians 4:10) that Paul would find Mark to also be very useful in ministry.

 

Life would be so much easier (for me) if everyone always agreed with me.

BUT – I am not always right,

AND – easy isn’t always better.

When we use Biblical models and Godly wisdom to face the conflict, we can grow through the conflict and come out stronger, wiser, and more in line with what God has designed us to be – either as a church, a marriage, a friendship or an individual.  Face your conflict – with much prayer, Bible searching and wisdom and Godly counsel.

 

-Marcia Railton