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Two Are Better Than One

Two are Better than One

There was a man all alone;

he had neither son nor brother.

There was no end to his toil,

yet his eyes were not content

with his wealth.

“For whom am I toiling,” he asked,

“and why am I depriving myself

of enjoyment?”

This too is meaningless—

a miserable business!

Two are better than one,

because they have a good return

for their labor:

If either of them falls down,

one can help the other up.

But pity anyone who falls

and has no one to help them up.

Also, if two lie down together,

they will keep warm.

But how can one keep warm alone?

Though one may be overpowered,

two can defend themselves.

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:8-12

In Ecclesiastes, the Teacher is searching for meaning, but he only finds meaninglessness around every corner. A major theme is that work/toil is meaningless. In chapter two, he enumerates all  that he has worked for and achieved, but none of these things brings him the meaning he desires. Not only do these accomplishments fail to satisfy, he is tormented with the thought that when he dies they will be left to someone who has not worked for it.

He is almost schizophrenic in his thinking. On the one hand he suggests that taking satisfaction in one’s work is as good as it gets. However, he feels no satisfaction in his own work.

In chapter four, he suggests that a man who has no heir, business partner, or brother to share in his labor is in the same situation. He is alone, toiling away, for nothing. It is also meaningless.

This is where we find the beautiful “Two are Better than One” poem. It speaks to the human need for relationships. Join us Sunday as we discuss our need for relationships.

— Joey

By | 2024-04-13T19:21:54-06:00 April 13th, 2024|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Our Responsibility To Leadership

Our Responsibilities to Leadership

We have already spent four weeks in describing the work and qualifications of both elders and deacons. These lessons are archived on our website and YouTube page; I recommend that you view them there, if you missed them. We discussed the responsibilities of Shepherds.

  1. Shepherds oversee every aspect of the work of the church, both physical and spiritual; it is their responsibility and one for which they will be held accountable.
  2. Shepherds also serve as pastors; they shepherd the spiritual needs of the flock. Their responsibility is to see that the flock is well-fed and protected from false teaching, secular philosophy, and the negative influences of the world.
  3. Shepherds serve as elders, older men who arbitrate disputes and make spiritual judgments. It presumes that older, Christian men have the wisdom and respect to make the hard decisions to lead the church where it needs to go.
  4. Shepherds also have the authority to delegate their responsibilities to helpers that can assist them.

Deacons are one group of special helpers to which the elders delegate tasks. It is an error to believe the Shepherds oversee the spiritual and the deacons oversee the physical. The Shepherds  oversee all of the churches’ work – spiritual and physical. The deacons assist the Shepherds in both these areas as the Shepherds see fit. They serve at the will and request of the Shepherds. The  number one responsibility of deacons is to be faithful in the tasks assigned to them.

Just as leadership has responsibilities toward us, we also have responsibilities to them. While most of these scriptures refer only to the Shepherds, they also apply to deacons as they are delegated agents of the elders.

  1. We are to obey our leaders and submit to their authority. We are to obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden (Hebrews 13:17).
  2. We are to respect and honor them (1 Timothy 5:17-20).
  3. We are to give them the benefit of the doubt (1 Timothy 5:1).

Regarding the work they oversee, we are to support it and the cause of Christ, with our time, talents, money, prayers, and enthusiastic participation. Leaders will be held accountable to God for  how they lead the church; you will be held accountable for how you support them in their work.

Joey

By | 2024-04-06T19:15:52-06:00 April 6th, 2024|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Exalting His Ressurrection

EXALTING HIS RESURRECTION

Dan Jenkins*

The central event in the history of mankind is the resurrection of Jesus. Without it, death is the victorious enemy of all mortals. Without it, death comes, and all our dreams, aspirations and future plans come to a screeching halt. It all ends. When Job faced this problem, his heart was full of questions.

Job looked at his life and said, “Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower and fades away; he flees like a shadow and does not continue” (Job 14:1,2). His despair is sent in many of the verses which follow. “But man dies and is laid away; indeed he breathes his last and where is he? … So man lies down and does not rise. The heavens are no more, they will not awake nor be roused from their sleep.” He then asks the ultimate question. “If a man dies, will he live again” (Job 14:14)? Without a revelation from heaven, death wins!

Hear the words of Paul when he affirmed that the appearing of the Savior “…abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10). There are glimpses of the  resurrection in the shadows of the Old Testament, but the gospel brought by Jesus brings this truth out of that shadow. We now understand so clearly that the time will come when all that are in the grave will hear His voice and come forth (John 5:28-29). But there is more. God has given us assurance of this truth by raising His own Son. He entered into Hades (Acts 2:31) and returned from that realm having “the keys to Hades and death” (Revelation 1:18). His resurrection answers Job’s question and forever removes the bondage of the fear of death from the hearts of the saints (Hebrews 2:14-15). In Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth, he tied the fact of our resurrection to the fact of Jesus’ resurrection (1 Corinthians 15).

How will this happen? When those who are in the grave hear His voice, they will come forth in an incorruptible, spiritual body. Because flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, even the bodies of those who are alive will also be changed. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised…” (1 Corinthians 15:52). How quickly will this happen? In the twinkling of an eye. How long will it take? Just as long as it takes you to bat your eyes!

Jesus has been raised, and by this we know that we shall be raised. His resurrection is the foundation of Biblical truths. We live in bodies that are mortal—subject to death. We live in bodies that  are corruptible—they are aging and decaying. “When this corruptible has put on incorruption and this mortal has put on immortality, then death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54). God  hasten that day!

*Dan Jenkins is an acquaintance of mine and has ministered with the West Palm Beach Lakes Church of Christ (Florida) for over 40 years. —Joey
By | 2024-03-30T13:55:25-06:00 March 30th, 2024|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Scriptures On Unity

Scriptures on Unity

1 Corinthians 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

Psalm 133:1 A Song of Ascents. Of David. Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!

Philippians 2:2 Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.

Romans 12:4-5 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of  another.

2 Corinthians 13:11 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Colossians 3:14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Ephesians 4:1-6 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, …

Acts 4:32  Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.

1 Corinthians 12:13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

Galatians 3:26-28 For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither  slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 4:16 From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Psalm 133:1-3 A Song of Ascents. Of David. Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.

John 17:23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

Romans 12:16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

Philippians 1:27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

By | 2024-03-24T02:32:17-06:00 March 24th, 2024|Uncategorized|0 Comments

I Want My Way!

I Want My Way!

There was once a couple of parents who were concerned about their son. He was well-passed the age of talking, but had never uttered the first word. They took him to specialist after specialist but the tests were always negative. He was perfectly healthy, physically and emotionally, but year after year past and no talking. Finally, one evening at the dinner table, the boy spoke. He pointed at the broccoli on his plate and said, “I hate this.” The parents were obviously overjoyed. “Son,” they cried! “You can speak! Why have you waited so long to say something?” In a strong clear voice, the little boy said, “Well, everything was OK up until now!”

Isn’t that the way many of us are? We only open our mouth to complain. Little Suzie brings home all A’s and one B on her report card. Mom says, “Why couldn’t you make straight A’s.” Your spouse spends all day washing,  Scrubbing, and cleaning house, but the first words out of your mouth are “Where’s my favorite towel? You know I’m particular about my towel.” Your wife prepares you a nice meal, but you say, “You know, this meat is a little tough; how long did you cook it?”

Why do we complain. Why are we not grateful? It’s simple, I want my own way and it really doesn’t matter who I hurt, upset, or criticize. I will stop at nothing to get what I want.

As the first child born on my mom’s side of the family I was doted on by everyone—spoiled rotten. I was the center of their world and it took a lot of spankings to disabuse me of the notion that life was not about me! Every child born into this world comes in screaming for their own way.

However, do we really grow out of this self-centeredness?

Let’s put this in a church setting, Paul deals with this issue at Philippi. Philippians 2:1-5 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any  tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Two ladies could not get along in that church. Philippians 4:2-3 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel. Their actions were ripping the church apart and causing immeasurable harm to the cause of Christ.

Paul begs them to be united to put aside their selfish ambition and self interests. How do we disabuse ourselves of the notion we are not the center of the universe? Paul said we are to treat others better than ourselves. We  should be like Jesus and deliberately put the needs of others ahead of our own. We should put the good of the church ahead of our own wants and desires. We should put the cause of Christ ahead of our own pettiness.

Don’t be like that little boy! Use your words to bless, compliment, and uplift —not complain!

I’ll say more in my lesson!

Joey

By | 2024-03-16T23:23:00-06:00 March 16th, 2024|Uncategorized|0 Comments

As Each Part Does Its Work

As Each Part Does its Work

There is an old joke about a county crew observed working along the side of a road. The crew consisted of two men with shovels. As they proceeded along, one would dig a hole and then walk a few feet and begin to dig another hole. Meanwhile the guy behind him would fill up the hole his buddy just dug. When asked about this strange occurrence, they remarked. Well, usually there are three of us, but the guy who plants the tree is off today!

Usually, the joke is told to spotlight government dysfunction and incompetence. Truly, the more you think about it, the more dysfunction can be seen going all the way up the supervisory chain to the higher levels of leadership.

However, I want to use the story to illustrate another principle: one from , Ephesians 4:16, From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

The context is the practical application section of Ephesians. The subject is the mandate for unity in the church. The emphasis is unity in the midst of diversity. Jesus has given leadership gifts to his church Ephesians 4:11-13,

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up. until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Notice that each one of these gifts for leadership involve some form of teaching and training as evidenced in the purpose of the gifts, to prepare God’s people for works of service

So what we see here are the preparers (those with a diversity of leadership gifts) and those being prepared (God’s people, the rank and file of the church). Works of service and the building up of the body in unity is the result.

We all should fall into one of these two categories: leadership (preparers) or prepared members (those doing good works). If not, something is amiss with process- “the guy who plants the tree is off today!” That is the reason Paul added this line in Ephesians 4:16, as each part does its work.”

I used the story of the roadside crew as an icebreaker in my life group this week to introduce this very text. I asked everyone to tell some story about a time they worked on a team where everyone’s contribution mattered.  Stories varied, but one factor was common to them all. When people on the team did not do their job, the team suffered along with the project.

Think about this in regard to the church. When leaders don’t prepare God’s people or when God’s people don’t follow their lead, both the church and the cause of Christ suffer –there are no good works, there is no spiritual growth, we don’t become more like Christ, and the unity of the Spirit is not maintained.

Sunday will be our congregational meeting for 2024. The Shepherds will be presenting their plan for the year. Ask yourself, Am I doing my part? Will I do my part?

I’ll say more in my lesson!

 – Joey

By | 2024-03-09T23:34:30-07:00 March 9th, 2024|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Unity Of The Spirit

The Unity of the Spirit

I usually plan my messages weeks if not months in advance.  It’s better for my stress levels. I don’t have to ask myself every Monday, “What am I preaching about next Sunday?”  However, I do try to be open for special occasions and other relevant issues.

Last Summer the elders had asked me to preach a series on unity which I planned for January/February 2024. Since then we designated January-March 2024 as a time for selection of additional elders and deacons,  Consequently, I changed the schedule to include five lessons on the work and qualifications of these church leaders.

We’ve had a few special days since that time requiring relevant messages of their own. So now it’s time to get back to the lessons on unity.

My text for Sunday in Ephesians 4:1-3:

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

This is the beginning of the paraenetic section of Ephesians. Paraenesis refers to the practical or ethical application of theology or teaching. The first three chapters of Ephesians consist of theology. In this case, what God has done for us. The last three chapters are application – how we respond to God. Paul often divides his letters into the what and the so what. Chapters 4-6 comprise the so what of Ephesians.

Paul encourages his audience to live a life worthy of [your] calling.” The first worthy living application is found in verse 3, Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

We can deduce at least four truths from this text.

First, Unity is a Product of the Holy Spirit. We are not responsible for creating unity; God has already done that. Earlier in this epistle Paul makes clear God’s eternal plan for unity (Ephesians 1:7-10; Ephesians 2:11-22; Ephesians 3:1-7).

Second, Our Responsibility is to Keep or Maintain that Unity. If we wish to live worthy of God’s saving work we need to maintain and guard what he created. This is why disunity, division, squabbling, gossip, backbiting, etc. is antithetical to the Christian life.

Third, We Must Make Every Effort to Maintain this Unity. We are to go the second mile; give it 110%. This involves examining our attitudes and behavior (Ephesians 4:2) and focusing on our commonalities in Christ (Ephesians 4:4-6). Unity is a major responsibility for every Christian because it is at the heart of God’s plan for humanity.

Fourth, Unity Must be Kept Through the Bond of Peace. Every Christian must examine themselves and ask, “Are my actions and attitudes contributing toward peace?” “Am I a peace-maker or a rabble-rouser?” (cf., Matthew 5:9; James 3:13-18). “Is my life full of self-made drama and conflict or do I seek to exemplify and promote peace to those in my life?”

I’ll say more in my lesson!

– Joey

By | 2024-03-03T01:52:09-07:00 March 3rd, 2024|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Don’t Let Anyone Look Down On You…

Don’t Let Anyone Look Down on You…

1 Timothy 4:12-16  Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.  13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.  14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.  15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.  16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

This topic is relevant  for at least two reasons.

  • First, I have heard it used in both AHG and Trail Life meetings to describe the contributions of their youth as they grow to become men and women of God.
  • Second, just last week in our youth rally, 1 Timothy 4:12 was a call for greater service and involvement in our youth and young adults by our own youth and young adults!  Yes, this year all our speakers were from among our own youth.  Let me say, as one who attended Every speech and much of the song service (some of which was also led by our youth), they did an excellent job in preparation, dealing with their individual parables, and in sharing their thoughts.  Below are some quotes from the notes I took.

Zach Miller, commenting on 1 Timothy 4:12, “It’s really time that WE start stepping up.”

Seth Conder, on the differing gifts given to Christians, “Equality (of gifts) is not a part of the Kingdom of God… What are we doing with the gifts God gave us?”

Luke Allegood, on leaving the 99 in search of the one lost sheep, “God pursues the lost… If you’re lost, God will carry you home.”

Damian Kershner, on being salt and light to the world, “There are so many ways to share the life of Christ—art, speaking, writing.… As Christians, we are called to preserve (like salt) the world.”  …“One reason why people hate Christians is because we are fake.  We are not letting our light shine.”

Ryan Bier, “It’s exciting to see the Kingdom at work in young people.”

I’ll share more quotes in a future article.

— Joey

 



Welcome Trail Life & American Heritage Girls!

Sunday, we celebrate two of our ministries—American Heritage Girls and Trail Life.  Welcome!

Both organizations are alternatives to traditional scouting that feature a distinctively Christian worldview.  You can read more about them on their national websites traillifeusa.com and americanheritagegirls.org (hot linked if you are viewing this digitally).

This congregation chartered, oversees, and supports both troops. We will hear a little more about their local work in our service and afterward Michael Kamplain with present them with an award.

 

By | 2024-02-24T23:54:21-07:00 February 24th, 2024|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Faith Speaks

Faith Speaks

I’ve found that it’s really easy to make excuses about how you are not qualified, able or the best person for the job. Christians often want to rely on paid ministers, missionaries, and well known authors or public speakers to  share the gospel and do kingdom work. It seems like this is due to one of two problems, either being too lazy or too scared to proclaim the message of Christ. Jesus speaks clearly in two consecutive parables on this problem and gives us a clear understanding of how the kingdom works. In Matthew 13:31-33, it only takes a small seed of faith, when planted, to grow into a great mustard tree. The small amount of work that goes into kneading a tiny portion of yeast exponentially changes the quantity of bread. Jesus isn’t asking us to do all of the work, but it is critical for us to know that we are called in Matthew 28:19-20 to go out and make disciples of all nations.  Sometimes all we need is to be faithful and brave enough to realize that our work can be as easy as planting the seed of a story Jesus already told on the heart of a nonbeliever. By letting our faith speak we will see exponential growth for the kingdom.

– Ryan Bier

By | 2024-02-18T00:42:32-07:00 February 18th, 2024|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Bless Me Too, My Father

Bless Me Too, My Father

Genesis 27:1-41

When our children were young, they participated in the San Diego County Bible Bowl sponsored by area churches of Christ. For a full year, the students would study and be drilled in a book of the Bible. This would culminate in an area-wide competition in Bible knowledge of that book. Trophies were given and the event created a lot of enthusiasm and motivation to study the Bible. Canyon View, where we worked and worshiped, would usually field  several teams in various age categories.

In 2005, the book selected was Genesis and we would listen to Scripture with the kids in the car everywhere we went – school, practice, shopping, etc. We used a recording that was known for its dramatic reading and the  narrator’s vocal interpretation would often make you see the text in a different way. Genesis 27, relating the deception of Isaac by Jacob in receiving the blessing (in the place of Esau) was one of those readings.

Esau is usually depicted in the Bible as a crude, brutish individual. The Hebrew writer goes even farther than that, “See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son(Hebrews 12:16).

However, in Max McLean’s narration, we get a picture of Esau which really reveals the pathos and bitter disappointment he felt over Jacob’s deception. If you are viewing this article digitally, you can click on this link for  McLean’s narration of the entire chapter. Esau’s pitiful outburst begins at the 4:11 timestamp, https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/Gen.27.

When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me– me too, my father!” 35 But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.” 36 Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob? He has deceived me these two times: He took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing!” Then he asked, “Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me?” 37 Isaac answered Esau, “I have made him lord over you and have made all his relatives his servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine. So what can I possibly do for you, my son?” 38 Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!” Then Esau wept aloud(Genesis 27:34-38).

Esau had a right to be upset. Jacob had cheated him here and taken advantage of his brutishness earlier in the birthright trade. They both saw this as a competition. There was only one birthright and one blessing. Jacob won. Esau lost. Zero-sum. The sad thing is that this was never really a competition. In spite of all of Jacob’s plotting and scheming and Esau’s resentment, God had already decided their paths from before birth (Genesis 25:23). Their  competition was a result of misguided parents choosing and grooming their favorite.

My message Sunday involves those who are not in the formal leadership. We’ve been talking about selecting Elders and Deacons and their qualifications. Many names have been submitted, but not all will be chosen. This is not a competition. There are no losers.

In fact, we are all winners when we let God have final say. Selecting leadership is a cooperation with the will and purpose of God. Remember Acts 20:28, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.

Speaking of the gifts of leadership Paul said, in 1 Corinthians 12:18, “But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be” (cf., Ephesians 4:11-13).

There is also a blessing for you – whether in formal leadership or serving in another capacity. We will explore it Sunday.

Joey

By | 2024-02-11T00:36:30-07:00 February 11th, 2024|Uncategorized|0 Comments