In Acts 2, we read about the gospel message being preached for the first time. But after Pentecost was over, did everyone just say, “OK, that was great. We’ll see you next week?”
If you look at verses 46-47, you can read exactly what they did…“Everyday they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
But what did they do everyday as they met together, besides eat? Well, they praised God and were
evangelistic when they got together. And the writer of Hebrews, in Hebrews 3:13 tells us another important aspect of theses daily meetings, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today...”
We need to take advantage of every opportunity to come together to praise God and encourage each other (and food is always a nice bonus). Many of us see each other for 1-4 hours a week (depending on how many services we attend). Is that really enough to encourage each other, especially if most of that time is in a setting where conversation is impossible (Bible classes and worship assemblies)?
We should take advantage of every opportunity to come together to praise God and encourage each other. Whether there is food involved or not, make these opportunities a priority in your life.
There is one opportunity that is going to be here soon: our annual Valentine’s Banquet. To date, 26 people have signed up, but for catering purposes, we need at least 40 people.
I know some have said that $15/person is kind of high for a meal...but you are going to get so much more than a meal: you’re getting fellowship!
This year, we’re going to have a photo booth where you can take a picture with that special someone, or by yourself, or with a group of friends...and it’s included in you cost. We’re going to have some games everyone can play (at your table) and some fun entertainment as well.
For our widows and widowers, there is absolutely no cost; all you have to do is sign up. For others, $15/person really isn’t that bad for a night out: dinner, “a show,” and precious, sweet fellowship!!
Last week I wrote about being pulled over for something there is no possible way I did. I was only given a written warning, but it still sort of upset and frustrated me. That frustration was apparently visible in the writing.
It was pointed out to me that if my article was read from a certain point of view, it may have sounded like I felt the officer was rude or unprofessional toward me: in fact one person suggested even reporting the officer to the police department.
Nothing could be further from the truth! The officer was courteous and very professional...he just pulled over the wrong car, but he was convinced it was the right car. He was never anything but respectful and nice throughout the traffic stop.
This does prove a very important point, though. Words (whether they are spoken or written) have meaning and what they mean can have tremendous power.
In James 3, we read about the power of the tongue (words: spoken or written). In verse 6, James tells us, “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.” When he gets to verse 8, he writes, “...no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” James concludes by writing about hypocrisy in using the tongue in verses 9-12.
All of us need to think about the power of the words we speak and, perhaps especially, write (e.g. social media posts). We need to remember that sarcasm (e.g. “I found myself wishing he would give me a ticket, just so I could go to court and prove how wrong he was…and maybe even issue him a citation for harassment of an innocent citizen.”), and other forms of irony, wit, etc. are difficult to express when writing.
The point is this: when choosing your words, choose carefully. The word “harassment” as used above (taken from last week’s article) was not meant to mean he was rude or mean to me, just that he unnecessarily delayed me...but to someone who read the article, they read it as he was less than courteous towards me.
For this I apologize. I have nothing but respect and admiration for all of the men and women of the Siloam Springs Police Department and all others who wear a uniform and do such an important job. May God bless them!
It is never fun to be accused of something you did not do. As a minister, my family and I seem to live in a glass house and some folks feel it is always their prerogative to throw stones. In the past, I lost a job (I was sort of trying to leave anyway) because someone heard me say something that I DID NOT say in a sermon...and would not listen to the tape (yes, it was a while back) to clarify what I DID say.
But this was taken to a whole other level last Wednesday (January 6). I had picked up Rachel at the high school to take her to an orthodontist appointment. Rather than going to 412, I thought it would be quicker to go the “back” way.
As we were driving on Jefferson, I saw flashing blue lights in my rear view mirror...so I pulled into a parking lot to let the police car go by. Imagine my surprise when the officer stopped behind me!
Apparently he had seen me “cut through a parking lot to avoid the intersection of Main and Lincoln.” Please think about that for a moment...I was coming from the high school (my daughter in the front seat with her backpack would have vouched for this) and was on Main, I passed through the intersection of Main and Lincoln (the light was even green) and turned left onto Jefferson: what parking lot could I possibly have cut through to avoid that intersection? (for those not familiar with the streets of Siloam Springs, here is a map of the area involved: map of area involved...fyi, SSHS will be just out of view on the top right of the map)
I very politely asked him that question...he answered with, “Can I see your license, registration, and proof of insurance?”
The long and short is he “let me off with a warning for ‘unsafe driving.’” I think I found myself wishing he would give me a ticket, just so I could go to court and prove how wrong he was…and maybe even issue him a citation for harassment of an innocent citizen. Well, after he delivered this “good news” his last words were, “Don’t cut through any more parking lots.”
Because of this 10 minute delay, we were 5 minutes late to the orthodontist...and still waited 15 minutes to be seen (actually they are pretty good about being on time).
So how do you respond when you are falsely accused? Do you rant and rave and make a fuss? Do you start making accusations of your own (true or not)? Both of these actually escalate the situation, by the way. Or do you speak kindly to the one making the accusation in hopes of diffusing a tense situation?
Jesus actually tells us how to respond in Matthew 5:11-12. He says: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Important note: this is when people falsely accuse you. If you actually did it, and they accuse you, that is a whole different story.
Paul also speaks about this subject in 1 Corinthians 4:12-13 where he writes, “When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered (i.e. falsely accused), we answer kindly.”
Peter tells us, “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (1 Peter 3:13-16).
Earlier, though, Peter reminds us, “For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”
The ultimate “false accusation” was when Jesus was falsely condemned and took our place on the cross to pay for our sins…suddenly a false “warning for ‘unsafe driving’” doesn’t seem nearly as big a deal.
I hope you noticed a few minor, yet noticeable, changes to the bulletin. One of the most noteworthy changes is on the back page and involves our daily Bible reading plan.
The plan that was being published was somewhat confusing (to me, anyway). I think this new plan will be a little less confusing. It is a 52 week plan that starts on Sunday (and any Sunday will do...even the second Sunday of a new year) that will take you all the way through the Bible.
The organization of the plan makes it somewhat unique as well. Each day of the week has a “theme” of sorts that will run throughout the course of the 52 weeks:
I do hope you will take advantage of this new resource. Most of the readings should take 15-20 (some may be a little longer or shorter).
If you would like to have a copy of the full plan, just let me or Donna know and we can make you a copy (or visit www.Bible-Reading.com). Every day in the Word!