Does it sometimes seem as if almost everything around us is being shaped, growing and changing? It is, and has been since the Godhead shaped the universe. ( Gen 1:1) God taught Jeremiah how He could reshape a nation just as the potter does with the clay. ( Jer 18:1-6) In the physical world around us we see things, people and places being shaped daily. Houses are gutted and upgraded, cars are redesigned yearly, tunnels are blasted through mountains, and people’s bodies are sculptured through diet, exercise and surgery. It is often a process that people don’t necessarily recognize as it happens all around them.
In the spiritual world God the Father, through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, is shaping people. He did it with Jonah ( Jon 1: 1-3) and Saul ( Acts 26: 14) even as they both resisted His wishes. One ran away and had to be taught obedience from inside a great fish. ( Jon 1:17) The other kicked against the goads until blinded by a blazing light from heaven. ( Acts 26: 9- 18)
Christians are also being shaped into the form of their Savior. They stretch their hands out in servanthood on their daily symbolic cross. ( Lk 9: 23) They are being transformed by the renewing of their minds ( Rom 12: 2) and transformed into Christ’s likeness. ( 2 Cor 3:18) What does this look like? They are “…growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power…” ( Col 1:10-11) Their “…faith is growing more and more…” ( 2 Th 1:3) The “…whole body (church) …grows as God causes it to grow. ( Col 2:19)
The Holy Spirit infuses their inner being with power ( Eph 3: 16) and they undergo shaping day by day into the new self ( Rom 6: 3-6) by obeying the teachings of the Holy Spirit in the inspired scriptures. They progress from milk to meat ( 1 Cor 3: 1-2) ( Heb 5: 12-14) and, “…may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” ( Eph 3 19) They can “…become mature , attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. “ ( Eph 4:13) But they will only be fully shaped when their natural body is changed to their new spiritual body. ( 1 Cor 15: 42-44 & 52) They will then be in shape to be, “…caught up …in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” ( 1 Th 4: 17)
Submitted by Jery Bailey, Elder
Most everyone has seen the ads for a new medicine on TV or in print media. The ones that are hard to pronounce and tell you to ask your doctor if this could be right for you. However, if one reads the small print, the side effects are really scary. It might produce infections, liver or kidney damage, dizziness, hallucinations, paralysis and many others including death. To be fair, any new medication has to go through many clinical trials lasting months or even years. The side effects are limited to a very small percent of the total population. Nevertheless, there are risks one has to weigh before deciding whether this medication is, “right for me.”
During a Christian’s spiritual journey to eternity he or she will encounter many situations that will demand a choice. One must weigh the short range benefits against the long term outcomes. Satan is the master of counterfeit and subterfuge, ( 2 Cor 11:14) as are his servants. (v 15) He has always used subtle lies to attract the gullible, unwise and apathetic “client.” ( Gen 3:1-7) He sells his exciting “medicine” of sin by touting the short term qualities of pleasure, ( 2 Pe 2:13) ( Heb 11:25) popularity and wealth. ( Ja 2: 5-7)
The manufacturers of new medicines are required by law to publish the possible side effects of their products, albeit in very small print, right along with the ads. Satan and his servants have no such disclaimers nor restrictions. He doesn’t tell the new drinker of alcohol of the embarrassment and addiction that may occur down the road. The Bible does. ( Tit 2:3) ( Pr 23:20-21) ( Isa 28:7) Satan doesn’t warn of the consequences of illicit sexual behavior. The Bible does. (2 Sam 12:9-12) ( 1 Cor 5:9-11) ( Eph 5:3-5) ( Rom 1:26-27)
Of course there are many other “products” (sins) that Satan peddles such as illegal drugs, materialism, gambling, violence, and many others. They all appear glitzy but are sold “as is” without any “buyer beware” sign. The side effects are harmful and often spiritually fatal.
Whereas, the merchandise the Holy Spirit offers is free and innocuous. He gives believers “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” ( Gal 5:22-23) In other words, no hidden agendas and with only wonderful side effects.
Jery Baily, Elder
As I set in the quiet of my office this morning looking out at the snow, I quickly start to ponder its benefit to our farm environment. Our farming environment revolves around grain production to support the cattle and ethanol industry. Supplying water to these growing crops has become a point of concern in SW Kansas over the last couple decades. Any time we get rain or snow it ultimately helps in this grain production system that drives our local economies. So, as I look at this snow, I have to be “thankful” for this moisture which is being added to the soil profile. When I think about the benefit this moisture brings to our economy, I cannot help but be “thankful” to our God for providing moisture in such a beautiful fashion.
Yet some will say: Yes, but it is cold, my car won’t go, school is cancelled for the day, I need to turn up the heat in the house. But, these activities are a blessing to those who sell the gas, electricity, tires, and for the children who get a day away from school. It’s usually a matter of perspective!
When I think about why we are here I believe it is to have Fellowship, Relationship, and Intimacy with our Heavenly Father. A good part of this is in expressing our “Thanks” to our Heavenly Father. This is usually done in what we call prayer. In the classes I teach I share that 90% (or more) of our prayers should be thanking, praising, loving, and just communicating with God. We often forget that communication is a two-way process. Part of our prayer life should be in “listening”. We should quit talking and spend some quiet time just listening to our Heavenly Father communicate back with us. This is an important part of prayer and I feel God will appreciate our time with Him when we allow Him the opportunity to communicate back to us. Most people spend most of the time asking or begging God for something but never pausing and listening for the answers.
As we would spend more time Praising and Thanking God for who He is and what He has done, our perspective and the way we view life would change. We would come to see that problems and issues quickly go away and take on a less significant role in disrupting our day to day life. At this point we would be allowing Him to “influence” our lives. Things that bother other people would no longer bother us.
Matt: 25-34: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? .... 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Blessings to you as you Praise and offer Thanks to our Heavenly Father!
Chet Wiswell, Elder.
Although there is certainly a place for habits and traditions in one’s daily life, they can easily become perfunctory. The one-armed hug while air-kissing someone’s cheek might be perceived as a hasty and superficial, routine duty when done with a lack of interest or enthusiasm. An action that one feels is obligatory can morph into an artificial gesture rather than an honest, sincere and heart-felt expression of genuine appreciation and admiration.
Of course the circumstances surrounding greetings would certainly come into play. The hugs at a funeral, after a long separation or after a natural disaster, would no doubt be intense and prolonged. They would be zealous, which is the opposite of perfunctory.
The 1st Century Christians were admonished to greet one another with a “holy kiss” in several scriptures. ( Rom 16:16) ( 1 Cor 16:20) ( 2 Cor 13:12) ( 1 Th 5: 26) ( 1 Pe a5:14) Given the severe persecutions of that era, they could not be sure they would ever have another chance to show their love of the brethren. ( 1 Th 3:4) ( 2 Ti 3:12) ( Jo 15:20) There is little doubt then that their greetings were not perfunctory. Probably because of our culture’s perceptions, the hoy kiss is very rare today. However, we can still show our love of the brethren through handshakes, hugs, fist-bumps, pats on the back and smiles.
When faithful Christians meet together weekly ( Heb 10:25) there could always be the possibility of allowing worship to become perfunctory. The Lord Jesus Christ hates that and warns His disciples not to forsake their first love ( Rev 2:4) nor to be lukewarm ( Rev 3:16)We are never to be lacking in zeal, rather to keep our spiritual fervor. ( Rom 12:11)
Solomon warned, “One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet” (Prov 27:7). Many Americans are turning up their noses at the Bread of Life in favor of the empty calories of humanism, materialism, and health-and-wealth-ism served up from pulpits catering to narcissism, in which the diners are both the center and circumference of their own world.
In a land where 88% of the households own a Bible, with an average of 4.7 Bibles per household, only 37% read it at least once a week and 39% of the millennials (those born after 1980) have never read it. Only 33% of that generation believe the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life.
Before we judge a generation, we need to ask ourselves what role previous generations played in the seeming demise of interest in things spiritual. Did we fail to teach our children? In some cases, yes. Did we fail to set the right example for our children? In some cases, yes.
One might say, “But that’s not me. I took my children to church; I taught them the Bible.” That may be, but in some cases what they learned in church was bigotry, self-righteousness, judgmental-ism, and sterile legalism.
One cannot teach what one does not know, and some of us, like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, knew religion, but we did not know God.
“And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him (1 John 2:2-4).
“And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us” (1 John 3:23-25).
Is America turning its back on those who know God as seen in their faith and love nourished by the Holy Spirit, or has it turned its back a religiosity and hypocrisy? If the latter is the case, there is hope.
Jery Bailey, Elder
Here you will find Spiritual Nuggets from your eldership.