Acts 17:11 …they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
There were many false teachings in the early days of the church.
Paul had to deal with them constantly.
They seem to follow behind him, creep into established churches, and begin to corrupt the message Paul had given. The book of Galatians is an excellent example of this.
The Bereans were different from the others Paul ministered to.
They were not willing to just accept his word but studied the scriptures themselves to see if what he was saying was so.
Keep in mind that searching the scriptures for them meant only what we know as the Old Testament.
However, I’ve discovered anyone can twist the scripture to say what it doesn’t mean.
For instance, Deut 22:28-29 says, “If a man finds a young woman who is a virgin, who is not betrothed, and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are found out, then the man who lay with her shall give to the young woman’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife because he has humbled her; he shall not be permitted to divorce her all his days.”
I had an unmarried couple quote this scripture to me and say because they were engaged it was ok for them to engage in sex.
That is not what the scripture says.
Paul would later say fornication is a work of the flesh, something to put to death in your members, and something that should not be named among the saints.
When you take the scripture out of context then it’s ok to steal – Eph 4:28 Let him who stole steal.
But when taken in context it says Eph 4:28 – Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.
Search the scripture and never stop.
Luke 22:34 Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.”
Let’s make up some false doctrine.
Our example is Jesus telling Peter about denying Him.
Studying this scripture it’s clear to see it involves a rooster crowing at dawn.
So two things are indicated.
First, you do not need to worry about your Christian testimony if you do not have a rooster.
Rooster’s know when you are sinning and will crow everytime you commit sin.
You are able to live as you like as long as there is no rooster or crowing nearby to indicate you did something wrong.
This is an obvious choice since most people don’t have the facilities to keep a rooster.
However, I do know those living in the country and own chickens.
It is a bit more tricky for them.
Christians with chickens, especially roosters, need to get up before dawn and praise the Lord a minimum of three times before the rooster begins crowing.
If you plan on sinning later on, like after the rooster crows, then you need to do more praise the Lord’s before the rooster crows.
Performing this simple task ensures you are good with God for the rest of the day.
If you sin later on in the day and did not have enough praises to cover it, then you can make up for the day by saying extra praises before the next crowing of the rooster.
Be aware that roosters do not take holidays or vacations.
Also the crowing of roosters is not timed to exact sunsrise and could occur earlier.
Once you begin this method of forgiveness of sin, you cannot end it by killing and cooking the rooster.
The rooster must die of natural causes or a natural predator.
NOTE: if you have a rooster and a chicken there is a good possibility you will hatch more roosters and will need to continue this method on a permanent basis.
Now we have some false doctrine to follow, completely based on scripture.
And that is just how it happens.
Someone takes it all out of context and creates some new doctrine.
It sounds crazy but what is crazier is someone else will believe it.
Ps 29:10 The Lord sat enthroned at the Flood, And the Lord sits as King forever.
The morning news is filled with violence, murder, disease, and politics.
It doesn’t look good.
I think about the days of Noah when everything society thought about was evil.
The news probably wasn’t much different than today.
Destruction came upon them.
It rained and rained and rained.
Great fountains burst up and the water rose higher and higher.
The young and the elderly drowned.
Animals ran to higher ground to no avail.
And I’m sure everyone wondered why.
I’m sure many attempted to appease their god or blame The God.
Others blamed politics.
Some blamed climate change.
However, God sat enthroned at the flood!
He was in control.
It did not catch Him by surprise.
Despite how bad things look today, He is still enthroned.
Put your faith and trust in Him.
Luke 2:36-37 Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
Years ago, I was called to start a church, which, with the help of my wife and many others, we did.
I remember a man came to our church a few times and one day he told me he felt led to start a church in an abandoned building in the next town.
He wondered if I thought it a good idea.
I told him, “You must do what God is leading you to do!”
He never started a church, the building is still abandoned, and that was fifteen years ago.
You have a purpose for God.
But you are the only one that can fulfill that purpose.
Anna stayed at the temple and served God.
Other women kept house, raised children, played with the grandchildren, and met with the women of the village.
She was elderly and had been a widow for many, many years.
She did what she felt God was leading her to do.
And she did it faithfully.
Her reward was being at the temple when Joseph and Mary brought in baby Jesus for His dedication.
She was able to hear the proclamation of Simeon and to see with her own eyes the Lord’s Christ.
Pray and seek God and find out your ministry and then do it!
Matt 2:11 …they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Of course, you recognize the gifts as those the wise men brought to the infant Jesus.
But they gave more than just these three items.
They gave their attention to the heavens and saw a star. They knew something wonderful was happening.
So, they gave their time to pack up provisions, finances, and plan a trip from Persia to Israel, a long, difficult journey.
Upon their arrival in Jerusalem, they gave testimony by asking King Herod, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” Matt 2:2
After getting the answer supplied by the chief priests and scribes, the wise men gave heed to what the scriptures said and headed to Bethlehem.
As they exited the palace of Herod they saw the star and they gave praise as it led them on the way.
When they arrived in Bethlehem and entered the house of Joseph, Mary, and little Jesus, they gave worship as they fell before the Christ Child.
It was here they gave the gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
With these gifts, they gave honor to His royalty (gold), His divinity (frankincense), and His humanity (myrrh).
Finally, they gave protection as a divine warning came in a dream telling them not to return to King Herod.
They returned home by a different route.
It’s obvious how much the Wisemen gave above and beyond those three prominent gifts.
What will you give for the Lord today?
Luke 2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Joseph and Mary were not wealthy but they were accustomed to the familiar surroundings of Nazareth with home, family, and friends.
Now they were more than 70 miles from those familiarities with strangers and had no comfortable lodging.
No crib for their Baby just a shepherd’s manger.
No parents around to help with the Baby.
None of the comforts of home.
You do not find them complaining.
You do not find them bitter.
You find them rejoicing in the birth and health of this Baby.
You find them in astonishment at the arrival of the shepherds.
You find them happy in God’s will.
I pray you find yourself in the comfortable surroundings of home this Christmas and you find room for the Christ Child in your heart, without bitterness nor complaints, for surely you find yourself this Christmas in more pleasant surroundings than Joseph and Mary.
1 Cor 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel
Paul did baptize a few friends but not everyone.
It wasn’t his ministry.
He was a missionary preaching the gospel, setting up churches, and establishing pastors over those churches.
Each Christian has a ministry.
You need to find yours.
Years ago I was talking with a man about ministry.
He said to me, “You know that feeling you get when someone in the drunk tank accepts Jesus as Savior?”
I said, “No. I’ve never been in the drunk tank.”
He was shocked and rebuked me because I did not have a jail ministry.
I asked him, “You ever been on the radio?”
His answer was no.
That’s because radio wasn’t his ministry, it is mine.
He also wasn’t a pastor, but I was.
Just as Paul was not called to baptize but to preach the gospel, each of us has a ministry.
You need to find yours.
Col 1:10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
As I was reading scripture this morning, I began to think how little Paul talked about being caught up to be with the Lord, commonly called the rapture.
He mentions it in 1 Thessalonians and brushes against it in 1 Corinthians.
He does not write about it to the Galatians, the Philippians, the Ephesians, or the Romans.
He did not pound the situation over and over and over.
What he does write about more than anything else is living in this present life.
This is the most important thing.
The rapture will come and fulfill its purpose but will you fulfill yours until it happens?
When you read the Gospels you see Jesus also more concerned about daily living than after-life living.
Our influence in the lives of others is purposed here and now not hereafter.
It is okay to talk and teach about those mysteries but consider reading God’s word and living worthy of it every day.
John 1:38-39 They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.”
“Come and see.”
That invitation changed their lives.
They started out seeing a stranger and ended up seeing a resurrected Savior.
In between, they witnessed miraculous healings of maladies and terminal diseases.
Thousands fed with lunch for one.
Storms ceased and water gave way to footsteps.
As Jesus would later say, “The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” Matt 11:5
They saw the impossible become the normal.
It did not stop.
They saw and experienced the power of the Holy Spirit come into their lives.
They saw thousands accept Jesus as savior.
The miracles did not stop as the lame were healed, the dead were raised, and the mouths of false prophets were stopped.
All this from accepting an invitation – “Come and see.”
The invitation still stands today and you will not be disappointed.
John 1:25 And they asked him, saying, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
Yesterday I witnessed the baptism of my grandson by his dad.
I was a little concerned, having been taught baptism is an ordinance of the church and, therefore, to perform it takes someone that is ordained.
Although Jeff did the baptism, it was the pastor that oversaw the ceremony and spoke the baptism proclamation.
There was a type of baptism in existence during the time of John and Jesus – ritual washing.
It mostly involved the hands and feet but at times included complete immersion of the body.
It was not known as baptism, since that is an English word from the Greek baptizo.
Like me, they were wondering if this is done correctly.
They did not understand what John was doing.
Many times I don’t understand things either.
Instead of wondering if the ritual washing or baptism is done correctly, I should give thanks that my grandson professed Jesus as his savior and followed it up in baptism.
To do this I need to look beyond my thoughts and into the mind of Christ.
Neither ritual washing nor baptism really “washes” away sin.
Ritual washing was dictated in the Law but, as with all the Law, it should cause us to be vigilant about sin in our lives.
Baptism also reminds us of the sins Jesus’ death washed away for us.
You bathe daily but, then, maybe there is one day you do nothing and don’t bathe.
You can sit around inside and never once get out; never sweating or wallowing in the dirt, and, therefore, you are [fairly] clean.
We fail to realize we can continue to sit inside and never go out, not sweat or wallow and sooner or later we are going to need to bathe simply because the body will become disgusting all by itself.
My mind can tell me, “I did not sin today” but my spirit is disgusting all by itself.
And just as a bath helps us realize how dirty and smelly we can get without doing anything – I believe the Lord want us to always be vigilant to know and understand the effect of sin in our lives.