Articles

A Constant In An Ever Changing World

Adam Pogue

As I reflect on the last couple of months one word continues to come to mind – Change!  My wife and I have been blessed with a new healthy baby boy and God has directed my family to a new city to go and preach the Gospel.  That is a lot of change for such a short time.  No doubt every one of you has experienced your own changes over the last few months.  Maybe you have made new friends, started new classes, obtained a new role at work, started a new job, or maybe you too (or members of your family) are planning an upcoming move.  If we are certain of anything it should be the fact that in this life we will encounter change.

In this ever changing world man has tried to change God and His commands.  Man has even tried to distort who and why Jesus came to this earth.  But we take comfort in this fact:  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and foreverHebrews 13:8.  In a world of change it is quite challenging to think of something or someone who was the same yesterday, is the same today, and will remain the same forever.    

Not only will Jesus Himself never change, but His love and what He did for you will never change.  Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  No matter what earthly events change for us Jesus will still be the son of God (John 3:16), our Lord (Romans 10:9), our path to salvation (John 14:6), and head of the church (Ephesians 1:22).  Man may twist the words of Jesus and His apostles (2 Peter 3:16).  But if you are one who seeks the truth of God and follows the example of Jesus be encouraged that Jesus will never change.  However He will change you.

Upon your obedience to the New Testament Scriptures and baptism into Christ you should expect to be transformed in the following ways.  First, you will become a “new creation” and all things in your life will “become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Second, you will no longer live for yourself but for others and more importantly for Him who died for you (2 Cor. 5:15).  Third, you will receive spiritual blessings of which the most important is eternal life and an inheritance in heaven (Ephesians 1:3-14).

Not only can we be confident that Jesus, His sacrifice, and love will not change, but also His desire for you to be saved will not change.  2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”  It does not matter what decisions you have made in the past that have conformed you to the world.  My hope is that you will decide today you will change for Christ, our constant in an ever changing world.

Harvest

The Harvest is Great, But the Laborers are Few

Adam Pogue

Jesus tells us in Luke 10:2, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

This verse is often used to encourage some Christians to become preachers, but have you ever considered it may be talking about more than that?  Jesus wants each of us to play a role in teaching the lost, not just the evangelist, as the following verses instruct.  “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”  – Mark 16:15-16.  “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20.

We have all been called by Christ to spread the good news that He died and was resurrected to save our souls.  Do you ever reflect on how well you are spreading the Gospel to those around you?  Jesus gave us the parable of the good Samaritan to teach us how we are to physically care for our fellow man.  But consider for a moment that Jesus was teaching us much more than that.

Luke 10:30-37 – “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”  37And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”

When it comes to telling others about Christ what example do you most mirror?  Are you the example of the priest (Vs. 31) or the Levite (Vs. 32) who sees lost souls all around you yet continues to walk by without caring for them.  Or can you say that you mirror the Samaritan (Vs. 33) who will stop and take the time to help the spiritually lost by sharing the Gospel of Christ with them? Jesus tells us in verse 37 to “do likewise.”  I believe Jesus would like us to apply that to mankind physically and spiritually.  So the next time you fall short of mentioning Christ to a friend, family member or co-worker due to fear or procrastination remember the parable of the good Samaritan.  If we fail to share the message of Christ with the lost around us we are no better than the priest or the Levite passing by a man and leaving him for dead.

As Luke 10:2 reminds us the harvest of lost souls is great, but the number willing to teach them is small.  However, all it takes to change that is a decision on our part to not let another day pass without taking advantage of opportunities to spread Gospel.  Is there someone you could share the message of Christ with today?  If so share it with them and may God bless your effort to win them for Christ.

Decisions Determine Your Destiny

Adam Pogue

 

From all of the members of the Jackson Heights church of Christ, welcome to the Teen Bible Study Weekend 2010!  Our teen weekend offers a great opportunity for this congregation to focus its efforts on supporting the next generation of leaders for Christ.  This year’s theme, Decisions Determine Your Destiny, helps our teens and all of us remember that our everyday decisions should be determined with God in mind.

From the time we begin attending school to the day we pass from this earth we have important earthly decisions to make.  We often feel that once we have graduated from high school or college we can finally take a mental break from all of that studying.  However, as Christians our education has just begun!  We are told in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.  We must continue to battle against sin in our lives and we do that by continuously learning God’s words.  If we will do this, our decisions will be determined with God in mind and our destiny will be in heaven with our God and savior Jesus Christ.

As the teens have done this weekend, let us now look at an example of Godly decisions made in the Bible.  In Numbers 13 and 14 Caleb and Joshua faced opposition from the other 10 spies that Moses had sent to spy on the Promised Land.  While the 10 feared the giants that inhabited the land; Caleb and Joshua stood firm in their faith in God and trusted that with God on their side nothing was impossible. The 10 who were faithless received plagues from God and died, but Caleb and Joshua were rewarded with the gift of the Promised Land.  As we continue to grow as Christians we need to learn from examples God gave us.  Christians need to have the courage to make tough decisions for God and we will be rewarded with our promise land of Heaven.

Proverbs 14:12 tells us, “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death”.  Clearly stated for all mankind, we have decisions to make on earth and we have two choices: Godly or worldly.  As Proverbs advises we may believe we are correct but the reward may be spiritual death.  The only way for us to receive heaven is to make our decisions based on the word of God.  If we will do that our decisions will determine our destiny, an eternity in heaven!

Jesus Knows Our Hearts

Adam Pogue

 

In John 6:26-27, we read that Jesus knew why the multitudes were beginning to follow him.  He knew that his followers were not true disciples but were those who sought signs and wonders and to be physically fed.  Jesus knew their thoughts and their hearts.  He also knew the deepest secrets of the hearts of those who appeared to be the most committed to Him in, v. 64, 70-71.  When the Lord looks at your life, what does he see?  Does he see absolute commitment and faith to him and the Father?  Or, does He see a life that seeks a minimum level of commitment and a minimum level of faith in him and the Father?

The harsh truth is that he sees you and me just as we are!  He sees us in ways that we cannot even see ourselves.  Nothing on this Earth and no one on this Earth can hide from Jesus.  Peter was unable to hide from Jesus when he stood by that Roman fire denying Jesus as he was being falsely accused.  The hearts of the hypocritical Pharisees that praised God on the street corners to be seen by men were unable to hide their true intentions from Jesus.  Judas Iscariot who had deceived the 11 the night he betrayed Jesus was unable to hide his heart from Jesus.  Some Christians today may hide dark secrets and struggle with sin behind closed doors, but they too cannot hide their hearts from Jesus.

Brethren, Jesus knows our hearts this morning.  I cannot see into your heart and you cannot see into mine, but Jesus sees us just as we are.  What does He see when He looks at you?  We may deceive each other, but we will never deceive Jesus!  He knows where you stand spiritually this morning.  For that very reason, there has never been a better incentive for us to carefully take a look at our own hearts.  Everyday God blesses us to live, is another opportunity to serve and praise him.  Let each of us make today the day we will give our full commitment and full faith to Him!

When Your Good Intentions Make A Mess

Adam Pogue

 

As Christians we may feel like we want to do anything and everything we can to win souls for Christ.  However, even a good intention can sometimes do more harm than good for Christ and make a mess.  Let us consider two Biblical men whose good intentions but wrong decisions made a mess of their work for Jesus.

Blind Intentions:  In Acts 8:1-3, 9:1-2 and Galatians 1:13-14 we read that Saul was someone who ravaged the church to the extent of dragging Christians to prison.  However, let us remember that he did not do this in willful disobedience to God or Jesus.  Instead he did this to be even more obedient and zealous than his predecessors, Gal. 1.  But his intentions, while good, were blind to the commands of Jesus. Often men today can fall prey to the same blind intentions.  Men can have good intentions to spread and follow God’s word, but if we do not first make sure we are following the exact commands our work will be futile.

We can combat such blindness and misled intentions today by being a good Bible student.  First, to serve God correctly we must have a passion to know the truth and not the works of men.  Matthew 5:6 says “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.”  A passion for the truth requires effort and commitment.  If we will commit ourselves to knowing the truth of Jesus we will not be given over to blind intentions.

Overzealous Intentions:  Secondly, in John 18:10-11 we read the example of Peter, who in an overzealous moment drew a sword to defend Jesus.  In verse 10 Peter cut Malchus’ right ear off.  We could all agree that he did this with good intentions to protect his master.  However, in verse 11 Jesus rebuked Peter and told him to put his sword away saying “Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” 

Today our good intentions to spread the gospel can sometimes get the best of us.  In our zeal we can make a mess of our work for Jesus.  Have you ever, in an attempt to win a soul for Christ, made a quick overzealous statement and later regretted it?  Have you ever spoken with a fellow saint and, in an attempt to teach a lesson for Christ, said something you later regretted?  Sometimes our good intentions can make a mess, like Peter’s situation, if we say or do things that may insult people before we ever get the chance to speak to them about the truth.

We can combat overzealous intentions by learning patience.  I Thessalonians 5:14 says, “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.”  Christians are to seek the lost and help our fellow saints, but sometimes the key to helping is to show our love with patience.  When it concerns winning souls for Christ, it can be easy to get eager for someone to obey the gospel.  But we need to remember that everyone starts their obedience with a different background and different idea that they carry from their past.  Let us remember I Corinthians 3:6, it may be your role to plant the seed and someone else’s (at a later time) to water and then only God gives the increase.

God desires that every one of us be saved (John 3:16) and that we all be workers in His kingdom.  However, at times even our good intentions can make a mess of our service to teach the gospel of Jesus.  May we all be passionate Bible students that know the will of God; and have the patience to teach the lost and help restore straying Christians.

How is Your Relationship with God?

Adam Pogue

 

As this exciting VBS week has drawn to an end I believe it is important to reflect and apply Bible principles learned.  Every day had great truths and wisdom to hear, but one especially stuck out in my mind.  In the story of Adam and Eve we often only apply the obvious lesson of obeying our Father and creator.  But if we will step back and look at this story in Genesis we will be able to apply another important lesson from God’s word.

Genesis 3:8-13 tells us that God walked in the garden in the cool of the day and Adam and Eve hid.  However, they did not hide because they were afraid of hearing God walk amongst them but their sin against Him is what worried them.  This can lead us to believe that God most likely had done this before and had spoken to His created man before, but why?  The reason is because God sought a relationship with His creation.  We are told in 1st John 3:1-2 that we are called children of God!  As we are His children, of course He wants us in His life and of course He wants to have a relationship with us.  However, He does not force His love onto His creation.

At the end of the day our loving God gives us a choice of abiding with Him or not.  How many co-workers, friends, or even family members do you know who choose to shut the door in God’s face?  So many of us would go to the end of the earth for a spouse, a family member, but will we drive across town to worship our Lord who saved us from sin and hell?  We can all be guilty of forgetting that God in fact does want you as a family member and we need to apply common relationship principles to our walk with God.

Take these examples for instance.  1) A husband must make time to talk with his wife everyday and care for her wants, and needs in order to strengthen the relationship.  2) A friend must show a willingness to serve another friend in order for the relationship to grow or else it will fade.  Who would want a one sided friend who never gave back something to you physically or emotionally?  3) Children must respect their parents and choose to obey requests made of them or the family will begin to break down and can even break apart.

These illustrations may seem like common knowledge, but are we applying the same principles to our relationship with God?  Question #1 Do you take time to talk with God everyday and let Him know about your day, thank Him for your blessings, and lay your cares upon Him for rest? (Matthew 11:28-30)  Question #2 Do you show God a willingness to serve Him and others around you by your daily actions or is your relationship with God a one sided lane that only receives blessings without giving back? (Matthew 20:26-28; Mark 10:45)  Question #3 Do your daily actions prove to God you are willing to obey Him and place Him first in your life? (Deuteronomy 13:4)  If not your relationship with Him will break down and will eventually break apart!

Genesis 2 and 3 can teach us some very important principles about God.  So let us bear in mind, if we would do something for our earthly relationships then we should be willing to do that and even more so to please our creator, our Father, and our merciful God.  My hope is that every one of us will remember to apply these thoughts to our relationship with God today!

Our Rightful Place Before God

Adam Pogue

 

Do you ever get spiritually low or weak?  Do you sometimes feel that you need something to buoy your faith?  Sometimes as a believer in the one and true living God, especially when I am feeling spiritually low or weak, I try to remind myself of His awesome power.  If we will often remind ourselves of our rightful place before God our cares can be lifted and we can find a peace in His omnipresence.  In Psalm 104:1-9 David reminds us of God’s might.  “Bless the Lord, O my soul!  O Lord my God, you are very great!  You are clothed with splendor and majesty.” (ESV, vs. 1)  “the waters stood above the mountains.  7At your rebuke they fled; at the sound of your thunder they took to flight.  8The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that you appointed for them.” (ESV, vs. 6-8)

As David mentions, mountains are the perfect place for personal, powerful encounters with God’s power.  Not long ago my wife and I were able to visit Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, TN and I will never forget the feeling we both shared as we looked down upon God’s beautiful creation below.  The feeling is hard to describe, but you just sense the greatness of the One who created the mountain you stand on and you sense an appreciation for all that He has done for you.  As you experience a view from a mountain you are reminded how small we are and how great and all powerful our Creator and Father is.  As I reflect on that feeling I am reminded of the words of the prophet Habakkuk 3:6 that says, “He stood and measured the earth; He looked and shook the nations; then the eternal mountains were scattered; the everlasting hills sank low.”  Yes, God is all powerful and can shake the earth, move mountains, and reform the earth at His command.  This should remind us that God is great and we are beneath Him, which is our rightful place before God.

From the beginning of time man has attempted to equalize himself with God.  It began in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve followed the deception from Satan and ate of the fruit that would make them “be like God, knowing good and evil.” (ESV, Gen. 3:5)  It continued in Gen. 11, man again set out on a foolish plan to “make a name for ourselves” (vs. 4) by building a tower “with its top in the heavens.” (vs. 4)  In the New Testament we continue to see examples of worshipping false idols and false gods instead of God in another attempt of man to narrow the divide between God and ourselves.

Instead of trying to equalize ourselves with God we need to have a proper view of Him and that will help reverse our sinful nature to balance ourselves with Him.  When we see God as being above us, beyond us, highly exalted, over us, and totally separate from us, we will place ourselves in an acceptable place to God – under His awesome hand.  When we embrace God for who He is, then we will properly understand who we are.  When we know God’s place, we can know our place.  When we see God as He really is – holy, sovereign, separate and above us it will place everything and every one of us in our rightful place before God.  So whether your view of the creation is from a mountain, a plane, or your front yard remember God is completely in charge and He is the one “who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke!”  (ESV, Psalm 104:32)

Knowledge is Power

 Adam Pogue

 

It is that time of the year that everyone loves!  This is a joyous time of friendships, laughter, and learning, it is time for school.  Ok, so maybe not everyone reading this jumped out of their seat at the sound of going back to school, but consider this, “Knowledge is Power.”  I am sure we have all heard this quote one time in our lives since we were young, but it is true!  While this has been said to the world of education, let us apply it to our spiritual life as well.

In the book of Psalms 119:105 we are told, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  We live in a world seemingly convinced on pleasing and following self and it can be difficult to know what God would have us to do.  That is why God provided His words to us revealed in the Bible.  Without a teacher, those in school would not know how to pass a particular test.  The same is true with Christians.  Without God’s word being revealed to us, we would not know how to please Him and obey Him.  But “Knowledge is Power,” God tells us exactly how to please and obey His commands.  As it is the responsibility of the student to study to pass the test, it is the responsibility of the Christian to study the word of God to “pass” His commands.  We must allow this scripture to be factual in our lives so that we can say, “God your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path and I will strive everyday to put you first in my life.”

Why will many of us make time to read countless books for entertainment throughout a year, but not find time to pick up the words of God?  If we are to apply this concept of “Knowledge is Power,” then we need to study His words as a student studies for his test.  We all have a “test” waiting for us at the end of this life, Judgment Day.  It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to be prepared for that day.  2nd Timothy 3:16-17 tells us what Scripture is for, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that a man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  We have been given the “textbook” and the opportunity to study and apply its knowledge to our lives.  So now the question is, have we allowed “God’s Knowledge to give us Spiritual Power?”

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