The Encourager

The Encourager

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God's Oversight - by Jeff Curtis

Saturday, December 16, 2023

God’s Oversight

By Jeff Curtis


Throughout the Scriptures, God’s care and oversight of His people can be seen (Genesis 28:15; Exodus 13:21,22; Psalm 121; Isaiah 41:10; Jeremiah 29:11). First Samuel is no exception. God opened Hannah’s closed womb (1Samuel 1:6-20) at just the right time in Israelite history. Through the period of the judges and until Samuel’s time, the Israelite people’s obedience to God had suffered greatly (Judges 17:6; 21:25). Their dedication to God had deteriorated to the point of blatant disobedience, even within the priesthood of God (1Samuel 2:12-17; 22-25). Even so, God had plans for Israel. He would take the nation to a higher spiritual plane. He began by answering a barren woman’s prayer (1:10-28). God had decided to revive Israel by the son of that woman.


Samuel would be trained and prepared under God’s care to become a prophet in Israel and a force for good (2:18). God arranged for Samuel to be trained under Eli, the priest at Shiloh (3:1). Through Samuel, God provided for Israel a leader through who He would reveal Himself and His will to Israel (3:19-21). God’s word “was rare in those days” (3:1); but, through Samuel, God gave divine direction to Israel (3:19). Samuel was a successful prophet and leader of Israel because of God: “The Lord was with him and let none of his words fail… And the Lord Himself appeared again at Shiloh, because the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord” (3:19-21).


The seemingly unimportant prayer from a seemingly unimportant woman (1:10-11) became the means by which God changed the spiritual direction of Israel. God used Samuel as a bridge between the period of the judges the time of the kings. Samuel was a key figure in helping Israel to defeat the Philistines in battle (7:1-14). He was also God’s instrument in anointing the first two kings of Israel, Saul and David (9:15-17; 10:1; 16:12-13).



Life Lessons

By Jeff Curtis


The Bible is filled with “practical lessons.” It teaches several, if we are willing to put them to use in our lives. Such as…

  1. People will sometimes betray us, so, we should put our faith in God instead of mankind.
  2. It pays to be watchful in order to protect our souls as well as our bodies.
  3. Courage will always be needed by God’s people.
  4. Not every opportunity comes from God.
  5. The Lord helps us in our efforts to be His children.
  6. We can’t allow the circumstances of life to squeeze God’s out of our lives.
  7. Revenge is God business, not mans.
  8. God is good and merciful.
  9. We shouldn’t play the fool by rejecting God’s will.
  10. When we faithfully abide by God’s will, even our enemies will sometimes speak well of us.

The More Excellent Way - by Jeff Curtis

Friday, December 08, 2023

The More Excellent Way

By Jeff Curtis


After pointing to a “more excellent way” in 1Corinthians 12:31, the Apostle Paul began one of the most elegant and profound sections in the Bible. He had been discussing the different types of miraculous gifts. Worldly-minded competition for the more visible gifts had caused a disruption in the church, and Paul was emphasizing the contribution that spiritual gifts ought to make to the unity of the body. For the moment, he laid aside the spectacular gifts known to the Corinthians and spoke about love, a trait that required no supernatural endowment from the Holy Spirit. The love that he wrote about is not just a warm feeling that comes and goes in a moment. It’s a settled disposition that begins with decisions and ends with actions.


This greatest statement the Bible has to offer about the supremacy of love in the Christian life is no digression from Paul’s discussion of unity and diversity in the body. People think they are being profound to claim that, when peace and love rule in a church, the sum is greater than the parts. It is more accurate to say that the gifts of each are enhanced when individual Christians love and support one another. Individuals have more to contribute to the whole when they give and receive support from fellow believers, but the whole can never be greater than the sum of its parts.


The testimony of Paul to the supremacy of love finds plenty of support throughout the Scriptures. When asked to identify the greatest of the commands in the law of Moses, Jesus gave an immediate response. While the Jewish ancient Jewish scholars have identified a total of 613 commands in the Law, Jesus summarized them in two:

He said, ““The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”


Love is the constraining force that motivates Christians to tell others about God’s grace and the salvation from sin that is available to all because it was purchased by the blood of the Lamb. “For the love of Christ urges us on,” Paul wrote in his later letter to the Corinthians, “because we are convinced that one has died for all, therefore all have died” (2Corinthians 5:14; NRSV).


Words like “love,” “faith,” “grace” identify bedrock principles for those who confess Jesus as Christ. In political realms, key words might be “patriotism,” “freedom,” and “family.” The problem with such words is that they become so flexible that they have no concrete meaning. When a word encompasses too much, it begins to mean nothing at all.


In its long history, Christ’s church has been absorbed with defining such ideals as love, faith and grace. To define a word is to limit it and assert that not everything qualifies to be known by that term. No one can be guided by principles without a level if understanding about those principles. The author of Hebrews used examples to put “faith” into words (Hebrews 11:1). Christians can be grateful to Paul for moving “love” from the level of the abstract to the concrete realm of behavior in 1Corinthians 13.


A note to our members:


Some have stated they are still not receiving the “One Call” message when something is sent out from the church’s website. If you are not receiving any messages, check your recent incoming calls and make sure that you have included into your contact list the number, 931-227-4546. If you will add this number to your contact list, you should begin to receive these calls.

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