The Encourager

The Encourager

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A New Beginning - Jeff Curtis

Saturday, January 21, 2023

A New Beginning

By Jeff Curtis

 

The people of Israel had to learn new goals, values and directions. Their former lives had consisted only of making a precise number of bricks per day. They had lived in slavery. At Mount Sinai, God was gave them a new beginning. The book of Numbers shows us four beginnings for Israel.

 

  1. A new beginning in living. God had the camp organized into structural living. Each tribe was to camp by their particular standard.
  2. A new beginning in worship. God’s tabernacle was constructed, and the people were soon to celebrate the Passover as God’s religious instructions were implemented.
  3. A new beginning in military service. God raised an army, and the “numbering” (census) of Israel would partially determine who served.
  4. A new beginning in hope and promise. The people would soon be ready to march away from Sinai toward Canaan, the Promised Land. The book of Numbers traces their successes and failures, their progression and their promises.

 

The kingdom of God gives us opportunities of service unto Christ our King. Paul said, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, so that we would walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Just as God had planned in advance the activities He desired Israel to engage in as they marched toward His promise, God has planned for us to have useful and meaningful lives in Christ as we march toward His promised rest. Heaven (Heb. 3:7-4:11). Each day He gives us blessings and opportunities to serve Him. Do we have the faith to pray both for them to come our way and for the abilities to recognize and seize them when they come to us?

 

 

Just like Israel of old, Christians are called to new beginnings in Christ. Each say we can meet God in prayer and renew our relationship with Him. We can determine daily to overcome sin and temptation from Satan. We can use each day for new opportunities of service and blessing to others as God guides us toward His Promised Land. Are we willing to face the challenges of new beginnings that God desires to share with us?

Four Reasons We Don’t Observe the Sabbath

by Ethan Jennings

Why doesn’t the church of Christ worship on Saturday? Isn’t it supposed to? This is what those among the Seventh-Day Adventists have asked. They claim that we fail to obey God by not worshipping on the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week. They claim that we need to continue to keep the Sabbath just as the Jews in Old Testament days did.

When one examines the issue, he will find that there are many reasons we don’t worship on the Sabbath. Here are four reasons:

1. God wants us to worship on the first day of the week (Acts 2:42, 20:7, cf. 1 Cor. 16:1-2; Heb. 10:24-25). No command is given for worship on the Sabbath or seventh day of the week.

2. The Sabbath was for the Jews only. This is made evident in the phrase, “this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations” (Ex. 31:13). Whose “generations” does God refer? The Jews’ generations! We are not Israelites. We are not Jews. We were not slaves in Egypt nor our ancestors (Deut. 5:15). The Sabbath was for the Jews to observe, not us.

3. There is no command, example, or necessary implication in the New Testament for observing the Sabbath.

4. The Law of Moses (a.k.a. Law of God) was nailed to the cross (Col. 2:14-16). Therefore, it is no longer in effect. This includes the Sabbath!

This is not to say we can’t worship God in certain ways on the last day of the week. Sometimes brethren meet for gospel meetings on Saturdays, where there’s singing, praying, and preaching. This is not, however, a Sabbath observance. This is a day we sometimes choose to meet during the week. The first day of the week is the day mentioned in the New Testament for Christians to worship – not the Sabbath.

The Old Paths, 12/11/22

Reading Luke Today - Jeff Curtis

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Reading Luke Today

By Jeff Curtis

 

David Alan Black said, “Of the four canonical Gospels, Luke conforms most clearly to the contemporary convention of bios literature – the genre of ancient biographies” Such a biography is typically highlighted by the hero’s virtues, beginning with his being favored by the gods. It’s told how exhibited the moral and physical excellence that led everyone to admire him and what great things he had done on behalf of his nation.

 

The hero would successfully confront the jealousy and enmity of his enemies and, by doing nobly, would display the qualities of life at its best. The work typically concluded with an epilogue extolling the lasting benefits of his life. All those components are noticeably applied to Jesus in Luke. As we view the life of Jesus, what can we obtain by reading this Gospel Account?

 

We find encouragement from the Exalted One. When we compact all that is told about Jesus in Luke’s Gospel Account into a concise summary, we will be encouraged to serve Him today. The angel’s announcement of Jesus’ birth serves us well in that regard (2:10-14). Everything in Luke’s Gospel Account elaborates on this announcement. There would be no greater prophet than John (7:28); but Jesus was the promised “Christ,” the anointed Son of David, and therefore “Lord.” He was also the “Savior,” the One who would deliver people from their sins and associated troubles. As Christ, He fulfilled God’s promises as the long-awaited King. As Lord, He established God’s kingdom (Acts 2:36). As Savior, He provided the deliverance and liberty the prophets had promised and for which the people so desperately longed (Isa. 58:6; 61:1-2; Luke 4:18-19). Taken together, these descriptions present Jesus in the most excellent of terms.

 

We Obtain courage to face suffering on the way to glory. Jesus was born to and lived among the lowly (1:48,52). Throughout His ministry, He welcomed those who were not always valued and accepted in their culture (5:29-32). He also identified with them in another way. In His most pronounced reversal of the world’s standards, Jesus showed that the way to glory is through suffering. He called all who follow him to travel that road.

 

We can receive understanding of what it means to be saved. The picture of exaltation, glorification, and service, coupled with Jesus’ care for the lowly, makes this Gospel Account especially valuable for understanding what it means to be saved, to come to know God, and to follow His Son.

 

We can also discover direction for living in a confusing world. The certainty Luke offers in turbulent times is increasingly welcome at a time when the sincerity of the search for God (or the meaning of life) is considered more important than actually finding the right way. When all ways are believed to be equally right, the person who claims for only one way will be met with confusion from some hostility from others.

 

Luke and his fellow believers in the Roman-controlled world of the first century would understand. They were a small minority among hundreds of religions, philosophies, and cults.

 

Conclusion. Luke’s words remind us that there are excellent reasons to follow Jesus’ way, to “know the truth” about what we have been taught.

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