I ask myself, “Do I travel a 1000 miles to teach a stranger while walking over the eternal souls of those within ten feet of me?” Has God maneuvered us into some position, work, friendship, family relation, or neighborhood, specifically, so that He could reach those with His gospel through us? I would encourage us to think that sharing the gospel can be done more in conversations with friends and family than as formal appointments with strangers.
What if Philip, the evangelist, had been so busy packing his bag for a mission trip up and down the Mediterranean coastline that he had failed to notice a chariot rolling by with an Ethiopian reading about “a lamb led to the slaughter,” or had neglected four virgin daughters at home who could later become prophetesses?
Never miss an opportunity. Do not assess the ground (as hard, full of weeds, rocky, or good)--just broadcast the seed of the word. Forget whether you are talking to “Nicodemus” on the avenue or “the Samaritan woman” in the alley. Don’t look at skin color; quality of clothing; or, whether or not the souls are wearing rags or rubies.
Never stand over an unplanted field praying for God to give a great harvest. Do you know of some untold soul—then, tell them. Can you imagine a Roman soldier who guarded the Apostle Paul in prison during his shift being asked, “What did Paul say to you?,” only to hear the soldier reply, “Not a word!” Impossible!!
Don’t have a ten-year plan to build rapport with a lost soul only to be find yourself carrying a covered dish to his widow nine years into your ten-year plan. At the judgment, remove all possibility that someone might say, “You never mentioned Him to me!”
Sometimes silence is golden, but, most of the time, it’s down right yellow! If we fail to confess Him before men, He will be ashamed to confess us before His Father in heaven.
In Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus had a considerable amount to say about earthly concerns and possessions. One of the greatest dangers in our spiritual journeys is the way we deal with money and possessions. Included in those directions and cautions were: 1) not giving to others for the praise of men (6:3); praying for our daily bread (6:11); practicing fasting (6:18); not storing up treasures on earth (6:19); serving God, not wealth (6:24); cease worrying about the necessities of life (6:25); caution about being surrounded by people of the world who are absorbed with making and having wealth (6:32); and, to live one day at a time—tomorrow will take care of itself (6:34).
Here are a few thoughts on Jesus’ words.
First, just like the indicators in our automobiles (gas gauge, temperature gauge, seat belt warning, etc.), there are some things (if we will keep an eye on the dashboard of our hearts) that give us a quick check on where we are spiritually. Have we ever caught ourselves making sure others knew we did something good for some poor soul with materials and goods that really belong to God—possessions given to us by God? Jesus said something about letting our light shine so God could be glorified. Oh, we can have some very sneaky (yet, unwitting) ways of parading those benevolent acts before the eyes of others. Jesus said that we are to never give to get! Giving-to-get is totally out of the heart of God. We should never give to others to receive the notice of others. Why do we do that?! When we give to get praise of others, we do not really give, but we make a purchase of the praise of men. That, of course, would mean that our eye was not on God at all. It is as if we push God aside and demand that people notice us.
Second, can I become so absorbed about what I will eat, drink, or wear tomorrow that I forget to pray and truly be thankful for my DAILY bread today? When my wife, grandson, and I sit down to eat, I often comment to them with my full plate before me, “This is our living.” I can only eat so much in a day—and, no more. Have you ever bought a car (new or used) and found yourself soon looking for or talking about the next car you wanted to buy? Daily bread? Daily necessities? Eat what is in front of you without thinking about what you will eat tomorrow. Do you remember the Israelites gathering more manna than they needed in a day? What was left over bred worms! Wear what you have on without thinking about the next garment you will put in your full closet.
Third, Jesus did not say, “If you fast,” but “when you fast.” Jesus assumed His disciples would fast. Of course, we cannot check on each others' fasting, or report to others, “I am fasting,” because we would come under Jesus’ caution not to fast in order to be seen of men. But, during times of fasting, we temporarily break from earthly necessities to devote ourselves to prayer and, possibly, to be reminded how dependent we are on God’s provision. Someone said, “God stays in touch with every man through his belly.” God causes His rain to come on the just and the unjust. The just need to raise their eyes to heaven and, from the heart, say, “Thank you, Lord God."
Fourth, have you ever been perfectly content only the next moment to see a TV commercial asking if you are ready for retirement and become instantly discontented? Billions of dollars are spent on advertisements crafted by college-educated professionals who are skilled in creating discontent? And, they are great at it! Carl Wade said something akin to, “I was perfectly content with my little motor boat until a $32,000 Ranger bass boat with a 225 HP Honda engine zipped by me!” Can we become possessed by our possessions? Was it Jack Exum who said, “Is it possible that we are buying things we do not need and cannot afford to keep up with people we don’t even like?”
Fifth, are you concerned about running out of food or clothing? Jesus said for us to stop worrying about the necessities of life. Have you ever been hungry? Have we missed many meals? Our God who provided for us yesterday is the same God who gives us our daily bread. Our concern as Christians is to be surrendered to the reign of Jesus, the Lord, and all these other things will be provided as God sees our need. Ashur prayed, Two things I asked of You, do not refuse me before I die: keep deception and lies far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion, that I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or that I not be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God (Proverbs 30:7-9). The all-knowing God sees into the marrow of our souls. Only He knows the right balance of earthly blessings we can stand without it corrupting us.
Sixth, it is hard to keep earthly and material things in perspective when we are immersed in a sea of national and international greed. Yet, those people seeking to have and have more are miserable! Yes, they are!! Things cannot satisfy. The next time we get ready to buy that shiny new car or truck it might serve our best interest to throw a bucket of mud on it and compare it to the vehicle we drove onto the sales lot. We might just consider driving home the car we drove in there. We've got the wrong heroes. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be free of the earthly chains that bind us? What if we could simply be satisfied with the simple—today’s food, clothing, and drink? We are not going to carry it with us. There are no pockets in a shroud.
Finally, are we trying to live in tomorrow to the extent that we are failing to attend to the challenges of today? Aren’t today's challenges enough without stacking tomorrow on our shoulders? Have you heard of the man walking down the road on a 100-degree afternoon sweating while carrying a one hundred pound sack on his back? A man came along side him in a horse-pulled wagon and asked, “May I give you a ride?” To this offer, the grateful man replied, “Yes, oh thank you!” The burdened man climbed in the back of the wagon and the benevolent man urged his horse forward only to hear the man in the back of the wagon grunt. Turning around, the driver of the wagon saw the man whom he had picked up standing in the back of the wagon with the one hundred pound sack still on his back! The man asked, “Why don’t you put down that sack?!” To this the man, in great relief, replied, “I did not know when you offered me a ride that that applied to my sack.” Are we still straining under loads Jesus has long before offered to carry for us? Peter said, “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”
What would Jesus know about life? Why, God made the world, hence He knows how it works! God became one of us! The God-man never traveled a hundred miles from where He was born. He only had one earthly possession—His clothes. After He embarked on His earthly ministry, do you ever remember Him having a house on which He paid monthly payments? What was His concern and with what was He absorbed? Herein is the secret of living on earth. Where else did we ever think we would find it except in and through Him? The noise of the marketplaces crowd out our peace of mind as we rent storage houses to take care of the overflow of things we collected and we can’t remember why. Jesus wants us to observe the way God clothes the grass and feeds the birds and reminds us we are infinitely more valuable to Him than the birds.
These words of Jesus are not just for memorizing, but also for living. Pray God we learn to really live.
James, the Lord’s half-brother, was inspired by God’s Holy Spirit to write the Epistle of James. Among other things, it seems to be a letter (General Epistle) addressed to Christians who were facing hard times. In all seasons of life (but, especially in hard times) this letter is a must read for Christians who encounter various trials (1:2); who are of humble circumstances (1:9); who are preserving under trial (1:12); who might encounter someone of lowly estate (2:1-13); who may be called upon to allow faith to take legs to help a hungry or naked person (2:14-26); who might be tempted to take advantage of someone who cannot defend themselves (5:1-6); being put in a position to trust God for protection and repayment to those who abuse us (5:7-11); not to allow life’s circumstances and abuses to embitter us (5:12); and, to rely on God through prayer (5:13-18).
It is in this context that the Holy Spirit through the pen of James offers the Christian who trust God’s promise in an unwavering manner the treasure of the universe. He writes:
"But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways" (James 1:5-8).
Frankly, this promise from God to give the treasure of wisdom has become one of my greatest comforts in what seems to be an uncertain world with unexpected turbulence and terrifying situations which can come upon us as quickly as a storm on the Sea of Galilee in Jesus’ day. Never forget that if we have the water-walking Jesus in the boat with us, He can issue His “peace be still” anytime He is ready. Often, when I cry, “Lord, help me and please help me now,” He comes walking on the water in the fourth watch of the night. Little did those frightened disciples in the boat know that the Lord who had commanded them with urgency to get into that boat and get away from the tempting circumstances of 5000 men coming to make Jesus king by force (men they, themselves had recruited during the limited commission fueling the expectations of all that the Messiah had come to lead an overthrow of the Roman yoke) had been watching them from a mountainside for eight to ten hours as they struggled in the teeth of the storm into which He, himself, had sent them. Jesus did not come to them in the first, second, or even third watch of the night—but, He came walking on the very thing that had terrified them in the fourth watch of the night. Mind you, He walked all over what terrified them!! Can we make application and visualize our Jesus walking all over what is terrifying us?!
Yet, in the midst of the storm, He bids us to ask for wisdom promising us that He (who is the Fountainhead of infinite wisdom) will give it to us gladly with only one qualifier—we must trust without any doubt that He will, in fact, give it to us.How overwhelmingly exciting that the God of all wisdom promises to give wisdom to us “generously”!
Have you ever thought of God giving you a “set of keys” when you became a Christian—mind you, a full set of keys? I hate keys because they are bulky and the sharp points gouge my leg. One day I was complaining again about my keys, when my wife said, “Give me those keys for a minute.” I handed her my key ring and she asked me, “What is this key?” I answered, “That is the key to the house.” She, then asked, “What is this key?” And I said, “That is to the car.” She continued the interrogation, “What is this key?” I said, “That is, well…ugh..well, I don’t know what that key unlocks,” so she took it off my key ring and laid it aside. When she finished going around the ring of keys, there were at least four or five keys which I had no idea what they unlocked. She then, wisely, said, “I am going to put these unknown keys in a cup on top of the refrigerator and if you ever get to a door or lock you can’t open just remember the key that fits that lock is likely in this cup.” Smart girl! I had been carrying around keys in my pocket that I had no idea what lock they fit—what door they had the power to open.
Could it be that God provides all Christians a full set of keys the moment we become Christians, but, due to immaturity and lack of knowledge, we do not know what many of those keys unlock—the doors behind which are treasures beyond our imagination? Then, one day we are reading the Scriptures or talking to a mature Christian and, suddenly, we shout, “Now I know what this key is and what it unlocks!” The 24-karat golden key all of us have been carrying about in our spiritual pockets is the one that unlocks the door to God’s infinite storehouse of wisdom. It teaches us how to deal with bosses, money, relationships, family, children, neighbors, and all of life’s circumstances. Yet, if we have not known what that key of wisdom was for, then it has been there never used to appropriate the treasures God has always had for us.
What use or value is wisdom? Let me illustrate. Take the time to look at an electrical outlet cover in your home there on one of your walls. To a child, it seems like nothing and that is why we must take precautions with small children because they do not realize the power represented by those simple looking covers. Yet, we know that we can plug into that outlet which is connected to Alabama Power Company that has a system of generating tremendous voltage to power our devices, appliances, electronics, AC, etc. If someone asks, “What is the use of wisdom?,” we would think of them as a little child who cannot imagine what the simple covering on the electrical outlet represents—the power it can deliver.
God, often, does not just send $1000 when we need it, but gives us wisdom to manage the $100 we have in our pockets. If He kept sending us a $1000 every time we ask Him, we would continue to squander it and mismanage it. Instead, He sends wisdom to teach us how to manage. Which is greater—all the gold in Ft. Knox, or wisdom? If we had all the gold in Ft. Knox but no wisdom, how long do you suppose it would take us to have nothing and coming back to God asking for a $1000?
What is the purpose of this piece? Well, I spoke of the comfort the promise of wisdom presents to me as a Christian. God did not say it was possible that He would give us wisdom, but it is an iron-clad promise. That means I will never face a challenge in life that God will fail to give me the wisdom to navigate—never.
Is that not a tremendous comfort? So, look again at the keys God gave you the day you became a Christian and look for that golden one. It is labeled, “wisdom.”
Huntingtonpost.com list the top 25 comfort foods, including grilled cheese sandwiches, mashed potatoes, pizza, tacos, dumplings, baked ziti (what is that?), tomato soup, cheese burgers, chocolate pudding, chicken soup, pie, french onion soup, french fries, shrimp and grits, chicken pot pie, spaghetti and meat balls, and ice cream. Did any of those make your “comfort food” lists?
In my last post, I shared one of my great spiritual comfort foods—God’s promise to give wisdom to the believer who asks Him in faith. That is such a comfort because I BELIEVE (that is the condition to receive wisdom—unwavering faith in God’s promise to give it) that I will never face a situation in this life that God will fail to show me the best path or the answer to a stressful puzzle by giving me wisdom. What a comfort?! Oh, and I need wisdom every day in every way! That is a comfort both now and for the rest of my time on earth.
Let me give you another great item on my list of spiritual comfort foods—it is my comfort regarding the need I have for the necessities of life such as food, water, shelter and the like. Have you ever worried or fretted that you would be fired or run out of money before you run out of life? Has your boss ever wallpapered your office with road maps or offered to buy you a one-way ticket to somewhere else? I am serious! I can be sitting on the couch in my living room perfectly content and at peace when, suddenly, a commercial comes on about making financial investments early in life. I think the slogan goes something like, “There are two things you need to build wealth for retirement—time and money.” Being 68 years old, I sit there and began to grieve over my failures to save as much money as “they” say I need—especially when I think, “Hey, I am 68 years old—I don’t have time on my side anymore!” Of course, what I forget is that, yes, I am 68 years of age and, yet, have never (NEVER) missed a meal in my life and never failed to have a roof over my head—thank God! Although I am not suggesting the young folks fail to save money, I do want to say to God my Father, “Thank you, my Father, for all the meals I have already eaten and all the peaceful nights I have already slept out of the rain, cold, and heat.” Investment folks are always pushing us to look ahead (you would think there's something in it for them) causing us to fail to thank God for what He has already done. My goodness! There is just so much I can (should) eat in one day and I can only occupy a certain amount of space when I sleep each night.
I am sure you've heard the story of the taxi driver who was motoring over the Golden Gate Bridge when he saw a distraught man climbing up on the bridge’s railing giving every appearance he was going to jump. Jack Exum told this story. The taxi driver slammed on his brakes, jumped out of his taxi, ran toward the man, and caught him by the belt just as he attempted to jump to his death. The taxi driver pulled him back to safety and they both sit on the side of the railing and talked for awhile. The taxi driver asked, “What possessed you to attempt to kill yourself?” The man explained, “The world is coming apart. The ruler of North Korea is trying to perfect an ICBM capability of delivering a nuclear warhead on the West Coast of the U.S. The stock market is up and down. Jobs security is so uncertain. Think of all the wars going on! I am afraid a terrorist will kill me any day!! And, there is a suspicious spot on my arm—I’m afraid it is cancer!” The taxi driver and the suicidal man talked for about thirty minutes and they both jumped! Worry is contagious! What are we to do admist life’s worries regarding what will I eat, or what will I wear?
So in that regard, here is my next personal spiritual comfort food—trust God to take care of your physical needs. Did you hear? Trust God’s promise to take care of you, if you put the reign of Jesus Christ first in your life! Are you one of those? OK, then don’t worry about a thing regarding physical needs!
How does it work? How can we truly appropriate that comfort?
In Deuteronomy 8:3, Moses spoke to the new and surviving generation of Israelites whose forefathers had left Egyptian bondage nearly forty years previously. Those forefathers were not released from Pharaoh’s grip until after God had given Pharaoh, Egypt, and the world a ten-lesson Bible Correspondence Course (the plagues). After their forefathers died in the Wilderness Wanderings because of their unbelief and disobedience, Moses said to that new generation on the eve of going into the Promised Land, "He (God) humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.”
Think of what Moses was talking about. He was reminding the new generation of Israelites that when the nation of Israel departed Egypt after 430 years, they had God’s mighty wonders fresh in their minds. Hapi was the Egyptian god of the Nile, but he did not stop God from turning its waters into blood. Neper, the Egyptian god of grain, did not stop God from sending hail from heaven to beat down the crops or the locust from consuming them. Heket, the Egyptian goddess of frogs, did not keep those warted hoppers from entering every house when God sent them to infest Egypt. Was Bes (the Egyptian goddess of pregnant women, newborn babies, and families) asleep when Pharaoh, himself, was awaken in the night with the death of his own firstborn son against the backdrop of the screams of death reverberating over the land? And, what was that first generation of Israelites saying as they gathered up their unleavened bread in the folds of their garments and departed Egypt on the fifteenth day of the first month on the Israelite calendar? "Now the sons of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, aside from children. A mixed multitude also went up with them, along with flocks and herds, a very large number of livestock. They baked the dough which they had brought out of Egypt into cakes of unleavened bread. For it had not become leavened, since they were driven out of Egypt and could not delay, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves” (Exodus 12:37f). Were they not saying, “God we believe in You—Who is able to do these ten wonders and show all the gods and goddesses of Egypt non-existent!?” Yet, exactly thirty days later, what did that forgetful Israelite nation say? "Then they set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the sons of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departure from the land of Egypt. The whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The sons of Israel said to them, 'Would that we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger’” (Exodus 16:1-3). When Israel got out into the Wilderness, all they saw was rock and sand to eat. Then, as it were, they shook their fists at heaven and shouted, “God we just thought You could take care of us, but Pharaoh was a better provider than You could ever be!!” As Jimmy Ramsey said, “It only took the Israelites a few days to walk out of Egypt, but it took forty years to get Egypt out of them!”
Was their hunger an accident? Did God have anything to do with their hunger? Remember Moses' words nearly forty years later? “God humbled you and let you be hungry…” (Deut.8:3a). Can you imagine an Israelite standing out in that desolate Wilderness asking, “God, You let us be hungry, intentionally? Why? Why would You do that?” God’s answer to that questioner would have been, “I want you to understand something.” The Israelite might retort, “What do You want us to understand by intentionally allowing us to be hungry with no apparent solution in sight?” God would answer him, “I want you to understand that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” “But,” the Israelite man might object, “What words have come from Your mouth that would have any relationship to the hunger I am experiencing right now, God?” God could have answered him, “Do you remember when I sent my messenger, Moses, to Egypt promising your enslaved nation that I was going to take you to a land flowing with milk and honey? Those are the words of promise that came from My mouth.”
Instead of the entire nation shaking their fists at heaven and shouting, “Have you led us into this Wilderness to kill us with hunger?,” God would have delighted in at least one person stepping up, getting everyone’s attention and saying something like this. “Listen everyone. I am as hungry as any of you, but God did not lead us into this place to die!” Many may have shouted him down asking, “How do you know that?” The believer who never spoke up could have said, “There is no way God led us here to die, because from His own mouth He promised that we are going to a land flowing with milk and honey. Hence, although I cannot imagine what God is going to do to take care of us, I believe with all my heart that we will get through this crises and not die here because of the words that have come from the mouth of the Lord who turns water to blood!” That is exactly what God would have delighted to hear—even from one man or woman. But, no such words were ever spoken. Right? Or, was there someone who did speak those words? Someone special one who believed completely in the words that came from the mouth of the Lord?
Just as the Israelites had been called out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1), so the infant Jesus had been called out of Egypt (Matthew 2:15). Just as the Israelites had undergone a baptism under the cloud and in the Red Sea (I Corinthians 10:1, 2), so Jesus was baptized (Matthew 3:13-17). Just as Israel entered into the Wilderness for forty years, so Jesus was tempted in the Wilderness without food for forty days (Matthew 4:1ff). Just as the Israelites were placed somewhere there was no bread, so was Jesus. While the Israelites shouted, “Have you brought us here to this place where there is no bread to kill us with hunger?,” Jesus stood out in His Wilderness of Temptation having gone without bread for forty days. The devil came to Him and said,“If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread” (Matthew 4:3). Could the Jesus—Who could walk on a storm tossed sea with the ease we walk down a shaded path; Who could unlock the tombs of the dead with the effortlessness we put our key into our lock and gain entrance into our homes; or, Who spoke to the winds and waves, “peace be still,” and they sprouted ears to obey their Creator and Commander—have any trouble in changing a stone to bread!? Of course not!
So why did Jesus refuse to change the stone to bread? You see, Jesus had stored the word of God up in His heart so He would not sin against the Lord (Psalm 119:11). Jesus could remember back to the Israelite nation standing in an exact duplicate-circumstance as He was then standing and shaking their fist at heaven and saying, in effect, “God, we do not believe in You!” But, in Jesus’ Wilderness of Temptation, He quoted the very words spoken by Moses on that occasion of the Israelites’ hungry in the Wilderness. Don’t you see, Jesus recognized what was happening to Him at that very moment was exactly what happened to the Israelites many years previously when they were standing in the Wilderness with nothing to eat and shouting against heaven. Yes, they were shouting against heaven out of their unbelief having forgotten the words that had come from the mouth of God that He was taking them to a land flowing with milk and honey. But, no one, and I mean no one stepped forward to say, “I know God has not brought us here where there is no bread to die, because of the words that have come from His precious mouth!!” Yet, Jesus was the special Someone who remembered the words that had come from God’s mouth in His Wilderness testing by hunger for bread. Jesus answered the devil, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4; quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3).
Yet, what words had come from God’s mouth that would have made Jesus understand that the Holy Spirit did not lead Him into the Wilderness of hunger to die? You can see it, can’t you?! God did not send Jesus to die of hunger in the Wilderness. God sent Jesus to die on an old rugged cross for the sins of the world (cp. Isaiah 53). Jesus remembered God’s promise and trusted God’s eternal plan for His life.
Herein is my great comfort food regarding my physical necessities of life. I go to work. I have to be careful and wise about the use and stewardship of money. But, one thing I refuse to do is worry about my physical necessities—I refuse! Why? Am I crazy? (Don’t ask my wife!) I refuse to worry because of the words that have come from the mouth of my Jesus. What words? Jesus promised, “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:25-33).
Who, I mean, who could have imagined in a million years that God could rain bread from the sky six days a week for forty years? Nothing like that could have been conceived by man. Testifying to that fact was the question the hungry Israelites asked on the first morning they saw the white frost-like substance laying on the ground. They ask, “Manna?,” meaning “What is it?” With their question they admitted in the same breathe that God had ways and means of taking care of them that had never entered their imaginations. In our lives, have you not seen time and again God delivering you, blessing you, and providing for you through ways you never imagined?!
I am comforted, my friends, greatly comforted. My business has nothing to do with worrying over bread, clothing, and water. My business is to trust the words that come from the mouth of the Lord.
BECOME THE CHURCH WHERE YOU LIVE
Have you moved to an area where the church of Christ does not exist? Why not become the church in your community?
But, what about a church meeting place? The meeting place is already built and paid for—your home or some free space in your city or town. The meeting place is up to you. You and those with you will become an autonomous congregation of the Lord’s church. Jesus said, "Where two or three are gathered together there I am in their midst.” Members of the church might ask some of the older people at your congregation how your local congregation started. Don't be surprised that many will discover or recall that lots of congregations began in someone's home or some free space in your town.
Is it scriptural for a church to meet in someone’s house? That is exactly where the church met for the first two and one-half centuries of its existence and the gospel covered the earth. Although evangelists, elders (pastors), and teachers prepared Christians of the 1st century for works of service (Ephesians 4:11-16), the gospel spread through relationships many times--from neighbor to neighbor and friend to friend.
But, what about a preacher and mature Bible teacher to assist us? The Antioch Initiative (aicoc.org) is a church planting vision overseen by the elders of Elmore church of Christ in Elmore, AL with her growing number of brotherhood partners. As one option, we invite you to interview one of our preachers to become the one who delivers sermons and lessons at your new congregation. We are prepared to preach for your new congregation through live online lessons or archive lessons at no charge.
Why are you doing this? Our reward is the knowledge that we are participating in the spreading of the gospel and the igniting the beginning of new congregations over the U.S.A.
What control would Elmore church in Elmore, AL, its elders, or its preachers have over your new congregation? None whatsoever, except the power of prayer.
What is the ultimate goal of the Antioch Initiative? Our goal is to see multiple congregations of the churches of Christ established over the U.S. that will become self-propagating, self-supporting, and self-led. In short, it is not our goal to do your work, but to help prepare you for works of service. You must spread the gospel in your own area.
Are there stipulations in your willingness to help us? We are not interested in pulling members away from an existing congregation to form a new congregation unless the existing leadership of an existing congregation so desires and plans for that to happen.
How will you know that Elmore preachers who deliver lessons are sound in the word of God? We can give you our references. We can forward you a resume. We will submit to your interview by phone and/or in writing. We welcome you to listen and weigh what we teach against the infallible truth of God’s written word. And, you can fire us anytime you want.
What is this going to cost us? Nothing and everything! It will cost you nothing financially, because your meeting place can be free as described above and our preachers will work for nothing. But, on the other hand, it will cost you everything you have as Jesus taught in the parable of the treasure in the field and the pearl of great price. If you are unwilling to commit all to Jesus for the lost around you, please do not contact us.
How can those reading this message help immediately? You can forward this to every Christian you know in the U.S. And, you can share with us any information concerning Christians living in places in the U.S. where the church of Christ does not exist.
Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the apples in a seed.