Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What is true worship?

True worship is worship that respects God's commandments. We must worship God "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). It seems as if people today are content to throw worship at God in hopes that He will accept anything that man devises. This is not the case.

True worship is simple. It includes prayer, singing without instrumental music, Bible study, contributing to the treasury of the local church, and partaking of the Lord's supper. All of these elements can be seen in Acts 2:41-47 after the first church was established on the day of Pentecost.

Worship is the feeling or expression of reverence or adoration for deity. If we worship God, then that worship must be according to His terms, for He is God. Our only purpose is to please Him, for that was the ultimate goal of Jesus Himself (John 8:29).

Kyle Campbell

Monday, September 29, 2008

What is my purpose in life?

A question that people inevitably ask is "What is my purpose in life?" Some believe that they exist to have fun. Some believe that they exist to start a family and to raise children. Some believe that they exist to help mankind through philanthropy. As you can see, some of these are noble and admirable.

The true duty of man is found in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14. It reads, "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." It is sad to see that instead of fearing God, people go their own way (Titus 1:16; Philippians 2:21).

You will only find true happiness by complying with God's will. Life will always have ups and downs, but the hope that you will possess will anchor your soul in eternity (Hebrews 6:18-19). If you would like to study more, please email us. We would love to hear from you and help you learn more about the Bible.

Kyle Campbell

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How is your foundation?

A few days ago, I caught a glimpse of a special airing on The History Channel about dams breaking. The few moments of the broadcast that I saw showcased a dam that had broken in the Midwest, flooding the nearby national park. The ranger and his family lived in the park and they completely lost their home, narrowly escaping death. As the camera panned over the area, all one could see was a smooth concrete slab where the house used to stand. As the family dredged up difficult emotions about the event, I thought about the fact that although the house was a total loss, the foundation was intact.

This got me to thinking about my own foundation. Jesus likened a man who built his house upon the rock as wise because when the storms came, the house stood firm. In contrast, the foolish man built his house upon the sand and the storms demolished it, much like the dam break demolished this family's home (Matthew 7:24-27).

"Storms," such as sickness, addictions, financial trouble, death of a loved one, etc., can wreak havoc on someone's life, and literally shatter it to pieces. But if they have a good foundation, based on the word of God, they will survive and will likely be stronger in character (James 1:2-4). Will my foundation stand? It will as long as I have faith in my Savior, and do His will. Storms expose the weaknesses of your house, but your obedience to God's gospel will give you a foundation which can stand no matter what assails you.

Kyle Campbell

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Archaeology: Gergesa

The location of Gergesa has remained a mystery until recently. In 1970, Israeli archaeology Vassilios Tzaferis investigated the ruins of a byzantine church from A.D. 585 uncovered during road construction along the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee.

The excavations turned up an ancient church building, monastery, and chapels. A mosaic-paved chapel had been built at the foot of a steep slope, leading Dr. Tzaferis to conclude that the Christians had built the entire complex to preserve an early tradition that this was where the miracle occurred.

In Matthew 8:28-34, Christ casted demons out of two men into a herd of swine that ran down a steep place into the Sea of Galilee. Two other possible locations were thought to be Gadara or Gerasa (Mark 5:1-13; Luke 8:26-39) but both are located far from the Sea of Galilee or any steep place. The ruins of the El-Kursi monastery probably marks the location in Gergesa.

Kyle Campbell

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Promised to those who love Him"

Love is a wonderful thing! Love is the motivation for almost everyone on the face of the earth! If you were to ask ten different people what love is, you would more than likely get ten different answers. So what is love? How do we love God? How do we love our fellowman? These are important questions because in James 2:5-9 we are told that, "God chose them that are poor as to the world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he promised to them that love him" and we are told that "the royal law, according to the scripture" is "Thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself, ye do well: but if ye have respect of persons, ye commit sin, being convicted by the law as transgressors" (James 2:5-9). If we are going to please God we must know what love is, love Him, and love our neighbor as ourself.

The most comprehensive discussion of love is in 1 Corinthians 13. The immediate context is discussing spiritual gifts. Paul brings to mind the idea of love to illustrate the point that, "Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away" (1 Corinthians 13:8). He encourages us to obtain love because it is what really matters when it comes to performing spiritual gifts and obedience to God. Even though Paul does not "define love" in this discussion, he does tell us what love does: "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

Love is commonly described as a "warm, fuzzy feeling" you have around someone, but love is more than that. Love is an attitude you have toward someone. Love is not a reactive feeling but a proactive motive. That is why Christ commands us to "love your enemies" and "love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 5:44; James 2:8). We do not wait for someone else to do something to provoke us into doing something out of love; we go out into the world and love without discrimination!

This applies first to our heavenly Father. He "so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). He was willing to allow His only Son to come to this earth, pay the ultimate price, and die upon the cross. The choice to do this was not during a time when we were trying to do what was right, but was with the full knowledge that, "while we were still sinners, Christ" would die "for us" (Romans 5:8). So how do we love Him back? Jesus told His disciples that, "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15). If we truly have the love of God within us, we are going to be living our lives like He asks us to. All those who do not keep His commandments do not love God. You cannot have one without the other and you cannot claim to love God if you are not keeping His commandments. As John put it, "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, 'I know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (1 John 2:3-4).

How do we love our fellowman? When Christ tells us to "love your enemies," He tells us that in order to do that we have to "bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you" (Matthew 5:44). The true test of love is to do good to those who do not love you in return because after all, "if you love those who love you, what reward have you" (Matthew 5:46)? Everyone is willing to do good to those who will return the favor. Jesus illustrated this in a parable when He said, "When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just" (Luke 12:12-14). We do not love others to have them do things for us in return or even for them to love us back, but we love them because the Father first loved us when we did not love Him back.

This was the problem with the brethren James wrote to. They would cater to the rich when they came into their assembly. They would give them the best seats and sit the lowly and poor at their footstool. Being a respecter of persons is a sin (James 2:8). Why? Because it is not of God. As Peter accurately stated in Acts 10:34, "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality." Christ "died to sin once for all" (Romans 6:10) because "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). God loves the whole world and was willing to provide a way that all of mankind could be saved. Now we must be willing to show the same love to everyone. We love all because God loves all. We show no partiality because God shows no partiality.

If we are willing to do this then we have a hope of heaven which, "God has promised to those who love Him."

Jeremy Ferguson

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Faith and friends

In Daniel 3, Nebuchadnezzar set up an image and compelled the people to worship it. This included three Hebrew worthies: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The three Hebrew men refused to worship the image of Nebuchadnezzar, even after being threatened by being thrown into a fiery furnace. They knew he would make good on his promise (Jeremiah 29:22)! They were confident that God would deliver them (vs. 17). Enraged, Nebuchadnezzar threw them into the furnace. It is interesting to note that they had no logical reason to believe that God would deliver them from the fiery furnace; they had no "precedent" to fall back on! That is true faith (Hebrews 11:1, 34)! Acting upon one's faith separates true faith from superficial profession. The three young Hebrews made no excuses when it came to bowing down before the image. They stood firm and said, "No!" Faith can only improve when it is used (1 Peter 1:6-7; Job 27:1-6; 42:1-6). The passage from Peter is especially pertinent considering how far the apostle Peter had come since the days of Jesus (cf. Matthew 8:26; 14:27, 50-52; Luke 22:54-62).

God allowed those three men to suffer by being thrown into the fiery furnace, but He did not allow them to go through it alone. If bad friends can hurt (1 Corinthians 15:33), imagine what good friends can do! Good friends are invaluable (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Proverbs 17:17; 27:6, 9-10, 17). Under the Old Law, if a friend enticed someone to leave God and serve idols, they were to be put to death (Deuteronomy 13:6-11). God knew the potential of bad influences! Delilah was a terrible influence on Samson (Judges 16:4-21). On the other hand, Aquila and Priscilla built one another up (Acts 18:26; Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:19). The friends that we chose, even when we are older, make a huge difference as to whether we will be faithful or unfaithful. Make sure you choose wisely!

Kyle Campbell